Thought Catalog


18 Women On How They Really Feel About Men Watching Porn

Posted: 20 Aug 2015 03:16 PM PDT

via Flickr - Helga Weber
via Flickr – Helga Weber

1. “The dude I’m with wouldn’t watch (much) porn. I think a lot of guys watch porn because they want the fantasy of being wanted the way the women pretend to want the dudes in porn. Except I actually really do want my dude that badly. It’s about desire, you know? All the same, don’t try that porn shit on me in the bedroom. I am a real person."

—Sophia, 25

beetlejuice

2. “My boyfriend doesn’t watch porn (so I don’t really have any thoughts on that) but I’m assuming no one would ever believe that. It wasn’t at my own request or from some desire to lie to impress me, because I never gave an opinion on it. He’s just a very emotional person when it comes to intimacy, so porn doesn’t do it for him.”

—Isabel, 23

beetlejuice

3. “I’m totally fine with it unless it’s a real problem. I’ve never experienced this but I’ve read horror stories about guys who started preferring porn to their girlfriend or wife. Again, I see no real problem with doing it occasionally.”

—Sara, 24

beetlejuice

4. “I think that most guys these days learn how to have sex from porn rather than fumbling through the awkwardness of losing your virginity. It’s like they store up these ‘go to’ moves in their heads. This is a problem for me and, especially when I was younger, I really didn’t like sex because the few guys I’d done it with had sex like they’d seen in porn and it was awful. So, on those grounds alone I’m not a fan of porn. It’s like, dudes, don’t you know this is screwing you up?”

—Amelia, 29

beetlejuice

5. “I don’t really see it as anything but fantasy and so it doesn’t really bother me. Plus, he doesn’t rub my face in it. I even look myself sometimes but since it’s fantasy I don’t think it would bother him either.”

—Mia, 22

beetlejuice

6. “I’ll never understand why this bothers people. I say go nuts, scout the good stuff and gather new ideas to keep things fresh. Unless they’re actually participating in the making of the porn it’s just another movie as far as I’m concerned.”

—Hannah, 21

beetlejuice

7. “Eh, completely indifferent. Like, I’m not going to wildly encourage it, but I’m also not going to be pissed if I catch him watching it/know he’s watching it. Would be interested to know WHAT KIND of porn he’s watching though (not that it sways my opinion in any way).”

—Clair, 25

beetlejuice

8. “My husband absolutely will not admit to watching porn and it’s hilarious because you can tell by the look on his face that he totally does and is embarrassed. It’s not a big deal to me but it’s funny that he won’t even talk about it like it’s some super private secret stuff. All girls know that dudes look at porn. We just pretend we don’t know.”

—Ariel, 28

beetlejuice

9. “Not a huge fan of porn but that’s probably my experience talking. My first real introduction into the world of a guy watching porn was a shitty relationship I had in my early 20s where the guy suggested we watch it while having sex. Well, it turns out that he literally could not get aroused in the same way if porn wasn’t on. It’s been kind of hard to be cool with it since then. I know other girls are cool with it or accept it but I’m just not a fan.”

—Hailey, 27

beetlejuice

10. “I don’t judge it but I find it a little weird that guys apparently need to watch porn to get turned on and jerk off. I mean, what did guys do before the internet? It’s not like they didn’t jerk off. It just seems a little odd to me for some reason. I don’t know. I guess it’s fine.”

—Josie, 24

beetlejuice

11. “My boyfriend and I watch porn together sometimes. It’s literally not a thing at all. We’re both very sexual people and I watch it by myself sometimes. If anything it has a good impact on our relationship because it’s something we use to enhance our pleasure.”

—Riley, 20

beetlejuice

12. “It’s only a big deal if it affects the relationship. I did date one guy who I felt looked at porn too often because whenever it came up in conversation he sort of started acting secretive about it. I don’t know if he was just ashamed or what but it worried me. We also didn’t have sex very often.”

—Kaylee, 25

beetlejuice

13. “I know people won’t believe this but my boyfriend doesn’t look at porn and says he’s never even really been very interested in it since he was young. We live together and so I know what I’m talking about. It wouldn’t bother me particularly if he did though.”

—Meredith, 23

beetlejuice

14. “I think a lot of girls are caught up in the competition aspect of porn like they think they’re being compared to the girls on the screen. My feeling is that if this is really the case then your relationship is already in a lot of trouble. Most of the time I think girls are just insecure. I don’t have a problem with it, personally but I know a lot of people that do.”

—Lucy, 28

beetlejuice

15. “I don’t make him feel bad about my own fantasies and he doesn’t make me feel bad about mine. It’s called respect. Some people should grow up and look into it.”

—Keira, 22

beetlejuice

16. “I think it’s totally normal. I sometimes do it, why shouldn’t he be allowed to? As long as he’s not getting um, satisfaction, from other women, it’s fine by me.”

—Gina, 24

beetlejuice

17. “Overall, college sex was pretty bad until my senior year and I do sort of blame porn for that as well as a basic grasp of sex education. A lot of times I felt like the guy I was with was having sex at me instead of with me. That made for a lot of bad sex and a lot of ‘why aren’t you enjoying this/it must be your problem’ questions from some boyfriends.”

—Cindy, 23

beetlejuice

18. “I get why guys like porn. I like porn too but if you remember that these are actually people you’re watching and not cartoon characters then I think the whole thing is kind of sad. I’m sure that some people in porn have happy lives but it seems like the majority just don’t. As a result, I don’t watch it and I’m skeptical of guys who defend it.”

—Lauren, 25 TC mark

When You Grow Up Being Told You’re Ugly

Posted: 20 Aug 2015 05:52 PM PDT

StockSnap.io / Volkan Olmez
StockSnap.io / Volkan Olmez

"You're beautiful," he says. I stay silent. I always stay silent because I'm not sure if he's just saying it to say it, or saying it if it's true. Beauty is such a warped concept.

I like to think about it – beauty – in terms of its cultural connotations: who it includes, who it excludes, the prejudices involved, who is favored, and who isn't. But from a personal perspective, I have always been uncomfortable. To the point that I would just rather not think about it at all.

I was made fun of a lot as a kid for how I looked – dark skin, thick hair, too skinny. Interestingly, I credit it with why I'm reasonably good at different things. Or at the very least, I'll give most things a try.

