The Fear Girls

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My Almost Family

By Zoe Claster

The other day my father and I were going through old VHS tapes that had been piling up in our living room. Most of what we found was old episodes of Roseanne and Becker back when my dad actually cared about watching every single episode of just about anything that came on television. But among the re-runs and award shows from the early 90’s, we’d occasionally find some old home videos from my childhood.

One video my dad showed me was from before I was born–when my mom and dad were still married and my mom was pregnant with my brother, Max. My grandmother had recently sent them an 80’s equivalent of a camcorder that you had to strap onto your body in order to use. She had sent it to them with they intention that they could send her videos of the baby and the house and whatnot. So they made some videos and they creatively called them the “Bob and Kathy” shows, which were essentially my dad and very-pregnant mom being a silly married couple.

As I watched this, I knew that this footage was and always would be incredibly important to me, mainly because I was about two-years-old when my parents got divorced and so I never got to see what they were like as an actual couple. What I didn’t realize, nor was I relatively prepared for, was how much of an emotional impact it would have on me. And during the moment, I couldn’t understand why this footage was suddenly making be sob uncontrollably.

I later realized that I had gotten so upset because, in a way, I was watching the family that almost was and never would be. Here I was– 16 years having grown up with a single Mother and a single Father, never having experienced what it’s like to live with “Mom and Dad” together under one roof, always hearing stories but never fathoming the mere notion of my parents actually living together, let alone willingly, happily, and in love–seeing them start out as the beginning of a real, honest-to-goodness family.

To know that there was a time when my parents were together and happy. Happy and madly in love. To know that there was a time when my dad was young and thin and full of life and optimism. That there was a time when my mom’s laugh was warm and bright, when their marriage wasn’t thought of as such a joke. When my uncle, Scott, was alive and healthy with not a bit of cancer in sight. When my grandmother had the ability to have an interesting and worthwhile intellectual conversations… A time when there was real promise for a “family”– a family that I never got to experience. A family that pretty much fell apart before I was even born.

And to suddenly come back to the present, 22 years later, and know that their marriage would eventually fall apart, that my dad would end up older and heavier and all around bitter about his life, that my mom would re-marry but never really have that warm laugh that she once had, that my uncle and grandmother would pass away too soon, and that our “family” would be nothing but a sad nostalgic reminder of what could have been–just makes me fall apart.

This is not to say that I don’t feel more than grateful to actually have a mother and father that are still alive and well and are not hookers or crack dealers or something seemingly awful and disturbing. Living in a time where 60% of the country’s population has divorced parents, it isn’t terribly unusual to be in my situation and it’s hard to feel terribly sympathetic. Most people just say, “Well at least your parents are still alive!”

I’m not saying that I wish I had parents. I have them, I love them dearly, and I know I shouldn’t complain. But I feel as though I have missed out on a very crucial part of the “family” experience.

My father once told me about a survey that his boss sent him as an anti-social attempt to “connect” with his fellow co-workers. One of the questions that the survey asked was, “Who do you miss the most right now?” My father told me that of all the people that he’s lost this year, including my grandmother in 2005 and Scott this past year, the people that he really misses the most are the kids that my brother Max and I once were and never will be. At the time I thought this was silly because Max and I were still alive where as he would never be able to see Nana and Scott ever again.

It didn’t make sense to me until I watched the home video of my parents and realized what he meant. It is true that Max and I are still alive, but we will never be those cute and adorable little people that we once were. Those kids are still inside us, in a way, but we’ll never say silly things like, “Boo boo” and go on and on about what we learned in school. We’ll never be those little portable bundles of cuteness.

The people that I miss the most are the “Mom & Dad” that I never got to know and never got to grow up with. I feel like, in a way, those people died sometime before I was born, and I miss them terribly.

Back when my Uncle was still alive, I asked him what my parents were like when they were together. I remember that he thought about it carefully for a moment before saying, “They laughed a lot. They were really funny together.” I remember thinking how baffling that was, simply because even seeing them in the same room together just seemed bizarre. But having seen that video, I really understood what he meant. And in some way, it’s nice to know that they started out in a good place, even though I never got to see the “Bob and Kathy show” live.

