Buckle up, ladies! 2017 Houston Auto Show isn’t just for the boys!

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By Ciara Rouege

There’s a reason  why cars are described as being women. They’re sexy, sleek, beautiful — and let’s not forget smart and powerful!

The 2017 Houston Auto Show, the largest car show in the south, pulled into NRG Stadium earlier in the week for after bringing the city top-notch vehicle presentation for 34 seasons.

I have gone to the more gritty, outdoor engine-crazed car shows in the past, but the opening Preview Night Gala was all about glitz and glam.

Plus, it was educational — you won’t believe how many options you have out there!

The event featured nearly 40 manufactures including Ashton Martin, Lamborghini, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Maserati, Porsche, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Infiniti, Buick and several others.

In a showroom featuring hundreds of cars, there is multiple vehicle options for all stages of life and lifestyles. The floor has presentations for luxurious sedans, sports models, minivans, off-road vehicles, eco-friendly cars, muscle cars, powerful trucks and even classics!

Outside of car gazing, I was able to test out several cars including an exciting Jeep off-road course and other vehicle demonstrations.

Tickets are available online or at the door April 5 – 9 for only $12 for adults and $5 for children.

‘iZombie’ returns for Season 3 tonight and I’m about to lose my mind — too late!

By Ciara Rouege

Here’s a secret: I’m really a brain-snatching, blood thirsty zombie.

OK, that’s a straight out lie. I’m actually just a zombie fan.

You know like “The Walking Dead;” George Romero flicks; “World War Z” (the masterwork by Max Brooks and not that shit-for-show movie staring Brad Pitt); those endless Reddit threads that explore fictional zombie apocalypse scenarios; the Zombie Research Society…but I digress.

Of all the zombie-related material I consume, my guiltiest pleasure is The CW’s comedic drama “iZombie.”

Don’t judge me, and don’t take my Z card!

It’s just a fun show to watch, and sometimes completely over the top! The only thing I find more interesting than disabled but vicious living corpses is story lines that explore a human’s slow transition into zombism.

“iZombie” is about an uptight Seattle medical student named Liv whose life takes a harsh u-turn after she is infected with a zombie virus while attending a boat party. Unable to return to her average life, she’s forced to take employment as a forensic examiner in order to feed her need for cash — and brains!

But mostly, brains.

Outside of being in need of some level 4 spray tanning and grappling with unpredictable Zombie-roid rage, whenever Liv eats a brain she takes on the personality of the organ’s previous owner. Of course, the transformation always seems to both help and hurt her relationship or the murder cases she’s investigating.

There’s also a cute former-lover, a curious cop, a best-friend roommate, an eccentric supervisor, a strange brain dealer and — there used to be — a self-centered, power-hungry business owner who’s company is responsible for making the virus.

Obviously, that’s the shortest version of all the craziest that transpires over the first two seasons. If you haven’t seen it, iZombie is available for binge-watching on Netflix.

If you don’t have Netflix, I’m confident you know someone who has it — go make friends!

During the third season, Liv and her band of friends are going to be taking on a potential zombie apocalypse after discovering there are way more zombies among them than they thought — LIKE WAY MORE! And some of them are holding ridiculous, mankind-clutched-in-your-grasps positions of power.

The show returns Tuesday night at 9/8c after more than a year off screen. And it completely blows!

I have an event and won’t be able to watch it live, so I’ll have to catch it on-demand tomorrow night.

Like I said, I’m about to lose it!

Syrian-American mom breaking more than the internet with ‘Hijabi’ rap video

By Ciara Rouege

The internet has been hypnotized by the catchy rap lyrics of an eight-month pregnant (at the time), Syrian-American poet who is helping to make the hijab the most feminine and empowering headdress on the planet.

Mona Haydar doesn’t even have a mix tape, but girl! She’s already slayin’ it with her first-ever rap video “Hijabi,” which has gone viral since its release May 27. Haydar’s video has also caught the attention of several major outlets including Mic, BBC, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and others.

The hijab is often stereotyped as a tool of oppression and terrorism. But the video offers some much needed nourishment for ill-fed minds, stylishly showing its widespread use across different cultures and dispelling misconceptions.

“Given our current administration’s insistence on demonizing and maligning the bodies of women and Muslims, among others, I wanted to get this song out as soon as possible,” Haydar told HuffPost. “I hoped that a pregnant woman who is obviously Muslim [and] creating art and speaking truth would inspire people and offer some levity, joy and hope.”

Throughout the video Haydar is surrounded by beautiful women wearing their scarves and cloths in different styles: turbans, buns, knots, braids, tichels and of course the traditional hijab.

Despite being a God-fearing Christian woman, the song is worth celebrating to me personally for its inclusion of all hijab-wearing women as the head wrap has a significant presence in black fashion and culture.

Of course, I don’t say “fashion” to downplay the hijab’s religious significance. But you don’t have to be Muslim to understand the prejudice wearing a harmless head dress or style — dreadlocks, braids, afro, etc. — can attract.

