Conscious, Deliberate Mistakes

Hey kid, good morning,
You look like an angel.

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

I watched The Last Five Years recently, a movie I’ve owned for close to a year but never got around to watching. I knew it was sad; I knew it would make me Feel Things, but I didn’t foresee just how much.

The reason for that is because I thought that the story was going to be about the organic breakdown of a relationship that occurs even when both parties are trying their best and doing nothing wrong. And it mostly was, but there was another element too: cheating.

I have never cried harder at a movie. Or any piece of media, actually. I don’t cry at things unless they’re happening to me, generally. But this movie and its songs hit me right where it hurts in a way that is unique. Almost immediately after the song “Nobody Needs To Know” began, the waterworks started flowing.

In this scene, the male protagonist, Jamie, is seen having an affair with multiple different women. That’s pretty typical. What was different was that it was apparent that he actually cared about the women he was with. Normally you don’t see that. Normally what you see is a guy just fucking random girls left and right, telling them he’ll call and then doesn’t and forgets their names. And normally, said guy doesn’t care about his girlfriend either. Continue reading

A Woman’s Sexuality Should be Hers Alone

BY STEPHANIE BERTOLO

On International Women’s Day last Tuesday, we highlighted the accomplishments of countless women throughout history and called attention to the desperate need for continued progress towards gender equality. There are so many issues that women face on a daily basis solely because of their gender. One that I have personally faced time and time again is the constant control of society over a women’s sexuality and the ways in which it affects all other aspects of a woman’s life.

The persistent sexualization of my femininity was especially apparent during my time working as a gas station cashier since I was sixteen years old.

“Smile,” exclusively men would say to me and my female coworkers. This was often followed by a comment like, “You look prettier when you do.” To them, my emotions had no value in the face of my aesthetic appeal. Some people have suggested that perhaps these customers were just trying to be cheerful. But the fact of the matter is that if a woman is not smiling for whatever reason, it unsettles some men so much that they have to tell them to alter their behaviour. Why? Continue reading

Awareness Does Not Equal Empathy

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

I have a membership at a rock climbing gym, and I’m usually there at least a couple of times a week. As a result I’ve become known to most of the staff, although not always for my climbing unfortunately.

I frequently use my To Write Love On Her Arms t-shirts as climbing attire, and no one’s ever commented on them. But I guess that doesn’t mean that no one noticed them.

I made friends with one of the staff members, and one day after talking 19afd0b5372b6bea130220e7396c9b78about my experiences with mental illness, he confessed to me that one of his coworkers had said something about me that was less than sensitive, long before we had become friends.

“Yo, she’s a cutter eh?” His coworker said one day, gesturing to my outfit. “She’s always wearing those shirts.”

My friend informed him that this meant nothing and that as far as he knew I wasn’t covered in scars (this was a fair assumption considering that I was fond of prancing around in tiny shorts and tank tops in the summer, although of course that doesn’t mean anything either).

I think it’s interesting that he clearly knew what To Write Love On Her Arms is (sort of – they cover much more than just self-harm) but would still say something as judgmental as that.

Creating awareness does NOT automatically mean eradicating stigma or even providing the right education. Continue reading

I Get It Now

For the past week I’ve been searching for a song or a Tumblr post or something to sum up how I feel, but I haven’t had any luck.

People don’t write about girls like me unless it’s to tear them down.

Growing up, I always looked at women who would become involved with someone else that they knew had a significant other in an extremely negative light. I wondered if they cared at all about the person they were hurting. I wondered how they could sleep at night. I wondered if they were just stupid, to believe anything the guy said, to think that he would leave his current partner, to believe that even if he did it would work out. I wondered if they genuinely felt loved and cared for.

Well, now I’m ‘that girl’, and I’m learning that it’s not at all as simple as that. I do care about his
girlfriend’s feelings. I don’t know her, but I know that no one deserves heartbreak, especially when you’ve devoted so much of your life to the person you’re with. And I’m not stupid either. Continue reading