Tag Archives: women’s issues

Trauma is a Mother Fucker

30 Sep

This has been an especially rough week. Few weeks, actually. I remember a while back I read this article that summarized a study that had been carried out on Vietnam Vets. Please excuse my lapse in memory since I read this a long time ago and am a little fuzzy on the details but the gist of it is as follows:

Following the Vietnam War, some social scientists questioned a number of soldiers returning from battle. They asked them specific questions about their experiences, what happened, how they felt. They took detailed notes, took down their names and said they would follow up in a few decades time. The years passed and then, 30 or 40 years later, they tracked down the people that they could find and asked the exact same questions they had asked upon their initial return. The vets fell distinctly into two different groups: those whose memories had changed, and those whose memories had not. They had all experienced some horrible things while overseas but some of them had the distinct markers of trauma and some of them did not. Those whose memories had changed over time – who in hindsight saw their experience at war through rose-colored glasses – had not developed PTSD. It was the returnees who explained scenarios exactly as they had decades before, those who remembered all the details of specific events as if they had happened just yesterday, that were suffering the longterm psychological effects of war.

I think about that study a lot in regards to myself and my life. What do I have unwavering memory of and what has faded and changed. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these past few weeks as we have read about Christine Blasey Ford and as we watched her speak before the Senate Judicial Committee. I thought about it while she talked about her hippocampus and the fact that she installed a second front door in her home. You see, we never forget. Trauma simply does not allow for that.

But there’s more there than just that. I have been watching as the women in my life have struggled. How we have all been sad and in pain; how we have had old wounds torn open; how we have seen women on the subway, walking down the street, in cafes huddled over their phones crying. We all know why. It is because all of us, or at least most of us, have either been or almost been Christine Blasey Ford. We have either reported our experiences, not reported our experiences, or tried to report our experiences and been turned away or dissuaded. Her story is not just hers it is mine, it is yours, it is all of ours. How do I figure? I’ll tell you.

Last night I finished an especially busy shift at work and decided to sit down and have a shift drink and a chat with my coworkers. I was sitting at the bar talking to my friend to my left when I felt a quick *tap tap* on my right shoulder. I turned but no one was there. And then I saw hands and realized that the man who had tapped me had then used my distraction to place one hand on either side of me on the bar, essentially trapping me in my seat. I was immediately transported back to my senior year in college when at a frat party a “friend” of mine, upset with me for who knows what reason (he always seemed to have a reason) trapped me against a wall by placing one hand on either side of my shoulders and leaning his body towards me, making escape feel impossible. Not that it matters but I’ll say it anyway: he was drunk, I was not. And I know that because he had tricked me into driving our mutual friend to the airport at 3 in the morning because he wanted to enjoy the party; he knew me well enough to know I was too responsible, even at 21, to put my friends at risk or cause someone to miss their flight home. I don’t remember how long we stood like that, me cowering and him talking loudly at me before I broke free, he lost interest or someone came to my rescue. But I specifically remembered that feeling of knowing that anything could happen, anything could be done to me in that moment and I would have very little ability to stop it. I experienced that feeling again last night and I realized something.

The man who trapped me wasn’t trying to scare me. He wasn’t trying to make me feel powerless or intimidate me. He was just treating me the way a lot of people treat and think of women: as slightly less human than men. My personal space wasn’t his concern, nor my personal safety. He could do what he wanted because even though we are not friends and have never had more than casual conversation he owns me a little bit. He is entitled to me. And even though he might not have been actively thinking that in the moment, or been actively trying to make me feel like I had  no right to take up space, that’s exactly what he did. He reminded me in that small yet aggressive action that I, and women in general, are only permitted to taking up exactly the amount of space a man deems necessary and that amount of space is subject to change at any time depending on any specific man’s mood or level of intoxication.

Let’s bring it back a little. Back when the #MeToo movement had its second life (it was originally conceived by Tarana Burke and, surprise surprise, co-opted by wealthy white women) a lot of people were afraid of an impending sex panic. How will men ride in elevators with women? How will they hit on us? How will they interview for and secure jobs? How will they have sex? How will they do all of this when any woman at any time can accuse them of sexual misconduct, sexual assault or rape and ruin their lives? Clearly women are unhinged and it is the men who are really at risk here. But let me remind you of something:

