I Dream Of A Glorious Day When Menstruation Is No Longer Considered Taboo

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Deeming menstruation socially unacceptable is damaging. I cannot continue to pretend that the stigma surrounding periods doesn’t impact me. I am exhausted and annoyed (really more like infuriated, but I chose a less intense word lest some ignorant douchebag play the ‘psh… you’re just pms-ing” card) and actually find it really sad that those of us who have periods are taught to be ashamed of such a natural process.

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My problem with, what I’ve come to refer to as ‘Period Shame’ is not just about the fact that this stems from a long thread of deeply rooted, historic misogyny. That aspect of it is certainly awful, but at least it’s getting talked about more and more these days. What I’m not seeing enough awareness brought to, is the health risks that can arise as a result of Period Shame.

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When I first started menstruating, I was twelve. There was a lot of anxiety surrounding it because it happened on literally, the first day of seventh grade (’cause I didn’t have enough to worry about then), so, I shit you not, overly-cautious 12-year-old-me panicked and ended up crafting a bizarre safety-net of multiple maxi pads ‘just in case.’ Being inexperienced, I didn’t realize how hilariously excessive that was.

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However, I was also slightly relieved that day. Part of it was because I’d intuitively known it was coming. The days leading up to it had felt different to me, both physically and emotionally, so I had a clue, despite being new to all this. But most of my relief was rooted in the way periods remind you that you’re healthy. I was growing up, my body was changing right on schedule, and as inconvenient as it was, I had a concrete reminder that I was a healthy, ‘normal’ girl. What I can now draw from this experience, is that Period Shame is not natural. No one is inherently ashamed of this process, we are conditioned to feel that way.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to make a simple list of ways Period Shame has impacted me, as well as people I know, instead of diving into a cumbersome paragraph-form explanation. People who menstruate are often affected by Period Shame in the following (as well as many other unlisted), ways:

-May be afraid, embarrassed or uncomfortable telling a parent/guardian when they first get their period

-May not have an adequate understanding of how to hygienically take care of their periods

-May fear seeking help if there are complications (example: getting a tampon stuck)

-May be afraid/uncomfortable voicing concerns about their periods or asking important questions

-May find that the emotional variations that often accompany periods are exacerbated by this belief that when you’re menstruating, your body is doing something ‘gross and unmentionable’

-May not be aware if their menstruation is indicating health problems

-May not even know what menstruation is, and believe they’re dying or experiencing some kind of severe health problem/injury when their period comes. I know someone who got her period at age 9. This was her experience, because parents are often afraid to tell their younger kids about periods, despite the fact that hearing about this will not scar them or instill fear. This is problematic for early developers.

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The stigma surrounding periods is unhealthy, inconvenient and often leads to unnecessary embarrassment. In a worst case scenario, silencing people about menstruation can be fatal. We, as an entire society (all genders, all different bodies, all people) absolutely must destroy this harmful, misguided notion that periods are taboo. Aside from having damaging results, it is ridiculous and illogical. Those of us who experience menstruation, need to feel comfortable talking about our periods and asking questions, those who don’t, need to be aware that it’s never okay, and often inaccurate, to accuse another person of PMSing in attempt to invalidate feelings, and should also be aware that no matter what your sex is, you have hormones too, and your emotions are influenced by them whether you know it or not. Just because your mood swings aren’t correlated with a specific bodily function, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In short, it is the 21st century. Maintaining outdated beliefs that negatively impact a large portion of Earth’s population, is unacceptable.

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Laughter Is A Side Effect Of The Best Medicine

A lot of people really seriously subscribe to the notion that laughter is the best medicine. They value humor strongly because it makes them happy and to them, laughter is an integral part of happiness. In their eyes, when it comes to emotional problems, there are few better solutions. I agree that laughter is very important and can often play a unique role in the healing process, but not because I believe laughter alone is therapeutic (though it can be) or because humor makes people happy (though it does). I think that in the midst of all that, there is something even more intrinsic to the healing process that is often overlooked when it comes to this subject.

