the Lala is a college web publication that strives to inform and inspire women by producing one-of-a-kind, uplifting content. From dorm room DIYs to student spotlights, thelala.com celebrates and empowers creatively driven students from college campuses across the country.
It’s been a minute, but we’ve got some pretty cool news!
We’re thrilled to announce that the Lala has been acquired by the #1 online destination for college women, Her Campus Media. We could not be happier to find a new home in the Her Campus family, a company we’ve long admired and loved working with over the past few years.
With this acquisition, the Lala will be rebranded as Her20s, the premiere digital and social platform for women navigating their post-grad lives. This new section, which will live on HerCampus.com, will be dedicated to one of the most complicated yet exciting and transformational decades in a woman’s life — her twenties.
If you thought college was the “best four years of your life,” we want you to know you’re on to the next best. Sure, there will be times where your 20s will feel stressful — whether you’re job hunting, moving to a new city (or back home), or figuring out how to defer student loans. But this is also the time in your life where you’ll make major career moves and live entirely on your own and maybe even drink fancy (read: not $5) wine. For whatever this decade throws at you, there’s Her20s.
We’re excited to invite our Lala community to join us and Her Campus in the next phase of our journey. Read more about the launch here and sign up for updates, and make sure you’re following us (@followthelala) and Her Campus (@HerCampus) on Instagram so you’ll be the first to see everything we have in store!
Thank you for your love and support of the Lala over the years – here’s to an exciting new chapter!
College was fantastic and fun. But it was really long for me— almost six years of spending way too much time sitting in libraries, under fluorescent lights, in front of my computer screen.
Of course, it was worthwhile. I graduated from the University of Alabama with an engineering degree. But by the time graduation came around and I was supposed to be preparing for the “real world” I was burnt out.
I made an effort to find a “real” job, sure. But job fairs felt stifling with their forced conversations and too-tight-on-the-shoulders blazers. And staring at a blank page trying to write a cover letter just wasn’t happening.
With most of my classmates focused on finding entry-level jobs, I felt compelled to run the other way.
Every job that fit my skills required keeping me indoors eight hours a day and allowing me two weeks vacation. I mean seriously, who can live like that? How terrible does that sound? I just couldn’t do it.
Other things called my name; photography, swimming, surfing. I have always been incredibly connected to the ocean and found so much peace there. That’s how I wanted to spend my time. That’s what would make me happy. I knew I had to taste it at least once before I dove head first into the real world.
So I planned a two-week camping trip through the Hawaiian islands with a girlfriend of mine who shared my love of the little Archipelago. I had been a few times before and really felt a connection to the North Shore of Oahu. I thought I’d probably end up living there eventually— but always imagined getting a “real-person” career on the mainland first.
I took the trip and when I returned, that was it. I was moving to Hawaii. For how long I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. I knew where I belonged.
I spent the summer traveling to my friends and family across the US, periodically scrolling through “Craigslist Oahu” to try and find a place.
Newsflash: It is REALLY hard to find a place to live 5,000 miles away. Being on a set budget and trying to avoid signing a year lease, we had to take a chance on a tiny studio that ended up needing some real renovations. But it didn’t matter. We were in Hawaii. And I wasn’t sitting in front of an excel spreadsheet counting down the minutes until I could leave.
From there, I was able to move into a place by myself. It’s a converted garage and has murals painted all over the floors and walls. It’s my quirky, bright, artistic, Hawaii-home.
My whole wardrobe fits in three small bins and one hanging rack. Except my bikini collection, which takes up a large basket— because, come on, it’s my Hawaiian uniform.
Minimal possessions mean minimal time spent taking care of those possessions. It means that you get to live a little freer, and spend time on the important things. Like sunset swims and surfing.
I went from driving a four-door Jeep on the mainland to a ’97 VW Golf beater. And guess what? It’s awesome. I have transportation, and a little beach mobile that’ll take me on adventures, no matter how beat up it is.
A few days a week I work at a tiny restaurant with other girls my age where I bust my butt. Normally, I’ll stop at a truck on the side of the road on my way home to buy poke with my tip money. If I feel like it, I go watch the sunset at the legendary wave, Pipeline, where the best surfers in the world are out catching amazing waves. Days off are spent surfing, hiking, and doing underwater photo shoots.