  • Donald Trump has 16 credible accusations of sexual misconduct, assault and rape and he is the president of the United States (vomit)
  • Larry Nassar sexually assaulted 400 women and counting; he was first accused back in 1997 and nothing was done for 20 years
  • Louis C.K. jerked off in front of women, stopped performing for 9 months and then walked on stage at the Comedy Cellar here in New York City and got a standing ovation before he even opened his mouth
  • Bill Cosby was sentenced 3-10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. He drugged and assaulted or raped other women as well, something he admitted to in front of a grand jury in the early 2000s
  • Brett Kavanaugh had been accused of rape by 3 women – one of whom detailed “train rapes” that he and his childhood friend Mark Judge participated in – and there is a very good chance he will be confirmed and end up with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court

So I guess what I am trying to tell you is this: yes, things have been changing. Yes, women are being heard now (whether or not they are being believed is still up for debate). But remind yourself which women are being heard. And remind yourself that the entire country just watched, transfixed, as a giant man baby blubbered to a group of politicians about how his life was being ruined.  And while you’re thinking about that, don’t forget about the woman who had carefully, and respectfully, testified earlier that morning about how her life had been turned upside down by actions taken by a young Brett Kavanaugh. She wasn’t just effected by this now, in 2018. She has been dealing with this, and living with it, since the early 1980s. While every one is saying that we need due process, that we cannot “just believe the victims,” that she is probably part of some conspiracy to keep the court from becoming more conservative just remember that it is Dr. Ford who was hacked, it is Dr. Ford who is being called a slut and a liar, it is Dr. Ford who had to move her family out of their home and hire protection. She is not guaranteed a right to space, to her story and to her humanity. None of us are. And trauma? Trauma doesn’t allow us to forget. That is what this is about.

One Day…

27 May

A few weeks ago, over some post-run sushi in the park, my lunch companion asked me what my dream job was. I thought about it for a moment.

You mean like, for real for real? Like if I could have any job in the world what would it be?

Yeah.

He said it so nonchalant. Should I admit that I had spent the better part of my adult life agonizing over this very question and felt no closer to an answer? Probably not. Lucky for me, and for him I supposed because an angsty Rebekah is not the best Rebekah, I had recently come up with something that seemed like a thing I would like to do. Without going into the long, drawn-out backstory that involves my Master’s thesis I told him about how I had always been interested in post-disaster reconstruction work. I feel somehow drawn to being one of those people who goes to places after horrible things happen and then sticks around long after many of the first responders leave. I want to be there to help communities rebuild, after the international aid ends and our global conscience moves on to the next thing because there is always a next thing. I want to be there to shame the disaster tourists. Of course I have absolutely no medical knowledge and, truth be told, get queasy rather easily. Recently at work I had to take a 5 minute sit-down because a piece of glass protruding from my thumb made me so nauseous I turned green.

Back to the drawing board, perhaps.

But, of course, my thinking about it didn’t end there. It never does. The hamster that occupies the wheel in my brain has a never-ending supply of energy, that little bastard. And in the time I spent thinking I realized that, sure, I have all sorts of lofty goals. I would like to have something I write published somewhere that people have actually heard of and be paid for it; I would like to be on the Ellen Show (don’t ask); I would like to perform at The Moth and maybe one day, one wonderful day, be featured on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR that plays on Saturdays from 7-8pm and hear myself on the radio and just be in the car all alone and be like, wow, there I am and just smile to myself; I would like to travel so much that I need new pages for my passport; I would like to be part of a group of women (and some men) who make feminism an inclusive part of the conversation rather than something talked about as its own issue. It effects us all. All those things, though, sort of exist on this other plane separate from where I am right now and so let’s bring it back down to reality, back to the present. And so now I will ask myself:

Rebekah, what is your dream job?

And here is my answer, in list form.

  • I want a job where I am respected.
  • I want a job where people aren’t constantly telling me what I am doing wrong and how to do it better even though they have never done what I do a day in their lives.
  • I want a job where people don’t throw objects or insults at me on a regular basis.
  • I want a job where people don’t whistle at me, clap at me, hiss at me, snap at me or flash their cellphone flashlights at me to get my attention.
  • I want a job where no one ever calls me “ma” or “beautiful” or “sweetie” or “baby.”
  • I want a job where I can go to the bathroom and there isn’t piss all over the seats that I have to clean up because people are animals.
  • I want a job where people don’t ask me, while I am working at my job, what else I do because I can’t possibly just be a bartender.
  • I want a job where photographs of me taken without my consent do not end up on Yelp. Or better yet…
  • I want a job where people don’t take photographs of me without my consent. At all. Ever. End of story.
  • I want a job where people don’t hit on me or ask me out and then refuse to tip me when I say no.
  • I want a job where my awesome male coworker doesn’t have to step in and deal with people who treat me like garbage because I am a woman.
  • I want a job where I am not treated like garbage.
  • I want a job where I don’t have to keep my relationship status secret, when there is a status to keep secret, because it will likely effect the amount of money I make.
  • I want a job where I am respected. Wait, did I say that already?