I've been distracting people from looking at me since I was a child. "Please focus on my intelligence, focus on my talents, focus on the good I can put in the world, focus on how hard I try, focus on what I can achieve. Focus on everything but my face. Please don't look at my face."

beetlejuice

I've been told I have ugly duckling syndrome. In theory, I know what that means. In practice, I am not so sure. I imagine – even though I'm not sure either – that there are people, especially women who just know they are pretty. They just know. Maybe it's the looks they get, the feelings they experience when they look in the mirror – they just know. I have no clue what this is like. I find myself often wondering what beauty is anyway.

I ponder, if everyone is beautiful, then is anyone really beautiful?

I know when I find a piece of artwork beautiful. I know when I am in a place that makes me feel beautiful. I know when I am with a person that makes me feel beautiful. But I don't know what it means to be beautiful in the societal sense. Not really anyway.

Sometimes I think beauty just makes sense, and sometimes I think it's all superficial bullshit. From a Christian perspective – my faith – I wonder, if we are all made in the image and likeness of God, can any of us not be beautiful? From the perspective of someone who observes the world and the way it works, I ponder, if everyone is beautiful, then is anyone really beautiful?

beetlejuice

I think when you grow up feeling ugly, it's a scar you'll carry with you for much of your life. And you can turn that scar into something that makes you despise the world for treating you like less than. Or you can turn into something, well, beautiful. The former is easiest to fall into, the latter involves hard work. Maybe beauty isn't so effortless even when it is supposed to be natural.

Of course it is true that it’s more than just the aesthetic of a person in a world that exists in prejudice, that will determine their beauty. Their heart, oh, their heart will be everything in the eye of the beholder I think, I hope. It's the heart that makes people fall in love at the end of the day, isn't it? In spite of any and all the aesthetics, it always goes back to the heart.

In the end, childhood isn't so innocent, it isn't so wonderful and pain-free – certainly even in the most superficial things like beauty. But I wouldn't trade growing up feeling ugly for anything else.
The world can be unnecessarily cruel, it is certainly unevenly unjust.

But when you grow up feeling ugly you learn from a young age to be so much more than just beautiful to the naked, prejudicial, cruel eyes of society. And maybe that's why hearing, "You're beautiful" always leaves you a bit uneasy, maybe even a little wary. You appreciate it. But really, you've learned to be so much more than that – you've learned to define beauty by so much more than that. And to you that is life-saving; to you, that is life-giving. TC mark

Here’s Why You Missed The Scariest Part Of ‘It Follows’

Posted: 20 Aug 2015 02:58 PM PDT

It Follows
It Follows

You have no idea how happy I am to see this new trend in the genre: horror movies that aren’t just good horror films, but good films period. Following “The Babadook”, “The Conjuring”, and “Insidious”, “It Follows” is the next big thing when it comes to horror. Between the gorgeous cinematography, bewitching soundtrack, and fresh plot devices, this may just be my new favorite horror movie.

Inspired by a nightmare director David Robert Mitchell had — wherein he was being chased by a slow but unstoppable force — “It Follows” captures the terror of inescapable doom. Obviously, whatever IT is, the monster is spooky in more ways than one. But is that all? Is the monster — the IT — the scariest part of the movie?

No. It was something you probably didn’t even notice. And here’s why.

It’s well-known that during filming of “The Shining”, director Stanley Kubrick employed a lot of techniques to keep the viewer feeling off-balance or eerie without knowing why. For example, windows appearing in offices where there couldn’t have been a window, Jack Torrance inexplicably reading an issue of Playgirl magazine before his job interview… it goes on. And it works. Because subconsciously, your brain is picking up on these things but you don’t know it.

I think that’s exactly what David Robert Mitchell did in “It Follows.” There are a few different factors at play here — allow me to explain.

The Time Period It’s Set In Doesn’t Exist

This is probably the most easily recognized clue because of one thing that’s blatantly pointed out to us: the infamous clamshell e-reader. (Which I want. Why can’t I have? WHY?)

It Follows
It Follows

At the beginning of the film, we meet Yara, hanging out on the couch with Paul and Kelly as they watch a movie (which I’ll address in a moment.) Yara is that annoying friend who’s ALWAYS on their phone — no I am not going to explain to you what just happened during the movie you’re SUPPOSED to be watching PUT YOUR FUCKING PHONE AWAY — except wait, that’s not a phone! In fact, modern technology is mostly absent throughout the film except for this thing. It looks like a vintage makeup compact but seems to act like a smartphone-combo-e-reader — Yara even uses it later as a light source, the way you would a phone.

This is what made me look for more anachronisms throughout the film and oh boy there are a lot. Here are the most notable ones:

  • Everything they watch on TV is either a vintage-era cartoon or a 1950s black-and-white monster movie.
  • The kitchen in Jay’s house is straight out of the 1970s, down to the ugly orange-and-avocado-colored appliances.
  • However, in Greg’s kitchen across the street, he’s seen getting something out of a brand-new stainless steel fridge. It’s even got a sweet icemaker in the door.
  • All the TVs are either clunky CRT units from the 1980s-1990s or even older models with rabbit-ears and dials.
  • The decor in Jay’s house is very old-looking, almost like you’d expect to see at your grandparents’. This includes furniture, decor, and wallpaper.

It Follows
It Follows

  • Speaking of decor, the photos on the wall are mostly black and white portraits. Sure, these could be grandparents, but even the photos of young Kelly and Jay seem more like photos from the 1960s-1970s.
  • Cord phones abound! Not a single cell or cordless phone in sight.
  • Jeff’s mom is TOTALLY rocking the 1980s Mom look, and not ironically.
  • The Old Maid cards Paul, Kelly, and Yara play with on the porch look like they’re from the 1940s-1950s.
  • Jay’s peach-pink underwear set just scream 1950s.
  • There are 2010-era modern cars but there are vintage cars as well — in perfect condition.
  • That’s just a few of the weird time discrepancies I noticed, but let’s touch on that last one. Yes, obviously you still see vintage or old cars around nowadays, but it’s pretty rare for them to be in perfect condition — especially when owned by a 21-year-old. Observe:

    It Follows
    It Follows

    That’s not just what appears to be a 1970’s era car. That’s a brand-spanking-new car from the 1970s. The hell?

    Sure, it’s a very cool way to set up a new universe, but it’s also extremely off-putting… whether you realize it or not. You’re trying to figure out what the time period is and there simply isn’t one. It doesn’t exist.

    The Seasons Don’t Make Any Sense

    At the beginning of the film, a young woman runs out of her house wearing a pair of heels, short-shorts, and a tank top. When she first exits the house it appears to be, based off her dress and the lush green grass/trees behind her, summer. However, she continues to cross the street, then loops back around to her house.

