#BringBackOurGirls…update

Just yesterday I was horrified to read that hundreds of bodies had been found in Nigeria. These were thought to be those of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram . Today there is a silver lining with a news piece that more than 700 women and children have been released by Boko Haram. Its not known whether any of them are from the group of schoolgirls that were kidnapped last year, but …heres hoping. Either way its a good thing for those women and children. But, stay tuned….

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patriarchy, systems of oppression and blatant old fashioned sexism, still alive after all these years (part 1)

The email warns “a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out” against those in attendance, students, staff, and the women’s center. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs,” the email continues. “This threat is giving (The University) a chance to stop it….I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America.”

This email was sent this month in response to  a planned speaking event at Utah State University featuring Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist culture critic who recently has been lauded for her research on female stereotypes in the video game industry  ….all for challenging sexism in video games.  In 2012, Sarkeesian was targeted by an online harassment campaign following her launch of a Kickstarter project to fund the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. At the same time, supporters donated over $150,000 to the project, far beyond the $6,000 she had sought. The situation was covered extensively in the media, placing Sarkeesian at the center of discussions about misogyny in video game culture and online harassment. It would seem that Ms. Sarkeesian has struck a chord with a few people in the gaming world. One could surmise that is probably the result of her uncovering their truths, for if what she said was not true, why get so worked up over it?

This is apparently also crime to some gamers worth threatening rape, death, acts of terrorism, and massacre for. The day before, members of the university administration received an email warning that a shooting massacre would be carried out at the event. And under Utah law, she was told, the campus police could not prevent people with weapons from entering her talk. It was decided that canceling the event was the solution. I however can think of many better solutions that do not involve bowing to misogynist cyber terrorists. While I don’t condone putting Ms. Sarkeesian in harms way I think canceling the event altogether was a huge mistake. This sets the standard that women can be silenced with one threat. It also shows that society will tolerate such behavior. Had I been the decision maker in this matter, first off I would actively be seeking the person responsibility and handing there ass to them by way of a stiff prison sentence. Second, I would not have canceled the event. Okay so the University cant provide security. Can they move it to a place that would? An Event Center? A police precinct perhaps? Minimally  make it a webcast & present it at a screening on campus. Or if the University was afraid to do that, why not a podcast sent out to all University email addresses? There are many solutions to this situation. Backing down to sexism and lunacy should not be one of them.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 48 percent of game players in the United States are women, a figure that has grown as new opportunities to play games through mobile devices, social networks and other avenues have proliferated. Game developers, however, continue to be mostly male: In a survey conducted earlier this year by the International Game Developers Association, a nonprofit association for game developers, only 21 percent of respondents said they were female.

In this day and century , the fact that the permissive attitude of misogyny in many forms and many industries continues to pervade society is inexcusable. Its quite frankly ridiculous. Guys, women make up at last half the population. Its not rocket science. This is the 21st century. Women have jobs and interests in all areas of society. As such its your job to adjust. Move your chair over and make room. Or take your ball and go home..

 

#BringBackOurGirls

Three weeks ago, 234 girls were kidnapped by an extremist group in Nigeria with the intent to sell the girls into slavery. Why should this be important to us? History tells us where hate is allowed to foster, it can easily spread. THe girls in Nigeria arent just 234 girls in an isolated situation. There are millions of girls worldwide affected by extremists with the same ideas. IN the case of the Nigerian schoolgirls, an extremist group by the name of Boko Haram’s name translates to “Western education is a sin” in the local language. The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

I guess I shouldn’t fail to mention here that I’m mostly a “stay at home” wife/mother who works around my family’s schedule. I also have an AA degree in Communication as well as a dual degree in Sociology and Womens/Gender studies (Double major – oh the horror!) . I think education is important no matter what you do in life. There is no such as thing as being too intelligent, being too articulate, having too much critical thinking skills. Education serves a purpose and advances people in many ways. I’m sorry that there are people in this world who do not see its value. The men that claim education should only be reserved for men show how it is wasted on the likes of them. Clearly there is no cure for stupid. But for those with desire to learn, with the passion to change themselves and the world around them, to better themselves…education  is key.

The extremists in Nigeria could be anyone. They could be anywhere. By that, I don’t mean that terrorists are at every corner. Ignorance is. These women need to be brought home. They need to be brought back to school. The world is watching — and ignorance needs to be fought against so that not only these girls are returned to the education they deserve, but so those who believe otherwise are told that there is no place in this world for such ignorance. These girls aren’t just Nigeria’s girls. They are our girls. Bring back our girls.