Here’s the thing: my job could be all those things if people would just learn how to act because, if you noticed, nothing on that list had anything to do with my job, really. There was nothing about the weird schedule and late nights (though that isn’t my favorite), nothing about being on my feet for hours and eating the majority of meals standing up, nothing about looking up and seeing eyes upon eyes upon eyes on me all needing and wanting something when I only have two hands, nothing about coming home smelling of the liquor that I didn’t drink but has saturated my clothes and my skin over the course of a busy night. Those are all parts of the job and they are okay. They are how it is. And there are a lot of really cool things. I have met some amazing people, both customers and coworkers; I have learned a lot about myself and others; I think I have become a better, more understanding person. I think that my job, although it isn’t responding to a disaster and helping those having the absolute worst days of their lives, has some amount of value and, to be honest, I think I am pretty good at it. I don’t know. It’s all relative I guess. And maybe the job I want, the job described in that list above, doesn’t actually exist. Maybe it isn’t out there. Maybe my realistic dreams are just as lofty as one day being on the Ellen Show or normalizing feminism. Maybe this is another project my hamster needs to spin her wheel about. And so, until then….

Hi, what can I get for you?

The Complexities of Shame

28 Apr

I learned something about myself this week: I am ashamed of my body. Now this isn’t a fishing expedition. This isn’t to get people to come out of the woodwork with all kinds of positive reinforcements. That isn’t what this is about. And, honestly, it has nothing to do with how I look in a lot of ways. It is, I think, largely about the fact that in my never-ending intellectual quest to understand my role in this world as a female, I have neglected to take care of myself…or, I guess more specifically, to engage in self-care…by which I mean to place importance on my own sense of empowerment, my own autonomy over my sexuality, and, perhaps most importantly, my own definition of it. Let me explain.

Earlier this week I was at a store buying a bra. As you ladies know, buying a bra is no easy task  – especially when it involves procuring support for a pair of boobs that have not been sized in years in advance of wearing a backless dress. Wearing a bra in the right size for you is a life-changer. Believe me. I feel like a brand new woman today. That’s not the point. So there I was at this fancy lingerie store with my good friend. I have never been to a fancy lingerie store as the main event; I’ve always been the sidekick. I have never thought that fancy lingerie was really “my thing,” whatever that means. We were in the changing room and the lovely woman who was helping me kept bringing me in all these different bras to try on. I kept putting on bra after bra and while my friend kept looking and telling me how good this one looked, or how pretty that one was, or how sexy I looked I just stood there, staring, feeling like I was wearing a costume. I felt like a little kid dressing up in her mom’s high heels and lipstick, prancing around the house like an absolute diva. (I never actually did this but I feel like it’s a thing that happens?) I just kept standing, staring at myself in these beautiful things, understanding that if I saw someone else in them I would think how incredibly beautiful and sexy she looked. How in control of her sexuality. But when I looked at myself I just felt…silly. I felt like I was trying to be someone who I am not. It was like, if there was a touch of cleavage showing then I had undone all the hard work I had put in over the years. All the effort of getting people to see me as a human and not a sex object. But part of being human, I think, is sometimes feeling sexy. And understanding that it doesn’t always have a negative connotation.

So obviously I got to thinking about it.

And thinking.

And thinking.

And it dawned on me. All of the years of the wrong people calling me sexy for all the wrong reasons, in all the wrong places, with all the wrong intentions had eroded my ability to understand that being sexy can, in theory, be empowering. I see that other women can do it, and I don’t look at them and think that somehow they are doing something wrong, that they are abandoning the cause, or whatever. I just don’t get how they do it. But this isn’t about women at large. This is about me. This is about me and the ways that I have internalized all the years of being a woman, or, I suppose more accurately, all of the years I’ve spent feeling like a sex object. And this is not to say that I feel like that all the time. That is by no means the case. A lot of times I just feel like a person. But often, not always but often, when my being female is made apparent to me, it is made apparent in a disempowering and hyper-sexualized manner. To the point that sometimes I just want to throw down everything I have, grab a bullhorn, and scream, for everyone to hear,

I AM NOT HERE FOR YOU! I DID NOT WAKE UP FOR YOU! I DID NOT GET DRESSED FOR YOU! AND I AM CERTAINLY NOT WALKING DOWN THIS STREET FOR YOU!

