Thursday, May 23, 2013

Girls just wanna have fun

On May 22, 2013, an e-mail I wrote was sent to the 20,000+ subscribers of mailing list The Listserve. I included my e-mail address at the end so anyone could write back to me.

Nearly 100 e-mails later, I have received articles, book recommendations, and a few very interesting counter-thoughts. I'm pleased to say that, as of writing this, I have received only a single troll.

I've been recommended the books The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Lean in - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I'll be looking both of these up the next time I go to a book store.

There is a plethora of feminist articles that readers sent to me, as well, that I wouldn't feel right if I didn't share.

A good one from Curator of Dialogue
Why society still needs feminism, on Tumblr
Clara Fritts' take on feminism
A TED Talk that might turn every man who watches it into a feminist
Serenade my Soul on my article
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus (such bollocks!)

 Some people directed me to causes they feel strongly about as well, such as Girl Develop It, whose mission is to empower women from diverse backgrounds to learn how to code and develop software, and a non-feminist but very real humanitarian movement based out of NYC that is actively moving against the controversial stop-and-frisk program. I have learned a lot about people from all over and their views and impressions of feminism by sending a single e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who read my e-mail and who felt compelled to write to me, and those who remained silent as well.

The title of my e-mail was Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which meant as an ironic twist to the well-known song.  I've pasted it below for you to read.


I was going to take this opportunity to talk about something entirely different, but after something that happened yesterday, I’m going to use it to clear up a few misconceptions about a topic very dear to me.

My mom is an English professor. During one of her classes, she looked at her students and asked “How many of you here would identify as a feminist?”. To her dismay, about three or four of the twenty-some students raised their hands, and all of them were female.

“Let me ask you something,” she said. “How many of you believe in equal rights for women?” Everyone raised their hands. “How many of you believe women should be paid the same amount as men in the workplace?” They all raised her hands again. Mom smiled. “Then you are all feminists.”

The first two definitions of feminism, as per, are:
[fem-uh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
If you’ll look, you see none of the common misconceptions of feminism, which include:
1. hating men
2. burning bras
3. getting angry when men hold doors open for them
4. trying to take over the world with our feminine wiles
5. obliterating men altogther and releasing them as a fine powder into the atmosphere (okay, I’m embellishing just a bit)

The reality is that feminists are sick of the way women are portrayed, the way they are pitted against each other and the way that society tells women that their bodies are shameful and that they should hate them for not looking good enough for men.

Yesterday I had a guy refuse to let me help him lift heavy things for the mere fact that I was a woman, even though I had just carried one of those “heavy” things (which, for the record, really weren’t that heavy) across the floor to him with ease. Instead of standing there and arguing with him, I decided it said more about him than me, and I left. And that was when I knew what to write about for the Listserve.

A few traditional sexist practices need a little clarification, too. If a man refuses to hit a woman because he just doesn’t hit women, he’s doing it for the wrong reason. You shouldn’t hit a woman because she’s a person, just like you shouldn’t hit a man because he’s a person--a quick digression to add that I am absolutely not referring to domestic abuse here, rather the old "I wouldn't hit a girl" adage. When you hold a door open for a woman, you should hold it open because it’s polite to hold a door open for anyone. And, regardless of which gender the person holding the door open identifies with, you should always say thank you. But that’s a “common courtesy” issue, so I’ll stop there.

My aim with this e-mail wasn’t necessarily to change minds, but rather to help some of you understand that you might just be a feminist without knowing it. And that’s okay. Most of the negative aspects associated with feminism are radical and certainly not the thoughts of every feminist, or are non-existant altogether.

I have a lot to say on various topics, not all of them necessarily political, social, or even negative. If you’re interested, I invite you to check out my blog. Google “kcooperwriting” and you’ll find me a few links down under my Twitter account.

Thanks for reading. I’ve really enjoyed all the Listserve e-mails so far, especially those with projects linked to them.


To finish off, another reader sent me this great cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Enjoy.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Creating These Random Memories (Anticipation Part 2)

This evening, after I was done work, two of my friends picked me up and we got into their car to listen to the much anticipated Random Access Memories, as referenced in the previous post. I looked at them and I said "Guys, this is the last time we will listen to this album for the first time".

