The first time I ever picked up “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was in my eleventh-grade English Comp class. This was a new, fresh experience for me, as the majority of literature I read in high school was written by men- usually pandering on about justice and freedom and the American Revolution. I’m not trying to say I don’t think that part of history is not important, but it bothers me looking back that I hardly ever learned about women’s lives in the 1800s, and additionally, their contributions to the founding of this country. Seriously, I started learning about the Boston Tea Party and the constitution and all those related events starting when I was ten years old, and where I come from, those are the only “American History” subjects I learned about every single subsequent year. I appreciate my English teacher for introducing literature written by African Americans and women, because by the time I reached high school, I was exhausted and bored from hearing about how our country is solely built on rich, white men.

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Anyway, this isn’t intended to be a rant on the public school system. This is going to be a different kind of a rant, I suppose, but it is backed by my unwavering love and appreciation for Gilman’s feminist short story. If you haven’t read “The Yellow Wallpaper” before, I’d advise finding a PDF online and giving this important piece of literature a read-through. 

First off, let’s talk a little bit about Charlotte Perkins Gilman herself, and how her life experiences ultimately inspired her to write this story. She was born on July 3rd, 1860, into a family of poverty after her father abandoned her mother. Her mother was not affectionate to her children, her schooling was often erratic, and her childhood was ultimately composed of isolation and loneliness. One of the ways Gilman found solace was through her love of literature, and she frequently visited her public library to expand her horizons. 

In 1884, Charlotte married and had a child- a girl named Katharine Beecher Stetson. After giving birth, Charlotte suffered from a serious bout of postpartum depression, though her symptoms were scoffed off and not taken seriously. She was ultimately believed to be a weak, fragile woman by her first husband, and thus, her interest in feminist literature was sparked. After separating from her husband (unheard of at the time), she had an extremely awesome lesbian relationship with Adeline Knapp, became active in several feminist organizations, and penned “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1890.

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Ugh, what an icon.

Women’s reproductive rights and sexual health have always faced scrutiny, though perhaps the worst time to be a woman in this country was the 1800s. What we now know as PMS and PMDD was passed off as “hysteria” and “nervous depression”, and the believed remedy back then was to isolate women and confine them to their beds FOR WEEKS. Gilman herself was inspired to write this story after her postpartum depression, during which a male physician advises her a “rest cure” and told her to live “as domestic a life as possible.” After trying to live this way for three months and ultimately getting worse (because, as we know now, that’s not how hormonal-related depression is to be treated), she defied his commands and started to work again. Although “The Yellow Wallpaper” is an exaggerated version of her personal experience, there were certainly many women for who the story rang disturbingly true. Ever the badass, Gilman sent a copy of her story to the physician who initially prescribed her bed rest, but she never heard a reply.

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In short, the story is about a woman suffering from mental illness after three months of being isolated and closeted in her room (per her husband’s order, of course). She becomes obsessed with the ugly yellow wallpaper on the wall, and begins to imagine there is a woman on the other side, creeping through the paper, spying on her, and speaking to her. If that makes you feel unsettled, then I’m very glad. Paranoia due to being isolated is a very real thing women in the 19th century suffered as part of their “treatment.”

Charlotte’s story was published by the Feminist Press, and soon became a best-seller through that publication. Her story opened the doors to a new way of thinking- giving women control over their autonomy and thus power over their own physical/emotional well-being. As someone who suffers from hormonal-related depression and anxiety myself (PMDD), I cherish this story for shining a light on the power of women- not painting them in weakness. If you also suffer from severe PMS, PMDD, or have dealt with postpartum depression, you are entitled to a life full of vibrancy and freedom. Take care of yourself, socialize with the people you love, try to stay active, and most importantly, do what you need to do to feel better. Your health is the most important thing you own, so prioritize it and love it!

Read The Yellow Wallpaper here: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/theliteratureofprescription/exhibitionAssets/digitalDocs/The-Yellow-Wall-Paper.pdf

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman

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If you’ve stuck around for a while, you know that I love writing super thiccc, in-depth reviews about films I’ve grown up with. I’ve covered everything from Coraline to The Truman Show, and now, I’m super excited to talk about one of my favorite childhood movies: Ella Enchanted.

