Monthly Archives: June 2014

Patriotism: America Vs. Israel

This morning, I got two AP updates. One was the United States Supreme Court saying that companies had the right to tell me whether or not I could obtain birth control. I shrugged my shoulders and got on. Then was the discovery of the bodies of three missing teenagers from Israel who were kidnapped in the West Bank. And my body began to shake.

Today, while the Supreme Court was telling me that the companies I work for have every right to tell me how to deal with my healthcare, I saw three mothers who will never see their boys come home again, who will now have their garments torn in mourning as a country around them cries out in anguish. It is something I have seen before in my lifetime and I hate to see happen again. But Israel will share their anguish together, because Israel is that type of place. The pain of one becomes the pain of all.

And now I am scared, because I don’t really care about the United States anymore. I expect this country to screw over everyone again and again, so I’m dull to the pain. I see people striving and trying to make change, but they seem to get road blocked or only able to take the smallest of steps. In a country of 300 million people, I’m reduced to a whisper, and any change that happens in my favor is kind of an accident. Since I have no money I’m powerless, and I’m used to it. This is no way to live.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic is a country that is messed up and has its difficulties, but yet I feel more invested in than here. Israel is a place where people are loud, boisterous and difficult, but open their hearts to you when you need it. When three boys don’t come home, they rally in prayer and efforts to find them. And when they find them dead, they embrace the mothers first and then figure out what they’re going to do.

My parents even felt this way back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They saw a country at war in Vietnam and didn’t believe in it, yet they believed in Israel and its right to exist. They were even going through the paperwork to move, although a family crisis changed their minds at the last minute.

Now I’m in a country that is at war with its very people, who want more out of life yet have to get the crumbs while the richer keep taking more to the bank. Voices from each side of the political spectrum seems to be shouting at you trying to get your attention, and the noise is so high it becomes no wonder why so many Americans tune out, myself included. We just want to go about our lives when in truth we are so tied to the world that the haves created that the have-nots can’t seem to find a way out unless we land in a pile of money.

I would not espouse that Israel is perfect; I would be the first to tell you that it’s not. Seeing it firsthand three months ago, the problems were evident: The cost of living is high, the civil arena is controlled by the rabbinate, racism is a huge problem and there are cultural differences that are hard to overcome for new immigrants. (Note how I didn’t mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in there.)

And yet there is more to life there than computer screens. There is conversation and kindness, dedication and passion. There’s hard work but also rest. There is brashness in business but also the clerk who will wave you away with your goods when you don’t have enough to pay. And they are the country that will mourn Eyal, Naftali and Gilad tonight, even though most of them probably never knew them.

The fact that I recognize the problems of a country, yet still want to solve them, is the true patriotism, not the blindly following. America has a lot of questions but no solutions. There’s a lot of talk and funny videos, but not a lot of doing. It has politicians throwing names at each other and their blinded followers doing the same. It has petty disagreements, squabbles and squawking that seems to distract from the real problems and how we can solve them. And in the Jewish state I wonder if maybe, just maybe, we have a chance.

I came back from Israel three months ago with a lot of questions about my life there versus here, and how I was going to live it. Now three boys added another line to the question of my patriotism. And as a nation mourns, I will lie in bed at night with my eyes open, trying to figure out the answer.

The True Happily Ever After

Two days before my birthday, heading to a bonfire on the beach, the words “happily ever after” somehow slipped into my consciousness, as the random universe does. They are used to end every fairy tale when the princess gets her prince and they ride off into the sunset together. It’s where supposedly everything was made right in this messed-up world so life could go on normally… as least as normal as it does when your story is required to end with a happily ever after.

Going by myself to Catalina on my actual birthday, I would watch couples holding hands roaming around the shore of Avalon. Some were obviously happy and in love, leaning in with big smiles and sunglasses. Others were aloof, forcing the trappings of coupledom. I watched one girl jump over her boyfriend like an anxious puppy, until his tense shoulders seemed to give up and he grabbed her hand.

In my past two and a half years of single life, I watched my friends couple up as I vigilantly remained unattached. For some, it was amazing to see them in love with their partners. Their bodies relaxed, smiles grew wider and hearts would just open like bright, big flower buds to everyone around them. But for every case like that, there were those who seemed to disappear. Their bright personalities dimmed in the face of their deepest desires, their minds blinding them and fears amplified in the desperation to keep a person by their side. And this, supposedly, is happily ever after.

