The Hex on Brett Kavanaugh: Just a Joke, or Something More?

By Kelly Fleming
Quotes courtesy of Vice


“Please join us for a public hex on Brett Kavanaugh, upon all rapists and the patriarchy at large which emboldens, rewards and protects them.”

  Photography courtesy of Jacquelyn   Martin / Associated Press

Photography courtesy of Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

These are the words that led the description of the “Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh,” a Facebook event hosted last month by Catland, a “spiritual supply hub” in Brooklyn. Over 10,000 people claimed to be going.

Some regarded this event as a joke, clicking “interested” or “I’m going” to get a laugh or quietly share their position on the case. Others took it more seriously, eliciting reactions ranging from fervent support to sheer outrage. The angry comments tended to come from Christians citing the immorality of hexing a person, or from self-described witches who were upset that witchcraft was being used for political purposes. The supportive comments, however, were often from women and survivors of sexual assault, thanking Catland for giving them a way to fight back against this perceived injustice.  

When I first saw a few Facebook friends say they were “interested” in this event, I scrolled by it with no more than a quick glance. It seemed like another joke event that occasionally pops up on my timeline,  perhaps in the spirit of Halloween.

At first glance, I did not grasp the true weight of the occasion for those who have been most deeply affected by Kavanaugh’s run for a Supreme Court seat, who have experienced rape or sexual assault themselves. They have had to watch an accused sexual assaulter make his way to the most honorable and high seat of justice in the nation. Similar allegations against President Trump have been traumatic enough for these survivors, as they have been forced to see a man accused of rape in the country’s most important office.

An event like the “Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh” provides a space for survivors of rape, domestic abuse and other forms of sexual violence to process their trauma and take their own small revenge on those who hurt them. The event’s main purpose was to curse Kavanaugh, but for the individual participants, it had much more personal meaning. The leader of the hex, Dakota Bracciale, described it as a healing space for survivors in Vice Magazine:

“People have to have an outlet to do something. Because here's the reality—statistically speaking, if you are a survivor of sexual violence, there is such an immense likelihood that in a situation like this, that rage is going to come out…We have got to have an outlet for this because we don't have any form of justice available. There has to at least be some sort of support.”

At a time when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to levy assault allegations against Kavanaugh, is still being disparaged and mocked, this form of healing is essential. Survivors must be able to express the pain they’re feeling within a supportive community, even through as unusual a venue as witchcraft. Hex attendee Sara David described its value in Vice Magazine:

  Photography courtesy of WBUR

Photography courtesy of WBUR

“When Dakota asks us if we're still here—if we're still alive—we all scream ‘yes.' They tell us that our existence, our joys, and each breath we take, is resistance—is its own victory in a world that is not merely indifferent but actively hostile to us, survivors and the disenfranchised.”

While only about 60 people were able to attend due to the size of the venue, many more performed their own hexes at home as the event was live-streamed. This hex provided community support for many people who needed it more than they had in a long time. No one was required to believe in the witchcraft, only to support those around them and to believe each other. When the government seems to have turned a blind eye to survivors, their turning to the supernatural feels like an attempt to be seen.

Chameleon

Written and modeled by Aidan Baglivo
Photography by Catherine Barna

This article has been adapted for the web from our Flux Issue.

Early each morning I, like most, choose what clothes to wear for the day. I stand in front of the mirror, weigh my options and check if the colors match. For me, though, my decision extends beyond the usual criteria for an acceptable outfit.

I came out the summer before my first year at Northeastern, and although I’m almost a year out from then, I still find myself tethered to questions like, “How ‘gay’ am I going to dress today? Am I expressing myself honestly through the clothes I’m wearing?”

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18 years of my life were spent as a chameleon. I tailored myself to accommodate the restrictive expectations of others. After high school, I was exhausted and lacked a tangible sense of self. But as I entered college, I felt a stronger responsibility toward my own happiness—so I took the first steps in what would be a lengthy, confusing process.

Stepping into the LGBTQ+ community was both refreshing and intimidating. Having just come out, I perceived older queer folks as veterans. Everyone seemed innately true to themselves and well-versed in queer culture. However, after meeting other gay students, I came to realize my identity didn’t rest upon my sexuality. All my life I had presented myself differently depending on my audience, so it was an adjustment to step out of the traditional, straight role I had assumed for years. By prioritizing my own opinion, I felt more comfortable experimenting with my perceived identity. The clothes I wore began to hold more meaning without the weight of archaic judgments. Fashion had actually become part of my queer identity.

