I Sought Solace In My Bookshelf

Amidst protests against police brutality, Daniel José Older returns to a favorite novel and explores the misreading of rage.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

Two weeks ago, marching through the streets with a thousand other people, our open hands raised to the nighttime skyscrapers, I thought of Oscar Wao. Across the country, protesters shut down bridges and highways and raised a collective voice of dissent, which the media quickly simplified into a rage-filled sound bite and simulcasted across the world over images of cop cars burning in the streets of Ferguson.

Toward the end of Junot Díaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar marches through a cane field to what he’s sure will be his death. He sends telepathic messages of love to his mom, his tío, his sister Lola, and all the women he ever loved: “Olga, Maritza, Ana, Jenni, Karen, and all the other ones whose names he’d never known — and of course to Ybón.”

On Nov. 24, prosecutor Bob McCulloch told the world that the broad-daylight murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown didn’t warrant so much as a trial. The same day, Marissa Alexander began her prison sentence for firing a warning shot while defending herself from domestic abuse. Policemen had killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice the Saturday before and Akai Gurley the week before that. Last Tuesday, a grand jury here in New York decided that Eric Garner’s death by strangulation at the hands of the New York Police Department also wasn’t worth a trial. Before that it was Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, 7-year-old Aiyana Jones, all unarmed, and many, many more. The U.S. judicial system has made it clear that blackness itself is a capital offense and doesn’t deserve the benefit of a trial.

And now let’s draw lines. As two of the original organizers of the Black Lives Matter Freedom Rides, Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore write: “We could not allow Ferguson to be portrayed as an aberration in America: it must remain understood as a microcosm of the effects of anti-black racism.” And indeed, the tentacles of this deep-seated anti-blackness are woven into the DNA of the American dream. We see it in law enforcement, politics, the media, social justice movements, non-black communities of color, science, and, of course, literature. On Nov. 19, the night before police killed unarmed Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn stairwell, Daniel Handler made his racist watermelon quip toward Jacqueline Woodson as he presented her with a National Book Award. It was interpersonal anti-blackness that led him to make such a statement. Institutional anti-blackness had his back. Neither NPR nor the New York Times bothered to mention it in their coverage of the award ceremony. The Times called his performance “edgy and entertaining.” The National Book Foundation itself didn’t apologize until a few days of continued social media outcry. Prominent members of the publishing community posted blogs in sympathy with Handler, while many others simply remained silent.

“This mission is what’s been passed down to me –” Jacqueline Woodson writes in her essay responding to the watermelon joke, “to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of.” The publishing industry, which by its own count is 1% black and 3% Latino, dropped the ball once again, and writers and readers of color rolled our eyes and cycled between outrage and not even being surprised. Woodson’s essay contextualizes the joke perfectly: In 2014, people of color are still struggling to see ourselves in literature. As BuzzFeed’s own Ashley Ford writes, “Brown girls everywhere know what it means to choke with invisible hands at their throats, to drown with water nowhere in sight. For us, a book like [Woodson’s] Brown Girl Dreaming is air itself.”

In this case, overwhelming silence in the face of explicit racism was the institutional wink and nod: the go-ahead. The same wink and nod, though much more lethal, could be seen in the refusal of grand juries and prosecutors to investigate the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The institutional go-ahead, be it in publishing or the court system, amounts to an abusive, racialized deprivation of human rights. It is violence. But in the upside-down anti-poetry of power, violence becomes simply an act, a momentary physical explosion, the culminating event. And so, in the midst of a historically rooted, state-sanctioned attack on black lives, everyone from the president to the very police department responsible for Michael Brown’s death has demanded protesters avoid violence. This is like a pyromaniac telling a fireman not to smoke a cigarette.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

Thinking of the many fucked up flavors of violence, my whole body thrumming with rage and sorrow, I sought solace in my bookshelf. It took a little while to find — so many sugarcoat and simplify; they tiptoe and coddle when we need books that break-dance and tell hard truths. Gradually, voices emerged: Baldwin and Butler and Morrison. John Murillo’s “Enter the Dragon.” And, of course, Oscar Wao.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a book you devour slowly. You savor each bite because you’re not sure what the world will look like when it’s done. When I first read it in 2007, it was a revelation: a promise written in unflinching poetic vernacular that we can speak complex literary truths without translating ourselves or over-explaining or condescending to the lowest common denominator. It lit a fire under my ass, so many of our asses, that propelled us down the road to becoming writers.

In the canefield, Oscar tells the gunmen that they were going to take a great love out of the world. “Love is a rare thing,” Oscar says as he raises his hands, “easily confused with a million other things.” Michael Brown raised his hands too, but he wasn’t given the benefit of last words.

It is easy to misread rage as hate. This week, as chants of “Black lives matter” echoed once more through the streets of New York, Ferguson, Los Angeles and out into the world, all I could think of was love. Maybe, before he died, Michael thought of love too. And maybe that thought telegraphed brightly across this country, woke us up, rustled us out into the streets as one, loving, rage-filled outcry. As Oscar said, “on the other side…anything you can dream…you can be.”