The sunroof down and wind whipping past accompanied the warm, late May air. The sky boasted clouds of all different shapes and textures, hanging in the sky against a perfectly sunny backdrop. The bass thumped at a reasonable level behind us as the the album revealed its beautiful secrets to us.

I remember the entire journey as we drove and listened. When the final track played, the sun was low in the sky, but not yet to setting. A dull gold-orange glow cascaded through the modest urban forest we passed by, light peeking through the trees and creating long shadows behind. At one point, during the album, the sun had gone behind a cloud, and just as the song reached a pivotal point, it came back out, right through the sunroof.

As is common with a group of people who are familiar with each other, we cracked our fair share of jokes (such as when my friend Sally thought the song Fragments of Time was called Fragments of Tim--I laughed for an uncomfortably long time at that).

As we listened, the three of us crafted a memory together. We'll always remember cruising through town, visiting random locations while Random Access Memories played as our soundtrack. From what I've heard from the interviews that Daft Punk gave, I can't help but wonder if that crafting of memories is one of the things that they were hoping to achieve with this album.

Monday, May 20, 2013


As I sit here writing, I have the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories, staring back at me from my phone. It is complete and waiting for me to listen to it, but because of a promise made to a good friend, that will wait for now. Instead, I'm thinking about how incredible an album it's going to be. Even the one song I've heard from the album is a whole two minutes longer than its radio edit, so really, it will be almost entirely material I've never heard.

Have you ever taken a moment, while just about to read the last page of a book or about to watch the last half hour of a film, to think about how amazing that moment you're about to experience is? Something you didn't know five minutes ago will be something you know, and always will know, in the moments to come. You will never be able to re-live that moment. You will forever be trying to re-imagine that sense of wonder you feel in the moments leading up to your experience.

This is exactly how I feel about Random Access Memories right now.

Daft Punk's Discovery album came at a pivotal time to me: my late teenage years. 12 years ago, Discovery became a very important part of my life, as far as musical influence goes. And now, I get the feeling that Random Access Memories is about to become the same.

My friends and I plan on listening to the album in their car tomorrow after I'm done work, cruising with the album playing at full blast. Interestingly enough, interviews with contributors to the album reveal that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo did much the same during the process of putting the album together.

I'll prolong the anticipation for now. At 4 PM tomorrow, I'll be ready.

I have a challenge for you. At the last few pages, or even the last chapter, of whatever book you're reading now, stop. Think about the journey you've taken so far, and what loose ends are left to be tied up. Reflect on the fact that you're about to learn something new that you'll never re-experience, and take a moment to recognize how remarkable that feeling is. Then, turn the page.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Role models

I hope everyone has at least one role model growing up. I was privileged to have had several. My parents, obviously, were (and still are!) the biggest ones, but I was fortunate to have numerous teachers who impacted my life, too. Belinda Myers was one of those teachers.

I found out a week ago that Mrs. Myers had passed away suddenly in a motorcycle accident, and the news hit me hard. I had seen another teacher a few weeks prior and, oddly enough, had asked what Mrs. Myers was up to. It was jarring, to say the least, to hear that she passed away not long after.

There's a lot that needs to be said about Mrs. Myers, but I can only speak from the perspective of a former student. I will say that as a "black sheep" sort of attendee, I found Mrs. Myers to be welcoming and understanding. I could always go to her if I had an issue of any kind, and if she couldn't fix it, she could at least change my perspective on it so it didn't seem so bad. She always had something constructive to say, so if you were doing something she didn't agree with, she would tell you why and how to change it. She was calm and didn't yell or raise her voice, but she was still fair and wouldn't let students get away with breaking rules. She also didn't make it a secret how much she cared for her students.

Since high school, which has been nearly ten years now, I've had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of teachers, and even tell some of them how much their instruction meant to me. One thing that I'll always regret now is that I never got to do that with Mrs. Myers. She was the vice principal when I graduated and I had always thought, while attending, how I would have liked to see how she ran it as principal. She was principal for several years after, and I can only imagine she did a great job with that, too.

That is my fond, little memorial of Mrs. Myers and the great teacher she was. I had three classes with her: Media Studies, Law, and Journalism, and I still think of all of them. My thoughts are, especially, with her family at this time.

Thank you, Mrs. Myers.