Everyone knows that there’s a double standard in the workplace between men and women. And if you don’t know, you A) have never worked with the opposite sex or B) truly don’t know there’s a double standard, so you shouldn’t be reading this blog. You should be reading every feminist text you can find.

But let’s just say that we’re all on the same page, and we’ve all noticed that men and women are treated (and paid) differently at work.

Where are the differences most evident? In promotions? In conversations at the water cooler? In the lunch room?

No, it’s in our e-mails.

When I first started working, I wrote e-mails that had sentences with question marks implied at every turn.

They looked like this:


Um, excuse me? Do you mind doing the thing that you said you were going to do four weeks ago? I know you must be busy, but I’m sorry, do you think you could get it to me? When possible? Thank you? I really appreciate your work? Thanks for not yelling at me?

And yes, maybe that’s just because I am a very timid and shy person to begin with. But I’m also a woman. And I feel the same at work that I do in daily life: like I’m not meant to be there and I’m taking up space. My e-mails reflect that.

And this is a sentiment embedded in women since the day that we are born. Chimamanda Adichie points out in her book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, that little girls are constantly pulled back by their mothers, asked to “play nice” and “sit still,” whereas little boys are given free rein of the playroom. (And what is an office but an adult playroom? Where we are all free to interact with our surroundings and work on what we are best at?)

So, what do my e-mails look like now? They’re still nice. I understand that it’s not fair to take out my frustrations on an unsuspecting stranger. And as sad as it is to say, people do respond more nicely when you are nice to them in the first place.

But I beat around the bush a lot less. I ask. And in very rare and desperate times, I even plead. I do not demand. I’m not as confident in myself yet. But maybe someday, I’ll conquer my inbox in the same way that the vikings took new land: completely.

To Women I Have Met (And Not Met) 

In honor of International Women’s Day, I’d like to take a moment and recognize some of the women in (and not in) my life: 

To my mother, most obviously, who raised me, who nurtured me, who mothered me and taught me what it was to grow. 

To my grandmothers, one delicate and sweet, one tough and powerful, who taught me what it was to be a woman, both feminine and strong. 

To my sister, who also nurtured me, but fought for me too, until I could do so for myself. 

To every woman English teacher I ever had, who brought me into the fold and let me flourished there, and showed me what I was capable of. 

To my female peers and colleagues in all of the college courses I’ve ever taken, who have awed me with their brilliance and cowed me with their determination. 

To every woman I have worked under, who has had a seat of power, who showed me that to be successful, people will call you mean names. Still, we will push on. 

To my female friends, new and old, who have made a sisterhood for me to return to time and time again. 

To every woman who I have only glimpsed walking by but knew that they were smarter, prettier, and more put together than me in that instant, who made me push for more. 

To every woman who has gossiped behind my back, who has given me the strength to triumph against pettiness. 

To any woman who goes out of her way to make others feel good, despite how she feels about herself. 

To any woman who has ever been nice to me in a bathroom on a drunken night out with friends. 

To any woman who thought they would never leave a bad situation. 

To every woman who has ever fought, battled, won, died from a disease or mental illnesss. 

To any woman who thought through their own problem and then applied it to the world. 

To every woman who was pronounced barren. 

To every woman who has raised a strong daughter.

Thank you. You have shown us all the way. 

I Can’t Even

Author’s Note: I’m sorry about the lapse, absence, and neglect that has occurred on this blog. It was truly not my intention. But alas, life happened. I hope that I will greet you with more regularity in the future. I say “hope” because that is all I can offer as of now. 


I think us ladies have come a long way from “damsels in distress,” right? I mean, we’ve overcome some serious oppression (which was basically meted out to us by the fashion industry that put us into those uncomfortable petticoats and weird shoes). Now, we can vote, wear pants, and think for ourselves (the horror!). We’ve burned a few bras and generally raised hell in the name of equality.

So, why is there still stuff we (women) “can’t” do? (I use the word “can’t” very liberally, mind you.) I mean it more in the way that why aren’t we taught to do all of the same stuff? Forget breaking glass ceilings, why can’t we rip down the curtain that separates the sexes?