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieljoseolder/it-is-easy-to-misread-rage-as-hate

23 Fictional Couples Who Will Restore Your Faith In Marriage

Happily married couples in movies and on TV are hard to come by…but they do exist!

1. Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin from How I Met Your Mother.

CBS

CBS

 

While How I Met Your Mother was technically about Ted’s long (and ridiculously winding) road to finding a wife, most fans of the show would admit that Marshall and Lily were the actual key couple of the series. They showed that “happy couple” doesn’t automatically mean “boring couple” — in fact, quite the opposite.

Ted can wave around the blue French horn all he wants, Marshmallow and Lilypad have true intimacy…with nary an eye roll or nagging comment in sight (so rare when it comes to married couples on TV).

2. Morticia and Gomez Addams from The Addams Family.

Paramount Pictures

They’re creepy, they’re kooky…and they’re perfect for each other.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate couple than Gomez and Morticia Addams. In the words of Gomez, “I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss.”

3. Rob and Laura Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show.

 

One of the first married couples on TV who truly seemed to delight in each other’s company, Rob and Laura Petrie just had fun together. They didn’t shriek and bicker constantly (like Lucy and Ricky), nor did they get along eerily well (like the Cleavers); they were quite the dream team.

4. Jane Kerkovich-Williams and Brad Williams from Happy Endings.

ABC

ABC

 

RIP Happy Endings and RIP one of best married couples to appear on a sitcom in recent years: Jane and Brad. Always having fun together (and always all over each other), they were a couple to emulate.

5. Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence-Matthews from Boy Meets World.

Touchstone Television

Touchstone Television

 

Oh, Cory and Topanga: giving kids somewhat unrealistic expectations about their middle school romances since 1993. But some couples do make it! It does happen! Plus, Cory and Topanga’s relationship wasn’t turbulence-free: It had its ups and downs, and when they did end up getting married, that marriage stood the test of time. (Proof = the Disney Channel spin-off, Girl Meets World.)

6. Ellie and Carl Fredricksen from Up.

Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation Studios

Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation Studios

 

Ellie and Carl’s marriage takes up less than 10 minutes of the movie Up, but man oh man are those 10 gut-wrenching, tear-inducing, GIVE ME A KLEENEX PLEASE minutes.

They’re currently winning the “Which Disney Movie Has The Most Romantic Love Story?” poll, and good golly they surely deserve to. Their relationship shows that even if you never make it to Paradise Falls, marriage itself is an amazing adventure.

7. Bob and Phyllis Vance from The Office.

NBC

Pam and Jim weren’t the only happily married couple on The Office — you can’t forget Bob and Phyllis! These two are so attracted to each other that they end up deserting Jim and Pam in the midst of a double date to go get frisky in the bathroom.

His business may be refrigeration, but he definitely keeps it hot with his wife (ba-dum dum).

8. Chandler Bing and Monica Geller-Bing from Friends.

NBC

NBC

 

Could they BE any more awesome? Doubtful. Ross and Rachel, Schmoss and Schmachel: This is the couple to care about. Thank god for the drunken London hookup that brought these two lobsters together.

9. David Fisher and Keith Charles from Six Feet Under.

HBO

HBO

 

If you’ve watched Six Feet Under, you know what happens during the finale; you know that you will have permanent water damage in your apartment from all the tears that will flow from your wee eye sockets — a torrential downpour of grief.

It’s almost impossible to pick which flash-forward scenario inspires the most sobbing… just kidding, it’s Keith and David’s. First you see them finally getting married, and then before you know it — Keith passes away, and then David follows suit (dying after he thinks he sees a young Keith playing football in the distance). Tears. Oh the tears.

10. Glenn Rhee and Maggie Greene from The Walking Dead.

AMC

AMC

 

The couple that fights zombies together, stays together.

Glenn and Maggie may not legally be married, but they’ve been engaged since Season 3 and — let’s be real — wedding planning isn’t at the top of anyone’s priorities during the zombie apocalypse. They’re the best part of the show (a flare of hope amongst the carnage), and when they were separated during Season 5 it was as painful for us as it was for them.

11. Niles and Daphne Crane from Frasier.

NBC

NBC

 

Has there ever been a “will they or won’t they” couple that you’ve more desperately wanted a “will” for? Doubtful. Hearing Daphne call Dr. Crane “Niles” for the first time sends chills down a Frasier-lover’s spine. And when they finally get married? Well, it’s better than tossed salad and scrambled eggs.

12. Ben and George in Love Is Strange.

Sony Pictures Classics

Everyone in Ben and George’s lives know how deeply committed they are to each other; in fact, their nephew actually introduces his girlfriend to them as a sort of preamble to his own marriage proposal: He uses them as an example of what he hopes his own marriage will be.

13. Jin-Soo and Sun-Hwa Kwon from Lost.

ABC

ABC

 

You’ll probably start to sob just thinking of the submarine scene.