I moved somewhere where I essentially knew no one. I know, I know it sounds terrible being a recent college graduate, living somewhere with no safety net of best friends. But it’s the most important gift you can give yourself. An adventure where you get to be the lead.
I happen to be perfectly happy spending time alone. Sometimes I’m lonely. Sometimes I have to do things by myself and be that “weird” girl at the party. But you can’t be scared to be alone. And you certainly shouldn’t be scared to like it.
I have had to be awkward as hell to make friends here, which is a life skill you’ll never be comfortable with unless you leave your high school/college bubble.
I don’t have the same security I had at home. When my car broke down, I didn’t have my mom or best friends to give me a ride. I had to figure things out on my own. I learned a lot about being self-sufficient, very quickly.
My social circle is not booming. I do not have a circle of girlfriends here who I go out with on the weekends and share clothes with.
It’s not like Sex and the City or rom-com post-grad life. It’s not what most recent college graduates would be comfortable with. My friends are from all walks of life, all ages. No one here works 9-5, so with everyone’s crazy work schedules, you just hang out when you can, usually for a surf session and some time in the sun.
Nobody here chases the Neon Rainbow. You know the lifestyle I’m talking about.
Work inside all week and live for the weekend, where you go out to the bars, get hammered, spend too much money and waste your days suffering the hangover. It’s fun, I certainly did it in college. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I don’t think it’s so great for your health, or your life.
You may be thinking, “Yeah but I can’t just pick up and move to Hawaii. I need to use my degree.” A career is important, yes. But it is not everything.
Some may say it is not “real-life” to take a non-career oriented path, but life will never be realer than when you make decisions for yourself and take a risk living the life you dream about.
Yes, it is scary to feel like you may be wasting the education your family put so much into giving you. It is scarier to waste your time being unhappy.
Take a chance. If it doesn’t pan out, you will learn from it. You can shy away from risks in fear of failure and things still may not turn out right.
In my opinion, better be sorry, than safe.
Yes, taking a different path will present unique challenges (weddings 5,000 miles away? Yikes.) You will figure it out.
The right decision is the one you want. You are the one who has to wake up every morning and live your life. Take your time.
What’s next for me?
Planning trips to even more faraway places with my best photojournalist friend.
And then hopefully a full-time, entry-level engineering job. That’s right, I said full-time.
After spending time doing exactly what I wanted and living in paradise, I feel ready, excited even, to get into a structured career job where I would be a part of something much bigger than myself. Maybe I’ll feel like a caged animal and quit in six months. Or maybe I will find it is my passion and really hit my stride. I’ll never really know unless I try.
But I know I will look back on this time and think of it as my “independent study”. The year I spent after college traveling and living in a faraway place. Learning about other people, cultures, and the world. Learning about how to make it on my own. But also learning about myself and how I want to live my life, which is simply focused on soaking in all life has to offer.
Just when it seems like you’ve finally mastered the art of all-nighters and research papers, it’s suddenly salaries, budgeting, and car payments – a whole new lot of stress-causers. You graduate and start to resent your new post-grad way of life, wishing nothing more than to go back to wearing sweatpants to class and treating pizza as a main food group.
Here’s the deal: adults haven’t done a great job of giving the “real world” a good rep. The term is tossed around during conversations about “harsh realities” and “grown-up responsibilities” we’ll be faced with when we enter this foreign land. It’s no wonder that college graduates often dread the life that awaits them after the textbooks are shut for good.
But growing up and getting older is inevitable, no matter how many hours you spend searching for the fountain of youth. So here’s our five-step process on how to deal with “adulting.”
Realize: college isn’t the peak of your life
College is often referred to as “the best four years of your life”. But newsflash: if you think your life is at its peak before you start your career, what fun is that?
We should be referring to college as “four years of your life unlike any others” because it’s true, you’ll never have an experience like college probably ever again in your life. The same is true for puberty (hopefully) and who says you want to go back and repeat that.
View college as a fun time full of great memories, but don’t wish to go back or replicate it. Because people who think they “peaked” while doing a keg stand, well, they’re going to miss out on so many wonderful things post-college life has to offer because they’re too busy living in the past. Don’t be that person.