We forget that when we get the ubiquitous ending, it doesn’t come with the epilogue. We see joy and reunion. It doesn’t show Cinderella and Prince Charming going to couples’ counseling due to Mr. Charming’s unnatural obsession with women’s shoes. It’s just supposed to be, and the world around you tells you that you should be happy with whatever you got because, hey, at least you’re not alone.

That idea of riding off into the sunset on a prince’s silver horse heading up to his fancy castle is something we have been watching on movie screens and have been tucked into bed at night with. We’ve been conditioned to want it, right down to poofy ball gowns and fairytale weddings. Couple that with the natural fear of being alone and you have a dangerous cocktail for bad decisions.

I don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t been guilty at one point in this (myself included), and that’s because most of the time we don’t do this consciously. We don’t realize we are throwing our friends into the hell fires in the hopes that we will have someone to come home to at the end of the day. The things we love most in our lives and our uniqueness fall to the wayside often so we can be one with another. And then, when we let go of the person who’s been weighing us down, we come back to the world and remember what it’s like to be ourselves, then wonder why we were so willing to let go of it so quickly. The truth is we were all seeking happily ever after, and we’re willing to do anything to have it. Even give up our own identities.

When I analyze that phrase, I realize that lifetime love is something we have attached as a society to it. The words don’t necessarily say it. There’s also nothing in there that says we necessarily will have love always or that things will be perfect 100 percent of the time. It’s just that the happy will outweigh it overall — possibly the healthiest approach. I think that happily ever after should come with an ellipsis, because the way modern society sees the phrase it’s how the story ends, when in truth stories never end. Every tale bleeds into one another to become the tapestry that is our every day lives and then, if we’re really lucky, they’ll become a part of other people’s quilts.

Two and a half years ago, I rebelled against what was supposed to be my happily ever after. There were things in my life much more precious to me to keep and protect, things that would have never happened before. So I ran into a forest of uncertainty, away from the wicked prince who was already beginning to destroy me.

I lost beautiful things along the way: A precious home that fell into dark decay and crawling insects. A community that I was a pillar of but could never reclaim from my past life. A boy who was one of my best friends who I realized I loved desperately, but had to stay away from me and my then-destructive ways. They are all back there in the deep dark forest, tangled in the thorns where I also left the pains of my past and discovered what type of woman I really was when venturing the road by myself. Although there were people along it who would join me and be my friends and loved ones, most of this journey was a solitary one. It had to be.

That evening two nights before my birthday, I was driving down Culver Boulevard through the wetlands on the way to Dockweiler. The sun was glowing as the marine layer was kicking in, bathing my car in a silvery yellow light. My big sunglasses were on over my smiling red lips, my body swathed in a long dress. The windows were down, “The Walker” by Fitz and the Tantrums was playing (my current happy song) and the wind was blowing through my hair. I was riding my noble steed into the sunset by myself. Happily.

This isn’t forever; nothing ever is. We shift and change and our endings come and then we begin again. Soon enough, a boy will come into my life and be not a prince but my wonderful partner. I am looking forward to seeing him, getting to know him, making him laugh and smile and watching him bring out my biggest grin and best heart. But until then, I am living my own happily ever after for me. The end.

Birthday Blues

My birthday’s on Monday. Yay.

In all honesty, I really hate my birthday. Not turning older, though. I actually love that part, and it certainly beats the alternative. But the day of… just not a fan.

Almost every year, something bad has happened on or around my birthday that has made me cry like a five-year-old who can’t hit her damn piñata. They range from the birthday party at nine where I invited ten girls and only two showed up to my 30th birthday where I left Orange County, my home of nine years, behind immediately after my celebration. Needless to say, I’ve been conditioned to hate my birthday.

I don’t believe in any of it. Cards? Not my thing. If you have ever gotten a card from me, it’s either because I love you to death or my mother made me do it.

Birthday cake? I just got back into my skinny jeans. I’m cool without cake.

Balloons? I swear, if you pop one in front of me, I will pop your balloons. Take that however you want.

Everyone expects you to be all excited. “Ooh, my birthday! Yay, a party!” And if you know me, you know I love a good party and celebrating everyone else’s birthdays. But people expect you to do something special for yourself. Or rather invite a whole mess of them, slip on a super-sexy dress and have a full-on bash.