14. Stef and Lena Foster from The Fosters.

ABC Family

ABC Family

 

This is a show that doesn’t get nearly enough viewers: People get scared away by the fact that it’s on ABC Family…but they shouldn’t! The show has many virtues, but obviously the one most relevant to this post is Lena and Stef’s relationship. Their lives are full of drama, but — at least so far — all the dramatic occurrences on the show only serve to bring them closer together.

15. Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint from Doctor Who.

BBC One

BBC One

 

An odd pair (Madame Vastra is a Silurian warrior, after all), but a great one.

16. Susan and Gordon Robinson from Sesame Street.

PBS

Susan and Gordon were probably the first happily married couple you ever saw on TV.

17. Zoe and “Wash” Washburne from Firefly.

Fox

Fox

 

Zoe and Wash were great at couple-y banter and equally great at their jobs. The “great at their jobs” part of that sentence is important, because it made them into two incredibly interesting characters: They weren’t just some token “married couple” on the space ship.

18. Overton “Obie” Wakefield Jones and Synclaire James-Jones from Living Single.

Fox

While there was plenty of heat between Max and Kyle, Synclaire and Overton’s relationship (and eventual marriage) was sweet — a happy union between a laid-back guy and his lovably kooky lady. They were the cutest of cute couples.

19. Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man series.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

 

Drinking martinis, solving crimes, and just being a generally amazing duo (with an adorable dog to boot).

20. Dre and Rainbow Johnson from Black-ish.

ABC

One of the great things about Black-ish is the cast’s amazing chemistry — they actually seem like a real family. That goes for how the children interact with the parents, but also how Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross interact with each other; you believe in their marriage (and it’s a good one).

21. Mac and Bren MacGuff from Juno.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Mac and Bren aren’t the main attraction of the movie Juno (obviously), but they’re an exemplary depiction of a married couple that works as a team: as parents, and in their romantic relationship.

Plus, Mac’s advice to Juno in regards to Paulie Bleeker is top-notch: “Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with” — he found that in Bren.

22. Kristina and Adam Braverman from Parenthood.

NBC

NBC

 

Adam and Kristina had to deal with a lot over the course of five seasons, but as the series came to a close they were still going strong. “Small victories” are important, and they knew that you need to celebrate them.

23. Tami and Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights.

NBC / Universal

NBC / Universal

 

And finally, here we have the king and queen of happy TV marriages: Eric and Tami Taylor.

This is the sort of partnership you dream of having — not because it’s some storybook, fairy tale version of married life, but because it’s a realistic and flawed (yet still passionate and strong) portrayal of marriage.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mallorymcinnis/eric-and-tami-taylor-forever

Kids Send A Nice Gift To The Victim Of A Terribly Embarrassing Prank.

After a video of a disgusting “prank” ice bucket challenge targeting a 15-year-old Ohio boy with autism went viral earlier this month, there has been a massive show of support to him from complete strangers, local police officers and even celebrities.

But perhaps the best message of support and kindness so far has come from the children and staff at Little Star Center, a non-profit based in Carmel, Indiana who provide therapy for kids with autism.

The kids and their counselors created what they decided to call a “nice bucket” for the Ohio teen. Everyone wrote a kind hearted note and placed it in the bucket, which was then filled with candy and fun little gifts and sent to the boy, to show him how many people support him.

(Source: WTHR)

It’s so nice to see people coming together to show some love, and to try to right other people’s wrongs.

Read more: http://viralnova.com/nice-bucket/

Here Are Insane Stories Of What Some People Have Done In The Name Of Love.

They say love is a many-splendored thing. There are an endless number of songs, poems and movies centered around the idea. Most of us will spend a lot of our time searching for that perfect someone to share our lives with, and there’s really nothing sweeter than when you find it.

And then there’s these stories. These people have a very different and disturbing definition of true love… Wow.

1.) Break Out Of Prison

34-year-old Craig Souza is no stranger to the inside of a prison cell, but in 2012 he decided he didn’t really care to rejoin the Santa Cruz County Jail and simply buzzed himself back into freedom. He explained that he was worried his wife would be upset to know he was going back to jail.

2.) Fake Your Death

As part of a morbidly elaborate proposal plan in 2012, a Russian man named Alexey Bykov arranged to meet with his hopeful-bride-to-be… only to have her discover his bloodied body among a scene of carnage. After she began breaking down in sadness, he popped up and popped the question. For some reason, she said yes.

3.) Light His Fire

In 2010, Sheldon Gonzalez fell asleep next to girlfriend Berlinda Dixon-Newbold like usual. Soon, however, he was woken up by the smell of smoke and the feeling of heat in his crotch-region… Because Berlinda, upset about not receiving enough attention, had set him on fire.

4.) Steal A Moon Rock

When aspiring astronaut Thad Roberts stole $21 million worth of moon rocks from NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, he explained it was all for love. The love of a biology intern at the facility, to be precise, who aided him in stealing and then attempting to sell the lunar artifacts. They were caught and sentenced to jail time. The best-selling novel Sex on the Moon is based on their experience.

