Sunday, December 28, 2014
I am SO happy that my grandparents are visiting me from Croatia to celebrate the Holidays and my Birthday together :) Our flawed immigration system has kept me from seeing them for six years and not being able to visit Croatia for eight years. You CANNOT imagine the emotional range when I saw them at the airport. To say the least, although Skype is an amazing advancement, it does no justice pertaining to seeing someone in the flesh. The pixels don't show the same facial expression dynamics and it surely doesn't allow for 3 D embraces. My holidays have been spent bonding now despite lost times and making the best of the situation at hand, because after all, that's the best we can all do. I'm enjoying getting back to my missed Mediterranean roots and conversing with my grandpa over wine, and decorating the tree with three generations present, and hearing my grandpa playing the Dalmatian diple instrument! And with that, from my family to yours, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Warming up and watching the Sing Along version of the Sound of Music with my grandma!
Baking cookies with my grandma!
After saving enough money to pay for my own college tuition out of pocket each semester (due to not being eligible for financial aid or taking out a loan), I am SO EXTREMELY honored and happily surprised that I have won an Undocumented Scholarship that will completely cover my cost for tuition for my upcoming three semesters!!! It's been a hard road to be a full time student with five or six classes each semester and come up to the registrar and pay in cash by a deadline. A lot of hard work and struggle and here I am. I cannot believe that I will be a graduate and will finish college in three and a half years all together. This is the POWER of sharing my story and FIGHTING and OVERCOMING my adversity.
OMG! Where IS Nova?! Well ladies and gentlemen, she's been EVERYWHERE, as usual. This busy bee has been out and about hustling and networking through the Big Apple and creating a dream come true for herself! I would LOVE to announce that SO many positive things have been occurring, especially lately! First things first (I'm the REALEST !) Besides starting at Brooklyn College this semester as a Broadcast Journalist major, I've been busy reading celebrity news, editing photographs, researching, and pitching and writing story ideas. Why you ask? For my blog? Nope-instead it's for the one and only VH1!!! AKA where my guilty pleasure of Love and Hip Hop and distorted view of what we all think Staten Island is like, thanks to Mob Wives comes from! I've had the pleasure of interning for bosses who are incredibly sweet and check up on me, and who go around singing 'No Flex Zone' with me in the office! What's a regular Tuesday afternoon when you're meeting Beyoncé's publicist and when Nick Jonas says ''hey'' to you in the hallway and when the corporations' version of decorating for the Holidays includes an ice skating rink in the lobby! Not to mention, who can't feel inspired with the backdrop of Times Square while taking a lunch break on the balcony. What can I say- my internship sure doesn't feel like 'work'.
Getting shot by the VH1 Film Crew! Check it out at the link below!http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/?p=304345
My sweet bosses!
Got to go see the VH1 Concert with singers Sam Smith, Echosmith, CHRVCHES; etc!
MORE UPDATES will be coming soon so stayed TUNED! ;)
Sunday, May 11, 2014
What role does Beyonce as a feminist play into when it comes to empowering women and perpetuating hegemonic masculinity through the entertainment industry?!
What role does Beyonce as a feminist play into when it comes to empowering women and perpetuating hegemonic masculinity through the entertainment industry?!
When Beyonce came out as a feminist, the news, as usual began to buzz around her. How would this effect her music? Her relationship to Jay-Z? Her role as a mother? Her sexuality? Feminism is defined by “the social, political and economic equality of the sexes,” as stated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, who is featured on Beyonce’s hit feminist song, “Flawless.” All throughout history, there has been a stigma when it comes to feminism, and the reason behind this is to scare women off from saying that they are demanding equal rights. The stigma has a negative connotation due to the perpetuation of stereotypes when it comes to a feminist being portrayed as a female who doesn’t shave, and takes all her rage and anger out on men. The patriarchy has been trying to make women less assertive and more soft and sweet when it comes to not exposing feminism in the right light. Beyoncé has stated in Out Magazine, “I’d like to believe that my music opened up that conversation. There is an unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist -- whatever you want to be -- and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.” Music did just that when it came to her self-entitled album, Beyonce.
As a feminist, she showcased all the different varieties, pleasures and difficulties that come hand in hand with the female perspective. She challenges what a cookie cutter image of a woman is. She’s a business woman who fires her dad as her manager, takes charge of the creative aspect of her album, and drops the album without advertising. She owns her sexuality and in an unapologetic manner, expresses it. She questions what significance being “pretty” places on a female, and much more. Let’s face it-Beyonce does it all. From vulnerable songs about feeling insecure, unworthy, and unattractive, to power anthems about confidence and self-esteem, it’s hard to place Beyoncé in a box, which successfully breaks the perpetuated stereotypical gender biases such as a woman being portrayed as only being soft spoken, submissive, and light hearted about her feelings. She tackles emotions across the board and a with wide range which makes people confused how she’s singing “Flawless” and singing “Pretty Hurts” in the same album. Beyoncé’s feelings showcase another stigma when it comes to feminism- that a woman has to be strong and fierce and confident all the time. That’s why women shine away from it, because it wrongfully brings a notion that one must never feel insecure or less than herself, or take time off to figure things out. We’re all human, not robots. We have bad and good days and that’s realistic. Beyoncé, unlike other artists, showcases this in a raw and honest manner because it’s truthful and shifts day to day.