I would love it if my experience, and I can only speak for myself although I imagine there are plenty of other women out there who feel similarly if not the same way, was less like this. I wish I could brush off some of the bullshit and find my sexuality empowering. But I think the thing is that my sexuality has for so long been used as a weapon against me, been used as a way to make me feel small and less whole, that I don’t even know how to trust it. It’s like a separate part of me, almost. Like a lot of times when my sexuality is pointed out, I become less Rebekah the  Woman and more Rebekah the Object. And surprise surprise, I don’t like to be Rebekah the Object.

I mean, okay, so get this. Just now, I decided to look up the word “sexuality” on the Internet to make sure that I was using exactly the word I wanted and this is the definition I was given:

a capacity for sexual feelings

And its use in a sentence:

she began to understand the power of her sexuality

The power of it.

That is what I am talking about. Sexuality as a weapon. Or as something that is not easy to control by its posessor. Something that can, if not properly tended to, control her. Either use it to your advantage or it gets used against you but there is no opting out of the game. You can’t just say

Nah, I’m cool with just being in the world, going through my day and then unleashing my sexuality for the person, or people, I wish to share it with.

And, as I am sure you have all guessed, the significance of the “she” in that sentence was not lost on me. Of course she began to understand. And you know how she figured it out? Probably because someone showed her by using her sexuality to disempower her in some way. She realized the usefulness of it. What she could do with it. And that’s where I get a little bit lost. Somewhere in here, in all of this, to me, reads something of a manipulation. I try to go through life as something of a straight-shooter. People more or less know where they stand with me. I don’t keep my feelings quiet, and when I do manage to keep my mouth shut my facial expressions and body language always out me. So my issue is that there is something slick, something calculating, something unsavory about the way we talk about sexuality.  I know it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t always have to be a con. But sometimes it feels like that’s the way we talk about it to such a degree that it just becomes what it is in practice. And it’s like, sexuality is its own separate being as opposed to a part, with so many other parts, of a complex human.

But back to the dressing room. There I was, in that dressing room, trying to find a bra that wouldn’t draw more attention to my chest. A bra that wouldn’t give me more cleavage. A bra that wouldn’t undo all the hard work I’ve done to prove that I am well rounded. Hard work that has made me everything but. And, it’s like, I know that now we say that

strong is sexy

and

smart is sexy

and somehow sexy is supposed to be empowering, and meanwhile everything about high school dress codes and cat callers on the street and rape victim blaming and sexist comments and rape as a fucking war crime tells us that our sexuality, our sexiness, is something to be hidden and contained and something we should be shamed for, or hurt because of. Except for sometimes. Mostly in private. And how do we balance that? How is it our best friend and our mortal enemy all at the same time and how do we, on so many occasions, not have ownership of it? It’s like this weird, fucked up commodity that we can trade in, but only on occasion and with permission, and people may or may not try to make us feel badly about it. And sometimes that just seeps in. And some of us feel like maybe it’s best to try not to trade in it at all. But we’re not allowed to do that, either. It’s almost like we can’t do anything right.

So I don’t know. Maybe shame is the wrong word. Maybe feeling shame just plays into the whole damn thing. I guess what it is more than anything is that I just want to feel whole and autonomous and in a world where we have control over very little, I would like to be the only one – barring tragedy – with control over my body. And of course, it isn’t that I don’t want people to find me sexy. It’s just that I want the idea of being sexy to feel less unbalanced, less like something I use to get something, I want it to be more holistic. I want the idea of sexy, from the jump, to extend beyond just the physical rather than that having to be an add-on. And I know some of you are saying that it can be, and maybe you have found a way, but I don’t know. I just think it is too complicated, and so many of those complications  don’t stem from us. Rather they are learned behaviors given to us by society at large.

Clearly I’m still working this out.

I remember someone, after watching me do something kind, told me how sexy he thought that was. And for the first time in a while, since my ex was around probably, I felt good about being sexy. I felt like it was because of who I am rather than what I look like. And that’s something I can get behind. It’s about sexiness as a whole being, rather than sexiness as an entity apart. And I guess I wish it was always like that. Because I think my friends are sexy and, while they are all beautiful and handsome in their own ways, it is more because they are caring and smart and giving and funny and complicated and team players and all those other things that make them incredible humans.

