Short Story Contest Finalists

This is really exciting!

We are excited to announce our list of finalists for our first Themed Short Story Contest! The finalists are listed in no particular order, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 4th. Congratulations to all our finalists! We’ve so enjoyed reading your work!

Shades of Undecided by Colleen Rothman

You’re Here Now by Lisa Cupolo

Anygirl – Serbia – 1942 by T. M. De Vos

Hook Wounds by Katie Sherman

The First Lady by Shelly Lynn Stone

The Mystery of the Inner Workings of Life by Staci Greason

Things She Packed by Laure Van Rensburg

Memory Game by Liora Sophie

In the Aspens by Mary Robinson

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Pride by Liora Sophie

My pride is made of a million specks of shame I’ve shaken off my back over the years, A hundred girl-on-girl kisses under the blanket so no one would see, A trickle of my bleeding heart for e…

Source: Pride by Liora Sophie

The Shape Of Water was a beautiful film, with gorgeous visual effects, excellent music, and a heart-wrenching storyline with love and drama and a little more graphic blood than I would have liked, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Bechdel Test Results

Film: The Shape of Water

1. Is there more than one woman with a first name? Yes. Only two who are characters (Elisa and Zelda), and a third whose name is mentioned (Yolanda).

2. Do those women have a conversation? Yes. Zelda and Elisa are good friends and colleagues. They talk to each other throughout the entire movie.

3. Is their conversation about something other than men? No. Zelda mostly rants about her husband and the hygiene in the men’s facilities. When Elisa speaks, she talks about the creature, which is labelled very early in the film as a he. Thus, all of their dialogue is actually about men.

Which is a shame, really. There’s no particular reason the film had to fail. But it did.

Some films don’t pass Bechdel and it makes sense – for example, in a true story, I understand the desire to be true to the gender identity of the people in the original story. So let’s take an example of a film released right around the same time which was based on a true story: The Post.

The Post passed Bechdel. It was still a little tight, but Katherine Graham’s relationship with her daughter emphasized her central role. Notice though, that The Post fails POC Bechdel – and it’s understandable, because it makes sense that most of the people who worked in the White House and were invited to Katherine Graham’s parties were not people of color. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but then, it’s based on a true story.

The Shape of Water is fiction. Which means someone chose genders for each and every one of those characters. You can argue that Strickland and General Hoyt really needed to be men, being in elite government positions, but what about the artist? The guy from the bakery? Strickland’s assistant? The scientist? The Landlord? Any one of those could have been women.

And what about the creature?

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Here I was honestly disappointed at the decision to so blatantly label him as a man. He’s made up. He’s not human. They have no idea what he is and he certainly doesn’t express any kind of human gender identity. What I saw was a perfect opportunity to portray a character who has no gender, wouldn’t that have been interesting? And then what does that say about Elisa? Oh no, but in fiction even non-human characters have to fit into the gender binary, and since Elisa is a woman, and all women are heterosexual, he has to be – not only a male – but a cis male. I was honestly baffled by how far the creators of this movie reached to make the cis-maleness of the creature clear (i.e. the scene where Zelda asks Elisa if he has a “…”). What harm would there have been in just not discussing that, and letting viewers imagine how Elisa and the creature consummated the intimacy they felt for each other?

Once their relationship is shown to actually be a heterosexual relationship between a cis male and a cis female, it ‘s almost as if people don’t notice that one of them is not human. The people closest to Elisa don’t raise their eyebrows even for a second. So while it is clear that their relationship exists in perfect contrast to that of Strickland and his wife, or Giles’s advances on the Pie Guy, it still only reinforces our cultural heteronormativity despite the fact that one of them is not human.

WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

Aziz Ansari Acted Like an Ass, and Is Now Being Made to Feel Embarrassed For Acting Like an Ass

An article was recently published and in my opinion, incorrectly titled “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari.” I would like to offer my alternative title: Aziz Ansari acted like an ass, and is now being made to feel embarrassed for acting like an ass.

His career is not over (or is it? If you have articles that show that he’s been fired from a show or hasn’t gotten another role since, please send them to me, I’d be happy to be proven wrong on this point), nobody sent inappropriate photos of him to his boss or his family*. The only thing that happened is that someone told a story about a date with him, and now the internet is exercising its right to call her a liar and explain to everyone why what he did is “not that bad.”

Are you mad yet? No? Well then, please keep reading!

I’m not going to link to the article that prompted me to write this, because I don’t want to give it more traffic. But here are some things it says:

Grace’s account is “proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.”

If you’re making this face right now confused emoji you’re in good company. I’m sorry, you needed proof that women are angry? Very, very dangerous – you mean like guns and big nuclear buttons? Temporarily powerful?

