Tuesday, May 19, 2015

But what about the NICE guys?!

So often when I write anything or read anything relating to feminism or the particular struggles that women face simply for existing I am met with the response BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN. WHO'S THINKING OF THE MEN?!

As a disclaimer, I will mention right now that feminism does encompass a concern for men's issues like equal rights as a parent and the fact that sexual violence against men is often ignored or minimized. But this is not one of those times.

My previous post about how flat out frightening it is to go to clubs or bars for women seemed to spark a lot of conversation. In case you have not read it, basically if you chose to go out in public as a female not only do you have to accept being inappropriately touched, you get harassed and coerced for defending your body and rejecting these advances.

I'm sorry to tell you guys, but there is no equivalent for males. If someone can think of one I will gladly discuss it, but I can't think of any way that I could make a man feel as threatened or uncomfortable as they make me feel in a lot of situations. (Please also note, that I am speaking primarily in terms of heterosexual males. Homosexual, Transgender, etc. face a whole different set of challenges.)

As I said previously, many guys do have a certain way of making it about them still. It's not fair that they can't hit on us essentially. One commenter brought up that "nice" guys get brushed off for not being aggressive enough. He then said, "The caption says it all. Women judging like they do." Wow. That's all I can say really. You read a story about how myself and my friend were physically threatened and all you can think is that you're the victim because we don't want you to hit on us.

In case you needed a little break because I did!
Ladies and gentlemen, that right there is what is wrong with the world. That is the heart of the problem in a nutshell. The idea that women primarily exist for men to try to win. The idea that I am not an autonomous human being that can make my own choices for whatever reason I choose. I am 100% convinced that, that guy is exactly the kind of person that gets aggressive and confrontational when I say no.

So to that guy and every other "that guy" out there let me explain a very basic concept to you. Women are in fact human beings and we are born with inherent rights that we get just for being a person. Included in those basic rights is the right to choose who I want I talk to, who I let touch my body, and just how I want to live my life in general. I owe you NOTHING.

There will never be a situation ever when I am obligated to give you my number or talk to you. Yes, this means that sometimes girls will reject you and it will suck. But guess what, that happens to girls also! I have been rejected more times than I could possibly count. Sometimes it does hurt a little, but it is their right to not like me for whatever reason they choose and I respect that.

While all of this probably makes me sound like a man-hater I do actually meet guys that I have pleasant conversations with on occasion. What these guys do differently is respect my personal space and boundaries (ie: don't grab or touch me without my consent), respect the fact that sometimes I do not want to talk for whatever reason, and most of all respect when I say no.

In a real-life example, a guy approached my friend and I while we were talking. He apologized for interrupting us and didn't try to touch me or put his body on mine. Then he had a normal conversation that didn't involve anything about how sexy [insert body part] was. Well actually he commented on my teeth, but it was in a good way. After talking for a bit, he gave me his number so I wouldn't feel pressured to give him mine. He asked if he could give me a side hug. Then he left! He didn't linger to make sure I didn't talk to other guys or overstay his welcome. It's as simple as that. Really, don't pressure me, threaten me, or make me uncomfortable and you have succeeded in being a decent human being.

If you are still confused, this girl offers a lovely explanation of how feminism is not an assault on the hetero male. Or feel free to voice your concerns to me. I am happy to discuss it with you, though be warned that I may end up writing a post about you!

An Exhausted Woman

Monday, May 18, 2015

Single and NOT Wanting to Mingle

The guy in the white is definitely plotting something.

Being a female that makes the brave decision to sometimes leave my house and venture out in public I have come to (sadly) expect a certain level of creepiness to happen at bars or clubs or any area where males are allowed to be. While this is certainly not okay, we have to learn to deal with it as we learn to fight it.

So when one of my girlfriends and I decided to have a fun night of dancing in the Power & Light district we had already assumed that we would have to deal with some level of unwanted male attention. This generally includes but is not limited to have guys grab your hand and try to pull you away or sneaking up on you and thrusting their nether regions on you. Typically a quick elbow to the chest and turn can get you out of the situation so you can continue what you're doing. That was not the case this past Saturday evening.

Over the course of about 3 hours, we were repeated groped, touched, called bitches, flipped off and just generally harassed by every male in the metro area. I will highlight just a few of these instances though I would venture to guess we had been approached by at least 30 guys by the end of the evening.

Harassment #1 Two guys asked us to dance Rachel said no thank you and the guy proceed to stand there just to make sure she didn't dance with anyone else. It took me asking the linebacker looking guy standing nearby to go pretend to be her brother to get her out of the situation.

