Lessons from the Green-Eyed Monster

16 Jul

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about jealousy.

I don’t consider myself to be a terribly jealous person, but I’m certainly not immune to the feeling.  When I see a person who is stunningly beautiful or  crazy talented or has access to resources (money, mainly) that I wish I had for myself.  I feel a pang, for sure.  When I was younger, I was often consumed by my jealousies.  I knew them for what they were and hated them.  Now I value them.  Jealousies have a place in us.

I’m not a fan of dividing feelings into “good” and “bad.”  I know folks who go through life trying to repress all their “negative” (anger/jealousy/selfishness) feelings.  I don’t live inside their heads and won’t presume to criticize the way they live their lives and manage their emotions, but I choose a different attitude in regards to my “negative” feelings.  Our anger, our jealousy, our insecurity, our selfishness–they have a place inside us.  And I believe that if we endeavor to accept them, examine them, and then release them (rather than repress them or right them), we stand a greater chance of being happy.

Jealousy as a Clue

Much as anger can clue us in to when our boundaries are being crossed, jealousy can clue us in to some interesting crappola as well.  Jealousy helps us know what we value, what we want, and what might be missing..  Do you feel jealousy pangs when you witness undeniable talent?  Great beauty?  Happy family life?  Power?  Possessions?  Clue in on what makes you jealous and go from there.  It might not always be straightforward or easy.  It might not always be pleasant.  You might find that what your jealousies reveal to you are not things you like to see in yourself, in which case you might have some major work to do.  But it starts by playing Sherlock Holmes and figuring out what your jealousies are telling you.

Comparing Leads to Despairing

Jealousy stops being productive once it starts controlling us.  Because that shit can take over your life, and that helps no one.

When I was a very young adult (late teens/early twenties), I was obsessed with two things (well, three things, but “getting a boyfriend” isn’t relevant to this).  The two things were: being beautiful and being talented.  I had been told since childhood that I was those two things and came to believe that any chance at happiness or success would only occur if I remained beautiful and talented.  So I spent several years of my life preoccupied with a ranking system in my head, that I was constantly updating.  “She’s a better singer, but I’m a better actress.”  “She’s funnier but I’m smarter.”  “She’s thinner but I have a prettier face.”  “She’s talented but I work harder.”  “Oh fuck, she’s prettier AND more talented.”  “Oh, thank God, I’m the prettiest one here.”  “Oh no! My scene was the worst!”  “She’s so skinny why am I not that skinny it doesn’t matter if you’re pretty if you’re fat and I’m not even pretty anymore I haven’t been pretty since I was 16 and now I can’t even count on being smart everyone’s smart and I’m not good at anything and my life is over.”

It was exhausting and ruining and shameful.  And it left no time or attention to actually bettering myself in those and other aspects of my life.  You can’t be brave in acting class if you’re trying like hell to claw your way up to “best” and are afraid to take risks or look foolish.  You can’t fully participate in school if you’re too busy figuring out if you’re the smartest or best looking one in the class.  And you sure as fuck can’t be a good friend, teammate, or person when you’re so fucking self-absorbed that you can’t see past your nose and where it ranks in some bullshit, made-up system.  But that was my life.  Until I hit 23 or so, and decided I was sick of being a despicable human being and started to wise up.

I saw how far I had come in an acting class a few years later.  A friend was performing her scene, and she was killing it.  The familiar thought came to my head: I wish I could do what she can do.  But then, unbidden, a second thought followed: but there are things I can do that she can’t do.  This wasn’t (mentally) said with a sense of superiority or comparison or ranking.  It simply meant that  I can’t be anyone other than who I am.  But, on the flip side, no one else can be me.  I can learn from what other people do and are, but it will always come through the filter of me.  And that’s a GOOD THING.  It’s silly and pointless to compare yourself to another in a toxic way–but more than that, it’s arrogant.  How dare I assume that someone else’s life is perfect from the few little clues I’m privy to?  I have no idea what they struggle with or fight for or cry about.

Who Drives the Car?

