It’s getting REAL

This past Saturday, a reminder popped up on my iPhone to alert me of my flight in one week. I am only THREE DAYS away, from returning home to my real life, and only ONE MONTH away, from returning to the Duke Bubble.

Wait, what?

I find it so funny that I came to New York and into our program, thinking that this would be entry into the “real world.” I wouldn’t have a resident assistant down the hall or my parents hovering over my every move. I wouldn’t be just taking classes, but I would be working a full-time job, not to mention a full-time job in the Big Apple, quite possibly the busiest city I’ve ever stepped foot in in my entire life. I would be cooking, cleaning, budgeting, all for myself—sort of a simulated adulthood, right?

Not going to lie, it was a lot at first.

We. Were. Busy.

But in reality, this city, this experience, this job, this group, has all been somewhat of a fantasy. When will I ever again be living in close quarters with 8 other super-woke, bad-ass women? Over the course of two months, I’ve had deep-dive conversations and revelations with these gals surrounding topics that would never have previously been mentioned in any conversation I was a part of. I’ve gotten accustomed to being so disconnected from the normal Duke environment, or my normal home environment—the people I will be surrounded by for the majority of my next 3 years, my “real world.

Now, us Moxies will have to re-enter these communities, and for me, I’m not sure how I will be able to navigate them. I have an abundance of new knowledge and perspectives, and I’m more anxious now to leave than I ever was when I came here. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to have these conversations with other people, who may be close-minded and sometimes, ignorant; how I will be able to overcome this struggle when those people are my friends and especially, in the case of my family. Then, load on top of this my academics and my extracurriculars, and the other formalities of being a “Duke student,” I don’t know how to feel about returning to my “real world.”

Reflecting altogether on this experience, I am so extremely thankful for what Moxie has given me, because I do not believe I would have had this chance at any time in my official, Duke career. Yet, I feel that my Moxie toolbox will make it difficult for me to re-integrate into my past environments of comfort and for me to accept the horrors that plague our country and our world today. What does this mean for my academics, what does this mean for my career, what does this mean for the path I choose in life, and the people I choose to spend it with? What do I really want to accomplish in my life?

But, maybe that’s the point…

Sweetest Goodbye

I hate packing. Not that I’ve started literally at all yet, it’s just mentally exhausting even knowing it’s something I’m going to have to do soon.

mickey mouse packing

Parting is such sweet sorrow. I can already feel myself documenting little “lasts” here and there – trying desperately to check the last few things off of my checklist and constantly reminding myself  that “I’ll be back.” The logical and emotional reminders compete for my attention. What thank you gift to get my supervisor? Who haven’t I seen for the last time without a proper goodbye? How many loads of laundry left? How many more happy moments of laughter amongst the Moxies until suddenly I’m back to life at Duke and they’re just a fond memory.

I’m desperately trying to make myself as useful as possible this last week at work – but I can’t help feeling I haven’t done quite enough. How distant the feeling of knowing I could’ve put more effort into a school assignment is from knowing the difficulties of the people I’ve met and worked with at BFDP will continue, for many, long after I’m gone.

A recurring topic throughout the Moxie Project has been comparing ideas of structural change to the symptom-treating “solutions” that are currently in place. At BFDP, structural change is a constant focus. I get to listen and watch lawyers put out little fire after little fire, helping clients who without forewarning are transferred from one shelter to another, who put up with levels of disrespect and distrust from any authority figure they come into contact with, and are expected to be the perfect parent after being forced to live without their children for months or even years. I realize how lucky I’ve been to work at a place so full of collaboration, kindness, and overwhelming amounts of compassion for others.

Even in the midst of doing this exhausting work, I still see lawyers writing legislation that might give more parents a fair shake a second chance. I see social workers planning and attending special events after work and on the weekends that will support and encourage the parents we serve. It’s a place where a very technical training on housing becomes an impassioned rant about how regularly the poor are mistrusted and mistreated by the unfair bureaucracy that runs the city of New York.


Looking back on what I expected out of my summer work, I know I hoped my internship experience would be formative, give me a glimpse into a future I might hope obtain, and help me make connections with people I could relate to.