Because whether we like it or not, there are commonly certain tasks that are simply relegated to the male or female sex and so are passed over when one individual is provided with an education, either formal or otherwise.

I’ve become painfully aware of this since moving out with my fiancee. I pride myself as a woman who isn’t afraid to do a job that is generally perceived as “man’s work,” or whatever that means in the 21st century (which is a statement that I know subjects me to the same sexist ideals I’m trying to fight.) But the thing is that I never really learned a lot of those tasks, or was really interested in learning them, for that matter.

I don’t know how to hammer nails, for instance. Not that it’s particularly hard, but for some reason, my father was always in charge of such things. Wiring wires and screwing screws. These were simply things that I had missed, gaps as sure as the holes in the walls that my father used to make. And if I needed to do these tasks, it was easy enough to ask him to help or to do it for me.

But that was then. Now, nothing on this Earth makes me more frustrated–feeling like I can’t do something because some type of biological obstacle is in my way, either real or perceived. (Men are stronger, women are more adept at conversation, blah blah blah). But what’s really bothering me is that I feel ignorant for not trying to learn. For accepting the fact that someone (some man, perhaps, although I’d never voice it that way) would come along and help me do whatever it was that I needed doing. That I can’t even because I had never wanted to.

And maybe that was the right use of wording before…”pride.” Maybe I’m just being prideful by not wanting anyone to help me. But I also think that it’s quieter than that. A small discovery of not my own physical weakness (I can swing an axe if I tried, I think?), but a weakness of the mind, thinking that I didn’t need to try and learn.

Because although I hate being ignorant, I hate being helpless so much more.

And so, it is high time to leave off the stays of oppression of my mind, in which I simply wait to be rescued. It’s time to let down the rope (or my hair, whichever is available) and worry not about ceilings, but climbing down off pedestals to have level ground to stand on.

War Paint

Let me tell you a little bit about myself (as if I don’t do that every night).

When I was younger, I was a tomboy, which is a term that I don’t even agree with. But if I had to describe myself in a context that most people would understand, I would proceed to tell you that I mostly chose sports over dresses. I chose books over Barbies. I chose being dirty over taking showers, every time. I pretended that I wasn’t a “girl,” and all that it does or does not imply.

And, of course, that meant that I forewent all makeup. No eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, foundation, blush. Nothing. (I had enough on my face with glasses and braces.) Who even had time for all of that when there was homework to do? Why wake up an hour early to paint your face when you had gym for your first class? What was the point of all that effort?

So, I continued to arrive fresh faced at school while I slipped quickly into the bathroom and out, as a line of my peers applied lip gloss and shadow with their fingertips. They would make kissy faces in the mirrors on their lockers, chatting with each other. It was like a secret society that I was on the outskirts of, without the tools to communicate.

Except, I exiled myself. There was no reason that I couldn’t join in. I simply chose not to, and so armored myself against it all. I perceived makeup as vapid and shallow. I then convinced myself that the people who wore it were only trying to beautify their outsides to make up (pun intended) for their insides. I told myself that I would never, ever be so self-conscious that I would carry around lipstick, just in case I needed a touch-up, just in case someone started to see through it all to the real me.

So, what happened to little, proud BaileyDailey? She grew up, and she grew up. She realized that it was stupid to judge people on their appearance, no matter how they chose to enhance or detract from it. She realized that makeup was actually for people who were completely confident in who they were and simply wanted to transform themselves into something else. She realized that makeup was war paint, a challenge to the rest of the world to smudge her lipstick, to smear her mascara. It was also a promise that she would still come back, looking flawless.

Today, I still don’t wear a ton of makeup. I still don’t know what the best brands to use are. I still can’t put on liquid eyeliner perfectly on the first try. But I’ve stopped rolling my eyes when I see that other people do. As women, we need to raise each other up. But more than that, as people, we need to learn how to learn from each other.

So, when I kissed and made up with makeup, I matured as a human being. I stopped giving the snake eye to the smoky eye. I quit giving lip to lip liner. But most of all, I stopped confusing the content of someone’s character for the color of their eyeshadow.

Beyonce, I’m Going to Let You Finish, But…

I really need to clear some things up for everyone and set the record straight.

