3/5/15

My guilty pleasure is… *drumroll please*… the Real Housewives. And not just New York or Beverly Hills (although those are my favorite), but all of them.

I can name just about every housewife, recap the latest drama for you, pick sides during the sensational reunion episodes and talk about them practically all day if given the chance.

I love the Real Housewives franchise because it is one of the most absurd productions I have ever witnessed. The materiality is stunning and captivating while simultaneously being so excessive that it is nauseating. The fights that are so staged all boil down to the fact that the producers picked women with enormous egos. There is rarely anything of substance which makes it a perfect break from any sort of reality that weighs me down.

And while I love the franchise for the escape it creates for me, I’m not sure how I can support such an enterprise particularly as a feminist.

There are some things people find problematic about the show that I don’t personally take too much offense to. The term “housewife” for example, doesn’t bother me. I’m supportive of the wives on the show who have chosen to be full time mothers, just as I am supportive of the ones that have chosen to balance motherhood with a career. I don’t think the term is necessarily pejorative, rather it attempts (with little success) to be descriptive. Others claim that these women are exploited. While certainly there are moments on the show where the women (and their families) would rather the camera be off, they signed up for the show themselves. Besides for this voluntary contract, most women actually end up benefitting financially from the exposure (and at times notoriety) that they gain on the show.

My problem with the Real Housewives can be summed up when Madeleine Albright said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” If you watch the show, you know that during expensive dinner parties, trips to Bali, etc. all the women end up doing is bashing one another. Drinks fly, prosthetic legs get thrown and oh boy do they cry and cry and cry. There is backstabbing, gossip, outright yelling and physical altercations ad nauesam. And I grab dinner, recline on my couch and watch all of the malice and spite unfold.

How can I possibly get enjoyment from watching women tear one another down? Hint: I shouldn’t; thus the “guilty” in guilty pleasure.

And how do I justify this to myself? Simply, deluding myself.

My grand conspiracy theory (which you are free to borrow) is this: The women have a master plan. They know when to fight and how to fight and what to fight about just to get the most views possible. Their ratings go through the roof, they get more money, all while calling each other behind the scenes to plan their next fight. They drink white wine together and scheme, giggling as they tap their scripts into their iPhones, ready for battle. Soon, one day, at a reunion, they overtake Andy Cohen and the rest of the Bravo executives who are making bank off of them show. In a grand demonstration (all being filmed, of course) they cast off their exploitation, debunk the entire myth, hold hands and giggle as they prance out into the sunset. Their work here is done.

This is how a self-proclaimed feminist can justify her pleasure in an outright problematic form of entertainment.

Moral of the story? Anyone can delude themselves about anything.

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3/4/15

Tonight, under the dim light, I ate parpardelle with short rib ragu. I soaked up the remainder of rich red sauce with the bread at the table. I licked it off my lips.

For dessert, we split a slice of chocolate cake. I took greedy forkfuls of it and washed its sweetness down with cold, crisp water.

I left under a drizzle. The air was warm, easy to inhale, and the pavement felt fresh, anew. The snow was finally melting and the movement of the streams that formed between the sidewalk and road were illuminated by street lamps. I walked the mile home, admiring the closing of stores and the pedestrians under their umbrellas. I wondered whom they were going home to.

I was full, warm, and practically walking on air. Tonight, the first warm evening of winter, was nothing short of a gift.

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2/28/15

“You know what takes real courage?” snarls Frank. “Holding it all together when the stakes are this high.”

Now, I’m certainly no President of the United States or someone with an ounce of the insane ambition of Frank and Claire Underwood, yet, somehow, I feel as though the stakes are rather high.

In the show though, Frank looks for every opportunity to raise the stakes until he ascends to the pinnacle of power. He’s on a frantic marathon, doing whatever it takes to claw up the ladder. In my life, it’s more like I live my daily life, and only when I stop to take stock of it all, I realize the water I’m treading in is slowly rising.

Of course, I’m no where close to drowning. Perhaps that feeling will come when I’m working full-time, trying to raise a family, attempting to “have it all.” (Can you tell I had to read Lean In this week for class? Can you tell that being a career woman with kids scares me shitless? But I digress…)

Yet, the journey towards that moment, when the stakes become far too high, is well underway almost without my realization.

I’m treading. I’m keeping up appearances, faking it until I make it. But why? I used to think it was because all of it (keeping my grades us, my friends close and a smile on my face) would make me happy. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

You don’t tread to find spirituality, peace, happiness. You tread because otherwise you drown. You tread because it is your duty, your purpose all in the name of self-preservation.

You tread because there is no viable alternative.

It’s inevitable that the water will keep rising. I have a decent amount on my plate but I still have enough time to watch all of Season 3 of House of Cards this weekend, for example. It’s not a matter of draining a pool that’s being filled faster than I can empty it.

It’s about figuring out some way to swim.

Pardon the cliche metaphor, it’s all I have right now and while it’s about as cheesy as one can get I believe that the sentiment is there.

I do my reading, I go to lecture and I get eight(ish) hours of sleep a night. I ask my friends about their days, tell my tutee to work hard in school and reply promptly to emails. I run errands, respect my bosses and listen to the traffic outside of my dorm room window. Amid it all, I’m not fulfilled by any of it as I once was.

Perhaps this is the sophomore slump in me. On top of it, the cold weather encourages me to curl up in my room, I don’t walk to clear my mind. So of course the pattern of the past couple of weeks – eating Nutella with a spoon as I do homework surf the web – gets old quick.

I tell myself it’s that, it’s only that – temporary. After all, twentyteens are notorious for their mood swings, their flip flopping and general instability.

Yet, there are moments when I’m treading where I swallow some water, sputter, choke, cough, gasp – breathe, breathe, breathe –

it’s okay, it’s okay –

breathe, breathe, breathe –

but everything is so fragile – breathe, breathe, breathe – everything is precarious – breathe, breathe, bre-fuck it

everything is not okay. i’m neither courageous nor in charge nor fulfilled. i’m losing steam and worst of all, i don’t know how to save myself.

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