Sunday, January 26, 2014

this is what makes us girls

On One Direction, the Misogyny of Music Snobbery, & the Importance of Teenage Girls

I thought I’d start off this attempt of mine to be a Serious Member of Society by telling you that my past three lock-screens have been Harry Styles. I have three One Direction posters on my walls; one of them is there because I did in fact receive for Christmas, from my mother, a magazine with them on the cover. I have all three of their albums on my iPod, and I also have several of their X-Factor performances and some songs that were never actually released.

Listen to me: I never wanted this to happen. If you had told me three years ago that I would be in this deep, I would have been a little short of horrified.

But the thing is, now, I’m not ashamed. I mean, okay, I’m a little ashamed of the sheer amount of time I’ve devoted to rewatching the tour diaries and the number of Google searches on my computer that feature the words “Harry” and “tattoo” and maybe I would like no one else ever to read some of the emails between my friends and I on the subject, but I’m not ashamed for liking One Direction. Why should I be?

Music snobbery, in general, I find to be tiresome and a complete waste of one’s energy. Maybe once upon a time I cared about what I listened to, but then I grew up and realized that it literally doesn’t matter at all if what you like is played on the radio or not. The fact that some people continue to think that listening to Ke$ha means you’re vapid just boggles my mind. Like, whoa, homie, back up. Your music taste (and movie taste, book taste, etc. etc.) is absolutely no indication of your intelligence, and neither has anything to do with your worth as a person. Enjoying a good song is not a crime. In fact, it’s one of the best parts of life, and if you can’t let yourself take pleasure in that, then I feel sorry for you.

I don’t even know how people think they can judge someone at all based what they listen to. I mean, my starred songs on Spotify include B.o.B ft. Lil Wayne, Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears, Seabear, Imagine Dragons, the Weeknd, and the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. Is that supposed to be able to define me? Ha. Good luck with that.

Music elitism is annoying to be sure, but sometimes, it can be downright offensive as well. When people deride rap music for its problematic treatment of women, their critiques may be valid, but their argument is weakened by the racist motives in their singling out that genre. Why is it always rap music and never indie rock? Think about it.

I’m so guilty of doing that sort of thing myself because it’s easy to go along with a common line of thinking without pausing to consider its implications. It’s what we’re socialized to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. To return to my original topic, before I went on one of my typical winded tangents, I had also let this sort of prejudice against music like One Direction prevail.

Like so many other people, I used to dismiss fans of boy bands like I thought I was supposed to, complying with the subtly misogynistic idea that music catering primarily to teenage girls was not worthy of my respect because--why else?--teenage girls were not worthy of my respect. And this was something I thought, however subconsciously, as a teenage girl myself. Which is pretty freaking messed up.

Why do people love to hate on artists like One Direction and Justin Bieber*? I’ll tell you one thing: it's not because they lack talent. And while it is perfectly reasonable to simply not find their music to your taste, the majority of the criticism they take is not based upon that. In fact, funnily enough, most of the criticisms are, you guessed it, a brand of thinly veiled elitism whose misogynistic undertones often go over even the critics’ heads. I’ve seen this countless times. Just yesterday, I asked my friend what he had against One Direction after I mentioned them and he said “ew.” His reply was “everything,” but he was unable to actually pinpoint anything specific that bothered him. I don’t want to make any assumptions, but yeah, if you say something like that, I’m going to assume it’s the fact that they’re a band geared toward teenage girls that bothers you.

Because teenage girls are the root of all evil, right? They’re narcissistic, always taking selfies and tweeting about their lives. They’re vapid, they’re shallow, they only care about clothes and makeup and boys. They’re overly emotional about everything. They never stop squealing. And they’re all so mean to each other, too! Teenage girls are the worst.

People don’t always say it in so many words, but the idea gets across. No one wants to be caught listening to One Direction, or the Jonas Brothers, or Justin Bieber, or whoever else, because no one wants to be compared to a teenage girl, not even other teenage girls.

I think this is a little sad. No, actually, I think it’s deplorable. It’s disgusting. The whole system is based off society, industry, telling us one thing -- that we need to buy and wear makeup, that we need to lose weight, wear certain clothes -- and then punishing us when we actually fall for it. Of course, this is a problem for all women, but it’s a different case for teenage girls. We’re not just emotional; we’re hormonal. We’re a special type of crazy. While a self-possessed, successful woman out in the world may demand respect, fifteen-year-olds certainly don’t.

They’re mocked, ridiculed, for loving what they love. No one takes them seriously. If you like something, it’s either a stupid thing to like (fashion, “chick” lit, boy bands) or something you don’t understand and have no place being interested in (video games, politics, older music -- “What do you kids know about bands that had their prime before you were born??”). You just can’t win.