I’ve become obsessed recently with this idea of “driving the car.”  I am an emotional person who believes in feeling my feelings.  But I don’t want my reason to be a slave to my emotional life.  And I certainly don’t want my emotional life to be so central that I’m blind to what is going on with other people.  It’s something I struggle with constantly and probably will forever.  But recently I heard just a snippet of an NPR interview (I didn’t hear who was being interviewed and can’t properly credit–apologies) where the interviewee made a reference to knowing when to let the intellect “drive the car” while the emotions took to the backseat.

It really, really resonated with me.

A day or so later, I found myself in one of those difficult-but-necessary relationship talks.  My boyfriend was laying some truth on me, and before I even knew what was happening, I opened my mouth and replied: “Something about what you just said upset me, but I’m choosing to let my reason drive the car right now.  Just know that we’ll have to come back to it.”

Of course, I was so busy congratulating myself on what a mature and responsible response I had just given that I didn’t hear a damn word of the next three or so things he said after that, but…baby steps.

I think the idea of driving the car can be applied in moments when we’re experiencing pangs of jealousy.  It might be helpful to say to ourselves (and as cheesy as it sounds, I think we LEGIT have to say it to ourselves): “I’m feeling jealous right now, but I’m not going to let that drive the car in this moment.  I’ll look at it later.”

So What I’m Saying Is

From where I stand, jealousy is a natural part of life.  And if we’re smart about it, our jealousies can reveal things to us.  Just always remember that we are only getting a small piece of the narrative, and we never know the details of another person’s experience.  And while jealousy is valuable, we should try to keep it from driving the car.

Oh, and for the record, I fail at this all the time.

But we keep on.

 

A Summer of Magical Reading

9 Jul winter's tale

Ho. Lee. Crap.  I love summertime.

I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, which is the best place to summer in the entire universe.  Sure, it’s gray and rainy for 8 months out of the year, but the remaining 4 are the loveliest you’ll find ever.

It’s magical.

And speaking of magic, the last several books I’ve read have all been magical in one way or another.  So for those of you who are like me and like a little magic with your iced tea and sunglasses, here’s the lowdown on what I’ve been reading.  Just a note: most of these books fall into the “magical realism” genre in one way or another.  If you’re seeking legit fantasy, you’re gonna have to find another blog. Sorry.  But here we go:

 

1. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:  It’s funny that I’m starting a list about summer reading with a book called Winters Tale, but life is funny sometimes.  And summer or winter, this book is worth your time.  winter's taleThis is the type of book that makes me love books.  It so large, sprawling and epic that it makes my ribs stretch in the reading of it to make room for ALL THE FEELINGS in my heart, yet also deeply personal and intimate.  It takes place in an alternate version of turn-of-the-century (the last century, duh) New York City, and is a love letter to that city.  It follows Peter Lake, a thief and an outsider, as he meets and befriends the angelic white horse Athansor and falls in love with the beautiful Beverly, who can hear the universe.  The story contains miracles, a cloud wall, and a mythical village upstate that is hearbreakingly beautiful.  I adored this book with my heart and soul.  It took me months to read, and I found myself putting in down for days or weeks at a time.  Not because I didn’t like it, but because I loved it so much I felt I could only take it in small doses.  It’s not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one.  If you prefer your summer reads to be of the page-turning variety, maybe put this one on hold until the nights are longer.  But don’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading this great novel.  Oh, and apparently they made a movie.  I refuse to see it because I’m pretty positive I’d hate it.