Formative? ✓

Cool future? ✓✓✓

Folks I can relate to? …

I don’t know about that one. Some days I feel like I work in an office full of superheroes, and I’m just the stand-aside sidekick they allow to do some of the filing. Other days I’m given projects that make me want to ask: “Do these people know I’m just an undergrad with limited real world job experience? Do they really trust me to do this right? ” But they have trusted me, and they continue to. And from my perspective, if even one of the people at my job has ever appreciated anything I’ve done, if I’ve been useful to them in any way, I can rest easy. And maybe, if I work hard enough and let my experiences here continue to motivate me, one day I’ll be able to do something as great as what they do (both individually and as a unit) every single day.

side kick~

It’s hard to walk into a place I’ve come to appreciate so much every morning with the knowledge that my hours are very quickly winding down. I’m already missing my life in New York before I’ve even left. But in a way, I’m grateful even for the end. When you’re confronted by the fact that what you see in front of you is a temporary view, you’re able to appreciate it that much more.

i don't want to go

As I pack my bags (and boxes, I have 2 much stuff), I’m making sure I pack away little impressions of this place – what it’s like to work among these people in this office and how grateful I’m going to be to have ever been a part of this.

Next Steps

In 297 days I will be a graduate of Duke University. Now that may sound like a lot, but trust me, as each day passes and that number gets smaller, it’s like a slap to the face that I need to actually get my life together. In the last few weeks of my Moxie experience, the future seems to be all my brain can think about.

What am I going to be doing in 298 days?

I used to think I had it all figured out. I would go into public health research, work in a lab somewhere or for some government health agency. Easy right? I had a plan.

But lately, as time slowly starts to run out, I’m starting to second guess the plans that I had ingrained in my head for so long. And this summer in the Moxie program hasn’t made it any less complicated. Before starting this program, I saw it as a way to grow as a feminist and expand my knowledge of social justice principles and feminist theory, but I hadn’t really connected the program to my career interests. When I first applied, I didn’t know what organization I would end up with or what type of work I would be doing, but I had anticipated that it probably wouldn’t completely relate to my work in public health.

When I would tell people that I was going to work for a non-profit this summer, many were surprised that I was planning to branch out of my usual research based jobs while others simply commended me for the “moral work” I’d be doing. But I’ve realized that that isn’t what I want this experience to be. I don’t want it to just be a note on my resume to show that I have dabbled in the nonprofit sector or had experience serving “less privileged communities”. My work at GGE and my experience with the Moxie program as a whole has really made me think about what kind of work I actually want to go into.

When I was originally placed with Girls for Gender Equity, I’ll admit I was nervous. I had limited experience working with schools and the education system. I had never planned youth programs or written a curriculum. And I didn’t know what it would feel like to work as a white woman for an organization that focuses on issues related to girls of color. I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured I would try it out and step out of my comfort zone for the summer.

What I didn’t realize was how much the experience would change me, and how much I would learn from the people I have been working with. While the things I have learned about the NYC education system, after-school program planning, and curriculum building may not exactly end up translating into my future work, the everyday conversations on issues of race, gender, discrimination, emotional intelligence, community building, etc — these are the skills and the knowledge that I know will stay with me in everything I do. I know now that I want — I need my work in public health, whatever that may be, to actually mean something and to actually at least attempt to make real change. The hard part now is just figuring out how to make that happen.

So while I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be headed or what I’ll be doing in 298 days (you’ll have to get back to me on that), I can assure you that I’ll no doubt be carrying this summer’s experiences with me wherever I go.

A Very Real Pipeline

At this point in the program, we have discussed social justice and reform of countless systems in our society from the criminal justice system, to the welfare system. But one of the things I never really considered to be in need of reform before this program is education.

Now, when people talk about education reform, it usually ranges from things concerning curriculum rigor to how the United States’ public education system  stacks up to the rest of the world. But there are facets of education reform that many are blind to that affect many parts of our society today. Working with Girls For Gender Equity, I have been able to work with students in the New York City Pubic school system and have conversations about their schools that you will not find in the news papers and policy books. These conversations and interviews were part of a data analysis that compiled their answers around different themes like issues of overpolicing, harsh discipline, and lack of diversity in curriculum. It was so incredible to see the problems these students face every day in their schools. One response to a question about metal detectors in schools I found fascinating was from a middle school student. This student talked about how metal detectors were a mandatory part of every student’s morning, which meant hours of waiting in line to be searched before entering the school. Not only did this make the school climate “feel like a prison,” if a student was late because they were going through metal detectors, they were sent to in-school suspension, where they missed material taught in the classroom.