At a time when fear and ignorance has propelled anti-Muslim sentiment across the U.S, “Hibaji” says holdup! And flips the bird at advocates of hate and judgment like a gangster.

And yes, in case you didn’t notice, “Muslim” is a person of a widely-practiced faith not an ethnic group. The video makes an distinguishable effort at including women of all shades in the message.

Ya’ll, peep this awesome bridge:

You’re just jealous of my sisters
These Mipsters, These hippies
These Prissies, These Sufis
These Dreddies, These Sunnis
These Shii’s, Yemenis
Somalis, Libnanis, Pakistanis
These Soories, Sudanis
Iraqis, Punjabies
Afghanis, Yazeedis
Khaleejis, Indonesians
Egyptians, Canadians
Algerians, Nigerians
Americans, Libyans
Tunisians, Palestinians
Hidden beyond the Mekong in laos
Senegalese and Burkina faso

Haydar was raised in Flint, Michigan and moved to Damascus later in life to study Arabic and Islamic spiritually before heading back to the States to enjoy life with her husband and son. She currently lives in New York.

And she’s cool as all get out!

Haydar is no stranger to the lyrical genius of rap artists like Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Rakim — artists who openly practice Islam.

As the song continues to make its runs around the digital community, the feedback seems to be mostly positive.

I can’t wait for Haydar to bless us with a new video if it’s her goal to make another one.

In the meantime, keep swaggin’ your hijabis, ladies!

Girl, ‘Humble’ yourself! Kendrick Lamar’s latest drop is EVERYTHING!

By Ciara Rouege

I often watch music videos back-to-back only twice: once to criticize the visuals, and a second time to analyze the lyrics. After that, it’s an ears-only experience on Tidal.

But damn! Kendrick Lamar’s latest single “Humble,” which invaded the internet Thursday night,  has visuals and lyrics that will keep fans and strangers enchanted for replay after replay after replay after replay — oh, you get the point! I’m addicted.

It’s interesting because I didn’t feel the visuals offered anything too unexpected from the consciousness or metaphorical undertones of his previous music videos, but somehow “Humble” is still refreshing.

I’m not riding his dick, but consider the heightened witticism. The visuals drag the viewer through a series of religious allusions and sociopolitical metaphors — scenes that are immediately contradicted with mediocrity and stereotypes. Which is something that has been done before, but in this case, it was done well.

I say “drag” because the beat alone knocks you out with authentic Kendrick Lamar bravado, and then pulls you in by using a flashing streak of stunning visuals that are seamlessly sewn together through a commitment to centralized framing. You don’t want to go, but you do because the sequences are just so well executed.

Here’s Kendrick dressed like The Pope wearing a beanie while standing under the spotlight of a single church window. And now, here’s Kendrick playing out any basic rapper’s fantasy of counting money in the world’s most lucrative trap house while surrounded with thick-bodied, half-naked women. Turning up with Kendrick’s crew at the Last Super, and then sitting under the beauty salon dryer with a tight, lethargic look on your face.

Dramatic irony coming from an artist who is often criticized for being fake deep? Yaass, I love it! And yes, I know religious symbolism is the most cliche means to shock value! But who are these dudes with burning ropes strapped across their heads?

“Humble” is also one of few video-song parings that creates a collective experience, helping you appreciate both even more. Don’t listen to the song and then pass on the music video.

The bars are blatant in meaning: criticism about society being superficial in its search for altruistic meaning delivered in the most arrogant way possible. Clearly, the video is bringing most of the hype.

Kudos to you, Dave Meyers and The Little Homies. You’ve done it again! It’s a poignant, culturally significant, cohesive and well-executed production.

Ya’ll, this shit is dope.

National Black Film Festival emerges in Houston amid black TV, film revival

By Ciara Rouege

Influencers of the black film and television industries are embarking on the golden road to long-awaited recognition, and “Moonlight’s” three major 2017 Oscar wins aren’t the only bricks on the path.

The commercial success of projects like “Blackish,” “Luke Cage,” “Atlanta,” “Insecure,” “How to Get Away with Murder” and several others reflect the American audience’s revived interest in black narratives. It’s also the “Golden Age of Black Television,” but this time around African-Americans are shaping the narrative.

The National Black Film Festival, which takes place April 5 – 9 at the Marriott Marquis Houston, comes to shine a light on the diverse contributions of the African-American cinema community while acting as a light for black aspiring filmmakers.

It’s the festival’s first year, but the appeal is built on generations of passionate African-American film producers, writers, directors, actors, cinematographers — and even ‘the mic guy’ — working toward storytelling greatness.

Professionals and amateurs within the television, digital and film industries will participate in several workshops and panel discussions focused on elements such as acting, screenwriting and even marketing. The panels and workshops are led by an impressive lineup of influencers including Lee Daniels Entertainment writer Nina Gloster, actor Yohance Myles and millennial marketing genius Everette Taylor.

