Posted in below deck med

#BelowDeckMed: Three Criticisms of Hannah Ferrier That are Rooted in Oppressive Gender Roles


“I’m not always good and I’m not always bad…” (via @hannahferrier234 on Instagram). On this week’s episode, she is in the wrong on a professional level for kissing a charter guest, no matter how powerful the connection between her and the millionaire bachelor. However, some of the criticisms that follow Below Deck Med Chief Stewardess Hannah Ferrier are rooted in the perceived incongruence between her behavior and how women are traditionally supposed to behave:

1) She’s accused of “pulling rank” when subordinates disrespect her. The reason why she needs to “pull rank” as often as she does is because others do not respect the fact that she, as the Chief Stew, is one of the higher-ups on the boat. In the show, she tends to do this by mentioning that she has “three stripes on her epaulets” and they have one. This seems to just be her slightly nicer way of saying “hey, I’m your superior, show me some respect,” and is necessary in the contexts in which it is used- such as when she was trying to tell Bobby he can’t bring a girl back to the boat and he resisted.

In season one, junior deckhand Danny gets involved in an argument between Ben and Hannah and tells Hannah she has an “ugly personality”. It doesn’t seem to matter to Danny that she is his superior, even after Bryan had already warned him not to get involved with the arguments between superiors. Despite the fact that Hannah makes very clear her expectations of others and her role, others often do not like to think they need to listen to her. In season one, the stewardesses respect Bryan as he is their superior, no matter how much of a jerk he is, yet Hannah doesn’t receive the same level of respect from the deck crew.

The issue: Men sometimes acquire a false sense of superiority based in masculinity and don’t handle it well when it doesn’t translate into the hierarchy of their workplace.  

2) She is labelled as lazy and not hands-on enough. Hannah has high expectations of her stews and has a “no-BS” attitude. At times, she can be a bit impatient with people when she thinks they need to grow a thicker skin, and say in her confessional that she’s not up for dealing with their problems all the time. When Hannah decides to have someone else step in for dinner service because Lauren is having an emotional breakdown mid-dinner service, Bugsy says that if she was Chief Stew, she would be more hands-on in this situation. If one of the deckhands was having an emotional breakdown while they were trying to dock the boat, nobody would expect the bosun to confront the issue in that exact moment. That isn’t being hands-on, it’s putting the emotional needs of one crew member above the charter guests they are being paid to serve.

Hannah actually is quite hands-on and nurturing with her stews. In season one, when Julia was upset with how Bobby treated her, Hannah purposefully kept her on the boat in the cabins the next day, wanting to protect her. In season two, after Bugsy’s grandmother passed, she was there for her to support her wholeheartedly, and even told her a very personal story about losing her brother. As a woman in a leadership role on the boat, Hannah is up against the need to continue to do her job at a high level and also the gendered criticisms when she does not conform to traditionally female ways of behaving.

The issue: Society punishes women for the gender-incongruent actions that are often necessary for them to be successful.

3) She’s called a “slut” who “throws herself at everyone”. First, slut-shaming itself is a gendered problem, and Hannah is shamed for making moves on both Bobby and Ben within a season, yet Ben is not shamed for kissing Hannah and then sleeping with Tiffany the same night. Further, Ben clearly cared deeply about Hannah and was giving her mixed signals and she was shamed for still going for it, yet Julia explicitly told Bobby multiple times that she had a boyfriend and wasn’t interested and people still sympathized with him after he continued to guilt-trip and blame her for not returning his love.

As Hannah says multiple times throughout the show: “when I want something I go and get it.” This is a more traditionally male mentality; the expectation of women is that they will sit back and drop hints until a man makes the first move. Sure, Hannah can be quite forward especially when she’s drinking, but she never crosses a line where she is forcing herself onto someone. When she is turned down, she is shamed for making the move in the first place; in sharp contrast with when men are turned down, in which case women are shamed for “leading them on” or “not giving them a chance.”

The issue: Ambition and willingness to make the first move is something highly praised in men, but shamed in women.

An important final note is that Hannah’s mistakes, when she does make them, are often blown out of proportion by peers and viewers alike. The high expectations on her are in part because she is a superior, completely justifiably. However, people are more willing to give men the benefit of the doubt and more chances to prove themselves.

