Nico's Room
» Craving the Other

 “Oh, you’re white? I love tuna salad!”

» Internship Application for The Asian American Writers' Workshop

Searching for something that you can’t encounter on a college walk? Stir crazy in your office cube? Reassessing your career path post-layoff? Contribute 15 hours a week to the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) Internship this term: meet new friends, build your portfolio of clips, and learn about Asian American literature and arts non-profit management. Established in 1991, AAWW is a national not-for-profit arts organization devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans–in other words, we’re the preeminent organization dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told. Through our curatorial platform, which includes our New York author event series based in Chelsea, and our online editorial initiatives, we’re building the Asian American intellectual culture of tomorrow. To learn more, visit us at http://aaww.org/

WANT. But….grad school. 

(Source: fascinasians)

November 15-21
  • Student presentations 
  • Strategizing 
  • Oxford Celebrity Status & new connections 
  • La Rosa’s
  • Cleaning house
  • Boot Camp Productivity
  • Clothing Swap 
  • Scanner mishaps 
  • APPLIED: Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota
  • Jonothan Kozol Lecture, Perils of Belonging Lecture, Oxmag reading, Allyship discussion/meeting with more strategizing

Weekend Wishlist

  • Healthy things to eat
  • Friendsgiving at Sandra’s 
  • Tres Leches cupcakes? (or normal cake?)
  • Beginning that paper-writing process + Mary Astell research
» TMS calls on administration to address recent student deaths

YES. 

» Restricted Responsibility
Musings on allyship

Allyship. A buzz word that has been appearing on my Twitter feed every now and then for the last few months. I didn’t think about it too much. Tomorrow I am supposed to actively participate in a discussion of the concept as it pertains to the positionalities of graduate students, their institutions, and the undergraduate populations. I am not convinced that I like this word, or that I even understand what this concept is supposed to mean to me.

These are the questions that came up when I tried talking this out with my partner (in crime, among other things): Who has the power? Is allyship a one-way or a two-way relationship? Can an allyship fail? What does a failed allyship look like? Is the term problematic in and of itself? Is the concept too malleable? Does it apply to whole groups or to individual interactions? Where does allyship fit into friendship, relationships, social bonds?

Based on what I’ve read - this, for example - I am under the impression that the power dynamics are unclear. The assumption is that someone from the dominant group allies him/herself with an underprivileged group (White —> POC, men —> women, heterosexual —> non-normative, etc.). But, I wonder…does the underprivileged group have the power when it comes to setting the parameters for allyship, and thus, also deciding what constitutes transgressions of allyship? Leading to my question about malleability. Mikki Kendall wrote that “not every community has the same goals or the same needs,” which I totally agree with, but I want to know if there is some agreed upon definition of allyship that can translate from one community to another? Or, one that recognizes multiplicity within so-called communities and the potential need for allies within those? (In other words, do we need allies within the same underprivileged groups as much as we need/want allies from outside these groups?)That’s why I was interested in whether its a one-way or a two-way connection. Does the dominant group need allies, too?

Obviously allyships can fail, but I think failure is just as malleable as the concept of allyship itself. But what should we do with them? Do we dismiss them as too exhausting? Not worth our time or energy? Expected?

Expected. Let’s think about that. I study war stories and trauma theory and when I listen to these dialogues about allyship I often think about war. The opposite of “ally” is “enemy,” right? And I think that resonates in these conversations: because if you aren’t for us you’re against us, as they say. Allyship in the war context also implies suspicion. Wasn’t there a time when Germany, Italy, and Russia were in some kind of alliance and then Germany turned on Russia for its own benefit? I might have those details wrong (I study stories, not history), and maybe I should have used an example from reality TV alliances, but my point is that the allied parties are suspicious of each other, expecting someone to turn. And my bigger point is that somehow, I think the underprivileged groups are waiting, expecting the allies to make a mistake. In this way, is the failure of allyship inevitable and self-fulfilling?

I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that I think allyship is impossible. I am just skeptical of the buzz surrounding this concept right now. Somehow, we want it and at the same time we don’t. Allyship is a persuasive concept, but a deeper look into the rhetorical potential leaves me unconvinced that this is something I want or need…or don’t already have under other names.