In between sessions, festival goers have the option of delighting in dozens of independent film showings — “Behind Closed Doors,” “Candy,” “Ball is Life,” “A Cut Above” and “The Closet” just to name a few. The submissions range from shorts to feature films to documentaries, all selected with the purpose of giving filmmakers a place to groom their creative mindset and perfect their skills, organizers said.

But it isn’t all work and sitting in dark rooms, there will also be plenty of opportunities to make a connection. The festival opens with a meet-and-greet at The Flat and closes with a breakout session at Axelrad Beer Garden.

To take in the full breadth of this experience and all its perks, the Golden Pass is selling for $175.

If your pockets are a bit tight, show admission is only $10 a feature. Plus, there are tickets available for the individual workshops at prices ranging from $35 to $45.

Click here for the full schedule and registration.

This article was originally published on CW39.com

‘Finding Ashley Stewart’ pageant struts into Houston with curvaceous fits, empowerment

By Ciara Rouege

Confidence in curves: it’s what’s Ashley Stewart is all about!

The 2017 #FindingAshleyStewart tour made a stylish strut to the Houston Ashley Stewart location on Kirby Drive over the weekend.

Outside of the fabulous fashions, the atmosphere was live with music curated by DJ 4.0, barbecue cuisine catered by O Taste And See Catering and desserts by Forever Yours Creations.

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The in-store competition, which was hosted by Ashley Stewart’s Marketing Specialist and Style Expert Tamara Ivey, kicked-off Friday night with an audition, where judges picked the top 12 favorites out of nearly 100 women. Judges included Kristen Gaskins, President and CMO of Ashley Stewart; Nakia Cooper, Digital Executive Producer of CW39.com; Nail guru “Naja” of reality television’s “LA Hair”; Andrea Richardson, Hilton Hotel & Properties; ShaKera, The Sample Size Blogger; Stacy Alauf and Alesha Walker, DFS.

On Saturday afternoon, the ladies had a chance to rip the runway again with a fashion show, showcasing Ashley Stewart’s spring line.  Contestants and attendees also posed on the pink carpet in the social media lounge, which was hosted by Totally Randie of Houston Style Magazine.

Judges selected Ashley Walker, Nicole Rhocherlyn Grady and Shadawn McCants to move on to the next round of competition. Photos of the semi-finalists from each city will be added to the Ashley Stewart website so fans can vote, and from there, the top finalists from that will be flown to New York in September for the first ever Miss Ashley Stewart Pageant.

The models were given special looks by stylists with LAMIK Cosmetics & Franklin Institute.

The women who came out were met with gift bags sponsored by Mary Kay Cosmetics, Babydoll Brushes, Camellia Alise Skin Care and Taylor’s Shae Butter.

This article was originally posted on CW39.com.

#BlackWomenAtWork will go mute if society doesn’t find a term stronger than ‘racism’

By Ciara Rouege

I’m uncomfortable having conversations about the discrimination facing black women with people who aren’t black, especially if the person is not a minority.

It just always feels like a waste of time because I can’t find…the words or even the hand gestures to express myself. It’s a socioeconomic cluster bang, trying to explain experiences tied to elaborate institutions built on racist, ageist, religious and sexist principles and then translating that into simple words.

Especially when, like most English speakers, the only word I’m able to use is: racism.

Racism, a topic or term that studies show a significant number of white social media users filter out of their feeds.

When I learned #BlackWomenAtWork was trending, I didn’t have to drop it into the search box to have an exact idea of what to expect. It’s a conversation I’m constantly having with other black women.

Activist Brittany Packnett popped the bottle on this hot-button issue after she tweeted Tuesday in response to inappropriate comments U.S. Press Sec. Sean Spicer and conservative news commentator Bill Reilly made regarding the hair of prominent black female professionals.

O’Reilly made a tongue-in-cheek comment about ignoring black Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ latest comments about Trump because, as he said:  “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,”

During a White House press conference later that day, Spicer angrily told black veteran journalist April Ryan to stop shaking her head in response to everything he said.

Two assholes. One shit stain on the internet: racism.

Of course, Packnett’s invitation was met with great support. Black women started pouring in and sharing their workplaces stories because, whether you’re first lady of the United States or a cashier at DD’s Discounts, you probably have a whole bibles worth of testimonies.

Our workplace experiences — both blatant and passive-aggressive — are about more than black women being misunderstood or losing out on opportunities they deserve. 

Being a black woman in the workplace is pushing to accomplish more — or even small things — in a world that beats you down without remorse through double standards and contradictions.

While we tweet our fingers off and chuckle in response to our shared injustice, the world watches on thinking what’s racist about hair?  Or responds in rage because even though most have no clue what black women are experiencing in the workplace, they know ‘racism’ is the multicultural, liberal community’s cue to flip out.

Racism equals bad.

It’s 2017, and #BlackWomenAtWork is a social media trend, seriously! Despite people talking about the problem on Twitter, the complaints are falling on death ears.

Your hair isn’t just hair, it’s a spectacle because it’s ‘exotic,’ ‘unprofessional’ or ‘interesting.’ Who wouldn’t be uncomfortable in such an environment?