There truly is no singular mode of dress for gay men. Through conversations with friends who have also recently come out, I’ve found that finding your style is complicated. The eyes of the LGBTQ+ community, along with the restrictive expectations of a conservative society, provide mixed signals when standing in front of the mirror in the morning. Valid concerns for personal safety and the ability to receive equal treatment linger when taking the “risk” of wearing something perceived to be more flamboyant or effeminate. At the same time, newly identified members of the community feel pushed by both their peers and themselves to venture outside of their comfort zone. The constant tug of war between queer and traditional mindsets manifests itself in the simple process of getting dressed.

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From testing various combinations and outfits each morning, I feel a sense of ownership of my style. Be it through adding a funky pair of socks, tucking in my shirt or vibrantly tie-dying a white Northeastern Huskies T-shirt, I take pride in how I present myself because I have full control over the clothes I wear. Taking the time to build a distinct outfit provides the foundation for a positive outlook that day. My opinion alone predicates my sense of self.

While I’ve made enormous strides in expressing myself, feeling confident in my sexuality and establishing my own identity since I came out, I’m definitely still finding my way. The coming out process never truly ends for members of the LGBTQ+ community. I often catch myself reverting to the traditional, “straight” role I assumed for so many years to appease the needs of others. But ultimately, when I look at the mirror in the morning, I see myself, not the chameleon who craved to blend in.

Consistently Mine: Lessons From a Long Distance Relationship

By Nia Beckett
Photography by Kaela Anderson
Modeled by Roman Distefano and Dania Danielle Gritzmacher

This article has been adapted for the web from our Flux Issue.

Imagine that for months, you spend every waking moment with someone you truly care about, and the next day you’re on a plane to call a place 1,200 miles away from them home. No more cuddling up next to them, no more late night trips to the beach. Amidst the change of scenery, the struggle to make new friends and the ungodly amounts of homework, you miss them and you wonder where to go from here.

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Let me be the first to say that before I dated my current boyfriend, I never even considered being in a long distance relationship. I had no doubt in my mind that I would leave for college 100 percent single. I was going to party and take advantage of everything that the college social life had to offer. As cheesy as it sounds, when you meet someone special, all bets are off.

I remember him saying in the weeks before each of us left for school that he hated long distance relationships because of the lack of intimacy. He didn’t necessarily mean this in a physical way—it’s just that when you’re not physically near someone, it makes it more difficult to connect with them on other levels. His words lingered in my mind as the summer drew to a close, presumably bringing with it the end of our relationship

July turned to August and while he did his best to comfort me, my mid-date breakdowns became more frequent. Then a funny thing happened: we didn’t stop talking.

Obviously when a healthy relationship is uprooted overnight, you don’t immediately start acting differently. It hasn’t hit you that you aren’t just on vacation or at summer camp. Your mind isn’t even equipped to process how long you’ll be gone. Still, days turned into weeks and the same guy who didn’t believe in long distance relationships couldn’t let me go. It was time to re-evaluate.

Entering this new, uncharted territory, there wasn’t really much to go off of. There isn’t an official textbook you can refer to. No “turn to page nine to find out how many times it is acceptable to text him before breakfast.” All of the information you gather is about friends of friends who tried long distance relationships once and you always end up asking the million dollar question, “Did it work out?”

Long distance relationships are the kind of thing that you need to be certain about. You don’t need to know that it will work, but you need to be positive that you want to try. I have found that it’s easier not to get caught up in my own head about it. The logistics don’t really matter: it’s about me and the guy I love.

Trying to define the relationship through a screen or a phone line hundreds of miles apart is like running your hand across the wall to find the light switch hanging right above your head. FaceTime is so much harder than face-to-face time.

Communication becomes so much more important when you aren’t physically there to see how the other person feels. Distance creates such an interesting obstacle. For some, it’s easy to keep texting each other and go on as if nothing has changed. For others, going into this kind of situation with a sense of uncertainty presents uneasy conversations about where you’re going.

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What you often find is that one person has committed to at least trying while the other is unsure. It’s almost as if they’re stuck in limbo—part of them finding the loneliness overbearing, but whenever they are with you, they can’t see it any other way.

Friends mean well when they tell you to “just find another guy.” I guess there’s some merit to that consideration. The consideration that a relationship, especially one that’s long distance, is an extra time commitment. However, a relationship isn’t like a club or a class that you just unenroll from with no emotional repercussions. When two people find true companionship in each other, it can’t be written off as “just another thing on their plate.”