(Postscript I have called the White House comment line so President Obama knows my opinion. I urge you to let him know yours too. Write letters to the editors of papers and magazines who arent reporting this story. There is much we can do from our homes to tell our leaders that this will not stand)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/03/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/

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Oh I’m sorry, I thought this was another country…

I recently read about a situation in Texas in which a girl was raped. The young girl had the courage to go through a trial and testify against her attacker. The Judge in the case, upon hearing arguments, weighed her decision (yes a female judge!) on the victim’s past sexual history. The judge stated hat given the fact the victim had a baby & previous sexual relationships with other boys that “she was not the victim she portrayed herself to be.” “The victim also testified that she only wanted to kiss Young, and had told him “no” and “stop” during the attack.” (Huffington Post) Correct me if I am wrong, but isnt SAYING NO by definition NOT GIVING CONSENT Thus making it rape? I sure think so! Regardless of what this girl was going prior to the assault, NO MEANS NO. A girl is allowed to kiss a guy & not have sex with him. Plain and simple. This judge could use not only education in sexual assault but the basic laws surrounding it. It is appalling, horrifying, completely absurd that in THIS COUNTRY this kind of ruling is allowed. Next time perhaps the Judge would like to require there to be 3 male witnesses to the crime too?

Here is a link  to the full article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/sir-young-rapist-gets-light-sentence_n_5251116.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000021

And here is a link to the Judge’s webpage in which you may write her  your thoughts on this verdict

http://judgejeaninehoward.com/contact.php#results

My email to the Judge (b/c I cant call her “honorable”): “I’m seriously disturbed by a lot of things going on in the United States today that just defy logic: states where women can charged for miscarrying a child, allowing rape for completely asinine reasons, politicians with no knowledge whatsoever of the female reproductive system talking ab how women can “shut down” if they are “Legitimately” raped…and your recent ruling that a young 14 year old “wasn’t a victim” simple because she’d had previous sexual encounters & had had a child is appalling. ANY woman can be raped regardless of prior sexual history. You not only uphold archaic views when you state this, you send a message to all other rape victims that is appalling. I ask you to rethink your views on rape, and hope to see this appealed for a JUST verdict.”

 

POSTSCRIPT: 5/7/14 The judge has received so much flack for this case that she recused herself from it after sentencing. I”d like to think it’s because of my letter to her (just go with it)  http://aattp.org/judge-recuses-herself-from-case-after-sentencing-14-year-olds-rapist-to-just-45-day-jail-term-video/

Sexual Assault Awareness Month should be every month (part 3)

I feel like sharing a personal anecdote. I enjoyed the 3 part series on eating disorders & delving a little deeper than just a one blog rant. I intended with this blog to steer away from anything personal (Just the facts ma’am) but it was fun to weave some story into it as well. This isn’t too deep, dark or personal so don’t worry. Its more of a cautionary tale. Or a “It Could Have Been Me” moment.

For people who question a woman who ask “what was she doing drinking?” “…going home with him?” “…flirting with him?” and all the questions that some women who experience acquaintance rape deal with, I can tell you, people sometimes just don’t know  or think something could happen to them because they  “know” the person. And no means no right?

So okay, many years ago,  I was 22 years old, newly single having just ended a 2+year relationship. I wasn’t looking to date, just people to have fun with. I’m not a one night stand person & have always been upfront about that with guys. Some people of course think if THEY are getting hot,  maybe a girl will be getting hot too…yeah, not me, I can put the brakes on just fine. I mean what I say. I say what I mean. So anyways..yes, newly single, still navigating the single world. I’d just lost a good friend in a car accident as well, so “fun” was definitely something I was aiming to do in effort to keep myself occupied.Being 22, this involved clubbing, bars & parties…. Typical for anyone of that age. One night, I was working the closing shift at my job  at a bookstore, when this guy I casually knew walked in. I did not know “Jack” that well but he was a friend of my friend who’d just passed away & he was cute and kind of flirty… so I was slightly flirty in return. I was off at 11p and “Jack” invited me to meet up at a nearby bar so at 11pm – for me back then, the night was still young!- I met up with Jack. He had a friend with him. It was relaxed and chill, I drank a few things and probably was a bit buzzed by the end of the night, not fall down sloppy drunk but definitely good & happy. Jack told me he lived downtown and was within walking distance. He asked if I wanted to go over to his place to “hang out.” Now,  okay I get it. It was probably not the best idea to go to his place at 1:30-2am after drinking a few solid drinks, but we had been having a good time just chatting , hanging out, etc. I felt safe b/c he had a friend with him and frankly, other than being a little flirty-flirty earlier he didn’t seem overly interested in me.  And remember, I was newly single. I was 20 when I met my previous boyfriend and had almost excursively gone to any drinking type engagements with him and never had to worry about safety issues.