For many, Queen Bey can do no wrong. She sings, she dances, she wakes up flawless. But many others have called into question the sexy songstress’s lyrics due to anti-feminist sentiments and have even accused her of encouraging domestic violence by directly referencing Tina and Ike Turner’s marriage. In order to counteract this bad publicity, Beyonce recently performed at the VMAs with the word FEMINIST in large letters behind her. Most of social media regarded this as an excellent endeavor to ward off the “haters.”

But let’s be real. Posting a sign behind you makes you as much a feminist as sticking a Post-It note to my forehead with the word “Beyonce” written on it makes me talented and famous.

That is to say, not at all.

However, despite Beyonce’s best intentions, I still have to come to her defense. I, personally, do not partake much in Ms. uhm…Z’s music, but I am a feminist in my own rite. And I know one when I see one.

Now, I can understand Beyonce’s hesitation in declaring herself a feminist because unfortunately, like many “isms” out there, most people associate feminism with its most extreme form. However, feminism, at its core, means that women and men are equal. If you are a feminist, it simply means that you support the idea that men and women should be equal. Which is to say, all women, all races, all abilities, all sexualities, all religions should be able to make as much money, receive the same opportunities, and be perceived by all of society as equal. Notice that I did not anywhere make a claim that the world should be ruled by a bunch of amazon women overlords with no bras. We just want our fair share of the world. What is rightfully ours, as people of this earth. 

If you’ll stay with me, I’m going to describe my own belief in feminism because like feminists, like people, there are many schools of thoughts and different opinions about the subject. This is why you probably don’t think you’re a feminist because what you may believe may not conform to current feminist thinking. But if you want to find out, just answer this question: do you believe women are and should be treated like people? Then, congratulations! You’re feminist positive!

Now, my own idea of feminism is centered upon empowering women. Every single woman. Even if I personally don’t like what they stand for, I will defend their right to stand for it.

Take Taylor Swift. She is giving dorky white women a horrible reputation. As a dorky white woman, I recognize this. But I will absolutely support her when she decides to dance awkwardly (and repeatedly) at her concerts. This is because I recognize that we shouldn’t be putting other women down. And it isn’t women against men, either. It’s people striving to make this the best world they possibly can.

So, when I see Beyonce up on stage with FEMINIST written in big letters behind her, well, I support her. But do I believe her?

Yes, I do. Because there is another aspect to feminism outlined in The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. It is called the “cult of domesticity.” This essentially meant that all women had to stay home and clean and make dinner and not pursue careers. But not only that, they had to act interested in the best vacuum and window cleaners. As if these activities were all they were capable of doing.

Now, do not confuse me. I know plenty of women who do not work so that they can stay home to take care of their families. This is a respectable choice, and I have nothing against it. However, there was a time, not so long ago, in the 1950’s when women did not have a choice. They had to stay home, period. At the time, having a career was revolutionary and outlandish thinking and wholeheartedly discouraged.

So, if we fast forward to when this all changed and when women began to enter the work force, around the 1980’s, there became a new problem when society began to ask: could women raise a healthy, happy family and still work a 9-5? Nothing was said about how the men would manage, but these issues were suddenly heavy on the shoulders of women. Were they being selfish pursuing careers instead of their children’s future? Could women ever have it both ways?

And after this extensive history lesson, this is where Beyonce comes in. Listen closely because this is my point: Beyonce is a feminist, whether she knows it or wants to admit it. Why? Because she has managed to do what most women thought was impossible only thirty years ago: balance a (really successful) career with a family. She did not stop making music when she had her child. She found a way to do both, which, admittedly is not very hard when you are rich, beautiful, and talented like Beyonce. But as far as feminist role models go, there are worse. Way, way worse.

In the end, Beyonce’s tale is one of “follow what I do, not what I say.” Maybe if women stopped yelling at each other for stealing one another’s “man,” maybe girls could really “run the world.” In the meantime, you don’t have to sing along to Beyonce’s songs, but you should respect her.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A Life

I thirst for knowledge. I make it a point to learn something new every day.

Today was no different, and yet it was. Today, I had my mind absolutely blown.