It’s a social oppression whose enforcement goes beyond ideologies or political affiliation. Because, let’s face it, the solution exists beyond the law.

Over past generations, we’ve watched society unclothe its racial consciousness. First, allowing blacks citizenship, and then permitting them the right to vote, and soon the right to sit among others in restaurants and to live in their neighborhoods — all problems that were reversed with legality.

In 2017, ‘racism’ has become a supercharged and overused word that overlooks the subtle prejudice present in social interactions because it doesn’t distinguish between malicious and non-malicious intent.

Hundreds of women speaking out in unison is empowering, but if the ultimate goal is change, those words must speak to the masses.

We’re hiking the same mountain as our mothers and grandmothers, but as we get closer to the top, the climate changes and so must our tools.

Trey Songz

Trey Songz arrested after outburst at concert in Detroit, sources say

By Ciara Rouege

DETROIT — Delivering a crowd-wowing mic drop: bad ass! On the other hand, delivering a mic cut…could earn you a bad ass whopping.

TMZ reports Trey Songz was arrested Wednesday night after damaging several pieces of equipment while performing on stage at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The report said Songz was provoked after someone at the venue told the star his set was going too long — but Songz wasn’t ready to drop the mic.

He dared them to cut his microphone, promising to flip out if they did, TMZ said.

And when they did — baby! Trey came through.

TMZ said he started destroying everything in sight, flinging objects in the air. The debris hit an officer who was trying to subdue him, the report said.

He’s been charged with resisting arrest and malicious destruction of property, TMZ said.

Click here for TMZ’s original report.

Girls’ Life controversy: When feminism falls short

By Ciara Rouege


The publisher of Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life magazines has come under fire after celebrities Blake Lively and Amy Schumer criticized its editors for solely focusing on fashion, beauty and romance with its female readership while encouraging career exploration and self-discovery among males. Many are calling the content sexiest and say its in need of a major revamp.

In an episode of ‘Blackish’ all the children catch influenza, and then the mother falls ill while trying to care for them. Like any self-respecting television mom, Rainbow tries to fight through the virus. But, alas! She loses and the family is forced to lean on its last resort: Dre, the father.

Terrified, he answers the call. And like any American sitcom dad, Dre ass plants as a substitute-mom and the children’s healths are thrown into complete jeopardy.

Until, eureka! He finds a solution. Dre decides to stop acting like a mom and starts caring for his family dad-style. Cue hilarious montage. All the kids make a miraculous recovery. Roll credits.

What the hell does this half to do with a pre-teen girls’ magazine? Well, everything.

The problem is about parenting, the most gender-restrictive experience of human life. The solution, which emphasis the difference between gender equality and gender empowerment, is applicable to women in the work life, romantic relationships and social environments. Gender equality and gender empowerment are not interchangeable — or even interconnected.

Girls Life magazine remake

Graphic designer Katherine Young revised the cover of Girls’ Life magazine after the internet uproar. “I fixed it,” she wrote.

Girls’ Life Magazine editors shouldn’t be criticized for making a magazine that isn’t comparable to its male counterpart, but instead for failing to expose girls to the poignant elements of womanhood.

Chelsea Handler ban proves nipple-phobia exists

By Ciara Rouege

When you find an excuse to stand half naked on a snow-covered mountain range, take it! Comedian Chelsea Handler has made her next strike in a battle with Instagram and its fickle policy banning nude post.

Handler has been banned from Instagram after posting several partially nude photos including a tasteless ass pic, mimicking noted Instaslut Kim Kardashian.

The war started in October after Handler posted a topless picture of herself riding horseback. It was a hit at Russian President Valdmir Putin. It’s hard to say who had the better rack. But Chelsea, you do have the better steed!

It couldn’t be more clear Handler is trying to stay relevant. However, what’s with America’s fear of boobies? Entertainment media often alludes to sexual activity in manners that are more blatant and tactless. There are thousands of Instagram accounts featuring women modeling every inch of top skin– minus the nipples. Is it female nips that scare us?

Male nipples are often glanced over with no concern and female nipples incite eroticism or public shame.  The madness behind the Handler nudes reflect the patriarchal institution that controls mainstream perception of the female sexual identity.

Picture from Nicki Minaj’s Instagram

It all points to a deeper problem with our perception of the female body, which can only be viewed naked if its not being sexualized. We see hundreds of images everyday with women posing cleavage forward or butts tooted out, but a single picture of a woman standing topless in a backpack disturbs us.

Be sure to cover those nipples, ladies! Otherwise, you’re naked. Instagram should just cut to the chase and say female nipples are banned.

I’m going to have to side with Handler on this one. I’ve seen cruder pictures on Instagram and across other social media. We all know that one girl whose profile picture is literally an up-close snapshot of her bare ass.

Shine Strong If You’re Thin, White and Pretty

By Ciara Rouege

Don’t be too pretty or people will think you’re dumb and vain. Don’t be too ugly or men won’t be attracted to you— you’ll die alone. Be professional and glamorous but not too glamours otherwise you’re co-workers won’t take you seriously or too professional otherwise you won’t make office friends.