 

2.  Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke.  WHAT?  ANOTHER SUMMER BOOK WITH “WINTER” IN THE TITLE?  mind of winterWhatever.  I play by my own rules.  ANYWAY.  This book is less “magical” and more “psychological thriller/ghost story,” but again, I play by my own rules.  If you’re seeking a page-turning thriller this summer, this might be right up your alley.  It follows Holly Judge and her 15 year old daughter Tatiana, whom she adopted from Russia as a toddler.  It’s Christmas morning, and Holly wakes up with a pit in her stomach, and the feeling that something followed them home from Russia years ago.  Due to a crazy blizzard, Holly and Tatiana are stuck alone in their house on the holiday.  The interactions between the two escalate from typical mother and teenage daughter spats to encounters that are truly bizarre and frightening.  Neither character is truly likable (Tatiana can be bratty and Holly’s obsession with her “princess” daughter is cloying), but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment in this book.  In fact, watching these two imperfect characters and wound each other and then try to make up is fascinating. Kasischke’s writing kept me on edge from start to finish, and I read the entire novel in a single day.  No matter how hot the beach where you read this, you’ll feel chills.  Trust me.

3. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan.  I’ve known the film Portrait of Jennieportrait of jennie (1948, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten) for as long as I can remember.  It’s a classic in my family, as my mom was named after Jennifer Jones and called “Jennie” as a little girl.  It’s the story of a depression-era artist who encounters a little girl who seems to be of another time.  Each time they meet, she is years older, although it’s only a few weeks or months since they’ve last seen each other.  She is moving in and out of time, and her “timelessness” inspires him to paint her portrait.  I’ve always loved the film, but had no idea it was a book.  A few weeks ago, I saw it on the shelf at my boss’s house and commented on it–and his wife insisted that I borrowed it.  Friends, it’s lovely.  It’s sweet and sentimental and also quite unsettling.  Not for everyone, but the romantics out there definitely should give this a read.

4. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.  I love a good post-apocalyptic YA novel as much as the next girl, and this one, based on Homer’s Odyssey, seemed like a slam dunk.  love in the time of global warmingBut I found that my reaction was mixed.  The story follows Pen, art art-loving teenager, as she navigates through a devastated Los Angeles after a cataclysmic “earth shaker.”  Block’s writing is lush and the world she creates is both frighting and beautiful…but something left me unmoved.  There is something in her writing that doesn’t quite connect with me (I never could get into to the Weetzie Bat books, hugely popular during my middle school years).  And I found the constant references to The Odyssey tiring–I would have enjoyed it more had the characters not kept commenting on the fact that they were following the Homer work.  But I did appreciate the complex and beautifully written LGBT characters in the book–something that was missing from much of the YA fiction I read as a wee one.

5.  The River King by Alice Hoffman.  PSYCH!  I’m actually smack in the middle of this one.  But so far it’s enchanting and haunting as all get-out–pretty typical Alice Hoffman.  Her special brand of Massachusetts Magic has gripped me since I read Practical Magic for the first time as a teenager.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

River King

I’d love to write more, but I got a book to finish.

Hobby Lobbying for Corporations over Women

1 Jul

It’s a beautiful day in Portland. Sunny and warm and delicious in every way.  Only I can’t enjoy it, because I’m still pissed as shit about the Hobby Lobby Decision that came down the pipes yesterday.

So now I need to scream and yell a little bit. #sorrynotsorry

First off, let’s all take a moment to remind ourselves that contraception is not abortion.  Because contraception is not abortion.  I’ll say it again:  Contraception is not abortion.  I’ll shout it:  CONTRACEPTION IS NOT ABORTION.  I’ll sing it! Con-tra-cep-tion is not a-bor-tion!

Because it isn’t.  And I don’t give a crap if the Hobby Lobby Family powers-that-be have “closely held” beliefs that say otherwise.  They’re wrong.  And the fact that they hold whackjob, unscientific, harmful and backward beliefs should not affect the health and welfare of their female employees.  It’s wrong.  It’s unconscionable.  Say, for example, that I have a “closely held” belief that punching people in the face will give them happiness and lifelong prosperity.  I still can’t go around punching people because (as Ruth Bader Ginsberg put it in her dissent that is absolutely every bit as fabulous as the internet says it is), “your right to swing your arms ends where the next man’s nose begins.”  I can’t punch you in the face, Hobby Lobby, even though I really want to.  And you can’t control the bodies of your female employees, just because you want to.