It does not take a genius to see how debilitating this is to students.

According to national statistics as well as the data I’ve analyzed at GGE, these issues are disproportionally affecting minority communities- especially girls of color, LGBTQ and gender non conforming folks. This research from Colombia Law School outlines how incredibly targeted black girls are when it comes to school discipline. (

These aspects of harsh discipline, and zero tolerance that target girls of color are the very pieces that build the School to Prison Pipeline. When meeting with people who work with schools on policy,  I find it incredibly discrediting when people refer to this system as simply a theory and not something we see unfold every day in our schools. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that, the targeting of women of color is often overlooked. Monique Morris’s book Pushout discusses the criminalization of Black girls in school systems. School upshot refers to a system or parts of a system that target a minority group to drop out of school, leading them to unfortunate circumstances. Thing like the harsh enforcement of dress codes more for girls of color than their white peers, and punishments for things like ‘insubordination’ are fueled by stereotypes and implicit bias from teachers. The stereotypes of Black girls being loud, rude and hyper sexualized are thing that contribute to this system.  In addition to the systematic struggles these students have to deal with outside of school, they have to work twice as hard to redefine themselves and deviate themselves from the perceived negative stereotypes of their identity among their teachers and other school staff.  When suspended, these students often get behind on their work,  receive no support to catch up on their school work and are often inclined to drop out because of the frustration. The criminalization of these students follows them beyond school, creating the school to prison pipeline.

So what can be done? Implicit bias training, school policy reform around discipline and restorative justice are a few of the things NYCPS are starting to implement in their schools. These changes are able to reduce the amount of students who are expelled and suspended, and implement systems that restore community, build relationships and avoid having to make students miss school. And even though these changes take time, they are changes that can affect larger parts of society.




medical alphabetIf you don’t already know, I really want to be a doctor. White coat, stethoscope, horrible writing, the works. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid, and at this point, I’m pretty well on my way to actually accomplishing that goal. As the summer draws to an end, my thoughts are turning back to where they were at the start of the program: to Duke, to medical school, to the unavoidable unknown after graduation. For the Moxie freshmen, this program sets the tone of their Duke activist experience. But as a rising senior, Moxie is a punctuation mark in the long and confusing run-on sentence that is my college experience. So for me, Moxie is something that I will soon incorporate into my post-undergrad life, and one thing I’ve already noticed is that my appreciation for people, thoughts, and experiences has well…appreciated.

As a typical pre-med kid, I devote most of my time to thinking about my life as a physician and interactions with other physicians. I therefore spend very little of my time thinking about future interactions with those healthcare workers who, in various capacities, make the doctor-patient interaction possible. During my time at Choices, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend several days shadowing and observing the physicians and staff as they check-in, register, direct, counsel, treat, and refer patients. pleaseAs you can imagine, the physicians themselves play a relatively small role in the overall experience of a patient. And beneath that layer, there’s an entire administrative staff that designs, troubleshoots, and funds all the services offered. Physicians could never do their job without those other members of the team, nor would patients’ care be complete if they saw only the doctor. As a future physician, I’ve come to appreciate my future colleagues, no mater what letters follow their name.

Moxie is not like other DukeEngage programs. Moxie is like taking an academic class and then walking out the door and seeing everything you’ve learned acted out in front of you. It’s inescapable; terrible and wonderful. offended gifBut like any class, you are bound to make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or do something you later regret. Whether I’ve realized my errors internally, or they’ve been pointed out to me by someone else, I’ve chosen to accept, learn from, and move past them. In social justice work, it can often feel like no matter what you say, you’ll offend someone. It can be a challenge to constantly monitor what comes out of your mouth, and even scares some people into saying nothing. But to me, that just means that I have plenty left to learn. As a student, I’ve come to appreciate the well-intended critique and corrections of my peers and superiors.

