You will STILL be a victim of street harassment when it’s over: “God BLESS YOU, yo legs are GREAT. DANGGG. Have an AMAZING day.” Thanks. I hope God still blesses me when I don’t work out 7 days a week.
Conversations about oppression and privilege are EXHAUSTING. You may leave them feeling guilty, useless, oppressive, and oppressed. And even when you think you have spent sufficient time on the subject, you will be required to sit through more and more speeches and exercises that make you feel guilty, useless, oppressive, and oppressed.
If self-reflection isn’t your thing, neither is Moxie. A reflection every week can be difficult to put on paper when you feel like your life is a random assortment of shit-show moments. That’s how your life may feel when you’re sitting in a cubicle all day, totally strapped for cash in an expensive city, and constantly noticing how NASTY the culture we live in is.
When you encounter older feminists, they will either be shocked that young feminists exist or they will commend you on your feminism in a way that makes you feel like the fate of women/girls/humanity now lays in your un-weathered hands. Haha- sux 2 b u.
Non-profits are totally broke, so even if you want to be low-key during your unpaid internship, it’s simply not an option. One second you feel unneeded, the next you are told to prepare a presentation for an off-site meeting. What???
You will never have 2 days in a row off, so if you are not from the Northeast and you think it would be adventurous to do Duke Engage New York and discover a new part of the country, that exciting trip to Boston that you imagined is VERY stressful to pull off (I tried, but only because I live up here and had all resources handy, see my blog post titled, “I wore the same dress for 5 days straight”).
Duke students from another Duke program live in the same NYU dorms as you, so if you thought you’d be escaping the Duke scene for the summer LOL & don’t even get me started on how many Dukies you will see if you go out.
But if you DO partake in The Moxie Project, the advantages are uncountable. The young women that surround you are UNREAL and will make you pee yourself with excitement JUST THINKING ABOUT running into each other on campus (I LOVE YOU LADIES SO MUCH, I’VE NEVER FELT MORE APPRECIATED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE). Your organization will appreciate you in ways that you’d never expect. And lastly, the women supervising you, from the program (shout out to Ada and Anna Marie) and your non-profit (Francoise Jacobsohn is my hero), are there for you. Basically, you never struggle alone. This program is designed so that quite the opposite happens.
A few hours before I started to write this blog post, Kate Middleton gave birth to a royal baby boy. This seems to be the highlight of everyone’s day. From the time I woke up, it was apparent through social media that Kate Middleton’s vagina was truly being watched by millions around the world. Personally, I don’t care about the birth of this baby any more than I care about anything else going on in England (sorry, that might get me in trouble), but that doesn’t mean I’m not hugely relieved that no medical complications have been reported, YET. Throngs of magazines in the grocery store, television stations, and newspapers have been keeping Americans up to date on Kate’s pregnancy for a while now. While others may have been playing the guessing game over boy or girl, my heart has ached for the possibility of any number of medical conditions that he could be diagnosed with.
But I don’t want this to be a post about how sad it would be (slash will be, who knows?) if the royal baby isn’t perfect. I want this to be a post about how DEVASTATINGLY SAD AND DISSAPOINTED everyone would be if Kate Middleton wasn’t perfect as demonstrated by her not shooting a perfect little baby boy out of her vagina. Maybe some people already know that she isn’t perfect, but from all I see… the pictures of her smiling, pleasant and charming, unthreatening…that is her image.
Kate Middleton’s image has evolved into this perfect, silent young woman.
She has been gracing the covers of tabloids for so long now that I don’t have trouble picturing her face and body in multiple outfits and hats. However, I really don’t think I have ever heard the woman’s voice. Her voice, like many aspects of English history… just wasn’t quite important enough to travel across the pond. Pretty girl, pleasant to look at, easy on the eyes, not really offensive looking in any way, or particularly sexy…
Whatever, whatever… Kate Middleton, blah blah blah. I’m pretty sick of this whole THING around her, and am even a little embarrassed to be dedicating my bi-weekly blog post to her. So from here, I’ll switch it up: I was at a graduation party this weekend that I really didn’t want to be at. And so, naturally, while walking up the driveway to this dreaded event, I proclaimed to my mother, “It is going to be very difficult for me to control my facial expressions at this here shindig.” By this, I meant that there was no way in hell I had the energy to illuminate the scene with a fake smile. Fake is exhausting, I just can’t do it. Wouldn’t you know that not even 20 minutes later this LADY (someone’s grandmother? My cousin’ grandmother on the other side? NO, was it my cousin’s mother in law? Who cares?) yelled at me to “SMILE!”
Barf. Gag. Punch (I wish I could have).