5.) Hang Out With Their Corpse

In 1930, radiologist Carl Tanzler was working at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida where he met a young woman suffering from tuberculosis, Maria Elena Milagro “Helen” de Hoyos. Despite his best efforts, she succumbed to the disease and passed away in 1931… but Tanzler’s obsession was just beginning. In 1940, her body was discovered in Tanzler’s home. He had taken it in 1933 claiming her spirit had come to him saying he should.

6.) Rob A Waffle House

In 2013, Florida resident Marquis Baldwin just wanted to help his lady out with her financial difficulty (probation bills) so he did what any guy would do: grabbed his BB gun and robbed 3 Waffle House restaurants. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery and six counts of aggravated assault.

7.) Take (Fecal) Matters Into Your Own Hands

Following a spat with his girlfriend in 2011 where she apparently stole his phone, Staten Island aspiring rapper Rasheen “Illuminati” Harrison took his revenge by taking a number 2 in the elevator as he exited her apartment building. He then used that to, uh, decorate the walls which he then set on fire.

8.) Buy A Website

In 2007, Vimeo employee Patrick Moberg found the girl of his dreams while riding the 5 train in Manhattan. The only problem was that he didn’t actually talk to her before they went their separate ways. Instead of relying on the sketchy “missed connections” section of Craigslist, Patrick created his own entire website with one motive: finding the girl. Within 48 hours, the site was a success and he was put in contact with her. (Unfortunately, the relationship only lasted 2 months.)

9.) Special Tattoo Delivery

When London-native Torz Reynolds learned her boyfriend, Stuart “Chopper” May, was leaving her to move in with a new girlfriend with whom he had spent the last 6 months having an affair with, she sent him a very unusual house warming gift: she personally removed her own tattoo of his name, placed it in a jar and sealed it up nicely to send registered mail. Uh, ouch.

(via Mental Floss.)

I have never been more okay with being single. Who needs enemies with love like this?

Read more: http://viralnova.com/strange-love/

This Is What It’s Like To Date In Seven Different Countries

Eight women, from seven different countries, talk about love and relationships.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Gather a group of young and single foreigners who recently moved to New York City and at one moment or another, you’ll hear them talk about how weird the dating scene in the city is. Moving to a new place, anywhere in the world, means adjusting to new dating rules and standards. Different countries approach love and relationships differently, which often makes for bizarre culture shock but also fascinating conversations.

So, we decided to gather eight women who work at BuzzFeed and who live in and come from different countries to discuss cultural differences when it comes to love and relationships. Here they are:

Marie Telling: I’m an associate editor for BuzzFeed France, based in New York. I’m French and I grew up in Bordeaux, in the southwest of the country. I lived in Paris, in Sweden, and in Washington state for a while. I’ve been living in New York City for two and a half years.

Julia Pugachevsky: I’m a staff writer, live in New York, first-generation American from a Ukrainian family (so I was raised with some conflicting ideas as far as dating traditions go). I am single and only slightly ready to mingle.

Rossalyn Warren: My name is Roz, I’m a news reporter at BuzzFeed UK, I live in London, and I’m from Hertfordshire.

Tasneem Nashrulla: I’m a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News. I’m from Mumbai, and I’ve been living in the U.S. for the past two and a half years.

Juliane Leopold: I’m the founding editor of BuzzFeed Germany. I live in Berlin.

Jenna Guillaume: I’m a senior editor for BuzzFeed in Australia. I’ve lived in Sydney with my partner for the past six years, but I grew up in a coastal town near Wollongong, about 90 minutes south of Sydney. I’ve never lived in another country — YET. My other great love is the internet, and I spend too much time obsessing over fictional characters and their relationships.

Conz Preti: I’m the editor for BuzzFeed Español and Brasil, born in Argentina but raised between Colombia and Brazil, moved to New York in my late twenties for grad school and stayed here ever since. I’ve been seeing someone for some months now.

Julie Gerstein: I am BuzzFeed’s style editor. I live in Brooklyn with my boyfriend of three years.

Marie: How do people date? Is it OK to date several people at once? Is there an “exclusivity talk”? I don’t know if it’s an American thing or if this is just specific to New York, but the dating scene here often feels like an actual market where people try goods (several at once) and decide which one is best fitted to their needs and expectations. Then, they have a very reasonable talk to establish that they’re both interested in the other the same way. It’s like relationship shopping. Very pragmatic, very American. It feels way more organic and spontaneous in France, but that could also just be an illusion. What do you guys think? Is it the same where you’re from?

Julia: I feel like, in NYC specifically, you ALWAYS have to have the talk. You can find, theoretically, someone and get in the groove of things and just start dating naturally, but the talk still always happens — nothing is ever assumed.

Juliane: In Germany, it’s similar to France and different from the U.S. You tend to date one person at a time. The talk is done nevertheless but just to know if you should move on or not. But it’s definitely not OK to shop around.