It’s hard out there for a woman. Society always wants us to live in some strange middle ground where we have to be the appropriate amount of everything. How often is a handsome, clean-shaven man in a stylish suit told to tone it down for his job interview otherwise his skills and genius will get overlooked?

Pantene Shampoo’s “Don’t let labels hold you back” commercial from the “Shine Strong” campaign tells women to proudly tip the scale of appropriateness. The video features a woman being negatively criticized for having characteristics men are most often praised for.

The campaign, which was created by the Grey Advertising Agency in New York, has received overall approval in the advertising community for its ability to highlight a social issue that is often down played in corporate America and life. Pantene manufacturer Procter & Gamble brought the ad’s intentions full circle, when the company announced its collaboration with the American Association of University Women in June. The partnership will support college women by underwriting monetary grants and create a new program designed to encourage female student leaders to speak out against gender bias and stereotypes.

The campaign also includes a commercial titled “Sorry, not sorry”, which aims to persuade women to stop apologizing for mundane offenses or essentially being human.

Pantene’s movement would be prefect…if it wasn’t blissfully ironic.

Throughout this ad campaign the commercials have failed to represent the full-figured women or women of color who dominate the female demographic of this nation. The casting sends a subliminal message that Pantene will help you shine strong in the office, if you’re fair skinned and—should I say, living life with a high metabolism.

Surely, shampoo usage doesn’t stop after a woman reaches the double-digit pants sizes? The average women in the United States is a size 12.  And although I’m forced to leave the passively racist ethnic hair section at Walmart to buy Pantene’s products, shouldn’t I and sisters of color be represented too?

Pantene should be praised for its intentions: Unfair social labels have prevented many women from achieving their career goals. But until it diversifies the women pictured in its campaign, Pantene will continue to promote harmful definitions of beauty in America.

RANT: Women & Clinical Sex

By Ciara Rouege

The Vagina Monologues is my favorite book about feminine sexuality. Nothing beats a woman bitching about a vagina being frustrated with pap smears. Living a sexual life is like a getting a never ending pap smear for women. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward the first time. There are always more people involved than you would like. And as most of the world is figuring out, it never really accomplishes what it is meant to do.

I could tell you about the first time I had sex, but I’m not. I will tell you about the first time I got a pap smear. Actually, I didn’t start visiting the gynecologist until this year. I started going because the pediatrician’s first question to me was always, “Oh, is you’re daughter in the restroom?” And second; you can only be in college for so long, still convincing your parents you’re a virgin. So junior year I stained the proverbial white wedding dress and scheduled an appointment for the gynecologist. Basically, I only had it once in my entire life. The pap smear— not sex.

The doctor is an Indian man, who makes punny jokes about my significant weight gain. He’s tall. He’s cute, and has the faintest accent. He tells me to take off my clothes and throws me a backless robe. He’ll be right back. Soon enough, I’m on my back with my legs resting on cold metal stirrups. He keeps telling me to relax, and stop clinching.

“I can tell you’re clinching because they’re little dimples on your butt,” he said and then grinned. In the Vagina Monologues, an older woman talks about dreaming of beautiful flowers during sex. I try thinking about flowers, but I can’t hear my thoughts over the loud crunch of the parchment paper sliding under me. I admire the women who can drift away during this. Not during the pap smear— during sex.

This pap smear is the most I’ll think about my vagina until the university does a performance of the Monologues in the spring. The Monologues aren’t a fun conversation about the vagina. It’s just a reminder 1 in 4 girls are raped, and most women are sexually assaulted by a family member. It ends with a guilt trip about feeling safe in the US, while millions of women across the world are slaves to sex trafficking and war.

In Superbad, chubby Jonah Hill doodles various costumed dicks in class. It’s freaking hilarious! Women don’t assert their sexuality in the way men do. How many tastefully drawn vaginas did your eighth grade art teacher have to erase from the whiteboard?  In fact, most drawings just look like dried prunes. In Scare the Teens into Abstinence 101— ergh, health education class— the teacher shows you gruesome pictures of vaginas.

We have a word for women who talk happily and frequently about sex: whores. God bless the day we start having happy conversations about female sexuality.

Ben Carson Blames Feminism for Ferguson

By Ciara Rouege

Ferguson has become a storm raging with racism, elitism and now— through comments from an arrogant black Republican— sexism has been tossed into this tornado. In an interview with American Family Radio, 2016 presidential hopeful Ben Carson said the senseless death of a young black man involved in an altercation with a white cop in Ferguson happened all because of the women’s liberation movement. Or at least 1960’s feminism laid the foundation for Michael Brown’s problems.

I hate to say it, but a lot of it had to do with the women’s lib movement. You know, ‘I’ve been taking care of my family, I’ve been doing that, what about me?’ You know, it really should be about us.