    When she does this, we see that the lawns on the other side of the street are littered with leaves and the trees have started to turn. As she bolts past another house, there are clearly pumpkins on the porch. So wait, is it summer or fall? Potentially late summer/early fall, sure, but hold on.

    It Follows
    It Follows

    Before going on her date with Hugh/Jeff, Jay is seen swimming in her backyard pool. Okay, fine, maybe late summer/early fall. But then, at the theater for their date, Hugh/Jeff, Jay, and EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON IN LINE is wearing heavy winter coats.

    Similarly, later when Kelly and Jay are wandering the neighborhood, they’re both dressed for — at the very least — pretty chilly weather. See?

    It Follows
    It Follows

    But behind them, it looks nothing like fall or even winter. And I don’t care who you are, that above-ground pool isn’t heated so if it’s cold enough you need that fur-lined getup, you are NOT swimming outside at the same time.

    It’s all on purpose, though. I had to watch it three times before realizing “Hey, wasn’t she just swimming? Why is everyone wearing a coat?” The dissonance between seasons and the way characters are dressed is just another way to make you feel off for some reason you can’t necessarily put your finger on.

    Certain Information Isn’t Given To Us — But It’s There

    One of my pet peeves about horror movie viewers is when they expect all the information to be spelled out explicitly. Yes, it’s frustrating when the film fails to answer vital questions, but often the answers are there if you just pay attention. However, with “It Follows”, you have to get a little more creative if you want to know more.

    Did you notice that we never see Jay’s mother’s face in full focus? In fact, we barely see it at all, until the end when it’s blurry and not the focal point of the shot. Did you also notice that again, except for the last shot of her in Jay’s bedroom, her mother is always day drinking? Her first appearance in the kitchen, she’s drinking wine in the afternoon. Later, when explaining Jay’s attack to Greg’s mom, she’s seen pouring liquor into her coffee. And did you catch when Greg asks his own mother what’s happening, just after the attack, she says “Those people are such a mess.” Why? They seem normal enough.

    My theory? Jay’s father killed himself.

    We are never given this information right-out but Greg’s mother’s comment plus Jay’s mother’s day drinking seems to point to his. He’s obviously absent from the house. Maybe he left? No way, I don’t think so. Here’s why:

    It Follows
    It Follows

    In the final pool scene, Jay spots IT coming towards her. She keeps saying “There he is!” When her sister Kelly asks what it looks like, her response is: “I don’t wanna tell you.” Upon revealing IT, we see a normal-looking man in his late 30s-early 40s. It’s her dad — that’s why she doesn’t want to tell her little sister.

    Why does this prove he killed himself? Well, the pan beyond Jay’s mother shows an older family photo. Jay and Kelly are much younger, but the man to their mother’s left is the EXACT man IT was portraying. Not a day older.

    Bonus: if you pay attention to the polaroids tacked to Jay’s bedroom mirror, there’s a photo of her and her father. Same man, basically same age, but she’s a child.

    He’s been dead for years, which is why the girls seem more complacent and put-together — they’ve learned to cope — but their grieving mother is still despondent, self-medicating with alcohol.

    There are other clues given to us purely through storytelling and small details rather than having the characters get right up in your face and shout what you’re supposed to know. For example, the young woman in the beginning is running from IT in heels. Is she stupid? Just another horror movie bimbo? No. It’s meant to show how unprepared she was when confronted with IT. She was well-dressed, perhaps ready to go out, when IT finally got close enough for her to realize it was a threat and she just bolted, ill-equipped footwear be damned.

    It Follows
    It Follows

    Also, Jeff’s hideout is outfitted with hanging beer bottles, cans, etc. hanging around the windows and doors. They’re meant to alert him in case anything enters. And what does that tell us? That IT has a physical body. IT is not a ghost; IT can make noise and can’t walk through walls. Sure, Jeff could’ve told Jay “IT makes noise! IT can’t walk through walls!” but isn’t it more interesting to learn this the same way Jay does — by pure investigation?

    Put these elements together and you’ve got all the makings for a film that’s not just scary but extremely unsettling. Try watching it through again; it’s an entirely different experience once you know what you’re looking for. TC mark

So What If I Don’t Like Casual Sex?

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 11:54 PM PDT

alohacrabs
alohacrabs

I, Ari Eastman, hereby announce casual sex does not make me feel liberated, or satisfied, or like I’m Beyoncé on my grown-ass woman shit.

When I was younger, I was sure that feeling would evolve into something else. My first foray into meaningless sex had been less than satisfactory, but I figured it was something that came in time. I was 17, had just been devastated by my first ever break up, and a cute boy showed interest. I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do. I had only known sex to be beautiful and enjoyable, so I figured, what could this hurt? It’s got to be better than the lovesick heart ache I was nursing.

But all it did was teach me different kinds of sex exist. And they aren’t all experiences you run home and journal about.

“Maybe when I’m older,” I’d tell myself. As if my heart was really going to change with age.

I’ve never had a true one night stand, but even the casual sexual relationships I tried out later weren’t what I’d been promised. One night stands were supposed to be those fun and slightly taboo stories you gab with girlfriends about over eggs benedict and mimosas. And that’s not anything close to what I felt when I’d drive home after sleeping with someone I already knew wasn’t going to stick around longterm.

It wasn’t some series of flashy cosmopolitan nights with Carrie and the rest of the Sex and the City gang, complete with the glamour of New York and the mystery of kissing strangers in bars.

People say it should feel good, that it’s the epitome of sexual freedom and singular exploration — something I should be doing in my early 20s while I still can.

And hey, I don’t know, maybe that’s what it is for some. And to them, I say, Stella, you go girl. You get your groove back and you ride it all night long.

But that doesn’t mean it feels good to me.

I have tried to fake it (…literally) off and on thinking I’ve got to be missing something. Because sex? Oh sex is fan-fucking-tastic. That’s not in question here. If I could, I would marry the hell out of Sex and we’d honeymoon somewhere tropical and do it until our neighbors complained about all the moaning and banging. So you see, I’ve got nothing but love and appreciation for sex. But the act itself, I’ve found, isn’t enough.

Just Sex is not enough for me.

Sometimes I’m almost embarrassed to admit how badly I’d love to understand the appeal of hook up culture. I have friends who pick up men like they’re ordering their usual in the Starbucks drive-thru. I find myself envious. Not because I couldn’t go do the same thing, but because it feels like they are in a world I just can’t get myself to access. It’s like when everyone obsesses over going to the beach, how people can just look at the ocean for hours and hours. Why? What am I missing? It’s beautiful, sure, but I’ve seen it. I’m good now! I don’t need to stare. So this mentality ends up just adding to the frustration.