Rossalyn: In the U.K., I think that it’s fine to date several people at once, provided it’s still at the early stages and you’re not taking the piss. I think if you’re dating someone for more than a few weeks, then maybe some clearer “erm, hey, are we making this a thing?” kinda chat is needed. British people are too awkward to have an “exclusivity talk” — I almost never hear my friends say they’ve had to have that talk. Having said that, I think British people do eventually try and figure out whether it’s exclusive or not, they just don’t outright say, “Are we exclusive?” — they just skirt around the issue until enough hints are dropped to be like, “oh, we’re a thing.”

Conz: In Argentina it depends on how long you’ve been “going out.” If it’s been over two months, the assumption from both sides is that there is no one else around and there is no real need for “the talk.” In my experience the sort of “oh, we are a couple now” moment was when either introduced the other to people as my BF/GF. I’ve never had the “so are you seeing someone else, are we exclusive?” chat. Ever.

Julie: I definitely feel like it’s a market-style thing in the U.S.

Jenna: In Australia it definitely seems more organic. I feel like people probably go on dates with different people around the same time, but if they like a particular person they don’t date anyone else. And “the talk” isn’t really something that happens in general, I think it tends to be a mutually understood thing after a certain period of time. This is very generally speaking, of course — some people probably do have the “exclusivity talk.” But Australians on the whole aren’t that blunt about these sort of things.

Rossalyn: When I lived in Brooklyn, the dating did feel like a market, but in a different way to the U.K: It felt more cutthroat and like “nope, not feeling this, next!”

Julie: Especially when it comes to online dating, which has very much mirrored itself after a transactional arrangement. You’re “shopping” for people you find attractive, you go on dates to check out the goods, you date to see if you’d like to make a more permanent arrangement. In a city like NYC, especially, where the male-to-female ratio is so incredibly off, it seems especially like men are alllllways keeping their dating options open.

Marie: I don’t even feel like we “date” in France. We just sleep with someone casually or we’re with someone. If you’re sleeping with someone and you’re hanging out with them socially one-on-one, then you’re a thing.

Jenna: I think dating has become more of a thing in Australia thanks to online dating. Now people go on dates with people they’ve met online, whereas in the past it was more just someone you met in a bar or at work or whatever who you started hanging out with.

Marie: Yes, I think that may be true for France too, Jenna.

Julie: In NYC, you can’t presume that you’re a thing. You’re better off assuming that the person you’re doing that with is doing that with a few people, unless you’ve expressly made it clear you’re not. I think that’s why it’s a safer bet to always date a few people at a time in the early stages.

Jenna: That sounds exhausting.

Conz: Yes. I don’t get it and it feels almost insulting in a way. Like…why spend time and open up and all that if the other side is doing the same with several others.

Rossalyn: It’s such a hassle.

Julia: I feel like I barely have time for ONE guy, let alone a couple.

Julie: Not necessarily sleep with, but at least date. DIVERSIFY YOUR BONDS.

Jenna: But that makes it sound so…clinical.

Marie: It is VERY clinical.

Jenna: Clinical and cynical.

Julie: I think of it as emotional insurance.

Julia: It’s like none of us have time to get our hearts broken so we have backups, which makes me sad.

Rossalyn: I think that is the same in a lot of major cities actually: bigger cities, more people, more dating, more options. In the countryside/suburbs, people are less hassled by dating more than one person at a time.

Tasneem: I think the concept of dating, the way it’s defined in the U.S., has taken root in India only in the last couple of years (that I’ve been away for). I was shocked to hear that friends in Bombay actually use Tinder. I thought that was such an American thing. Earlier, there were two ways to go about it: Either you’re “messing around” with someone, as in having a casual fling where you’re not necessarily exclusive and both know this is a casual, fun thing. Or second, you’re in a relationship. Dating, as in sleeping or making out with different people, is a little alien to me, but apparently common in Bombay now. (I feel old.)

Marie: I was actually wondering about dating apps. How do people use them in your countries? And which ones do they use?

Rossalyn: Tinder. LOL.

Marie: I was actually very surprised to learn that people have started using Tinder in France, too. It felt so pragmatic and un-French to me that I never thought it would take off. Mind you, I don’t actually know anyone who is really using it.

Julie: Tinder and OkCupid here (in New York), as we all know. And Hinge is becoming popular too.

Jenna: Tinder for sure.

Conz: Tinder blew up in Argentina this year.

Juliane: Tinder is still quite new to Germans.

Conz: I feel that the gamification of it compared to other dating apps is what it made it a thing. You are not ~really~ on a dating app, you are swiping photos.

Marie: I wonder if Tinder is used for the same thing everywhere? Do people use it for fun, for dating, or just hooking up?

Rossalyn: It’s mostly used by your friends who are in relationships to swipe through for fun. But for those who use it properly, they do meet people and date. But there is also a laziness to it — who has time to message strangers witty replies all the time?