After explaining that Brown and the thousands of other young black men need a strong father figures in their life to come above the struggle, Carson was persistent in suggesting independent women have driven men away from being dedicated-fathers. Carson is promoting the misconception that feminism is about debunking family values to give women freedom. It’s this type of ignorance that makes feminism a difficult movement to promote, and manipulates women into feeling guilty for having needs. In regards to women in the home, black women have managed to nurture their children and at the same time put bread on the table since our shackles were unhinged. In many lower- and middle-class families–black or non-black–women have been forced to work full-time jobs while handling the most demanding parenting responsibilities. The Women’s Liberation movement taught mothers they’re more than cooks, maids, nurses and sexual pleasures. It wasn’t until recently that men haven’t been ashamed to throw on an apron and help out around the house. If anyone has lost the meaning of ‘us’, it is old men like Carson who discount the sacrifices single black mothers make to put their children in school and keep them off the street. Feminism isn’t about women neglecting their families. It’s about women demanding social and political justice, and holding men accountable for the collective responsibility of raising independent daughters and sons.

Bye Lammily! I’m not buying it.

By Ciara Rouege

It seemed Barbie was the toughest toy to open on Christmas morning. First, you had to tear through the tough cardboard if you didn’t stab her plastic casing out. Then you had to fiddle with those tedious wire ties— given you remembered not to toss those stabbing scissors aside.

The only expectation I have for the new and normal Barbie designed by toy maker Nicolay Lamm is easier packaging. I doubt normal Lammily is going to free womankind from superficial standards. Barbie encourages girls to aim for the supernatural, but Lammily encourages girls to reach for the super lame.

Normal and realistic aren’t be interconnected terms

As her creator often reminds us in his infomercials, Lammily is designed to teach girls average is beautiful. She comes with reusable sticker acne breakouts, stretch marks, cellulite and other skin imperfections. Lammily is built according to proportions Lamm retrieved from CDC data for the average 19 year old. In America, obesity in teens has quadrupled in the past 30 years. Children shouldn’t idealize a doll that passes signs of poor eating and bad exercising habits off as normal.

Related: Lammily Enforces Dangerous Beauty Complex – Elementary Students React to Lammily Doll

On the other hand, Matel’s Barbie does encourage girls to pursue supernatural standards of beauty, which can lead to serious psychological and health complications. The measurements are so disproportionate to the average woman, research supports Barbie would be anorexic and unable to menstruate. Barbie has proven to encourage self-esteem and eating disorders in young girls, trying to meet these ridiculous quotas. And we can’t forget the permanent tip-toe feet.

Yes. Barbie herself is unrealistic, but the ideals she represents are feasible. A woman can have long, silky hair. A woman can have a clear face if she follows a healthy skin regimen. A woman can have a tight waist and plump bottom if she puts in the work.

Barbie and Lammily put looks before brains, instead of showing both go hand-in-hand.  

In a promotional video for Huffington Post, Lamm heralds his doll for wearing little cosmetics. The comment is innocent, but it reflects a bigger pressure we place on women starting at a young age. We tell girls they can be either be smart or glamorous— they can’t be both. We say a girl who codes can’t be a frequent shopper at Sephora. Mattel has put more than 150 career Barbie dolls on the market, and we discount all Barbie’s accomplishments because she is wearing high heels and eye shadow. If anything, Lamm needs to put less time into designing the imperfect woman and filling the career gaps Barbie manufactures have failed to promote. Now, that would be a doll worth celebrating!

Second Graders Compare Lammily to Barbie

By Ciara Rouege

Designer Nicholay Lamm takes social stereotypes head on, pressing misconceptions deeper into our subconscious with the manufacturing of his normal Barbie doll. In his next move to bring Lammily to store fronts everywhere, Lamm takes his doll to an elementary school to be judged and compared to Barbie by a group of second graders. The interview takes a questionable turn, when the teachers asks the children to compare jobs Barbie and Lammily would choose. Naturally, Barbie is thin and fashionable so she must be a vapid model. One little girl goes as far to say, “(Barbie) doesn’t look like she would do any job.” Keep in mind–Barbie had landed on the moon long before 1969 and has already been a female president of the United States.

Lammily needs to be fashionable and beautiful in her own right because average is beautiful, but our daughters are capable of being more than ordinary. The students quickly recognize their mothers, aunts and sisters in the Lammily dolls wider build and more modest look. There are no problems in appreciating the care and love our mothers give us, but we don’t need to enforce an age-old complex.  “This one is all fashion-y, and then she thinks she’s better than everyone else,” says a boy in reference to Barbie.

Women shouldn’t have to dress-down or wear double-digit sized pants in order to feel intellectual and capable. It breaks my heart, when I meet beautiful and fit women who fear being look-down on as dumb or self-centered because the world says “smart” and “humble” women should prove they care more about books than pretty dresses. Next we’ll be heralding Lammily because she’s a virgin.

Yes, Please Lean Out Sandberg

By Ciara Rouege

Comedian Amy Poehler is the kind of woman who can turn funny puns into serious business. In her new autobiography “Yes, please”, Poehler dishes out an array of modern women issues and experience. She closes with a quick comment about this decades queen of all career-advancing women Sheryl Sandberg, author of the life-style book “Lean In.”