New York is incredibly diverse, everyone knows that. But even recognizing that coming in, it’s possible to experience culture shock when walking around the Big Apple for the first few days. Moxies have joked that this must be the place with the highest concentration of gay individuals anywhere. And they’re probably right! Every sexual identity and orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, language, really anything you can think of, is represented in this city. Learning to live in such a heterogeneous environment is liberating, but has a learning curve. avoidingThough we’re taught to avoid strangers to minimize risk, I’ve had some of the most interesting and refreshing conversations with people who walk up to me in the park or subway. While I’m not encouraging you to walk up and make friends with everyone you see in NYC, do let yourself be open with interactions that are going to happen anyway. When a young boy approaches you at the same subway stop for the fifth time asking for donations for his basketball team, don’t automatically dismiss him. You might just learn something new. As a human being, I’ve come to appreciate other humans.

So as I move on from Moxie, I will look for ways to appreciate everything around me, yes even the vast darkness that is post-graduation and medical school applications, because my appreciation means I’m growing and changing, appreciating as a person.

To Love Another Person Is To See the Face of God

It is eleven o’clock on a Friday night and your mascara-tinged tears are drying on your cheeks.
Continuing your trend of being the girl who blogs in second person about the intricacies of musical theatre and social justice, you have just come out of the evening performance of Les Misérables on Broadway. Les Mis has been important to you for years; it’s your favorite book (you’ve read the unabridged version four times through), you love the movie (except for Russell Crowe), and you’ve seen a regional production. You have done research on the book and its fan culture for class credit. The characters are imprinted on your heart and under your skin.
With forty-eight hours to process the show, you have begun thinking about its relevancy. There is a reason that the show was revived when it was, and you think about its political implications in a headspace that is much more comfortable than the one you occupied post-Waitress. Les Misérables was important when it was written, and its number of adaptations testifies that it has continued to be important right up until the present day. Por quoi? you might ask. You can make connections to nearly every topic that the Moxies have discussed in seminar. You can see the social structures that existed then carrying over into now, continuing to make places like family justice centers necessary.
Inspector Javert. 
The first tableau you see onstage is a group of law enforcement, standing over prisoners doing hard, unethical labor for little-to-no pay, and cracking a whip when one of them falters. Throughout the entire show, we see Inspector Javert doggedly attached to his idea of the law, genuinely believing that he’s a righteous man for the oppressive work he does. It feels like a synthesis of this week’s news, albeit with a racial slant as opposed to Les Mis’s class struggles (though, in the United States, those are intricately tied together).
Fantine in her work attire. 
The next scene, the audience is presented with a factory, utilizing cheap feminine labor (a topic you have discussed in Moxie seminars) to sew. The women who work in the factory are subject to sexual harrassment and violence by their foreman. We are here introduced to Fantine, whose story follows an arc that can easily be discussed in terms of reproductive justice rhetoric; the father of her child abandoned the two of them, forcing her to leave her daughter with an innkeeper and work under false pretenses to send money to care for her. Once this is discovered, she is fired quickly and mercilessly, thus bringing in the conversation of worker’s rights, particularly for more vulnerable populations. Fantine is forced to turn to sex work to provide to her child, and ultimately dies of tuberculosis that she got while working the docks. She does not have the safety and autonomy to parent her own child, whom she loves dearly. And not everyone has a Jean Valjean to save their child and give them a wonderful life.
Late in the first act, spectators are presented with Les Amis de l’ABC, a militant student activist group dedicated to advocating for the rights of the people. You cannot help but consider the Moxie conversations of youth, empowerment, and radicalization as you watch them plan and erect their barricade. You are particularly attached to Les Amis and expect to cry when they ultimately meet their deaths, but you think this time it may have been enhanced by realizing fully that this still happens. You find yourself having far more emotions than usual around the children in the show (young Cosette, young Éponine, and the street urchin Gavroche), all of whom face many of the same issues as the children that you work with at the BxFJC; housing instability, food instability, lack of social support, and sometimes even abuse.
Throughout the whole show, though, are chords of radical love and intense compassion of every sort. A mother’s love for her child, a father’s love for his adopted daughter. Romantic love between two people, platonic love between two people, love between a group of friends, love for a cause and a country and a people. One of the last lines in the show that always wrenches tears from you, sung in gentle, delicate harmony, is as follows: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Theatre, as you have said time and time again, can be social justice elevated to art. Some do it clumsily, yes, but some weave together a gorgeous, necessary show that dredges up important cultural narratives. You admit that you’re biased, but Broadway’s Les Misérables has certainly achieved the latter.
Also, you meet some of your favorite actors at the stage door, including (in order) Joseph Spieldenner (Grantaire), EJ Zimmerman (Éponine), and John Owen-Jones (Jean Valjean)! 

