Condé Nast has decided to discontinue its internship program starting in 2014, WWD has learned. The end of the program comes after the publisher was sued this summer by two former interns who claimed they were paid below the minimum wage during internships at W and The New Yorker.
Condé is just one of several media companies facing similar litigation from summer interns. In February 2012, a former intern at Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar sued, claiming the magazine violated minimum wage and overtime laws. A judge threw out the case, but the intern appealed and the suit remains unresolved. In another case that was settled in June, two interns who worked for Fox Searchlight successfully sued the studio for similar reasons.
Interesting development. Flawed as the system may be, how much harder will it be for interns to break into the workplace if more companies follow this lead?
More importantly, how do we fix the problem? A lot of companies only offer unpaid internships for college credit, which is great until you graduate and still can’t find a job. In another twist, it’s being noted that some companies only offer jobs to those with “paid experience,” which in present times seems like it might be hard to acquire unless you work your way up from intern to employee.
Not being categorized as an employee leaves you vulnerable without many civil legal recourses*. However, sometimes unpaid internships are valuable stepping stones to long-lasting networking relationships and careers. And, for the most part, the T&Cs of unpaid internships are laid out pretty clearly when one starts. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out; whether more companies ultimately follow Condé Nast’s path.
*although for some offenses, like sexual harassment, you can file a criminal charge and still get justice.
My boyfriend has always made it a point to open the door for me when we get in the car. At first, I would try to rush and get ahead of him, so he couldn’t do it, or ask him not to. He couldn’t understand why I was being so weird about it.
"I can do it myself," I’d say.
"I know you can do it yourself," he would sigh, "but it’s something I want to do for you."
A couple of weeks ago, we had dinner with another couple. The guys both agreed this kind of behavior was weird on women’s part. Basically, women should know that men are just trying to be polite; they’re not trying to pass judgment on women’s capabilities or sensitivities.
I never explained why I feel so strongly about it.
The problem is that for every man like my boyfriend and our friend, there’s many others who define women in a different, lesser sense. Men who approach women on street or at the subway late at night to pass judgment on their appearance and berate them when they’re not interested. Men who take to the internet to criticize women’s hair and shoes. Men who get defensive when women are strong, who call for them to return to their “ladylike" days. Men who get offended when women don’t respond to their flirtation at bars, labeling them as ‘bitches,’ they have never experienced the shit that comes with being a woman in 2013 and thus are so ignorant of the fact that maybe a well-intentioned ‘hi’ is the 14th unsolicited comment that girl received that day. Men who open car doors and carry boxes for women because deeply engrained in their minds is a belief that WOMEN ARE LESSER.
For every man like them, there is at least one who vigorously follows google links like, “Women should know their place,” “Women cannot be trusted,” “Women need to be controlled.”
For every man who will really think about this UN advertising campaign are countless others who will dismiss it as nothing more than another shrill noise from the feminist brigade.
I am sort of a firm believer in unpaid internships. I was lucky to have two extremely fruitful internships, one that landed me a full-time job after admittedly some soul-sucking months of working for free. I learned a lot at both my unpaid internships and put a lot of effort into absorbing as much as I could. Whether I had to photocopy mindlessly or do the work of two people while an employee was out sick, I juiced each opportunity like a big orange.
Working for free is an emotional mindfuck. Every dollar you spend seems like an awful lot (I once almost cried in public when I realized I’d lost a $5 daily metro card) and your self-esteem diminishes as quickly as your savings. At the very least, you deserve to be toiling in an environment where your contributions are valued and you are learning something you can later use of value.
So what if you get subjected to sexual harassment at your internship, and the court finds you’re not an employee? You can’t get any civil damages under workplace prohibition of sexual harassment, although you could press criminal charges against the individual.
Some states, like Oregon, have already started to pass laws to protect unpaid interns (from, among other things, sexual or racial discrimination.) Should all states do the same? It’s hard to know where to draw the line on this issue. Would too much regulation lead to the demise of the unpaid internship? And, if so, just how much harder would it be for twenty-somethings to land positions after college?
“And of course, they hadn’t really thought of me as a person. Why should they? These images are throwaways, little bursts of amusement to get through a long workday. You look, you chuckle, you get some ridicule off your chest and move on to the next source of distraction. No one thought about the possibility that I might read those words. Far less, that I would talk back.”—
Birdy is polite in a “Can you please help me find my rain boots?” and “Thank you, I’d love another deviled egg” kind of way. But when strangers talk to her, she is like, “Whatever.” She looks away, scowling. She does not smile or encourage.