In many, many situations, laughter is a symbol of a mutual understanding, a relationship of sorts, between two or more people who have both found the same thing funny. When people laugh at a joke, it’s because they both get it. They’re on the same page, and whether they know it or not, they are bonding over something. I think that bond is what makes laughter so powerful, because we all crave relationships with other people. We want to know that someone else ‘gets it,’ even if ‘it’ is just the punchline to an amateur comedian’s corny joke, because if someone can ‘get’ that, maybe they can ‘get’ you too.

Laughter reminds us that we’re not alone. It breaks down those invisible walls that make us feel isolated, and brings people together. It helps us connect, and I think that human connection is the best medicine. Laughter is just a common side effect.

My Mom Thinks I’m A Lesbian/Advocating For Other Humans

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In light of some recent remarks I’ve heard from my mother, I have become fairly sure that she thinks I’m gay. Lately, I have been learning a lot about gender and sexuality because this is a fascinating topic to me and I don’t believe I can consider myself supportive of the LGBTQ community unless I educate myself. During bursts of excitement, I often share my newfound knowledge with my family, so I’ve been pretty vocal about this subject recently. While my mom wouldn’t deny LGBTQ people any legal rights, she doesn’t consider herself an ally. However, she has been awkwardly and subtly trying to let me know that I will not, in fact, be disapproved of if I bring a girlfriend home from college this year.

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Damn… if I’d known that being an ally to the LGBTQ (or MOGAI, if you prefer, but for some reason it’s like no one on WordPress uses this term?), community would automatically make me a lesbian, I’d have declared my alliance much earlier because hey, I’ve been heterosexual my whole life, why not mix it up a bit? I’m an adventurous soul! Stupid jokes aside though, this is actually something I’ve been meaning to bring up for a while now: You do not have to be gay to support equality. Just like you don’t need to be a woman to be a feminist, you don’t need to be black to believe black lives matter, you don’t need to be an animal to be disgusted by animal cruelty, you don’t need to be depressed to be pro-mental health and you don’t need to be an emu to think emus are the most punk rock birds ever.

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Seriously though…

This notion that the only person you should feel obligated to support is yourself is absolutely appalling to me, and what’s even more unbelievable is that I see it everywhere. It manifests itself in the most mundane ways and because of this, it’s often overlooked because we have become so accustomed to it. People who drive as if they’re the only ones on the road, people who refuse to hand five bucks to a homeless person simply because ‘It’s mine! Why should I give it away?!,’ people who litter and knowingly pollute the environment that they know they share with the rest of humanity just because they’re too damn lazy to walk a block to the grocery store or they’re so passionate about maintaining a perfectly green lawn that they think they’re entitled to obscene quantities of water… these people are all exhibiting the same repulsive, ‘I come first, everyone else comes second. I’m all that matters in the world’ attitude. It’s totally fine, and actually quite healthy to advocate for yourself. I encourage everyone to love themselves and support themselves. But there is absolutely no reason you can’t also love and support other people. I am not suggesting that we all start handing our retirement funds over to the homeless or stop using paper because it’s made from dead trees. If you want to do that, that’s great (as long as it doesn’t put you in a dangerous or unhealthy place).

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I mean, look at it…

All I’m saying is that the idea that other people matter, should not be so inconceivable or radical. I feel like that’s just common sense, but the amount of times I have been given weird looks for supporting racial equality, or been asked if money is an issue in my home because I support economic equality (yeah, it happened) or had my gender and sexuality called into question because I am supportive of the LGBTQ community, leads me to believe that an enormous portion of our population cannot fathom supporting another human being simply because other human beings deserve and need support. I think what this boils down to, is failure to recognize other people as human beings. I find this very sad, and I hope that one day everyone will support and love each other because of our shared humanity, and the recognition that love and support are two very universal needs among human beings, and everyone deserves that. I know that not everyone is greedy and self-absorbed. There are plenty of kindhearted individuals who are very passionate advocates of their fellow people and I am thrilled that they exist. But we need more of them, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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You just don’t fuck with these things…

You Know That Awful Feeling Of Descending Into A Gloomy Pit Of Depression?

