It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Magic in the air at Columbus Circle. 
IMG_4115
  About a week ago, I walked through Chelsea on a 
particularly chilly fall night. Dazed and smiling, 
I walked past a few carts of street vendors until 
I realized what was happening. The scent of 
Christmas in New York City was back. Smelling the 
roasted sugary nuts mixed with the distinct scent of 
cold air, I immediately glanced around for someone 
dressed in a Santa suit or at least Will Ferrell 
dressed as an elf.
  Honestly, I'm not usually one to get roped into 
the holidays a month early. In fact, I’m known to complain 
about this to anyone in my general surroundings. I get 
frustrated with how early stores start to break out the 
holiday décor — Christmas decorations are out before all 
the Halloween candy has been finished.
  But, this year I’m not going to let this excessive 
materialism turn me into a pre-Christmas scrooge. How 
could I be so cynical when I live in the most beautiful 
city in the world?
  NYC makes it so easy to fall in love with winter. Note 
that this is coming from a New Jersey native who has 
always hated the cold, snow and everything that comes 
along with it. I hate wearing puffy coats, snow boots, 
scarves and gloves. Yet, NYC romanticizes winter with style 
and class, which is hard to find anywhere else. So maybe I 
am excited to break out my sweaters and winter coats. It is 
definitely not beach attire, but I’ve started to warm up to 
the idea.
  Since starting at Fordham last fall, and remaining in the 
city throughout the summer, I’ve spent more time in NYC than 
ever. I’ve experienced the city in every season, and can say 
with full certainty that as winter approaches, the city 
transforms. Winter in NYC is truly magical.
  I was walking down Fifth Avenue last week and passed a 
street full of striking, beautifully decorated buildings. 
Across the street from one another, Tiffany & Co. and Harry 
Winston have been bejeweled from the inside out. 
  Not only were the in-store displays stunning, but the 
outside decorations, a background drapery of an orange sunset 
and the Fifth Avenue clock, reminded me why this holiday 
season was the best of the whole year.
  It’s not just the decorations that make me fall in love with 
winter in NYC. It is the overall sparkle of the city and the 
excitement that takes over the streets just like the seasonal 
tourists. It’s the stream of snowflake lights that glitter on 
the trees above Madison Avenue. It’s the cheerful mood, the 
increased family time, the Rockefeller Center Tree and 
ice-skating in Bryant Park. Embracing the cold, although still 
tentatively, I can easily get into the holiday spirit with 
these reminders of how lucky I am to live in a city as great 
as New York.

stay classy (& warm)! xx

Previously published in The Fordham Ram.
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Muggles Must Solve Gender Inequality

     If you’ve never gone to a Harry Potter midnight 
movie premiere, or even better, the midnight book 
release party at your local Barnes & Noble, you’ve 
never encountered the die-hard, and entirely enamored 
fan base that J.K. Rowling’s British brilliance created. 
I attended all of these releases and, like many others, 
have read the entire series multiple times. As if this 
did not validate my love of the series, I also played 
“Hedwig’s Theme” on piano in my fourth grade talent show, 
while dressed up as Hermione. Furthermore, I am currently 
tackling the task of reading the books in Italian — maybe 
being dubbed a “Harry Potter nerd” doesn’t even cut it for 
me.
     Though it’s been many years since I first read 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my love for the 
series and its set of iconic characters has not been at all 
subdued. In fact, just this week, the respect I have for my 
childhood role model Hermione Granger, now transformed into 
my young adult role model, Emma Watson, has skyrocketed.
     Bringing together two of the things I take most interest 
in, Hermione and feminist issues, the United Nations Women’s 
Conference asked Watson to speak on the topic of feminism and 
the progress, or lack thereof, that has been made throughout 
the world. In her speech Watson joked, “You may be wondering 
who is this Harry Potter girl and what is she doing at the U.N.” 
However, her question provides the answer to its inquiry. All 
throughout the Harry Potter series, Watson’s character is an 
example of what it means to be a feminist. From an impressively 
young age, Hermione was assertive, strong-willed, fearless and 
had a strong sense of self. She was the perfect role model for 
any young girl, and continues to be one today. Watson was chosen 
to be the face of the HeforShe Movement, and she embodies the best 
of Hermione’s qualities in real life.
     With Hermione Granger as my role model, she showed me that it 
was more than okay to be an intelligent, assertive female, and 
caused me to become a feminist at an incredibly young age. When I 
was seven, I joined a baseball team and proved that even though I 
was a girl, I could play just as well as, if not better than, the 
boys. When I was 16, I finished the manuscript for my first novel. 
I sent it to publishing houses for the first time that year, and 
was told in response to create either a male or an androgynous 
alias, because it would be easier for a supposed “male” writer to 
break into the industry. As a girl and as a woman I’ve faced 
adversity throughout my life because of the fact that I am a 
female. And I will be the first to tell you why my gender will 
never limit me.
     Although attempts at improving equality of the sexes have 
been made, equality has yet to be reached. In just minutes, Emma 
provided the clearest explanation of the problems that feminists, 
those who are afraid to declare themselves feminist, and those 
who do not understand the term “feminist,” have been facing. 
Watson stated eloquently, “I think it is right that I am paid the 
same as my male counterparts… able to make decisions about my own 
body… involved in the policies and decisions that will affect my 
life… and that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.” 
To many, these statements are already believed to be true. 
However, the disturbing and frightening reality is that in society 
today, there is not one country in the world where all women can 
expect to have these rights — the rights that many naively believe 
to be natural human rights.
     Until our society rejects double standards gender equality 
will be impossible. Every time we call a girl “bossy” and a boy 
“assertive,” we are normalizing double standards. Everytime we 
complain a woman only got a promotion because of the way she 
dresses and not the work she does, we take a step away from 
equality. By raising the awareness of this issue, the U.N. can 
get people to understand the severity of the fact that over half 
of the world’s population is still struggling with receiving 
their basic human rights.
     When I was 18, my yearbook quote was the following mantra, 
said by Eleanor Roosevelt, “you must do the thing you think you 
cannot do.” I do not believe that there should be internal social 
boundaries based on society’s expectations of us that limit what 
females and males can do. I believe that all people have the 
capacity to do extraordinary things, and that it is out of line 
to tell someone that they cannot do something, especially just 
because of his or her gender.
     It is time for us to begin making the small changes so that 
equality can stop being something that we strive for, and instead 
something that we see in our daily lives. Personally, I’m tired 
of waiting for these unjust social 
boundaries to be lifted, and I am ready to experience the amazing 
things that 
women and men in our society can do. We all have it in us — it is 
time to start being extraordinary.