There’s nothing wrong with ending a relationship because of lack of time to spend together, or because long distance just isn’t for you. In fact no one should be judged for ending their relationship on those grounds, if they see it fit. However, it’s a personal choice, and I don’t think that it has to be seen as a taboo, unconquerable burden.

I can’t say that down the road we’ll still be together, (although I’d like that very much). What I can offer, however, is that I still get happiness out of our relationship every day, and I’m not ready to cast it off just because of the distance. At a point where my whole life has been a whirlwind of changes, he has been consistently mine.

How Not To Be a Bigot This Halloween

By Kaela Anderson, Lifestyle Editor
Photography courtesy of Teen Vogue via Pinterest

2018 has been quite the year — with social media as a constant presence in our lives, it’s quite do able to keep yourself informed. From celebs in the public eye to great films to fashion trends, anything is up for grabs this Halloween costume shopping season, right? Wrong.

Now more than ever, it’s important to check double check that costume you’ve been contemplating for a month. No one should be wearing an appropriative costume just because they like the hairstyle, or because it’s their favorite character. It’s important to understand the history of your costume before you put it on.

Halloween is prime time for cultural appropriators to take to the streets and really show off what no one should ever do “just for fun.” So let’s talk about approaching this Halloween as respectfully as possible.

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Let’s start off with Julianne Hough’s recreation of Orange Is The New Blacks’, Uza Aduba with this black face jumpsuit ensemble. Aside from the obscene amount of fake tan Hough is wearing, her recreation of Bantu Knots is unacceptable. Bantu Knots come African culture, and aren’t meant to be worn playfully by white women, or anyone who is not of African descent. Black people for centuries have been oppressed, their culture has been taken from them and shamed, and now it is being used in everyday culture by those who are not black. Black hairstyles are truly something that help create a sense of identity, confidence and pride in their culture. Bantu Knots were created by the Bantu people — a name that labels about a few hundred groups in central and southern Africa.

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Dia de los Muertos is another commonly abused Halloween costume. While the skeleton look definitely feels topical for Halloween, many who don’t actually know the significance of Dia de los Muertos just wear it as a cool look. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that honors those who have passed away, and support their spiritual journey, and using it as a costume can trivialize that celebration of life and death. It’s important to respect others cultures, and not alter them to fit into a cute or trendy look that will get you compliments at the door of your Halloween parties.

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Native Americans are also up there on the don’t list — since when was it okay to dressing up as a minority group when you know nothing about their culture or their struggles? Native Americans have struggled with their own identity from as far back as the 15th century when Christopher Columbus colonized them. After being stripped from their culture, relocated from their homes and recovering from a genocide, using tribal names, identifying with many of the traditional ways of their culture is something important for Native Americans. It’s important to recognize and accept that someone else’s historically filled culture is okay to not be yours as well. Commonly packaged as “Pocahontas” and overtly sexualized, this costume crosses so many lines.

There are still so many things to know about how to go through life without appropriating another person’s culture — and there is most definitely a difference between appropriation and appreciation, but let’s take this one step at a time. Being mindful of others cultures this Halloween isn’t a suggestion but a requirement, and there’s no time like the present to start changing your ways for the better.

Happy Halloween!

Supporting Characters No More: Asian Representation in Film & TV

By Dea Davita Krisanda

Momentum is defined as “the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity” by Merriam Webster—years of progress summed up in a word. Indeed, a momentum it is for Asian representation to be finally improved in the media. 2018 has been the year chosen to honor breathtaking roles in film and television, like Crazy Rich Asians, Killing Eve, Searching and many more—roles that would not have been understood or appreciated a decade ago. It is and will always be hard to comment about media inclusion in general. Still, such momentous strides have been made this year and it is worth commemorating. It’s a great feeling when you open Netflix and are excited to see a familiar face or to finally see your name in a callback list.

Crazy Rich Asians

With such grandiose coverage of the movie, Crazy Rich Asians became a significant pop culture hit, and broke the U.S. record as the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade (another rarity nowadays). The movie’s stellar reviews also included its glorious and exceptional all Asian cast: Fresh Off The Boat’s Constance Wu, the legendary actress Michelle Yeoh, presenter turned actor Henry Golding, rapper Awkwafina, Maniac’s newcomer Sonoya Mizuno and many more. The story’s unique commentary is based on author Kevin Kwan’s perspective on his Singaporean background and the fact that the movie revolves around this new and glamorous world is undeniable. With the critics’ mix of raves and sighs, Crazy Rich Asians is still the breakthrough of the year: director Jon M. Chu has successfully created a 21st century romantic comedy that is meaningful and does not fall under the typicalities of every other romantic comedies.