This brings me to group-think and individual interactions. I believe in the strength of individual relationships through which we begin to bridge differences and social divides. I don’t quite believe that these individuals can really be allies to entire groups, especially when it comes to groups that don’t understand the nuances within themselves. These individual relationships have a two-way dynamic. Attempting to ally oneself with a whole (imagined) community is too often a one-way relationship, leading to the suspicions and the failures. And I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that. I think the ideas of allyship can be too optimistic at the same time that they are too pessimistic. Allyship leaves a questionable remainder in my mind because it is a political label.

I would never call my partner “my ally.” He isn’t someone I have a political relationship with. We might share political views. We both call ourselves feminists. We have really striking conversations about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomics, etc. But I don’t need to call him an “ally” to know that he’s on my side. And when we disagree I don’t call that a failed allyship. It’s quite simply a disagreement. We might talk it out and compromise. We might agree to disagree. Our social bonds are what bring us together, that establish the stakes we each have in the other’s interests, not a political status as “allies” within whatever groups with which we might identify.

Omg omg le tony got me a #PIG shaped #casserole dish!!!! (#birthday continued)

Omg omg le tony got me a #PIG shaped #casserole dish!!!! (#birthday continued)

November 8-14
  • O’Pub drinks/catching up with Sandra
  • Saturday boot shopping + lunch & reading at Panera + free birthday pastries & bagel!
  • high levels of productivity
  • Gingerbread Coffee Creamers seasonal debut
  • NOVEMBER 10, 2013 - the first ever Nicolyn & Tony Day! (or, the first anniversary of our very first date)
  • The long-anticipated Fall 2013 Hot Mess: Read these. 
  • Some wardrobe mixing and matching & inspiration from J.Crew.
  • "Ethics & Globalization" talk by Sophia McClennen + reception

Weekend Wishlist:

  • Writing Boot Camp
  • PhD apps!
  • Coffee date/strategizing 
  • Cupcakes
  • Clothing Swap

My Stream of Consciousness Commentary on this Video:

  • AS FREE OF AGRICULTURE AS POSSIBLE????? Where does the fiber, oat flour, and SOY lectin come from?
  • The FDA doesn’t regulate the cleanliness of places that produce our dietary supplements? Mold? Rats?
  • This looks like a fraternity bros science fair project. 
  • DID THE CEO POUR VODKA INTO THE SOYLENT?
  • This is such a fascinating parallel to the SuperSize Me documentary, too. Like he has similar seeming mental/depressing symptoms of diet.
  • I’m baffled by how he glosses over discussing in detail why he still eats food, did he say two meals a week? 
  • I’m with the doctor who says food isn’t just about feeding the body, but about pleasure and socialization. 
  • WHY IS THE CEO EATING SALAD & WHAT LOOKS LIKE A BURGER AT THE CELEBRATION MEAL?

In summary: WTF?!

In the winter it’s easy to get in the habit of coming home after school, slipping into sweats, & half-sleepily reading or writing for my classes or making lesson plans. When I look out the windows & it’s pitch black at 6 pm, my bundled up & cozy self thinks it’s much later. This week, though, I’ve been back in the habit of putting together bright & bold outfits that I never want to take off - because I hate to give a good outfit short-shrift. Keeping my outfits on all day, into the evening keeps me productive & prevents me from napping or even dozing off, even if I am reading novels in bed. This is a good sign & I hope to keep it up as fall fades into winter, during the busiest time of my year.
Wednesday:
B&W Houndstooth Skirt (Goodwill, 2012)
Yellow Button Down (Casablanca Vintage, 2012)
Black Boots (Sears, 2013)
Black tights

In the winter it’s easy to get in the habit of coming home after school, slipping into sweats, & half-sleepily reading or writing for my classes or making lesson plans. When I look out the windows & it’s pitch black at 6 pm, my bundled up & cozy self thinks it’s much later. This week, though, I’ve been back in the habit of putting together bright & bold outfits that I never want to take off - because I hate to give a good outfit short-shrift. Keeping my outfits on all day, into the evening keeps me productive & prevents me from napping or even dozing off, even if I am reading novels in bed. This is a good sign & I hope to keep it up as fall fades into winter, during the busiest time of my year.