Why? What am I failing to grasp? I’m not a teenage girl anymore, so what’s my excuse for feeling like I’m missing out on some giant party?

I’m really happy we’re at a time when sex positivity is at a forefront and we’re starting to talk about sexuality without it being considered so risqué. One of my best friends detailed her experience in a sex club and I was riveted! Is it something I want to ever try? OH HELL NO. But I loved hearing about it and hope society continues opening up more with accepting all sorts of dialogues. But just because I support my girlfriends going out and getting some doesn’t mean I want to. And I don’t want to feel like a pariah for it either.

It’s not that I expect to be madly in love with everyone I get intimate with, but there’s got to be something. Otherwise, I just end up feeling empty and lonely. I crawl back into my own bed and think about when it used to mean so much more, and like some melodramatic after-school special, I do my best to silently cry. And that’s not how sex should make you feel.

I don’t want to be young, wild, and free like every alcohol, clothing, whatever company campaign directed at EVERY GOD DAMN 20 SOMETHING wants me to be. The very idea of Vegas stresses me out! Kissing someone I barely know makes me think, “Ew, what if they have a germy mouth?” And none of these thoughts are very cool of me. None of them scream “FUN 23 YEAR OLD GIRL JUST LIVING IT UP” but why do I need them to anyways?

I don’t like casual sex. So what? TC mark

If Your Almost-Relationship Didn’t Work Out, I Bet You’re Doing This To Yourself

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 01:00 PM PDT

Danielle Moler
Danielle Moler

"Do you think it was because you're vegan? You know, guys get very turned off by girls who only eat certain things," my mom had called me to ask. I understand why she did it. When your kid is hurting, I think it's instinctual to want to be able to fix it. But my mom didn't realize that she was contributing to something I already do to myself, so often, and often so wrongly: self-blame.

I've already looked for endless reasons to blame myself for why we didn't work out, for why he texted me every morning and was making plans for the far-out future and wanted to drive the two hours to visit each other every weekend until one night he told me in the same sentence that he had feelings for me and didn't want anything serious for fear of things going south. You know, Mom, maybe it is because I'm vegan while he's not. Or maybe it's because I don't drink while he does. Maybe it's because I haven't slept with anyone in three years while he has. Maybe it's because I have brown hair, because I can't for the life of me eat a burrito in a remotely cute way, because I wear yoga pants in favor of makeup, because I'm quiet and wide-eyed in bars, because I feel things too intensely. Maybe I wasn't good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or fun enough.

Or maybe it doesn't have anything to do with me at all.

It's easy to take things personally. It's easy to forget that just like we each live in a world centered around ourselves and our needs that others live in their own egocentric worlds as well. I don't mean to say this is inherently bad, though I believe that part of our life's work is becoming aware enough to recognize and try to step into realities outside of our own. I just mean to say that my reality is not your reality is not my mom's reality is not my ex-boyfriend's reality is not my best friend's reality. We share thoughts and opinions and experiences with each other but our perceptions of them are never, ever the same.

So why do we take things personally? Why do we turn inward in the first place?

Rejection hurts; I think I can call that an objective truth. But what it is about rejection that makes us immediately consider that something about us is broken before considering that the person who rejected us might have done so out of their own damage?

Maybe it's because we're trying to tie up the loose ends, to answer all of the questions that are left gaping wide open in front of us. When relationships end, there's some sense of knowing that you both gave it a shot, that you gave it your all. But when an almost-relationship ends, when you stumbled into the start of love and then were dropped without warning, there's often very little closure and a whole lot of questions.

And so what do we do?

Disoriented, confused, we build our own narrative to fill in the missing pieces, to create our own ending, to get the closure we need. We take our memories and search them relentlessly for clues, for moments we aren't proud of, for things we did that might've brought about the end, and we spin a story of all the thousands of possible ways we were at fault. If what we need to move on are answers, we'll build ourselves the answers we crave. We'll tie up the loose ends ourselves, even if it's at our own expense.

Maybe we look for the ways that we ruined a relationship as a way to feel in control. If we can understand what we did wrong, at the very least we have the sense of power that that knowledge provides us. We can know what to DO next, whether that's an attempt to fix things with our almost-partner-in-crime or a tally of what to carry forward into our next relationship. Because that's what control does: it gives us a believed sense of "clarity" over what we should "do" next.

And "doing" we always are, or are at least aiming for, as if life isn't spontaneous and often of its own accord, as if others' worldviews are perfectly aligned with our own, as if we are actually in true control of everything that happens to us. But for whatever reason, the doing provides us with a sense of comfort, of being able to feel like we're making amends. Perhaps we believe it's the only way we can make ourselves feel okay about all the things we "did wrong."

All the things we did wrong.

Gently, quietly, lovingly, again: maybe it doesn't have anything to do with you at all.

Now this is not to say that the person who hurt you is to be blamed either, that now you have a suitable reason to send them a 2am text of a doodle you've constructed of a middle finger emoji since, for reasons I'll never understand, one does not already exist.

This is also not to say that you have to become so empathetic to the person who's treating you unkindly that you become a doormat, prioritizing treating them with kindness to making the kind choice to yourself.

This is only to say that you should consider, as objectively as possible, that no two realities are the same, and that to self-blame is not only damaging and destructive and futile but also downright egotistical and even lazy. I say this because knowing that your almost-relationship having not worked out should not be taken personally is the only way to acceptance and thus moving forward, and to maintaining love and compassion for yourself and everyone around you as you do so.

Who knows why things don't work out? Who knows why people change their minds about us? Maybe they're scared, as he claimed. Maybe they're immature. Maybe it was too real, too threatening. Maybe they were secretly with someone else the whole time.

Maybe they wanted to be the person they presented themselves as but aren't truly there yet. Maybe there were actually a lot of lies.

But maybe this doesn't have to do with me. Maybe this has to do with him.

And maybe this ends right where it started, at me, more painstakingly this time, wanting so very much to not want to control. At me not wanting to search the corners of his Instagram for where things went wrong. At me wanting to let go with kindness and love and grace. At me wanting to gently remind myself each time I start to wonder what I did wrong that perhaps this was just not my fault.

I could make assumptions forever, build a world of potential truths like skyscrapers in the insulated reality that lives inside my head. I could take the information in front of me and make judgments about it all, turn inward and blame myself over and over, wish that I was someone different, someone lovable.

Or I could recognize that perhaps this was not my fault. Perhaps this was not my fault.

