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Girl Talk: Ana and Pia’s First Advice Column

Hey folks! This is our first #Girl Talk article – we hope this series continues not only as a place for feminist (and general– lol we’re people too) advice but also for opinions and good times. Please read 🙂

Why is Pumpkin Spice Latte a thing PD: I don’t know. What I do know is that if you’re going to order one, order it iced!

AB: Not going to lie, I’m not a Pumpkin Spice Latte kinda girl, but I can tell you that Pete’s has a *seasonal* Pumpkin Spiced Chai that is out of this world – 8.5/10 would recommend.

What do you do if a guy starts talking over you in class? // How do you deal with that one boy in your class (obviously hypothetical) who keeps interrupting you to mansplain only to repeat exactly what you have just said? Basically how do you respond to mansplainers?

AB: I have a hard time with this, too. Something that I’ve found helpful is trying to sit with other women/non-male identifying people in classes, which reduces the amount of interactions you have with mansplainers. If you can’t control where you sit, try talking to your teacher about having at least one other non-male person at your table group to create a buffer so that even if the mansplaining continues, you have someone there who you can work with that won’t talk down to you. If the problem persists, you can either say “thank you for explaining, but I feel confident in the material. Can we move onto the next problem?” or talk to your teacher for further support.

PD: This one is hard. One of the reasons girls (or non male-identifying people) have a hard time stopping people from interrupting them is a double standard: when a man speaks over someone, he’s assertive, whereas when a woman does, she’s often seen as pushy. I agree with everything Ana says, but I’m also a big fan of being honest if all else fails. Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do is just to say “I know,” and move on.

What’s some advice you’d give your freshman self?

AB: I recently came to the realization that sometimes high school can be tough, but there will always be people who care about you and will do whatever they can do support you. The only way to make it through is to focus on everything good that does happen because the rest is inconsequential at the end of the day. More easily put in the wise words of Drake re 2011, “YOLO”

PD: I took everything very seriously freshman year. I take everything seriously now, but given rapidly approaching college deadlines that’s probably a good idea. But as for my freshman self, I could have taken more time to chill. I was lucky enough to meet some of my closest friends in my physics class, but I wish I had taken more time to spend time with them. In that same vein, I skipped out on a lot of school events as a freshman because I thought the seniors were scary, but they’re really not. Also, I wish I had tried the cantaloupe agua fresca at Cactus before last year.

What’s your favorite place to cry on campus?

AB: Tough one – there are lots of great options and clearly no right answer. I personally like the bathrooms in the Scott Building because they’re big enough to not feel claustrophobic but quiet enough to not make a scene.

PD: In front of your D Block stats class. (even if they’re not Stats-related tears)

What are good ways I can destress when I have too much on my plate?

PD: Depending on the time of day, I’ll either work out, listen to loud music, make some tea/coffee, or just take a break from work to talk to my friends. High school can be stressful, which is why it’s a good idea to learn earlier rather than later how to best care for yourself. Sara L.C. is a great person to talk to for more strategies.

How do you get over someone?

AB: I might not be the best person to ask because after my first breakup, I dyed my hair green (it was supposed to be turquoise lol), but you just gotta trust that things will work out. It’s going to be painful for a long time and that’s ok – you just can’t forget that what you’re feeling is normal and everyone at some point or another goes through it. Ice cream, movies (check out “Christmas Prince” on Netflix – it’s a masterpiece), and dance parties to 2000’s bops with friends are also major key.

I want to come to Latin Club, but am worried I’ll be totally lost and won’t have any fun. Is it worth the risk?

PD: Yay Latin! To both whoever asked this and anyone else in the same situation: please come! First, Latin Club is always fun. Think Sam Lopez, Magister Dooley, weird puns, and 90’s pop culture. There’s no expectation to know a single answer (in my first two years of Latin I answered one question. One.) You learn a ton, laugh a ton, and there’s no long term commitment. No Latin knowledge is required, so come by on Wednesday and try it out!

What should I do if a teacher says something sexist in class and I don’t feel comfortable confronting them about it?

AB: I think the answer to this depends on the severity of the comments made. Yes, sexism is sexism is sexism, but there is also a difference between not being aware and deliberate misogyny. If it seems like they just aren’t aware, try talking to friends you trust, or your advisor to see if they would be comfortable talking to the teacher with you or for you. Or if you do feel comfortable talking to said teacher, then you can also speak to them yourself. The faculty at CPS is generally really understanding and their last intention is to make you feel uncomfortable in class. However, if it was something more severe or if the casual sexism persists, talking to your advisor, Sarah L.C., Jeremiah, or a trusted faculty member is the right move. They can help diffuse conflict and prevent future incidents without putting you in a position where you have to talk to an adult about their making you feel uncomfortable.

PD: ^^ This. But, if anything is every said in or outside of class please talk to a trusted adult. No matter how mature, we’re all teenagers, and adults are both more educated and experienced in navigating such situations.