  Photo courtesy of the Crazy Rich Asians official movie website

Photo courtesy of the Crazy Rich Asians official movie website

Meteor Garden

Netflix has also done an excellent job of including more diverse involvement in its productions. In fact, Netflix is reported to be exclusively implementing a further intensive “inclusion strategy”: to integrate more cultural diversity in all of Netflix’s activities and affairs; this is important as a response to such strong actors and movements that call upon more cultural inclusion in the media. Therefore, you can expect more international content coverage from Netflix and (hopefully) other media companies. So far, they have co-created and co-distributed some original works, including the remake of Asia’s popular Taiwanese romantic comedy, called Meteor Garden. The show tells the story of a relationship between a college senior and a freshman (and their group of friends), as they begin their journey to adulthood. Hence, you can see why it is considered a staple to many youth around the world. While it still adhere to most of Asia’s social norms, which previous versions heavily relied on, this 2018 version have been updated in terms of characterizations and storylines that are not as gendered as it were before. Yes, you do have to watch it with subtitles, it is incredibly cheesy and cringe-y and sometimes the story doesn’t even add up. Even so, it is guaranteed to be worth the time—you have all Asia (mostly the women) as proof.

  Photo courtesy of IMDb

Photo courtesy of IMDb

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Speaking of inclusion in romantic comedies, Netflix has been producing some of 2018’s best rom-coms in its original works, including To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Released just days after Crazy Rich Asians, the movie could not have come at a better time. While Kwan and Chu introduced the audience to life in Asia (or more specifically, the privileged Singaporean Chinese), author Jenny Han illustrated life from the eye of an Asian-American teenager, Lara Jean (superbly performed by the Vietnamese-American actress, Lana Condor). Condor’s portrayal was so believable that it is relatable to all audiences.

  Photo courtesy of Screenrant

Photo courtesy of Screenrant

Killing Eve

This year’s representation of Asian people were not exclusive to romantic comedies. Some film and television narratives excel on a darker note—something that works these days. One of the well received television dramas that debuted in 2018 is BBC’s Killing Eve, which tells a story about the relationship between a female detective and a female serial murderer—two field of profession that is apparently very gendered. Killing Eve marks Grey’s Anatomy Sandra Oh’s television comeback, in which she was applauded for her exceptional performance as the lead, that she was immediately nominated for an Emmy—the first actress of Asian descent to do so. Killing Eve was intended by its creators to be a catalyst in changing the industry concerning genre, gender and most importantly, race. Fortunately, it did achieve its goal; as mentioned in The New York Times, the “...scenes and characterizations play out differently than we’re used to.” As a result, the creators were able to develop narratives in which an Asian woman is not either whitewashed or stereotyped.

  Photo courtesy of IMDb

Photo courtesy of IMDb

Searching

While Crazy Rich Asians deserves its spotlight, the movie Searching should be recognized too. Similar to its counterpart, Searching cast an Asian as its lead, specifically the fantastic Korean-American actor, John Cho. Unlike Crazy Rich Asians, which emphasized Asian culture, Searching (like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,) explores the mundanity of the domestic lives of Asian-Americans, which to be truthful are as mundane as those of any other Americans. To further illustrate this, director Aneesh Chaganty utilizes the conflict (spoiler alert: abduction) to accentuate the humanity within Cho’s character David and his family.

  Photo courtesy of IMDB

Photo courtesy of IMDB

More...So Many More

In addition to the titles and individuals mentioned above, here are others that contributed to 2018’s Asian representation in the media:

  • Shirkers: an autobiographical documentary by Sandi Tan about her own experience as a young Singaporean filmmaker in 1992.

  • Yappie: a web series, by Wong Fu Productions, of a man’s journey of rediscovering what it means to be Asian in America

  • 88 Rising: a “hybrid management” record label, by founder Sean Miyashiro, in which majority of its artists are Asian (Rich Brian, Joji, Higher Brothers, Keith Ape, Niki, etc.), yet are inclusive to all talents.

