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HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

(Yet another reason March is the best month of them all.) (The other reason being my birthday.)

To celebrate this wonderful day I’ve decided to share with you some of the kick-ass women that have helped shape my life in huge ways.

Malala Yousafzai and her inspiring strength and passion for what she believes in. She encourages me to stand up for what’s right and to keep fueling my desire for learning.

Simone de Beauvoir, a philosopher and feminist who really made me think, who stretched my mind in ways I did not think it could be stretched.

Kimberle Crenshaw for introducing me to intersectionality, which is an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT aspect of feminism as a whole.

Sylvia Plath, who taught me that it’s okay to feel and that my feelings are valid. The Bell Jar opened my mind to thoughts and situations that are very rarely discussed, let alone written about.

My professors that I’ve had during my time here at UWS. Each one of them inspire me to become a better person and challenge me in the classroom and therefore out in the “real world” as well. Because of them, I look forward to going to class because I know I’ll leave as an even better version of myself.

My mom because she’s one heck of a mom and role-model.

And of course, all my amazing, intelligent, ambitious, and kind friends without whom I would certainly not be the person I am today.

So thank you to all the women I’ve mentioned, and of course those whom I have not. I am so proud to be a woman among all these beautiful souls.

Feminist Slam Poetry

It’s finally Friday! And, as most of you know, Fridays here on Riah Writes are focused on feminism. Just, um, disregard the fact that I’ve failed to post the past….few Fridays. Sorry?

I spend a lot of my time on the internet, as you probably guessed, and an unhealthy amount of that time is used for YouTube. Some days I’ll go on YouTube to watch a new beauty tutorial, or maybe a vlog from one of my favorite YouTubers, and I’ll end up on some sort of Harry Potter parody video. (Yes, that’s actually happened before…) But I also watch quite a few slam poems now and then.

For those of you who don’t know what slam poetry is, it’s basically just the poet reciting their original work for a competition. There’s some really amazing ones that give me the chills regardless of how many times I’ve watched them, so I fully encourage you to explore the depths of slam poetry!

But since today is about feminism, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite slam poems that relate to feminism and other women’s issues. I sincerely hope that they give  you chills like they give me! (I’ve actually teared up through nearly all of these…I get emotional sometimes, okay?)

ALMOST ALL OF THESE VIDEOS CONTAIN PROFANITIES SO PLEASE CONSIDER THAT BEFORE YOU WATCH THEM! :)

1. Shrinking Womenhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQucWXWXp3k

This is quite possibly my favorite slam poem. In my interpretation of it, it’s based on the expectations/stereotypes/gender roles that women so often face. The line “I asked five questions in genetics class today, and all of them started with the word ‘sorry’,” hits home so hard for me personally.

2. Rape Poem to End All Rape Poems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wu7Ax78hXo

This is definitely one of those that gives me the chills. It accurately describes rape culture in our society. I can’t even properly describe it- just watch for yourself, trust me.

3. The Period Poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vu2BsePvoI

Although this one is unfortunately not inclusive to all women, she brings up a good point that our *gasp* periods make us strong and that to mock them is to mock so much more than just blood.

4. To JK Rowling, From Cho Chang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFPWwx96Kew

When I first watched this one my heart really hurt, considering how big on Harry Potter I am. But it’s such a great poem and message; that minorities are rarely written about or represented in mainstream books, movies, tv shows, you name it. And, if they are, it’s usually heavily stereotyped and straight up discriminating.

5. Bitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Sv-DSGCss

I’m not sure that “Bitch” is the actual title of this slam poem, so don’t quote me on that. I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH! Their reclaiming of this word that so often is used to demean women is powerful to say the least.

Well, there you have it! Watching these poems again makes me so extremely proud to be a feminist and to feel so passionate about all of these sorts of things. I can only hope that they have a strong affect on you as well!

I Feel Like Dancing

HAPPY FRIDAY ONCE AGAIN! Today is a beautiful day and I am filled with happiness. I decided against having a feminist rant today and instead I made a video of me dancing to Bad Reputation. Because this is one of my feminist anthems. And also because Joan Jett is awesome.

I know you’ll be blown away by my wonderful dance skills, but if for some reason you’re not, just enjoy watching me make a complete fool out of myself!

Have a lovely weekend! xx

Body Positivity & Loving Yourself

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Do you ever have those days where you feel as if you just don’t fit your body? It’s hard to explain it in writing, but you notice all of the little things about yourself and pick them apart? And there’s that part of you that thinks to yourself “Stop this! You’re totally awesome the way you are and what you’re doing is silly,” but you just cannot stop? I’ve had my fair share of those days in the past, to the point where mirrors became more of a distortion than a reflection. I’ve nitpicked just about everything there was to nitpick, over and over again.