Tasneem: My friends are not only ON Tinder (like, for the fun of it), they’re actually meeting and hooking up with people through it. I mean it’s not THAT common, but if I personally know someone who’s done that, then I’m sure its getting popular. But I should also note that the friend I’m referring to hooked up with a non-Indian on Tinder.

Julia: In New York, I feel like people find S.O.s on it, but otherwise, it’s mainly hooking up.

Jenna: I know people who have had a lot of dud dates through Tinder, but no one who has actually found a relationship.

Marie: Are there any other popular dating sites/apps?

Jenna: Rsvp.com.au is a pretty popular dating site in Australia.

Rossalyn: OkCupid was kind of big. So was Plenty of Fish, which is the worst name ever for a dating app. Guardian Soul Mates is used by middle-class liberals here.

Marie: LOL.

Julia: Match.com is for people who are very serious because you have to pay for it.

Tasneem: Shaadi.com is for marriages only. And A LOT of Indians use that to find suitable marriage partners.

Rossalyn: If we’re being honest, Match.com says it’s a dating site, but it’s for people who are looking for serious relationships/marriage, they just don’t explicitly say it.

Tasneem: Some NGOs in India conduct mass weddings for niche groups like differently abled people. They don’t even meet their partners before that. They’re just all married in this massive mass wedding.

Marie: How do you flirt? Do women ever make the first step? How is it perceived if they do?

Jenna: It’s more common for guys to make the first move, and it’s quite rare for women to do so.

Julia: Yeah, guys are supposed to make the first move. But me, I like to pounce.

Conz: I’ve openly asked dudes out and they are fine with it… But at a bar, usually men swarm women. It’s OK if I walk up to a dude and start talking, but usually they’ll be straight up talking you up immediately.

Marie: Yeah, in France, men are more forward, although it’s not unusual for women to flirt. When I was living in Sweden, though, men were always expecting women to make the first step. It was very confusing coming from France.

Juliane: In Germany, women are not really expected to make the first move. It can be perceived as slutty. In my last two relationships I have always made the first move and that freaked the guys out.

Tasneem: I don’t think (and things might have changed) that random men flirt with random women at bars in India. You usually flirt within your social circle or when you’re introduced by someone you know.

Julie: I “had a line” when I was single.

Jenna: What was it?

Julie: “Oh, good, you haven’t left yet. I wanted to talk to you.” It always worked.

Marie: I think guys like it when women make the first move in France. They may judge them a bit, but they also appreciate the change.

Julie: Guys, they’re just like us. NERVOUS.

Marie: My friends who were living in Sweden LOVED how forward women were.

Julie: They like it because they are lazy and scared and weird, so it takes the pressure off. And if they are the kind of guy you want to date, they will appreciate a strong, confident woman.

Marie: About “dating” — what is a typical date? And who pays?

Julie: Well, if you live in Philly, where I’m from, a date is getting a drink with a dude and then paying for it, and then he basically moves into your house and you pay his rent. Because there are a lot of hot, beardy dudes with marginal jobs there.

Julia: Typical date in New York: casual drinks, guy pays.

Juliane: Typical date in Germany: dinner or movie, maybe both. Both split the check.

Jenna: The “who pays” thing is such a personal thing, I think. There’s not a set social norm.

Conz: Go to a bar to get a drink, dude pays. But also, I never went out on a date while I lived in Argentina because it was more organic — I met a friend of a friend at a party and then we would see each other again in a social gathering and then maybe go out.

Rossalyn: My friends and I here in the U.K. had a big chat about this the other day. Most of them think that both sides of the date should offer to pay on a first date, but that usually the guy should pay. But they also said it’s not a big thing if the woman pays; it’s just a preferred thing. Then, after the meal, if the guy pays, the woman buys the drinks at the bar.

Julie: In NYC, I’ve found that dudes are cool with paying for dates, or whomever asks. I now have a serious live-in boyfriend and whoever asks is the one who pays.

Tasneem: Dinner and drinks (guy usually pays or you “go Dutch”).

Jenna: Traditionally I guess the guy pays, but I think more and more women prefer to split? Or maybe that’s just me. I much prefer to split the bill.

Rossalyn: Personally, I usually split the bill.

Julia: Yeah, I always offer to pay out of politeness and then the guy usually is like, “NO, I’m paying,” and I meekly pull away my wallet.

Julie: I like doing the one pays for dinner, one pays for drinks thing.

Marie: I always offer to pay, but I like when guys insist on paying for the first date, otherwise I’m always afraid they’re cheap. After that, I’d rather split the check (unless he earns significantly more and suggested an expensive place).

Conz: After the first date and when you are together, it is usually half-and-half. When I lived with my ex, I would do the groceries and he would pay the electricity, or something like that.

Julia: If I’m seeing them past a few dates, I feel more comfortable splitting — actually get annoyed if they don’t let me.

Jenna: Yeah, if a guy, especially beyond the first date, is like, “No, I’M paying,” I’d kind of question their attitudes toward women. Benevolent sexism.