I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.
Confession: I have, at various points in my life, googled How to Make Friends in Los Angeles.
By ‘at various points in my life,’ I mean ‘several times in the last few months.’ None of this searches have really been very fruitful.
Join a club! Take a class! Hang out at your local park! Join the gym! Be patient! Get a hobby!
I could tell you about the times I’ve tried each of these things.
How about the time I went to French club at my local Starbucks. I was the only female there, and the only one below 35. One man was about 60, and spoke barely any French, just English with a French accent. He confused Oui and Je suis. The second guy spoke Québecois, but only when he did speak, which was rarely, and the moderator of the group owned a local French school, and spent most of the time showing us the Facebook page for his school, and reminding us to Facebook friend him when we got home. I stayed for thirty minutes and excused myself as soon as it was polite. 0 for 1.
I joined a gym. A worthwhile endeavor for the sake of my love handles and my thighs and my dream of someday (never?) running a marathon. But as a place to make friends? Not really. Weirdly, I’m not really at my best when I’m gasping for breath, my hair is curling into trellis plant tendrils around my face, held into place by a sheen of moisture, induced by the freakishly-warm room (seriously 24 Hour Fitness, sort out the a/c.) 0 for 2.
Sometimes I go for walks in my local park. Sometimes I go running there (see point #2.) But I like to live my life by the golden rule, and so I think that accosting a total stranger in the hopes of starting a conversation that will blossom into a meaningful friendship - where we’ll meet for yoga or spinning class on Saturday mornings, then pop to Starbucks for something pretentious with soy, before working up to weekend trips away together to Vegas - would actually be kind of weird.
There’s always this weird process when making friends in any situation outside of high school or your office. It can be difficult in scenarios where you have to make your own fun. You meet someone, maybe in line at a coffee shop, or in a class you have together once a week. You chat, maybe swap a compliment or two,
"That’s a great iPhone case!" "Thanks! I like yours too. Where did you get it?" "Oh thanks, I just got it on Amazon. Only $9!"
and then there’s this realawkward part where one person has to make the first move by asking for the other person’s number or last name so they can find each other on Facebook. This is the part that can make you look stalkery and weird.
The normal progression of friendships that will turn out to be real and important is slow, and usually rooted in things you have in common together for a period of time. With some of my closest graduate school friends, our friendship didn’t really progress from greetings in class until we were thrust together on a school night out. I wonder how long it would have taken us to get over our fear of being the weird clingy one if we didn’t have a school-organised night of debauchery to help us lose our inhibitions around each other?
Which is why it’s so hard to make friends now, especially in this huge, crazy city, where it can take you an hour to drive four miles, and your area code and closest freeway has a damning effect on the number of social activities you can partake in. It’s hard to get into situations where familiarity can develop.
I’ve tried a lot of things - Spanish classes, yoga class at Lululemon, meetup.com (you have no idea how many groups exist for people to discuss the Law of Attraction.) Nothing has stuck yet. In part because I think I’m not really sure about how to make the leap between random occasional acquaintance and tentative-maybe-BFF.
Being in LA was particularly hard for the first few months, because I didn’t have a car, and spent up to five hours a day on public transport. When I got my license and my car stopped breaking down every time I drove it, I was much happier, and convinced my renewed vigor for life and Los Angeles would lead to making friends. It hasn’t really, yet. The girls I communicate with everyday live in Chicago, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Cork, Dublin. My friends at work are in Orange County, a lifetime away on the weekends, and are sadly unavailable for froyo and spin class in Culver City on Saturdays. I’m not sure why my friendship fantasies always involve spinning classes, but they do. But I’m more than ever grateful for having made such great girlfriends, and for being able to communicate with them across oceans and timezones and various modes of communication. I’ve always been grateful for my girls.
I’ll keep trying. I will keep talking to people at Zumba class, or Spanish class, and keep forcing myself to go to events at meetup.com, even though the thought of it makes me want to gouge out my eyes. In the meantime, if you like feminism, fashion, and froyo and you live in my area code, hit me up. I’m cool.
Someone at Fox News really can't get over the past
Some choice quotes from this really hilarious article by Dan Gainor at Fox
Dear American Media: It’s great that the royal couple is about to have a baby. We share in their joy – constantly – because you are covering the story nonstop. Amidst the hoopla, you’ve forgotten something that’s kind of important. We rebelled against the royals a couple hundred years ago.