So you have to plan: Where am I going to host this thing? A restaurant? The park? A dumpster… I mean, Venice Beach? Then you have to do the social game. “Well, if I invite X, I can’t invite Y, but if I invite Z, I have to invite A, B and C, multiply that by P and then divide by Q. Now how many quests is that?” I had to hide from the GMAT on account they weren’t going to give me a calculator. You seriously want me to do math here?

I’ve watched girls make their birthdays into circuses, creating nights in fancy restaurants and renting out bars. But sometimes I wonder how far it’s gotten. There was one girl several months ago who was trying to reserve a bar and was talking about other people’s events happening over the course of the month. There was one guy in particular who was causing her a lot of problems, and she started griping, “It’s MY day!” Like a bridezilla.

Really, is he going to be wearing the same dress as you? Is he walking down the aisle to “At Last” by Etta James when you swore it was your song? Another reason to be scared of birthday party planning: Because at the rate this could go some random person is going to ask me to marry them. Again.

Culturally, I’m supposed to be excited because I’m another year older. I’ve gotten through my 31st year intact and I’m about to begin anew. This year was difficult in many ways: A job loss, a new freelancing business, closure from a previous life chapter and the heartbreak of my mother’s diagnosis. There were quite a few tears and several moments of clawing at the walls and wondering, “What am I going to do?”

And yet these are coupled with some of the most beautiful images I can think of. Sitting across the table from my best friend in her favorite red-clad ‘50s diner in Whittier eating French fries. Four girl friends in Los Angeles dancing around an apartment to “Happy” as a hyper seeing-eye dog joined in. Giggling on a pool table in downtown Los Angeles on a Saturday night with my adopted baby brother. Singing/screeching with my roommate in the car. Drinking a pint of Guinness with my father for his birthday. Finding peace in my college best friend’s wide smile in the north of Israel. Walking along the Tel Aviv boardwalk with Jaffa lit up as a beacon in the night to reach that beautiful boy whose kisses I couldn’t get enough of. And opening that ziploc baggie filled with folded notes, joyous tears streaming down my face from my reunion with the Kotel in Jerusalem, standing tall to make sure that each of my friends’ wishes made an appearance there.

And I remembered something important about me which I forget constantly: If fate allowed, I was never supposed to have a 32nd birthday. In fact, I was supposed to die at 21, long before I finished college. But no matter how hard things get in my life, I stand tall. Given all the circumstances of my years on this planet, from abusive relationships to medical crises, the fact that I had a 31st year, let alone this one, was downright miraculous.

Now I’m going to be 32. I’m not ashamed of that age nor am I afraid of it, because it’s mine. I’m looking forward to the wonderful things to come, especially when I take the boat to have a day trip in Catalina. A birthday is not about a party; it’s about life and what makes it worth living. So I’m doing this birthday the way I’m living my existence: My way.

Rape Culture, or The Choice of Men

Was it attempted rape? I’ll never know. The last night I was with him was confusing. We were lying in his bed naked in his fancy house in Marina del Rey. I had gone hiking that day and was sore, but had a fun night with him anyway. He had even said, “I love you” to me two hours earlier, an unexpected admission. Now it was 2 a.m., and he was anxious to have sex with me again.

“No,” I said. We already had sex multiple times that night. “I can’t again. I need to sleep.”

And he kept trying to move my body. I kept saying no. And his hands got stronger. I kept saying no louder. Finally, I got fierce, gathered my strength and threw him off of me, my voice tense.

“I swear to G-d if you don’t stop forcing me, I will leave this house right now,” I said angrily.

His body paused and he relented, cuddling me and allowing me to rest. I left the next morning, never to see him again. This was a very different scenario than two years before. At that time I was with a different guy and during the act, I told him to stop what he was doing because it was getting painful, saying no as he held me down and kept going. I tried to force him off but I couldn’t. I bled for two days afterwards.

This is sometimes our reality as women. The fact that I don’t consider myself a rape victim, even though both of these scenarios could potentially be categorized that way, is part of the problem.

Since the Isla Vista shootings, rape and sexual assault have become hot topics. And as we as women have gotten louder, others have become more ignorant, which is usually louder than any truth we can throw because idiocy is easier to digest.

Rape has been a part of women’s lives for centuries. It has been documented time and again in stories of war and takeover. It’s even in the fabric of religion: Judaism runs through the mother not because of a woman’s spiritual plane, but because of necessity. During biblical times Jewish women got raped so frequently that the only way to tell if the child was Jewish was by who the child was born to. Even in times where women weren’t as sexually liberated as we are now, rape has been a part of our stories.