Wednesday:

  • B&W Houndstooth Skirt (Goodwill, 2012)
  • Yellow Button Down (Casablanca Vintage, 2012)
  • Black Boots (Sears, 2013)
  • Black tights
» Must Have App: Stylish Girl

LOL, I agree. I also try to go the entire semester without repeating the same outfit. And, this is going to help so much for my year-long challenge to not buy any clothes (just over 6 months left!).

Outfits inspired by the J. Crew catalog on Monday & Tuesday (I wish I had a large, good mirror for selfies instead of awkward angled photos). These seem like such simple ways to mix up pieces in my wardrobe, yet I never think of these things by myself!

Monday:

  • Navy & white polka dot crop pants (Plato’s Closet, 2013)
  • White button down (Plato’s Closet, 2012)
  • Yellow & white cardigan (Casablanca Vintage, 2012)
  • Brown, heeled loafers (Goodwill, 2012)
  • White skinny belt (TJ Maxx, 2013)

Tuesday:

  • Navy pencil skirt (Goodwill, 2012)
  • White t-shirt (Kohl’s, 2012)
  • Gray, long sweater (Kohl’s, 2009)
  • Black boots (Sears, 2013)
  • Gray tights + Yellow beaded necklace 
» Philippines storm survivors plead for help while U.S. boosts military intervention

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

TACLOBAN, Philippines: Desperate survivors of one of the most powerful storms ever recorded begged for help and scavenged for food, water and medicine in the central Philippines four days after an estimated 10,000 people were killed by a Typhoon Haiyan.

Thousands of people were believed to be missing in the ruins of towns and villages in the southeast Asian island country hit by the typhoon on Friday. By the early hours of Tuesday morning, some areas had not yet been reached by relief workers, according to humanitarian group CARE.

"People are becoming quite desperate. Some officials just came and told us that there has been looting in the area, people trying to get rice for their families," Sandra Bulling, CARE’s international emergency communications officer, said in her blog written on Monday from Jaro, a small town on the way to Tacloban. Tacloban in Leyte province bore the brunt of the storm.

Additional US military forces arrived in the Philippines on Monday to bolster relief efforts, officials said, with US military cargo planes transporting food, medical supplies and water for victims. Other US aircraft were pre-positioning to assist the Philippines, with US forces operating out of Villamor Air Base in the capital Manilaand in the coastal city of Tacloban.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared a state of national calamity and deployed hundreds of soldiers in Tacloban to quell looting. Tacloban’s administration appeared to be in disarray as city and hospital workers focused on saving their own families and securing food.

(via pinoy-culture)

An open letter to the editors at Her Campus Miami

*This letter responds to an email that the editor sent me in response to my initial critiques of the post, which were a revised (read: watered down) version of my previous blog post. I have sent this to them via email in addition to posting it here.

Dear editors, 

I encourage you to take a step back and more objectively understand the politics of representation. As the venue hosting Kiger’s opinion, your whole organization is complicit in that opinions expressed and housed on the site. My critiques of this particular venue, which I did not ever describe as “disgust,” have been formed over a full year of observation, not just this piece. The exigence to actually respond directly to you is the fact that one of my peers/colleagues, an employee and representative of the university has expressed these sentiments on a public venue that is affiliated with the university’s name. Had Kiger merely expressed these personal views in his personal Facebook status, I would have responded on his Facebook status. Likewise, if an undergraduate male student had written this, I would leave it to his peers to take up a response.

While some of the content of Her Campus Miami, I would agree, is empowering, it doesn’t offset the conflicting messages sent by pieces that plainly demean women such as Kiger’s. I thank you for making a short list of empowering pieces for me, while expressing such a lack of concern about the many pieces that disempower women that appear alongside them. Might I offer the suggestion that efforts with Talawanda High School would be more convincing (and more original) if they did not focus on what makes women “beautiful” (because Dove has already done that) but on what makes them intelligent or, if you are really interested in empowerment, what makes women powerful. As you can see, the line between empowerment and “empowerment” is very fine and easily blurred. Rather than hiding behind “opinion” that never can please everyone, it will better serve your organization to accept responsibility when something so blatantly does not meet the needs or expectations of your readers. It is also condescending to explain to me that Kiger’s piece was not a news story. I clearly understand that it is not fact and my critiques would have been very different if it had been represented as such. Fact, fiction, or something else, has no bearing on problems this piece presents about what messages an employee and representative of the university should be sending to undergraduate women.