She later revealed that she wanted me to smile, because I reminded her of Kate Middleton, and she needed me to smile so that she could get a better idea. NO, lady. How about you ask me some questions, get to know me, and then decide if my PERSONALITY matches hers or anyone else’s PERSONALITY that you’re familiar with.
The bottom line is that young women, like Kate Middleton, are silenced when they give the world their smile. It’s like, Kate’s pretty face has been circulated so much that that’s all we need from her. Her smile has eliminated our curiosities about her character. We know that she is “pleasant,” “delightful,” “charming.” She smiles for everyone, and that has made everyone perfectly content with her to the extent that that is all they want from her.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are definitely appropriate times to smile. I smile when I submit a final paper or when a professor lets me out of class 5 minutes early. I smile when my mom brings my cat into my bedroom to wake me up in the morning. I REALLY smile when I get eggplant parm. But I don’t smile just to make someone else happy, and I sure as hell don’t smile, JUST BECAUSE, and neither should you.
Let me preface this next confession with a very true statement: I LOVE AMERICA. I do! I never want to live abroad, let alone travel. My brother is a proud member of the military. My parents’ whole relationship seems to revolve around football, and yadda yadda ya, this country rocks. However, this year, I was NOT looking forward to the 4th of July. Mostly, we had too many Moxie Project events scheduled, and I was super stressed out about how to celebrate. As soon as I found out about our Moxie schedule and the full 1pm- 10pm day we had scheduled on the 5th and our dinner on the 6th, I knew that this July 4th weekend would take some very detailed plans to pull off.
The weekend prior I finalized the plan. After hearing word that one of my MOST FAVORITE teammates would be at her house in Boston for a couple days, I had a guiding light and worked from there. Ready to hear it? You might want to grab a pen and some paper to map it out… ok, I’ll take care of all you visual learners:
Wednesday, July 3- Work then head right to Grand Central and go home! (CT)
Thursday, July 4- Wake up early and drive to Boston!
This is Claire who is Canadian and a great co-pilot
Friday, July 5-Leave Boston at 7am, drive to the commuter Metro North train, leave car there, take train to NYC, and be in Ada’s apartment by 1pm for discussion, attend the Museum of Sex, watch off-Broadway play “The Accidental Pervert,” spend night hanging out with Moxies
Saturday, July 6- FIND DEBIT CARD (not in original schedule of events), workout, eat delicious meal provided by Melanie and Kristie, take off right after Moxie discussion for Grand Central, take Metro North back to the train station where I left my car on Friday (say prayer on train that car has not disappeared from lot), drive home
Sunday, July 7- FREEDOM, NO TRAVEL, SPEND TIME WITH CAT, GET NAILS DONE
Monday, July 8- Have mom drive me to Metro North train on her way to work, take train to Grand Central, take subway to work…. End.
It was a great July 4th weekend. I was so grateful that Claire tagged along from Wednesday until Friday too! But my favorite part of all this back and forth traveling was my outfit. I wore the same dress from Wednesday AM until Sunday PM, impressive right? Ok, well I did change for a few hours into a clean outfit on Friday PM, but then I lost my debit card, so it was clearly bad luck to set the dress aside.
There is something about consistency when you are moving from place to place. Knowing all I had to do was throw on that dress was reassurance that the world wasn’t going to fall out from under my feet. I get really anxious when traveling (yes, I’m considering this gallivanting around the Northeast “traveling.” Don’t judge, I’m not exactly “worldly”). So this is my advice to you when you are anxious about a certain block of time that is a little daunting, whether it be for fear of not making it fun filled enough or even if you are stressing about matters much more important: wear one thing consistently!
I switched high schools when I went into 11th grade and I swear, I wore the same leather bracelet like it was MY JOB. Made me feel good to glance down and see something that I had also seen at home, at my previous high school, and then in a new, un-mastered place. That bracelet was the tangible representation of who I was even if my location was changing. Perhaps I didn’t need such a deep symbolic object when taking a couple days out of this New York City intern life, but every time I threw that baggy, blue dress over my head for day 2, 3, 4 or 5… I was like “Grace, you’re alive, you’re in the greatest country in the world, and you are SO LUCKY to be doing whatever the hell it is you are about to do today.”
