Thursday, 17 March 2016

Navigating The Fog: Self-Care Tips For Depressive Souls

Generally speaking, I try not to publish anything too personal here. Partly for security reasons, but mostly because twitter is where I go when I want to whine online and I try to leave this space for my criticism. But the last couple weeks have been tough for me and I'm finally on the other side of a mild depressive episode. I don't think I've ever just said it in public before, but I suffer from depression and anxiety and have on and off since I was about 14. It's not something I like talking about because mental-health stigma is real, and people can be less than compassionate about what they see as an unreasonable perpetual sadness.

For me, it's like a fog. I often don't realize it's happening until I'm in the thick of it, by which time it's too late, because I've already become useless to myself. Episodes last anywhere between a couple days to a couples weeks, but really bad ones have spanned months. I didn't graduate college on time because I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed or leave my room for much of senior year, and I flunked a class for non-attendance. This shit has consequences.

I'm not on medication because I'm afraid to ask for it, and I'm not in therapy because I can't afford it. It's something I largely deal with on my own because I have to; I have opened up to people in the past and it hasn't always gone well for me. That said, over time I've figure out a variety of coping mechanisms that help me manage. Essentially, the key is to do as much as humanly possible when you're feeling well to cut down on the daily decision making process. This way, when the fog hits, you can safely reach your hands out blindly and trust that whatever you grasp will help you keep going. The following habits haven't fixed me, but they have helped me feel less overwhelmed.

Monday, 29 February 2016

#Supergirl's Flimsy Feminism And The Erasure of Women of Colour in Popular Feminist Narratives

You might not have heard, but Supergirl is all about girl power. Kara Danvers is a girl and her best friend and sister Alex Danvers is a girl. Her romantic rival is Lucy Lane who is a girl and they both work at CatCo. for Cat Grant who is also proudly a girl who built a media empire. In her free time, Kara is Supergirl and many of her foes are girls. In National City, girls are everywhere.

Supergirl as an avatar for 2016 feminism exists largely at a very superficial level that mostly works. The show is bright and sunny and endearing and consciously aware that it in addition to a bunch of cynical (mostly male) television critics, it also has an audience of very young girls. The girl power message is overt and highly unsubtle, but it works when one considers that girls as young as eight aren't necessarily ready for critical feminist theory just yet. Supergirl presents complex ideas about identity and womanhood and how they interact in the larger world in a way that is digestible to young viewers, and I think that's a net benefit.

The only problem? All the girls are white.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

In The Corner Of A Dark Room Under A Thick Fog of Smoke: Declarations Of Agency In Rihanna's #ANTI

Over the last decade, Rihanna has cultivated a very specific image of herself. Shifting ceaselessly from cheeky to coy to naked sexuality and back again, Rihanna is the consummate chameleon, changing for the times and evolving when she feels the need to shed her latest skin. Largely, as an audience, we have projected our perceptions onto her. Each new iteration of music, hair and fashion has left just enough room for our own desires to rush in and fill the void. But on ANTI we see exactly what powers the Rihanna machine and she lets us into her head; here is a full body of work that examines every facet of her being and lays it bare on her own terms.

ANTI is peak Rihanna. Endlessly delayed, it's no coincidence that this is Rihanna's most daring and truthful work to date. She waited until it was right; until it reflected her the way she wanted to be seen, and then gave it away for free, ensuring that no one could mistake it for sheer arrogance or braggadocio. ANTI shows a side of badgalriri we've only speculated about before, and untangles the complicated issues of her place in pop culture and how it relates to her sexuality, her blackness and her feminism.

The thing about ANTI is that it almost doesn't work. As a singular entity it makes sense: it is a declaration of her personhood on all fronts. But take it apart and it becomes mush in your hands, exploring disparate ideas all at once with through-lines that are tenuous at best. And yet, the ideas themselves are crystal clear: there is no beating around the bush. Rihanna is here now and she knows exactly why and on what terms she expects for that to happen. Gone are the pulsing club bangers she's built her career on. Instead we're treated to raw, brooding melodies that conjure images of solitary contemplation. The music exists under an eternal thick fog of smoke traced back to a blunt; truths emerging as inhibitions come down.