“Kairos” is the Greek term for “a propitious moment for a decision or an action”. In rhetoric, we look at how and why certain cultural movements begin because of the time in history they are placed. For example, Starbucks released the pumpkin spice latte a few years ago, it turned into a “tradition of fall”, and now, when you walk into the grocery stores, you can find pumpkin spice marshmallows, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice chocolate. Pumpkin spice has always been a flavor, but was suddenly made popular by the PSL. No one really knew what a Glee club was until the T.V. show, and now everyone wants to be a singer. Or, my favorite, the Ebola Epidemic of 2014; it always seems that everyone freaks out some disease (that has been on the globe forever) in the fall, when cold and flu season begins (Mad Cow Disease, Anthrax, now Ebola). What usually happens is, a small group of people freak out about something, the media sees this as a money-making deal, and they hyper-sensationalize it to feed into the public’s hysteria. These cultural phenomenons are direct reflections of our current cultural practices.
As I mentioned previously, I knew that, if I were to write Happily Never After, it had to be RIGHT THEN because of the current cultural practices, such as:
Ray Rice: Last week, I went to a coaching conference in which Joe Ehrmann spoke about the corrupt institutions athletics create around cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity. As I sat and listened to Ehrmann’s message about the oppressing nature of sports and media objectifying women, I cried because this was once me. I was once the trophy, the cute little dancer who ran around in a half top. I was once the girlfriend who would jump up and down in the stands to support her girlfriend. I was once the girl who was told her purpose in life was to cater to her boyfriend, and there is no doubt in my mind sports and athletics created these expectations. A former football player once told me at practice, his coaches encouraged them to “get laid, but make sure you keep the condom so there is no evidence”. Athletes would offer me incentives to invite my cute friends to recruiting parties. These are learned behaviors, and I commend influential institutions, such as the NFL, to bring awareness to the subject because this mindset must stop. As someone who was once so immersed in this culture, one of my goals in writing Happily Never After is to teach girls how to find value in themselves. We train people how to treat us, and our female counterpoints, and it is so important we learn to recognize these corrupt objectifying ideologies that so prominently infect our sports culture.
(And, the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey does nothing to help this).
#BanBossy and #LikeAGirl: As a young, professional female, I constantly battle oppression. I battle male co-workers who snap at me and belittle my comments. I battle male students who feel the need to undermine my authority, just because I “am a girl”. I battle a world of coaching, where the outside ideology is “we are just ditzy girls running around with pom-poms and worried about sparkles”. It is true that we exist in the third wave of the feminist movement, and in writing Happily Never After, I hope to add to the conversation. It’s great to be a female in this society, and we must ban together. We must refrain from calling each other bitches, we must not allow men to treat us like crap, and we must establish our credibility in the workplace. We have the power to change our cultural atmosphere.
The American Idol Epidemic: A few of my literary agent rejections began with, “we really like the idea but you don’t have a national platform for a publisher to buy in”. Basically, these agents were saying, “unless you can guarantee your book would sell 100,000 copies, we are not interested”. I get it; it’s capitalism at it’s finest. However, Happily Never After would not have worked had it been by a Taylor Swift, a Dr. Phil, a Miley Cyrus. While Taylor Swift does speak to our generation, she does not live the same reality we do. While Dr. Phil may be able to diagnosis us with anxiety or point out our dysfunctional tendencies, he would not be able to portray the painfulness of healing from a break up. And, we won’t even talk about Miley Cyrus. As Americans, we LOVE to see it when everyday people make it big: Tupac, Lance Armstrong, Carrie Underwood. Think about American Idol: the show always finds the most tragic stories–the people’s whose parents died in car accidents, then their grandparents took them in and got cancer, lost a lung, and fathered the cutest child, and as Americans, we connect to them, because it gives us hope for ourselves to reach the American Dream: if that person can do it, then so can I.
The Gun Control Debate: I loved President Obama’s video following the Oregon Community College shooting, because I think it accurately depicts the frustration, and apparent desensitization, of mass public shootings (in rhetoric, we call this ‘asyndeton’–the listing of things to give an endless feeling). In my opinion, these mass shootings are not necessarily an issue of gun control laws, but rather, illuminate a larger issue of mental health in our country. In college, I worked on a research team that focused on studying childhood traumatic grief. After 9/11, clinicians started seeing similar PTSD-like symptoms in children who suffered some kind of traumatic loss, and the goal of this research project was to provide enough evidence in order to label childhood traumatic grief as an official disorder. However, the insurance companies fought adding this to the DSM because, once it becomes a diagnosis, they must then pay for treatment. Childhood traumatic grief certainly cannot be the only disorder falling by the wayside because of “funding”. As a person who grew up, surrounded by mental illness, I can testify just how painful, lonely, and endless it may seem. One of my goals in Happily Never After is to encourage 20-Somethings (and beyond) to be introspective about their backgrounds so they can work to curve their own dysfunctional tendencies. Because, as research suggests, the brain IS programmable, and we DO have the ability to change our thoughts.
< 50% Divorce Rate: When you look on Amazon, there are a plethora of books in the dating category to pick from. A majority of these books tell stories about dating disasters, and while that can be an incredibly useful and validating thing to read, Happily Never After is an introspective account of dating and these issues of why Tinder dates are disastrous, why Millenials are not getting married, why the divorce rate is climbing–and how we can curve some of those tendencies to live a better, happier, more fulfilled life. It’s look at cultural constructs, why we have these impractical illusions of Prince Charming, and deconstructing what reality really is. I personally did not want to carry any “Kent” baggage into my future marriage. I think it’s unlike anything you have ever read before. It’s a little bit of narrative, a little bit of humor, a little bit of research, a little bit of painfulness. But, that’s life.