I guess, in short, I like it when it feels well-rounded, all-inclusive. Because what I find sexy is someone who is smart, with a big laugh and a bigger heart, who is engaged in the world around them and also in a constant state of self-improvement. Because the physical stuff fades, eventually. Gravity does its work. But the rest of it, that takes longer to erode if you put the work in.

But for me, and as it concerns me, when it is just the physicality of it – that just doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I don’t feel like I own that. It’s been taken from me too many times. And maybe that’s why the shame sneaks in.

(And please, don’t anyone send me text messages saying you think I’m sexy. That’s not the point. And then I’ll feel like a shitty writer and that would ruin my day. Don’t ruin my day. It’s nice out.)

In-Your-Face Hyperbole is not Actually a Thing

11 Jun

Over the past few days I have been shocked by how active the women who are supportive of the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) are.  I would say that the majority of comments on my blog and interactions on my normally silent Twitter account have been from women.  I knew they were out there but I didn’t know they were so chatty.  All the power to them but I just had no idea.  You really do learn something new every day.  There is one lady, named Suzy, who has been a very avid commenter on my blog the past few days and I was hoping to maybe engage with something that she sent me yesterday.  Also, I might engage with a few other comments.  Here goes.

On Monday I wrote a post all about the conference being organized by Paul Elam of A Voice for Men (AVfM) in Detroit and the protest that was organized by my friend Emma in an attempt to get the DoubleTree Hotel, where the conference is scheduled to happen, to cancel it.  One commenter was very upset by the goals of this protest and wrote me this:

obviously you don’t think this group has a right to their opinions if you’re shutting down attempts to express them. I don’t identify with men’s rights or any political group but I am 100% against the idea of shutting down a conference of speaker. You’re an asshole

I actually do think the group has the right to their opinions and I am pretty sure that I stated that clearly in both of the posts I wrote concerning this issue.  What this commenter is saying, it seems to me, is that the MRM has a right to their free expression of their opinions but I don’t have the right to speak out against them?  Am I getting this right?  So, maybe this commenter is actually only 95% against the idea of shutting down a “conference of speaker?” I know that my blog doesn’t qualify as a conference, per se, but I do think that my ability to speak out against the conference, and in support of my friend, is somewhat important.  I also think that the DoubleTree is a privately owned business and therefore can choose to not host things if they think it will put other guests at risk or, more realistically in this age of capitalism, if it will impact their bottom line which it very well might.  For what it’s worth I know I won’t be staying in any Hilton-owned properties any time soon.

Anyway, back to Suzy.  Yesterday she sent me this following comment in response to a response I made to another comment:

What you call “violent and hate-filled,” we call “in-your-face hyperbole.” Before Paul started using it, many people struggling to address men’s issues were silenced and ignored for DECADES. Now that we use it routinely the public is finally beginning to notice that the Men’s Human Rights Movement exists, so I think you are mistaken when you say, “The only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”

What it actually achieves, is to bring the issues out into public view where well-funded feminists can no longer control the discussion. If you sincerely care about gender equality, you would warmly welcome the honest perspective of the other half of the population, wouldn’t you?

I just… okay.  I don’t actually know how to proceed from here.  I have been trying very hard to stay even keeled and respectful and all that but this was honestly one of the most absurd things I have ever received.  It is partly absurd because it seems to me that Suzy did not actually read any of the things that I wrote but instead went into my posts with an idea of who I am and what I think and responded to that.  The other part of the absurdity is maybe more complex but an interesting thing, I think, and applies to people outside of the MRM.  It really boils down to this:

The idea that all publicity is good publicity is simply wrong.

People aren’t talking about the MRM because they have been suddenly awoken from decades of ignorant slumber, but instead because a lot of the things said by the MRM are incredibly offensive and actually counter-productive to their movement.  Hyperbolically proclaiming that October be called “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” does not raise awareness about the very real issue of domestic violence against men, but instead calls attention to the misguided tactics of Elam and the MRM.  That was what I was saying when I wrote that “the only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”  And, if Suzy had really read my comment she would have seen that I expressed the fact that I think that same thing applies to feminists.  Making jokes in support of violence against anyone, men or women, does not advance the goals of your cause which is, supposedly, to end such violence.  All it does is distract people from the issue at hand and get them to dismiss your comments as the rantings of women-hating, misogynistic individuals.  And guess what?  That is precisely what has happened!