Harassment #2: Rachel saw a guy trying to reach around and grab her butt while dancing near us. She smacked his hand away from her and we moved away. Later on the guy came back and shoved her in the back of the head. And if that wasn't enough he came back to grope her backside with two hands. At this point, she shoved him away from her hard (LIKE ANY PERSON DEFENDING THEMSELVES WOULD DO) and he proceed to flip her off and scream that she was a bitch.

Harassment #3: A large guy, easily pushing 250 and heavily intoxicated came and put his arms around both Rachel's and I's necks and then tried to tell us to loosen up and dance. We both squirmed away and told him no thank you, we're fine, we don't want to dance. Clearly, we misunderstood that refusing to let a stranger touch you wasn't an option. The guy came back SIX(!!!) times. He was a mixture of angry that we didn't like him and wanting to explain himself (I think, it's hard to understand slurred gibberish). Beyond the point that I in absolutely no way have to talk to him, I may have let him say his piece if he didn't need to also touch me while doing so.

Obviously, doing once again what any logical person would do, I shoved him off of me and told him to GET THE F*** AWAY. I also grabbed onto the scrawniest kid in the whole place and stood behind him at one point. A not surprisingly, as soon as he said leave her alone the guy backed off.

It's also important to note that everyone else, mostly other men, saw this all happening and did absolutely nothing. I understand that I'm a stranger and they probably didn't want to get in a fight with the big dude, but when you see a girl clearly feeling threatened and screaming go away maybe your human decency should kick in.

I was going to write about two more examples, but this is getting lengthy and I'm getting pretty worked up so I will stop there.

Hopefully, by now you get the picture. We were apparently battling a hydra in male form. But I didn't write this just to let you know how much being a girl can suck sometimes. No, instead I hope that this illustrates just how dangerous male entitlement and patriarchy can be.

Not only is it bad enough that these men tried to touch us or grab us repeatedly, but their reaction to our rejection is my real concern. Saying no opened us up to more violation and harassment than simply going with what they wanted.

No incited anger, aggression, and a strong desire to prove us wrong. You don't want me to dance with me? Here let me convince you through intimidation and physical force because that's how you win a woman's heart. I know some of you must wonder why we stayed as long as we did despite everything.

Leaving would not only limit our own personal freedom, it would also turn us into abusers of ourselves. Letting their actions shape our choices and decisions means that we are accepting the harassment as inevitable and not fighting back for our right to be in public places without a male accomplice. It's important to note though, that I would not put myself in danger just to prove this point. That is why even though I don't want to limit my freedoms I still wait in the bathroom until the club has cleared out and take a winding way back to the parking garage to avoid and disgruntled men that we may have upset inside.

When people ask me what is feminism? Why are you a feminist? Or tell me that there is no need for feminism I can't help, but have a strong desire to slap them.

Do you want to know why I need feminism? I need feminism so that I can go in public places without a male chaperone and still feel safe. I need feminism so that I can say decline attention from a male and that be the end of the conversation. I need feminism so that I don't have to flinch when someone brushes past me because I'm afraid they're trying to grab me.

I need feminism because I never want my beautiful niece to have to feel scared or violated or dirty simply because she dared to go out in public. I never want her to have to feel the way myself and so many other women do on a regular basis.

I think that a quote by Edmund Burke sums it up well, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand by and do nothing." If you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem.

If you made it this far, you're probably just my mom. In which case I will note that there were cops everywhere and that neither Rachel nor I had anything to drink the whole night. So please don't panic.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words. We've all heard this classic cliche a million times, but have we ever sat down and really thought about it? While I think it's original conception was more in relation to the fact that a picture can speak for your actions or intentions, it seems like it has morphed into meaning that pictures can replace not only our words but our memories.
My friend Alicia! 

When I visited Iguazu Falls (I swear I'll find something to talk about besides Argentina someday) one of the things that struck me the most, besides how beautiful it was, was that almost everyone was viewing it through a camera lens or phone screen. It was almost a challenge to find anyone over the age of 10 that was actually just looking at the Falls themselves.

I find it strange that even when you have something beautiful and wonderful right in front of us, we still are more focused on capturing it in something permanent to keep for later. Are we really that desensitized that we would rather look at a picture of something incredible than feel the mist hit your face or enjoy the way the light prisms make little rainbows that your iPhone can't possibly capture?

This does nothing to capture how incredible it was!

In the year 2014 we took close to 1 trillion pictures. That sounds like a number that Dr. Evil would ask the President to give him to stop him from blowing up the moon. It sounds ridiculous! But how does 1 trillion pictures translate to our life experiences? Did we enjoy these moments more? Are our memories stronger and more solid? I can't help but doubt that.