Like Josh Kiger, I have expressed an opinion and it is about his piece. Telling me to “step back” and look at Her Campus Miami with “an objective eye” is dismissive and actually closes discussions of your content. A discussion about opposing views in a piece about getting engaged in college is not the same as actually engaging the critiques, responses, and legitimate concerns of readers regarding the implications of Kiger’s piece, and should not be advertised to me as a placeholder for a dialogue about what Kiger’s piece does (not what it “intended” to do). While it is perfectly acceptable to defend Kiger’s piece, your defenses here do not acknowledge or address the actual critiques I have of the piece and what it communicates to its intended audiences. You certainly do not address the underlying issue of Kiger’s and Her Campus Miami’s role in speaking for the university through its affiliation with the name Miami University on this site and outside of it.

I am encouraged by the fact that you will discuss the blog and consult the national Her Campus organization about this situation. I hope that those discussions are open minded to and conscious of how messages you send to the undergraduate women at Miami University and those that you relay to people outside the university through any and all of the content on Her Campus Miami speaks volumes that go beyond you all as individuals, a wonderful power that comes with much responsibility.

Boys will be boys, women will be crazy: a PSA from Her Campus Miami & the GSA president

I loved the Her Campus blog at my undergraduate college. I thought it was refreshing and enlightening and insightful. Even today, I might find myself attracted to the headlines: “Kenyon Bucket List: Classes Edition,” “What is Your Kenyon?” “My Mother’s Letter to Her Younger Self,” and even “All the Single Ladies” (which turns out to be an advice piece about how women do not need to be in relationships). At my graduate school, I follow the Her Campus blog via Twitter, only paying attention to it half heartedly. I have largely been disheartened by the content of this Her Campus blog, whose audience is undergraduate women. Things like:

  • "The Ugly Truth: Miami Edition" - when "four of Oxford’s most eligible bachelors answer all of our most dire questions" about crop tops & high-waisted shorts, leggings as pants, and girls in the weight room. As if I have no dire questions about rape culture on campus, the state of the economy, or the typhoon in the Philippines.
  • A how-to guide to incorporating emerald tones into your wardrobe
  • A piece on how “J.Crew Rocks Its Edgy Style”
  • "Sweater Weather"
  • a feature on a mobile app that essentially allows you to Facebook stalk “guys,” offered as an alternative to dating websites
  • a product placement/article about Stevia in the Raw, “the perfect solution for you to keep the pounds off during the next three or four months of cold weather” when, god forbid, “Walking to and from classes and the gym is even a hassle,” let alone a 3 mile jog outdoors.

But the tipping point, of course, came this morning when (via Facebook) I learned that the heterosexual, White, male president of the Graduate Student Association, Joshua Kiger, wrote an extremely distasteful piece for Her Campus Miami called "Emotions Aren’t Crazy, Crazy is Crazy," an exposé on the “one thing that unites all college-aged straight [boys], if not all straight [boys]”*: “the crazy girlfriend.” (& I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am appalled that Her Campus Miami chose to publish it.) Crazy girlfriends text too often, force men to watch meaningless TV, distract from Sunday football, and FB stalk boys in their presence, but most annoyingly of all, crazy girlfriends read boys texts messages. While this tirade is basically about how “Trust is the thing,” the argument is framed around blaming young women for ruining their own relationships by being crazy. While offering a basic breakdown of technologies that allow dishonest boys (and women, because, let’s not forget that women can cheat, too, and that boys can be crazy boyfriends) to hide their cheating hearts behind passwords, screen protectors, and dummy apps, the issue is dismissed, categorizing a cheating boy who gets caught as “stupid” (not for cheating, but for failing to properly use technology to his deceitful advantage), and a woman who reads his texts as naive if “he looks clean.” Concluding with “We’re a flirty generation, so it’s probably nothing” and then proceeding to give the advice that if it has reached this point, the best option is to break up because there is no trust there and ending with “Good luck with the paranoia,” Kiger and the HerCampus team makes sure that women readers know: you are the problem and if you don’t stop, just give up on your relationships.

