Is it really “Hard Out Here” for Lily Allen?

Lily Allen @ Solidays 2007
Lily Allen @ Solidays 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Brianna Suslovic ’16

After a brief hiatus from the music industry, artist Lily Allen is back on the scene with a critique of her peers in her new music video “Hard Out Here.” In the video, Allen is obviously trying to satirize the standard “Robin-Thicke-and-Miley-Cyrus” approach to Top 40. The video begins with Allen lying on a surgery table, about to undergo liposuction. Her manager is standing by, equipped with his Blackberry, informing her of the nighttime TV hosts who’ve turned her down. He looks down at her body on the operating table with disgust, muttering, “How could someone let themselves get like this?” Allen responds pragmatically, “Uh, I had two babies…”

In this scene, I’m totally on board with Allen–women’s bodies are policed in the media in ways that are unfair and irrational. When a woman like Allen has a body that has undergone pregnancy and birth twice, why is this not celebrated (and instead, criticized)?

The pop culture site Idolator claims that Allen “saves pop music” with this music video. A Yahoo article praises her for satirizing so much of the blatant body-shaming and sexism that exists in the music industry (“Go Lily!”). But the question is, does she go deep enough in her critique?

Continue reading “Is it really “Hard Out Here” for Lily Allen?”

Hi, it’s me. Are you there?

By Connie Fu, Co-Director of ECHO Peer Counseling Group

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately. Through my work with ECHO (Eating Concerns Hotline & Outreach), I have come to understand how crucial it is that peer counselors consciously nourish their own minds and bodies in order to foster good counseling experiences for others.

I’m pretty vocal about my care for self-care. When I come across an article on meditative exercises or an exposé on the latest fad diet, I send it to my blockmates. I’ve been an avid, if sporadic, journaler, and I’ve gone through weeklong phases of “prioritizing sleep.” Though the self-care strategies that I establish rarely last long, I have consistently sought to incorporate self-care into my daily existence.

Thinking and doing, however, are separate from feeling. Recently I’ve been grappling with the unsettling sense that my efforts in self-care have been pouring into a black hole. Is setting aside 5 minutes each night to hastily scrawl three things that I’m grateful for helping me stay in touch with who I am and where I’m going? How grateful can my mind and body be for my periodic indulgences in cake? How will I know if any of this is actually working? Continue reading “Hi, it’s me. Are you there?”

A response to “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too”

By Matthew Stolz ’15

I want to start with a disclaimer.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the prevalent mode of sexual discourse and practice (a mode which often gets labeled as ‘hookup culture,’ though I worry that this term is more defamatory than it is descriptive, and I will offer an alternative take a bit later) since I arrived at Harvard a little over a year ago.  Still, my thinking, and by extension my writing, are very much works in progress: my conclusions are unresolved, and my ideas feel a bit tentative at times.  But this article spurred me to put something concrete on the table regardless of how uncommitted I am.  I hope that this post can serve chiefly to clarify what I take to be the stakes of any conversation about sexual culture on elite college campuses without falling into petty condemnation or approbation of the behavior being discussed.

This article is a bit old (published in July of this year), but I think that it presents one of the more thoughtful and well-researched views of campus sexual culture I’ve encountered in popular media.  To be sure, Taylor sacrifices inclusivity in order to promote a standard narrative of the sexual norms at an elite university.  She pays, in my opinion, insufficient attention to issues of sexual assault and the class backgrounds of her interviewees; her choice of interviewees is unapologetically heteronormative; and she completely skips over base concerns of sexual health, including STIs, access to contraception, and pregnancy.  With the partial exception of Mercedes, all of the women she interviews seem to typify the popular image of a Penn student—ambitious, privileged, straight, and well-versed in the language and practice of hookups.  In some sense, the article attempts to describe a general trend that can, and should, be criticized for its limited perspective.  In this post, however, I want to engage the topic of campus sexual culture on Taylor’s terms, which means that I want to look primarily from the perspective of who she includes and not who she excludes. Continue reading “A response to “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too””