  • Alan Yang: a Taiwanese-American writer/co-creator of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning series Master of None and the upcoming series Forever.

  • Young Jean Lee: a Korean-American playwright of the play Straight White Men: “a subversive exploration of privilege, identity, and American values”, as defined by Playbill; recently produced on Broadway (the first Asian-American to do so.)

Nonetheless, who we really should be clapping louder for are the people who stood behind these scenes, constantly contributing their groundbreaking ideas and persevering in spite of all the challenges. Therefore, while this article listed some of the best films and television programs by Asian actors and creatives in 2018, the category is not limited to those aforementioned pieces. There is a vast body of work and many creative individuals — of all backgrounds — out there that have yet to be discovered by the public. And last but not least, here is the reaction that I want to see from you: to promote this momentum forward and celebrate this moment altogether; then this would most certainly not be momentary.

Doing the Northeastern Shuffle

By Catherine Titcomb
Photography courtesy of Unsplash.com

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Every college campus experiences some degree of fluidity as students come and go, whether to transfer in or out, graduate, or study abroad. This is emphasized at Northeastern largely because of the co-op program, and the phenomenon has earned its own name, the “Northeastern Shuffle.”

N.U.i.n Fall and Spring, out-of-state and country co-ops, co-op cycles and studying abroad affects friendships, relationships and rooming situations. As soon as a student settles, half of their friends leave. However, many Northeastern students believe the fluid campus is what makes the university so unique, and should be seen as an asset.

Lucy Hoffman, a second year student, argued that Northeastern “helps to create an atmosphere where there is always someone new to talk to with an amazing experience and insight to share.” People leave to experience wildly different things, and come back to share their knowledge with their peers, contributing to an socially aware and worldly student body.

Rachel Sigel, another second year, said that the changes often “make it difficult to maintain close relationships with students and faculty.” Friends, research partners and network connections are some of the most valuable takeaways from college, and Northeastern’s constant state of change can make it difficult to establish and maintain relationships.

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At the risk of sounding like a commercial for experiential learning, most students cite the co-op program as a reason for their attendance at Northeastern. However, because of co-op students have at most two years and at least a year and a half of classes before being thrown into the workforce, forcing them to adopt a new routine. The shift from classes to work forces students to learn flexibility, be uncomfortable, learn quickly and build a new network of peers.

I applied to Northeastern because I wanted to have a typical college experience in Boston as well as gain career experience. My acceptance letter told me I would have to spend my first semester abroad, which was the last thing I wanted. I wanted the freshmen floor friends, dining halls and sports games that my friends would be experiencing. I decided to sacrifice this idealistic tableau of my first semester at college for the next four and a half years at my dream school. Now, I cannot imagine freshman year without the friends I made in Greece through the traveling and the memories. My perfect college plan was interrupted from the start because of Northeastern, but the way it worked out prepared me for future location changes on co-op and taught me that allowing change pays off. This flexible mental state is necessary to survive at Northeastern, and is also essential for success and happiness in life.

Accepting flux at Northeastern is a step towards accepting flux in the world. Nothing is more inevitable than change, yet people never expect it. Relying on stagnation and permanence for our happiness leads to hurt.

In his novel Looking for Alaska, John Green references the Buddhist teaching that desire causes suffering and interprets it as, “When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.” Both small and drastic changes happen throughout life, and being open to this flux frees one to accept every aspect of life, even if it turns out to be different than what was dreamed or planned for. The Northeastern shuffle causes students to expect change and learn to be flexible, which proves valuable even out of the context of campus.

It is this flux that continues throughout our lives that make life interesting. Despite the pain and confusion it can sometimes cause, change adds variety and combats boredom. This makes it a vital aspect of fashion. For many, picking out a different outfit everyday is one of the best parts of the day. In the fashion industry, designers must embrace flux because the industry relies on newness in collections, techniques, and trends. Rapid change in the fashion industry makes it an example of the beauty of flux and an argument for embracing change. Flux makes fashion interesting, it makes Northeastern interesting and it makes life interesting.

When Your Niche Is Nowhere

By Kaela Anderson
Photographed by Jacqueline DeVore

This article has been adapted for the web from our Outsider Issue.

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When I applied to various colleges and universities across the United States my senior year of high school, I had three goals for my college experience. I wanted to be in a city, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to be in a diverse environment. Receiving my invitation to N.U.in and the eventual stay on Boston’s campus, my first two wishes were quickly granted.