Marie: While we’re on the topic, what about chivalry? Is chivalry still a thing where you come from? How does it express itself?

Jenna: Australian guys are not chivalrous.

Marie: Haha! Really?

Jenna: Well. SOME are.

Rossalyn: Yeah, British guys are not either. It’s all a bit cringe.

Tasneem: Indian guys NEVER LEAVE DOORS OPEN. I think holding doors in India is not even a thing. Like, no one does it. It’s just not in our societal DNA. But I used to get annoyed when boys exited a restaurant first and literally slammed the door on my face. (Not deliberately, of course — they were lovely guys. But they don’t hold doors.) I think that speaks more about just general public etiquette. Americans are excessively polite when it comes to doors and elevators and the like.

Rossalyn: Dream guys are the ones who slam doors in your face.

Jenna: I mean, a lot of chivalry is politeness. Australians on the whole don’t rate politeness as a top attribute. Not that we’re necessarily rude (although, well, sometimes we are), but we just don’t go out of our way to be extra polite.

Julie: I think I’m way more chivalrous than most American dudes.

Julia: See, it’s complicated for me because some guys open doors and some don’t and I don’t think I would care either way, but my parents, who are Ukrainian, are horrified when guys don’t do this.

Juliane: Politeness seems to be rather underrated in Germany. Older dudes will hold the door and stuff. Younger guys won’t.

Jenna: I feel like Americans on the whole are super super polite.

Julie: No way.

Rossalyn: British men are mostly polite, which I suppose falls under this area. They are mostly a nice bunch on dates.

Marie: In France politeness is not our major forte as a society, but guys tend to be pretty old-school, courteous, and do little things like opening the door, insisting on paying for things.

Jenna: I think holding doors, etc., should go both ways.

Marie: Yeah, I agree. It’s more about politeness than chivalry.

Rossalyn: Yeah, agree. “Don’t be a rude dick” = chivalry in 2014.

Conz: Argentines are SUPER old-school. They will open doors, and wait for you to get off the elevator, even open the door of the car for you to get in, etc.

Jenna: I haaaaate the car door thing. When I was younger I tried to force my boyfriend to do it because I was young and dumb and had romantic ideals about chivalry, but now I’m like, actually that’s bullshit.

Marie: On to something different. What’s the general position of PDA? I never noticed how much French people were into PDA until I moved abroad. I also had a Canadian friend who moved to Paris and was SHOCKED by the amount of PDA she witnessed. She couldn’t believe people were making out in supermarkets and in the middle of the street. To be clear, we’re not all climbing each other in public, but we’re mostly cool with kissing in public.

Jenna: I hate PDA. I think that is typical of Australians. Holding hands, quick pecks, that’s it. Oh, and maybe hugs. But anything more than that, most people feel uncomfortable.

Conz: In Argentina, you kiss, you hold hands, you hug, you sit on their lap. Everything is OK.

Julie: I think PDA is generally for the young and for the very old.

Juliane: In Germany, holding hands and kissing is OK, but that’s basically it.

Rossalyn: People in the U.K. are pretty meh about PDA — they don’t tend to do it too much, but they’re not fussed. Don’t ram your tongue down their throat while shopping or something, though.

Julie: I once wrote an open letter on The Frisky to a couple who would PDA at 9 in the morning in the subway station EVERY MORNING. Because I hated them so much.

Conz: I’m that person who kisses in subways at 9 a.m. If I wanna kiss you I will kiss you. No, we are not gonna make out and slob all over our faces in front of people but like…show some love!

Rossalyn: Yes to kissing. No to dog slobbering.

Jenna: I will give a peck in public. But no more than three seconds, and even that is pushing it.

Julia: I think it’s a person-to-person thing. I personally only do it when drunk and I side-eye people who make out in the middle of the street SOBER in the middle of the day.

Jenna: Oh, drunk is another story.

Rossalyn: Yeah, when I’m drunk it is different.

Marie: If I’m drunk I’ll climb you in public. No boundaries.

Jenna: LOL. I think that’s most people.

Julia: I’ve climbed poor boys like trees.

Rossalyn: When you’re drunk it’s like, Now is a perfectly acceptable time to climb on top of you thanks bye.

Tasneem: Kissing in public is unlawful in many parts of India. There was recently a huge “kiss of protest” all over India to demand our rights to kiss in public. (Unlawful not in the legal sense, but we have a lot of moral policing.) But in clubs and in other safe spaces where like-minded people hang out, PDA is pretty common.

Rossalyn: That protest looked amazing.

Tasneem: Yeah, it was awesome.

Jenna: What about holding hands and stuff? My school had a hands-off policy to try to discourage the ~sexual urges~. You weren’t allowed to hold hands or anything.

Julia: We definitely didn’t have that rule.

Tasneem: Well, I was in a girls school, so holding hands was totally OK. We held hands a LOT. A LOT. A LAAAWWT.

Marie: My school had a “please don’t have sex in a bathroom” policy, but that was pretty much it.