What I am trying to say is that the way in which people express things is actually important, it does actually matter for the outcome.  I think that you would find that there are more sympathetic ears out there than you may at first assume.  But when you approach an argument in what you call “in-your-face hyperbole” what you really end up doing is ending the conversation.  The second someone comes at me with some bullshit about “Bash a Violent Woman Month,” is the second I completely dismiss anything that person says afterwards. Period. End of story.  And that is one of the major reasons a lot of people are angry about this conference.  It isn’t that there is nothing to talk about, it isn’t about the content of a lot of the issues the MRM wants to discuss and bring to light, it is the social media and the insane number of hateful comments floating around the internet.  Not least of which was the comparison that Dean Esmay made of myself (or maybe Emma? I’m sort of confused.) to George Wallace.  I mean, please.

Detroit and the International Conference on Men’s Rights

9 Jun

All comments of an abusive or hateful nature will not be approved for publication on this blog.  If you wish to engage in some friendly debate, feel free.  Also, you are welcome to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

In this edition of “I Did This So You Don’t Have To,” I am currently sitting on the bus en route from D.C. back to Brooklyn with about 12 open tabs all having to do with the men’s rights movement (MRM).  I have gone down the rabbit hole.

Over the past few days, I have been watching from my home in Brooklyn, and my friend’s home in D.C., as some interesting things happened in Detroit, where my friend Emma lives.  For a little back story, a few weeks ago Paul Elam from A Voice for Men (AVfM), a men’s rights website, helped to organize the first ever International Conference on Men’s Issues which was to take place towards the end of June at the Hilton DoubleTree in Detroit.  A group of concerned feminist-citizens in Detroit, Emma included, created a petition and organized a peaceful protest and march to get the DoubleTree to cancel the conference.  They were successful in gaining recognition for their cause which is no small feat. In response, Paul Elam took to the internet to blame the “radical gender ideologues” who made it their mission to “silence (his) efforts to address issues affecting boys and men.”  He then created his own petition to call on the “city of Detroit to take note. Radical feminists have corrupted the idea of gender equity. They have transformed it into a Marxist agenda of oppressive control, including the silencing of all opposing views.”

Alright.  I agree that AVfM and its readers absolutely have the right to their own opinions and to express those opinions as they see fit, barring, or course, threats of violence and the like.  By extension, those holding opposing views, myself included, absolutely have the right to express our opinions (also barring threats of violence and the like), including, but not limited to, the right to put pressure on a business to disallow an openly misogynistic group from holding a conference in its facilities.  I think it is important to point out that throughout the organization of this protest, which was done on a public Facebook page, Emma and her co-organizers fostered conversations concerning how to offer a safe space — physically and emotionally — for any person participating in the protest who might find the rhetoric consistently used by AVfM triggering or intimidating in some way.  They discussed the possibility of a counter-protest and prepared all attendees accordingly.  What ended up happening was that a few representatives for AVfM showed up at the protest and, reportedly, followed at least one woman to her car and snapped a photograph of her license plate. A few others took photographs and video of the protest in, what it has been assumed, was an effort to identify and subsequently doxx the attendees.

Personally, I think doxxing is weak and totally fucked up and should only be used in very specific circumstances.  Also, it gives me the willies.  But doxxing is an approach that AVfM is no stranger to.  On May 31st, A Voice for Male Students, which is associated with AVfM, published a letter addressed to Emma that included a photograph of her, her personal email address, and information about her occupation in an overt attempt to put pressure on the Detroit Public School system to deem her a threat to the education of young boys and subsequently fire her.  To me, that reeks of intimidation and threat and, if the school system were to take seriously the phone calls and emails received at the urging of this letter it would, in my mind,  be considered the “silencing of all opposing views.”

But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by all this.  Paul Elam, after all, once declared that October should be “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” and said

“I’d like to make it the objective for the remainder of this month, and all the Octobers that follow, for men who are being attacked and physically abused by women – to beat the living shit out of them. I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”

Because obviously the way to gain attention for the very real issue of domestic violence against men and boys is to urge those victims to act violently as opposed to, I don’t know, working with feminists to help destigmatize the problem and gain more public attention and funding to combat it.  Of course, Elam will say that this was all tongue in cheek.  He will say that he told people that he wasn’t serious.  But,

“Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong. Every one should have the right to defend themselves. Hell, women are often excused from killing someone whom they allege has abused them. They can shoot them in their sleep and walk. Happens all the time. It’ll even get you a spot on Oprah, and cuntists across the cunt-o-sphere will be lionizing you.”