Except, wait!  You totally can!  All because you have “closely held” beliefs (WRONG beliefs) that certain forms of contraception are abortion.

So let’s talk about abortion for a bit.  Everything I’m about to say has been said a gazillion times before but I’m gonna go ahead and add my voice to the throng:  the pro-life debate is not about “protecting the unborn.”  It’s about making sure that women are “punished” for daring to have any sex that isn’t about procreation.  Because if the pro-life factions were really about ending abortion, they’d be chucking contraception at us left and right.  They’d be fighting tooth and nail to make sure every woman had access to contraception, should she wish it.  Oh, and they’d be the world’s biggest fans of comprehensive sex education.  Because you know what actually reduces abortion rates? CONTRACEPTION AND COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION.  You know what doesn’t reduce abortion rates?  All the bullshit the religious right is currently putting women through.  It’s not about “babies” for the most hardcore anti-choice bigots, and it never has been.  It’s about female sexuality and making sure women are “punished” for having sex. And if that’s your stance, please do the world a big fat fucking favor and own up to it.  Call a spade a spade so we can have a g-d honest conversation about the subject.

US-POLITICS-HEALTH CARE-BIRTH CONTROLI have nothing new to add to the Hobby Lobby conversation, only to add my voice in support of women, women’s health and women’s fucking agency over our own fucking bodies (OH MY GOD IT’S 2014 WHY IS THIS STILL EVEN AN ISSUE I WANT TO TEAR OUT ALL MY HAIR AND STRANGLE MYSELF WITH IT).  I want to add my cry of “bullshit!” to YET ANOTHER decision that puts the rights of corporations to dictate the lives of American citizens over said citizens. I want to confront hypocrisy by forcing Hobby Lobby to own up to the fact that, while they refuse to cover certain kinds of contraception for their employees under the (erroneous!) belief that those forms of contraception are abortion, they invest in the pharmaceutical companies that produce Plan B and medication to induce abortion.  And I want to remind Hobby Lobby, SCOTUS and AMERICA that part of living in our society is paying for stuff you don’t like.  My tax dollars went into the Iraq War, after all.  And for the love of juice, your freedom of religion shall not impose on my right to freedom from religion.

For-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby exist for one goal: to make money.  They don’t have thoughts, they don’t have feelings, and they sure as shit don’t have religious beliefs or moral stances.

But women do.

Now.

I’m (generally) an optimist when it comes to social justice.  I have a closely held belief (see what I did there?) that, while the road to justice is far from a straight line, we are generally heading in the right direction.  I think of it as a spiral–we will take giant strides on the path to actual justice and equality, and then there will be backlash and we’ll go back a few steps.  It’s slow going, but we are moving forward.  But today I can’t think about the big picture and strides and backlash.  Not because I don’t believe we’ll ever make it to justice and equality—I do–but because I’m really fucking worried about what we’re supposed to do in the meantime.

 

Hardcore Hair

26 Jun

My secret dream is to be a rock star.

But, alas, I can’t be a rock star.  I can’t play any instruments and I sing like a Disney Princess.  Maybe I could at least look like a rockstar?  But no, I’m a socially awkward, bookish theatre dork with doe eyes, Orphan Annie hair and fat cheeks.  Yesterday, I wore a re-purposed square dancing dress.  A SQUARE DANCING DRESS.  I am many things.  But Courtney Love I am not.  And I suppose that’s a good thing.

But if I can’t be a rock star or look like  a rock star, I can at least feel like a rock star.

Because this bitch can rock a fauxhawk.

I went on the hunt for fauxhawk youtube tutorials last winter.  They all featured beautiful, eyelinered, tattooed rocker-style babes teasing and spraying their hair into gorgeous fauxhawks.  But damn it all, it just seemed so hard.  My hair is loooong, and heavy, and hairspray is the devil and teasing my curls makes angels cry.  I had almost given up, when I found this video.