Accept: that growing older is inevitable
There are two constants in this world. 1) puppies will always be cute and 2) time will never stop.
Take it in, swallow it and accept it.
You will get wrinkles, your metabolism will slow down, hangovers will get worse, but guess what? It happens to everybody. Except maybe J.Lo – have you seen her lately?
Dreading the process will only cause you more stress and agony, which ironically, turns into wrinkles.
Focus: on the positives
You’ve finally made it to the point in your life where you have complete and total freedom. College gave you a taste, but now it’s the real deal.
What you do with your life from here on out is totally up to you. Want to move to Hawaii, work as a bartender and learn how to surf? Grab a longboard and go! Want to start a small ceramics business on the side of your 9 to 5? Hop on the potting wheel! Want to eat cereal for dinner and paint the walls in your apartment bubblegum pink? Eat your Lucky Charms and grab a paint brush!
Here’s another awesome part about adulthood: a livable salary. Now don’t go spend it all at once – setting a budget is one of the most important things you’ll do for yourself (more on that later), but having financial freedom is one of the most empowering feelings you’ll ever have.
Just got paid. Friday night….
Learn: what scares you
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received came from a business mentor. It’s so simple, yet impactful: if something scares you, learn it and it won’t scare you anymore.
This goes for all that “adulting” stuff that makes us tense up just by hearing the words: insurance, budgeting, credit card statements. Did you just cringe a little?
Did you ever think that these things seem scary not because they’re actually difficult, but because they’re unknown to us at this time in our lives?
The beauty of the world today is that there are hundreds of resources at your fingertips – Google, apps galore and experts just a phone call away to help you figure these things out. Or simply ask your parents, older siblings or co-workers about their insurance policies, how they learned to budget or anything else you might be wondering about.
It’s not rocket science or even trying-to-solve-a-Rubik’s-Cube hard – it’s pretty simple stuff once you allow yourself to sit down and learn about it.
Stay: young at heart
“Don’t grow up. It’s a trap.”
Chances are you’ve seen someone Instagram this quote, or maybe have yourself. But here’s another myth I’m about to bust:
You don’t lose your youth overnight.
Although we’re raised to think it, you don’t all of a sudden wake up a new version of yourself once you enter the working world. Sure you have new responsibilities you didn’t have before, but that doesn’t mean you’re old and boring.
There’s no law saying that by the age of 25 you have to get rid of all your footy pajamas and start clipping coupons and gardening on the weekends – although more power to you if that’s how you want to spend your Saturday. Remember, one of the positive parts of post-grad life is your newfound freedom. So feel free to stay young at heart for as long as you can.
You can grow up without growing old.
*National average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Progressive in 2015.
But as if those day-to-day choices alone didn’t invoke enough inner turmoil, there are also the big decisions, the ones that will affect your life significantly:
Should I do a gap year?
Where should I study abroad?
Unpaid internship or paid odd job?
What’s next after I graduate?!
It’s certainly overwhelming at times, but there are a few things you can take into account to ease the decision-making process:
Check your motives.
Sometimes we have to pursue an opportunity for the sole purpose of bulking up the old resume. But there’s a difference between doing something to impress potential employers, and doing something to impress your Facebook friends. Bragging rights should never be the end goal of an experience. That may seem obvious, but in this day and age, when we are capable of sharing every experience we have with the world, we’re in danger of placing public perception way higher on our priority list than it needs to be. So, if you see no value in an opportunity other than how it appears to others, realize that by pursuing it, you might end up in a place that doesn’t feel authentic to you.
Consider the financial aspect.
Yeah – it’s college, and we’re pretty much always thinking about the financial aspect. But really, whenever you’re about to make a decision that involves your hard-earned cash (or the hard-earned cash of your loving legal guardians), you should weigh the financial costs with how much you feel like you’ll truly gain from the experience. If you’re feeling lukewarm about an opportunity, and it’s going to break the bank, maybe you’d feel better stashing those funds and putting them into something you’re more passionate about later on. But if you feel like the experience will be much more valuable to you than the chance to save some dough, then by all means, seize the day.
Think long-term, and take your goals into account.