So, here’s the thing. Netflix RUDELY removed Ella Enchanted from the site without telling me, so now I can either rent it for $3.99, or try to hunt down my DVD copy at my dad’s house. Either way, you’re welcome in advance, and Netflix, please bring this movie back!

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Before I even get into the plot of the movie, it’s important that you know how fantastic the cast/acting is. Anne Hathaway (once again) plays a perfect to-be princess, and Cary Elwes, for once, plays the villain in a fairytale. Who saw that coming?

Obviously, Ella Enchanted is a children’s fantasy movie, and the directors probably didn’t intend this film to be a satirical metaphor for systematic racism. I have always just been drawn to Ella as a character- a strong, educated female, who certainly doesn’t need no man, but can have one if she wants. And seriously, who wouldn’t want early 2000s Hugh Dancy? As a lesbian, even I can indeed agree that I want him.

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I’m going to try to cover the plot as quickly as possible, which, by the way, is slightly different from the book. I’m pretty sure Ella is fourteen or fifteen in the book anyway, so…there’s that.

Anne Hathaway stars as Ella of Frell, which is a quaint little village in some sort of magical kingdom. There are humans, such as Ella and her family, but this universe also includes fairies, elves, giants, and ogres- many of whom are being enslaved and (racially?) oppressed.

We’ll get there.

Given this is a magical universe, it’s only natural that fairies can cast spells on humans. And for whatever reason, Ella is given a “gift” when she is born,  from a fairy named Lucinda: the “gift” of obedience. No matter what the task is, Ella has to do whatever she is told, even if it means committing robbery. Or, say, murder.

Heh.

Oh, by the way, this movie is a musical!

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It’s not a gift to Ella, obviously. It’s a curse. And this movie covers Ella’s imperious journey to locate Lucinda and beg her to take back the curse, but of course, things don’t go quite to plan. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?

The annoying thing is, Ella can’t tell anybody she has the curse. Ella promised her mother on her deathbed that she would never tell anybody about it, in fear that someone would use it against Ella. Which is valid and all, but how did she expect Ella to get through her entire life without telling anybody? That doesn’t seem too fair, either.

While on her journeys, Ella has a couple encounters with the 2000s-hot Prince Charmont, who is soon to become king after his coronation. The two quickly become friends, and eventually lovebirds after about… 24 hours. I mean, that is the recipe for a classic fairytale love story. Combine a prematurely dead mother, a romance that forms in less than a day, evil stepsisters, and boom, you have the perfect family film!

Even though Ella and Char do end up together, she kinda gives him a hard time throughout the movie. And honestly? I’m here for it. She hassles him relentlessly about his apparent uninterest in becoming king, and the newfound privilege he is going to be wielding. Like I said, the kingdom is plagued by unfair policies and prejudice against the creatures, and Char appears to be oblivious to all of it. I guess it’s not really his fault, because his uncle, Sir Edgar, is currently running the country.

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At the beginning of the movie, we find out that Char’s dad, the original king, apparently died after he was attacked by ogres. The kingdom is now being run by Sir Edgar, who quickly gives off those creepy evil villain vibes. It’s Sir Edgar who has enforced unfair restrictions on the creatures; for example, he bans elves from all career paths, except for singing and dancing. This doesn’t sit well for Ella’s elf friend Slannen, who has dreams of becoming a lawyer. The restrictive laws put in place by Sir Edgar are not too far off from the laws we place on actual human beings in today’s day and age, especially when they are built on discrimination.

We also find out that the giants, who have always been peaceful, are being forced to work the fields as some sort of form of slave labor. You’d think that being giants and all, they’d be able to resist this, but I guess not. Hey, it’s just a movie.

Still, the themes of discrimination in this movie are in fact very real, especially when we learn about the giants. The kingdom is trying to essentially smother citizens with false rumors that the giants are vicious, rebellious beasts, while covering up the slave labor they are forcing the giants into. It just reminds me a lot of the scare tactics our own society uses against minorities- warning us that all people who are different than us must be lesser.

