Q&A: How to Fight Catcalling with Confetti

SPOILER ALERT: women don’t like being sexually harassed in the street. So, what’s a lady to do? Well, we could:

A) Trade in our dresses for sleeping bags.
B) Become a mole person and live underground.
C) Never leave the house?

We’re not saying we’re being cat called 24/7, but we are saying we’re over it and we want a new response option (besides the old standby: look down and walk faster).

So learning about Las hijas de Violence, a female activist group in Mexico City, feels like a breath of fresh air. They are fighting cat calling with punk rock and confetti guns and not only does it look fun but it’s empowering as hell to hear about how these women are changing their community.

Artists Jeff Seal and Malena Glaze recently documented the group in action and the result is a 90 second video for AJ+ that went viral on the internet. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, check it out now:

We got a chance to speak with Glaze and Seal about the making of the video and the importance of “small actions” when it comes to changing our world for the better. Enjoy!

Lifetime: The video has over 9 million views. Did you expect it to be so popular?
Malena Glaze: The video in English has over 9 million views and the Spanish video has over 5 million views. And most of these views happened in the first two days of release. I had absolutely no idea it would get this big. I just kept checking the views that first day and thinking, “OMG! It’s like a Beyonce video!” I couldn’t be more pleased that the video spoke to people in a way that made them want to share it.

What made you want to cover the story?
Jeff Seal: We wanted to make a video about them because we think what they were doing is awesome. I’m a guy, so I wasn’t even really aware that street harassment was a thing women had to deal with on a daily basis until fairly recently. My only conception of it was the cliche of some dudes with construction hats whistling at a lady in an 80’s movie or something. Also, maybe that photo called, “American Girl in Italy” by Ruth Orkin. But the main thing is we wanted to provide a platform for them to tell their story. This is always important to me but especially so in this case because it’s about the experience of being a woman in the world and I am not a woman.

MG: Las Hijas de Violencia are such a good story and work so well because they–and their performances– encapsulate so many different themes in feminism and the experience of public space. And part of their political position is FUN, which is so important in an activist context, because generally, we’re dealing with really depressing issues. I think Las Hijas speak to a lot of women, activists, and feminists, because they’re exploring a space in activism where we can challenge the status quo and laugh at the same time.

Do you have a notable story or insight from working on the project?
JS: One of the eye-opening moments for me, as a guy who’s never really been sexually harassed on the street, was when Ana Beatriz said, “The construction of street harassment as a ‘compliment’ is a conception based in gender that understands that women are made for commenting on by a male spectator.”

MG: Small actions, even if they are symbolic, really matter. I also walked away with an additional excitement for the DIY. These women just did it, and now they are influencing other women to just do it. Make it happen. You don’t need a lot of resources. You don’t need institutional approval. Just make it happen. It’ll be powerful. And if it’s not powerful the first time, try it again.

Malena Gaze is an activist and artist based in Mexico City. She is the front-woman of the queer- feminist electro-tropical band, K Pasa USA (www.kpasausa.mx), and facilitates workshops about sexual empowerment for women, including Orgasm Forums and Naked Lady Art Parties.

Jeff Seal is a comedian and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. His short documentaries have appeared on Discovery Channel Digital, AJ+ and Gothamist. He makes comedic content with his company Bankrukt Productions and is co-founder and co-artistic director of Cloud City, a theater and art space in Brooklyn.

by Ashley Brooke Roberts

CONFESSION: I Used an App to Make Friends

Who said dating is tough? I’d like to argue that finding new friends in your 30s is the real battle. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that a new app called Hey! VINA was launching in order to connect women looking for friendship. Clearly, I had to give this app a whirl and hopefully meet my new-best-for-life-forever-and-ever. Here’s what happened:

Day 1
I download the app. There’s a little confusion because the price was unlisted for some reason? It just said “GET” where it usually says “FREE” or “$1.99.” My boss and I joked about how if it cost money I could get a reimbursement from the company but that would be silly because no app ever cost more than $3.99.

Later I get a bill from iTunes for $9.21 and I’m like NO WAY. I immediately launch into an investigation only to learn that the charge was for some Shania Twain songs I bought last week. OK! We’re back, I’m not mad at you, Hey! VINA! All a misunderstanding…and I guess, you’re free? That’s pretty cool.

I sign up, put in all my info, and take the personality quiz, which consist of six questions. I overthink the quiz. This should be the easy part, but all of a sudden trying to decide whether I “live to work” or “work to live” is causing somewhat of a mild existential crisis. I pick the middle answer each time (aka a little bit of both). Ugh, how boring, I think. This sums up my life:

df

After I sign up and take the quiz I am told that I’m “on the list!” and they’ll get to me as quickly as they can “but due to demand, [I] might spend some time on the wait-list!”

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I immediately misinterpret this message as saying that I am in high demand. I feel pleased with myself. I re-read and realize that they are saying I need to hold tight—new friends might take a while.