stay classy! xx

Previously published in The Fordham Ram.

My Body, My Choice

On Sept. 1, 2014, a vicious wave of attacks on privacy raced 
through the Internet at a speed known only to those fluent in 
hacker jargon and computer programming. Hundreds of nude and 
suggestive photos of high-profile female celebrities, which 
had been allegedly acquired through a major hack, were leaked 
on the websites 4chan and Reddit. Over 100 celebrities such as 
Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence and Arianna Grande became instant 
victims, as hackers stole personal photos from their cell phones.

The public’s reaction to the scandal seemed to move in stages. 
First, they believed that this breach of privacy seemed so 
impossible that upon hearing the rumors, they raced to their 
smartphones and computers to see if it was true. Most of the 
public clicked and tapped until they found what they thought 
could not really exist, and in this way the public also 
violated the privacy of over 100 high-profile female 
celebrities.

When people realized the pictures were real, more posts began 
to flood news outlets and public Internet forums. The most 
popular comments ran along the lines of “how did they do it,” 
“I can’t believe she took nude photos” or for the less 
computer savvy, “where can I find the photos so I can see for 
myself?”

As the “Ohmigod, no way” stage of the public’s reaction began 
to die, a more rational response began to grow and spread 
among the masses. The details of the incident had become 
clearer; only women had been targeted and had their privacy 
grossly violated. The time had come to stop viewing the 
hacking as simply an unheard of, entertaining scandal and 
to start getting angry that the rights of so many women had 
been infringed upon with such widespread sexual harassment.

Actress Lena Dunham, whose phone was not hacked, pleaded with 
her fans to react to the photos with integrity through a 
series of tweets. She wrote, “The way in which you share your 
body must be a CHOICE. Support these women and do not look at 
the pictures,” as well as “Remember, when you look at these 
pictures you are violating these women again and again. It’s 
not okay.”

Fortunately, it was not long before a lot of the public started 
to follow Lena’s lead and react similarly. Now it was Reddit’s 
turn to blush and peek at the loss of its reputation and 
credibility forever.

In an ill-thought-out attempt to win back the public’s favor, 
these websites decided to donate the profits they had made on 
the pornographic photos to charities. First, because Jennifer 
Lawrence had once donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation 
(PCF), Reddit decided to do the same. Much to its embarrassment, 
PCF responded to the donation by issuing the following public 
statement: “We would never condone raising funds for cancer 
research in this manner. Out of respect for everyone involved, 
and keeping with our own standards, we are returning all 
donations that resulted from such posts.”

Reddit was not deterred by this. They immediately began to 
transfer the rejected donation money to the charity water.org. 
Not only were these dirty funds rejected again, but Reddit’s 
donation page was shut down and will eternally read, “You have 
changed 0 lives to access with safe water.”

This perv-shaming is something that we should see more. A lot 
of people’s initial reactions were right to judge the hackers 
for infringing on something so private, but it cannot hurt to 
remember that the celebrities who took the suggestive and nude 
photos of themselves are not in the wrong — not in the least 
bit. It is not illegal or uncommon for people to take sexy and 
suggestive photos of themselves. As Lena Dunham said, “the way 
in which you share your body must be a CHOICE.”

The celebrities targeted in this hack did not have the intention 
of sharing their bodies with the entire Internet community. The 
photos were their personal belongings, which were stolen from 
them and unethically and illegally shared with the rest of the 
world. Nothing makes this ok, and it is my hope that the hackers 
will be forced to own up to their crimes.

thanks for reading,
stay classy! xx

Previously published in The Fordham Ram.