Hannah’s not perfect, but she’s often subject to undue criticism that exposes the prevalence of oppressive gender roles in the eyes of viewers and other crew aboard the Below Deck Med superyachts, regardless of their own gender.

Posted in applying to law school

What Surprised Me About the Law School Process

The University of Virginia Rotunda

Before applying to law school, I was unaware of the ways the college process differs from the law school process. I’ve put together a few of the biggest surprises I encountered applying and committing to a law school:

The status-checker rabbit hole is real. Schools provide applicants with an online status checker to allow them to stay updated on the progress of their application. This tells them when the application is received, when it is deemed complete, and in most cases, when it goes under review by staff. When an application is looked at by a second or even sometimes third person, the date on the status checker changes to reflect the most recent date that the application was reviewed. Different schools have different patterns from which when your date does and does not change that can drop hints about what your outcome might be and/or when you may hear the final decision (such as schools being known for accepting people whose review changes on certain days of the week, or replying to people within a certain number of days after a status checker change). Most of the school-specific information is available on websites such as Top Law Schools. I found myself refreshing status checkers multiple times per day at some points, willing to see a date change that might just mean I would get in. I almost wish I never got invested in this, because though it did give me mostly accurate heads-up about when and/or in what direction my application status was going, it made it impossible for me to stop thinking about my applications.

There are many different types of interviews used by various schools, and the people conducting them are generally very nice. Many law schools do not conduct any interviews, some attempt to interview all applicants, and others interview selectively. Throughout my law school process, I interviewed for four of the seventeen schools I applied to. I had a group interview, a phone interview, an alumni interview, and an in-person interview with a Dean of Admissions. All of the people who interviewed me were down to Earth, friendly, and approachable. None of them wanted to point out the weaknesses of my application or grill me on my life choices. There were no trick questions that I felt unprepared for, and I left remembering that personnel conducting interviews have an interest in giving you a positive impression of their school. They don’t find joy through torturing people in interviews.

Yes, admission is rolling; no, this is not a guarantee you’ll hear back in a timely manner. I submitted my applications in late October, and figured the only people hearing back from schools in late March/April would be people who submitted right before the deadline. In short, I was wrong. One school I applied to did not send out a single waitlist offer until late April regardless of when the person submitted their application. Other schools seem to wait until after the application deadline when they have a more complete picture of the applicant pool to respond to certain borderline applicants. The rolling admissions process gives the possibility for, but doesn’t guarantee, a swift, timely response. Another important point is that hearing back late doesn’t always mean waitlist or rejection. I was accepted to the school I will be attending in late March, once I had already convinced myself that I had no chance of being accepted. This process differs by school, but it is helpful to remember that silence itself isn’t a no.

It’s commonplace to negotiate for scholarship money. For many people, myself included, the idea of trying to negotiate for scholarship money is nerve-wracking and generally unpleasant. However, many people do it, and there’s no shame in it. I inquired about merit aid from the three schools that did not initially offer me any, and two of them granted my request. The worst thing that can happen is they can say no, and though it is a bit awkward if they do, it is worth trying. Law schools, though they definitely don’t love this practice, accept that it is common and will not hate you or rescind your application if you inquire about aid.

Many law students are enthusiastic about helping prospective students. I was consistently surprised and impressed by how friendly and genuinely helpful the students I spoke to at various law schools were. One student, who I will call Carla, mentioned to me that she places great importance on recruiting the classmates she wants. For her, this meant helping to recruit more LGBTQ students by going above and beyond to make sure admitted students were welcomed with open arms. Every student I interacted with at every school I went to wanted to talk to me about my law school choices, tell me why they like their school best, and help me work through the separating factors between schools I was looking at. I met one other noteworthy student, who I will call Yasmin, who after just half an hour of having coffee with me told me that if I chose to attend that school, she would sit down with me in the beginning of the year and teach me how to outline effectively. I was so touched that this person who barely knew me would offer to do that. It really goes to show that law students aren’t just conversing with prospective students out of a feeling of obligation, but because they are invested in bringing more people similar to themselves into their school community. 

Anything in particular about the law school application process you’d like to hear more about? Please let me know!