New York City is not an easy place to live. It costs an arm and a leg to do so much as lift a finger; we’re a pool of millions competing for jobs, apartments, space in general, other people’s time, ways to be heard. And while all of this is widely known and universally experienced, it’s still worth saying because, when times be tough, the only immediate recourse available to us is talking it out—preferably with someone who has a minute to listen (which, again, doesn’t happen often here).
But perhaps there are few groups of people for whom the ability to talk and be heard is needed more, than for those attempting the heinous activity of dating in New York City. I’ve done this and, usually, it makes me want to shout things at elevated pitches. More helpful than that, however, is having reasoned (or, let’s be honest, mostly emotional) conversation about the last mostly-awful experience you have lived at the hands of a thoughtless other, with anyone else going through the same thing, and who therefore gets it.
And that’s why It’s Not Personal, a Brooklyn-based female dating collective and growing anthology is important. It’s primary goal is to provide a safe space for talking about our pressing dating woes, with those who want to listen. And as dating humans, really, we cannot ask for much more.
Tonight, It’s Not Personal is hosting a special Valentine’s week event, TRULY MADLY DEEPLY, as an alternative to February 14th. It will raise money for RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence non-profit in the country, and they’ve also lined up a whole bunch of great sponsors to make this a valuable night for everyone, whether single, dating, hitched, or otherwise. We spoke with It’s Not Personal co-founder Sara Radin about the event tonight, which will take place from 10pm to 2am at the brand new South Williamsburg venue, Private Party.
What do your typical meet-ups looks like, how often do they happen, and what sort of response have you gotten from them?
We’re currently doing a creative residency at the New Women Space and we’ve been hosting monthly workshops there ever since the space opened in September. It’s really helped us define our project. Usually we start off by introducing our project and the background story, then we give participants some relationship related prompts – past examples include “First Impressions” and “Best Break Up You’ve Ever Had.” We provide all of the writing and art materials for participants to create something inspired by their love life, and then at the end we do a share and tell. However, there’s no pressure to share a project if someone isn’t comfortable. We’ve seen some really amazing work and discussions come out of these workshops. At the last one, someone shared a disturbing experience with a guy and the group helped her craft an honest and assertive text to him. Overall, the response has been incredibly positive and everyone has enjoyed the workshops. However, one thing we’re working on is being more intersectional and inclusive. We welcome all those who are female identifying to participate in this project and attend our workshops. We’re also thinking up ways to bring men into the dialogue too, but for right now we’re starting with the ladies first.
What made you personally start It’s Not Personal? Why do you think women, especially, need this forum in New York City?
It all stemmed from a personal break up. I had been seeing a new guy for a short period of time, when he broke up with me out of nowhere in-person and in a very serious way. I appreciated the grand gesture but was totally caught off guard since we had only known each other for two weeks. After we said goodbye, I got in the shower and was overcome with emotion – I began to process the short lived relationship, and felt an immense sense of acceptance and gratitude. I decided to write about it and composed a poem called “Thank you.” It felt very freeing, empowering, and fun to get my emotions out on paper. I ended up writing ten pages of poems about guys I had previously dated. I shared it with Vanessa Gattinella, my co-founder, and we decided to start a project that would give other women the opportunity to create art and writing inspired by their love lives. That was almost a year ago, and now we’ve hosted more than five events and established a monthly column with Bust Magazine Online. In a world of ghosting, benching and breadcrumbing, this forum is absolutely necessary and we’re really seeing people latch onto the idea. It’s a universal topic almost everyone can relate to. Through It’s Not Personal, we hope to foster honest and healthy relationships for women and help them find comfort in their relationship status (whatever that may be). We’re also using our platform to raise awareness and money for RAINN.
Tell me about the event tonight: What sorts of goodies and entertainment will be present?
Since it’s the week of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to do something to celebrate and spread the word about our project, as well as raise money for RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence non-profit. I’ve been wanting to organize a 90’s themed party for a while now, so we thought why not combine ideas? Tonight we have two DJ’s performing – Amelia Holt and Wamoo (Juan Alvarez), who are two of my close friends and constant collaborators. Then we have artist Ashley Yang-Thompson doing drawings for $3, and a raffle with items donated by Ideal Woman, Sticky Baby, Dame Products, What’s In Your Box, and Spectrum Boutique. On the way out, party goers will get a goodie bag containing condoms and lube by Sustain, as well as candy and other knickknacks. There will also be a projected film of clips from 90’s rom com movies, which Wamoo helped us create. The party is open to all genders and it is taking place at a brand new venue called Private Party in South Williamsburg, which is so new it’s not even listed online yet. We also launched a mini fashion collection with Sticky Baby (pictured here), called Love Me More, which benefits RAINN as well. You can shop it now at shopstickybaby.com—there’s only one item left!