27 and Flawless.

My birthday cake read 27 and Flawless in purple icing.

It was encircled in a ring of burning, brightly colored candles and cookie dough chunks with an unbelievably high cholesterol content, I’m sure.  My sister switched off the lights and everyone began singing the Happy Birthday song; I promptly took out my iPhone to snap a shot of this sugary masterpiece glowing in the dark, with the very intention of Instagraming-it later.  I’m one of those people: 27 and Addicted to Instagram.

What else does being 27 entail, you ask?

It would seem that it means an abundant amount of things, really.  In the year since my first birthday in Los Angeles, much has changed.  For starters, I am now a mere three years from the big 3-0 as one of my Twitter Haterz pointed out recently.  Secondly, it should be noted that I now have a total of 2 Twitter Haterz, which – if you ask anyone – means I have arrived.

At 27 I’ve gotten in touch with my stereotypically feminine side and have started collecting shoes.  I didn’t necessarily expect that said collection would revolve around multiple pairs of pink and purple high-top sneakers, but hey – it’s my party and I’ll hoard like it’s the 80s if I want to.

At 27 I’m down to four cups of coffee per day, still don’t wear deodorant for fear it will give me Alzheimer’s, and am finally taking seriously my duties as an automobile owner and going for a regularly scheduled oil change.  After all, I’m an adult.

I find myself using that phrase fairly frequently: I’m an adult.   In fact, I’ve noticed many a 20-something doing the same; but I say, “I’m an adult” in the way the Wolf says, “I’m your grandmother” to Little Red: deception as a means of getting what I want or need.  Do I use Excel?  Of course, I’m an adult.  Can I be trusted to drive your Audi, Mr. Bossman?  Sure thing, I’m an adult.  Can I eat cookies for breakfast? Fuck yeah, I’m an adult!

I’m 27 and Faking Adulthood.

Or at least I thought I wasn’t until my pal Merriam-Webster was all like, “girlfriend, please, of course you’re an adult (noun). You’re a fully grown person or animal.”  Great Scott, could it be true?!  M-W went on to inform me that “only adults can purchase alcohol,” which means I’ve been an adult since that time I used some voluptuous Latina’s ID to buy some Burnett’s blue-raspberry flavored vodka when I was 19.  Shout out to the overweight Greek man at Campus Liquor for doing me that honor.  I’m thinking of you and your greased-up mane tonight as I throw back a Vodka & Crystal Lite and weep for the loss of my childhood.

This week, at 27, I spent half my Monday in the office, unaware I had a rather sizeable coffee stain covering my right breast (the only difference for the latter half of that day was that I was aware of it).  This week I stress-ate Cheetos Puffs for dinner sometime between 9 and 11pm for 3 days in a row.  Late Thursday night, while driving home from work, I became directionally challenged somewhere around that place downtown where the 110 meets the 5 and like six other freeways.  As a result, I had to switch lanes quickly and ended up aggressively cutting someone off and then slamming on my brakes in order to not rear-end the person in front of me.  That person behind me turned out to be my boss.  Upon that realization, I must have flailed my arms rather dramatically as I inadvertently knocked my car into neutral gear.  My boss passed me and looked dead into my soul with anger and disappointment. Of course, I didn’t realize I was in neutral and instead concluded that my car was malfunctioning; I decided to drift to the closest median, started calling my boss, realized I was just in neutral, hung up on my boss, and proceeded to have a mental breakdown.  Fortunately, he did me a solid and didn’t mention it on Friday.

That’s just this week.

My sister picked 27 and Flawless to adorn my beautiful me-day cake not because that statement is true, but because she knows I like to take my pants off and dance aggressively to Beyonce when I’m alone. #IWokeUpLikeThis.

More accurate cake-top phrases would have included:

• 27 and Hocus Pocus is Still Her Favorite Movie.

• 27 and Scared of Elevators.

• 27 and Incapable of Leaving Short, Concise Voicemail Messages.  They Always Include Far Too Many Details, In Addition to Whatever Other Thoughts Are Going Through Her Head. One Can’t Put Into Words How Awkward This Can Be, Especially When It’s a Professional Voicemail. It’s a Wonder Anyone Hires Her Anymore Because This Happens All the Time.