Because being a teenage girl is hard in a way that’s acute and separate from all the normal pains of being alive. I didn’t write this with the intention of complaining or unloading all my personal problems, but yeah, sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes it’s razors slicing open your knees and that extra inch of fat above your waistline and boys who just won’t love you back. Sometimes it’s shoving your hands deeper into your pockets when men whistle at you through car windows and blow-drying your hair late at night for half an hour when you’re already tired out of your mind. Sometimes it’s tugging down your shorts so they’re in the dress code and wondering where all the books written by women, about women, are in the curriculum. Sometimes it’s “please talk to me like an adult,” and ten minutes later it’s, “As long as you live here you will do as I say.” Sometimes it feels like everyone is telling you you’re worthless from every side and you’re just can’t do anything about it.

But I love teenage girls because despite everything they have to put up with, they’re still capable of incredible power. They do so much good for the world: they create amazing things, they ignite revolutions, and more than that, they have such a capacity to love. Teenage girls can be so passionate about the things they’re interested in and this should be celebrated, not dismissed. Instead of making fun of someone for something they like or something they do (something which does not affect anyone else, I might add), we should recognize the legitimacy of their emotions and support them.

So yes, I am a teenage girl and I love One Direction. Wholeheartedly, unabashedly, as things are meant to be loved; none of that “guilty pleasure” crap. I don’t care if you don’t love them, but if you want to think less of me for my own tastes, I’m going to have to ask you to sit down, shut up, and think about your own gross internalized misogyny for a while I have fun listening to “Midnight Memories” for the forty-seventh time in a row. Good day.

*I’m talking about before he went and got arrested and did things that warranted a loss of respect, SMH Justin, I was rooting for you

Friday, January 17, 2014

look at your life, look at your choices

High school summed up:

  • hanging out in the parking lot after school, watching a boy recite Shakespeare while he vomits up the milk he drank in the gallon challenge
  • spending half an hour on the library computers searching for proxies on the sketchiest websites known to man just so you can get past the school system’s infuriating restrictions and listen to, erm, a certain song, it doesn’t matter who it’s by, don’t worry about it
  • lockdowns and gas leaks (repeat ad infinitum)
  • praying that one of the raccoons that live in the ceiling will fall through into your classroom in the middle of a test
  • eating half your lunch and looking down at the time to realize it’s only 10:12 AM and then thinking, what’s even left to live for?
  • listening to your English teacher lecture seriously about the different facial hair styles of the Victorian age as one girl in the back of the classroom quietly flips chairs over
  • not even caring if you’re accidentally shoving people as you walk past the freshmen hallway because Lord, someone needs to teach those kids how to walk
  • waiting outside a teacher’s classroom to talk to him and then seeing him casually climb into his room through the window 
  • interpreting “use this class time wisely” to mean “blogging”

Monday, January 13, 2014

I think I'm running low on inspiration

Please tell us about a gift, given or received, that was particularly meaningful to you. What was the gift, and why was it meaningful? (150 words max)
The most meaningful gift I have received recently was an email from a close friend of mine. Simply titled “Friendship,” the message contained a single gif of a shirtless, sleepy, and frustratingly attractive Harry Styles, repeated dozens of times. While I love it when my fellow fangirling friends send me emails like this, coming from an artsy punk who wouldn't be caught dead listening to One Direction, this gift is means even more. Such gestures of self-sacrifice in the name of friendship are something I will treasure all my life. They are, truly, better than words.

Friday, January 10, 2014

my heart is breathing / for this moment in time

Sometimes when I don't know what to blog about, I ask my friends for ideas. "Write about the bittersweet passage of time," Caitlin told me, half-jokingly. As if I ever write about anything else.

Seventeen is strange: right now is strange. With only one semester of high school left, it feels like everything is ending. There's a finality to every moment, a sense that every day is laced with lasts. My heartbeat is a countdown, a time bomb, and I stopped saying goodbye a while ago. I never meant to but maybe it's easier this way.

I feel like I'm prematurely mourning the loss of my childhood. I just keep thinking: this is it. This is all the time I get here before I graduate and go to college and everything is different. One semester and a summer, half a year or so. Give or take. I just keep thinking about my house and my neighborhood and my city and how someday, it will be "the house I grew up in" instead of "my house." That makes me kind of sad.

I've already lost some things. Taz, the cat we've had since before I was born, died a week ago. We had to put her to sleep. And it's weird that she's not sitting on the couch like she always is. I don't know how long it takes to get used to things like this.