Nude or Naked?

In the West, the white female body simultaneously symbolizes promiscuity and purity, Liberty and docility. It is the body at the foreground of the women’s suffrage movement (due to middle class white women’s exclusion of other bodies) and in the background of Fortune-500 companies. It is equality in the books and inequality in the real world. It is my body and it isn’t my body.

Half-Western European, half-Cuban, I am sexualized as a white female with “Latin spice”. I have smiled shyly at burly strangers on airplanes when they have offered to lift my carry-on suitcase into the overhead bin. I have kept my cool as men have asked me to “prove” I have a Spanish accent. I have heard my peers question both my merit and my ethnicity when they told friends of mine that I only got into Duke because I am a Hispanic female. I experience the world as a female first, a Hispanic second, and a ~transcendent human being~ third, while my male peers experience it in the reverse order.

Representations of the white female body are inescapable. I went to four museums this week, and each represented the female body in a slightly different way. The Museum of Sex offered mostly heterosexual portrayals of nineteenth-century pornography, animal sex, and a history of sexual objects, all of which related the (mostly white) female body-as-sex-object to another sexual object or a male sexual partner. The first floor of the museum, a “sex shop” that almost exclusively sold embellishments to the female body-as-sex-object, was no better.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I saw three distinct portrayals of nude white female bodies that I will describe below.

  1. The Demure Enchantress

Lehmann’s “Study of a Female Nude”

In Henri Lehmann’s Study of a Female Nude, a white woman bends over her partially covered legs to conceal her nude body, revealing the curvature of her back and one of her breasts while gazing directly at the spectator. The female body is portrayed as an object of shame, to be hidden as much as possible, but it shames only her; the spectator and the artist can enjoy it as a sexual object. It is difficult to glean much from her facial expression other than her outward gaze because she covers most of her face with her arm. Lehmann has deprived her of internality by shielding her expression and rendering her as a subject vulnerable to the spectator’s gaze.

Fun fact: Lehmann described the subject of this painting in a letter to his mistress as one of the “four most beautiful girls you could have as a model in Rome.” Thanks for your input, Lehmann. We don’t really care what you think.

  1. The Hairy Venus
Courbet's "The Woman in the Waves"

Courbet’s “The Woman in the Waves”

Gustave Courbet’s The Woman in the Waves invokes Cabanel’s Birth of Venus and adds a little bit of armpit hair, subverting the image of the hairless nubile woman and representing the subject of the painting as more “human” than other nude subjects I have seen. Courbet’s attention to detail in his portrayal of the white female body is another refreshing departure from the way white females used to be painted.

Fun fact: Keeping one’s body hair might be an act of feminist resistance and power for some (white) women, but not all of them. Check out this article about what shaving means for women of color.

  1. The Apathetic Bather

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, Edgar Degas represented nude female women in their performance of daily activities, like bathing. The comparison between Degas’s Woman Drying Her Foot and the nude representations I’ve already mentioned is just laughable—the female body is not made to symbolize anything except what it is, at least on the surface.

Fun fact: Degas produced a series of brothel scenes in the 1870s that portrayed the female workers as apathetic and the male clients as unsure of themselves, returning some of the power that male dominance has taken away to the sex workers.

Degas's "Woman Drying Her Foot"

Degas’s “Woman Drying Her Foot”

In his book Ways of Seeing, John Berger says that “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself.” I couldn’t agree more with his analysis in the context of Western art. Degas embraces the physicality of the white female body while maintaining the humanity of his subjects. His sketches show a deep attention to the study of the characters his paintings and sculptures portray. In his nude studies of some of his sculptures, he stripped his subjects down to better understand them, not to simplify them as sexual objects. While Lehmann and Courbet appropriate the white female body for their art, Degas appreciates the white female body and explores it in motion.