Despite all that, we eventually became friends and firm allies. As an avowed Anglophile, I’m happy to celebrate most things British – except the food, which even the English don’t especially celebrate. But we need to draw the line at royalty. This is America. We spent a lot of time telling off the royals, not kissing up to them.
According to Nexis, there were more mentions of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy on ABC, CBS and NBC in the last year than mentions of my Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens (from the city that beat the British in 1814) and the World Series winning San Francisco Giants. Did network execs forget that 108 million people watched the Super Bowl? That’s 45 million more than the population of the United Kingdom. Surely, they remember that “we love baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?”
Besides, who needs foreign princesses when we have our own right here? Sure, Kate is smart, cute, pretty and classy, but ours are home-grown. We’ve got Hollywood royalty – the Kardashians, Beyonce, and more.
If none of that sways you, then think of the Founding Fathers. They were the men who took the risks and said “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They wouldn’t find such adoration of royalty to be revolutionary. They’d probably call it revolting.
Many are mothers, who speak about their love for their children and fear that another child would hurt their family. Many are in committed relationships. Several are rape survivors, some of them very young (I remember the mother who fed her three children beans on toast for three weeks to raise EUR200 towards the cost of her 15 year old’s abortion.) The one thing they all have in common is that they are far from the stereotype of women who have abortions to go on a foreign holiday or to fit in a nice dress for a wedding. Women have sold family jewellery, risked eviction by skipping rent payments, sold their televisions, cut off their land lines, sold their cars and returned Christmas presents to pay for abortions.
Two days ago, Ireland’s Dáil Éireann passed a hard-fought limited abortion bill, caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side - Savita Halappanavar, reality, the bodily autonomy of women who are sick of having to book a flight to England while their government pretends this is rational. On the other side - the Catholic Church, the threat of excommunication of politicians who voted against God (I mean, really), hyperbole and the Holy Bible.
Yesterday, a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the murder or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin - a verdict many of us saw unjust but inevitable. It’s impossible to know what really happened that night, but in the end Trayvon was found guilty of scaring a man driving past him in his car, to the extent that the man deprived him of his life.
I read this article earlier - entitled On Zimmerman and American Racism. The author makes some valid points about the social consequences of being black in America, but I admit what struck me was this first paragraph,
"As I write this, an hour ago, George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin was acquitted of all charges. I don’t believe that the legal system is a justice system, per se. Law and due process are about argument, not righteousness. People who are accused must be proven to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt or they are free men and women. Everybody gets their day in court and the best arguments win; sometimes at the expense of justice. I must admit that when I ponder this, I become very relieved at my decision not to pursue law school. Because I, personally, would have gone to law school with the purpose of trying to make the world a more just place. I am sure many do. But events such as this serve as a reminder that we have a legal system, but not necessarily a justice system; the semantics matter.”
I guess this is a reason why people choose not to go to law school. In the wake of a bad decision, they lament the absence of justice in the world, decide that the legal system is cruel and unfixable, that hard fight is not worth fighting for.
Abortion activists in Ireland have felt like this for years. In Ireland, the separation of church and state is a non-event, and even in the wake of child-abuse scandals, the Catholic Church still wields a powerful influence, can still make, rational, well-intentioned people believe that soon we’ll be offering abortions to women just like we offer free samples at Tesco. The abortion bill we’re passing is not an excellent one - it provides for abortion in scenarios where there is a real substantial risk to the life of the mother, including suicide. The risk will have to be proven by a medical professionals; three where the mother is claiming intent to commit suicide.
The bill fails to legislate for women who want abortion following instances of rape or incest, or in scenarios of foetal abnormality or non-viability. There will still be hundreds of women booking plane tickets to England, embarking on that difficult journey hundreds of miles from home, returning back to a country which doesn’t really forgive them for what they’ve done, but is prepared to turn a blind eye so long as they do it somewhere else.
But it’s a start. Justice is not made in one day. Often it takes years of defeat, criticism, tooth-and-nail activism, before one day, you get your break.
We didn’t get justice for Trayvon Martin this time. We didn’t get justice for black kids in Florida, or anywhere, who sometimes can’t walk into a 7-11 without the clerk getting a little testy, feeling under the counter to make sure they can press the panic button as fast as they need to. We still didn’t get justice for women whose babies won’t survive outside the womb, but who often have to go through the unimaginable trauma of giving birth to them at full-term. We didn’t get justice yet for the victims of rape, and sometimes it seems like we never will.
I met a really inspirational woman a few days ago. As a freshman, she was a victim of rape on her new college campus, and has struggled ever since to overcome the harassment she’s faced since she called her university out on it, and to help others do the same. She’s going to law school because she feels like that’s the best way to help people, that’s the best way to achieve justice.