At it stands right now, my family is and has been broken for some time. Our numbers have gotten smaller as people have died and holidays seem more and more depressing and upsetting than anything else. However, I maintain that we are slowly on the mend. And that with time, like most things, it will get better. Like most children of divorce, it feels like the family dynamic that we often crave is simply unrealistic in this day and age. It’s hard not to feel jaded about the future of romantic pursuits because, if they couldn’t make it work, how do I even stand a chance? Let alone have children to suffer the consequences if it doesn’t work out. Needless to say, it is a crippling concept for those of us who don’t have the hope and encouragement of their parents’ relationship to fall back on. Still, I maintain optimistic with the hope that I will someday find someone that I can trust—to have kids with, to be happy with, to rebuild a family and hopefully have home videos of my own that maybe won’t upset my children as much as they upset me. That’s the idea anyway, isn’t it?

Halloween Costumes Are Sexist

By: Justin Hall

There’s a lot of debate these days as to what does and does not qualify as “sexist,” so let me break this down. The root of sexism is one simple idea that has been instilled in our society for many generations:

Men are people, to be judged by what they can achieve; women are objects, to be judged by how sexually attractive they are.

Everything that can be described as sexist stems from that tragically widespread notion. For example, let’s look at a few Halloween costumes. There’s actually a convenient Tumblr page called Fuck No Sexist Halloween Costumes that gathers up loads of pictures from costume shops for male and female counterparts of various characters and themes.

Transformers!

Wow, that totally looks like a transformer!

And for the ladies…

Whoa! That looks like a… a woman wearing a skimpy dress.

Okay, let’s try something more innocent and less complicated. How about a Baby theme?

Well the proportions are obviously off, but otherwise that’s pretty accurate, I guess…

… You’ve got to be kidding me.

These are just two examples, of course, but you can go to the website and see for yourself — every women’s costume you can find is designed to be as ‘sexy’ as possible. If you’re a woman and you’ve shopped at a costume store, you’ve probably noticed this trend.

And honestly, let’s just observe this at face value. When designing costumes for men, the objective is to make it look as accurate to the source material as possible; when designing costumes for women, the objective is to make a sexy, skimpy, revealing outfit that looks sort of vaguely like the source material.

The message is pretty damn clear from where I stand: on Halloween, men dress like their favorite characters so they can pretend to be Batman or a pirate or whoever, and women dress like strippers so we can ogle them.

I don’t see how anybody can argue that this isn’t sexist. It’s definitively sexist. It’s the fucking epitome of sexism.

Justin, are you trying to say women shouldn’t be allowed to dress how they want?!?!

Hell no. I’m not slut shaming here. If you want to dress like a stripper, that’s absolutely your prerogative, and I won’t judge you for it. It’s okay to be sexy. I’m not vilifying the women who dress in skimpy outfits; I’m vilifying the corporations that manufacture nothing but skimpy outfits for women, and the culture that encourages, expects, and all but requires women to dress in skimpy outfits.

The problem isn’t that sexy costumes exist. The problem is that they exist at the expense of everything else.

If you want to buy a pre-made costume and you don’t want anything “sexy,” you’d better go to menswear, because that’s the only place you’ll find it. There are some male costumes that can fit either gender, but many are fitted specifically for the male body. And really, do you think you’re not sending any weird or negative messages to women by telling them that by wearing a concealing outfit that actually looks like the character they want to dress as, they’re crossdressing? Because that’s what it says on the sign — Menswear.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a symptom of a larger problem. This is just one thread in the vast tapestry of sexism. But it’s still a thread. Like everything else in our culture, Halloween costumes don’t exist in a vacuum; the way people dress affects our perception of the world. When we see women everywhere dressing in revealing outfits, the message we are taught — whether we consciously realize it or not — is that women’s purpose during Halloween is to look sexy. Maybe this wouldn’t be a huge deal if we weren’t also getting this message from so many other places.

And there’s nothing wrong with women looking sexy, but they should have more options than that, just like we do. Because women are people.

—-

Justin Hall is an aspiring writer. He runs a gaming blog called Ninja Game Den as well as a personal blog called Ninja Lounge House. His dream is to be a writer for a major gaming website. He has worked as a cashier at various retail stores for over two years.