It isn’t worth the time behind bars, he alleges.  But, if you do decide to take him up on his advice then

“you are heroes to the cause of equality; true feminists. And you are the honorary Kings of Bash a Violent Bitch Month. You are living proof of just how hollow ‘don’t fuck with us,’ rings from the mouths of bullies and hypocrites.”

So I don’t know, guys.  Paul Elam has the right to his opinions.  But I would argue that we, as feminists, have an obligation to all people to stand up to this sort of hate-fueled rhetoric. So I am really proud to call Emma my friend and really amazed at the effects of the protest and petitions she and her fellow feminist activists put together.  It’s a small step but it’s a step nonetheless.

And let us remember, just as a small aside, that feminism, at its best, isn’t only about the rights of all women, but of all people.  So let’s use this as one more step towards attempting to make the movement as united and inclusive as possible.

A Beefcake Ruined my Workout

24 Oct

Today was the first day of my training for the New Orleans marathon which is exactly 4 months from today, on February 24th.  The plan I downloaded suggested that I run 5 miles at a 9:02 pace.  Okay, that’s not bad.  I decided to head to the gym and run on the treadmill because the idea of running the better part of a mile uphill to run a loop of the park (involving another hill) was just too much to handle.  I was feeling runner-lazy.  Obviously I am taking this process very seriously.  My goals are to make it to the start line prepared and injury-free and to complete the full 26.2 miles in under 3:45.  I think it’s possible.*

After my run, I decided to try and get into the groove of lifting weights, something I know is necessary but I hate with the strength of a thousand suns. (Did I get that saying right?)  I headed over to that weird dip thing and did some leg lifts.  Then I decided to do squats.  As I was walking towards the area with the body bars, dumbbells, and kettle bells I saw this rather beefy guy looking at me.  I half smiled at him in what I hoped was a dismissive yet friendly way, turned my music up, and grabbed a body bar to commence the squatting.  I could see him watching me in the mirror.  Then I saw it.  A little condescending smirk and a slight shake of the head, and then he motioned for me to take off my headphones.  I pretended I didn’t see him.  He did it again, this time in a more obvious manner.  I couldn’t ignore him.  I could have just shook my head “no” and went about my workout but I hate to be rude when I’m not (a) working and faced with some drunken asshole who I have to handle or (b) on the move, thereby escaping from the look of shock upon my response to the offensive cat calling or, my favorite, the “god bless you” whisper, I had to endure.  Shudder.  The conversation went as follows:

Beefcake: What do you do?  Run?

Me: Yup.

Beefcake:  Mind if I give you a few tips about that squat?

Me:  (Yes) Um…I guess not.

He then, without getting up, began instructing me on the proper approach to the squat which, I have to say, was exactly the opposite of how everyone else ever in the history of me has told me is the proper way to do it.  Whatever, I indulged him.  I just wanted him to stop talking to me.  He then proceeded to lecture me about the importance of working out my abs and back to make me a stronger runner.  I tried to explain to him that I already know all this, that I just hate the gym but that I am working on it but he was on a roll and wouldn’t really let me get a word in edgewise.  I figured it better to just let him run out of steam and move on.  And then,

Beefcake: I’m a trainer here, that’s why I was giving you tips

Me:  Yea, I figured.

Beefcake:  I’m really good with faces.  I haven’t seen you here in awhile.  You been going somewhere else?

Me:  A little I guess. I just really hate the gym.

Beefcake:  Really?  Why?

Me:  (Because I am stuck talking to people like you?) I don’t know.  It smells.

Beefcake:  Oh, well, do you remember seeing me?

Me:  No.  I don’t pay attention to people in the gym.  I just workout and leave and don’t look at anybody or talk to anybody. (Meaningful stare.)

I guess he got the picture because he walked away.  But then I was too self-conscious to do the rest of my squats because he was nearby, doing all his fancy pull-ups and shit and I knew he was watching and would swoop in and correct me at any moment.  And here’s the thing, I guess I wouldn’t have minded some tips if it weren’t for the following two things.  One, that smirk.  That cocky, rude smirk and that little dismissive head shake that communicated to me not concern for a possible knee injury, but a “you silly girl, let me show you how it’s done.”  And two, the obvious lie that he told me when he noticed me doing my squats ‘wrong.’  I saw him see me walking over from the dip machine, which is located behind a pillar.  He was just watching, and waiting.  I could have done a toe-raiser and he would have corrected me.  So, Beefcake at the gym, I write you this letter:

Dear Beefcake,

If you want to help someone out with something, kindly be a little less condescending and a little less of a liar.  You ruined my workout.  Please never talk to me again.  Ever.