I apologize in advance for the disorganized and melancholic nature of this post. It’s not really a fun or interesting one, it’s just something I felt like I needed to write about and get off my chest.

When you’ve spent the past three years of your life existing in a sort of languid fog of sadness , self loathing and paralyzing numbness, feeling even just ‘okay’ for a few months seems like this massive feat, partially because it is, but mostly because when you’re living in this state of mind, contentment seems like some kind of distant dream or coveted impossibility. For the past few months, I’ve managed to achieve ‘okayness.’ There were even days where I was legitimately happy with myself. Mostly though, I was absolutely thrilled that I still had the ability to feel that emotion and that somehow I had crawled out of the dingy hole I’d been rotting in. I hadn’t felt that way in literally years. Lately though, the best words I can find to sum up my feelings are, “Well, fuck…”

I’ve been finding that ‘okayness’ becoming harder and harder to access. Contentment only comes in intermittent bursts, my smiles feel fake, I make stupid jokes sometimes and no matter how hard people are laughing, I remain straight-faced, not because I am a master of straight-faced humor, but because in the past month or so, it seems that nothing I do can make me happy. I reread old blog posts and start blushing with humiliation because it all just sounds like pseudo-intellectual, mawkish bullshit now. Hours of my time are wasted staring at blank Word documents because starting the story I want to write just feels so futile. I haven’t written a good song all summer and what’s even scarier, is that I pick up my guitar less and less these days. Even back when I was suicidal I still played.

The problem isn’t just the sadness and numbness though, it’s also about the fear. I don’t trust sadness to just go away anymore. I used to be able to assume that sadness was a fleeting emotion. It would pass, I’d be okay, it wasn’t anything to worry about. Last time I got sad, it stuck around for three years. The feelings I’m experiencing now are frighteningly familiar, and I keep suppressing them and trying not to feel them because I just want to be okay and it doesn’t work.

College is starting next month. Aside from worrying about starting this new chapter of my life depressed and numb, I am terrified. And I know I’m supposed to be terrified. Everyone is terrified of college. But I’m terrified of my inevitable failure. It’s not just that I’m terrified of the unfamiliarity of college. My terror is not a question, it’s a statement. It says “You will not make friends, you’ll fail your classes, you’ll eat every meal alone, you won’t join any of those cool clubs you were interested in, you’ll make everyone hate you including yourself and that is why you should feel terrified.” That just keeps circling in my head, keeping me up at night.

So I’ve been feigning happiness in attempt to run from my sadness. A few weeks ago, at college orientation, I adopted this persona of enthusiasm and sociability and pretended to be having fun. I met some really nice people that way, but they didn’t meet me. My journal has been sitting untouched in my top desk drawer because I’m afraid if I write in it, the true feelings will come out. Next week, I have a five day outdoor orientation for college that I signed up for where I’ll go backpacking with some other incoming freshman, and I’m sure I’ll spend the whole time pretending to be as outgoing and friendly as I can and basing my first friendships on lies.

Some part of me feels guilty for not being happy. I am so privileged. I have no reason to feel like this. I also feel like I owe it to those around me to be okay, like if I let my sadness show, I’ll drag everyone else down with me. And I feel selfish for thinking about my own emotions so much because technically I’m being self absorbed. But I’m also kicking myself for lying to everyone I meet. I guess I just feel like, by existing, I’m doing a disservice to the world, and the only bright side is that at least I was able to cut the bullshit for long enough to admit to myself that I am not okay right now, and as much as I really want this to end up being a false alarm, it is entirely possible that I’m not going to be ‘okay’ for awhile.