Of course I’m not Flawless, I’m entirely Flawfull (the fact that I’m using that word proves my point perfectly).  But by 27, I’m living alone in Los Angeles and – for maybe the first time – I’m less concerned with explaining who I am because I’m finding it much easier to simply be her.  This year, I spent my me-day surrounded by friends, playing Ms. Pacman and sipping Michigan Modoris.  I still don’t know what a Michigan Modori is, but they were the color of 90’s Nickelodeon Green Slime and they tasted like juice so happy birthday to me.  It should also be noted that I set the high score on the Ms. Pacman table that night.

I’m 27 and a Work in Progress. 

* * * * *

Happy 2nd Birthday, Love and ADD.

And to our millions and millions of fans, thank you for your time, your love and your support.  You keep me young.

A Radical Notion: It’s a People Thing.

When you decide to be the kind of writer – the kind of person – that pontificates about feminism on the regular, you are broadcasting to your loved ones that they should call you to announce any/all of their feminist thoughts, feelings and experiences.  Because, after all, you’ll get it like no one else does.

They email you their favorite feminist web-lit or call right after their first “oh-my-gawd-so-amazing” self-defense training session; they text you triumphantly when they finally tell Bill from Accounting that if he compliments the “young, high placement of [her] tits” one more time, she’ll in turn start addressing him as Little Rinky-Dick.

These are the same loved ones, contagiously overflowing with a hunger for social change, that implore you to write on specific topics.  Most recently, a fan (read: my mother) suggested that I share my infinite wisdom (for which she takes credit) concerning the radical notion that all feminists:

a. Hate Men, or
b. Have Penis-Envy (to put it more delicately: Want to Be Men)

Alright, mom, I’ll bite.  I’d like to begin with point b: the whole Penis-Envy thing:

In many ways, I embody some stereotypically masculine traits.  I’m professionally aggressive and it turns me on to take my guy out and buy him dinner.  All that, and I could kick anyone’s ass in a belching contest.  In my own coming of age and journey in self-realization, I’ve discovered that I challenge traditional gender roles – and not on purpose, just because that’s me.  I’m also the kind of person who believes that we have a responsibility to crusade for social change, so I happen to be what they call a feminist.

But let me make something perfectly clear: I have no interest in being a man.  I have no interest in housing my sexy bits outside of my body.  The fragility of that scares me.  I thoroughly enjoy being a woman.  However, we as a society colloquially use the penis or more commonly the ball sack to express strength of one’s character.

Take my grandma Mary Ellen, for example.

Mary Ellen was the first girl in her family to go to college.  She was a kindergarten teacher in the 1960s, while at home she was a housewife and mother of 4 (read: she had two full time jobs and never, like NEVER had time off).  Some time after that, she beat breast cancer.  All of this, of course, has made her the quick-witted Irish Catholic firecracker that isn’t afraid to stab your elbow with a fork if it’s on the table during supper.

The woman “has balls.”

And isn’t it interesting that the best way to really express the depth of bad ass-ness this matriarch has is with an expression glorifying a dude’s testicles?  But it’s true: she “has balls” and this is no way diminishes her femininity.  Mary Ellen came of age in the 1950s.  She’s a woman devoted to fashion, insistent of chivalry and ever-varnished with Chanel No. 5.  She’s even trained one sweet, devoted husband to buy it for her every damn year for Christmas.

I’m not sure if my grandma would call herself a feminist or not.  I don’t recall her ever seeming interested in politics and I certainly wouldn’t say she partook in anything too radical (in fact, she called me today to tell me I could stand to tone down the “raging feminist” malarkey. She insists that I shouldn’t be a “raging” anything.).

Mary Ellen became a kindergarten teacher in the sleek Mad Men era, working until 1994.  She was among a sizeable group of women that accepted the challenge of the American workplace, proved it to be no sweat, all the while still finding time to start and maintain her own family.  Women like Mary Ellen greatly, if not subtly, advanced the feminist movement and paved the road for young women like me.