It is Ella who opens Char’s eyes up to these realities, who slowly falls in love with her and tells ol’ Uncle Edgar that he’s going to propose to Ella at his coronation ball. Unfortunately, Sir Edgar has caught wind from Ella’s evil stepsister about the curse, which, by the way, Ella has been unable to tell Char about. Sir Edgar tells Ella that she will stab Char in the heart with a dagger at the ball, and of course, she can’t get out of it due to her curse, no matter how much she loves Char. Also, Edgar throws in another wrench and commands Ella to tell no one about this plan.

So, great! That’s great. Not only does Ella have to murder the love of her life, but she also can’t tell anybody that Sir Edgar is the one who put her up to it. Edgar also tells Ella that the reason he’s doing this is because he wants to be king, and it was he, in fact, who killed Char’s father and blamed it on the ogres. Does this all make sense now?

Ella tries to get out of this by ordering Slannen to chain her up to a tree, which is actually pretty hilarious, considering she can’t tell Slannen why she has to do this. She then commands Slannen to go into the forest and rally as many fairytale creatures as he can find, in an effort to protect Char from Edgar. Unfortunately, things once again do not go to plan.

By some incredible and unbelievable coincidence, Lucinda the curse-giving fairy stumbles across Ella chained up to the tree. First of all, she refuses to take back the curse and free Ella from obedience, because she thinks that Ella is simply just ungrateful for the curse. Which, to be honest, I would be too if it meant I had to literally go stab Hugh Dancy in the back. Lucinda tells Ella that if she doesn’t like the gift, she has to get rid of it herself. Then, to make matters even worse, Lucinda unchains Ella from the tree, magically puts her in a fancy dress, and happily tells her to go attend the ball.

Oh, the situational irony!

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Ella unwillingly (and literally) drags herself to the ball, where Char takes her to the hall of mirrors and proposes to Ella. I’m not kidding when I say this scene was the most dramatic moment of my childhood, so if you haven’t seen it, go watch it RIGHT NOW.

As she physically fights back the curse to kill Char, she reflects on Lucinda’s words, and commands herself in the reflection of the mirror that she will no longer be obedient. She drops the dagger, and boom, she’s free from the curse. Turns out it was that simple all along!

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Of course, when Char sees the dagger on the ground, he immediately realizes what was about to happen, and Sir Edgar and the guards sweep in to take Ella away. She gets locked away in some sort of dungeon-y cell, and Sir Edgar forbids Char from going to see her.

Meanwhile, Slannen has returned with some woodland fairytale friends, and once they find out Ella is in trouble, they storm the castle and rescue her from the dungeon. Then, they all sneak to Char’s coronation, because it’s no secret by now that Char’s life is in grave danger. Sure enough, Sir Edgar has poisoned Char’s crown, but right before Edgar is about to place it on his head, Ella and the gang bust through the doors and stop the coronation.

Real quick: wouldn’t folks find it a little suspicious that Char’s dad died years ago, and now, coincidentally, Char just happens to be poisoned by his crown? I’m a little surprised Edgar thought that would work, but hey, you have to do what you have to do to get the throne.

In the midst of fighting off the guards like a total badass, Ella explains everything to Char, from the curse she received at birth to Edgar’s plans to kill him. In a fit of frustration, Edgar admits that he did indeed kill Char’s father because the crown belongs to him, and, forgetting that the crown is poisoned…he puts it on his own head, and collapses.

The movie ends with Ella and Char kissing, him proposing again, and in the last scene, a musical montage of their wedding. What better way to end a movie with some Elton John?

They ride off into the sunset in a horse-drawn carriage, with Char being the new king, and Ella free of her curse. It’s safe to assume that all the discriminatory bans were lifted, the giants were freed, and Slannen was able to become a lawyer. And that’s more or less the entire movie, summed up as well as I can in three pages!

There are a handful of themes I’d like to delve into here- power, wealth, society, and class. Those with the most power and influence- Sir Edgar, and even Char, are directly responsible for the image of the underprivileged. Unfortunately, when power gets into the wrong hands, it’s easy for those in power to slander those who are “less than”, and funnel damaging rumors into the media. I don’t want to make this article super political, but I’m sure many of you will agree with me that certain political powerhouses tend to negatively portray immigrants, Mexicans, feminists, and members of the LGBT+ community. People like Donald Trump love to smear minorities, especially when it comes to fake news and outright lies about these vulnerable communities. And of course, people will believe him, like how people automatically believe Trump when he makes prejudice remarks about those who are different than him. In my opinion, it’s all a disturbing self-mission for him to gain even more power and control.