What is wrong with being ordinary?

Such an insightful and well written post! It’s high time someone addressed this issue. I get annoyed with the grandiosity of advertisements all the time. I’m so glad I stumbled across this post!

The Window On The Street

There are many annoying things about advertising.

How loud and in your face it can be,

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The way you are sold a product through an (often highly polished and unrealistic) image of a coveted lifestyle,

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And the way women’s heads are periodically removed from their bodies:

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But one theme in advertising that has been bothering me lately is this: That to be ordinary – to be anything remotely like anyone else – is unacceptable.

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Advertising is something I try not to pay too much attention to, mainly because when I look at most ads the standards they imply through photos such as those above strike me as unfair and unrealistic. Like a strange pseudo-reality, or a fictional narrative in which one has to suspend one’s disbelief to get very far, ads frustrate me from how removed they often are from everyday life.

And yet…

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Starbucks Horoscopes

If you buy your coffee at Starbucks, it can be confirmed that you either don’t like coffee, are confused about what coffee is, or are a rich, white middle school girl in mukluks and hipster glasses, trying desperately to impress your friends. You are also the punchline of copious coffee jokes exchanged among pretentious coffee snobs like myself, who lounge ostentatiously in local, independently owned coffee shops sipping broodingly at the espresso they ordered to prove what sophisticated, Italian taste they have, but who secretly guzzle milky, instant decaf almost religiously every night before bed. Recently, I had a somewhat traumatic flashback to a darker, hollower time in my life that predates my discovery of local coffee shops and the development of my taste for quality coffee. In this flashback, I bought coffee at Starbucks. Please forgive me as I try desperately to piece my shattered ego back together by making fun of Starbucks drinkers in this cathartic endeavor in modern coffee comedy.

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Iced Skinny Flavored Latte: You buy all your clothes at the mall, live in California and have developed impeccable mathematical skills from years of adding and subtracting calories. You also have a Pomeranian, most likely named Victoria, after your favorite lingerie brand, who you tote around in your Gucci handbag while you traipse around the mall, wearing your sunglasses on top of your head and chewing your gum to the rhythm of your walking. I would warn you to take care not to overdraw your bank account, but the coffee spirits are telling me it’s inevitable.

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Mocha: You are desperately trying to conceal the fact that you don’t like coffee so that you can still go on those chatty Starbucks dates with your group of girlfriends. Your best friend BFF is Iced Skinny Flavored Latte girl, who you’re actually far too intellectual to be hanging out with, but who is very popular among the freshman class of Godawful High School, therefore putting you under enormous pressure to feign your friendship. You are living a lie. However, one day, for better or for worse, you will find yourself sitting in your college dorm room in a university hoodie, questioning the meaning of your vapid existence. You will spiral into a vortex of self-doubt and discombobulation in which you will battle your inner demons and make a resolution to live life to the fullest from this point forward. You will start by dropping out of college and using the remainder of your allocated tuition money to travel the world with hopes that this spontaneous journey will inspire a poignant memoir about self-discovery and mindfulness. The memoir will eventually be downgraded to a blog with two followers, who may or may not consist of your mother and your therapist.

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Starbucks Doubleshot +Protein: You may like coffee, you may not—whichever’s manlier. All you know for sure is that your girlfriend dragged you away from GTA for this and the inclusion of protein powder in this drink is just enough to keep your fragile male ego afloat for the duration of the date. There is a distinct possibility that in the very near future, your girlfriend will dump you for an unconventionally beautiful lesbian in an alt rock band, who will open her eyes to the world of independent coffee shops and the underground music scene. Also, your football team is going to lose the next game.