Poehler suggest Sandberg and her many subjects lean out.  She wasn’t taking a swing at Sandberg for raising the spirits of women across the country and encouraging them to pursue their CEO dreams. She was saying life is about more than a corner office or a building in downtown with your name on it.

Women have been under a lot of pressure lately to be successful career women, and the pursuit for financial achievement starts to divert from the path to happiness. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, women are experiencing depression at rates higher than men. We jump the gun and say women are more depressed because they are expected to be more successful. Simply put: women are  unsatisfied in our progressive society. Pushing and equipping women to pursue more profitable careers is giving them more financial stability, but Poehler says we shouldn’t train them to ignore deep-seeded desires such as intimacy and belonging. The things you’re not going to find in a checkbook. The human needs that are met in romantic relationships and meaningful friendships.  Leaning out is about taking the time to invest in your love ones and your character.

Poehler isn’t just giving good advice for women. It’s good advice for everyone.

3 Reasons I can’t be about that Street Harrassment life, HollaBack

By Ciara Rouege

The feminist movement strikes again with an advertisement meant to startle the world into gender consciousness. After pimp slapping everyone with potty-mouthed princesses, the latest injustice pulled from social obscurity is a YouTube video from Hollaback addressing street harassment.

Hollaback wants to institute laws that make all forms of catcalling a misdemeanor similar to harassment. The non-profit feminist group believes catcalling is a form of intimidation meant to subordinate women in a patriarchal society. The organization wants to build awareness and spark conversation about what is too far when trying to catch a woman’s attention on the street.

1. The video doesn’t differentiate between flirting and harassing. 

It’s important to build social consciousness, but it needs to be directed at a specific issue.

Mad TV

Our video woman is approached in several different manners including greetings, flirting and borderline stalking. It’s important to notice the editor included every response, which is different than every harassment. A man shouldn’t be arrested for trying to tell a woman she is beautiful or good morning. However, I wouldn’t mind slapping police cuffs on a guy who has followed me for several blocks.

Hollaback is over inflating the issue and making the organization look immature. I just can’t be about that immature life.

2. Hollaback is inadvertently making women less independent and more afraid.

MMA Champion Rhonda Rousey/ Yell Magazine

We’ve all heard the arguments: men are stronger than women. Men are faster than women. Men are more combative than women. Most women are intimidated by strange men approaching them because they don’t feel capable of defending themselves if push comes to shove. We’ve trained women to think if they get into an altercation with a man, then they’ve already lost. It’s not true; girls can defend themselves against boys. The organization is so busy addressing the patriarchy it’s playing off most women’s fear of being sexually assaulted. Instead of spreading propaganda, let’s encourage more women to take combat training or to get psychological help for anxiety resulting from sexual assault.

Hollaback is creating reasons for women to be afraid. Girl, better pull out your inner Rhonda Rousey!  I just can’t be about that intimidation life.

3. Gender-focused laws are lame! 

The video seeks to institute laws preventing street harassment— that’s awesome! Let’s not paint the picture only men— specifically low-income minority men— harass women in public places.

Regular Show Meme/Troll.me

Our society has given women a pass to do the same. I’m talking about unwarranted touching— which women justify as flirting. Or my favorite argument: (*high-pitched valley girl voice*) Well like, a girl can’t really hurt a guy! I see it all the time, women rubbing their hands on men without permission. The guy just smiles awkwardly if it makes him uncomfortable or he silently pulls away. We’ve conditioned men that it’s just flirting.

(To save everyone from an annoying rant…I’ll make a side on this.)

Hollaback is perpetuating the notion feminism is men versus women. I can’t be about that knocking-down-the-fellas life.

Feminism: The New Age Scarlet Letter

By Ciara Rouege

Mainstream feminism has been running rampant for the past year, and almost every female celebrity is trying to jump on the bandwagon— Beyonce and Drew Barrymore are among a few A-list names pushing the movement. U.N. Global Women’s Goodwill ambassador Emma Watson has now joined the roster after giving a stirring speech supporting the HeForShe campaign.

“The more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating,” Watson said in her speech. “If there is one thing that I know for certain, it is this: that has to stop.”

Time Ideas blogger and contributing editor at Reason magazine Cathy Young said Watson is asking men to ignore their own problems to help womankind. Young is one of many men and women who criticize the feminist movement for allegedly promoting female superiority.

Over the years feminism has earned a bad reputation in America and across the world. New age feminism seeks to change that by pointing out radicalism and inviting men to support our cause. In her speech, she acknowledges that men have issues that most be faced and wants encourage more gender equality in the feminist agenda.

Watson’s feminism brand revamp couldn’t come soon enough.


Women Against Feminism encourages people to share their reasons for supporting the counter-culture in a feminist mainstream world.

I once met a woman who thought all feminist were lesbians, and another that thought we were a bunch of make-up hating uglies who couldn’t get a good man.