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On a somewhat related note, this movie also touches on the theme of power, and how much control we actually have over our own lives. Ella is serious and strong-willed in her plight to protect her independence, and reminds me, in the 21st century, that I need to do the same. Ella is educated, strong, and willing to sacrifice her own safety just to know the truth. Like I’ve said many times, I know this is just a fairytale comedy movie, but Ella’s emotions and frustrations are very real things that women go through- the desire to be independent and respected.


Pictures: https://www.bustle.com/articles/114123-24-things-you-notice-when-you-re-watch-ella-enchanted-aka-anne-hathaways-first-post-princess-role

https://rock-cafe.info/posts/ella-enchanted-prince-char-actor-656c6c61.html

Ella Enchanted

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327679/mediaviewer/rm2444406784

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/ella-enchanted


Coming up next: My 2019 Summer Lookbook

 

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Consent, whether it be romantic or not, is equally interchangeable between sexes. As a society, however, we do definitely put more emphasis whether or not a man will behave decently or not to a women. And trust me, I totally get that. I’m a feminist. I’m a lady, (a pretty lady, at that), and I constantly have to deal with men trying to invade my personal space and manipulating me into a being a “bitch” when I don’t reciprocate their sexual advances. I’m sure I speak for many women when I say that’s a serious issue, and it deserves the attention is receiving.

So, I’m not saying I think consent for women need less attention: I just think consent for men needs more. I think there needs to be equal attention brought to both matters, because both sexes are responsible when it comes to consent and healthy relationships. One of the reasons I think men have a harder time opening up about being victims of sexual assault is the unfair stereotype dynamic we have created in our society. We are often taught, purposefully or not, that all men are the monsters, a sex to be feared, and almost always the perpetrators of aggressive sexual advances or assault. While yes, many causes of sexual assault are towards women (91%, actually), that doesn’t mean the 9% of men are less significant (also, that doesn’t include all the men who haven’t come out about it yet). Sexual assault towards men is almost never talked about, which is alarming, considering I took part in extensive training for preventing sexual assault while I was in high school. Because we are conditioned to believe that men are not the victims, we also build up a sense of guilt and weakness in men when they are assaulted. For many men, they may feel invalidated, not believed, or simply, that their case is not as severe as it would be if the gender roles were reversed. Even worse, the man might not think it’s a big deal at all if he has been assaulted (or he will brush it off, like it’s a minor annoyance rather than an invasion of his body).  I think that we (for the most part) are trained as women to believe that if a man isn’t saying anything when you’re making moves on him, he must be enjoying it then, right? Because all men are sex-crazed animals, right? Well, no. If a man doesn’t seem to be reciprocating, he might be uncomfortable, and most likely afraid to speak up. But these are the stories we don’t hear about, because men are trained: YOU are the alpha, YOU can’t show weakness, YOU can’t be defeated.

I have a personal example of this. I had a relative, actually, tell me that he got totally smashed drunk at a party and woke up on a bed with a girl raping him. That girl gave him a sexually transmitted disease, which he now has to live with for the rest of his life. And some-fucking-how, he brushed it off with a nervous smile like it was no big deal.

I have another male friend who 1) has graciously brought the idea for this article to my attention, and 2) has some personal experiences he would like to share. I’m going to be keeping this anonymous to protect his privacy, but I admire his strength and eloquence in coming out to discuss his experiences with the imbalance in consent between the sexes.

“I’ve been quiet about this issue. Mostly because when I tried to get involved in the conversation, my opinion was taken as a threat and rejected because of my gender. As a man, I’ve watched some pretty resentful public displays of humiliation towards men on this topic. And my personal experiences with feminists has been wildly misandristic – which I find to be ironic because I thought feminism was about equality, not punishing men for being the opposite gender. I know that’s what the ideology suggests, but there are a lot misandrists hiding behind the veil of feminism as their shield and sword”.