Feelings can be consistent and temporary and Beyoncé analyzes and is self-aware enough to explore her contradictions of feeling insecure to feeling confident. Her moods shift on a day-to-day basis which makes her relatable. Her music and videos don’t always showcase the “best Beyoncé”- the one living it big and throwing money and partying, instead some showcase her struggling with the double standard power struggle dynamic between her and Jay-Z in “Jealous,” or her confusion in finding her path to learning how to be independent of just her mother label in “Mine.” She’s not afraid to say that she doesn’t have it all figured out and she’s learning from her mistakes and successes as she goes, and that embodies confidence. Fans of Beyoncé have her on a pedestal and with Beyoncé being authentic, she’s reachable to fans and serves as a musical therapist, instead of being in a “separate world” and being closed off with which she could delusion her fans into thinking that she lives this glamorous life and never has any problems or bad days. Beyoncé has stated in Complex Magazine’s August/September 2011 issue: "When I’m not feeling my best I ask myself, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me." Her statement inspires her fans worldwide to be strong and work through the worst of days in order to become the best you, and she also shows the world how important and essential it is to have an artistic outlet to serve for expression and positivity in order to evolve as a human.
In mainstream media, artists are always put into a box. For instance, go see Miley Cyrus if you want to have fun and dance around crazily. Go see Lady Gaga if you want to express freely how “you’re born this way.” Unlike most mainstream artists, Beyonce is doing it big and in the rawest way. Without outrageous costumes or sets, Beyoncé gracefully sings and is the soul sister for girls getting ready to go out, or girls who just broke up, or girls who realized their worth, or girls who are saying “enough is enough” and are ready for a breakthrough cry.
In Beyonce’s feminist anthem “Flawless,” the beginning lyrics are:
I know when you were little girls
You dreamt of being in my world
Don't forget it, don't forget it
Respect that, bow down bitches (Crown!)
I took some time to live my life
But don't think I'm just his little wife
Don't get it twisted, get it twisted
This my shit, bow down bitches
Bow down bitches, bow bow down bitches (Crown)
Although Beyonce is pitching feminism overall in this song, the beginning is contradictory to her message. Her use of derogatory words such as “bitch” and telling women to bow down instead of all women supporting each other is hypocritical. We can understand and see the strength in her voice when she sings these lyrics, however it backfires on the feminist movement of women joining as a union and working together instead of tearing each other apart and belittling each other by calling each other the B-word.
Rahiel Tesfamariam, a writer for The Washington Post analyzes her lyrics by stating: “the self-glorifying anthem cannot go without criticism amidst Women’s History Month as it sabotages many of Beyoncé’s past female empowerment efforts. The release of “Bow Down” suggests that the pop icon only adorns the feminist label when it suits her - dangerously straddling the line between female empowerment and subjugation. As a mother and sister, how does she not see a problem in referring to women as “b--ches” and “tricks”? There are times when Beyoncé boldly lives up to these words. She does it whenever she makes arguments for women having financial autonomy, appreciating their unique body type, and relishing in the joys of motherhood. The “Survivor” and “Independent Women” singer should remember that you’re either committed to female empowerment or you’re bowing down to patriarchy. Because feminism and the fight for women’s rights are not part-time jobs that you can clock in and out of. They're a way of life.” The author of this article brings a very vital message to the feminist community-that consistency is key when it comes to having values and morals. At times, Beyoncé plays for both the equalist and the patriarchal teams, and this author expresses the fact that she’s blurring lines by appropriating women getting called the B-word, and she’s approving of the power of this word when it takes place in the hegemonic world of men having more opportunities than women. On the flip side, Beyoncé ironically as a side project is also the face and representation of the Ban Bossy campaign which urges both men and women to stop calling women “bossy” when they take charge and control and are in a leadership position, and to instead call them a boss only. This campaign verses her “Bow Down” lyrics is highly contradictory and hypocritical, because on one end she’s emphasizing the impact that one letter can make in order to belittle a woman, yet she doesn’t follow up and isn’t across the board in regards to banning the B-word which emphasizes this patriarchy as well.
We do however think it’s essential and important to note how she says: “But don't think I'm just his little wife. Don't get it twisted, get it twisted,” because she’s expressing her independence and stating that contrary to societal belief, a woman is her own person, not the worth of her man, and that she can carry her own weight and doesn’t need the last name of any man to do so.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche in the song states the gender roles that society places on women to be submissive and soft-spoken through the following:
We say to girls, “You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man."