From Brighton Beach with Love

So it’s finally warming up in NYC, which means the city is a ball of fire.

What NYC feels like right now

What NYC feels like right now

So I decided to see what the East Coast offers in beaches. Disclaimer: I am from the West Coast, Southern California to get a little more specific; therefore, I am picky about my beaches, sun, and fun soooo I chose Brighton Beach. Here’s why: I wanted to reunite with my favorite group of ethnic whites. In my undergraduate career I learned about Russia and Russians by learning their history, culture, and language intensively at Duke. I took a break the last few semesters from Russian language courses so I decided to visit Brighton, the closest I was going to get to Saint Petersburg.

It was a pretty appropriate week to participate in culture exchange. This week we tackled culture production, cultural approriation, and assimilation. We read the timeless bell hooks and a Fader Magazine article both about the exploitation of the “other”, the alternative culture (usually African American or black culture) in the United States being used for cultural production by usually the more powerful group (more often than not whites). Ultimately cultural production from borrowing from a disadvantaged group by a group in a position of power or majority. This erases the meaning, culture, and history of what was taken, see box braids on Kylie Jenner or Bo Derek back in the day in cornrows.

Bo Derek in cornrows in the 1970's....noooot okay then and not okay now

Bo Derek in cornrows in the 1970’s….noooot okay then and not okay now

But back to the Russians in Brighton Beach. Russians are historically considered “ethnic” whites, a group that includes Italian Americans and Jewish Americans (at one point in history this included Irish Americans); therefore, historically they have been a disadvantaged group in immigration to the United States, employment, language, etc. But I am a mixed raced young immigrant woman, how could i take from a white culture at all considering I am the “other”? I didn’t want to take anything that wasn’t mine or appreciate culture on a surface level but I wanted to enjoy the beach.

giphy (1)

The first step in cultural exchanges is denaturalizing misconceptions about the culture you’re exchanging with. The second step in recognizing you are a visitor to another culture, not a voyeur or a tourist. The third and last step is paying respect the culture, ie not imposing your cultural norms onto theirs.

Well I knew I could not go in  ooo-ing and aww-ing at the Cyrillic storefronts or take the clothing they wore (even the speedos) as unusual or think that the water they were drinking was vodka. Tanning on the beach amongst the Russian and Ukrainian speakers, I was going to bask in their culture as well as the sun. As I ate the Russian dumplings at a restaurant where no one spoke English I indulged in boiled cabbage and thanked my waitress in Russian. I interacted with other beach goers: shout out to the old Russian man who complimented my tattoos in broken English. I spoke Russian when I could manage and broke back to English when I couldn’t.

What people probably thought Brighton Beach was like

What people probably thought Brighton Beach was like

Overall I got a nice tan, ate boiled food, and practiced my Russian. Culture exchange? CHECK

All Bottled Up

The Moxie Project does things to you. It opens your eyes and your mind, it pushes you to critique things you’ve always accepted as true, it forces you to learn concepts that you honestly probably never would’ve touched on your own. It can be a liberating experience, putting words to feelings you’ve always had, confronting injustice head on; it can make you feel like Super Woman. Or it can make you feel like you’re hopelessly drowning in a sea of people who will never know what you know, never acknowledge the truths that are so plain to you. It can make you feel like there’s little hope of changing “the system.”

Accurate representation of the Moxie experience.

Accurate representation of the Moxie experience.

In the past six weeks, so much has happened both within Moxie and across the nation. Most recently, with the police shootings of two black men, I’ve been filled with sadness and rage. Black Lives Matter protests have moved past our apartment building on an almost daily basis since. Having so many emotions in such a short amount of time is difficult, especially for someone who prides themselves on being the one person who doesn’t cry during a sappy movie. When the summer feels like it’s set to fast-forward, there is little time for processing or decompressing.