 

So off we trotted to “Jack’s” house. It was a quiet building which was odd for a complex downtown on a Saturday night, but he assured me there were neighbors. He did not have roommates & his friend had not gone with us. I was feeling a little unsure of the situation but he had been perfectly nice so I felt I had nothing to worry about. Anyways we go in, he pulls out some pretzels or whatever, and we sat and chit=chat, very chill right? We were chatting & mid-conversation he just started kissing me. Maybe I should have expected that, but I was honestly surprised, but not entirely put off. I kissed him back, we had a little  fun but nothing beyond PG. At some point he did imply he wanted sex & expected me to stay and provide that for him. I told him it’d been fun but I didn’t do the one night stand thing. At which point nice “Jack” turned into not so nice “Jack” (Jerk?) He got up and locked his front door. I’m not sure what he thought he was doing other than trying to intimidate me, but honesty at that point I had had to deal with a few stupid guys in the past month or two and had just about enough of the single life. What’d I do? I got up, unlocked the door & walked (stumbled, staggered…) out.  I lived about a mile and half from downtown which I found was very empty by 3am. I proceeded to walk (stumble…stagger..) home cursing myself along the way. “Jack” caught up with me in his car & offered me a ride home. At that point I took the ride cause I was already debating the merits of walking home at 3am half drunk. So we get to my house, I thank him & get out. I go up to my front door, unlock it …and “Jack”s walking right on up with me. I thank him again and start going in. “Jack” stands in my doorway and proceeds to yell at me about being “overly moral” or something like that. He essentially implied  I’m obligated to sleep w/ him since I turned him on (um, sorry? thanks?) and took up his Saturday night. He proceeded to rant and rave some more before I told him I wasn’t going to be lectured into sex, it was in no way a turn on for me, that his rantings might wake up other people I lived with & if he didn’t leave I was calling the police. He stood in my doorway a few moments longer & said a few more choice words before finally leaving. In retrospect, I’m glad he wasn’t aggressive and backed off when I threatened him because I had been worried about what he’d do if he called me on my bluff. Because no one else was home. And my phone was in the next room.

Thankfully this story ends more or less well, but it might not have if “Jack” had been more aggressive or truly angry over hearing the word “no.” Sure it wasn’t smart of me to drink with him or go to his house, I’m sure he thought something would come of it but you know what? He didn’t have the right to harass me and yell at be and guilt me for saying no, either. I seriously went to bed and cried. And I never talked to “Jack” again.  (PS I plead naivete here. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say….)

I give you this story not because I really feel like getting deep and dark but b/c people see the statistics 1 in 4 and wonder  if they are true and how these things happen. In a short  survey (a mental tally) of my friends, I’d say those statistics are true. As to “how this can happen”?  Sigh. All too easily.  I’m just glad in my case, “Jack” took my “no” and went home.

 

. Stay tuned for part 4 …how to teach people to respect boundaries, the word no and other fine things you shouldn’t do. “How Not to Be a Potential Rapist 101” (Answer: “Dont be a rapist” The End)

 

I Feel pretty (unpretty) part 3

“I wish I could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty to..”  People probably do not think of the band TLC when they think of “feminism” and those that stand for it. However their music articulated a lot of issues women deal with in our modern day culture. In this country women are bombarded with images that are held up as ideal. Men also absorb these messages. The combination is a dangerous mixture of warped expectations. A simple survey of women’s magazines shows common themes: Fashion (usually out of the average woman’s price or size range), beauty (again usually overpriced & not practical to the everyday woman but yet a full face of make-up is held up as the norm by such publications. There is 99.9% of the time a section on a new diet. The implications by these magazines are huge. Women are told indirectly how they should look, how they should eat & how to catch a man. It would seem there are many areas of American life that have not progressed passed the 1950’s.

On the flipside there is a growing trend of self love that borders on reverse discrimination. Facebook pages such as “Curvy Girls are Better Than Skinny Girls” have popped up. While I commend women who do not meet the model stereotype (and lets face it, most of us dont) I am concerned that this self love is just a destructive. Tearing down others does not lift another group up. I commend anyone who is confident in themselves regardless of size. I agree that Kate Winslet is certainly healthier looking than Kate Moss. That said, this attitude only serves to substitute one form of hate for another. This does nothing to lift up women as a whole. It is up to us to combat stereotypes by rejecting them. It is up to us to accept each other as we are and promote love of all body types.