Even if you don’t get it on your first go, or your second, or your third. Even if you never get it. Even if you end up in personal injury when you always thought you’d be a human rights activist, that’s okay. There’s no excuse not to try simply because society tells you that you shouldn’t.
(Also, I don’t think people go to law school explicitly seeking to make the world a more unjust place)
Don’t listen to people who tell you there’s nothing good to be found in law school, and you’d be better saving your money. The truth is this - if you want to be a lawyer, if you want to be a judge - you have to go to law school. And, unless you want to leave the continental US, a JD is your best bet. Don’t listen to the masses who tell you there are no jobs for law students, and you’re crazy if you think you can outsmart the curve. Don’t write off your ability to do good in this world simply because the world isn’t ready for it right now.
Many people in my country have a hard time discussing women’s rights and bodily autonomy. Many people think I am crazy because I believe I should have access to an abortion if I want to. We achieved a little victory, but really the fight just got started, and like the Thought Catalog author says, the semantics do matter. What we need, in order for real change to be effected, is people who recognise that the semantics matter, and people who fight for what they believe in, who don’t stop caring or working just because the decision didn’t go their way.
Many people in Ireland thought that abortion legislation would never happen, that there was no point fighting for it because the opposition was too strong. Go to law school if you want to. React. Mobilise. Care.
It kind of drives me crazy when, in the wake of any major news events, people on twitter retweet meaningless information left right and center SOUND THE ALARM THAT THE BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECT WAS NATURALIZED ON SEPTEMBER 11TH CONSPIRACY!!!!!! and then proudly proclaim that Twitter *wins* the day by being faster to report than the mainstream media. Ultimately, a newscaster just cannot be faster than someone livetweeting or instagramming an event from their iPhone directly on the scene, but this doesn’t instantly negate the space for the kind of analysis, discussion and re-enactment we see on the news. I’m all for citizen journalism and getting my news in real-time, but there’s no need for this weird egotism when the two can co-exist happily. And, you know, some people, they don’t have twitter.
We could read all the literature in the world about abortion - pontificate about the nuances of Roe v. Wade,debate the existence of ‘Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome’ (it’s just your guilty thoughts, bad girls), wax lyrical about the growth of the foetus for days on end - and we would never come close to getting inside the head of a women who’s had, or is considering, an abortion.
Choosing not to become a parent is an equally big decision as choosing to become one. Neither is something women dive into without consideration, because babies are fashionable, or because they decided they just wanted a dog instead. When something begins to grow inside your womb, your whole life changes regardless of the path you take once you discover you’re pregnant.
The conventional Irish approach to abortion is to pretend it’s not happening: bury our heads in the sands while women board planes to the UK, safe in the conch of moral superiority. As we’re trying to herald in abortion in situations where the life of the mother is at risk (only after years of holding out), some people still haven’t figured out that there’s a difference between abortion as a responsible decision, and abortion as contraception.
You suggest that changes to the abortion laws in Ireland could lead an Irish woman to get an abortion when she’s about to go on holiday but "…an unexpected pregnancy could interfere with her plan and how she might look on the beach," or where she’s about to go to a wedding, but an unexpected pregnancy might turn up like some errant Pokémon, “…ruining the chances of fitting into a very expensive dress.” As if choosing not to have a baby is the same as choosing an outfit. As if 4000 women every year don’t have to make a life-changing decision.
Making light of one of the most important decisions a woman of any age can make with respect to not just her body, but the rest of her life, highlights you as another ‘man who doesn’t understand woman,’ a man who sees women as materialistic nobodies, inclined to carry babies to term only if they’re in season. A man who does not understand pregnancy, motherhood, or what it means to be a woman.
Without even broaching on the issue of a woman’s right to choose, this depiction of Irish women is so truly insulting and degrading, it beggars belief. You say you’re “…not for one minute suggesting that many woman would want to do this.” But you believe these women are out there, frolicking around, engaging in unprotected sex, safe in the knowledge that should things go wrong, their beach bods will be saved with a quick trip to the clinic. And that only these frivolous women will be responsible for any abortions that result from less stringent legislation.
And because of your frankly ridiculous belief, we should continue to bury our heads in the sand.
Last night I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. It was the kind of laughter that can only be shared with someone you’re really comfortable with, someone who doesn’t mind when you careen from infectious to ridiculous, gasping for air, snorting, trying to hold down the stitch in your sides, someone who stays laughing with you, and not at you. When the pain in my ribs subsided, I hugged my boyfriend close, then, as often, grateful that I live with someone who can really make me laugh.