There’s an odd weight lifted off of my shoulders when I type that out. I’ve struggled with my body and my image far too much in the past and I’d be lying if I said it were an easy thing to overcome. But I know that I’m not the only person who’s felt unwanted in their own skin, so hopefully any tidbit of advice I have can be beneficial to someone else.

There are certain things that I started to do to make me like my body and my appearance more. The very first thing had to do with how I was feeling inside. Try your best to stop being so negative about yourself; of course there are things that you won’t like about yourself but there is no reason to constantly beat yourself up over it. Loving yourself sounds so easy but it’s genuinely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. I realized one day that while I was so worried about how everyone else saw me, I never gave any attention to myself. Trying to please everyone else isn’t healthy, especially if you are having a difficult enough time with liking yourself as it is.

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Start doing things for yourself. Immerse yourself in your favorite book, take yourself on dates, go for walks to clear your mind, buy that sweater because you like how soft it is, drink your coffee or your tea with extra sugar if you want, whatever it is, do it because it’s what you want and because it’s something that will increase your happiness. Stop apologizing for the things that you enjoy, the music you like, the clothes you wear, how you feel. You should never have to apologize for being you.

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The second thing in helping become more confident with yourself is to take off those lenses when you’re looking in the mirror or when you’re tagged in a picture, or anything like that. Instead of finding the “bad” things, look for the things you like. Try your best to embrace the things about you that you do feel insecure about and turn them into good things. I know it’s much easier said than done, but once you start it gets easier. For example, I used to absolutely hate my teeth. I would rarely, if ever, smile with my teeth showing. As soon as I stopped critiquing them, however, I started to like them. It was as simple as that. I thought to myself “Hey, there’s nobody else with teeth just like yours. Who cares if you have a slight gap or that your gums show too much when you smile, those little things don’t make you any less of a person.”

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Third: stop comparing yourself to others. It’s become so normal that it’s something we tend to do subconsciously. You will never be a replica of that stranger or anyone else, just like nobody else will ever look like you. So what’s the point of putting yourself down because you don’t look like someone else? That makes for a very unhappy world.

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It’s hard to stay positive about yourself in a society that has these unattainable beauty ideals, but you simply have to create your own version of beauty. Beauty, both inner and outer, doesn’t have to do with your weight or hair or personality, it has to do with you being genuinely happy with yourself. Making choices for yourself, for your own happiness. Being the person you want to be, not the one the rest of the world thinks you should be. Once you can achieve that, all that petty stuff will seem so frivolous in the end.

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Take the time to appreciate the quirky, unique aspects of yourself whether that be physical or personal. We’ve all got so much to give and it’s a waste to spend our lives nagging at ourselves when we could be loving ourselves.

What IS Feminism?

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If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me that feminism is “trying to make women more powerful than men” or that feminists are “man-hating lesbians” or “feminazis” or whatever other blatantly ignorant comments or insults I’ve heard, I’d probably have enough money to be eating something besides a grilled cheese for lunch. Hell, I could eat a grilled cheese encrusted in diamonds and served on a silver platter!

I don’t want to focus on the negatives, though, so I’ve decided to make this post in hopes that not only does it accurately describe what feminism really is, but also to help anyone who simply doesn’t understand it.

I know I’m constantly annoying people with my long-winded rants and re-posting of feminist links and videos, but I stopped caring about that a long time ago. The way I see it is this: if I’m making you uncomfortable with what I’m putting online or bringing up in conversation about feminism and feminist issues, GOOD. It’s a good thing because it means you’re seeing something that you’re not used to, something you’ve maybe never cared about, something you perhaps don’t agree with. If we all just went through life ignoring the things we don’t want to discuss because it’s not fun or because it’s uncomfortable then where would we be? I’m gonna take a guess and say we wouldn’t be in a very good position.

It’s hard for me to define feminism because there are so many different aspects and viewpoints on it. I could go generic and give you the dictionary definition which is: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” And yeah, that definition certainly isn’t bad, it pretty much gets the general point across. But my personal favorite definition is the one that has to do with smashing/destroying/crushing the patriarchy. I love it.

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(Not sure if you know this but the patriarchy is actually super debilitating and oppressive to women. And hey! The patriarchy sometimes even sucks for men…just not nearly as much. But don’t you worry friends, I’m saving the big bad patriarchy for another day.)