Ladies and gents, this is what I want to say. If you are a woman, and you’re thinking about kissing a man you’ve been out on a couple dates with, at least say, “Can I kiss you?” before you actually project yourself onto him. You’d expect that from him, wouldn’t you? So let’s embrace the equality of consent and make sure that everybody feels safe and respected in their own bodies. You can’t know what somebody else is thinking unless you ask them, and even then, it’s so important to read body language and make sure your partner is comfortable!!

I can completely understand my friend’s frustration with some feminists. It’s a bad analogy, I know, but it reminds me of crazy vegans who ruin the entire image for everyone else. As a feminist myself, I wish to promote complete equality for both ladies and gals, not just for myself. The extreme “man haters” give the rest of us a really bad image; trust me, I’m aware.

He continues:
“I’m more used to being approached by women, and I seldom ever make the first move. Generally, I am just very shy. Here are some of my personal experiences as a man, and my observations on the topic.

Me being less assertive, most of the women I’ve slept with have been the result of their assertiveness, and did not ask me for consent when they initiated the first kiss, or the progression for sex. There were exactly two that did [ask for consent], although I will say I personally prefer not to be asked and I understand some people want a more natural and organic feeling when getting intimate. Everybody has tastes and preferences and those should not be minimized.”

I wanna say this, too: I know you don’t have to hear a verbal resounding “YES!” every time you want to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you’re comfortable with each other and you understand each other’s body language and preferences, and you’ve been having a prolonged sexual relationship for a while, no you don’t have to confirm “hey, are we going to have sex?” every time right before a roll in the hay. When you’re hooking up with someone the first, second, or heck, even the third time, just do yourself a favor and ask for verbal consent. Once you’ve been together for a while, sexually or romantically, it becomes easier to understand each other’s cues and body languages, and then, you obviously won’t need verbal consent every single time. Anywho, back to his quote:

“The few times I built up the courage to take the initiative and ask, I was ridiculed for asking, or rejected -BECAUSE- I asked. I’m paraphrasing because it was so long ago, but it was met with something like, “You were doing fine until you had to ask.” Or, “What makes you think I’d be interested in you?” in a condescending tone.

The expectation that men need to initiate consent is unequal, and quite frankly reinforces gender stereotypes. If we are to make progress, there can be no double standards; women should be held to an equal standard. Furthermore, ridiculing a man for asking for consent just because you’re not attracted to him is acidic to the entire movement.

My experience with this make the current depiction of consent look (to me) like: ‘Guys who I’m not interested in or attracted to must ask for consent, but the guys I’m interested in or attracted to should just know without having to ask.’”

See? This is what we’re talking about when we say the double standard. Can you imagine if a man said he didn’t need to ask the woman for consent, because “she should just know” and he “doesn’t need to ask”? That scenario would be completely fucked up. And guess what? News flash, when you reverse the gender roles, it’s still fucked up!

“I understand why people become misogynistic or misandristic, and I think it’s because they were hurt really bad by the other gender, but the answer isn’t resentment-fueled revenge. The cycle of hate and pain is ended with forgiveness, understanding, and inspiring change in those that hurt us. It’s how I overcame my twelve years of abuse from my stepfather, and it was a process, but I feel better now than I ever would have by holding onto my hatred and ‘getting even’.”

If man and woman are equal, we need to hold each other equally accountable for our behaviors. I’m certainly not coming on here to start a war, but I do think we need to think more seriously about the toxic messages we may be unknowingly putting out. No matter who you are: man, woman, or somewhere in-between, you deserve to be treated respectfully, just as much as you deserve to treat others with that same respect. Love is a beautiful thing, but it’s give and take. You know what else is awesome? Sex is pretty awesome. But we both need to try a little bit harder to think with our heads and not so much or genitals, because sex can be a tricky (and hurtful) thing to navigate without a clear level of consent between the two parties.

The chances are, you’ve probably seen a picture of a corset at some point in your life. They were an integral part in women’s fashion, for both aesthetic and “medical” purposes, and have remained relevant for four hundred years. That being said, most modern-corset wearers aren’t using the corset for medical purposes; instead, it’s most often used to give its wearer a desired, hourglass shape.