Let’s start where I started:

After writing about my love for Stargirl Caraway in this week’s blogpost, I decided to read up on my favorite novel, Stargirl. I have read it cover to cover several times, but I had never searched the Internet for people like me, “Star People,” if you will. As I have reiterated several times, the novel is about a teenage girl with a nonconformist attitude. She dazzles the high school she attends, and in particular, one boy who is swept up into her mystery and her majesty. And like the high schoolers, I became just as infatuated with her. She’s cheeky, smart, and best of all, she’s her own person. But her most shining feature is that she is half mythical creature and half legend. By the end of the novel, the students can hardly separate fact from fiction regarding Stargirl. Some think of her as a complete fake, others believe that she is as real as it can possibly get.

Enter the short summary of the novel I read that suggests that Stargirl is your typical “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope. Besides sounding like a character on HR Puff ‘N’ Stuff, I had never heard of a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” All I knew is that I needed to find out why my most beloved book character of all time was being called one.

Trippy Tropes

After some very scholarly, academic research on the credible website Wikipedia, I found that MPDG was a common trope in film. To rewind for a second, a “trope” is one of those very interesting words that means one thing, but gets reshaped down the line to better serve society’s needs. More aptly named, a trope is a “contranym.” To rewind even further, a contranym is any word that has two true but opposite meanings. So, according to Merriam-Webster, a “trope” can mean “a phrase used in a different way for artistic effect” or an “overused cliche.” It’s a contranym because it is difficult to use something “differently” when it is also a “cliche.”

I also see these two elements at odds because I do not believe that art can exist without cliches. In my view, the two opposite definitions are redundant.

Humans need common touchstones to view art, to perceive what artists are essentially poking fun at or trying to mimic. All art is simply the construction of or on something that has come before it. There are no more original ideas on this earth: there are only descendants of ideas and the equal, opposite reaction to that same idea. It’s nothing to be depressed about. We live in a world with many beautiful minds that can take an idea and unravel it faster than a moth-eaten sweater, only to knit something different with the same yarn.

However, we still haven’t come to my epiphany. So, let’s continue with one more definition. What’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? According to the film critic and creator of the phrase, Nathan Rabin, it is “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” The Wikipedia article goes on to say: “MPDGs are said to help their men without pursuing their own happiness, and such characters never grow up; thus, their men never grow up.”

And just like that, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Because here was a phrase that completely encompassed my entire goals as a child, as a young adult, and now as a woman. And while I did not know how I felt about chasing some idealistic version of myself, I could not completely reject this reality, or pretend that I hadn’t read what I read. I felt a bit betrayed by a sense of ironic unoriginality that was housed in the most original character I had ever met. Yet, these women obviously have some sort of familiarity in film that allows us to revisit and reinvent this trope time and time again. Here are some films that make use of the MPDG:

  • 500 Days of Summer
  • Elizabethtown
  • Garden State
  • Almost Famous
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

If you have to ask who the MPDG is in these movies, then you haven’t seen the movie. Or maybe you weren’t watching closely enough.

Feminist Fatale

Now, let there be no mistake. I am a feminist, and I understand that MPDGs definitely represent, even encourage, a misogynistic viewpoint. They suggest that women are air heads with just enough wisdom to enlighten the men in their lives before literally and metaphorically running off into a meadow of wildflowers. The MPDG trope, in its cliched form, suggests that every woman who is a bit weird bears similarities to weird women everywhere. And so, women are again slapped with the labels that we must pretend to shun but embody at the same exact time. At any given moment, we are all the “Mother, Whore, Virgin” and now the “MPDG.”

And yet, I want to ideally see this particular trope in its first definition, as something that is viewed differently to create an artistic effect. Maybe I have rose-colored Manic Pixie Dream Girl glasses on, but I think there are some positives that we can take away from this trope, some lessons that Stargirl can still teach us.

I think people need to be reminded that they only need to grow up in definition, not in practice. I think we also need to keep that one person in our lives that is able to take our hands and whisper “jump” when we are too afraid to take the next step. These are our Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and we need them. We need Summer, we need Holly Golightly, and we need Stargirl.

So, cheers to the mothers, the whores, the virgins, and the MPDGs. May you live out loud in our films and in our lives. (*