this is me and my dress with things going wrong (getting back $15 worth of $1 coins was not ideal when living off a Duke Engage stipend)
Hi, that’s me! Last Saturday 2 other Moxies and I went over to Queens to volunteer at Choices, the medical center for women run by Merle Hoffman (look her up, read her book, you NEED to know about this lady AKA watch the video at the bottom of the post) who we met on a toure our first week of this program. Choices offers women an insane variety of medical services, and regardless of how much money the women can come up with to pay for said services, NO ONE gets turned away. We’re talkin’ cancer screenings, birth control, pre-natal care, COLONOSCOPIES… but what really draws everyone’s attention to Choices is that it offers safe, legal abortions. And so, dun dun dun, there are obviously some people who cannot stand the thought of a woman, whether she be old, young, already-mother, virgin, slut, rape victim, or whatever, having the right to terminate her pregnancy. These people DO NOT like that Choices performs abortions, like they HATE abortions. Guess what? I ALSO HATE ABORTIONS. I 100% wish they were completely unnecessary. Not because of the procedure itself, it’s one of the safest, if not THE SAFEST surgical procedure that exists, but because, in this world, unplanned for, unwanted pregnancies happen and since I personally believe that the only thing worse than an unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted CHILD (ew & they cost a shit ton of money), I am SO SO SO grateful that medical centers like Choices can rid women of such undesirable situations. So last Saturday we went to the clinic and helped women get inside the door.
2. The protestors
Yes, exactly like the one you saw in Juno that told her “it has fingernails already.” In Juno, she was, in fact, discouraged from getting the abortion… and because it’s Hollywood and things always work out in love stories, it ended fine. Except I would have welcomed the presence of that protestor over any of the ones at Choices. They were not quiet, young females. They were older, many were male, and my gosh, their anti-choice protesting was much more aggressive. They really, really hate the escorts in a creepy-they-learn-your-name-and-smile-at-you-and-stand-really-close-to-you way. Skeevy, I had to shower for an hour that Saturday. A few stand holding massive posters of gory fetuses. Way more than you expect stand on the street. But I don’t just mean they stand on the street. I mean they make themselves a disruptive, aggravating presence to anyone (male, female, adult, 5 year old) who walks by. They hand out tiny pamphlets filled with misinformation (things like “death is a possible result of abortions” YAH IT WAS IN THE PRE ROE V WADE TIME WHEN ABORTION CENTERS WEREN’T AVAILABLE AND WOMEN WOULD DIE FROM ILLEGAL, BOCHED ABORTIONS PERFORMED BY SCAM ARTISTS OR THEIR STUPID BOYFRIENDS THAT LEFT THEM TO DIE AS SOON AS IT WENT WRONG) to absolutely everyone. One might even slip it into your seven-year-old daughters grip when you’re not looking.
3. The spectators
The protestors aren’t just handing out written, radical, religious jargon. They are verbally riling up any passersby to take a firm stance against Choices. Because talk about dead babies is quite alarming, they can sure gather a crowd. The spectators linger, peer, twist their heads in all sorts of directions to watch this propaganda war (and as I saw at the end of the day when Mary Lou, who the protestors call “Mary Lou The Marxist”, was trying to block a very large male protestor from taking pictures of a young woman while they were escorting her into the clinic- PHSYICAL war) between the creepy as fuck spectators and us, in the white coats, just tryna get women (and MEN and CHILDREN, cuz abortion clinics aren’t just places where 16 year old sluts go alone and ashamed) to the damn entrance.
Let me tell you about one spectator. Not only because he made me fear for my life, but mostly because he completely represented the evil tricks the protesters use. He was this guy… something was off… we think drunk cuz he was stumbling and his eyes were twitching and I don’t know, but BASICALLY, he was exactly the type of person the protesters feed anti-choice propaganda to. SO they fed him all these false facts and really graphic images and basically sent him over to me and another young, female volunteer. So for probably 5 minutes he stood like a foot from my face yelling and saying ALL THIS STUFF and I was just like SIR WE DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT PLEASE GET AWAY. Whatever, I don’t care, I realized he was pretty irrelevant in the whole political movement (Claire also mentions him in her recent blog post and gives some good details about how many kids he has and how he feels about child support). But what really pissed me off, AND SHOULD PISS YOU OFF, is that while he was doing this, one of the protesters stood about a yard away egging him on! Yes, she stood there repeating in a creepy monotone, “yes, isn’t that gross that they do that.” “Yeah, tell them how ungodly it is.” I hated her for abusing his vulnerability like that even more than him for spitting his ignorance all over me.
4. The patients
I don’t really want to talk about them too much, they get enough unwanted attention. Ugh, like don’t you just feel so bad for someone who wants safe medical treatments or maybe just wants to get a colonoscopy or maybe just wants like a pamphlet on how to plan their family/future??? I really hated standing on the sidewalk waiting from patients, but if the volunteers don’t go out there, the protestors could literally PHYSICALLY keep them from entering the clinic.
5. The people who will surprise you
I am not joking when I tell you that at the end of the day a very large man walked up to us and told us this beautifully logical explanation for why he has no anti-choice sentiments: He is a male and why should he have any say in what a woman does with her body and her health? We’re talkin’ an unprompted monologue that articulated exactly what I would ever want to hear from a man OR REALLY ANYONE regarding the logic of pro-choice. He had my heart. But then he said something surprising when one of the other volunteers asked him if he worked in the area: “No, I’m actually getting help from the methadone clinic around the corner. So yeah, obviously I’m not one to judge someone who falls upon a hard time. Like if a woman needs to have an abortion, GO FOR IT.” So here we were, starring into the eyes of one of the most reasonable men I have ever heard from. HE GETS IT. Maybe it’s so easy for these predominantly white, male, older politicians to think that if a woman is pregnant, it will allllll just work out. They really need to have a little more respect for the hard times.