This article was originally published on Justin’s non-gaming blog, here

Parenthood Pressure

 By Callie Gable

Whining. Crying. Asking. Needing.

It. Never. Stops.

As the youngest of four, I never experienced living with a small child. Sure, I had family friends who had kids and have babysat over the years… but for the past few days my cousin and his posse, who roll three toddlers deep, have been staying at my house. Their mother buzzes around like a bee collecting pollen from her little flowers. As I watched her perpetually acknowledge, allay, and acquiesce, I thought to myself,
why?

Why do women want to be mothers?

So I asked her. She said that as a devout Mormon, bearing children is quintessential. Each child is an opportunity to create another Mormon who can then witness to non-believers and promulgate the faith. Each child increases their family’s standing in their church. And because their faith so encourages procreation, each child increases their worthiness to enter the most desirable of three celestial kingdoms. (As an aside, I do not intend to purport that these opinions are true of all Mormons.)

Okay, sure; it almost makes sense.

I asked my mother. Apparently after a few years of marriage, she and my dad decided they were ready for a change. Having kids is just what people were supposed to do. My mom desperately wanted to fulfill her maternal longings; after all, she had always wanted to be a mother.

I hear maternal longings are just lovely, so I suppose this makes sense.

At the gym a few days later, I asked a friend of mine the same question. At twenty, she dreams of sock monkeys, onesies, and the perfect elephant print border from Pottery Barn. She just can’t wait to go shopping for her baby and dress it up and have it photographed. She loves how cute babies are and adores snuggling them. Like a stylish, hip version of my mother, she has a roaring maternal instinct.

This makes perfect sense, as long as you include the prefix “non”…

But the fact that women who aren’t eager to fulfill their maternal longings (or worse, do not have maternal longings at all), are considered selfish does not make any sense; I’m surprised they don’t burn us and our unoccupied uteruses at the stake.

I personally have never heard an explanation like this: I know having a child will be time consuming, mentally taxing, and lots of hard work, but I feel that it is my social duty to bear children as a means to sustain the population. I’m sure that those people exist; however, generally, it seems that children fit to-be parents’ agendas for personal fulfillment. I think that’s great. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing
wrong with wanting a child for other reasons than maintaining human life in the most practical sense. However, there is something wrong with making those who do not seek fulfillment in the same way that parents do pariahs.

Since we’re so modern these days, we pretend like everyone taking the same road in life is obsolete and that individuality is in. And in lots of respects, it is. Wear what you want, marry whom you want, earn a degree in what you want, vote for who you want, live wherever you want… but if you’re a woman, make sure you have a baby along the way.

Even if you have a nanny ‘round the clock and name the child after a fruit, it’s totally cool, because you’ve given birth, and now society can place a shiny gold star in the “Motherhood” column.

My point is, why can’t we be enthusiastic about all women who are fulfilled, whether it is by their children, their job, their marriages, their hobbies, their, pets, their friends, or some combination of the multifarious things that make us happy? It seems to me that selfishness has nothing to do with not wanting children; people sacrifice time, money, and quality of relationships to pursue things they love all the
time with none of the glory that parents receive.

Expressing my desire to pursue a lengthy education over becoming a mother during my “prime years,” or possibly ever, has often left me feeling guilty, selfish, and like less of a woman. I am routinely accosted with the tangent about being created with the ability to procreate, so I must use that ability.

But let me remind you of something fantastic. We were also born with the ability to use our brains and to think for ourselves. so next time you feel the parenthood pressure Summon those abilities and focus on loving your life instead of loving the one other people want you to make.

 


Callie Gable is nineteen years old and from Southeastern Ohio. She is going to be a freshman at Duke University this fall, and, to the dismay of everyone in her hometown, does not have her sights set on a Mrs. degree. Instead, she wants to double major in English and Public Policy. When she’s not writing, you can find her on a running, on a yoga mat, or devouring a book… along with ice cream directly from the carton. Callie currently works as a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor, but has held many other jobs (one of which included cleaning toilets) to help pay for her education and the not so occasional pair of shoes.