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The widespread use of the corset started in the 1550s, when the wife of King Henry II of France enforced a ban on thick waists. After that, for better or for worse, corsets essentially became part of the woman anatomy. It was the primary means of support for a woman, serving similar benefits to that of a medieval…bra? Slouching wasn’t an option when you had a whalebone laced against your spine, that’s for sure. Some women’s corsets were bound so tightly, they could only breathe through the top of their lungs, causing the bottom part to fill with mucus. How lovely!

As the corset evolved throughout the 17th and 18th century, subtle changes started to develop in the structure of the corset. What started out as a simple bodice became a cylinder-shaped, laced-up corset with extra boning and support added to the bust. It sounds absolutely painful, and that’s because it was. Women in the 19th century were even expected to wear “maternity corsets,” which hid the appearance of pregnancy. Tragically, this often lead to miscarriage, as the restrictive nature of the corset could easily damage the growing fetus.

While the corset has been celebrated for embracing the womanly figure and offering support for the torso and bust, I think it also offers a darker look into society’s outlook on femininity. The womanly figure, especially during the natural and unavoidable changes during pregnancy, were essentially scorned and nervously hidden, as if there was something wrong with going through motherly changes as a woman.

By the time the 1920s hit, corsets quickly fell from fashion and were replaced with girdles and elastic brassieres. This new style offered more comfort and flexibility to women, and also gave ladies a new silhouette that had not been widely seen before in the US. Though there was a brief revival of the corset in the 1940s and 1950s, girdles had forever taken over the scene. I mean, who doesn’t love that pointy-breast glory?

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The greatest movement of corset/undergarment liberation came in 1968, when at the feminist Miss America protest, women threw their bras into a “Freedom Trash Can.” Corsets were included in this protest, which ladies referred to as “instruments of female torture.”

Periodically, corsets continue to make comebacks in modern times, though mostly they are used for historical costumes, fetishes, and in the gothic subculture. Whatever your view on corsetry may be, it’s undeniable that the garment has created a long-lasting impact on culture, fashion, and feminism.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset#History

Picture sources: Wikipedia, Flashbak.com 

Coming up next: My Favorite Winter Recipes

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Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to conduct an email-interview with Audrey Hopkinson, a lovely young lady and member of the United States Marine Corps. Shockingly, women only make up seven percent, or 14,000, of the US Marine Corps. In total, women represent sixteen percent of the enlisted forces. Below, PFC Hopkinson answered some of my burning questions about what it’s really like to be a woman serving in the military, and how she has learned to a lifestyle many of us are unequipped with. 

Diplomat’s Digest: To start from the beginning, what field/division of the military are you in, and what is your title?

Audrey Hopkinson: Pfc Hopkinson, United States Marine Corps, Air traffic controller.  

DD: How did you know what branch of the military you wanted to work in?

AH: My older brother, Matthew, was also a marine.

DD:Was there a particular age at which you knew this was what you wanted to do as a career?

AH: I thought about joining all through high school in 2016, but ended up doing a semester in college before I joined in May 2017.

DD: How did your family react to your decision?

AH: My family was extremely supportive; we’re a big military family so it wasn’t a very surprising decision.

DD: How often are you able to visit home, and are there specific conditions that must apply for you to be able to visit?

AH: Each year we get 30 days of leave (2.5) a month, so depending on how much leave you accrue, you can take it whenever. It takes about 2 weeks to be approved unless there was an “emergency” by their standards, to come home right away. When you come home you still have to conduct yourself as a marine. We have civilian attire regulations, and we still have to abide by all the usual rules.

DD: Were there any aspects of the military that made you reluctant to join?

AH: Being away from home kind of scared me, but also excited me. The discipline was also tough for me, conforming to this big organization when I had always been told to “be myself”, “be who I wanted”. When you join the military, you’re no longer an individual, you belong to the government, and you’re apart of something much bigger than yourself, and much more important.

DD: What are some of your favorite countries that you have visited while being in the military?

AH: I’ve been to Japan and Korea. Korea was more for vacation, although heavily populated by the US military. But it was an amazing experience & by far the most fun place I’ve ever been. Japan is also so beautiful, and has really given me such an amazing outlook on life. Its given me a much bigger picture of the world because I had only known America my whole life. It sort of takes you back to realize American values aren’t necessarily the “right” way or the “only” way.