Here is a video that shows the ins and outs of Choices… Listen to Merle, see the inside of the finished medical center, and stick around for the end for an unfortunately large showing of protesters.
Rarely have I gone out with friends and had a bad time. I ALWAYS have fun. I’m usually the FIRST to suggest another round, the LAST to call it a night…etc, etc… But on Saturday night, after it all- touring a women’s medical center to such an extent that we were able to watch the pathology exam of an abortion, listening to Sarah Weddington raise her voice for women’s rights in Albany 40 years after she won Roe v. Wade, picking Merle Hoffman’s brain and visa versa, braving many catcalls while running, and lastly, a printer jam… I was not fun. I was affected and wounded.
While talking to a long time guy friend in a loud bar, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t make conversation, join him for a dance, or take him up on a drink. I didn’t care enough about anything going on to force a smile or fake enthusiasm. All I could do was apologize for being SUCH a bummer.
Week 1 of The Moxie Project was startling, but not in the way that gets you on your toes. It was the kind of startling that cornered me and swung a baseball bat at my knees. I want to do something great for women’s rights, I really do. But it’s a dirty world. Merle Hoffman’s best friend was murdered by a “pro-life” activist, in a church, made a martyr for women’s rights, while she, herself, has had multiple death threats. Sarah Weddington could live to see the fruits of her labor rot away, because 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, legislators still want to dismiss the woman’s right to choose. Lastly, many legislators fail to see the link between reproductive health accessibility and family structure, which they seem to care so much about preserving. It’s confusing. Why don’t they trust this female decision making if it could overall help preserve healthy familial trends in the generations to follow?
I’m really scared for the battles that I’ll go through as a feminist. I’m curious about what specific path I’ll take. I’m not positive about what exactly I want to do with the rest of my life, but I’m excited to have that figured out. Hopefully soon. It seems that having specific enemies and allies is critical to experiencing the little victories of life. Until this BRUTAL path to discovery is over, it’s all intake. Maybe by gathering the stories of others before me, I’ll leave New York and finally be able to tell someone what I want to do with the rest of my life. It may change in a couple years, but just having a specific focus might make this whole thing a little less overwhelming/discouraging.
Grace is a rising senior interning at Legal Momentum this summer.
The first thing I did today was retweet a New York Times article titled, “Women as the Family Breadwinner on the Rise, Study Says.” “YES. GREAT TO SEE. LET ME SHARE THAT,” I thought. Dig a little deeper and you are reminded why 4 out of 10 households with underage children depend on the mother’s income for survival… there is no father within the household to provide. The women in nearly two-thirds of these households are single parents. This study reflects the extreme difference in family dynamics from 50 years ago when the number of breadwinning women was just a fourth of what it is today. On a more empowering note, the article also shows the immense growth in the percentage of women who make more money than their husbands…almost 25% compared to just 6% in 1960! Even if the woman has no choice but to be the main financial supporter for her family, the statistics are there… women can do it!
I love seeing evidence that women are capable of filling traditionally male roles. For me, it does so much more than prove that women deserve ample education and work opportunities. It helps me justify my feminism. I have no fear sharing my views on women’s rights knowing that women REALLY ARE as good as men. I almost can’t believe that that concept isn’t understood and still needs defense, but even though it’s the 21st century, there are bounteous demonstrations of the notion that men are better than women. Rape and domestic violence are just two obvious examples.
I hope that working with Legal Momentum in the Equality Works program will help me structure my feminism. It seems everyday I boil over misogynistic things I notice on the news, in social media, or from friends and family, but there’s no release. I end my internal rants over how outrageous this world and men are with no satisfaction. And if I do vocalize my feelings, the reception from those I trust with my rage is unsatisfactory. I couldn’t be more excited to work with other feminists in a professional setting.
So far I’ve gathered that Equality Works mainly supports female construction workers to stay in the field. Working with this cause will be refreshing. I have never worked with policy. I’ve never looked into sexism within the construction industry. I’ve never even met a female construction worker. Getting familiar with these three things probably won’t take long. While stereotypical intern tasks like filing and excel spreadsheets might make it hard to see the effect of Equality Work’s mission in this very real, very patriarchal world, I can clearly see how helping women move forward in their career affects the women’s movement. Statistics, like the one that I chose to pass along to all my Twitter followers this morning, require tedious work to change.