Why I Support Emma Watson’s Speech

I watched that speech recently. This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE.

What made me saddest about it was that while watching it, less than three minutes in, I knew that there was going to be backlash. And not only from the scumbag microscopic lowlifes of the internet, but also from good intelligent people with very good intentions. This is the problem, after all, with being pragmatic, you alienate almost everyone. And that’s what this speech was: pragmatic.

Were there parts that made me cringe? Yes. Do I wish we could just say “hey everyone, you should be a feminist because what WOMEN ARE PEOPLE”? Yes. Do I think that will make progress? No.

I think the sad and infuriating truth of the matter is this: there are still people in all parts of the world (even in “high-minded bastions of liberality” like Carleton) who do not believe that they need to do anything about gender inequality, about gendered violence, or about gender intolerance. That’s the truth. And how do we get people like that to fight for equality? By speaking to their self-interest.

So, yes, I think it is frustrating that Ms. Watson had to describe the ways that men are negatively impacted by gender stereotypes in order to try to convince them to do something, but I also thinking it was necessary. It pisses me off, but that’s where we are.

And the only way we’re actually going to make progress is through pragmatism, by convincing people that this fight is not just important to women, but that it is in their own stupid self-interest.

And while some people may be hip to all the most forward thinking lingo of far-left and politically correct liberalism, far more people don’t even have a correct working understanding of what feminism actually is.

So that’s why I shared the speech on Facebook, because while many of us may be far more informed on this matter and may waste much time and energy happily nitpicking at every mistake and error until we’re wandering in little happy perfectly worded and completely logical circles, the reality is that the majority of the world does not think on the same level and needs to be educated from the ground up. So this is where we have to start.

It’s not the speech that we might want, but I think it’s the speech we need right now.


The Hobbit Fan Contest: An Unexpected Title

(The humor in the title, is that it is expected that I would use something along the lines of “an unexpected party” or “there and back again” or something similar.)

Well, friends, the Hobbit competition is not yet over. It will officially end in three days, the 22nd, Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday. But I’ve now done everything I can, so I’m calling it over.

And when I say “I’ve done everything”, I mean “you’ve done everything”. I don’t know exactly what I expected when I started this competition, but what I didn’t expect was the massive amounts of support from all corners. I don’t just mean in the re-tweeting, which has been so amazingly helpful, but also in my day-to-day interactions. Professors wishing me the best. People saying that they would create twitter accounts for this sole purpose. People saying they are rooting for me, asking me about my progress. Generally letting me know that while this is a long shot, there are people around who want me to do well and believe I can win. This support kept me going when I started doubting whether I could actually do this, or if I was just fooling myself.  I just wanted to say thank you all so much. You are unbelievably supportive and wonderful friends, and I’m truly blessed.

I don’t know how I’ll do in this competition. (I’ll find out early October ish.) I’m tied for first in points again, but that’s not a guarantee, of course. What I can say, though, is that even if I don’t win, I feel extremely fortunate. Fortunate to have such great friends and family. Fortunate that I have had the privilege to love something as deeply as I love Middle Earth. Fortunate to know that no matter what happens, I will find a way to get back to New Zealand.

There and back again. It’s a promise.

No Lasts, Only Firsts (AKA YOLO)

Classes begin Monday. As a senior, where does the time go, I know that I’ll inevitably be subjected to a bombardment of nostalgic friends and acquaintances saying “Last first day of classes!” and taking nostalgic photos and all the other softly endearing and only occasionally infuriating nonsense that young people like to do to pretend that they are growing old.

And this only marks the beginning. Soon it becomes “Last fall term!” and “Last apple picking!” before it snowballs into “Last time sledding down Bell Field with my nose hairs frozen stiff” and “Last time I leave my binder in a room in Laird and have to wait around until the next class leaves because I’m too awkward to interrupt the discussion”. And in the end everything becomes a last and we’re all stuck sitting around counting down those last few precious moments of being undergraduates at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore Carleton. I’ve been in love with it ever since my tour some four years ago in the high heat of summer. Sayles under construction. Leaves in their full bloom. Hearing about Toph and the R2D2 Goodsell for the first (though not the last) time. And I can be as nostalgic as the next fellow.

At the freshman talent show last night I couldn’t help but be pulled back to the time when I had long hair and was silly enough and reckless enough to play Adele in front of a bunch of strangers. I remember sitting next to Evan McNeil who was playing the bagpipes, and I remember being told after I got back to my seat (shaking only slightly) that I should think about auditioning for a cappella. And it’s funny because I hadn’t even considered it before and probably wouldn’t have tried out if I someone hadn’t suggested it.

Point is, I understand the impulse to return again and again to the moments that define our time here. I know that as human beings we are pulled ceaselessly back into the past. But for me personally, I would rather stay committed to embracing the time I still have, seeing it not as the final in a series of events, but the first of many many defining moments still to come.

It’s all very cheesy, and, as Rebecca pointed out, just a less efficient way of saying “YOLO”, but I would like to see this year not as the end but as a beginning. So for me, there will be no “lasts” and only “firsts”.

Tomorrow when I walk into Weitz, as I have many times in the past three years, it will not be the last time I begin a term at Carleton but the first time I get to take a (full term) class with Matt Rand, the first time I meet some of the people in my class, the first time seeing a particular screw or strange quote projected on the wall by the main stairs, the first time breathing this particular air with these particular cells in my lungs. And frankly I can’t wait.



Just Keep Moving: The Battle of Helm’s Deep is Over, the Battle for Middle Earth has Begun

Haven’t posted in a while. A lot has been going on.

First, my job in the Hernandez lab has come to a close. Though as Dan informed us, the Hernandez lab is forever. He couched this in terms of rights and responsibilities. We receive free advice and willingly given letters of reference with the stipulation that if we move somewhere cool Dan is always allowed to crash on our couch.

I’ll hopefully be in New Zealand at some point in my life, so Dan, I’ll look for a comfy couch!

Second, my job as a Resident Assistant beginning the afternoon of Friday after four hours in lab. It was a busy day.

RA training this year started at camp, as opposed to ending with it. I’m torn about training, because on the one hand I’ve done this and things like it an untold number of times. On the other hand each year there are new people to get to know. I figure if I’m required to do it, I might as well have a good time. And it’s pretty easy to have a good time canoeing, swimming, and talking with really amazing people.

One of the last activities we had was something similar to the “Starting Line” activity I’ve played before. Basically a statement was read and if you identified with it you stepped across the line. The twist was that upon stepping across the line the leader of the activity would then read a series of stereotypes or insults commonly associated with that statement. As you might imagine it got pretty intense at points.

It really allowed me to see, though, the many ways in which our differing identities combine and the way that people transcend the stereotypes and insults used against them. It reminded me, too, of the importance of listening to everyone’s story. We’re all coming from different places despite our possible assumed similarities. And on the other hand we’re all similar in many ways despite our assumed differences.

That’s a broad generality, but as I said. Just got back from RA camp. Cut me some slack.

Will try to keep you updated on life more regularly, and perhaps even post some more of that fiction nonsense of which I’m so fond.