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Starbucks Blonde Sparkling Americano: You ordered this drink in celebration of your new implants, which you got even despite the fact that you’re still thousands of dollars in debt from the hot pink mustang you bought last month. You’re not entirely sure what an Americano even is, you just ordered it because it’s blonde and sparkling, like you. Be wary of who you flirt with today. The cute college boy with the impeccably groomed facial hair taking your order may very well be irresistible, but his girlfriend is running the espresso machine and will most definitely not hesitate to hawk one in your drink if she sees you bat your false eyelashes at her guy one more time.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte: You post photos of everything you eat on Instagram and have already finished garnishing your house up with nauseatingly adorable autumn themed decorations, even though it’s still August. Your room reeks of seasonal Yankee candles and the amount of selfies you take per day indicates that you are in dire need of an intervention. Your twin sister is a Macy’s manikin in the mall modeling this year’s latest fall fashion.

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Coffee: You were dragged here by a group of unbearably peppy and gregarious coworkers who need absolutely anything except more caffeine. You will also be very disappointed to find that Starbucks does not serve this drink.

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Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino: You really just wanted desert, but settled for this preposterous nonsense instead. Much like your relationships, you will enjoy your drink while it lasts, but will be left feeling curiously unfulfilled when it’s gone. You fiercely insist that the problem with your empty love life stems from your compulsive habit of denying yourself your true desires, but deep down, you know it’s because your heart is as cold as your Frappuccino. One day a strapping young latte drinker will come to your rescue and teach you how to love without inhibition. Shortly after melting your frigid heart, he will be killed tragically during an encounter with a rabid capybara.

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Evolution Fresh Sweet Greens Smoothie: You speed-walked to Starbucks at nine in the morning with hot pink, 3 pound dumbbells in your hands, listening to ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry. You wear yoga pants almost religiously and have somehow duped yourself into believing that kale is good in smoothies. Your exercise is not a continuous life habit, but rather happens in sporadic bursts, motivated by the workout photos your friends post on Facebook as pathetic, passive aggressive attempts to assure everyone that they have their lives together. As you suck your green, sugary goo through your plastic Starbucks straw, you will come to realize that your friends lives are actually just as messy as your own, and you have no reason to feel obligated to exercise to avoid feeling inferior. This will not, however, stop you from posting your own exercise selfie online as soon as you get home.

I realize this is starting to get ridiculous (or at least, more so than when I began writing), so I’m ending this here, before it gets completely out of hand. Also, after proofreading this post, I’ve decided that I can’t put this on the internet in good conscience without noting that everything I’ve written is intended as a joke and nothing is meant to be hurtful. I know this is all pretty ludicrous and completely inaccurate. It’s not meant to be correct, it’s meant to be stupid. I am aware that parts of this post can be interpreted as alluding to or making light of eating disorders, emotional meltdowns, death or rabid capybaras. I take all of these things very seriously and understand that they are not laughing matters. However, I do, from time to time use them in my humor because I am an awful, sardonic bitch who doesn’t know how to make jokes in good taste. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I understand if you are offended, and apologize in advance.

A Question Of Perceptions, Reflections And Happiness

We all know those people who have absolutely nothing nice to say about anything. I’m not talking about pessimists. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit pessimistic, or even more than a bit pessimistic. I’m talking about those people who may seem totally pleasant at first, but as soon as they open their mouths to voice their world views, they turn into these rancorous, penurious hate mongers. I’m sorry if that’s offensive, but I cannot hold it in any longer. I am tired of hearing these people spitting their miserable, acidic opinions out as if they’re facts.

“Nothing in life is free!”

“There isn’t a fully altruistic person on this Earth! They’re all out to swindle you!”

“Human nature is fundamentally evil!”