I am exploring the idea of being seen non-binary, but I am worried that people will not let go of my initial gender, and they will feel entitled to a full explanation of my feelings. How should I deal with this?

AB: I can’t speak to this experience, but as someone coming from the position of one of your friends, I can say that if your friends are truly your friends, they will love and appreciate you no matter what. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining your feelings, you shouldn’t feel like you have to tell them. If they ask, it’s ok to say that you don’t feel comfortable talking about it or that you would rather have a conversation about something else. You should be free to express yourself however you want, and if your friends prevent you from doing so, they might not be the best people to have around. At the end of the day, your being able to look yourself in the mirror and say that you are happy with and proud of who you are is all that matters. I know Simon and Sameer have a lot of great insight on this, and GSA has a lot of additional resources they can provide you with.

Boys boys boys…ew? Sort of. I think I like a guy but thinking about him is taking up some of my time. I’ve always been the type of person who sets ambitious goals for herself and I fear that thinking too much about this guy will sidetrack me. How can I balance liking a guy and also staying focus on my goals? I seem to have the ability to help others but not myself… Thanks!

PD: Ha ha. No matter how cliche: hIgH sChOoL iS a TiMe To ExPlOrE. Organizing your time and working efficiently will help you both 1) achieve said ambitious goals and 2) find time to date/hang out with friends/sleep. The great thing about these four years is that you do have the ability to experiment with your time and see if you can manage relationships on top of your workload. In the wise words of my PHIRE senior friends, “relationships are commitment.” Hopefully, if you do end up talking to this person more, you can feel comfortable sharing your concerns about time with them and you can both be on the same page. If all else fails, however, find a guy who’s really smart…

Do you feel that cps is pretty good with recognizing and implementing gender equality on campus and in our curriculum?

AB: For the most part, yes. I think CPS is better than a lot of high schools at recognizing and implementing gender equality. It’s so cool that we have so many intelligent and strong non-male teachers that set really incredible examples for those of us who want to go into STEM fields and other more typically male-oriented fields. We also have really amazing clubs like Girls Who Code who are out here creating networks of women who are interested in male-dominated occupations. However, like most places, CPS isn’t perfect. There isn’t a coincidence that there are so few girls in advanced science and math classes, while humanities-based courses have far more women than men. And even in classes where there is a relatively equal ratio of men to women, you can find female students participating less or tending to sit in the back of classrooms. Talking to the teachers of those classes or your advisor for further support when you feel disenfranchised is really important because you shouldn’t feel afraid to learn.

PD: Intersectionality. While I do think CPS is, like Ana said, pretty good at recognizing gender equality, our discussions of feminism are usually single-faceted. Feminism is not just about equality of men and women, but also about equality (and representation!) for racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, differing socioeconomic backgrounds, different abilities, etc. I do wish CPS had more forums to discuss intersectional movements with each other and much of the faculty.

*Slaps roof of head* This bad boy can fit so much feminism in it

AB: Wow, you really get me :,)

I’ve heard people talking about the #MeToo movement going “too far” in that for some people (especially youth) it’s become a sort of attention-seeking trend without legitimate experiences to back up statements and posts, and thus takes away from the actual suffering of victims of sexual harassment, assault, etc. Thoughts on this?

AB: I think this is a super complex question and speaks to a larger societal trend towards the disenfranchising of survivors or the not believing of women who do choose to speak up. I would obviously be wrong to say that there haven’t been women using #MeToo under false pretenses or as a joke, but at the same time, I have come to the conclusion to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I think that conversations about sexual abuse and predatory behavior need to be had in schools and the world writ large, especially because speaking up or reporting an assault is one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to do. The current norm in America is to doubt survivors or trivialize their pain by asking hurtful questions like “what were you wearing” or “are you sure you said no.” Like all coalitions and movements, #MeToo can and should do a better job at listening to marginalized voices like women of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folks, and more because not everyone’s pain or experience can be explained using the same grammar. However, the discussions stemming from the movement are heading in the right direction, even if we aren’t there yet.

PD: Hmm. This is a difficult question as Ana said. In any movement, there will of course be people using the platform for unintended/self-serving reasons, but I don’t think that’s any reason to invalidate the movement itself. I do think the #MeToo movement has helped bring visibility to many survivors’ experiences, but I also think the movement has failed to recognize the intersectional nature of feminism (see Tarana Burke.) I’m interested in the “especially youth” part of your question, and whether or not some of those critiques stem from a general attitude towards Millenial/Gen Z internet culture. As Ana said, I honestly believe the movement has been successful in reducing the stigma of sexual assault, especially in certain sectors, but of course more can be done. Unfortunately, as soon as we cross into the territory of believing certain people don’t have “legitimate experiences to back up statements,” we enforce the victim-blaming aspect of rape culture. We are often too comfortable believing the accused, and not the accuser.

How do I reduce my interactions with guys? I’ve had enough.

AB: Same. #yesallmen

PD: #notallmen. Also. Just saying…


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