WJXDkRLately, I’ve been feeling like a bottle under pressure. Every new issues we discuss, every reading that reveals another inequality, every enrichment event that is deconstructed and criticized, and even most of my interactions with individuals outside of Moxie add just a little bit more tension to the growing capsule of emotion inside me. Those who know me will tell you that I very rarely let my anger show, but just that happened to me this past weekend. When my parents visited, it should have been a happy time of reunion and catching up with loved ones I have barely seen in the last seven months. Instead, it quickly turned into a cold standoff between two disagreeing parties. Almost every comment from my parents was followed by a quick snap on my part.

The language of accommodators.

The language of accommodators.

Side note: During a recent reflection session, we took a quiz to determine our negotiation styles and I was deemed an accommodator which basically means I say “okay” to everything and let people walk all over me, even when I disagree. So let’s just say that Ada would be very proud of how I exercised my competitive negotiation skills while engaging my parents in conversation.

But that’s ultimately not how I want to act toward the ones I care about. I want to respect those who disagree with me and maintain functional relationships, not devolve into the War of the Roses every time I enter a room with my parents. As my beliefs about myself, women and the world become more solidified, who and how I keep friends becomes more and more complicated. Some relationships, those that are only unfulfilling or drain your spirit, will have to be forfeited. However, it’s okay to keep those relationship that are trying at times, but ultimately grow you as a person and contribute positively to your life. That’s how I view my relationship with my parents. The next step will be learning tolerance and peaceful ways of expressing dissent that open the door for further conversation. I will strive to not accommodate to the point that everything is so bottled up I explode. Growing as an individual and having strong emotions accompany that process are normal, but learning to adapt and integrate new experiences into an old or constant background is the hard part, and something I continue to work on.

Neoliberalism and You

Ah, neoliberalism.

According to Investopedia it is:  a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector.

V broad my friends, v broad.

Neoliberalism feels overarching, like it’s far above us, some academic term but it infiltrates every part of our lives. It’s the difference between the way we view the Wall Street banker and the bum on Fulton Street. Neoliberalism is basically the transfer from the public, government sphere to the private, non-profit world of services for the “needy”. It places the blame and glory upon the individual, leaving the affected alone to wither on the vine of society. The individual’s failure and success relies primely on themselves. So success and failure are all yours:

pug thinking legit thoughts

How do I feel about this after 6 weeks of Moxie?

Maybe it is all about the individual? Why not follow this premise to its end…


Number 1: So my race and gender have nothing to do with my level of success

Number 2: Men, specifically white men, do not rule the world

Number 3: The capitalist, globalized world does not affect me


race and gender

I reject neoliberalism. Neoliberalism does not account for the essential -isms that pervade the life of the individual, especially things like race and gender and class. After working at BMC for six weeks I know there is more to life than just the individual’s descriptors, it is about the community identifiers attached to the individual. For example, I cannot in good conscience say that I feel my success is my own, because it would erase the good work people I identify with have done. Part of what Moxie has taught me is the importance and prevalence of community in our lives. Nothing is done alone or in separation from our communities.

The rationale of neoliberalism has disproportionately impacted women–in fact, it has oppressed women around the world through the social and economic policies of globalization. In the articles from seminar this week we read about true life examples of globalization (an offshoot of neoliberalism) harming women. Neoliberalism and globalization go hand in hand in increasing the poverty of women around the world, whom bear the brunt of the austere policy decisions. Neoliberalism is the ideology that justifies (for its advocates) the policies and failures of globalization, which ultimately mires itself in capitalist rhetoric and individualist perspective. Globalization has brought Western ideals and ideas to parts of the 2/3rds world. Some Western thoughts include everything from Feminism to the value of the International Monetary Fund. But while the (liberal) feminist idea of empowerment has encouraged women to enter exploitative working conditions, women’s movements around the world have also helped women to unionize and embrace their own versions of feminism.

The upside of all this neoliberalism and neo-individualism is the emergence of new sets of feminists emerging around the world. Neoliberalism is not at odds with the feminist critique of the world directly; however, it views people as individuals with themselves to blame for their successes or failures. It ignores truths and inherent beliefs feminism recognizes like the systemic and structure biases and failures of systems that negatively impact the lives of women. Neoliberalism and globalization have exported the feminist mission to other parts of the world and ignited various discussions about feminism, unions, labor, and women place in the factory and home.

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