Flash forward to this afternoon and I’m sitting at my desk. My Facebook feed is full of people sending thoughts and prayers to another massacred city, and I keep hitting refresh when I see a (1) on twitter. #bostonmarathon. I can’t think of anything that makes sense. My prayers and thoughts mean nothing to anybody. Only to me.
I think of the future. Our collective past is one which has already been pockmarked with tragedy and sorrow, and much as we seem to want to create a safer world for our children, we’re constantly reminded that our ability to do so is hindered by something great and entirely incomprehensible, the desires and caprices of others.
I think of the two to four children I someday want to bring into the world, who will hopefully not have my co-ordination, but instead a love of tennis and musical ability. What does it mean that I can’t promise them safety? I can’t promise them safety in their schools, in movie theaters, at races in the open air. I can’t promise any daughters I have freedom from financial discrimination, or the company of adults who will understand them and console them if they get raped. There is no place I can bring them to where they will be truly safe.
I spend all afternoon absorbing as much information as I can about what happened in Boston this afternoon. I read stories of runners who changed course right to hospitals and donated blood, of first responders rushing to the scene, not knowing whether there were more attacks on the way, not knowing the fires they might run into. I heard of people in Boston who opened their homes to strangers, restaurant owners offering free meals and somewhere to sit, strangers who used their belts to make tourniquets.
Ours is not a world that will ever be trained to expect or accept merciless attacks on innocence. But it is a world where strangers will rush into fires for those they don’t know, where decent people live, love, work, learn, make each other laugh and try to come to terms with evil. I will never be able to keep the people I know and love as safe as I would like, but if they can even occasionally feel the kind of unbridled joy I did as I laughed last night, or witness for themselves the sheer goodness of the human race, life will be worth it whatever the risks.
'Going Paperless' Or 'How to Document My Life But Not Be A Prick on Facebook.'
I started to use Foursquare recently, four years later than everybody else. I had been turned off the idea of using it by people obsessively oversharing, checking in at ‘my local shop,’ or ‘my cosy bed.’ But in the past few weeks, I have been trying to remember to check in at restaurants or bars, to write down what I tried, and what I didn’t like about the menu.
I recently found about Jamie Rubin’s ‘Paperless’ project. You can read about it here (www.jamierubin.net/going-paperless) The project documents Jamie’s process of removing all paper from his life, by scanning it into the program ‘Evernote.’ He does this with everything - receipts, bills, his children’s artwork and report cards, postcards from friends. Not only that, but he has synced up his Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare account (zing!) so that every time he updates one of these, it saves a note in Evernote. Kind of like a digital diary.
I had been looking for the perfect way to document my life. When I was younger, I used to keep journals. I’d stick photos in there, receipts, cinema stubs, notes from friends. The older I got, the less dramatic my life became, and the less time I had to pour into writing everything down. My hope that some day they would be discovered and I’d become the next Carrie Diaries became less accessible. So I wanted to find a substitute. Facebook or a blog is not an option. There are some things that only I want to remember, just me, and not the whole world. I want to remember things like that time my friend got a love bite at 24 and texted me a picture of it. Or when I’m shopping with my boyfriend, and he says, “Oh I’d love to have xyz…” and I can make a note of it for his next birthday. Or what about that time we stopped into some random bar after a concert, and now I can’t remember where it was. I want to remember who I loaned my stuff to, or whether or not I actually threw out that thing I’ve been searching for for months.
Evernote seems like the easiest way to do this. It’s a journal I don’t have to stay up late to update, and I can access it on my phone whenever I want. I can record my life, but not have to feel like a sycophantic fool updating my Facebook status every time I eat a sandwich.
You can sync up your Evernote to your other social media sites using If This Then That (ifttt.com) Any time I tweet, check in on 4sq, post a picture on instagram or update my Facebook status, it saves automatically to a ‘social media’ folder on Evernote. Everything is searchable instantly. I no longer have to scroll through tweets to find something I think I might have tweeted about eight months ago.
It’s the perfect compromise. Once a week I download my Evernote data and back it up to a hard drive. Programs can have expiry dates and I don’t want to lose anything. I’m trying to become less of a hoarder, and while I can’t throw out letters or postcards or the paper-plate spider my godson sent me for Easter yet, I love knowing that I’ll have a digital copy I can look at for life.