As we became vocal about the attacks with the rise of feminism, so did the defense of it, looking to find something else to blame. The clothes. The college system. The drinking. Our sexual liberation. The “boys will be boys” motto. Anything except for the truth: Rape can’t happen without at least one person taking advantage of another. And despite gray areas, it is very, very real.

It’s anonymous yet at the same time everywhere. As a journalist, I was trained in college never to mention a rape or sexual assault victim by name, yet I was in The Vagina Monologues with a girl who was assaulted on campus and told her story during the show. I can name at least three friends off the top of my head that have been subject to rape, whether by an intimate partner or a casual acquaintance, and I suspect that’s only because they were fearless enough to tell me; not everyone is so brave. And until I wrote the above paragraphs, only my mother knew that I could have possibly been raped. And I only told her two weeks ago.

When I told her my story, she told me one of hers, before she had met my father. She went out with a guy and he wanted to show her the architecture at his apartment. Since she was interested, she said sure. Only to find that this seemed to signal to him sex when she didn’t want to, and she had to also force him off of her.

She probably doesn’t know about the hundreds of stories I had, ranging from that boy in junior high groping my newly-developing breasts by the lockers in the hall to that night at Sinai Temple where a boy said he wanted to talk to me about finding work when he instead cornered me by my car, not allowing me to leave and trying to kiss me. When I kept saying no, he kept saying, “I know you want me.” And then I realized the truth: If I was traumatized by every inappropriate sexual thing a guy did to me, ranging from obnoxious online dating messages all the way down, I wouldn’t be able to stand up and move. I was forced to adapt and get used to it when I shouldn’t have to. And I don’t think my case is singular.

I know the call: “Well, not ALL men do that!” It’s true, not all men do that. And that guy I was dating was not “all men;” he was someone I liked. He took me out and paid my way. Our conversations sparked with chemistry and he told me that I was beautiful. The sex was good and the intimacy was better, and I felt comfortable enough to spend the night multiple times before the incident. He wasn’t even a stereotypical bad guy.

But he was a human being, and like all human beings he was capable of making horrible decisions. And those decisions include how you choose to approach people, particularly women. The difference between an attempted rape and a peaceful night was in the decision not to listen and therefore respect boundaries. It was in his choice.

So, now I pose this to ALL men: You have a choice to hear women. Really hear us and respond in kind without denial, but rather with acknowledgement of our words and giving us respect in return. Or you can keep up the ignorance. Choose wisely.

Tale of the Jaffa Juice Bar

IMG_1752The first night I went to Jaffa, I didn’t expect anything. In fact, for my entire Israel trip I expected to fly under the radar when it came to dating. Instead, I was entranced by the city’s old charm and mystic zodiac leanings. I climbed around the gardens and wished I could walk across the metal wishing bridge.

Stepping into the main courtyard, lit up like a lantern in the night, I noticed a juice bar. I recognized it, even though I had never seen it; it was in a YouTube video from Tel Aviv in a takeoff of Pharell’s “Happy.” (Even though the video is here, it actually wasn’t the juice bar, but it didn’t matter in the end) I approached the juice bar with a smile to match the song.

He stood there with the shorn fauxhawk that I had been seeing throughout the country among the secular boys, with a spiral sticking out of his right ear. I walked up and mentioned I had seen this place in the music video. He looked at me confused, as he had never seen it. I tried to explain to him the song, and he was still quizzical. I told him to forget it and was about to walk away.

“No, wait,” he said. “Would you like something to drink?” His English was actually quite impressive, albeit with a slight accent.

“Oh, no thanks,” I said.

“Not to purchase. I was already making some. Would you like to share with me?”

I smiled and agreed. Unlike some of the other shopkeepers I passed in Jerusalem and the like, he didn’t seem to want to do this to sell me something. He was genuinely warm and welcoming, albeit with a smile that had pretty bad teeth (this is actually quite common in Israel).

He handed me a glass and we drank pure pomegranate juice, tart and tasty as I could feel the seeds dancing in my mouth. We talked for a few minutes and I admired his sleeve tattoo, but I was running out of time and had to go meet the other ladies from my group. I began to walk back into the main courtyard, thinking nothing of it.

“No, wait,” he called after me again. “What are you doing later?”

