Last night I gathered some of my most supportive women for a Moxie watch party to celebrate where we are now–in life, in our careers, in our parenting, and in our feminism. I had loved the book by Jennifer Mathieu and have been eager to see the film since I’d heard that Amy Poehler would be directing it.

We filled up the chat bar with our texts–cheers for the young women as they fight the patriarchy and transform, eye rolling when the stupid adults were stupid, cheers for the romantic male lead, boos for the villain and the administrator who ignores her duties, fists raised for the inclusion of intersectional feminism and LGBTQ representation, gasps when the inevitable shocking plot-twist appeared. Perhaps it was, as this NYT reviewer says, “unfocused and too often unbelievable,” but for us, that was the point.

We can all point to too many real-life f-ed up news stories (Brock Turner, Brett Kavanaugh, Trump) that I saw symbolized by Patrick Schwarzenegger’s beautiful villain in Netflix’s Moxie. Everyday there are new #metoo situations in the news and others that we only hear about in whisper campaigns. As a parent I have felt ineffectual when I heard after-the-fact that sexual assault and harassment issues infected the schools to which I sent my own children. These stories and the patriarchy have beaten us down over the years taking away our hope that anything will be better anytime soon. As a white-woman I am tired of losing, yet when I feel that I have lost, I know that there are others that have lost even more. So I was absolutely fine, buoyed in fact, when I could lose myself in this feminist Quasi-Fantasy*, with my glass of wine and my girlfriends. Says one girlfriend:

Anna, is there a word for quasi-fantasy*?  That’s how it felt to me. Simplistic kind of on purpose, just giving us the gift of more ease since we live the BS of reality. Quasi-Buffy but instead of slaying vampires they slayed football players with Zines.  

The alternative reality that props us up for another day.  Shows like Madame Secretary make me feel that way too, or Wonder Woman.  Just a bit where we get to pretend the work could be easier and we could get our vindication and dance party at the end of the damn day


YES! Let me stand akimbo with my lasso of truth. I am aching for that dance party where I can thrash about, that catharsis when in the movie when Lucy challenges the book list, that passionate release when Lucy and Amaya kiss, how sexy it is when Seth asks for consent, the power when Vivian finds her voice, and the chilling hope when the students who walk out scream in chorus.

The book Moxie and others you might like (Dress Coded, Fighting Words, Maybe He Just Likes You) tell stories that are more nuanced than the Netflix version. I highly recommend them to both adults and young readers. For educators and parents, please take a look at the resource: 100 School Districts: A Call to Action for School Districts Across the Country to Address Sexual Harassment Through Inclusive Policies and Practices from the National Women’s Law Center.

If you are experiencing or have experienced sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Reunions and such

This weekend I didn’t attend my 20th reunion but I did go to a lovely party hosted by a fellow classmate. If you read my blog regularly you know that before the event I was full of healthy anxiety. I didn’t need to worry. Twenty years seems to mellow out people and the cliques in which they were involved. It was interesting to find out what everyone has been doing in their lives. There were a lot of people who had gone into teaching, and many involved in politics and production work. A modern twist on an old ritual, everyone passed around their cell phones with pictures of their children on the screen. This made me smile.

The counterpoint to this experience was High School Musical 3. Yes, I was one of those families helping the Disney empire rake in billions this weekend. The movie is everything you’ve come to expect from the franchise. My two boys love the hip hop scenes and there were too few of those. Instead they had to deal with quite a bit of romance and even a … kiss. (GROSS!) This was actually the funniest part of the movie. Troy and Gabriella finally kiss, it is all serious and in the packed theatre we hear a single kid, "Ewwwww" which started a chorus of "Ewwww…" and then all of the parents laughed hysterically because we each thought that it would be our kid to start the chorus.

After the flick, I went into Disney repair mode. I’m a sucker for a sappy Disney flick but I can see the misogyny coming a mile away and always feel required to point it out to the kids. I’d like to have boys who are respectful to whoever it is they choose to like and know that not all girls feel that they’ve "waited their whole lives for prom." That said, coupled with my reunion and my walk down memory lane I think that when I was 15 and 16, I really wanted the East High experience however ridiculous and romantic and absolutely unattainable that is. Maybe these movies and teen mags are so successful because as mature and educated and wordly as they may be, so many teen girls have these expectations. As a writer for children, I  think we have to challenge this assumption but I do wonder. 

I think the biggest discoveries at a reunion is within one’s self. I often remember my high school experience as one of being unwanted. I certainly had my share of unrequited love. I identified myself as having only one or two good friends. Looking back, it is sort of silly actually. I was very involved I was on the crew team, in plays, ran for senior class president…but still I always felt on the outside looking in.  Perhaps this is the angst of high school no matter who you are and how involved you choose to be. Perhaps with the expectations I had, nothing would have been good. Perhaps I just need some therapy.