She says it’s quick and easy, and she’s right.  The three-pony-wrap-add-pins-smooth-sides scheme worked like a DREAM on my hair.  And if your hair naturally has some texture to it, as mine does, you can skip the curling and teasing she does in the video.  Just wrap and let your hair be its natural crazy self.

It’s Badass Lite, for those of us who are just too chicken too be badass all the time.

pony hawk

 

Silky Smooth and Sugary Sweet

19 Jun

Summer is just around the corner (it’s gonna stop raining soon, right?), which means it’s time for some kitchen witchy beauty brewing shit.

And in this season of bikinis, shorts, and sundresses, our skin is front and center.  And this summer, mine is oh-so smooth.  Because I have a secret recipe, and the main ingredients are in my pantry.  I’m talking about homemade sugar scrubs.

The basic ingredients are as follows:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sugar

That’s it, kids.

My skin has always been on the dry side.  I should probably drink more water, but whatever. My skin is clear (thanks, good genes!) but a touch on the rough side.  But Oh, it is rough no more.  Daily use of my homemade sugar scrub has given me the silky, dewy skin of a baby’s behind–minus the diaper rash.

It’s easy to make.  Take a container of your choice and mix your EVOO with white or brown sugar.  I’m not gonna get into “measurements” or “parts,” because that’s way too scientific for me.  Mix the two together until it’s a consistency that you like.  Just make sure you have enough oil so it’s exfoliating but  not too abrasive.

If you’re fancy pants, you can experiment with adding a few drops of the essential oil of your choice for fragrance.  My latest batch includes a few drops of lemon oil, and it’s heaven on earth.  You can also add a touch of aloe vera gel if you want an extra healing touch.

I made a thing!

I made a thing!

Shower as normal.  As your last step before you get out, rub your delicious sugar scrub all over your body from head to toe.  Now, if you have oily skin and are prone to breakouts, you might want to limit your use to rough spots like elbows, knees and feet.  But if you’re on the dry side like I am, just go freaking crazy.  I even use it on my face.  I gently rub it it, and rinse off.  A quick pat dry, and I seal the moisture in with lotion.

It’s so simple.  It’s so beautiful.

My whole body is so soft and smooth, I can’t WAIT to show it off in one of my gazillion sundresses.

As soon as it stops raining.

Listless

11 Jun

Oh.  Hey.

Yeah, I see you.  Hold on, I’m gonna lift my head off my desk and maybe even put on some pants.

On second thought, forget the pants.  Working from home does have some benefits.

Ok.  Now I’m ready.

Ugh.

So you may or may not have noticed that you haven’t seen anything from me in awhile.  It hasn’t been because I haven’t been thinking of you.  Oh no, I have been thinking of you.  Daily.  But each time I open my computer I just.can’t.write.

It’s not writer’s block, exactly.  I certainly don’t lack ideas–I have a list of topics that grows faster than I can keep up with it.  And it isn’t that I don’t like writing–I still love to write.  It’s just that I can’t quite seem to get my head out of my own butt long enough to actually commit pen to paper.  Well, fingers to keys–but you get it.

The problem with writing about your life is that it forces you to actually examine your life on a regular basis.  Normally, not a problem.  My life is pretty sweet, and I am reminded daily how freaking lucky I am.  And when things go south and I hit a rough patch…well, I have no problem writing about that either.  I have no secrets from you guys.

But I’m in the sinkhole of a soul malaise, and I’m finding it difficult and sticky and slippery to claw myself out.

I call this one "Listless in Latte"

I call this one “Listless in Latte”

I’m not unhappy.  But I’m stuck in some sort of funk that has left me listless and irritable and I don’t know what to do to bust out of it.

I’m naturally a happy, energetic chick. I get so much energy from the people in my life and the stuff I like doing and whatnot, that it’s easy to maintain that energy while I, you know, do shit.  But lately I feel that I’ve been expelling more energy than I’ve been bringing in and it makes me not want to do a damn thing.  I’m keeping my shit together in terms of work and the like, but I have little energy and interest in anything that goes above and beyond that.  I don’t want to go to parties, I don’t want to hang out, I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I just want to marathon my way through Netflix in peace and go for silent long walks.  Even putting on pretty dresses and makeup and mussing with my hair–arguably my favorite activities–are falling by the wayside.