I have dinner with my friend Aparna. I bring up Hey! VINA, but forget to mention that I’m on the wait-list. We talk about our respective book clubs.

DAY 2
While at work, I open the app. It still just says I’m “on the list!” but this time I notice that the text below asks me to help spread the word about the app. Ahhhh, I think. Maybe I haven’t matched with anyone because there’s no one else using it? I consider sharing a status on Facebook about the app. I quickly remember all the “friends” on the site that I have been successfully dodging for the past few years. I decide not to share.

I text my friend Sarah about a job interview she had that morning. She says it went well but she’s worried she didn’t “wow” them. I say there’s no way they weren’t impressed. She’s my best friend from High School and I am confident she’s the “wow-est.”

DAY 3
I open the app. Still the same message about being on the waitlist. I accidentally log out. Spend the next five minutes trying to remember my password. Remember it and log back in! Nothing has happened. My mom texts “Expect a call soon.” I immediately begin to worry, only to discover that she has put me down as a reference for a cat she wants to adopt. She emails me a pic of the cat but she didn’t size it properly in Gmail, so when I open the image it is so big I can only see the cat’s left ear. It’s a cute ear.

DAY 4
Standing in line to get my morning coffee, I start worrying I’ll forget to check the app today. I tell myself that being concerned I’ll forget means I definitely won’t forget. I like to refer to my logic as the Narcissist Test. Meaning: narcissists never worry that they might be narcissists. So, basically, just the act of thinking about something insures that you won’t have the outcome you fear. I immediately start worrying I am a narcissist.

Walking to work, I remember that I was anxious I’d forget to check in today. I wonder: why didn’t I just do it the first time I thought about the app? Decided it’s too cold to check on the sidewalk. I’ll do it later.

Go to lunch. Remember to check the app. Realize I left my phone at my desk. Promise myself I won’t forget before the day is over.

I forget and then the day is over.

DAY 10
I’m in LA with a group of gal pals, so I decide to give it another shot. Maybe a new city will give me a different outcome? I’m still on the wait list. We all go get drinks.

DAY 14
I got a new phone! And Hey! VINA didn’t transfer over. I think about downloading again, but decide to just call a friend instead. If I’ve learned anything about female friendship over the past two weeks, it’s that I do have people in my life I love. And they’re not putting me on a waitlist.

I’m not done with Hey! VINA, but I’m going to wait for them to call me.

by Ashley Brooke Roberts

“It’s all OK.” A Q&A with Comedian Jacqueline Novak

How many self-help books do you need to read before you can consider your “self” “helped?” That is the question. If you look at our bookcase, the answer seems to be infinity plus one. We like visualizing our goals as much as the next work in progress, but sometimes all the calls to action in self-help books leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. Occasionally we’d rather eat some brie than figure out Who Moved My Cheese?, you know?

Enter Jacqueline Novak: comedian, writer, and self-proclaimed “depresso.” Her new book, How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows (Three Rivers Press; March 1, 2016), is all about being down in the dumps and making the best of what the dump has to offer. Part memoir, part parody, this tongue-in-cheek “self-help” book offers a good laugh while not demanding you change out of those sweatpants. We got a chance to chat with her about depression, self-help, and mountain villages vs beach towns. Get cozy and give it a read:

LIFETIME: Your book appears to be in a category of its own. What section will people be able to find it at Barnes & Noble?
JN: Humor. And hopefully Staff Favorites?

Why’d you decide to write this book? Was there a particular moment of inspiration you remember?
I was trying to write funny cool city gal material while actually convalescing from a depressive dip at my parents’ house in the suburbs and I couldn’t get the depression stink off what I wrote, so I decided to go whole hog and write “from” the depression’s voice in my head.

What’s the best physical position to read your book in?
A loose fetal. It’s a classic depresso posture, for good reason, and the book can rest on the bed.

That reminds us, what’s a “depresso”?
Depresso is a term I use in my book, and to whom I dedicate the book, because I didn’t want say “person suffering depression” which could be limiting or not represent how someone defines themselves. I also didn’t want to use “depressive” because that suggests a tendency towards depression, which makes it sound more like a personality type. I wanted to create a term that situates itself out of time and space, beyond limiting definitions. It is word I use to identify anyone who is engaging with, on any level, depression…in ways even they might be very confused about. Depression is confusing, and defining our relationship to it is hard. So I wanted a way to loosely group us in our discussion of depression.”

Top five self-help techniques you used while writing the book:
– Watching Criminal Minds when things get tough — murder programming is very grounding.
– Guided meditations.
– Vitamin D gummies during winters.
– Kundalini yoga videos.
– My mantra when I bail or flake out “I do what I want when I want.”

What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
Trying to keep it authentic to depression—enough to pass the sniff test of a depressed reader—while entertaining enough to delight the masses.

What was the easiest?
Drumming up examples of negative thoughts.

Who would you rather date your creativity or you productivity?
I’d like to be my creativity, and date my productivity — boot him out when i’m not in the mood.