And in your almost-relationship, perhaps it was not your fault either.TC mark

Healing is Difficult: A Gay Man’s Experience With Domestic Violence

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 09:00 AM PDT

Silvia Sala
Silvia Sala

Leaving Jim proved far easier than staying with him. This disturbed me at the time, more so than the arguments, the screaming matches, the blame game, and even the beatings which had become the acceptable routine of our on-again-off-again relationship.

When I first met him, I was 13 years old. He was 18 and exuded confidence as well as a rather disarming charm. It was impossible not to feel at ease when you were around him. He was sweet, hospitable, hilarious—even self-deprecating. He had run away from his father’s house in Mississippi shortly after emigrating from Ireland. His father was a bigot, his mother was shiftless. He found himself in awe of the bright lights of the big city and quickly used his charm to cultivate a network of acquaintances who had no problem letting him sleep on their couches, provided he pay them in the form of housework, which he did diligently.

The first time he slapped me across the face, it seemed almost reasonable. He was young and on his own. I was comfortably middle class, living at home with a mother who doted on me and no father in the picture, though it was preferable to knowing one like his own. I should feel guilty, I surmised. I am everything he isn't.

These thoughts came rather naturally to me after a while.

______

But first, some context.

I can never claim my childhood was unhappy. I was loved ferociously by my mother and grandmother alike. I never wanted for anything. School, however, was an entirely different matter altogether. I was intelligent, thoughtful and rather precocious; these elements combined made me incredibly unpopular. The sight of me coming home in tears was a common occurrence. I was teased, mocked and beaten on a regular basis. That the powers that be typically did nothing only fueled my anger and my eventual depression.

I was especially susceptible to peer pressure. Stripped raw, devoid of any dignity whatsoever, I did anything I could to appease my tormentors, from occasionally participating in the harassment of a fellow student to sampling a few drugs, hardly believing that my thirst for approval would only make the treatment I received worse than it already was. There is a certain vulnerability I developed and it is the sort indicative of the strain lived under when someone can’t be who they are without constant, exhaustive counteraction and retaliation. I soon found myself on the cusp of adolescence without a map, much like so many others, but also without a canvas.

I was disconnected, unhuman, anything you wanted me to be.

I could say my heart was cold, but it’s interesting, the way the heart operates. I have the tendency to forget about myself. I forget to nurse my own needs, to feed myself, to drink. I give love to everyone but myself; this made me a prime target. But I do not blame myself—and over the years, I’ve come to accept constructive criticism from my own soul as easily as I’ve come to accept it from others.

______

Domestic violence is often presented as heteronormative. The images of victims we see in the media are almost exclusively female. The abusers, in turn, are almost exclusively male. Anything else is an anomaly.

We also live in a society which demands unrealistic standards to be upheld by both males and females.

Females are still regarded as hypersensitive, even flighty, not to be trusted in positions of power, an imposition to be placated. Females are punished for making choices regarding their own bodies, their spirits. You can see this manifested in the wage gap, the ousting of women from their jobs once they reveal their pregnancies. Women are criticized for having abortions. For having careers. For having abortions to have careers (or whatever the unsavory headline of the day might be). Women are criticized for failing to meet maternal expectations. When—and if, which is another ballpark entirely—they exhibit maternal instincts, and if, God help them, they are fortunate enough to find themselves in a position where they can spend more time raising their children, they are derided as lazy.

Men, conversely, are pathetic if they do not bring home the bacon. A man who cannot work is a waste. A man is made to work long and hard. And when this man works long and hard, racking up his obscene number of hours, he is then told he is a failure as a father. But perhaps most tragically, if women are regarded as sensitive and then demonized for being exactly that, then a man is expected to be an emotionless drone. For him to outwardly exhibit any heartache is the most grievous of sins.

How then is a gay male, already relegated to the fringes of society by the sheer accident of his personal romantic and sexual inclinations, supposed to speak openly about his sufferings without being further perceived as weak, fragile and expendable and continuously forgotten in the public discourse of domestic violence?

______

If violence is the ultimate form of control, then Jim understood this in spades. He knew nothing else.

His father was the quintessential homophobe, he told me, an illiberal, parsimonious fearmonger with a submissive shrew of a wife whose sole duty in life appeared to be merely to parrot her husband’s prejudices, even, at times, herself administering the fierce beatings which would eventually drive her son out on the streets. Deciding to make his way north to the big city, sleeping on the sides of roads, occasionally prostituting himself to make ends meet, sometimes finding himself brutalized afterwards, ravaged and bleeding, he’d cry out to a God that he believed had completely abandoned him. It seemed inevitable that he would continue the cycle his father had started, his self hatred manifesting itself into vicious outbursts which would typically end in the both of us drinking ourselves silly.

“You fucker,” I told him one day, after he sliced my arm with a shard of broken glass. “Why the fuck would you do that?”

“I don’t know anymore,” he said. “I just know that the more you try to love me, the more it becomes your fault.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You know exactly what I mean,” he said, and the discussion was ended.

But I didn’t love him.

I could not perceive ever loving anyone who would strike me without a second's warning, who religiously belittled me, informing me of my every indiscretion, however small. I discovered things about myself as rapidly as he could think them up: I was a man whore, a cum dumpster, a filthy punching bag one minute, the great love of his battered life the next.

I could not love a young man who thought nothing of exploiting me sexually, who developed a drug habit to drown out the demons of his childhood, who’d offer me a line of cocaine in the same tone as strangers would of the bus that’s running late or the weather overhead.

I stayed, even though it went against every principle I'd ever been taught. Over the years, I would come to understand that we are instilled with particular codes of honor without a thought of what we might actually do lest we do find ourselves in the clutches of someone as much a product of our parents' nightmares as our own, utterly ignorant of the disastrously insidious way in which such creatures function.

People like that are awful, we’re told. They don’t respect you. They will destroy you. But there’s very little talk of psychology, very little talk of why these people are the way they are and how and why they might influences the things you do, the choices you make. We are taught to boil trauma down to something discernible, so we dilute it until it’s nothing but a string of choices, each one, the more you break it apart, the more you try to make sense of it, more disconnected from the life at the other end.

______

The effects would take a toll on my relationships through the remainder of my adolescence. I was wild. I was angry. I was, most prominently, vexed. Who was I?

It would be years before I could speak of this at great length, let alone write any of it down. If I did, it was often through poetry—

On the limits of my business, of its consequence,
you know nothing.

Though you see me walking down the street,
and watch the way my hips sway, you
can't fathom the depth of its transactions,

of how hard, or how fast I can sell.