Her fear is that young girls in rural areas will never be able to define the term feminism, or have the chance to define themselves outside of the context of perpetual mothers, meticulous cleaners, and submissive wives

The Need for Self-Publishing

By Jess C Scott

My name is Jess C Scott and I’m a professional writer. I’ve decided to share some of my perspectives with self-publishing. If self-publishing is something you’ve been thinking about, I hope this post serves as an inspiration to you as you get your writing projects off the ground.

1) Self-Publishing: What’s Great About It

I was very happy to read Chloe Crossman’s article on women’s magazines, published on The Fear Girls on April 30, 2012. I thought the following lines were so, so true:

“The reality of it is this: [these magazines] cater to the idea that women should value appearance over substance, please our partner before pleasing ourselves, and that the best way to achieve fulfillment in life is to make sure that our cleavage is displayed with just the right amount of visibility. . .if we allow ourselves to consume [women’s magazines] with too much frequency, we will become intellectually lethargic, driven by a need to refuel our damaged confidence with another dose of sugary garbage.”

Superficial and shallow values were what inspired my debut book, EyeLeash A Blog Novel.It’s a semi-autobiographical story that captures self-discovery in the 2000s.

There seems to be an epidemic of young people (tween and teenage girls, especially) with low self-esteem. Instead of combating this low self-esteem, the mainstream mass media tends to fully exploit it.

I know that the bottom line of any business is about profits. I know that traditional publishers are in the business to make money. That being said, I don’t think that profits should compromise certain principles.

One of the biggest gifts of independent publishing is that it offers a writer full creative and business control. In my experience, it allows me to work with a clean/clear conscience too, which is pretty much priceless if you’re the type that likes to maintain a certain amount of personal and/or artistic integrity.

Self-publishing allows a writer’s voice and vision to remain in its clear, undiluted state. It gives a writer the chance to create something unique and memorable, versus something that’s commoditized and forgettable.

There might always be a tension between art and commerce, depending on your goals and motivations as a writer. But at least you have a real opportunity where you can ultimately decide what you want your writing to really be all about.

2) Self-Publishing: Tips for Success

Here are a few tips to be efficient, productive, and focused as an independent author.

a) Be professional. When you’re committed to quality, it shows in your body of work. This also reflects well on the self-publishing community on the whole (the reverse is true too!). It helps to have a neat and organized website (ideally, it should also be visually pleasing). Web presence is important when your business is online.

b) Use social media wisely. Social media is great for self-promotion, cross-promotion, and socializing. I try not to spam my friends/followers too often. I’m not on social media all the time either (it can get pretty distracting…). You don’t need to be on every single social media platform. It’s more conducive if you select a few that you really like, so that you can utilize each to the fullest. Try to discern the difference between ranting and venting.

c) Be open to collaborations. I know of a few indie authors who seem to be very proud of the fact that they operate “by themselves” only (without asking other authors for “anything”). While it’s good to be self-sufficient, working together with others can be enjoyable if the people involved sincerely believe in the project they’re working on. This was the case with the no-nonsense Q&A advice book I co-authored with NYC teacher Matt Posner entitled Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. The book wouldn’t have been as comprehensive if only one of us had authored it.

d) Have a positive attitude. If you fail at first, try again, and try harder next time. You tend to improve the more you persist at something. To borrow a quote from the astrologer Bob Marks, remind yourself that “being miserable all the time is impractical.” When optimism is grounded in reality, it helps you maintain a psychologically and emotionally healthy state.

e) Have self-respect. You’ll be respected by readers/customers if you stay true to whatever it is that motivates you, or what you feel passionate about. Don’t be afraid to say the unsayable.

f) Think long term. Don’t get discouraged if you see other authors sail ahead, or if you don’t see magnificent sales straight off the bat. Your focus shouldn’t be on creating “one” masterpiece, but on building up a backlist over time in order to strengthen your brand. Some people are tempted to take shortcuts, though perseverance tends to draw out the best qualities of a person. It’s nice to buck the system and be successful, even if a hundred million other people are also aggressively trying to do what you do.

3) Self-Publishing At Its Best = Revolutionary Resistance

Since my mid-teens, one of the things I’ve been passionate about is resisting the mainstream media. A lot of my creative work contains a “rebellious” streak against the (often stereotypical) messages from the mainstream media. I especially loathe the media’s tendency to reduce love, sex and relationships to mere commodities.