From

The Runner with the Long Hair

*Just a little side note.  I will not, going forward, subject you, dear readers, to the ins and outs of my marathon training.  I might make reference to it here and there, but that’s about it.  So, worry not, details of my Yasso 800s will not take the place of my ranting about peeping toms, people making shitty comparisons to Hitler, or Donald Trump, who easily makes my top 5 least favorite people list.

Peeping Toms

19 Aug

It’s 12:30am on a Saturday night.  I am telling you that for two reasons.  First, I am not at my best late at night, blog writing included.  And second, like every other weekend for the past 3 years and for the foreseeable future, I worked all day today and tomorrow I have another full day of tending to my adoring public. Therefore, Saturday is generally a pretty low key night for me.  Being tired and/or hungover at work generally makes for a less than enjoyable bartending shift.  So why, you might ask, am I awake right now?  Why am I sitting on my sofa typing this rather than lying in bed, staring at the inside of my eyeballs? Well, I’ll tell you.  Are you sitting down because this might seem a bit of a shock.  It’s because I am stewing.  Surprise!

Here’s what happened.  After working all day I came home to have a nice relaxing evening involving a bit of ice cream (AKA a stomachache waiting to happen) and watch some mindless television, enter Law and Order SVU.  I achieved all of those things, stomachache included, and decided to cap off my raucous evening with a game of suduko on my cell phone.  I changed into my pajamas.  I sat down on my bed.  My bed, as it happens, is against a wall with a window.  The window is right next to my pillows.  So there I am, on my bed, minding my own business when I hear, yelled from across the way,

You’re really sexy, baby!

I look over at the window in disbelief.  That couldn’t have been directed at me.  Fuck, I didn’t put down the blinds.  Fuck, that dickwad who always plays his shitty ass music at ridiculous volumes is home, entertaining friends and playing his shitty ass music at ridiculous volumes.  And his blinds are up.  And my bedside lamp is on.  And it’s dark outside.  Fantastic.  There is nothing quite like having someone harass you when you are in your own bedroom and on your own bed.  I mean, really?  I don’t know.  Maybe I should thank him.  Thank him for reminding me that people are gross and that I should be more militant about closing my blinds when I am in my bedroom at night lest someone creep me or, worse yet, take a photo of me and post it on the internet along with all those other photos of unsuspecting girls that are popping up in Photobucket and Reddit subthreads.  It’s a real problem, you know.  I mean, really, it’s gotten to the point where I am actually nervous about wearing skirts and dresses in this city because some perv might be walking behind me up the stairs and sneak an up-the-skirt shot and post it online for all his pervy buddies to look at.  And the thing is, it’s not like if that happened I would even know about it.*  What am I going to do, spend all my time online, image searching for photos of my underwear that may or may not exist?  By the way I have totally done that before.

There was this one time a few years ago when I was in the shower and I swear to you I saw a camera flash go off in the window across the way.  Out of the corner of my eye.  I thought about the height of my breasts relative to the height of the window and, while frantically trying to cover myself up, analyzed whether or not it was possible for the photographer to (a) get an angle of anything other than my face and neck, which, by the way, would be creepy enough and (b) to make anything out through the very steamed-up window.  And then, after I hastily jumped out of the shower and measured for a curtain (we ended up covering the window with a ratty t-shirt for quite some time) I looked online to see if photos of me had surfaced.  I don’t really want to go into what my search terms delivered to my computer screen.  I gave up after the first set of hits came back.  So there may or may not legitimately be photos of me showering on the internet which intermittently gives me the heebie-jeebies and also bursts of intense anger on a semi-regular basis.

I know that both these incidents have the common denominator of me forgetting to close my blinds.  I get it.  I will take full responsibility for my carelessness on that front.  But the thing is that in my house is the one time when I really let my guard down.  I come home from runs during which people whistle at me and catcall me.  I walk past construction sites.  I get hit on or threatened when I am at work.  I get spit on.  I choose my wardrobe based off what will make me feel the least victimized while I am going to the bank and getting my morning coffee.  And I actually worry, every time I walk up the stairs, feel my shirt go up in the back when I sit on a chair, notice the wind from the subway slightly moving the bottom of my skirt, that someone is looking and maybe snapping a photo.  My house, and specifically my bedroom, is the one place where I stop worrying.  But that’s silly.  It’s not safe here either.

*Let it be known that if I ever catch someone taking an up-the-skirt shot of me I will push that person down the stairs.