Though I could never tell you,
let alone explain,
that there's no strength in numbers,

that I walk alone,
that the streets are dark no matter
how young the night may be,
that opening my tender mouth
would rot your dream to an apple core,

that this marriage of mine is odder than ever,
co-dependent on my forgiveness,
immune to my suffrage,
blind to my hunger,

I could never refrain

from the attempt,
for all its beauty,
difficulty, too,

though I can't fathom,
let alone remember
how I got here in the first place.

—and I rarely, if ever, showed anyone my poetry.

______

The nightmares stopped a long time ago, though for quite some time, I felt I saw him around every corner.

It was a hot August day and I was just a few weeks shy of starting my freshman year of high school. “Look at you, all grown up,” he said, a walking, talking beer keg, the stench oozing off him, sickeningly sweet. “Let's take the train and celebrate.” We hopped over the turnstiles at the station. It was late, no one around. My mother was working the night shift. We had quite some time, he reasoned, to make the night our own. I don't recall what it was I said or what it was I did, but before I knew it, we were on the platform and almost as quickly, I was off it, face down on the trackbed.

“Now we wait,” he crowed. Now we wait. Those words chilled me then. My blood ran cold. But I had to stay rational, even as my brain panicked, as my heart shrieked.

“I'm climbing back up,” I said, my heart pounding ferociously in my chest. So I did and as soon as I was on my own two feet on the safety of the platform again, he offered me a cigarette.

“They're Newports,” he said.

I knew what they were. They were his father's favorites.

“It's late,” I said. “I have to go.”

“Go, then,” he told me. “I guess we'll see each other when we see each other.”

But we didn't. Not after that time. Neither of us had cell phones at the time, which ruled out that form of communication. I was still technically in the closet, though my own homosexuality was pretty much an open secret, and I never felt comfortable giving him the number to the house phone.

We were each other's dirty little secret. We met in back alleys, sometimes planning our meetings meticulously in advance, more often, as the relationship wore on, accepting that we both knew how to find the other if we so wanted or rather, that he would grace me with his presence as he saw fit. But he knew I'd come looking. It was his way, a cycle I'd fallen into without being consciously aware of it.

So one day I just stopped looking.

I turned myself over to the feverish dreams where he'd come in the night and attack me, where he'd guilt me by professing his love with the reassurance that if only he'd been understood, he'd be capable of understanding me and why I did the things I did—whatever those things were.

I allowed myself to finally accept the crushing realities of all the time I'd spent with him (and without him), of how he’d bled into every nook and cranny in my life, creating an artifice which had governed the very core of my existence. I walked and I walked alone.

______

In writing this, I’ve made the decision to be a vocal supporter of a faction of society that has all too often been denied the support and resources afforded to heterosexuals.

In writing this, I do not wish to deride, let alone discredit, the very troubling statistics that indicate, for instance, that female victims of domestic violence greatly outnumber the male ones. I am not for a second suggesting that these women do not deserve our attention and our compassion. I am suggesting we take a deeper look.

I am merely ending my silence, because the quiet, they say, can be deceiving, and it fooled far too many people around me. I am merely challenging a society which has conditioned all of us, men, women, children, black, white, gay, straight, and all the voices in between, not to speak up, not to open our mouths.

I am merely asking that we include everyone in this conversation, because pain, after all, is universal.

It is healing that is difficult. TC mark

All The Unqualified Yoga Teachers

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 03:02 AM PDT

adrien field
adrien field

I am in India for a month-long, 200-hour teacher training program. Since the beginning of the month, I have been awaking at 5AM for morning practice, attending classes on adjustments and practicing again in the afternoon. There is little time for eating and sleeping, let alone anything else. It is something of a crash course combined with a boot camp, and still by the month's end, I don't think I will feel equipped to teach others.

I have been practicing yoga for half my life and my desire to attend a teacher's training course was two-fold: firstly to deepen my personal practice, and secondly to share with others that which has brought my so much well being.

I hadn't given much thought into what type of formation a yoga teacher undergoes. I myself have had only a few teachers throughout my decade-plus of practice, preferring first to learn via video then continue instruction on my own.

Before coming to this program, I hadn't realized that I was already in an advanced state of practice. Since I rarely went to a studio, I did not have a barometer to compare myself to anyone else. I only measured myself against what I could do the day before.

So I was surprised to find that out of the 24 students who had travelled from all corners of the globe to attend this course, I was the most advanced. I had assumed that anyone coming to India to attend a course with the goal to receive a teaching certification would themselves be dedicated yogis, coming with years of practice.

Some had arrived with only a few months of yoga practice. Some had never practiced this particular style prior and struggled with even the most basic postures. For them, 200 hours would not be nearly enough to achieve a competent level as a teacher. Some were already yoga teachers back home but could not properly hold a downward facing dog.

For me, all had come with devotion and practice. I had not studied theory, or taken lessons from a teacher. I had simply been a sincere student of yoga, practicing at home four or five times a week.

But one's own mastery of yoga counts little to receive a Yoga Alliance certification. To pass this teacher certification exam, one must teach a forty minute class and then pass a written examination. Students must have some basic knowledge of asana names in Sanskirt, as well as a smattering of yoga philosophy and anatomy. Only a 60% score is needed to pass. Hypothetically, with this certificate, one can teacher anywhere in the world.

It seems to me a low bar to qualify someone as a yoga teacher. In the way that one cannot teach piano or tennis or ballet without first having attained a certain mastery of the subject from a lifetime of practice, one should seemingly not be able to teach yoga without having committed to many years of study.

One can practice yoga at any level and certainly teachers are needed for the most beginner students as well as the more advanced. Most students will have neither the time nor the interest to dive deeply into their yoga practice, and for them, the casual teacher who remains even just one step ahead is fine. Those who become devoted to the practice will seek out on their own competent teachers whose reputation and years of practice precede them.

But the more people who become yoga teachers, filling every Lululemon store and Bally Fitness Gym, the more banal the practice becomes, little more than a trendy aerobics routine. On one hand – the more people practicing yoga, certainly the better. But the more people teaching? That might not be so great. TC mark

Where Social Media Activism Goes Wrong (And No, It’s Not ‘Social Justice Warriors’)

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 01:55 PM PDT

 Flickr / Ted Eytan
Flickr / Ted Eytan

There have been few other movements to spark as much controversy, confusion, and gut-wrenching passion as social media activism.

If we back up, it all started with the immersion of technology and the prominence of Internet and tech culture. The 21st century has brought us so many different innovations. With this, it has shifted every corner of our culture, even ones that we believed to be untouchable.

Activism is no different. One of the best things that has evolved from this shift has been the amount of community that has been able to flourish. For many people, social media was just another outlet to reach an audience.