“I have a dinner, but after I’m free.”

“Do you want to do something?”

“Sure, I’ll give you my number.” And as I pulled out my phone I realized something: The sticker with the number was gone. So I collected his number, introduced myself and he introduced himself as Leshy. And at 9:30, after getting back to our hotel, I called him and suddenly had a first date in another country.

As I began to primp myself up in my room, I was shocked by my audacity. This wasn’t going to lead to a relationship, so why was I curling my lashes and applying lipstick? But then again, I had been telling myself over and over again that when I came back to the States, I was going to get serious about my life and try to get into a real relationship. So what harm could one more fling get me?

As I walked out of the hotel I saw him, and beyond the counter at the juice bar he was actually very attractive, with a slim build, angular face and glasses with clear frames. He looked like he wouldn’t be out of place in Los Angeles. In fact, Tel Aviv was so like home it was hard to separate the two sometimes.

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

“Um… this is my first real night in Tel Aviv,” I said. “What is there to do?”

“Well, we can go to a bar, or go dancing, or take a walk on the beach.”

At first, I told him that we should go get a drink, but then as we began to walk I realized I didn’t want to do it in a bar. Luckily, that’s no problem in Tel Aviv. When I mentioned I wanted to walk on the beach, we headed to a local convenience store where he bought two Goldstar beers and my favorite Israeli chocolate bar with pop rocks. We then walked down to the shore, carrying our beers openly and talking all the way there.

The Mediterranean was clear and beautiful, and unlike the startling crash of the Pacific, it seemed to have a lulling, luscious quality here. I thought of my family, who for hundreds of years before they came to the United States made their homes along the Mediterranean, whether it was in Toledo, Spain or in the ports of Istanbul. This sea was foreign yet home.

Leshy and I buried the bottoms of our beers in the soft sand and spoke about our respective lives. They were rather different: Most of his family was much more religious, and he called himself the black sheep. An army officer until his late 20s, he was working at the juice stand while going to school for sound engineering, often occupied six days a week between the two. He was even getting ready to move to Australia after he finished school and work on music projects down there.

I was here almost on a lark, a girl on a spiritual and emotional journey through a country she barely knew. I was born in Los Angeles, went speedily to college and began to work fast, and now all of a sudden found myself in a different country due to charity work with Na’amat — a name he recognized immediately.

“You are a good person,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess,” I replied.

We spoke about our families, our individual struggles. It was different from the dates I had been on in the states, where it seemed to be all about the surface and each person trying to impress the other. There was sincerity about this moment, about this person I was sitting next to as he put his head on my shoulder. Most Los Angeles guys don’t want to risk being as open or vulnerable, something as refreshing as the different body of water that I sat next to. Then again, Los Angeles guys don’t actually ask you out, either.

We continued talking as the wind swept around us . I wondered when he was finally going to kiss me, feeling like the teenage version of myself who didn’t really know how to approach a romantic encounter. I inched closer and put my head on his shoulder, pondering what it would take. The words were unsaid as a quiet seemed to settle over us. Finally, his lips moved to say the words that I was thinking.

“You’re teasing,” he said.

“No, you’re teasing,” I replied like a five-year-old trying to win a stupid argument. But as his soft lips met mine, the fight was gone and my body was giving in. My mind started peeling the layers of consciousness away as I enjoyed his mouth on mine, his fingers finding their way through my hair, then moving his mouth away from my face to look at me, really look at me, with his hands on my cheeks.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said before kissing me again and again. It was a phrase that I died to hear from guys in the United States but they couldn’t seem to utter even if their lives depended on it.

Every once and again, we’d take a break to enjoy some more conversation, but get wrapped up in each other’s skin once more.

“I enjoy your company,” he said at one point. “Not just the kissing. The kissing’s good…”

“Yes, yes it is,” I laughed.

“But I also like the… how do you call it? Conversation. You’re full of life and fun.”

The night seemed to move forward as the making out became fervent. It wasn’t pure lust that took over like famine. Instead of rushing to get under my shirt, I was savored. I was being enjoyed as he gently kissed the corners of my mouth and ran his lips down my neck. At one point, he paused and he pointed to me the bright tower in the distance that was Jaffa.

“You see that?” he asked wistfully. “That’s where we met.”