Sometimes it’s hard to think past next Friday. But when you have a big decision to make, it’s vital to think about how a choice will play into the future beyond its obvious and immediate impact. So make a list of your long-term goals. Does this opportunity have a place in accomplishing those, or would it throw you off track? Would it mean spending a lot of time and effort on a cause that won’t get you where you want to be in the long run?
Consult the people who care about you.
There is no shortage of people in your life who want to see you succeed, and while you shouldn’t base your decisions solely on third party opinions, it’s nice to get perspective on your situation through the eyes of those who want the best for you. So call a family member you’re close with, or your best friend from home, or your roommate who just gets it. They’ll give you perspective and insight that you might not have had if you’d tried to work it out on your own.
Remember your passions.
It can be hard to remember amidst a busy schedule, but it’s important to make what you love a priority. You know how it feels when you’re doing something you love, something that makes you feel fulfilled and truly happy. Let that feeling drive your decisions, and everything will fall into place.
At the end of the day, you should pursue an opportunity because you want it. So don’t let superficial influence steer your choices. Be smart about your funds. Remember your goals. Do what you love.
Even if you end up feeling like you’ve made the wrong move, you’re not doomed; you can use that knowledge for the next time you have a big decision to make.
You’ve heard of the gender gap. You’ve heard of the wage gap. But have you heard of the funding gap? Well if you haven’t, allow us to introduce to this major disparaging issue that women entrepreneurs face everywhere, even our very own founders of the Lala. Here are the facts:
So what does this mean for us? A woman with an idea, a business plan and some hustle who wants to start a business or launch a product currently grabs at 3% of the whole pot. That means a woman entrepreneur will have to work and pitch investors 97% harder than men entrepreneurs do. That means woman have a dramatically reduced chance of actually launching their idea into reality. Can you imagine walking into a room, pitching a ground-breaking idea, and then having your vision shattered, all because of your gender?
It is pretty easy to see why this is happening. In most cases, investors are men. In the most cases, men don’t fully understand the products or the missions behind female-lead companies. In most cases, men will trust and rely on men more, especially in matters of business. And in most cases, women are more risk-aversive and less likely to be demanding and pushy when it comes to asking for money. So in most cases, we have a problem.
Not only is the blatant sexism rooted in this issue infuriating, but it means we are missing a host of ideas, products, and innovations for women and girls worldwide. Think about it. For years now companies that make products for women have been headed up by men. That doesn’t always make sense, especially in cases such as tampons. In fact, many tampons are actually full of toxins. But when women start their own feminine hygiene businesses, you get toxic-free, innovative companies like Thinx, Natracare, and Orchidea.
We can think of so many other spaces ready for disruption and innovation lead by women. Have an idea, but stifled by the gap? Here’s what to do…
Ask For It: Funding and investing may seem needy or risky to you. But if you have an idea and you’ve worked hard, then you deserve it. Own your idea and believe in it when talking to investors. You have every right to be there, so don’t you dare under estimate your worth.
Broaden your funding horizons: Get creative and go beyond venture capital. In Entrepreneur, Zeynep Ilgaz said, “There are many wonderful options out there, including bank loans, crowdfunding, lines of credit and Small Business Administration loans. Educate yourself on the variety of available funding sources to find out which one suits your needs.” Even large corporations like American Express, have support programs for women entrepreneurs with forums, boot camps and more.
Build Your Network: Meet people at every chance you get. The more people you know who have gone through the same thing and are successful, the more chances you have for insight and funding. Join women networking organizations that provide business insights and mentorship and look for events that bring entrepreneurs together.
Be the Change: All of us should support this initiative and advocate for women entrepreneurs. Start your own support group, buy from women-owned businesses, and once you are capable, invest in women-owned businesses yourself.
Chances are you’ll get a synopsis of everything that’s wrong in the world – and we’ve seen a lot of it lately. It’s easy to shut off. It’s easy to want to sit in your apartment, Netflixing New Girl and eating Easy Mac, avoiding the truth that surrounds us – that there’s an overwhelming amount of hate in this world right now.
But I believe the majority of the world is made up of decent people. But when acts of violence and hate are being broadcasted the most loudly, it’s hard to feel that there’s any good left in the world.
