Duke University Likes Women, They Promise

Duke University isn’t known for being progressive, especially when it comes to women. There were the rape allegations in 2006 and last Halloween’s fratboy party invites, the one’s that asked women to dress as “a slutty nurse, a slutty doctor, a slutty schoolgirl, or just a total slut,” while Alpha Delta Pi’s email read, “Dear bitches, I mean witches.” Classy. Anyway, Duke has always been in the crosshairs of feminists but they’re trying to change that.

The writers of the Duke Chronicle, a student newspaper, are attending workshops throughout the semester including four dinners with visiting feminist bloggers and journalists: Jill Filipovic of Feministe, Irin Carmon of Salon.com, Heather Havrilesky formerly of Salon.com and now a New York Times contributor, and Rebecca Traitster, formerly of Salon.com. In addition to this they are required to write three blog posts to be published on either the Women’s Center blog or Duke’s feminist student blog, Develle Dish.

Duke University, you little devil’s! That’ll fix it. That’ll change the bad PR and fratboy mentality, three blog posts and some dinners with awesome chicks. That’s the equivalent of telling your priest you just raped three koala’s with pogo sticks and him saying “five hail Mary’s and an our father. This is a PR move, this bullcrap. I’m not buying it Duke. I’m not falling for it!

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Why I Am Not Participating In NaNoWriMo This Year (But It’s Fine If You Do)

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This isn’t one of those Chick-fil-A things where if you participate you’re an enemy collaborator and Liam Neeson will find you. And he will kill you.

I did National Novel-Writing Month in 2004. For those of you unfamiliar, the goal is to motivate writers to write (which is definitely the hardest part of being a writer, oddly enough). You write fifty-thousand words (the length of a short novel) in thirty days (the month of November). And, as a friend once said: “fifty is a lot of thousands.”

As a senior in high school, I did NaNoWriMo for the first time (in 2004) while making straight As and genuinely being a fastidious student. That was my senior year of high school. I did it again in 2005 as a college freshman, but I was already having problems with it—namely, that it kind of destroys your writing style.

Because, in order to encourage writers to get more of their thoughts down on paper in prose form, NaNoWriMo gauges completion by word-count. Silly fonts, margins, or unreasonably small and numerous paragraphs will make a document fill more pages, but it will not alter your word-count.

But you can alter your word-count. And, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you almost certainly will, even if you do not consciously set out to do so.

“Alex walked to the grocery store,” is a simple sentence. It needs context to be interesting, and perhaps some slight expansion. What it does not need is to become: “Carefully slipping his earbuds into his ears, Alexander P Sellers—Alex to his friends—made his way along the neighborhood sidewalk, using his carefully arranged music playlist to drown out even the quietest noises of his suburban surroundings, as he made his way on foot along the half-mile walk to the nearest grocery store.”

That’s not all bad, of course, but that should not be a typical sentence. But when you are working on NaNoWriMo, less dramatic examples of this kind of automatic extension of sentences begin to creep into everything that you write. A nightmare when you’re trying to tweet, of course, but it does not do you any favors when writing essays, emails, or blog posts. “Can’t wait to see you,” becomes “I truly cannot wait to see you again.” And while that second sentence can get a particularly awesome Miley Cyrus song in your head, it is a bit too much for the sentiment being expressed.

So, if you want to do NaNoWriMo, good for you. It’s a great experience. And it is wonderful to know that you can get it done (with normal font and margins, that’s about eighty pages, single-spaced, of solid text). But do not expect that it will be your highest-quality work. Part of the point of NaNoWriMo is quantity over quality.

I am not participating in National Novel-Writing Month this year. But I am writing a novel (supernatural/contemporary fantasy). And this is a month.

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‘How To Be A Woman’ By Caitlin Moran

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When Nora Ephron passed away, I was devastated. I didn’t know her, but I really, really wanted to. I guess I felt like I did know her in a way that we were in the same club … female writers. I felt a great loss when Nora Ephron passed away, and I felt like there was a hole in our club. Then I found Caitlin Moran. I instantly took a liking to Moran and her take on feminism.

Moran, who proudly says she’s a “strident feminist,” has come up with a very simple way to help women who are on the fence about being a feminist: “Here,” Moran says, “is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your underpants. a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it?” If you said “yes” to both questions, Moran says, “Then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”

That’s how Moran writes her collection of essays newly published here in the states called, How To Be a Woman. It’s already a best seller in her native England, and it’s poised to take the top spot here in America as well. Generally, America is somewhat late to the self-deprecating-dry humor train but we’re getting there, thank God.

I’m a big fan of Moran for her honest, brave and funny take on herself. As Moran says, “I do not look very feminine. Diana, Princess of Wales is feminine … I am … femi-none.”

I also relate to Moran, as one of my first pieces for Zelda Lily I talked about having to “de-fur.” Moran has an essay called, “I Become Furry!” where she recounts the momentous occasion of growing pubic hair; she then uses that memory to reflect on what she calls “pube disapproval.” She says, “I can’t believe we’ve got to a point where it’s basically costing us money to have a vagina. They’re making us pay for maintenance and upkeep of our lulus, like they’re a communal garden. It’s a stealth tax. … This is money we should be spending on THE ELECTRICITY BILL and CHEESE and BERETS …”

Stop reading this article (but come back to finish the rest of the page) and go get “How To Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Anti-Feminist Rant

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Elizabeth Wurtzel is a lawyer, and the author of Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America and More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction. She also is extremely misinformed in her latest article on the Atlantic. Wurtzel wrote a piece called, “1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible,” and in it she says, “Being a mother isn’t a real job — and the men who run the world know it.” I am so angered by this article that I am going to break it down line by destructive line.

Line one: I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time — by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits — is her feminist choice. Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.

Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

My Response: Okay, violence is always an excellent first response. “I’m going to smack the next idiot.” Wow…just wow. I want to grab Wurtzel and shake her and tell her that someone who has a nanny is not a stay at home mom – she is a kept wife. Now is being a kept wife feminist? No. Is being a stay at home mom who spends her entire day looking after her children? Yes. Are they two completely different things? YES! Really? Is she being serious with this article? This is on the Atlantic, and not the Onion, right? Ugh. Moving on.

“Real feminists don’t depend on men have money and means of their own.”

I am a real feminist and I depend on my male roommate to come up with his half of the rent because I have no money because I’m a 26 year old writer.

You know what? I can’t even continue breaking down the article because the more I reread it, the more I want to type in all caps and scream at my screen that Wurtzel is an idiot. She’s an idiot. That’s it and that’s all. Her article is nothing more than Wurtzel standing on her soapbox telling the women of the world that she makes the best decisions and they don’t. Excuse me Miss Lawyer Lady, but I object! I’ve read Prozac Nation, I went to college, I have severe depression, and I …

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