Women be marchin (and we aren't stoppin).

I'm not into politics.

Much of my work as a life coach is about identity: we believe that we are one thing, and we operate from that place. We believe we will be that way forever, that our identity is a static piece of who we are and that it will always define us. We cling to identity as a way to make sense of our world. Many of us never even question it.

In reality, we are not our identity.

I know, it sounds like a lot of woo-woo nonsense. If you're not your identity, then who the fuck are you? 

(You're the witness, the one who listens, the watcher on the wall that is your consciousness. But that's a conversation for another day).

The point is, our identities aren't static. They're constantly evolving, they are living and breathing and changing just as we are. One day you "don't like pizza." The next you are 7 at a birthday party with Alex Benanti and he likes pizza, so you try pizza and you're like "holy shit, I love pizza!". You become this girl who loves pizza and the Little Mermaid, among many other things. 

I had one of those moments this November. I had always seen myself as someone who "didn't like politics" and who couldn't take time out to be informed because "it all wouldn't make a difference, anyway." I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't even vote until this past year. In sum, I was the opposite of woke.

This November, that all changed. 

On Saturday, I took place in the biggest protest in history. I marched with sisters young and old, male and female. I made a sign that had the word Pussy on it and I held it with pride. 

I do not agree with the ideals of our President. But as we know from physics, with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The positive force developing from this is something to be proud of, and something unparalleled. A sleepy, complacent nation is waking up and getting going. Pro or Anti Trump, Republican or Democrat, we all can unite on this: we cannot and will not turn a blind eye. We will not close our eyes and let someone else make our choices for us. We will stand up, we will march, and we will fight.

The biggest indicators to me are some of the smallest gestures. A friend gifted our secret santa gift exchange with a planned parenthood donation. A waitress bought us a round of shots because we marched. I organized a lunch with women at work to write post cards. These are things that I wouldn't have even fathomed in years past. And today, they are happening more and more.

Like the sleepy giant in whatever movie I'm thinking of, we're waking up loud and angry and a little groggy. But we're powerful AF, and we're coming.

I'm not into politics. But I am into revolutions.

p.s. if you're interested in joining the movement, visit WomensMarch.com. 100 days of action are starting this week! 

In the wake of the UVA, Rolling Stone scandal

Like most rollingstoneUVA students and alumni, I read Rolling Stone's account of an alleged gang rape, a misogynistic campus culture, and a lack of justice with horror. I loved my time at UVA and still very much love the University as a whole. But the article was troubling, and for the first time, I felt ashamed of dear old UVA. Not because as an institution it stands alone in its decision to inadequately handle rape cases, but because UVA is a place that is supposed to be BETTER. We have a honor code, after all! But, I must admit, though I felt a lot of shock and horror reading this brutal account of sexual assault, I wasn't all that surprised. Unfortunately, this account was conceivable to me, and it still is. In the weeks that have followed this account, things have taken a turn from terrifying and sad to sceptical, sensational, and downright damaging. What was initially a step in the right direction, forcing meaningful discussion at UVA and elsewhere about campus policies concerning rape, has now turned into a battle of he-said, she-said, a smearing of credibility.

This week, after a Washington Post article set out to refute many of the claims made by "Jackie," the victim in Rolling Stone's story, Rolling Stone did the worst thing that they could have done: they balked. They accepted the discrepancies provided by Phi Psi as truth, they shunned their piece, and they shunned Jackie's account as a whole. Instead of taking blame, they blamed Jackie, saying "...we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced." And, a positive discussion about steps needed to make change across campuses regarding rape has turned into mud slinging, calls for retribution, and a backwards discussion about journalistic integrity. Worse still, Rolling Stone's thoughtless decision to write off the story and brand Jackie as a liar in effect reverses any of the positive impact of the first story, now bringing more light onto stereotypes that rape victims are not to be trusted. Women who were once afraid to tell their stories will now be even more hesitant, lest they be branded a sham by not just their communities but by mass media and the public at large.

What's shocking to me is how quick the community at large has been to throw stones, in many cases at the wrong individuals.

Against Jackie. A brave victim, or a woman who cried wolf (though likely, somewhere in-between - a traumatized individual). Regardless of whether or not her story was entirely accurate, the issue remains. Hers is not the only tale of campus rape that would send us into uproar. The article's intentions were sound.

In support of Phi Psi. I would like to preface that I am absolutely pro-fraternity. I was a member of the greek system at UVA, I attended many a frat party without harm, and I would hate to see UVA or any other university lose these institutions. But, taking the word of a Phi Psi lawyer as the ultimate truth is foolish at best. And in the end, this isn't about fraternities. It isn't about Phi Psi. It is about the poor choices some individuals make, the crimes they commit against others, and the improper handling these victims receive. It is about the fear victims have to face, the injustice of their attackers walking free, and the sheer insanity of Universities turning a blind eye to these crimes. Is it fair that Phi Psi has been slandered, that names are circulating the internet unfairly? Of course not. Which is why the continued focus on this one fraternity and this one story must stop.