“I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love…Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”—Sen. Claire McCaskill, becoming the 42nd senator to support marriage equality. Extra points for making the announcement on her Tumblr (via shortformblog)
Generally speaking, the news media don’t lament the theretofore bright futures of young men (or women) convicted of other violent crimes, such as the killing of girlfriends or executing down-on-their-luck job-hunters. They don’t grieve at the loss of college football careers for kids convicted of drug-related offenses, or empathize with would-be murderers who break down in tears when faced with consequences for the crimes they committed. They don’t assign deeper motivations to the tears of men and women who must now contend with the most openly broken part of the American criminal justice system – incarceration – to which around 2.2 million Americans are currently consigned (at 730 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, the highest rate of imprisonment in the world) and which is widely recognized as minimally rehabilitative and maximally punitive.
But rape isn’t any other crime in America, or elsewhere. Statistics show that every 100 rapes in America results in only five felony convictions. It’s the only crime in which the level of intoxication of the victim is considered by some, like the convicted rapists’ lawyers and some in the media, to be mitigating evidence. It’s the only crime in which the perceived attractiveness of the perpetrators to other people or the victim is considered relevant information. It’s the only one in which we’re encouraged to sympathize with why perpetrators picked their victims – their supposed drunkenness, their clothes, their reputations – and then blame the victims for making themselves attractive targets.
”—Steubenville and the misplaced sympathy for Jane Doe’s rapists. Megan Carpentier at The Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/18/steubenville-misplaced-sympathy-jane-doe-rapists
I think one of the reasons our long-distance relationship worked out is because neither of us were looking for it in the first place. When we met, we were residents of different continents. I was working in Los Angeles for six weeks, and was going back to Ireland to school, and, hopefully, a career. He had just moved out to LA and was excited to start a new life.
When our summer fling reached its expiry date, I would say that we were sad, but not devastated. It was one of those don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened moments. (I didn’t think those existed either.) We hadn’t spent long nights wondering whether we should ‘give it a shot’ or if it was ‘worth it.’ We’d had fun, and I flew home happy.
After a few months of regular skype conversations and emails we realised this wasn’t over yet.
Almost two and a half years later, we’ve moved in together.
When people ask me how we managed it, I say, “You know, it really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.” I think if I had spent hours agonising over whether or not to choose that path, I’d feel differently. But I fell so hard in love, and it ended up being that there was no other option for me to take. Long distance or bust.
Your life changes exponentially. You find yourself brushing your teeth and putting on perfume at 2.30am (6.30pm for him) because you think you should make an effort, it might be discernible 5000 miles away. You convert everything into their time. You become adept at subtracting 8. You become accustomed to Skype dating. This is gradual. You start off with post-it notes of acceptable conversations, to stave off the awkward silent skype stare. There are a lot of ‘um’s. Approximately 110 skype dates later, you’ve gotten over this.
You get to a point where you think, “I’d be happy just go to sleep together; we wouldn’t even need to talk,” but when you do get to lie down together, you freak out if he falls asleep. You want to stay up all night cherishing every minute of whispered conversation because sometimes the silence is so deafening when you’re apart.
You have a lot of conversations with well-meaning friends. “It’s not going to be a fairytale, you know this right? I mean…are there things you don’t like about him? You’re in a honeymoon period right now. It’ll be different when you’re together, you see. You might be better off finding someone closer.” Absence makes the heart grow fonder, true, but nothing about distance makes you blind. Moreso, you wake up every morning on your own, and you get to learn very quickly whether or not it feels right.
There were a lot of things to hate about those two years, but we adapted to the uniqueness of the situation. We imagined what our lives would be like together, what our apartment would look like, where we would spend our Sunday mornings once we were experiencing them at the same time.
We have the same address now. We wake up together every morning, and brush our teeth at the same sink. Two years on, we still have so much time to make up. Our first time taking a vacation together, our first time going to an amusement park, our first trip to IKEA. Planning reality has taken over imagining it, and every day, just as for the past two years, we get a little bit closer.
Obviously I have thought a lot since reading the New York Times’ latest disparaging criticism of my generation. I am into responsibility, and so I like to keep track of what the media blames and criticises me for. I am irresponsible with money. I need to be marketed to in 140 characters, or I’ll lose interest. I’m to blame for bookstores closing down. I’ll probably move back in with my parents. I’m a boomerang. Most recently, according to Alex Williams at the NYT, I am killing love as we know it.
My generation is no longer dating. Men are casting women by the waysides, refusing to take them out for dinner and pursue them. “Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along.” Women have become victims of a “mancession,” whereby men are too broke to take women on proper dates, so they prefer to immediately integrate them into their existing social groups. As one male friend recently told some poor millennial love-hopeful, “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”
That sounds awful.
