Marie Claire: I married myself

Marie Claire: I married myself

I have a piece at Marie Claire today about my not-engagement ring, and about how we might endow old symbols with new meaning:

Forget men—one of the longest and most meaningful relationships I’ve ever had was with my doctorate dissertation. It consumed me, and fascinated me, and took up all my time and energy. It accounted for four full, pivotal years of my life.

As I worked on it, friends all around me were getting engaged, tying the knot, and changing their names from Ms. Them to Mrs. Someone Else. When the full draft of my thesis was finished and the end was in sight, I decided that I wanted to mark the pivotal moment when I changed my name from Ms. to Dr.

So I bought myself a diamond ring at an auction, and when my I passed my thesis defense, I put it, proudly, on my left ring finger.

My statement can result in weird interactions. “So what does your fiancé do?” strangers will ask, and I’ll stare blankly at them for a second before collecting myself. “I’m not engaged,” I’ll reply. “I’m a doctor.” Then it’s their turn to stare, understandably confused by the non sequitur. But then I get to explain why I bought the ring, and why I wear it where I do.

You can read the whole thing here.

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CNN: Stop sexual assaults on college campuses

CNN: Stop sexual assaults on college campuses

I have a piece at CNN today, about institutional failures to prevent sexual violence on college campuses, particularly at my alma mater:

The U.S. Department of Education announced recently that it is investigating 55 universities and colleges for their failure to properly handle sexual assault cases on campus.

The list includes a number of prestigious institutions, including Harvard, Emory, UVA, William and Mary, Tufts, the University of Michigan, and my alma mater, Princeton, where a 2008 university survey found that one in six women students had experienced nonconsensual sexual contact while enrolled.

As a young alumnus, I feel a grim satisfaction at seeing my alma mater on the list. By the time I graduated, in 2009, two of my close friends and one of my former roommates had been sexually assaulted during our four years on campus, and I had watched another friend go through the labyrinthine and largely ineffective student disciplinary process in an attempt to see her rapist held accountable.

Like so many other survivors of campus assault, she was discouraged from reporting to the police, and her case was instead handled internally, away from real law enforcement. This is, of course, part of the problem: If there’s no real punishment for sexual violence, assailants know they can get away with it, and survivors won’t report it. And if survivors don’t report, universities can plead ignorance.

You can read the whole thing here.

Thought Catalog: Millions Of American women have advanced degrees – why do so few rom com heroines?

Thought Catalog: Millions Of American women have advanced degrees – why do so few rom com heroines?

I have a piece at Thought Catalog this week, about why so few rom com heroines have Master’s, PhDs, or other advanced degrees:

For the last three years, I’ve been writing my doctoral dissertation, on romantic comedies. I’ve watched more “chick flicks” in the last few years than even the most devoted of rom com enthusiasts will in a lifetime. I’ve watched The Ugly Truth more times than I can count, partly because watching The Ugly Truth attacks your brain cells to the point where you can no longer count.

Part of the goal of a romantic comedy is to make the audience imagine that this story could happen to them. They could find the love of their life just around the next corner — watch out, you’re going to bang into that unusually handsome man and spill coffee all over him! In order for audiences to relate to the characters in that way, we have to be able to see ourselves in them. Kate Hudson/Drew Barrymore/Meg Ryan/Jennifer Lopez is just like me! Except, none of these characters is like me. In fact, one of the strangest things about getting my PhD in romantic comedies is the realization that very few romantic comedy heroines have PhDs.

The two most highly educated Hollywood rom com heroines both appear in movies that are over a decade old. First, we have How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’s Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson), who has a Master’s in journalism. Throughout the movie, between trying to get Matthew McConaughey to dump her, Andie is frustrated by the frivolous, limiting assignments she is handed at the women’s magazine where she works (Composure? Really? That sounds like a brand of adult diapers). Eventually, she takes an out-of-town interview for a “real” journalism job, where she’ll be able to write about war and politics and other serious topics — you know, men’s stuff. But she never makes it, because McConaughey chases her down on his motorcycle and declares his love and blah blah blah. Basically, Andie’s attempts to move into more “serious” journalism are, it’s implied, abandoned, because she has to stay in New York City with the love of her life. A life that she’ll spend wasting that Ivy League Master’s — again, her implication, not mine — at a women’s glossy.

You can read the whole thing here.