But I bet there’s good inside of you. And inside your best friend. And the girl you sit next to in your CHEM lecture who let you borrow her notes. And your co-worker who took your shift last week so you could go to your roommate’s birthday party.
What if daily, each of us did something that reminded us of the good in the world? Here are 21 ways to start.
1) Leave post-it notes on the mirror in a public restroom with messages reminding people just how incredible they are – “You are beautiful – don’t forget that.”
2) Find a new view. Take a bus out to the mountains, hop on a train to the ocean, drive to a cornfield and watch the sunset. Head to a place of natural beauty near you and sit in awe. Remind yourself how incredible the natural world is.
3) Call someone you love. Call your parents, your younger sibling, your grandparents, your aunt, your best friend in another state – ask how their lives are and if there’s anything you can do to make it better. Ask for nothing in return.
4) Next time you’re in line getting coffee, buy the person’s behind you.
6) Make a list of all the mentors who have positively affected your life. Hang it on your mirror, and make it a goal to take each one of them out for lunch or coffee to tell them how they’ve touched your life in-person.
7) Buy a bouquet of flowers and walk around, giving one flower to everyone you pass on your way to class or work.
8) Get a bucket of chalk, gather your friends and walk around your campus or neighborhood writing encouraging messages on the sidewalk. “You’ve got this”, “Keep your head up”, “You’re doing amazing”.
9) Get up early and watch the sunrise. Let your heart swell from the beauty.
10) Find an organization you’re passionate about and sign up to volunteer at least once a month, if not weekly. Make it a priority – remember, you make The Bachelorette a priority. It’s not that hard.
11) The next time you go out to eat, ask your waiter how their day is going. Learn something about them, not just how quickly they can recite the daily specials. Leave them a generous tip.
12) Hula hoop. Roller skate. Do a cartwheel. Jump on a trampoline. Roll down a hill. Do something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Remind yourself of that feeling of pure, insane joy. Stretch afterwards to avoid adult injuries.
13) The next time you’re walking to class or commuting to work, take out your earbuds and listen to your surroundings, not your music. Observe the people around you, smile at someone who needs it. Allow yourself to feel connected rather than shutting off. You never know what you might discover.
14) Write a thank you letter to a local community leader that you admire. Give them your personal contact information and tell them to reach out if there’s ever anything you can do.
18) Get up early one morning, make pancakes for your roommates. There’s just something about pancakes that’s good for the soul.
19) The next time you screenshot a picture of someone else’s Instagram to send to a friend to gossip about, stop and ask yourself, “what good am I doing by talking about this other person behind their back?”. Don’t send it.
20) Sit down and make a list of 100 things you’re grateful for. Don’t stop until you hit 100. Anything from the smell of coffee to the feeling of barefeet on cold grass, puppy’s breath, your best friend’s laugh, you name it. Keep the list with you and add to it frequently.
21) Find simple ways to give back. Here’s a place to start.
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company is donating $2 million to three amazing nonprofits – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, and Feeding America or Food Banks Canada with the goal of supporting health, home and hunger through a campaign called Band Together.
But, they need your help deciding how to divvy up the record-breaking donation amongst the organizations. The cause with the most votes will receive $1 million, the runner up $700,000 and third place $300,000. Help the cause you feel most strongly about get the big donation by voting now until July 31, 2016 at 11pm CT.
Every voter will be entered to win a weekly prize from STACKED New York – a set of 3 stacking bands ($450 retail value). And voting daily increases your chances.
So go out and remind yourself there’s still good in the world, better yet, be the one to create it.
Will it solve our world issues? No. Will it make news headlines? Probably not. But will it make you and those around you have a little more hope and faith in humanity? You bet. And right now, I think that’s exactly what the world needs.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
As a rising junior and aspiring world traveler, I felt a lot of pressure to study abroad.
Until a few months ago, I pictured myself spending my junior year in Italy. I even took four semesters of Italian so that I would be familiar with the language. But then, as my sophomore year progressed, I realized something: I wasn’t ready to go abroad. And that’s ok.
The transition to college wasn’t easy for me (that’s an understatement). My entire freshman year was basically devoted to trying to stay afloat. Luckily, sophomore year was much better. I found people I clicked with, started my own club, and decided on a major that I love. I had finally hit my stride.