I mean, gee, I’m sorry, who pissed in your coffee today? And yesterday, the day before that and every day before that one? Can you prove any of what you just said? Because in my opinion, thought and will are free, altruistic people do, in fact, exist, and we know so little about human nature that as of now, it is near impossible and entirely foolish to place attributes on it. But I’m not going to go around trying to pass those opinions off as facts and trying to indoctrinate everyone with my nauseatingly optimistic propaganda, so kindly refrain from doing the same with your resentful horseshit. I can’t tell these people to stop viewing life the way they do, and that wouldn’t make sense anyway, because that’s not my objection. I object to the way they make everyone else miserable by preaching their hate and professing that everyone else is at fault for being so ‘blindly optimistic.’ I believe that most humans are trying to be good people because whether or not I’m succeeding, I am certainly putting forth a great effort to be a ‘good person.’ I believe that thought and will are free because I feel that my own thinking and desires are independent and within my control. I believe in altruism because I strive for it.

Perhaps the way we view the world is more a reflection of who we are as individuals, and not the rest of the world. If you’re a frigid person, it’s no wonder the world seems like a frigid place to you, and maybe that’s why these people who are so bitter and so eager to educate everyone else on the evils of humankind never seem like very happy people. They can accuse me of seeing the world through rose colored glasses all they want, but sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not the one whose viewpoints are tinted– maybe I have clarity, and it’s them who see the world in gray.

Am I A Victim Of Materialism, Or A Perpetrator?

Here’s a nice, disturbing topic to delve into: materialism. I’ve spent my entire life taking great pride in the fact that I am not materialistic. It’s been the one thing that I remind myself of when I start to question whether or not I’m doing an A+ job at life.

“I forgot to floss my teeth, have been ignoring my bank statements for three months straight, didn’t signal on the on ramp this morning, ripped a contact lens and lost my glasses, but at least I’m not materialistic!”

I mean, maybe I suck at some things, but at least I’ve got enough depth of character to not be materialistic, right? If I was materialistic, then there would be no redeeming qualities about being me. So at least I’m not materialistic… but I’ve been beginning to question that lately. This September, I’ll be a freshman in college. That means I’m buying a lot of college prep stuff that advertisers have convinced me I need. I can’t just take my sheets from home to my dorm room. No, I need XL twin microfiber bedsheets in light teal so that they can match the new, overpriced comforter I’m ordering on Amazon. And there’s a lot of slippery red brick on campus. It’s rainy here in the PNW, so I need a solid pair of waterproof boots. Could I have just settled for a practical, reasonably priced, favorably reviewed pair from one of the lesser known brands? Oh no. I scrolled past two pages of perfectly suitable, inexpensive, five star street boots and clicked on a pair of four star, goddamn Doc Martens. To be fair, they were fifty percent off, but for fuck’s sake, why did they have to be Docs? They had to be Docs because Docs are cool. Docs are recognizable. Docs will go well with those new dresses I bought, and the leather jacket and the wool sweater.

Back to school shopping is entirely acceptable, especially when you’re a college freshman and you’re scared about living on your own, but also excited, eager to find new friends yet desperate to make a glowing first impression. But it doesn’t have to be this marathon of materialistic desires and impulse spending. There is a fine, but clear line between wants and needs, and usually, I can make that distinction quite well, but lately, I feel as though I’ve been trying to medicate my college-freshman-apprehension with new clothes and unnecessary dorm supplies. Part of it is because of the marketing ploys. Walk into a Target sometime. There will be a full section of the store devoted solely to college supplies. You can have your pick of ten different kinds of shower caddies and get half-off on dorm decorations that will seem cute and clever until you realize that half the people on your floor have the exact same ones. Advertisers are fully aware that this time of year, the stores are crawling with fussy mother-hens, willing to shell out the entirety of their retirement funds on superfluous dorm accessories just to make sure their baby chicks will be comfy when they leave the nest. And they prey on that. Relentlessly. They also know the baby chicks will pay any price to be cool at school, so they make sure to set plenty of expensive bait for them. As a result of this, I have relinquished my integrity and authenticity and allowed myself to get sucked in to the materialism trap.