One of my new favorite activities!  Staring into space!

This one combines an old favorite activity–dressing up–with my new agenda of staring off into space

As I write this, I’m becoming more and more aware that I’m spelling out the symptoms of depression.  It seems like a textbook case, actually–everything except the actual depression part.

I know that things will turn around.  Someday soon I’ll wake up with a purpose in my heart and a fire under my ass and actually feel compelled to get out and DO something.  But for now I’m choosing to not really worry about it.  I’m an energetic lady who does a lot of things–it could be that I just need a bloomin’ rest.

Until then, you can find me in my house with the blinds pulled shut, napping to crappy TV shows and mindlessly browsing the internet for clothes I can’t afford.  Like a boss.

Ending Entitlement

28 May

You may have noticed there’s been radio silence from me for over two weeks.  Life got in the way, stuff got busy, blah blah blah.  But then Saturday morning I sat down to write a post–a frothy book review.  And I saw the news.  I closed my computer and it’s stayed closed until now.

I’m speaking, of course, of the Isla Vista attacks.

Mass shootings have become uncomfortably common in our country, but we never get used to them.  Each one is a shock, a horror, and a mystery.  “How could someone have done these things?”  “Why did no one intervene?” “Were there any clues?” All questions we’re used to hearing after someone commits a horrific act of violence.  Usually there is no way to look inside the head of the people who commit these horrible acts.  But this killer, Elliot Rodger, through his youtube videos and “manifesto,” gave us a peek into his.

I will spare you the details of his ramblings–they are all over the internet if you wish to read more.  Just know that they are filled to the brim with hatred, misogyny, and a troubling sense of entitlement–specifically, entitlement to the love/attention/sexual favors of a woman.  And it was after reading excerpts of his manifesto and transcripts of his videos that my heart fell into my stomach and I had to shut my computer.

Of course. I thought.  It’s finally happened.

I didn’t realize until that moment that I’d been waiting for an attack like this.  An act of mass violence, perpetrated by a lunatic acting on his rage after not being “awarded” the attention from women he felt he deserved.  Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I knew an attack like this was brewing.  And the reason I knew it is because I have known men in my life who, had they been less stable and more violent, could have perpetrated such an attack.  At the very least, they shared with Rodger a belief that a woman’s time, attention and body were something they were entitled to simply because they were men.

I can easily recall an ex-boyfriend’s roommate, who would say “why don’t I have a woman like that?  I’m a nice guy.” whenever a beer commercial featuring nubile bikini-clad ladies came on TV.  Then there were the college men who would hiss “bitch” and “tease” at me once I made it clear I was willing to go so far, but no farther. There were the male customers at my service jobs, who only heard my “nos” when I started wearing a (fake) wedding ring and they thought I was someone else’s “property.”  And of course there are the male friends who dropped me and bad-mouthed me after I spurned their sexual advances, not to mention the countless times I have been grabbed, groped or hassled while on the street or on public transportation.  These casual, everyday instances of sexism and misogyny that all women experience are linked to the events of Friday night.

And then there’s one case in particular.

Years ago, in school, I met a man who gave me the absolute willies, Karl (not his real name, obviously).  I met Karl along with a bunch of other folks at a school event.  After the event, a group of us piled into several cars and went out to an all-night diner, typical college kid stuff.  I kept my distance from Karl, trusting my spidey-sense that told me he was bad news.  As the party started to break up and we started to discuss rides home, it became clear that I was going to be in Karl’s car.  I tried to wheedle my way out, tried to get into another car, but I eventually caved, not wanting to make a fuss (because young women are socialized to never make a fuss).  Mine, by design or accident, wound up being the last stop.  We were alone in the car.  The details are fuzzy at this point, and likely colored by later events, but I know that he asked me for my phone number.  I don’t recall what I said exactly, but I know that I demurred and didn’t give it to him.  He accused me of flirting with another man in the group and giving him my number (which had happened).   I demurred more, trying to be nice, and got out of the car and ran inside.