I don't want to grow up. Well, I do and I don't. I want to go to college and travel around the world and meet new people and get a tattoo and a dog and mostly just not have to be in high school anymore. But the future excites me so it also terrifies me. I mean, being a teenager may suck at times, but it's comfortable. It's fairly predictable. It's all I've really known. And, I don't mean to be bitter, but I feel like life still owes me certain teenage experiences. I still need to slow dance in the gym to really cheesy songs and kiss someone in their car and sneak out of my house in the middle of the night to lie in a field and look at the stars and I definitely can't grow up before I attend a wild party in someone's basement and drink beer stolen from their parents' and stumble out the door before the cops show up as some song with an incredibly loud bass makes my heart beat a little faster than it should. Why haven't those things happened to me yet? What the heck, life? You have approximately six months to get your act together.

In all seriousness, I'm very okay with the way my adolescence has progressed and I know that not only am I still quite young, things don't happen at the same rate for everyone, and also, life will never be like it is in books and movies and musics. This is possibly (definitely) the greatest tragedy of my life, but it's okay. I have my own story, remember?

I'm sorry if this turned out kind of depressing. I guess all this stuff about ending is kind of sad but it's not all-consuming and it's all going to be all right, really. I'm taking things one day at a time, better than I used to. I'm soaking in this strange time in my life as best as I can. School sucks but lunch time with my friends doesn't. Laughing in the car in the morning doesn't. Listening to Jack's Mannequin while running through my neighborhood as the sky turns the prettiest shade of pink doesn't. So that's what I'm going to remember.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

save me, san francisco

Breaking news: It is actually physically impossible for me to make a post without titling it something extremely cheesy. Scientists around the world are baffled at this phenomenon and as of yet there is no known cure. Incredible. Anyway. What was I saying?

We were recently in San Francisco for a few days, book-ending our Christmas in Chico with my grandparents. San Francisco has good views and good food, so of course I brought my camera. Actually, vacations seem to be the only time I take pictures anymore, which is a little sad, but here you go.

Salted Caramel Sundae at Ghiradelli Square ayyyy

(Not gonna lie, I just kinda liked how my hair looked. Whatever)

I love flower shops so much.

Lombard Street

I swear I've seen a picture of this house somewhere before! I saw it in real life and was like yooooo

I want to have a party on that balcony with all the lights. Aha

The streets are really steep okay?

 Does this need a caption, honestly?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


I didn't get to publish this earlier (i.e. last year) but I always like to look back at my favorite parts of the year so here it is, mostly for my own benefit, a little late.

Displaying afterlight.jpeg
And in lieu of a time-consuming collage, here is a selfie that I think accurate sums up my year.

some memorable moments of 2013

  • Spring break, the first day back home after visiting colleges in the frigid Northeast. I biked down to Castle Hill where I met my friends. We walked around, took the bus down to South Congress and had smoothies. The weather was wonderful and the city was beautiful and when my friend said, "I don't ever want to leave," in that moment I agreed.
  • District track meet, when I PR'd by almost a minute on my two mile time, feeling breathless and incredulous, stumbling off the track into a hug. And later, running across the infield, chasing laughter into the night.
  • Work camp in Colorado, and how for the first time I really bonded with my team.
  • Post-practice team breakfasts of chips and queso. Nothing better.
  • Luxembourg Gardens right before closing; the open air markets that felt exactly like France should feel; skipping through Paris after dark.
  • Sitting around a fire with my cousins and family, roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Thinking this is how summer is supposed to be spent.
  • That last sunset on San Juan Island.
  • An end of the summer reunion of sorts, after everyone being gone for so long -- catching up on stories from Germany & the Dominican Republic over late night pancakes and enchiladas.
  • Paddle-boarding on the lake on the last day of summer.
  • Our last football season, especially: the tailgate before the McCallum game and how we skipped it to go to the Fashion Outlet and split a pint of ice cream from H-E-B; all the wonderful chants we made up throughout the games; the end of the last game, a big group hug after one final "Whose house? Jags' house!"
  • Late nights. I don't regret all those nights I should have gone to sleep earlier, you know? I really don't. I find peace in being the only one awake; I like listening to music and writing by the yellow glow of my lamp; I enjoy talking to people late into the night. I regret procrastinating on homework a little, but maybe not enough.
  • Luxy's birthday party...yeah, I don't think I'll forget night that any time soon.
  • New Year's Eve, last night. It involved ridiculously fattening doughnuts, karaoke, and a bit of light trespassing, ice skating rink style (what else is new?). A good ending to a...really weird year.

There are so many more, but that's what stands out right now. I'm tired, and it's winter.

Here's to 2014 and maybe blogging more often.