Then, study abroad applications came out. Suddenly, the idea of living in Italy for a year felt all too real, and not in a good way. So naturally, I put it off. I didn’t fill out my application until 11:50pm before the midnight deadline. That should have been my first clue that I wasn’t as psyched about going abroad as I thought.
After sending in my application, I began to seriously picture my life abroad: living with a host family, taking classes at an Italian university, and being in a completely different country than just about everyone I care about. For some people, this picture is thrilling, but I was overcome with a feeling of dread. Here I was, just getting comfortable with life on campus and I was going to have to leave? I didn’t want to do it.
Still, it took me a while to come to terms with that–the fact that I actually didn’t want to go abroad. I like to push myself out of my comfort zone. I consider one of my biggest accomplishments to date to be that on my 17th birthday, I flew halfway across the world to China with 12 complete strangers for a teen travel trip.
How could a girl who did that not want to go abroad? I wanted to be that girl, the adventurous world traveler who knew what she wanted and didn’t have an ounce of fear.
Then I realized, it’s not all or nothing. Just because I’m not ready to abandon the life I’ve made on campus for something completely unknown doesn’t mean that I’m playing it safe, or that I’ll never be a world traveler. In fact, it’s a pretty brave choice.
It takes major guts to be honest with yourself. If I had gone abroad, it would have been for all the wrong reasons: to be like my friends, to prove something to myself, and because it was “the plan”.
Instead, I’m choosing to be compassionate with myself, and accept that now just isn’t the right time for me. Maybe after college I’ll spend six months backpacking across Europe, or a year teaching English in Spain. But for now, I’m staying on campus. It may not be the most glamorous choice, but it’s the right choice for me.
It’s a phrase we read and hear a lot these days: privilege. Check your privilege. You’re privileged. White privilege. What does it mean? How do you know if you’re privileged? And why does it matter?
I can tell you right now that if you’re reading this, you’re relatively privileged.
But that conjecture is rooted solely in the few assumptions I can make based on the fact that you’re here: you can read. You have access to a computer. You have access to wifi, or a solid data plan.
Even though these facts do put you (us) in a privileged minority as compared to the rest of the world, the list ends there.
I don’t really know you, or the extent of your privilege, or lack thereof. I don’t know if you’ve had to overcome adversity because of a disability. I don’t know if you’ve had to work especially hard to make ends meet. I don’t know if you’ve been subjected to discrimination because of your race or ethnicity. I don’t know if your sexual orientation has made you feel marginalized. I don’t know if you’ve faced obstacles to be recognized for your gender identity.
In part for reasons such as these, privilege is a nuanced concept, but it’s an important thing to be aware of, especially in the wake of the events of the past few months.
Recently, I came across a statement that helped me understand privilege a little bit better. Instagram user Zoé Lawrence @wheresfrankocean wrote in an Instagram caption: “Privilege is the luxury to choose to ignore the struggles of marginalized communities or stand in solidarity with them.”
By that definition, I am privileged. 100%.
Based on the interactions I have day-to-day as a straight, cis, white female undergrad in a small midwestern college town, I could assume racism is over and done with. I could assume sexism isn’t an issue that still has dramatic effects today. I could assume homophobia and transphobia aren’t prevalent to the extent of violence. How would I know any differently than that which I experience for myself?
However, this (unfortunately) just isn’t the case.
It’s important to realize that each of our own realities do not reflect those of all others. Just because one of us may not be experiencing rampant racism, outright sexism, or other injustices on a daily basis, doesn’t mean others aren’t.
I used to feel offended or attacked when I read comments online about privilege, or uncomfortable when the concept was brought up in class. Like, I can’t help what I was born into. I realize now I was completely missing the point.
If you are privileged by societal standards, you don’t need to feel guilty. You simply need to be aware. Acknowledging privilege means taking a step back and realizing, wow, I have it pretty good. And then, realizing its converse: A lot of people don’t have access to what I take for granted.
I myself take for granted the benefits of my privilege on the daily, whether that be the roof over my head, the freedom to show my boyfriend affection in public, the option to use the women’s bathroom without being questioned, or the peace of mind knowing I won’t be racially profiled.