Against those who "fell for" the story. Sign into twitter or read the comments on any of these articles, and you'll see a collection of trolls doing their "how do you feel now that you were wrong to believe a rape victim's story?" song and dance. I myself have been receiving a handful of tweets to this effect, and I have to ask: why? Are these people so entrenched in the need for skepticism that they cannot accept that there are often grey areas in issues that matter? Are they so pro-fraternity that they cannot stand that one frat's name has been slandered? Are their intentions so deeply misplaced that they cannot see they too are fully propagating the idea that rape victims shouldn't be taken seriously, that they should bear the burden of proof,that women lie about being raped for attention?

For me, after reading Rolling Stone's apology letter, the only thing that has changed is that I feel anger towards the publication. The issue still persists, the changes that will come in the article's wake are still necessary, and I don't doubt that something like Jackie's story happened on grounds.

I also continue to applaud the many men and women who are using this to continue to speak openly, bravely about these issues. In the wake of both the initial article and the apology, an incredible amount of honest first-hand accounts and thoughtful opinion pieces continue to speak to what's important here, and what can be done, rather than slinging mud.

I encourage you to read, retweet, and support these pieces, and continue the dialogue towards change.

Laci Green's intelligent analysis on the inconsistencies presented.

Jessica Longo's brave story and thoughtful take on the way forward.

Hannah Rosin's piece on Slate.com -- her focus on the wrongs done by Rolling Stone.

Wonkette's snarky, in your face op-ed about how we're focusing on all the wrong things.

Bliss Inspiration: Like a Girl

If you haven't seen it by now, Always' new campaign #LikeaGirl is a brilliantly moving piece about the power of stereotypes in our society. As someone who works in marketing I'm always a fan of pieces that strike on a really powerful insight, especially one that can spark positive change. And female empowerment/self-esteem issues are definitely right in my wheelhouse of "Things that make me REALLY PASSIONATE." So, yes, this video made me cry. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs]


What really resonated with me is the connection it made to some of the work I'm doing in my own life. In one of the first meetings I had with Caroline, my ever-brilliant life cheerleader, we did an exercise where we rated ourselves on certain characteristics, one of which was femininity. When we got there, I was awe struck. I'd never much thought about the subject, but when it came down to it, it was clear that I didn't seem myself as inherently feminine. Why?

Well... a laundry list of reasons. I thought that I didn't match up to what cultural norms have defined as feminine:

1. I am not dainty, small, or graceful

2. I am head strong, could be aggressive and opinionated, and more of a 'leader'

3. I am bold in life and love, I don't play games, I'm not 'coy,' I go after what I want

4. I am not immaculately put together

5. I am not particularly "virtuous" (sorry Mom!)

So basically... I still have an idea in my head that the "ideal" woman is a 1950s Stepford wife, or at least a tiny Southern Belle waiting around for prince charming (seriously, the idea of feminity to me is like a real life Thumbalina).

Which is just. insane. It's 2014. So much has progressed in terms of feminism and women's rights. So why hasn't our idea of "being feminine" changed? Why do we consider powerful women to be women exhibiting masculine qualities?

Always' certainly hit the nail on the head with stereotypes. And I will add two more to the mix: the idea of how women can and cannot behave in the workplace and in love.

These areas are some of the most deeply ingrained in me, and some that I struggle with most deeply, especially the area of love and dating-- which is where I'll choose to focus. Women suffer many, many stereotypes around how they choose to date, how much of their real selves and real agendas they reveal, and how "far" they choose to go with the men in their lives. COUNTLESS books, articles, conversations, TV shows, movies, and more cover this topic. It's everywhere. And it's a ridiculous standard that makes women feel guilty, out of control, and unworthy.

As someone who truly values the importance of love and finding a monogamous partner, it scares the shit out of me that I may forever screw up my chances because I am not "following the rules" as society dictates, because I don't act exactly as women are meant to act in courting situations. I don't pretend to be uninterested. I don't actively suppress my sexual needs based on how many men I'm "allowed" to sleep with per year [seriously, I know a lot of women who do]. Instead, I follow my heart, I stay true to myself, I express feelings genuinely.

And because of that, I often feel incredible guilt and anxiety. Even though I know what I'm doing is right for me, I'm afraid it's wrong by societal standards.

Which is why I am here, writing to you and continuing my practice of love and acceptance. Because it's time to break free of "who we're supposed to be" and accept all of who we are.