While pictures can capture the way we looked and what we were doing it can't capture the way that moment made you feel. It can't tell you the significance of the situation. It can't replace the emotional imprints in your mind.

So maybe it's time that we put the camera/phone/ipad. Instead of trying to catch the moment, let it just exist. Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, it doesn't translate into a thousand little thoughts and feelings and moments you may be missing out on when you try to look at it through your camera lens.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Direction, Plane Crashes, and why it's okay to care about both.

Admit it, you're a tiny bit sad to see him go.
As some of you may have seen on CNN Breaking News (I don't think they actually covered it, but I wouldn't be surprised), Zayn from One Direction has decided to leave the boy band. While 13-year-old, hearts all over the world have been breaking the rest of the populace has generally been disgusted at the fact that anyone could be concerned about boy band news at a time when planes are being intentionally crashed into mountains and hundreds of woman have been taken captive. Though it makes sense to see this as an example of how loathsome the younger generation is, that is really missing a much bigger point that this shows.

Now bear with me, but sometimes we need a boy band potentially breaking up to be the worst thing to happen to us today. Every day there are upwards of 7 billion different lives playing out. Their day is sometimes boring, sad, happy, interesting, wonderful, devastating, average, a whole multitude of things that make up their individual life. Now imagine trying to care about every single of those lives, the good, the bad, the plain.

You have hopefully realized that you can't. It's impossible to care about everything and every single person around you no matter how empathic you are. In fact, it's emotionally exhausting trying to care about all of those things. Depending on your specific situation, you may be carrying around your own set of emotional baggage with that also.

While we do need to be aware of world around us and what is happening some days we need to just get by until the next one. And maybe thinking about and comprehending that day's tragedies are just not going to let you get there, so you have to place your sadness and emotions in other places that don't seem quite as important to others.

I guess the overall moral is that being upset about frivolous things does not take away from the gravity of the real tragedies, sometimes it just helps us deal with it.

So tomorrow we can mourn the loss of those 150 people that passed too soon in the Germanwings plane crash. But today if we can only handle mourning the loss of the "cute one" from One Direction, let that be enough.


*Note: While I doubt that many 13-year-olds will wake up tomorrow and care about the hard hitting news stories, I thought that this was an adept example to illustrate how I think this could apply to anyone. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Are we making ourselves lonely?

How well do you really know your friends or significant others? You probably spend a lot of time with them and talk about a huge range of topics. But does that mean you really know them?

When I was in Argentina I spent every day with the same few people. By default of not being able to distract ourselves with cell phones or really talk to anyone else, we spent a lot of time talking about everything. After three months, I felt safe in saying that I knew them all pretty well. But then one evening it somehow came up that one person's sibling had a brain tumor and other's parent had terminal cancer. I was blown away by the fact that I knew nothing at all about these people, not really. 

It's so easy to live our lives pretending to go deep and pretending to really share ourselves with others when we actually do it so rarely. I know that I personally am guilty of doing the tell you enough unimportant information that you feel like you know me, when I've really told you nothing at all. 

Our deepest conversations so often focus on our past struggles or on the silly surface level details rather than our current challenges. We fake real connections then wonder why we feel so lonely and isolated. 

I'm not suggesting that we start off all our relationships and conversations with heavy, difficult topics, but rather that we make it a point to share those at some point in time. 

I think what makes my relationship so strong with my closest friends (aka my girls) is not that I know what each of them does every day or what each of their favorite colors are, it is that I know what scares them and what motivates them and what makes them uniquely them. The other stuff is great to know, but the fact that one of my friends loves rice and the other is obsessed with Kristin Wiig does little to let me know who they really are. 

So often, we try to guard ourselves against getting hurt, when really we end up hurting ourselves much more by not creating real connections with the people around us. I challenge you to make your relationships with people more intentional whether, platonic, romantic, familial, or otherwise. 

Sometimes you are going to get hurt or rejected, but sometimes you are also going to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with people. I don't know about you, but I think that makes the risk worth it.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Guess who's back?!

Back by popular demand... well not really, but we'll say there was a demand, I am blogging again! Unfortunately, as a few of you have noticed, Classy Abroad got a virus or something and is just unintelligible gibberish. So I have decided to return to my roots and go back to the original Classy in KC!

But never fear, you can still view of my tales and adventures here. Who doesn't want to relive the glory of the time I got robbed, ripped my pants, AND called myself a prostitute by accident all in one weekend? Or the time I got to bottle feed some tigers. But we all know that everyone's favorite story of all is how I helped transport a dead body.

While I can't promise anything to quite that caliber of excitement in the near future, I do vow to begin regularly blogging again so you all can keep up on what thrilling things happen from my cubicle!

Here's to new adventures!!