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don't teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech for TED tackles the stigma of feminism head on as she stated to The Huffington Post, “The word itself comes with such bad baggage. You’ll have women who if you listed out major ideas of gender equality, they would agree with them, but then if you said, “are you a feminist?,” they’d say “no.” That's one of the reasons I wanted to use the word feminism. [I wanted to] talk to young people, and say, “forget the history of the word and the baggage it carries, and think about the idea of it.” She, along with other feminists are boldly propelling the word into the mainstream and fearlessly doing so in a straight forward manner. Her statement makes feminism simple to grasp. Do you believe that women and men should be equal? Yes? Then you’re a feminist. Adiche’s speech in the song tackles the topics of girls not being supported in society to dream big and go for their goals because that is the kind of journey that is “associated with men.” It also tackles how the significance of marriage is weighed out on woman’s part and not on a man’s as equally. Marriage is a two-way street for both sexes as they join in a union, however for females, a greater responsibility is placed, especially when it comes to one’s virginity and staying pure. It also tackles the double standard when it comes to sexuality and how it’s displayed openly for men and disclosed for women, and slut-shamed. Later in the song, Beyonce sings, “I woke up like this. We flawless, ladies tell 'em!” Beyonce through this part is exuding confidence and feeling comfortable in her own skin. These lyrics also vocalize that in the morning, without dressing up or putting on makeup, she feels effortlessly flawless due to her natural beauty inside and out. She radiates fearlessness and imperfection as beautiful.
In Beyonce’s song “Grown Woman,” she sings:
I'm a grown woman
I can do whatever I want. They love the way I walk
'Cause I walk with a vengeance
And they listen to me when I talk
'Cause I ain't pretending
It took a while, now I understand
Just where I'm going
I know the world and I know who I am
It's 'bout time I show it.
This song beautifully states how she’s taking ownership of her life and calling the shots and not letting anyone get in her way, which is a huge part of being a brave feminist. By saying she’s a “grown woman,” she is showing us how she’s evolved and embodies confidence and self-reassurance, which she doesn’t need from anyone else but herself. She’s not looking for anyone’s approval because she knows she can do “whatever she wants.” Beyonce’s growth is so greatly appreciated by all women out there. She’s honest and states, “It took a while, now I understand just where I'm going,” which showcases that women can be confused and lost and insecure at times but are hopeful in finding their path, which Beyonce has found. That path comes from loving yourself inside and out, being honest with your emotions, being self-aware of your actions, and trusting your instincts. As Beyonce showcases, it comes with putting everything out there and being raw and free. She got there by liberating her fears and her dreams through her music, and finding her voice for her rights through the platform of feminism.
Friday, May 9, 2014
What can I say about Tyra Banks' Flawsome Ball!? It was well...FLAWLESS! After graduating from the TZONE program and being the FIRST generation of Lower Eastside Girls Club members to do so, it was an HONOR to get an award on behalf of our participation. This year, no rehearsal was necessary because every time we see Tyra, or B.B.Q. which is her nickname (ha!) we have our personalized chant as a group which goes a little something like this:
"MY TZONE SISTA, WHATS UP, WHATS UP, WHAT UP?!
I GOT YOUR BACK GURL, YOU KNOW I'LL BACK YOU UP
I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU, NO IFS, NO ANDS, OR BUTS!
MY TZONE SISTA WHATS UP, WHATS UP, WHATS UP!?"
My personal nickname in the group is Turquoise Waterfalls, because that's my favorite color and because I am a flower child that LOVES the woods with waterfalls! I LOVE the juicy contradiction of myself being a girl who's not afraid to get dirty-the one who yearns for hiking, kayaking, and swimming across lakes, as she does for sparkly high heels, an amazing lip stick shade, and matching earrings for my dress!
Right before we got up on stage, we had beautiful discussions about why we're feminists in our dressing room (UMMM, hello, how could one NOT be :) ?!) and then we got dressed up and got SO fancy, Drake was inspired by us to write his song, "Oh you fancy huh?!" I know, I'm a cheese ball, but hey, that IS what happened, ESPECIALLY when he got to meet us last year when he rapped for the FIRST Flawsome Ball!
We then went around and mingled and told everybody our dreams, and lets just say my pitch was long :)
I dream of becoming an actress, journalist and activist for women's rights and immigration reform,
and YES I WILL do ALL three! Just watch me!
Hope you're appreciating all my Beyonce references! I know I am, since I've only been listening to the album for a good ol' STRAIGHT 4 months now ;) Speaking of which, it's finals week currently in my college and recently for my Media Studies class, I created a group for our final paper that dissected and analyzed how Beyonce as a feminist empowers women and at the same time perpetuates gender role stereotypes in our hegemonic society. My part of the paper was to speak about the stigma behind feminism, and I can't wait for you guys to read it!
Stay tuned because shortly I'll post up my section of the paper!