Did SOCIETY support your decision to write this book?
When I tell people the title is How to Weep in Public, they seem pleased.

If this book was an animal, what would it be and why?
Calico cat—snoozy and cozy with enough colors to keep things interesting!

Sum up the book in 3 words:
It’s all OK.

What would you tell someone before they read the book?
Buy two. You’ll likely want one to give to a friend.

If your book could give one sentence of advice to its readers, what would that be?
Don’t argue with the devil because the devil always wins. (When depressed thoughts come a flyin’ your way).

Who do imagine will benefit the most from the book?
Depressos and their loved ones.

What are other things you could use the book for besides reading?
I tell the readers it makes a nice pillow or a snack tray, especially if you put it on casters. Use the acknowledgment pages for tissues.

Lightening round:

coffee vs Tea
coffee

mountain villages vs beach towns
beach

BB cream vs liquid foundation
BB

quilts vs down comforters
quilt on bed, comforter for walking around the house

Anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to share?
I need more followers on twitter. @jacquelinenovak

by Ashley Brooke Roberts

Real Quick: a Q&A with EP of ‘The Rap Game’ Jermaine Dupri

The young MCs of Lifetime’s show The Rap Game dropped the “Cool With Me” video yesterday and got everybody pumped about the show’s season finale tonight. If you haven’t watched the video, produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox, check it out now:

We got a chance to pick the brain of So So Def CEO and The Rap Game’s executive producer Jermaine Dupri about the show and what inspires him personally and professionally. Enjoy!

Lifetime: The Rap Game is an instant hit. How did the idea for the project come about?Jermaine Dupri: It initially wasn’t my idea but when it was brought to me, there were multiple reasons why I had to do it. One being the music community knows me for finding and developing young talent.

What are the top 3-5 things you look for in an artist to predict success?
JD: Their passion, their ability to learn at a fast pace, their overall talent, and their determination to win.

Who inspires you in life–professional and personal?
JD: Mainly smart people inspire me, regular or famous. I hear stories about people no one is paying attention to and I’m tuned in.

Aside from The Rap Game, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
JD: My longevity, song of the decade, the success of the “Confession” album, and the fact that I built a brand that people will forever wanna be a part of SO SO DEF!!

What music are you listening to and loving at the moment?
JD: The new Future, Adel, Kanye, and everything new LOL.

Any advice for aspiring artists out there?
JD: Never give up, your time might be right when you quit.

Watch the season one finale of The Rap Game tonight (Feb. 19) at 10 p.m. ET. 

Season two coming to Lifetime soon!

How to Romance Novel Your Life

Mysterious billionaire? Check. Girl running away from something in her past? Check. Forbidden love? Check. All of the above? Ding, ding, ding! We have a bona fide romance story here people! As lovers of everything intriguing and enchanting, we are PUMPED for Lifetime’s new project Fall Into Me.

It’s official: the world of romance-fiction is going digital and Fall Into Me offers fans eight different stories of love and lust from a woman’s perceptive. In order to prepare, we are transforming ourselves into romance-novel protagonists. Sounds great, right? Well lucky for you we’ve created an easy step-by-step guide to turn you into the star of your own real-life romance story!

Follow at your own desire and don’t forget your lace:

  1. Become a fish out of water. Either move to a new city and start all over or collapse on the floor and flop around. Your choice.
  2. Always be prepared. Bring matches and a scented candle with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll want a little extra ambiance: in line at Rite Aid, during a work presentation, while walking from the car to your front door, etc.
  3. Meet a billionaire. Go to Wall Street. Find a good-sized crowd and start shouting: “I am looking for a billionaire! Does anyone know where I can find someone worth 10 figures?” Wait for them to flock towards you. Pick the one you like the most.
  4. Fall for a forbidden love. Maybe they’re your friend, your coworker, or an imaginary person you made up to talk to while on the treadmill. Either way, you’ll need someone you can’t have (or who doesn’t exist) to pine over.
  5. Experience waves of guilt over your secret baby. Don’t already have a hidden child somewhere? No prob. Knit some tiny pants onto a potato, give it to your neighbor, beg them to take care of it, occasionally write letters to your little potato about the nature of life as you see it; never send.
  6. A.B.B.G. (Always Be Ball-Gowning). Wear them. Decorate your house with them. Use ball gowns as towels after long, luxurious soaks.
  7. Have a mysterious past. Delete Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Start wearing a wig and demand people call you “Tanya.” If anyone asks why you’re acting differently, laugh and say “Of course I was at the University of Virginia for those four years. Where else would I have been?”
  8. Be in peril! Someone needs to be rescued if we’re going to make this work. Can’t think of a situation you can escape from? Broaden your horizon to include: debt, boredom, a conversation with an acquaintance who mildly annoys you.

Did we miss anything? Let us know what romance-story tropes you use to spice up your life in the comments.

Want to start watching a Fall Into Me series? Click here!

by Ashley Brooke Roberts