But for marginalized groups – specifically people and women of color – it has become essential to the advancement of our independence from oppression, for raising our voices to injustice. Social media activism invigorated the social justice that was bubbling below the surface.

beetlejuice

The secret to the effectiveness of social media activism does not come from the catchy slogans or popular hashtags, but the ability of this medium to be used consecutively with other outlets. Without social media activism, these marginalized groups seeking change are left stagnant, and separated. There is indeed strength in numbers, and this is the thread that connects activists to a global power cord, tapping into their full potential.

One demonstration of how social media activism can impact and connect communities is #BlackComicsMonth, began as a response to the lack of Black superheroes available for nerd consumers. Founded by Vixen of VixenVarsity.com, the hashtag not only brought awareness of available Black superhero media to the market, but also built community with creators involved in the same cause.

The movement has gained momentum, stretching beyond the initial February launch, and Vixen is now able to create a centralized house for Black superhero visibility, and continues to build the brand through networking opportunities with major comic book companies, and comic conventions, with the hope of continued expansion.

beetlejuice

There is a saying in social justice education that you need to meet people where they are. For me, that means it's impossible to talk about social justice movements, social media activism, and identity without stating one crucial fact: these are all linked ingredients that contribute to the creation of injustice. This makes social media activism mandatory for marginalized groups to be heard. But even this comes with complications.

It is nearly impossible for marginalized voices, especially those of Black and other women of color – to be heard, credited, and respected.

One of the most prominent (and effective) uses of social media activism has been #BlackLivesMatter. This campaign to bring awareness to the terrifyingly-growing number of Black individuals who have been victimized by racist police brutality and unjust legislation has gained international notice, and continues to be an effective outlet for information and outreach.

However, this movement also highlights an all-to-common trend when it comes to tech and cultural movements: It is nearly impossible for marginalized voices, especially those of Black and other women of color – to be heard, credited, and respected.

One of the creators of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Alicia Garza, wrote "A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement," published by The Feminist Wire in October. In this piece, she brought back the necessary recognition of the work that she and her co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi have done, and also dived into the power of community and collaboration. She writes:

"We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets."

She also writes about what she calls "the theft of Black queer women's work":

"When you design an event / campaign / et cetera based on the work of queer Black women, don't invite them to participate in shaping it, but ask them to provide materials and ideas for next steps for said event, that is racism in practice. It's also hetero-patriarchal. Straight men, unintentionally or intentionally, have taken the work of queer Black women and erased our contributions. Perhaps if we were the charismatic Black men many are rallying around these days, it would have been a different story, but being Black queer women in this society (and apparently within these movements) tends to equal invisibility and non-relevancy."

As Alicia mentions, article after article centered on the #BlackLivesMatter movement contributed to the erasure of these voices. The erasure of the three Black queer women who headed this movement speaks to a much larger problem of systematic erasure and oppression on which most movements, including social justice ones, depend and thrive.

As much as social media activism has evolved to allow for these voices to rise above and be heard despite these hurdles, it cannot escape its dependency on oppressive norms, ripping the legitimacy of these movements from their creators. There's a fantasy that one day technology could transcend this dependency, but in reality, there's been cause to question if this kind of cultural theft and appropriation has actually increased online.

beetlejuice

As social media continues to act as a millennial meeting ground for support and encouragement to flourish, it also amplifies those marginalized groups for harassment, gaslighting, and plagiarism. Predators that wish these groups harm can now find us with a quick hashtag search. It now becomes mandatory that a marginalized person on the Internet find the courage to continue their work online, while also taking steps to protect themselves from possible threats.

Despite the increase in harm that can come from becoming public via technology, it is no longer an option for marginalized voices to be silent with this incredible tool at their fingertips. Social media activism is important in all facets of contemporary social movements, molding technology and adapting to the next frontier of humanities and communication.

Only two examples from countless movements, both #BlackComicsMonth and #BlackLivesMatter were able to utilize the power of community through hashtags, effective social media strategy, and the transformative ability to appeal to multiple audiences on different platforms. By using these skills, these movements and their creators are able to see success in shifting activism for the tech age. TC mark

This post originally appeared at MODEL VIEW CULTURE.

17 People On What Their Greatest Heartbreak Taught Them About Love

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 03:45 PM PDT

via Flickr - Leo Hidalgo
via Flickr – Leo Hidalgo

1. “Mostly I learned that what you leave unsaid can kill whatever love you might have shared.”

—Aaron, 25

beetlejuice

2. “I learned that heartbreaks are temporary. Thankfully this is a simple lesson that I only needed to learn once in order to remember it. Every time I’ve had a breakup I’ve remembered this one truth and it’s helped me get through it.”

—Nora, 23

beetlejuice

3. “I was devastated when my college boyfriend sat me down a year after we graduated and told me that our relationship wasn’t working for him anymore because he wanted to fuck every breathing biped of the opposite sex, pretty much. The whole girlfriend thing was getting in the way of that. He told me I was like ‘a second job,’ which is hilarious in retrospect because he was unemployed at the time. What I learned from that awful breakup is that love can really take over your entire being—make you do and think some crazy stuff about yourself and the world. But no matter how painful the end may be, love is always worth it. Oh, and don’t expect a 22-year-old dude to commit. Like, ever.”

—Aubrey, 27

beetlejuice

4. “About five years ago I got a job in another city for more money. My boyfriend and I talked about it and decided that we’d both move and that he’d move after I did and get another job. I moved first because I had to and the plan was that he’d wind things down at his work and finish out our lease which was ending in just a couple of months. As soon as I moved things started to get weird and he was distant over Skype. Eventually he told me he’d renewed the lease and was staying there. It took me nearly two years to get over that and I still have abandonment issues. What did I learn? That being hopeful isn’t enough.”

—Ella, 29

beetlejuice

5. “Honestly, I don’t know if I learned anything about love from my greatest heartbreak which was probably my first heartbreak other than learning that he didn’t love me.”

—Gavin, 30

beetlejuice

6. “Some heartbreaks are worse than others, I think. I’ve had breakups where I’ve been really sad afterward and ones where she was very sad afterward. Usually someone feels betrayed, of course. Cheating breakups are on a whole different level though. I had a girlfriend who ended up cheating on me with a pretty good friend of mine, someone I trusted. And, because God hates me, I ended up walking in on them just after they’d had sex and he was trying to leave. There are some things you just can’t get out of your head. The thing I learned from that was to not just wave away nagging doubts you might have. Trust but verify.”