So, in addition to keeping you in style, advising you on the best way to snag your “Miami Merger,” and making sure you are aware of how men objectify you when you wear leggings as pants, Her Campus Miami is dedicated to making sure you are aware of what a crazy girlfriend looks like and making you responsible for making sure you are not one, ever. And, if you are, then, it is time to end things with your partner because there is no hope for you. You are in the wrong, always, because you are the crazy girlfriend. The boy, cheating or not, is not crazy. Let’s talk about crazy boyfriends: in our society they are coded as controlling, domineering, and physically abusive. They don’t let women make their own decisions or talk to (especially) other men, and sometimes other people in general. They are psychologically and/or physically violent.

The gap between a crazy girlfriend and a crazy boyfriend seems really wide, or is that just me? Crazy girlfriends are apparently annoying, but crazy boyfriends actually threaten women at the level of the body. And if “crazy is crazy” the percentage of crazy girlfriends is a lot higher than that of crazy boyfriends because boys don’t do annoying things like text too often, force women to watch sports or Top Shot or them play video games, or stalk your FB and ask you questions about your interactions there.

Although Kiger prefaces his piece by conceding that his use of “crazy” “is going to set some people off,” I won’t get into the mental health, trauma, and disabilities studies rhetoric that make the colloquial use of the word problematic. The real offense is in perpetuating the stereotypes and pathologizing women’s emotions and behaviors in service of the patriarchal world in which boys do no wrong and in suggesting that women are the problem, and the only problem in these situations, and must police themselves. Because women are the problem and the only ones who can help themselves, we can thus ignore the underlying structures that construct women as “crazy” and that excuse boys who will be boys.

Let’s be clear, too. The major and basic problem of this situation extends beyond the content of the piece. The fact is, a graduate student employed by the university in capacities meant to interact with and impact undergraduate student learning on campus and the president of the Graduate Student Association is a representative of Miami University and all graduate students. To speak in this way to an audience of undergraduate women on a public venue that is affiliated with the name Miami University is extremely problematic and cannot be overlooked. Through his positions, Kiger speaks both to and for the university and we should be concerned about the messages Kiger sends, especially in this instance, to and about young women on this campus. 

Her Campus Miami should be ashamed at their consistent efforts to set women back a century with their shallow content, skimming the surface of “love,” being thin, and self-objectifying in service of the “unique set of needs” of the thousands of women at Miami. Joshua Kiger, president of the Graduate Student Association, representative of both this institution and all graduate students, should be ashamed of attaching his name to something so distasteful on a public venue associated with this university. If this is how you feel about women, Josh, I don’t want you representing the needs of graduate students like me anywhere, ever.

Note(s):
1. In every instance of a variation of “man” I will be using a variation of the term “boy” since women are always referred to as “girls,” even when they are college-aged adults.
2. The writer of the critiqued article has critiqued my survey of “only” this week’s posts to the Her Campus Miami blog, implying that I ignored all of the amazing stuff that Her Campus Miami publishes and that this weeks shallowness is atypical. After following them for a full year, I can ensure you, readers, that this selection is not unusual, and that enlightening and empowering pieces such as those regarding Sex Trafficking Awareness Week or Women’s Empowerment Week are few and far between (and are not on the Home page), and are drowned out by the overwhelming focus on fashion/style, “health” (read: thinness), and heterosexual dating. We can note, too, that I survey this weeks featured articles on the Her Campus Kenyon blog, which have a significantly different scope that might actually have a positive impact on undergraduate women’s self-esteem. 
3. The writer has also defended his piece as a satire/parody. This typical reaction when one is faced with multifaceted backlash both grossly misrepresents the art of these genres and faults the readers as “misinterepreting” the intentions of the piece. Of course, as those of us teaching undergraduates in rhetoric and composition or work at our campus writing center (should) know, what matters is what the text communicates and not the hidden, unknown, and unclear “intentions” of the writer. 
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