The Young, The Famous, And The Feminist

The Young, The Famous, And The Feminist

How Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, and Rowan Blanchard use their influence for good.
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Feminism has a long history of being scorned and shunned by female celebrities in Hollywood. In recent years, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, and many more famous women have adamantly declared that they are not feminists. Despite these women owing their careers and many of the rights they enjoy to the victories of the feminist movement, they run away from the word "feminism" as though it is a ticking time bomb that will destroy their careers.

When young girls who idolize these famous women see them dismissing the movement and qualifying feminists as angry and man-hating, it causes these young girls to associate feminism with negative qualities and leads them to dismiss the movement for themselves.

A feminist is anything but angry and man-hating. As defined by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a feminist is "a person who believes in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes." It's as simple as that; feminism is about equality, and there are three young women in Hollywood who have embraced this definition and are working to spread the message: Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, and Rowan Blanchard.

Zendaya, a 19-year-old actress and singer best known for her leading role in Disney's "Shake It Up," has had a lot of wonderful moments this year - from shutting down "Fashion Police" host Giuliana Rancic for her racist comments about Zendaya's dreadlocks smelling like weed, to the release of her look-alike Barbie doll (dreadlocks and all), to her calling out a magazine for photoshopping her hips and torso without her permission.

Zendaya also had a wonderful definition for feminism in the December issue of "Flare" magazine, for which she was the cover story.

"A feminist is a person who believes in the power of women just as much as they believe in the power of anyone else. It’s equality, it’s fairness, and I think it’s a great thing to be a part of," said Zendaya.

Like Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg had many noteworthy accomplishments this year. Stenberg is a 17-year-old actress best known for her role as Rue in "The Hunger Games" and for her activism on behalf of women of color. Stenberg has been a powerful voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and an advocate for young girls in STEM fields. Her video "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" on Tumblr educated the public about cultural appropriation and black culture. Stenberg published essays about intersectional feminism online and launched a comic book series with a young mixed-race female heroine.

"Let's continue demanding space for women who are not thin, white, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical, and cisgender," Stenberg tweeted after she won Ms. Foundation for Women's Feminist Celebrity of the Year.

Rowan Blanchard, the 14-year-old actress best known for "Disney's Girl Meets World," won the Feminist Celebrity of the Year award alongside Stenberg. Like Stenberg, Blanchard has used social media to publish an essay about intersectional feminism. At only 13 years old, Blanchard spoke at the United Nation's annual conference for gender inequality.

"'White feminism' forgets all about intersectional feminism," Blanchard wrote on Tumblr. "The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans women and Hispanic women."

These celebrities, all under 20 years old, give hope for the next generation of young girls. It is comforting to know, amid all the negative and hypersexualized images that target young girls today, that they at least have these three intelligent and well-spoken young women to look up to. Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, and Rowan Blanchard are all using their platforms and celebrity statuses for good: to advance the feminist movement and to fight for gender equality.

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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Beto O'Rourke Is The Future For The Democratic Party

Democrats need a new voice, and now they have him.

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As a self-professed progressive, the 2016 presidential election was one of the darkest days of my life. Every day I wish that the election had turned out differently. But if there's a silver lining, the Democratic Party has almost completely reinvented itself and has a chance to move forward.

Barack Obama was an amazing leader for the party for a decade. Hillary Clinton was arguably the most-flawed candidate the modern-day Democratic Party has ever nominated, and she lost to the most-flawed Republican ever nominated. So now the Democrats need someone to look up to and lead the way past the regressive presidency of Donald Trump. That man is Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke is a representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, which covers the city of El Paso. But right now people in the political world know him as the guy who is running against arguably the most-hated man in the Senate, Ted Cruz. Former House Speaker and fellow Republican John Boehner once said that Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh."

Cruz prides himself in being hated by Washington politicians, but hatred from his current colleagues could come back to bite him. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," said Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.

If O'Rourke wins in November, he'll take down Cruz, who is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington despite being hated. And it could launch Beto to even higher office someday.

Even if he loses to Cruz, Beto has an extremely bright future ahead of him because he's just what the Democratic Party needs right now. He's young, passionate, communicates extremely well and is a perfect representation of what the face of the party should be.

This year, O'Rourke has been setting an example of how Democrats should run their campaigns. Beto has traveled to every single one of Texas's 254 counties. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Democrats have pushed for campaign finance reform, and O'Rourke is leading by example with his campaign. Beto has taken $0 from Political Action Committees (PACs). All of his money comes from individual donors. Cruz has taken PAC money, but O'Rourke still holds a significant advantage in fundraising.

O'Rourke in his campaign emphasizes that Texas has among the highest immigration populations in the United States, but the senators from Texas, Cruz and John Cornyn, do not accurately represent the diversity of the state. O'Rourke has separated himself from Cruz by speaking out against the proposed border wall and the separation of immigrant children at the border.

I'm not from Texas, but I'm just as excited for this senate race as I was when Doug Jones won in my home state almost a year ago. Beto O'Rourke has an opportunity to make positive change in our country and actually bring people together. If he doesn't win in November, Beto should make plans for 2020 because he can become the face of the Democratic Party.

If you'd like to learn more about, join, or donate to the campaign, here is a link.

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