Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

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A lovely portrait of me by my friend Danielle Meder, who has been staying at my house the past few days. She is incapable of drawing anyone in a less than flattering way, she says!

A lovely portrait of me by my friend Danielle Meder, who has been staying at my house the past few days. She is incapable of drawing anyone in a less than flattering way, she says!

For most people who were born after 1980, there has never been such a thing as a “job for life.” Children of Reagan and Thatcher, we came of age in an era of chronic instability, where the most exciting opportunities available to us were often the ones that we created ourselves. For those born after 1990, the contrast is even starker—it’s not just a matter of no stable jobs, but in many cases, of no jobs period.

But the upsurge in entrepreneurship isn’t just a reflection of what millennial women are pushed to do. It is also a reflection of what they are pulled to do. And the flipside of neoliberalism’s freefall is the sense that anything is possible. That if you just grab hold of the right ropes and have the strength and strategic know-how to leverage yourself upwards, you will be rewarded with limitless opportunities.

Basics Beware: We’re All Girl Bosses Now

Yesterday, I published my first story with The Daily Beast, about the rise of the #girlboss and #bossbabe as icons for millennial women. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written in a while, so I’d love it if you’d give it a read. You can do so here.

Park Life

When I told my friends I was going camping last weekend, they responded in a mix of amusement and horror.

“What will you do without your hair straightener?” one asked, with mock aghast. “What if a rat crawls up next to you while you’re sleeping?”

“Firstly, that’s why I get keratin treatments,” I replied chirpily. “And secondly, rats are city animals.* I’d be much more worried about one crawling over my feet on the subway than turning up in my tent. Besides, I’m only camping for one night, and it’s next to a farm house with a kitchen and running water. It will be fine. This is not an episode of Sex and The City.”

“But what will do you if you need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and the house is locked?” And, well, my answer to that question is not suitable for publishing online. Nor is the below paragraph, but here I go anyway.

My friend was (wildly) overstating things, but she had a point. I am not known for my love of the outdoors. When I was in high school, I wrote one of my creative writing assignments about an aspiring actress who was forced to return to her small town roots after failing to make it in Hollywood. It was a satire, but the character’s behavior may have been loosely based on my own during a family holiday the previous summer. When I was 20, I turned down an opportunity to go zorbing because I didn’t want to get my hair wet. In retrospect, my hair looked like something akin to a clown’s that day anyway, so I probably should have just bit the bullet. But you live and you learn, I guess.

On a weekend trip to Bath shortly after moving to London, I met a woman who told me that she wouldn’t be able to live in the city for too long, because she needed trees. I remember thinking that I would never grow tired of the city. As for trees, wasn’t that what parks were for?

And yet here I find myself, four years later, craving time communing with nature. Hence the camping.

It’s not that I’m tired of cities, per se. I just moved to one, after all, and I have no plans to leave any time soon. But over the past year or so, I have started to feel that my desire for “city-ness” – for people, and speed, and serendipity, and frictionlessness – has been sated. That I now have so much “city” in my everyday life that when it comes to what I want to do to get away with that life, my answer is no longer “New York!** Paris! Tokyo!” but “How about we go look at some rocks?” I’ve been lucky enough over the past four years to see a lot of what Western cities have to offer. Now I’m interested in seeing the things I haven’t yet experienced.

For the record, my camping experience (brief as it was) was great. I fulfilled my dream of swimming in a river before the end of summer, and summoned the courage to jump off a waterfall. I felt a calm wash over me as I watched the river and trees sweep past me on the train out of the city. And no, I didn’t take my hair straightener. (Like I said, keratin works a treat.)

The world is a beautiful place. Here is to many more trips like it.

* Not true, it turns out, but I didn’t encounter one anyway.

** Well, duh.

Related: Big City Lights (Welcome to New York)

The best of the rest of the internet

Weekend reading a la me. 


Image: Metamorphosis by Me andEdward.

The murder of black youth is a reproductive justice issue. (The Nation)

My receipt was not good enough." Post-Ferguson, (newly minted NYT bestseller) Roxane Gay’s essay on shopping/driving/walking/existing while black packs even more of a punch. (Roxane Gay) 

I’m tired of effortless. Hard-fought and hard-won is so much sexier and longer lasting." (Lainey Gossip)

"A more accurate framework for the article would be ‘the dispute between radical feminists and the vast majority of feminists and LGBTQ activists who disagree with them,’ but that isn’t so sexy and probably wouldn’t generate quite as many page views.” Trans writer Julia Serano responds to the New Yorker piece I shared last fortnight at The Advocate. (The Advocate)

On being an introverted feminist. (Feminist Wednesday)

How scheduling technology is wreaking havoc on the lives of low-income workers. (New York Times)

A couple of Kickstarter projects you might like to support: Out of the Binders Symposium for Women Writers and Dream, Girl: The Documentary. (Kickstarter)

It’s okay not to feel anything when a celebrity dies. (The Daily Dish)

"What a burden it must be to be the only non-crap girl in the village." (Glosswitch) 

For me, money isn’t just a side feminist issue, but the most important one, because in so many ways, having it buys independence.” (Dame Magazine)

How “overnight success” really happens: an artist compiles all her rejections into an ‘anti-resume.’ (Washington Post)

I’m writing a weekly column for Cosmo now. (Cosmopolitan)

And ICYMI: my interview with Persephone Magazine about my forthcoming book. (Persephone Magazine)

New gig: Cosmo’s Sex Talk Realness

So, I’ve got some news. I’m going to be looking after Cosmopolitan’s Sex Talk Realness column for the next little while. Each week, I’ll be interviewing 2-4 people (women and men, straight and queer) on a different topic related to sex and relationships.

The great thing about this column is that it’s not about telling you what you do or don’t have to do in order to be “good in bed” (a personal pet peeve of mine). It’s real people, talking about their experiences and challenges when it comes to sex in a frank and non-judgmental fashion. And if you volunteer to participate, you will be completely anonymous. No names, no ages, no locations – just Woman A, Man B, Person C, etc.

I’m hoping to cover a mix of “sexy” and more political topics, starting this week with how having an STI affects (or doesn’t) your sex life.(Please get in touch by Tuesday lunchtime if you can help.)

Over the next month, I’ll also be covering sexual piercings (clit, nipple, penis, any others I haven’t thought of), asexuality, and fisting (seeking straight and queer women).

Can you help with any of these? Email me at rachel dot hills at gmail dot com.