Feminist shouldn’t reject criticism because in one form or another these remarks are true. There are feminist who are homosexual. There are feminist who believe make-up represents an oppressive patriarchal institution, and those who use radical feminism to ignore the deep seeded problems preventing them from having a healthy relationship.

Feminism is no different than any other ideology, and should not be judged based on generalizations or radicalism. For example, ISIS is not a fair representation of Islam or the Westboro Family Church of Christianity. Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin are not quintessential Republicans, while all Democrats don’t agree with President Obama or Wendy Davis.

The “I love my boyfriend” and “I don’t hate men” statements on the site implies that most of the participants believe all feminist are women, which is far from true.  A potent point in Watson’s argument was to make feminism more open to men.

Women Against Feminism gives a voice to people who believe mainstream feminism is outdated or problematic. The downside is that the site attempts to fight man-hate with feminist-hate.

Publishing a series of declarations and titillating comments about the virtues of anti-feminism is over emotional and intellectually vacant. Scrolling through the post, the visitor doesn’t find a single rational or creditable argument to be against feminism. One post states that feminine inequality is nonexistent with no factual support. In most countries women continue to out number men for degrees, and yet in 2013 only 14 percent of executive roles were held by women in Fortune 500 companies.

“Men and women already have rights where I live,” says one submission, echoing the sentiments of hundreds of others on the site.

I found this attitude toward women’s issues to be particularly disturbing. If its not happening to me, then its not something I should concern myself with: the thought lacks humanity.

Although Staton and her comrade Susan B. Anthony were wealthy and influential they fought to give all women the right to vote. Not all the feminist protesters during People vs. Liberta in 1984 had been sodomized or raped by their husbands, but they came out. They believed that a woman is still a rape victim, even if her husband is the rapist.


It’s natural to not like labels, and the feminist title is a difficult tag to wear.

Beyonce recently started accepting feminism identity, after a decade of leading the girl power group Destiny’s Child in the ’90s and sampling renowned feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her latest album. Since having her babies and joining the Bossy campaign with Sheryl Sandberg, she seems to slowly be coming out of the closet.

Labels are hard to wear because they confine us to a certain identity. They aren’t flexible enough to encompass our thoughts or change as we evolve at different stages of our lives. And not to mention no one wants to be rejected for representing the “wrong” group.

I’ve realized my generation has a particular disgust with labels, so we try to avoid them at all cost. We don’t want to be perceived as too liberal or too conservative, too religious or too whatever.

I’m proud to be a feminist. I’m not going to allow an uneducated public to pressure me into feeling otherwise.

Seriously, the Bechdel test?

The Bechdel test for television and film is nothing new. It doesn’t demand an intangible standard like requiring all movies to have lead female characters, or pushes male writers and directors to go in depth on female character development. It’s plain and simple.

The comic strip originally published by artist Allison Bechdel in 1985 has three basic rules: it has to have two named female characters, the two female characters have to talk to each other, and lastly their conversation has to pertain to anything other than men.

The Center for the Study of Women in Film reported this year that women accounted for merely 28 percent of the television industry including writers, directors, executive producers and cinematographers. On camera women held 15 percent of protagonist roles and 30 percent of speaking roles.

These figures are steadily rising. In fact since 2010 at least one female driven movie made reached the top 5 in box office records.

The test has opened a dialogue about women in film, but it’s time to give it a rest. The world is ready for deeper female characters and a tougher test for female equality.

How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Should Have Answered

When a man makes a naive comment in a room full of more than 7,000 tech-savvy women, he should apologize. And quickly.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently apologized for a borderline sexist comment he made at a women’s computer science conference in Arizona last week. He was giving advice on how women should approach wage negotiations—specifically how should women go about requesting higher wages.

He told the audience, with less than 500 men in attendance, that not asking for a raise is “good karma” and the system would deliver pay increases when warranted.

It wasn’t long before the Twitter-verse was in a frenzy, criticizing Nadella for promoting a serious issue for women across all industries. The responses reflected a combination of anger, disgust and thankfulness.

The smartest and most charismatic man couldn’t have survived a women-focused conference without making at least one flop. Women should understand Nadella couldn’t possibly give relevant advice to people struggling in a system that has lifted him up.

In a strange twist of events, Nadella’s failure has given feminist success in bringing wage disparity based on gender to the front line.

Economist Linda Babcock from Carnegie Mellon University says men are four times more likely to negotiate higher pay than women. According to her research, men and women are equally harsh towards women who ask for pay raises. It’s become a crucial issue in bridging the wage gap. Babcock discovered women often receive backlash for deviating from the social script.

Nadella runs a multi-billion dollar technology corporation. The sorry letter was a great move in image management, but his sentiments were dishonest. Many high powered men (and women) start to view women as combative when they fight for the salary they deserve.

Those women in the audience were looking for encouragement. He should have been able to give it to them. In his letter, Nadella retracted his entire statement about women and pay raises. He said women should ask for pay raises if they think they deserve it.

Wish Nadella would have thought of this before he opened his mouth in Arizona a few days ago.