We hear the story of Lindsay, who recently had a terrible experience. “After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”She spent the night at the apartment, which kicked off a cycle of weekly hookups, invariably preceded by a Thursday night text message from him saying, ‘hey babe, what are you up to this weekend?” (It petered out after four months.)”
I think we’re supposed to feel sorry for Lindsay, who presumably just wanted to find out more about the bouncer’s psyche. But it sounds to me like Lindsay had a bit of fun that night, and maybe every so often for the next four months. Maybe what’s happened is that the bouncer recently carried someone else home from his club, Lindsay’s feeling a little dejected about her love life. Lindsay wishes she could go out with someone a little more stable. But if Lindsay didn’t really know what was going on when she went home with the bouncer that night, then actually I really do feel sorry for her.
It’s not a zero-sum game. Just because millennials (men and women alike!) are engaging in casual sex doesn’t mean we are eschewing relationships for always and forever. You’re allowed to have both if that’s what you want. If you want a four month casual relationship with a bouncer, you can have that. If that’s not what you want, nobody is forcing you to do so. Don’t go home with him. There are other options out there.
These kind of articles interest me even more because in Ireland, people don’t go on dates. I have a friend from Northern California who came to study abroad in Cork. She was dismayed at the lack of a dating culture. “I just want them to take me out for dinner,” she said. “For us to get to know each other better.”
How best to explain that that’s just not how we do it here without making myself sound like a shameless whore? Relationships start different on the other side of the Atlantic. Dates only begin once you’re actually dating. We meet in certain social circles, and we stay in those until we’re comfortable enough to hang out just the two of us alone. This takes less time for certain people. For further discussion, see this brilliant article at the Guardian.
I have never really been on a traditional date. Neither have many of my friends. I don’t need a man to take me out to dinner in order to make me like him, or to make me think that he likes me. I met my boyfriend when we both worked at summer camp. We watched movies in dorm rooms and played volleyball with friends in the evenings. My main problem with articles like these is that they fail to account for individuality. They judge a generation by the reaction of one girl who went home with a bouncer, and a guy who took his girlfriend out with his buddies.
Anyone who involves in casual hook-ups is stupid, “…according to Cheryl Yeoh, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco,” the piéce de résistance of Alex William’s NYT piece. Cheryl is Doing. It. Right. She “…said that she has been on many formal dates of late — plays, fancy restaurants. One suitor even presented her with red roses. For her, the old traditions are alive simply because she refuses to put up with anything less. She generally refuses to go on any date that is not set up a week in advance, involving a degree of forethought. “If he really wants you,” Ms. Yeoh, 29, said, “he has to put in some effort.”
For what it’s worth, the best relationship advice I’ve read recently comes from Ramit Sethi, a financial advisor and life coach. In his article, "Why won’t anyone be honest with you?" he suggests that maybe, if you can’t find people worth attracting, you should work on yourself. “I guarantee [you] could improve [yourself] — becoming more fun, getting more fit, picking up interesting activities, and overall working on [your] positive attitude. This idea of actually improving yourself is advice NOBODY tells their friends. It’s politically incorrect and impolite, and it’s easier to tell them to DUMP THAT LOSER! But it also happens to be 100% true.”
Change your language. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.
“The issue of how to provide for the X case has been considered by other bodies, who have all concluded that legislation, in some form, is the most appropriate way in which to regulate access to lawful abortion in Ireland.”—and yet somehow we’re still thrashing out the same old issues, twenty years later
“Thousands of students were unable to return home to vote owing to the fact that they are awaiting their first maintenance grant payment and could not cover the fare.”—
USI President John Logue’s startling revelation that students are too poor to go home at the weekends. In my five years at UCC I never heard of anybody who couldn’t afford to go home at the weekend. There’s a mass exodus from college cities on Friday evenings. Try ot get on a bus from Cork to Waterford or Limerick at the weekend, and use the time waiting at the station to develop your free-fees media strategy which at this stage is simply preposterous.
Students are more self-sufficient than USI would like everybody to believe. If you’re going to keep fighting for free fees, you have to try a bit harder than that.
On Wednesday evening I got to the metro station after work and realised I had lost my metro card. I pay $20 a week for the card and it’s worth so much more because each day I take six bus/rail journeys on my commute to and from work. I put all my stuff down, crouched and started rummaging through my bag. A man approached me, and gave me a metro card. “Looks like you lost your card. I have a day pass on this, and I’m finished using it.” I got to ride home for free.