Rossalyn: OMG you had to have a policy to not tell students to fuck in a bathroom?!?!

Marie: Hahaha, it was a tacit rule. I don’t remember any actual rules we had.

Jenna: Most Australian schools have the hands-off rule. Usually it’s hands off or the meter rule or the balloon rule, like you couldn’t get so close you’d pop a ballon in between you. I got on after-school detention for hugging my boyfriend. We had to write lines: “I will be mature and keep my hands to myself.” (I am now married to him, lol.)

Julie: We had enough teen pregnancy at my school that obviously there were no proper policies in place.

Julia: We didn’t have any of these, and people openly made out in hallways. Once, a girl in my high school got away with giving a guy a BJ under the stairwell. Like, people SAW THEM and they didn’t get into trouble.

Conz: I had a boyfriend in high school in Brazil and we both almost got suspended because we gave each other a peck in the hallway in the morning.

Marie: Is marriage important where you’re from? Can you live together without being married?

Jenna: People usually live together for years before getting married, if they get married at all. The majority do but, it’s also totally OK not to. I think it’s important for people as in it’s like the most romantic, big thing you can do in a relationship. But in terms of morals or whatever, no one cares.

Conz: In Argentina and Brazil, it depends on religion. I’ve had friends get married at 19 and I have friends that are 40, have three kids, and are not planning on marrying. More and more, it’s getting common to live together before marrying. But it was a huge shock for my parents when I did. Same with my male cousin — our family was super against him moving in with his then-girlfriend. There’s a feeling of “if you move in together you are making things easier for the man” in older generations.

Tasneem: Marriage is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT (for parents), and moving in with your boyfriend is still very rare in India, though it’s getting common in certain niches. But I think neighbors would judge you if they knew you lived with your boyfriend.

Rossalyn: People can live together here without being married, definitely. Marriage is still something many women here would like, but it’s not crucial.

Julie: I think it’s still important here, though maybe becoming less so. People still put a lot of value on marriage, though people are ALSO getting married later and multiple times.

Rossalyn: Yeah, divorce is so commonplace here that it’s like, “Meh, who even wants to get married.”

Marie: I admit I wanted to talk about infidelity to debunk a very old cliché about the French: People think the French are totally cool with infidelity. That’s simply not true. Some couples may have tacit agreements, others may be in open relationships, but the vast majority of the people I know in France would not be OK with their partner cheating on them. I don’t think there is more infidelity in France than anywhere else. And I don’t think we’re more OK with it than other cultures. We’ve just made more movies about it, I guess.

Jenna: Cheating is the worst thing you can do for a lot of people. People do it, but it’s a deal breaker for most people: It’s unforgivable.

Juliane: Yes, cheating is absolutely off-limits in relationships.

Julia: I feel like I hear about cheating all the time and it’s a bad thing to do and people break up over it, but it still happens a lot.

Conz: Argentine men cheat. All. The. Time. Not all of them, but most of them. It’s like a fucking epidemic.

Marie: How do women react?

Conz: It depends — some don’t take it, but so many, because it happens over and over again, are like, What eyes can’t see won’t hurt my heart. Now, if the woman cheats, she is a slut.

Tasneem: I don’t think there are any particular cultural connotations when it comes to cheating. It’s universally frowned upon but many people do it.

Julia: Right, but I feel like there’s more shock/condemnation when it’s a woman.

Jenna: And the “other woman” gets vilified more than the man who did it.

Julia: Oh, absolutely.

Conz: There is so much of blaming the “other woman” and not the man. SO MUCH.

Tasneem: That’s true. I feel like men think they’re often justified but women aren’t.

Marie: OK, let’s talk about gross stuff to conclude. I have some foreign friends who are NOT OK with their partners farting in front of them. I’m totally cool with it, but I’m not sure I’m representative of French people on the topic.

Conz: I AM THAT FOREIGN FRIEND.

Marie: Yes, you are, Conz.

Conz: No farting. I brought up this with my Argentine friends on Sunday because I told them the dude I’m seeing told me to “pull his finger” and then proceeded to fart and they were all sooooo appalled they even questioned me on why I was still with him. Not kidding.

Jenna: OK, the “pull my finger” thing is gross. Otherwise, I think it’s FINE. And I think most people think it’s fine, but it is such an individual thing.

Juliane: Not OK with farting. But I guess it’s pretty personal.

Rossalyn: LOL, I kinda dont care? I think it’s a bit much at the start of a relationship, but who cares after.

Julia: I think it’s perceived as gross but also a weird form of intimacy. Cute intimacy.

Rosalyn: Yeah, in a weird way.

Tasneem: Farting is the gas that holds couples together, in my opinion.

Julia: It’s more romantic than the first kiss, IMHO.

Jenna: Yes. You can really kiss anyone. There are only a select few you can fart with. You only fart in front of people you care about. That’s love.

Marie: If you accept each other’s farts, that’s love.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/marietelling/this-is-what-its-like-to-date-in-seven-different-countries