I saw him again at a similar event.  I was polite but distant, and this time I brought my own car so I wouldn’t need a ride.  I saw him hanging out with a girl who lived in my building.  I thought all would be well.

About a week later, there was a knock on my door.  It was that girl, we’ll call her Laura (again, not her real name).  She was freaked out by some emails she’d received from Karl.  She had hung out with him and given him her email address “to be nice” and now he wouldn’t leave her alone.  One email in particular had freaked her out–he had expressed a bunch of anger towards her and all the women who “lead him on” but then “don’t give him a chance” and don’t see what a “great guy” he is.  How these women are all “bitches.”  She brought it to me because he named me personally as being a “stuck up bitch.”

I was freaked, and I figured someone should know about this.  I called the school, and was passed around to several different offices before anyone would even speak with me.  When I finally got someone on the line, she was completely unhelpful.  She questioned my behavior (said I was “rude” for giving my phone number to a man at an event where Karl might have seen it) and was openly annoyed with me.  She told me that there was nothing the school could do unless I wanted to make an official report against him.  I said that wasn’t necessary, that I was just worried and thought someone should check in with this guy.  I was baffled, because I thought I was doing the university a favor–letting them know that one of their students seems volatile and angry and resentful, and might hurt himself or someone else.  They asked for my name.  I said I wanted to remain anonymous.  They said he had a constitutional right to face his accuser (my protestations of “I’m not accusing him of anything, I just think someone should check in with him!” were ignored).  I told them he knew where I lived and I was too scared to attach my name to any report.  She said to call back if I was ready to make an official complaint.  It ended there.

This story does not have a tragic ending.  I never saw Karl again and have no idea what became of him.  But even now, years later, I’m pissed at the way the school handled it and how I was treated.

These acts of entitlement, large and small, happen to us everyday.  Most men have no concept–they literally cannot see what it is we face, how frequently we have interactions with men that make us uncomfortable, guarded, or scared.  And then an attack like Friday night happens and people ask “how could this have happened?  Why did no one see?”

I saw.

It’s time to bring these acts of entitlement under a harsh light, to not let them slide.  Women must continue to speak up, and they must do so with the knowledge that they will be heardbelieved, and taken seriously.

I’ve always been a male-friendly feminist.  The enemy, to me, has always been The Patriarchy–a cultural system that favors the male over the female.  Not men, not masculinity or male-ness, but The Patriarchy.  But after the events of Friday, I want to talk just to the men out there.

Men who read this–I know many of you, and you are good, intelligent, pro-women dudes.  What I’m asking for now is that you take the next steps and start to educate yourselves on the everyday sexism and misogyny that colors the lives of women.  Read about our experiences and our thoughts.  Ask questions.  And call out sexism when you see it.  Start putting an end to the myths Hollywood and other pop culture vehicles keep peddling–that if you’re the “hero,” you’ll “win” a beautiful woman who adores you and serves you.  That the “gift” of male attention is something women should be flattered by and thankful for.

Once and for all, let’s make sure this message rings clear:  No woman owes any man her time, space, attention, body, or mind.  Ever.  These things are hers to bestow whenever, however, whyever and on whomever she wishes.  End of story.

The wake of this tragedy has birthed a new hashtag, #YesAllWomen.  Please take some time to read through the feed.  Also check out #EverydaySexism.  Other articles that have come out of the tragedy include this piece from Huffington Post and this excellent piece from Slate.  And if you haven’t yet seen the Tumblr When Women Refuse, look at it now.  A sobering look at how frequently women experience violence after rejecting the sexual or romantic advances of a man.

Finally, everyone should read this piece from Cracked editor David Wong.  Yes, Cracked is a comedy site.  But Wong checks his own privilege and lays down some truths.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to the victims and families everywhere who have lost their lives or a loved one due to misogyny.  Let’s unite to stop misogyny and end violence against women.

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