Unfortunately, my final wish has not been granted. Since being here, the harsh realities of the lack of African American representation in higher education have set in. Instead of admiring the beauty Northeastern possesses, I constantly find myself scrutinizing the student body. In my classrooms, at the gym, around campus, I find myself searching for any kind of evidence that proves my third wish will eventually come true.

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Despite Northeastern’s size and prestige, its admissions website says only six percent of African American students enrolled in their undergraduate program. This means that, in my lecture of 150 students, I can count on two hands the number of African American students in the room each class. As for my smaller classes, I am usually the only African American student in the room.

I suppose I could be proud of this, and see these statistics as some sort of triumph, but I don’t. And I never will. Considering that the census lists 13.3% of the population as African-American, Northeastern’s measly 6% reveals the apparent systematic faults of higher education in the United States. The lack of diversity at even a world-renowned institution like Northeastern suggests that it is not an isolated case. I am grateful to attend such an esteemed university, and the modern job market makes it imperative for my success that I receive an education. But being a part of a successful academic community that doesn’t make up for the lack of diversity in the classroom.

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Northeastern prides itself on its “diverse” community, even highlighting its level of diversity for prospective students on its admissions website. The school alludes that it’s filled with a student body from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds - but housing students from across the globe does not make it an ethnically inclusive environment. During the winter club fair this past January, I scanned the event hall for clubs that I would be able to identify with. The only one I found was the Mixed Student Union, but even then, I have been reluctant to attend one of their meetings. Although I want to meet people who understand my experience as a woman of color in the Northeastern Community, I want it to be throughout the entire school, not just in one room. I don’t want to have just a place where I can go once a week to fill my void of diversity - it would just remind me of the one wish that hasn’t been ‘granted’ by this university.

Unfortunately, my wish for diversity within Northeastern is not unique. Students of color at colleges and universities across the nation are in the same shoes as me, with no one that understands their experiences to turn to in times of need. Six percent of African American undergraduate students is not enough. Students should never have to feel like an outcast in their community, and we desperately need this to change.

Sources:
northeastern.edu 
census.gov  

My Roster of Men

By Sade Adewunmi
Photographed by Diya Khullar

This article has been adapted for the web from our Intimacy Issue.

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I’m sure you have heard the term “side chick” and “main hoe,” but has it ever occurred to you that these terms are only used to describe women? That there is no male equivalent? Women are not afforded the same privileges to explore and experiment with her sexuality. How many women have multiple sexual partners and are celebrated for it? Not that many, whereas her male counterpart can  boast about his conquests to his friends without issue. As a woman in today’s modern world of swiping right, buzzing on Bumble and casual hookups, I think it is safe to say there is a double standard. Women can’t get too clingy, yet we are either shamed as sluts or prudes if we don’t fulfill a man’s fantasy of casual sex with no strings attached.

I rebuke this double standard by introducing the idea of a rotation - the idea that a woman can enjoy the freedoms that come with being single yet still  enjoy the company of as many sexual partners as she desires. My mother always told me that a woman should have enough men for a full-roster basketball team. Although that might be a few too many, the sentiment still rings true. Women should not have to put up with the societal expectations that Sleeping Beauty laid out for us. There is no reason we have to sit idly by and be some guy’s side piece, when we could easily play the same game as them, and do it better too. This rotation of men allows women to better refine what qualities we desire and what values we hope for in both a romantic and sexual partner, and not to mention how best to please ourselves.

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Sleeping Beauty and the litany of other damsels in distress in the Disney Universe taught girls at a young age that the prince only comes to us by waiting for him. Within the context of hookup culture, these lessons manifest with women feeling uncomfortable initiating not only sex, but also the conversation around  it. In most heterosexual relationships, men initiate contact, dates and sexual foreplay, leaving women waiting by idly.

To this dynamic, I say no more.

Having a rotation of men grants women a greater level of control of their sexual pleasure. If you want to enjoy the company of your girls and dance the night away, then go for it! But if the night is winding down and you aren’t quite ready for it to end, why not turn to a partner you know you will enjoy yourself with instead of waiting for a man to make a move? And if one is being stubborn or doesn’t answer, your options are not limited to just him.

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Your rotation can be whatever you wish. As a woman with her own rotation, mine has evolved as my needs and desires have. Each of these relationships are their own and have grown into so much more than just sex, yet always maintain their passion. With one of my guys, we enjoy exploring different restaurants around Boston and discussing politics, whereas with a different guy it’s all about the little things like being in each other’s presence to baking banana bread together.