Day-to-day, these experiences make up how I view the world. But there is a stark contrast between my own personal experience and those of so many others.
So, why does it matter to talk about?
Acknowledging privilege matters because the privileged few not only have the personal experience to convince themselves that issues like racism, sexism, etc., don’t exist, they also have the means to silence the voices that are crying out yes, in fact, they do. And that’s not okay.
Coming from a place of privilege, I realize now is my time to stop talking about my own experiences. It’s time to take a step back and give those who do experience societal injustices a chance to tell their story. It’s time to hear them out, instead of attempt to silence them with accusations of dramatization or ignorance.
We won’t get anything further accomplished as a society if the privileged few subscribe to the belief that the only existing issues are those we experience for ourselves.
So, if someone has a different worldview than you, or is standing with a cause you don’t necessarily identify with, or is sharing about their lived experiences that you don’t relate to: instead of immediately trying to formulate a rebuttal, find the holes in their story, or paint them as a liar, take a second to hear them out.
I think it will be amazing what can be accomplished when we are actually listening.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been looked down upon because of your major.
Raise your hand if someone’s ever made you feel stupid or lazy because of your major.
Raise your hand if, despite everything, you love your freakin’ major.
My hand is so (metaphorically) raised right now. I can still remember two years ago when one of my favorite high school teachers told me it “was a shame” that I was a Journalism major. I also remember him suggesting I major in Accounting or Pre-Med since I was “wasting my intelligence” on writing.
Cringe. When teachers you respect basically tell you that you’re wasting your brain by following your passions or that your major is seen as a joke, it’s not an easy pill to swallow. In fact, it isn’t hard to hear things like that and become embarrassed of your major or feel inferior for it.
Not wanting to be an engineer or a doctor doesn’t make you stupid. Wanting to be an artist, musician, journalist and so on doesn’t make you inferior or lazy. Your major says nothing about your intelligence—it says something about your passions.
Right before college my twin brother announced he was declaring an Engineering major while I, his, “artsy” sister declared Journalism. I automatically felt like a failure just because the societal view on the arts vs. the view on the sciences is so lopsided.
Then there was this divine revelation. I thought back to our nearly identical report cards and SAT scores. I realized that we were both smart individuals and the fact that he was choosing to engineer while I chose to write meant nothing other than different interests. Interest does not equal intelligence.
News flash: Science and math aren’t the only fields that require brilliance and skill. Who ever decided that any major that didn’t involve a ton of numbers should be stigmatized as a major for the less intelligent?
So, to every major out there: you are not dumbing yourself down for your major. You are not copping out or wasting your brain. Your major is not a joke, it’s a passion. It shows what you want, not what you’re capable of and not your IQ. Granted, my major is not Pre-Med or Engineering. But to say that Journalism is an easy major or a major that is “wasting my brain” is insulting and absolutely false.
The truth is, I’ve chosen to apply my intelligence in different ways and I’m happy with my major and the careers I’m headed for. I’ll never save lives in the ER, I won’t ever invent groundbreaking computer technology and I won’t find the cure for cancer but that doesn’t make me stupid. I’ll be the girl happily writing about all of those things. I mean, if no one was there to write about them, how would you know they were happening?
Every major has value and requires some form of intelligence—never let anyone make you think otherwise. Nothing says smart like fighting for your dreams and following your passions.
I’ve been to my fair share of frat parties so far in my college career.
They commonly include a gaggle of men standing at the door deciding who can come in, sticky floors, loud music, and some sort of jungle juice whose content everyone at the party is unsure of, yet we all still drink.
I like going to these parties. I like dancing like a fool to this loud music and asking strangers weird questions like, “Would you rather sweat Ketchup or have permanent Cheeto dust on your hands?” (*Hot party tip* Try it sometime).
At the end of the night, I like going home to my quiet, peaceful sorority house where no one is partying and I can easily go to sleep.
As I’m sure many of you readers know, across the country, sororities are not allowed to have alcohol on the premises.
For whatever reason, the head honchos making rules for Greek houses deemed it inappropriate for sororities to host parties where there’s alcohol.