When he said that, my mind was startled. It was as simple as anything, but it registered as real in my world, where my hometown was a place more of sparkle than substance and I had lived seven years of my life in a state of delusion because I wanted desperately to believe the boy I was married to actually cherished me this same way. I had become jaded from the fallout and the two years living on driftwood in the middle of an ocean of boys that never called or were looking for the next best thing.

And now, without any expectation of having it happen here, I was swimming through Tel Aviv next to someone new without a care in the world. We were paddling past bars covered in green for St. Patrick’s Day with me explaining the holiday to him. He steered me away from the fast bike riders parallel to HaYarkon Street. We eventually made our way through the waters to a hidden private island, a hotel off the beaten path. White linen sheets lapped up around our ankles as we explored this new world, as if we had always known about it but also experiencing it for the first time.

As we laid there afterwards, his face seemed to glow beyond the sweat, his mouth open in a smile and eyes looking up as if he was floating on the bed. My eyes wandered peacefully across his long, lanky body as his hands reached for my face, pulling me in close to kiss me, breathing me in as if I were air itself.

“That was incredible,” he said. “Was it as good for you?”

I answered truthfully, which was yes, but it went beyond that for me. The last guy I slept with in Los Angeles told me I was mediocre in bed and then asked in the same conversation to be set up with one of my friends. Now here was this person who, 24 hours ago, didn’t even know that I was walking this earth and crossed into the meandering river that was my life. He actually wanted me, of all people in this universe. And for me, that was downright strange.

As we hailed a white taxi to take me back to my hotel and we sat in the back, I wondered how this worked now. I knew how it worked in the States — send me on my merry way so I could live out my life while seeking a new source of love. But I was in Tel Aviv, half a world away from the place I call home, where I barely knew how the world worked.

“How long are you going to be here for?” he asked me in the silence of the cab.

“I’m here until next Monday,” I replied.

“I’d really like to see you again.”

My grin must have been a mile wide. “What does your schedule look like?” I asked.

“I have work and school tomorrow, but Wednesday I’m free,” he said. “Does Wednesday work?”

“It does. Call me then.”

And as I kissed him good night and wandered into the darkened lobby of my hotel, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. I was dating on the other side of the world as my friend sent me a text asking me to go out on St. Patrick’s Day, not realizing that mine had already happened. And somehow, the luck of the Irish spread to a Jewish girl in Tel Aviv.

Going Down There with Feminism

In the #YesAllWomen campaign, I was reminded of my roots in feminism, and it came early for me. This piece won first place in the on-the-spot op-ed category at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges state competition back in 2002. The times have changed (and so has my writing), but sadly the message has not.

 

Going Down There with Feminism

By Reina V. Slutske

 

“Down there?… You want me to go down there?”

The quote from “The Flood,” one of the many pieces in Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” is usually the same reaction that most people give to feminism.

Feminism is often viewed as a stereotype of women who hate men and want to take over the world, also known as “femi-nazism.” This is not feminism.

So what is feminism? In the National Organization for Women (NOW), the basic definition is the belief that men and women deserve equality.

Therefore, it is safe to say that feminism is not dead. Rather, feminism is a like a married career woman and a mother of one.

Feminism, in its current state, is in a transition period. The second wave of feminism, from the baby-boomer generation, has been the main representation of modern feminism.

But times are changing. Feminism, at the moment, has a beautiful daughter. Her name is the third wave.

She is from either generations X or Y, born from 1970 on to the 1980s. She is a cosmopolitan, knowledgeable girl who extends her view to the rest of the world.

She viewed the Taliban oppressing its women when the rest of the world didn’t care.

She saw when her mother wasn’t counted in getting health care as she got older.

She understands that all people, not just white women but also minorities and men, must be included in the fight for equality.

Along with her mother, she knows in America that a woman is raped every two minutes, women get paid 23 percent less than men do, and states are arguing to overturn abortion.

Both mother and daughter know that the battle is not won, and they must fight it together. Plus, at the end of the day, they can end up being called femi-nazis instead of feminists.

Feminism, however, has begun to find itself again. Through NOW and the efforts of people such as Ensler, feminism is coming back with a full passion, with women reclaiming their bodies and place in society.

Through the Safety, Health and Equal Opportunities (SHE), NOW continues its outreach to women. For SHE, this includes providing services and making itself known throughout the state, including in college campuses.

If there was no hope for equality, feminism would not exist. This is reason to believe that feminism is a gift to all of us, and not just a stereotype we were taught.

“You want me to go down there?”

Definitely.