DD: To any extent, have you ever experienced sexism while in the military?

AH: There’s absolutely sexism. There’s sexism everywhere, but of course with the military, mostly marine corps, being primarily male dominated, females are treated differently, in negative and positive ways. One negative way would be that we have a huge stereotype of the “typical female Marine”, usually something like “butch” or “sexually promiscuous” also we can be seen as the “weakest link” because we have different physical fitness standards. But females are also looked at more for promotion and progression through the Marine Corps and the military because there are so few, and they definitely want females in higher positions to add diversity to leadership. Females are also given a lot more trust and privacy, they are very careful about making females comfortable, because we are usually surrounded by men.

DD: Has being in the military given you more educational opportunities for the future?

AH: Since my job field is Air Traffic Control, during my schoolhouse training I became FAA certified (federal aviation administration), so when I get out of the Marine Corps, I can work for the FAA or DOD as a civilian air traffic controller. As active duty members we are also given tuition assistance to further education during our time in the military. We are also granted the Post 911 GI Bill which covers a college degree after the military as well.

DD: How much recreational time are you given, when not on duty, to explore the country/state you are in?

AH: We are surprisingly given a lot of “liberty”, as we call it. I work 8 hour shifts 5 days a week, and aside from physical fitness training which usually runs about an hour, or extra duties we may receive occasionally, we are given the rest of our days to do what we like within military standards. We can go out in town, and enjoy ourselves how we please.

DD: Have you had a difficult time making and keeping friendships in the military?

AH: Definitely not, and I don’t believe anyone has a hard time making friends. The military brings together people from all different backgrounds, states (even countries sometimes), and gives us something in common. We all come together to serve and protect the freedoms of our fellow US citizens. I have become friends with people I would never imagine even conversing with as a civilian. Its given me such a great insight into the lives of others, and given me a no judgment motto in my own life for sure.

DD: Is housing in the military consistent, or are your sleeping quarters constantly changing?

AH: We live in barracks with a roommate, when you’re at your duty station you’re given a room and you stay there for as long as your orders permit you to be at that particular base. You’re usually stationed in one place for 2-3 years. But of course if you were sent on a deployment, you will sleep in other places during your deployment and then come back home to your barracks room. They are comparable to college dorm rooms.

DD: What has been the proudest moment for you as a member of the military?

AH: Probably the proudest moment for me has been at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. You know, we all rag on being in the military, we complain and fuss about the crap we have to go through and deal with on a daily basis, but we all come together on November 10th, and we give all our love and passion to the corps. Deep down, we love being a part of this big “gun club”. We all “go through the suck”, as we say, together and we enjoy feeling like the biggest badasses in the world. We watch our leaders give us motivating speeches and tell us to keep fighting on, and we remember all the marines who have come before us and that will come after us. We listen to the “Marine Corps Hymn”, have a cake cutting ceremony between the oldest & youngest marines present, and we all drink and dance the night away together and just enjoy wearing our uniform. So my proudest moment is seeing every marine in my unit with a smile on their face singing the hymn, and just glowing in their dress blue uniform, no matter how much we hate it during our work week.

DD: What do you think your future holds for you after you complete your military duty? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

AH: After my five-year contract I will be getting out, and after completing my bachelors degree using tuition assistance I’ll be using my GI Bill to pursue a masters degree, maybe law degree. While also working as a DOD or FAA air traffic controller.

DD: What advice would you give to people who are curious about joining?

AH: 1, Remember that when you make this decision, you are no longer doing things for yourself, you’re joining to give back to this amazing country that has allowed you to keep your birthright freedoms. Nothing is about you anymore, you have no more room to be selfish, and becoming a better person should excite you. 2, If you find yourself on a bus to Parris Island, or wherever you may go depending on branch, etc. DO NOT GIVE UP. They will test your limits, they’ll push you to the brink, but its only to make you a better person, and to make you mentally and physically stronger. 3, Soak in all the comradery, and be extremely observant & analytical about every task given. You’ll understand that every single thing has a reason and a purpose even when it doesn’t make sense to you. There’s always a bigger purpose.  ❖

Picture source: https://girltalkhq.com/
Statistics: https://www.cfr.org/