But maybe it’s irresponsible of me to blame the marketing ploys. I mean, at the end of the day, it just comes down to a poor, innocent, starving CEO who just needs a wee more million to install a mini bar on his family’s private jet. We all need money, don’t we? What really bothers me is that this entire time, I’ve known about the marketing ploys. I was fully aware of how excessive the college shopping was getting, and for this reason, I cannot call myself a victim while still maintaining an ounce of personal fidelity. I know that I encouraged and supported these marketing techniques. I know that when the college shopping season comes to a close, some middle aged man in a suit and tie is going to stand in front of his advertising crew in a meeting room and congratulate them on a job well done, clicking through PowerPoint slides of graphs and diagrams illustrating the success of their marketing ploys. I will be one of the millions of people who made those ploys successful, and it makes me wonder if it’s more because the advertisers took advantage of me, or because I am weak on a moral level and allowed those marketing ploys to ensnare me.

This raises a question that I’ve never really thought about: Is materialism an external quality that befalls the unwary or is it something from within, that comes out when given the right circumstances? Or is it a bit of both? Maybe that’s an obnoxiously pseudo-philosophical question, and maybe there’s no answer, but either way, it’s one that has been crossing my mind a lot lately when I get those intermittent moments of clarity in this frenzy of college-prepping, where I find myself disappointed with my actions and confused about why I’m behaving so out of character lately.

Learning To Check Your Privilege

I get it. No one likes to be reminded of how unfair the world is, especially when they’re the ones who benefit from the injustice. And in an era of shifting social paradigms, a time when millions of people worldwide are busy demanding change and raging against the machine… when you’re the machine, it’s hard not to feel singled out. I say ‘I get it’ because I am privileged, very much so, and learning to fully check that privilege was a habit that took a lot of work to develop.

Very often, I find myself exasperated with men who either refuse to acknowledge that they are privileged, or who, when reminded of their male privilege, immediately launch into a somewhat belligerent sermon about how women have it so easy these days now that they “have equal rights” so therefore feminists should just shut up already and “Once, a potential employer hired an equally qualified woman over me just to improve the diversity of their employees.” I get exasperated because as a woman who has experienced sexism, I understand that regardless of whether or not my constitutional rights are equal to men’s, the social paradigms surrounding women and femininity in general are still staggeringly oppressive and offensive. The very idea that an oh-so-privileged male could be so obstinate and naïve as to feel attacked and insulted when his privilege is pointed out is frankly, kind of appalling. Ironically, only a few years ago, I was just as naïve. I may not have become infuriated by having my privilege thrown into the spotlight, and I definitely didn’t ball up my fists and petulantly point out all the ways in which oppressed people are actually privileged but just don’t know it and how “I’m a victim too, you know.” But whenever I came across articles or blog posts about dycishet privilege, I would find myself feeling rather indignant.

What I had to learn in order to check to my privilege, is that acknowledging these privileges doesn’t invalidate any adversity I face as an individual. It doesn’t mean that I never have bad days, and when people directly point these out to me, they’re not attacking me, they are, in fact, doing me a favor. I think the only way for anyone to truly understand this is to stop making it about themselves. I don’t recognize my privilege because I deserve to feel ashamed, or because I should always bask in the glory of privilege, or because I’m seeking those shiny ‘ally brownie points’ or even because I’m trying to be a more socially aware individual (though I am, it’s just not the main reason). I recognize my privilege because it’s the first step in the process of making a better, safer, more inclusive world for those who don’t experience these privileges. It’s about them. And it took a lot of listening to the voices of these people for me to realize that. You don’t learn to check your privilege by talking over the voices of the oppressed, assuring them that you’re not privileged, that their observations about the way you’re treated versus how they’re treated are invalid and wrong. That is, in fact, engaging in a form of oppression. It’s only when you care enough about your fellow human beings to listen to them patiently and receptively and respect them when they come forth and share their experiences that you’ll begin to see things as they really are. So much of supporting social change is using your privilege to help that change gain momentum, and that’s something that’s simply impossible if you can’t be bothered to acknowledge your privilege.