Most feminists don’t want to be men; they’re just strong individuals, and steadfast in promoting a universal truth that all humanity, women and men alike, are entitled to equal opportunity and respect.

As for part a: the dramatic man-hater part:

Now, see, hate is a very strong word.  I have grown personally, professionally, and romantically throughout my young life in the company of incredibly strong and decent men.  The world is full of them.  But if we’re being honest, I think that men – broadly, flatly, and generally speaking – have been known to do some troubling things throughout history concerning the notion of equality.

Last week, The Gaggle published an article that I wrote called “Self-Acclaimed Life Expert Claims, ‘I’ve Slept with 1000 Men!’” It’s a parody piece that I wrote in a short moment of rage caused by some modern-day Internet slut shaming.  About 3 days later, I discovered that an angry stranger was tweeting at me in response to my parody.  This was an incredible feeling!  A piece of my own writing had infuriated a stranger and provoked an e-bate.  That, and this poor dude didn’t understand that it was a parody.  In the comment section, he left a highly detailed and clearly laid out argument for how it was nearly mathematically impossible for me to have hit that magic number in my [almost] 27 years.  He was so angered by my bad math, that he was inspired to take to Twitter for the very first time under the handle of @LogicVsbs, #callingbs on #abusersoftheinternet.  Namely: me.

I can’t make this stuff up.

The e-bate commenced and at one point I sent the following tweet:

@LogicVsbs how dare you sir!  I am indubitably a #scientist! And a #feminist! I’m a #sciencefeminist!

And it was this tweet that enraged yet another person out there in the e-verse because he tweeted back:

@LogicVsbs @KirstenKnisely
That’s cute.

With that, I joined the enraged-train and the real e-bate – the e-war, if you will – began.  He and I went back and forth 4 or 5 times.  He was armed with pretty generic but very mean female stereotypes, while I came back with sarcasm.  Eventually, I perused his profile and it was after doing so that I immediately blocked him.  While @LogicVsbs had created his handle to clean up the corrupt streets of the Internet, this second man had taken to Twitter to harass and violently intimidate feminists or – broadly, flatly and generally speaking – all women.  In the way that I am a feminist, he is woman hater.

This experience gave me some mild anxiety for a few days because it felt as if I had provoked a monster, even if only for a few minutes somewhere on the Internet.  His page was filled with memes of brutally battered women, mocking the #YesAllWomen.  This stranger had reminded me that this scary kind of ignorance-turned-hatred truly exists.  Being on the receiving end of that kind of energy is extremely unsettling.

Are there women out there that do similar things in the name of man hating?  There might be.  But I strongly believe you’ll be hard pressed to find true feminists – on the Internet or elsewhere – that exhibit that sort of aggressive, hateful behavior.

And that is because true feminism isn’t about men – it’s about people.

Urban Dictionary defines a feminist as someone who believes in the radical notion that women are people. Further it states that “if you believe that men and women should have equal rights, then you are a feminist.  There’s nothing ‘extreme’ about it.”

Here’s why I call myself a feminist:

I was raised by a flock of smart women with strong and unique voices.  They taught me to trust that with hard work I can achieve anything.  Like these women before me, I have designed my life in such a way that this mantra permeates my entire personal and professional being.

There are many women all over the world, however, that have been raised to believe the opposite. They are raised to believe they are unintelligent, weak, and wholly powerless in their own lives.  They’re told they’re just women ­– that they’re less than people.

I call myself a feminist not because I have Penis-Envy or because I want to conquer the universe and move all men underground to be used only for breeding purposes; I call myself a feminist because no woman – of any age, color, or creed – should ever believe she is less than a person.  I write about feminism, perhaps even flirting with the qualifier of “raging” (sorry, grandma), because that’s what I do: I write.  It’s where my own voice is at its strongest.  Every day, I join people from all parts of the world, all corners of the Internet, in an attempt to drown out the voices of oppression and to foster future generations of both women and men to believe in themselves and in each other.  Our voices are getting stronger all the time.

With my writing­– with that small gesture – I hope very sincerely to inspire my fellow woman to believe in the radical notion that she’s a person, and with hard work she can achieve anything.

Go make it something great, lady.