—Zachary, 26

beetlejuice

7. “I learned that if you’re trying too hard at the beginning it’s not going to get easier as you go on. Great loves, like many of the best things, are simple. At least in the beginning. Sure you have to put in work as you do with anything. But remember trying too hard can have equally damaging results as not trying hard enough.”

—Jaimie, 26

beetlejuice

8. “I learned to be a better person. In the worst breakup I’ve ever had I was the mean one and the controlling one and he was a good guy. It took me a year after the breakup to really look it in the face and see just how much he was putting up with. It helped me grow into the person I wanted to be and I have to be thankful for that even though it was hard.”

—Hailey, 24

beetlejuice

9. “I learned that sometimes things aren’t going to feel resolved. You’re probably looking more for a relationship story here but my worst heartbreak had nothing to do with a relationship. It had to do with my childhood dog dying when I was 20. He’s been my dog since I was 10 and I was away at college when my parents called and said they were going to have to put her down because she’d develop a neurological disorder that resulted in her being completely unable to stand anymore. It was fucking awful not being able to get home to see her one last time. My whole life was spent with that dog and we basically grew up together. I did everything with her. So far, no breakup with any man has topped that in terms of pain.”

—Abigail, 25

beetlejuice

10. “I learned that there are some people you just never get over. I dated a girl for the last three years of college and was completely in love with her although she wanted to break up soon after we graduated. We did, of course. I’m 31 years old and I still think about her at least once a week. I love the woman I’m currently seeing and I want to marry her but there are some loves and heartbreaks that follow you around for years.”

—Thomas, 31

beetlejuice

11. “I literally married my high school sweetheart and he also happened to be my first boyfriend. I’ve honestly never experienced heartbreak. Yes, all my friends hate me.”

—Charlotte, 24

beetlejuice

12. “There are some breakups you can take lessons from and others you can’t. Sometimes they lied to you or you just weren’t right for each other or it wasn’t the right moment. For me, breakups are best remembered from the broadest possible viewpoint rather than from up close where all the pain is. If you can look at things broadly then it’s a lot easier to see why things didn’t work out and take it as a learning experience.”

—Natalie, 26

beetlejuice

13. “I don’t know that I’ve learned any eternal lessons from any of my breakups but I have learned how to cope with them better by staying busy. The way I see it you’re going to be thinking about it all the time if you don’t do something to occupy your mind. In the past, I’ve racked up the overtime after a breakup.”

—Brian, 28

beetlejuice

14. “I had two kids before my divorce at 25. Since then I’ve learned that most men view single women with kids in a certain way. It’s something every single mother I’ve known has learned quickly and I don’t put my heart out there nearly as quickly as some of my single friends do. You learn to compartmentalize.”

—Sarah, 27

beetlejuice

15. “Sometimes ‘separated and working through the details of a divorce‘ just means ‘I am never getting a divorce and I’m not separated.’ If they’re wearing a ring then they’re off limits. The end.”

—Kaitlyn, 25

beetlejuice

16. “This happened a long time ago but I learned that even if you think someone being your first is a big deal they might not feel the same way no matter what they say. That’s pretty much been borne out as a life lesson. Some people will say anything just to get what they want from you.”

—Hailey, 25

beetlejuice

17. “The most heartbreaking thing I learned was the realization that love—like life—never lasts. You think you've found this little island, this little safe space away from the world where it's just the two of you together forever, but along comes a tidal wave and suddenly there's no island left. Love fades, and that's the most heartbreaking thing about it.”

—Jeff, 29 TC mark

9 Books Perfect For When You Just Need To Hermit Away And Cry

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 04:21 PM PDT

satelliteminds
satelliteminds

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book-Thief

This book will break you in a million tiny ways and leave you a shattered, sobbing mess by the end. The story’s narrated by Death during World War II, and follows Liesel, a little German girl, as she moves in with a foster family. And sure, maybe it’s a bit obvious to choose this book, because Oh a story involving the Holocaust is sad! WHAT A SHOCKER! But it is. And I couldn’t very well make this list without including the book that left me an inconsolable mess for a week straight.


2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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I first read this book in eighth grade, and made the mistake of reading the last few chapters during seventh period Earth Science. Cut to: Awkward Me, hunched over my desk, desperately trying to hide the onslaught of tears that I couldn’t have stopped under any circumstances. There’s a reason so many schools make this required reading, and I think it’s because they revel a bit in seeing us sob in class. Or because the book is really good. That might be it too. Stay gold, Ponyboy. *sobs* Stay gold.


3. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

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An odd choice for this list? MAYBE. Appropriate? YUP. This graphic novel will make you cry tears of laughter and sadness, sometimes at the same time. Her humorous depictions of living with depression and anxiety will astound you with how genuine and honest it all feels.


4. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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This book. I read it so recently that it’s still difficult to put into words just how wonderful it is. Ava Lavender was born with wings, just like her mother and grandmother’s before her, and the story follows their lives and loves. It’s magical and strange and impossible to adequately describe, so you should just go ahead and read it.


5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

kite

Okay, so this book about a man looking back on his childhood in Afghanistan and attempting to redeem himself for his past mistakes will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes you’ll hate the main character (okay, a lot of the time), and sometimes you’ll love him. By the time you get to the end of the book, you’ll be exhausted and exhilarated and immediately go out and buy a kite. More than anything, it’s a book that will stick with you for years.


6. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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This book is technically considered science fiction, but it goes so far beyond the usual stereotypes connected with the genre. It’s a book that you just need to read and discover for yourself, so let’s just say it’s about love and the human condition… and will make you cry buckets of tears by the end. Then you’ll watch the movie, and cry all over again.


7. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

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For a book this short, I never expected to cry as many tears as I did. It’s a true story about Sadako, a young girl who gets Leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Through her illness, she attempts to fold one thousand origami cranes to both pass the time, and in accordance with the folklore that suggests doing so will grant her a wish: a wish for good health. Is it a cancer book? Yes. Is it a heart-breaking tale of hope, courage, and perseverance? Yes, so much yes.


8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_(US_cover)

Okay, really I mean to say the entire Harry Potter series. From the fourth book onward, tears are just a part of the process of reading these books. You just sort-of accept it and let the tears stream. In fact, reading this series is how I learned to read through tears. Just keep reading. Just keep sobbing. I’m fine.


9. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

where-the-red-fern-grows

Another children’s book that will make you feel all the feels. It’s a coming of age story about a boy and his two dogs. I remember reading this as a class in fifth grade, and by the end, everyone was crying. Most were sobbing, but there were a few kiddies sporting the silent streams of tears. But everyone was crying. Everyone. If you don’t, you’re probably at least part-robot. TC mark