Publishers are mostly interested in finding the next cash cow franchise. In a tumultuous climate of change and upheaval, I suppose one cannot blame traditional publishers for focusing on what’s guaranteed to bring in the big bucks.

Self-publishing doesn’t need to be defined by the corporate culture that exists in all media conglomerates. Self-publishing isn’t defined by corporate politics or maintaining the status quo. At its best, self-publishing champions independent thought and action, which allows driven and motivated writers to really get their work out there and make a difference somehow.

I like resisting the hegemonizing mindset of megacorporations everywhere, where the goal is to unite the world as one people and one wallet. It’s coarse when a person or industry is entirely driven by greed and money. I don’t know about others, but I find merging the idealism of art and the practical aspects of business more fulfilling. The creative tension never gets dull or boring.

It’s the best time for a writer to get their work out on the market via digital self-publishing, a process that’s efficient, convenient, and economical.

21st-century self-publishing is an invitation to writers everywhere to join in the revolution/resistance front. Once you’re ready to join, jump right in, and be willing to learn new things along the way.

For best results, keep the following quote in mind: “Give up; give in; or give it all you’ve got.”


Jess is an author/artist/non-conformist who’s dedicated to writing original stories that are both meaningful and entertaining. She writes in a variety of genres including erotic fiction, urban fantasy, young adult fiction, cyberpunk, and poetry.

She recently completed Literary Heroin: A Twilight Parody, Bad Romance (a satirical “seven deadly sins” anthology), and Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (co-authored with NYC teacher, Matt Posner).

In a Word Riot interview, Jess mentions that the basic message in her work is “always the same: to be unafraid to be one’s true self.”

Jess is also the founder of jessINK, an innovative publishing company that focuses on substance over short-term success with current fads and marketing hype.

Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (co-authored by Matt Posner and Jess C Scott):

www.jessINK.com/teenguide.htm

Jess on Facebook and Twitter

The Battle for Reproductive Rights Continues…

 By Patricia Arroyo

The 2012 election season is heating up as debates and issues crop up. Among the Republican candidates there is an acknowledged ‘war against women’ being waged this campaign season. The topics covered in the debates range from proposed personhood bills , health care reform, extension of government programs , and budget cuts to established aid centers like Planned Parenthood.

    One of the main reasons that these issues are being brought to the attention of presidential candidates is to sway potential voters in the hopes of garnering more votes. Another function is to create discussion among commentators that closely align themselves with particular political parties. One of the most well-documented controversies so far has been American conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh’s disapproval of health care reform that would help cover women’s contraception.

In the video, Limbaugh manages to over-simplify and misconstrue a proposed health coverage amendment from the Obama administration that would aid millions of women in obtaining birth control. Instead of focusing on the benefits of this new health measure, Limbaugh chooses to make slanderous generalizations and completely fails to consider any positive attributes that this measure could have on the lives of millions of American women. Unfortunately, since Limbaugh has managed to cement himself as a prominent figurehead of the Republican party, his views are broad-casted to his large audience.

Women all across the board are outraged at the idea that government officials, especially men, are continuing to police the way women choose to handle their bodies, lives, and families. Even though women’s voices are largely underrepresented, we can still band together and make our voices heard. We can let figureheads like Limbaugh know that we are not okay with being grouped into negative generalizations without our medical needs being addressed. thinkprogress.org highlights the readily accessible ways that we have to reach out and attempt to have our voices heard. Social media has proven to be a valuable tool in expediting governmental change and social awareness, and during this time in which women’s rights are increasingly infringed upon, we have to continue to raise awareness in order to be able to maintain some control over the choices we make in our lives.

 


Patricia is a first generation Mexican-American, born in Houston Texas. Patricia went to school at The California College of the Arts as a Fashion Design major. Her senior year she put together her own capsule collection and was awarded a spread in Surface Magazine. She also was given an internship with Nicole Miller in New York, which she has just completed. Patricia has returned to Texas to care for her father while he begins treatment for colon cancer. Patricia likes scary movies, dancing, tattoos, cats, and knitting.

Her fear is rejection, and that her self-doubt and insecurities will hold her back in her future endeavors.