Nevertheless, no matter if the men within my rotation change, the premise never does. I know who I am and I know what I want. I want a man that can handle my intellectual ferocity just as much as my sexual ferocity. I want a man that is willing to explore my personality just as much as my sexual cravings. My rotation is my own and evolves to fit who I am and what I need as a woman - but most importantly, I’m never waiting for any man.

Between Two Sides of the World

By Cheyenne Tang
Photographed by Nguyen Phi Dieu Hang

This article has been adapted for the web from our Outsider Issue.

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“Where are you really from?” is a question only a select few hear, but one I have heard at every stage of my life. I was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts and spent the first few years of my life in Dedham, a small town just outside Boston. From the get-go, I was an outsider - my peers immediately labeled me “The Chinese Girl.” Desperate to fit in, though, I played along, going as far as inventing things like “The Chinese Cartwheel” during recess in an attempt to seem interesting. After hearing the news that my family was moving to Malaysia at the end of first grade, there was little I wanted more than to feel like I actually fit in there.

Unfortunately, my first year in Malaysia was the first time I began to understand the gravity of how in-between I was. I told everyone I was American, but one "friend" in particular constantly questioned my American identity. She told me it was wrong of me to identify as anything other than Chinese because my parents were from Asia. To defend my American identity, I constantly told myself: “I was born in America and lived there for 7 years. We have a house there. English is my first language.” But even with these core beliefs in my heart, the constant questioning of my heritage made me desperate to understand how to talk about my background.

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I have always considered myself Chinese-American, but a part of myself is afraid to fully embrace my Chinese heritage. Growing up watching American TV shows and movies conditioned me to consider white and American as the ideal, and all other things as undesirable. Asian characters were always portrayed as the goofy, nerdy friend. While these images never transferred to my daily life at school, it still made me embarrassed of my heritage. I wished I didn’t have Asian eyes so I could do the same eye makeup as my friends. I cringed when I heard Mandarin being shouted across the halls, or when I saw Chinese tour groups outside my apartment building trying to snap photos of the Twin Towers. I shy away from people who hadn’t been “Westernized”. When people grouped me with “mainlanders”, I felt angry that they would even consider me to be one of them. I hate how ashamed I am of my own people - but the lack of non-stereotypical Asian characters in media distances me from the people I should be able to identify with.

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My feelings of being in between cultures came from more than just my peers and the media, though. In Malaysia, we had an annual “International Festival” that celebrated the origins of the students by having a presentation where you stand when your country’s flag is presented. Despite the stares I drew from my peers, I proudly stood for America, the country that I understood to be my home. After seeing me stand for America, my mom pulled me aside and asked if I stood up for Malaysia and Hong Kong as well. I was thoroughly confused - why would I stand up for Malaysia and Hong Kong when that’s where my parents are from, not where I’m from? To me, standing up for those countries would be claiming my parents’ origins as my own, even though they were never mine. I realized then that even my parents did not share my experience - that I was so in-between, even my parents didn’t know how to navigate it.

Everything changed after moving back to Boston. When applying to colleges my senior year, I wasn’t sure whether I was technically an international student or a domestic student. Some schools said since my high school education was abroad, I was international. Legally, I was domestic and didn’t need any visas. So what did that mean? Well, it turns out that  Northeastern has a special in-between—I was classified as an American student living abroad. During our special orientation, a guest speaker came in to teach us about “cultural acceptance”. I quickly realized that saying I was American wasn’t an acceptable identity here. They lectured us about how things are different here and how we may experience culture shock because we’re no longer with our “tribe” or “colony”. The guest lecturer made us rate how well we perceived our adaptability to new places and language - and while such assessments may have been well-intended, they only intensified my feeling of being out of place. If Northeastern didn’t categorize my experience correctly, how could I expect anyone else to?

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In Malaysia, I always introduced myself as American, but now, I feel like I’m lying about where I’m from if I don’t introduce myself as Malaysian. Living between cultures and locations in a world that so stringently categorizes people is challenging when there are no models for what that experience is supposed to be like. The media has little interest in highlighting the stories of people who are in-between, and although representation is a major discussion in society today, I don’t see people trying to represent stories like mine.  A common mantra for people going through periods of struggle is “you’re not alone” — but what if I really am?