If anything, the article is proof that the opposite is still true – women still cave to the power of men, at the expense of their own personal safety and comfort. Some have argued that Grace didn’t say no – but she did say a lot of other things, all of which I would expect Ansari to have understood. He’s smart, you know – he wrote a book about dating. I even read it a little over a year ago. He’s funny, and he had some good ideas. So I honestly expected him to understand ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.” To mean, I’m not entirely okay with what is going on here at the moment, and I need you to stop doing what you are doing so we can talk about what we are both comfortable with, and without me feeling pressured. Yes, I expect him to understand that. It’s not such a reach.

Do I wish that women could communicate more clearly and say “no” more assertively? Yes, I do. But do you know why we sometimes don’t? Because of fear of being beaten, or raped, or murdered, or sold into slavery. Real fears of real things that are, unlike women complaining on the internet, very, very dangerous.

Aziz responded to Grace’s account that he had no idea that she was experiencing things that way. Suppose he is being honest about this: this is still a big problem. It is this that I have argued over and over again that is the cause of so many cases of sexual assault; the not paying attention, the ignoring, the doing it anyway, in short – the entitlement.

If men were as scared to make advances on women as women are afraid of men, then I would be willing to sit at a table where someone suggests that women are powerful and very, very dangerous. Until then, though, it’s anybody’s guess how the author of that article drew that particular conclusion.

*The account is compared to “revenge porn” in the article that must not be linked.

Let Me Tell You What Ruins The Moment

 

I was on a date with this guy, and we were talking about hobbies. His is martial arts, so I told him about my experience learning and volunteering for IMPACT Israel.

Date: Rape protection for women? Lemme guess: Punch to the face, knee to the groin, run away as fast as you can?
Me: No.
Date: No? What else could they possibly teach?
Me: Well, of course they teach you a good knee to the groin, but it’s not just that. It’s also about setting clear boundaries.
He smirked while I demonstrated creepy and non-creepy ways a guy could ask me what time it is while waiting for the bus.
Date: So run away!
Me: I don’t want to, I’m waiting for the bus. I need to get to work.
He was skeptical about the idea that someone standing too close to you and making you feel uncomfortable was something that happens to women on a regular basis. He was impressed with the style of physical fighting skills I described, but the concept of setting verbal boundaries seemed to register with him like teaching women to be uptight and paranoid.
Date: Only creepy guys do that! I could recognize a creeper from a mile away!
Me: OK, fine.
Me: But not all guys are creepy, right? I believe most men aren’t creepy. Some men are good. Some guys are cute, and kind, and they love us. They’re boyfriends, husbands, dads. What are you supposed to do when it’s your boyfriend, who loves you, who is making you uncomfortable?

I can’t even count on one hand anymore the number of stories I’ve heard from close friends that go like this:

  • Boy meets girl
  • boy and girl engage in consensual romantic activity
  • boy initiates sex
  • girl says “No, I don’t want to.”
  • boy thinks girl doesn’t actually mean what she said
  • without really understanding that that is what he is doing – ends up raping her

WHY does that still happen?

Date: But what are you supposed to do? Am I supposed to ask before I do anything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Everything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Ask before every single thing? Pffffft!
Me: Yeah, why not? It doesn’t ruin the moment.
Me: But do you know what totally ruins the moment? Touching someone without her consent. Huge turnoff.

13344542_1157187760994513_3899135592563392909_nLike many other Internet junkies out there, I’ve been reading the story about the Stanford rapist, his father’s nauseating letter defending him, and the victim’s testimony. The conclusion I’ve drawn from it is that young people (probably everyone, but particularly young people) are so terribly misinformed about consent. If you are drunk, you can not give consent. And if you are not sure if the woman you’re with is drunk or not, what are you supposed to do? You’re supposed to not have sex with her. Because if you don’t know if she can give consent, why would you risk violating someone in that way? And if you aren’t sure if she wanted it, even if she said yes, or she said no but you think she meant yes and you aren’t sure if she means what she means – just don’t do it. If you’ve ever had sex with someone who has given their consent and not regretted it in the morning, then you know that consent doesn’t wear a mask. Consent looks like “Yes, I do want to have sex with you!” It’s obvious when someone is saying yes. Which means that if it’s not obvious, they are saying no.

So what do we do? How do we fix this problem? My younger brother initiated a simple campaign to try and make a difference. His campaign is called Free Consent, and its goal is to raise awareness about what exactly consent looks like. Their slogan is, “If it’s not yes, it’s no!” They held a conference just last week with workshops and guest speakers to discuss this topic, and they’ve visited high schools all over the northern part of the country to help spread the word.

13301500_10154178202265365_6235709197252153524_oAnd the best part is, here’s something you can do: join the campaign! Post a selfie of you holding a sign bearing the words,

“If it’s not YES – it’s NO!” #freeconsent

It’s not so hard to understand. And who knows? Maybe we can actually start reducing rape cases around the world. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?