I have friends of all body types. I love all of my friends and consider them beautiful in their own unique ways. I myself am in fact a size 2…but a proportional one. I’m 4’10” and extremely (genetically) petite. I couldn’t be a supermodel anymore than my non-size 2 friends. I”m okay with that. What I am not okay with is the backlash towards thin people, some of which I have personally experienced. I tire of hearing how “unhealthy” I look or how I should “eat more.’ I feel incredibly self conscious when people comment about my size. I don’t comment on my friends bodies. This seems horribly invasive to me. More so when I find friends have joined the aforementioned Facebook groups. Of course if I had a friend I was concerned about, I would hope I could pull them aside and let them know I’m concerned & cite specific things I’m concerned about, in a loving way. However I have never done that because I’ve never felt any of my “bigger than me” friends didnt take care of themselves. And that is the key no matter what size a person is.  I exercise. I eat right. I don’t starve myself. I also do not read women’s magazines or any of their recommended diets. I am confident in my appearance, so comments such as the ones mentioned aren’t really anything to be except annoying and offensive.  Logic and the USDA have issued guidelines for healthy living & healthy diet which I loosely follow. All people should look at these guidelines to tailor them to their lives. Dieting should be done in conjunction with a program (Weight Watchers etc.) or a doctor in my opinion. Many fad diets-including & especially some of the ones I have seen in magazines- are downright dangerous. I cannot stress enough these things: self love, acceptance of others, educating yourselves. These things, when practiced by all of us, can help heal and help eliminate these stereotypes. And throw away those magazines.

I Feel pretty (unpretty) part 2

So I said this might get personal, bear w/ me…I like telling stories from my life but this also applies to women everywhere I think.

I was born into a family which includes petite women.  I only grew to be 4’10”. UI have brown hair and blue eyes. I like me. BUt it took me a long time to do this.

In my middle school years, I was surrounded by peers trying to figure out what was “cool.” I saw movies in which the only thing a kid had to do to be “cool” was to have a makeover and friends appeared. This actually is a great deal how my middle school peers behaved. Towards the end of the year I convinced my mom to let me get a body wave, buy make-up & get new clothes at Macy’s. Just like that, I was “cool.”

As I got older magazines I bought told me I needed to be more than “cool.” I needed to be “beautiful.” But the models were all blonde haired and six feet tall. I did not feel I measured up.

Comments were made to me that I needed to “start watching it.” Although I was a normal sized kid, I started seeing myself as far and ugly. I could see places where I felt I needed to lose weight or to improve upon. This started me on a bad path which ended in my hospitalization & treatment for anorexia at age 13.

As time went on it became a struggle to let go of the analyzing my body, counting calories, worrying about my weight. With practice and help I was able  to let go of it all by the time I reached high school.

When I was in my early 20s I was a healthy size 8 and had no problems with my appearance..I started dating someone and things seemed good. It was not long into the relationship before he started telling me things I’d heard years before…that I needed to start watching it…that his friends girlfriends were smaller and prettier….that I was lucky someone like me could find a guy to date her….I again started analyzing myself, wondering if I was “good enough” and seeing things that, in retrospect, weren’t there. When that relationship ended, I Thought I found someone else to accept me but alas this guy was the same as the one before…Self esteem and self confidence were viewed as a threat. In looking back, I was a normal weight. I was cute and funny and could have dated other people that were nicer…and I think both those guys knew that. Perhaps it was their own insecurities that lead them to want to tear me down, who knows.

It took some time on my own, reflection, maturity & general just work on my part to change the way I thought of myself, and let others project their own insecurities onto me.  I’m now married with a child. I dont count calories. I stopped wearing make-up for a time because I wanted my husband & son to be used to my natural face. (Have you ever seen a woman who wears make up regularly & then are shocked to see her w/o it? I dont want to be one of those women!)   I do occasionally read womens mags still but with an understanding that the vast amount of it-high fashion, expensive make-up for the entire face, the latest fast diet, the airbrushed cover model- does not apply to me. Ironically I’m a size 2 at my natural, non-calorie counting, non-food depriving self…(reference back to petite women in the family, I am one)  I would be shocked & horrified if my husband (who is neither of my aforementioned past boyfriends) said anything to me about being ugly, fat or simply not good enough. I have children to set an example for too, not only in haelthy living, but healthy expectations of themselves & others.

I wish I could have skipped my 20s & gone into my more mature, more knowledgeable, more secure 30s..but live and learn.

So ok…there was a point to these anecdotes that relates to societal expectations of women, stereotypes, beauty myths…I suppose this will be a 3 part series then 🙂