Popular feminist topics are (with accompanying links you may find helpful):

1. Sexism in the Media

2. Social Inequality

3. Violence Against Women (domestic abuse, rape, sexual/verbal harassment, etc.)

4. Reproductive Rights

And there are SO many more that are constantly occurring and being discussed and needing a change. What I struggle with personally is feeling as if I have to choose which one is more “important” when in reality they all need to be addressed because they are ALL. SO. IMPORTANT.

I don’t expect everyone who reads this to instantly turn feminist and want to start a revolution, but I just want to inform people of what it truly is. As you can see from the above list, feminism isn’t concerned about becoming more powerful than men. That’s silly. Feminism is concerned about the real and scary problems that women face everyday.

You might also read this and think to yourself “Okay Riah, I see where you’re coming from, but to be honest that doesn’t affect me whatsoever.” Well, as a middle-class white feminist a lot of these things don’t affect me personally either. And I consider myself very lucky that I’ve gone through my life relatively unscathed to these problems in comparison to what could happen to me if I were of a different status. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t change the fact that millions of women worldwide are facing sexism and violence constantly because of their race, age, ability, class, sexuality and gender identity, etc. There are so many different parts to feminism and to claim yourself as an anti-feminist seems to me that you don’t truly know what it is or how vital it is.

So do me a favor and open up your mind to the world of feminism. It’s not as scary as it sounds, trust me. Inform yourself and start noticing the sexism that occurs every single day, whether it’s something you encounter in real life or something in the media. Believe me when I say there is always something new online that serves an example as to why we so clearly need feminism.

Phew, I almost feel out of breath. Now I’m going to treat myself to a nice cup of tea and a movie on this rainy day. Have a good weekend and remember-sexism sucks!

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Feminism Friday!

Happy Friday! Wow do I love saying that.

First of all I want to thank all of you lovely people who have given me wonderful suggestions on topics for this blog. Each of them were extremely helpful and I hope I don’t disappoint you!

Being that it’s Friday and that I’m a proud feminist, I have decided to make every Friday into “Feminism Friday” here on Riah Writes. Before I dive into the beauty that is feminism, however, I want to make it clear that I am in no way shape or form a professional feminist (is there such a thing?) and that I will most likely make mistakes, change my mind and opinions, and even overlook things sometimes. But that’s part of the fun. I hope that this experience not only makes you as readers think and contemplate what I’m writing about, but I am sure that I will gain so much more insight and thoughts on it as well. Wooo for knowledge!

Another aspect that I would like to mention is that both women AND men can read these Friday topics. Whenever the dreaded F word is brought up, it seems like a lot of the male population cringe and back away slowly (it’s almost as if we live in a society that frowns upon men having anything to do with feminine and woman related subjects, huh…strange) So please don’t shoot me down! I will undoubtedly say this a million and one times but everyone can benefit from feminism. How truly thrilling!

Right. Back on track, Mariah.

As my first feminism topic I am so very pleased to announce that this post is about Malala Yousafzai. I gather that many of you have probably heard of her before, but for those who haven’t, I’ll give you a very brief overview about this woman. Malala Yousafzai is a 17 year old from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban about 2 years ago due to her activism and belief in education for girls. At the age of 12 she was already making an impact on education with her remarkable intelligence and ambition. There is so much to say about this woman but I know for certain that I cannot do her justice. If this tiny snippet of information intrigued you in anyway whatsoever, I highly encourage you to read her book “I Am Malala” and you will learn so much more and I guarantee it will inspire you in a way that you wouldn’t expect.

With that being said, today is a HUGE victory for Malala, her family, her cause, and anyone who believes in the right for all girls (and children in general) to be allowed education. Just today Malala and Kailash Satyarthi, another advocate, were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. At 17, Malala is the youngest peace prize winner ever. I got chills just typing that.

Regardless of the age difference, I look up to Malala in so many ways. Not only does she fight for girls rights, but she is unbelievably well-spoken and kind. It is my biggest hope that this recognition will help drive her campaign to an even greater success.

There is a video of Malala speaking about the award and her stance that is super important to see! I’ve posted the link for you to watch here: Malala’s Statement

Also, here is a picture of an amazing mural of Malala done by Anat Ronen’s murals in Texas: Malala Mural

Like I said before, I really encourage you to read up on Malala and her cause because it is something that needs to be considered and a change certainly needs to be made.

“A girl is not supposed to be the slave, a girl has the power to go forward in her life. And she’s not only a mother, she’s not only a sister, she’s not only a wife; but a girl should have an identity, she should be recognized and she has equal rights of a boy.” -Malala Yousafzai