What I remember most about this amazing experience, which was a huge plus one for the kindness of human nature in a city where people can be pretty shitty (a woman on the phone at work last week hung up on me when I asked her to repeat her name, “I just told you it, you’re not listening to me…”), is how I stiffened and began to inwardly rage when I saw the man coming towards me.
It’s a rare commute for me where I don’t receive an unwanted comment from a man I don’t know about my appearance or clothing. Where I don’t have to switch seats, or walk down the platform, to escape from a man who wants to talk to me about the fact that I look like a ballerina, or am probably a secretary since I’m wearing a skirt. Or wants to know if I want to get together with him sometime? Do I have a boyfriend? Oh yeah, where is he? Do I know I have great eyes, a great ass, great tits? Sometimes, our interactions are more personal, like when one guy walked around after me for a bit, playing songs about fucking white girls.
Any way you react to something like this is wrong. And that’s the most messed up thing. One minute, you’re sitting alone at a metro station, and the next minute you’re verbally accosted by a total stranger who gets insulted when you respond the wrong way. If you say nothing, you make them feel bad maybe, “Hey baby, I was just tryna talk to you. Just wanna get to know you a little better that’s all.” Maybe they feel more upset than that, “Why’d you gotta be such a bitch baby I’m just tryna talk, not saying anything bad.” If you exercise your god-given right to walk away, “you’re overreacting. Stupid bitch.” Sometimes you know I just want to take the train and I don’t want to discuss getting together with somebody, although it seems there’s literally hundreds of men who think that love stories begin when one person approaches and objectifies the other in public.
Complimenting a woman on what you have determined is her finest physical attribute when you leered at her is a pretty shitty way to initiate any kind of relationship. And if you’re not talking to me to try to get me to have sex with you, it’s still disgusting to comment on my appearance simply because you’re following some gender-engrained stereotype which you think entitles you to control how a woman should look or feel. “Why you not smiling baby, you’re so pretty. A girl like you should always be smiling. I could make you smile I bet.”
Sometimes it’s crappy being female. Not only is it more expensive to be a woman, you have to endure relentless attacks on the construction of your body by the mainstream media and random people on the street, and you have to endure the constant legal assault on your bodily autonomy by politicians who’ve never had a vagina, and are sometimes staggeringly unaware of what actually happens during rape. And if you speak up, you might offend a man.
I thought about the interaction with the guy at the station all the way home. I felt bad for instantly dismissing him as he walked towards me. “Fuck, I just don’t want to deal with this right now.” But I shouldn’t have to feel sorry just because he ended up in the minority of men who speak to me without wanting to comment on the way I’m dressed.
I used to feel like this at the bar a lot. When I would collect glasses and have my ass grabbed a dozen times. When customers would leer at me over their pint glasses and say, “it’s better for customer service if you smile a bit more you know?” or every time I would have to make up a fake number or pretend one of the other bartenders was my boyfriend (having a boyfriend who isn’t physically present often isn’t enough protection. “Different countries isn’t cheating! What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!”) simply to avoid the awkward conversation of why I didn’t really want to meet Jack or Alan or Paul or Mark once my shift was finished. And maybe it’s mean to lie. Maybe I should sit down and have a real conversation about why I’m not interested. But for every man who would find this okay, there’s a dozen who’d call me a bitch, and sometimes as a woman who’s fed up of this, you’re not sure how to distinguish.
I think catcalling and the general objectification of women has a definite and undeniable effect on legitimate dating and male-female interaction. I had an experience recently where a friend told me how offended he was that his innocent advances were sometimes rebuffed simply for no reason. “Sometimes girls are just bitchy, you know?” I guess I found it difficult to be sympathetic. Sometimes women find themselves in less intimidating circumstances where men try to talk to them. Often these men are great, champion people, who really are interested in getting to know you better, or in offering you their metrocard. It might be unfair to impute the characteristics of platform douchebags on nice guys who really might just want to talk, but one bad experience can really make you feel like not using your vagina ever again, and it’s naive to be unaware of this current cultural context, even if it seems a little unfair. But realise. When you are so often harangued and harrassed and just fucking bothered because you’ve the nerve to have a vagina and walk around unaccompanied by a male, sometimes you’re just not that into it.
I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. So now I am! Using a) people at my office and b) www.duolingo.com until I can find a class that I like. Duolingo is great so far. You practise by reading, learning vocab, writing and speaking.
Most complicated phrase mastered so far: la mujera come una manzana (the woman eats an apple.)