Loving: Race and the Modern American Couple

By Melissa Wells
Photographed by Catherine Argyrople

This article has been adapted for the web from our Intimacy Issue.

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There is a type of love that is on the rise, no longer illegal or taboo but still seen as unusual: the love between people of different races. In part due to growing public acceptance on a generational level, the modern couple of today is more and more likely to be interracial.

Loving beyond boundaries is an act that may have seemed radical, even unfathomable once, but is changing America nonetheless. Progress, at any rate, should be celebrated. But as much as America has evolved, so have the manners in which racism, sexism and homophobia thrive within American society. With society advocating for same-sex love, navigating the modern dating scene and changing the ways love is represented in the media, conversations concerning interracial relationships are pushed to the side. People assume that the challenges interracial relationships face have been overcome, but it is now that the conversation is more important than ever.

Despite how common multiracial and multiethnic relationships and families have become, many in this country would refuse to enter a relationship with someone outside of their race. Surveys across the country show that intermarriage sees support, but different ethnic and racial communities throughout the United States tend to oppose racial mixing, especially within one’s own family.

This segregation also lends itself to socially acceptable discrimination within modern dating. Men and women alike cite racial stereotypes and/or struggles of dating someone outside of one’s race to justify their personal preference for dating within “their own", yet citing that same reasoning for why one wouldn’t want a neighbor of color is unacceptable. In other words, both are discriminatory and should be equally unacceptable in American society.

Although same-sex dating is slowly becoming more accepted in America, it is still informed by the same systems that create racism in heterosexual people. To be in both an interracial and same-sex relationship is particularly meaningful as it challenges American society to confront how it views same-sex relationships on top of narrow-minded notions regarding racial divisions.

Interracial couples intrinsically counter antiquated social attitudes, yet the popular assumption is that multiracial children are the antithesis of white supremacy. A clear example of this was when Chrissy Teigen emerged seemingly victorious from a Twitter spat with neo-Nazi Richard Spencer for the mere fact that she had a “black/Asian/white baby.” But upholding multiraciality as the antithesis of racism allows racism to thrive, a sentimentality evoked by mothers of multiracial families within the media like Ellen Pompeo and Chrissy Teigen. Moreover, both are quick to applaud their children meanwhile reinforcing racial misconceptions and tropes.

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In this transition from colorblind to culturally “woke,” Sheryll Cashin believes interracial love plays a role in saving America: “From blindness to sight, from anxiety to familiarity...love can make people do uncomfortable things...Culturally dexterous people have an enhanced capacity for intimate connections with people outside their own [race], for recognizing and accepting difference rather than pretending to be colorblind. And if one undertakes the effort, the process is never-ending.”

White supremacy cannot be removed from all the aspects of life it permeates by the mere diversification of the American populace. However, those who pursue interracial intimacy provide America’s greatest hope for racial understanding.

Racism may be both persistent and adaptable, but heterosexual and homosexual interracial couples provide the changed narrative needed to challenge it: their existence forces people to confront how their love transcends entrenched ignorance. Teaching cultural competency, fostering conversation, and demanding inclusive representation are some ways that Americans remain steadfast in a conviction against racism, homophobia, and sexism the country still struggles with.

Furthermore, by translating popular belief into a celebration of interracial love and “multiracialness” that doesn’t reinforce racial hierarchies, America can potentially evolve from the system of racial categorization and the inequality, oppression, and stereotypes that come with it.

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In the face of the same sentiments that thwarted Richard and Mildred Loving’s relationship fifty years ago—along with some new factors that reduce their love to narratives for aesthetic purposes—interracial intimacy continues to increase and serves as living proof that nothing will keep people from loving one another. They are testaments to the power of a love that refuses to stand down to anything. They are the result of progress; as love evolves into seeing beyond racial constructs, the upswing of interracial couples gives way to an inevitably multiracial future undeterred by the political and racial discourse in the world around them. America needs to recreate the image of how interracial love is portrayed in politics, in the media, in pop culture, in classrooms, and in history.

Every generation is bettered by a love that makes America a more diverse and beautiful place. Interracial intimacy reaches people across all racial lines, fostering empathy for the value of relationships. But they can’t be on the front lines alone. It is through loving and activism going hand-in-hand that America will dismantle embedded structures birthed through supremacy. And it is through these efforts that we can paint a better future, a future in which headlines twenty to fifty years from now do not reflect a violent history towards interracial couples that continues to repeat itself.  

Loving is a good start.