I’ve been asked before how I feel about not being able to have parties at my sorority house, and on a personal level, I don’t particularly mind. In fact, I’m glad that I don’t ever have to worry about a bunch of loud, drunken strangers stumbling through the hallways at all hours of the night when I want to do homework or sleep.
On the flip side, however, I do think it’s systematically problematic that only fraternities can host parties where alcohol is served, and I do think it perpetuates rape culture.
Rape culture, as defined on Wikipedia, is “a construct in which rape is characterized as pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.”
Societal examples of rape culture include victim blaming, dismissing the severity of a rape, or sexual objectification. Rape culture is everywhere, from the objectification of women in music videos and the media to teaching girls from a young age to carry pepper spray with them in case they get attacked, to asking the survivor of a rape what she was wearing or how much alcohol she had to drink. This teaches girls to carry pepper spray with them is an example of victim blaming, same with the question of what she was wearing.
This makes it the woman’s responsibility to defend herself when she’s attacked, or to dress a certain way so she doesn’t tempt rapists, rather than teaching rapists not to rape.
Men are also raped, but for the purpose of this conversation addressing sororities and fraternities, I’ll focus on sexual assault against women.
Now that we know what rape culture is, how is this perpetuated by only fraternities hosting parties?
Just think about when you go to a frat party: members of the fraternity stand outside and decide who can come in, they are the ones providing guests with alcohol, they know the ins and outs of the house, they know the majority of the people there, and they set the tone of the party. They have the power.
Similarly, if you hosted a house party, you would know most of the people there and know the environment more, therefore, you would also have power in this situation. The mere act of the host of a party having power is not the problem, but it’s how this power is interpreted and exercised.
Additionally, there’s a skewed expectation of someone providing another person with a drink and expecting some sexual favor in return.
For example, I was at a bar with some of my friends from home over Christmas break and a guy asked to buy me a shot. I’m always up for making new friends, and free alcohol is nice, so, of course, I said yes. He went on to compliment me, and I told him I was flattered, but had a boyfriend, so we could take a friendship shot.
Immediately after telling him this, he didn’t want to buy me a shot anymore and stopped talking to me. In this dude’s brain and many other people’s brains, buying a girl alcohol equals having a chance at some sort of sexual interaction.
This same mindset no doubt translates to fraternity parties. If the hosts of the party have the power, and we live in a society that wrongly reinforces the idea that giving a female alcohol equals sleeping with her, then we can obviously see how rape culture is being perpetuated at fraternity parties where men are providing women with alcohol.
Rape is about power; it’s about one person exercising control over another. If you’re in an environment where one person obviously feels more powerful, then that further cultivates an environment where that person might want to assert their dominance and express this power.
By having only fraternity men host parties, they are asserting dominance, making female guests submissive, and reinforcing gender stereotypes.
If sororities could host parties and serve alcohol, this perpetuation of rape culture would be lessened because the playing field would be equal. Both men and women could host parties that serve alcohol, thus giving both fraternities and sororities equal social power.
In an article written by the New York Times addressing this very issue, several sorority women interviewed said they felt that women would likely feel safer going to a party at a sorority because they felt that the other women there would look out for one another, rather than focus on getting people drunk or making sexual advances.
I’m not trying to say that all fraternities are bad and every frat boy out there is perpetuating rape culture and focused on making sexual advances at female party guests because that is untrue.
However, in order to understand this issue, you can’t look at only individuals, you have to look at the whole system. Yes, individuals make up systems, but when you hear story after story of sexual assault cases at fraternity houses or on college campuses, you’ve got to take a second and look at the big picture and examine why rapes keep happening in this environment.
In fact, the second most common insurance claim filed against fraternities is for sexual assault. Even if individuals you know are not perpetuating this, the structure and dynamics of fraternities and sororities do.
While I don’t want people partying in my sorority house until all hours of the night potentially any night of the week, I am curious to see how allowing sorority members to drink in their houses would change the party dynamic on college campuses.
Perhaps it would make party guests feel safer, and perhaps it would even decrease the number of rapes and sexual assaults on campuses. I don’t foresee this change happening anytime soon, but it’s interesting to think about.
What do you think? Should sorority women be allowed to drink in their houses, and would this possibly help with college campuses sexual assault problems? Let us know in the comments or tweet to @FollowtheLala.