Category Archives: Philosophies R Us

Rape Culture, Street Harassment and Everyday Sexism

I know I rarely write about super serious topics, but every once in a while, a topic strikes a nerve with me, and I feel compelled to write about it.

I had an epic bout with insomnia last night and whenever I have insomnia, I stay up late watching Investigation Discovery. I was watching an episode of  ‘On The Case with Paula Zahn’, and the story centered around a teenaged girl that had been drugged, sexually assaulted and murdered. As I watched the show, it got me thinking.

Back when I was in high school, there was a girl who went to my school that was killed by 3 boys. One of them tried to have sex with her earlier in the evening and she refused. She was later drugged, strangled, driven to a remote location, where one of the boys tried to rape her, but was interrupted by passing cars. When it became clear that this boy wasn’t going to be able to get what he wanted, he and his friends put a pipe bomb in her mouth and detonated it. She was 15 years old.

I hadn’t thought about this situation in many years, but after watching Paula Zahn, I couldn’t get it out of my head. As I thought more about this, I got angrier and angrier. Who are these men? What’s wrong with them? What is this sense of entitlement? Why do these men feel like women don’t have the right to say no if they don’t want to have sex? What makes these men think that these women and girls aren’t allowed to change their minds about whether or not they want to have sex?

As I continued to think about these things, I thought back to a twitter conversation I was having with user @brokeymcpoverty and other twitter users. The story was basically about street harassment and whether or not the silent treatment is an acceptable defense. I said that I don’t like using the silent treatment because I think it’s dangerous. I’ve been threatened with violence or called out of my name on more than one occasion when utilizing the silent treatment. Then Brokey made a great point:

I kind of don’t like silence being branded a ‘dangerous’ response because what’s dangerous is how the harasser responds to it.

The conversation also centered around how ridiculous it is that many men won’t back down from pursuing a woman unless she says she doesn’t want to talk to him because she has a boyfriend/husband. So you mean to tell me the only reasoning you’ll accept is me being off the market? Why isn’t “I’m not interested” enough?

Flash forward to this evening. I read an article about the band Chvrches and how the lone female member of the group, Lauren Mayberry, regularly receives inappropriate comments via their social media pages. You would think the most disgusting thing about the situation is the insinuations of rape she often receives, but no. The most disgusting aspect, in my opinion, is the people telling her she needs to just “get over it” and things like this “are to be expected” if you are going to be in the music industry. So, you mean to tell me that women are just supposed to accept these things? Not okay with this.

What is going on in our culture that some men think this behavior is okay? And I know what some of you may be thinking. Whoa whoa whoa, trying to talk to a girl on the street is a far cry from rape, but what I’m concerned about is the attitude behind all of it. That a woman’s opinion and assertions mean nothing to these men. That unsolicited sexual advances are okay. That no does not, in fact, mean no.

 

 

#31WriteNow Am I Being Punk’d? Social Cues and Train Stalkers

I’d like to share another cautionary tale with the ladies today. As I stated in an earlier post, we need to stop being so nice, and by we, I mean me and anyone who feels programed to be polite before being safe. Many women are taught in society to be agreeable and polite FIRST and that can be dangerous. To be honest, when I first began writing this story, I thought it was hilarious. Now, looking back, if situations like these are not kept in check, they could conceivably escalate.

Basically, I have a stalker on the train…He could be a scary stalker, but he’s just been obnoxious thus far and we’ve only had two encounters. But that’s two encounters too many.

I was on the train on the way to work with my headphones on and simultaneously checking emails, and a man asked if he could sit next to me. I wasn’t really paying attention to the train, so I told him to go ahead. As he sits down I happen to look up, and I realize that there are tons of other seats he could have chosen. The car was practically empty.
Whatever. I take it with a grain of salt and get back to checking emails. I settle in for the ride and that’s when the questions start. This guy will NOT stop talking to me. Despite the headphones and even though I am clearly on my phone. Also, it’s the morning commute. It’s not even double digits yet, dude!
I don’t have a phone. Do you like yours?
Yeah, it’s cool.
Yeah, I need a new phone, I dropped mine and so now I’ve got this flip phone.

*No response from me*

So I’m looking around the train and the other ladies on it are giving me the sad pity face.

pity face

Train guy introduces himself and sticks out his hand for me to shake, and I don’t take it. Message loud and clear, “I’m not interested” Right? Yeah, one would think he would get the message, but nope. I’m clearly giving him the shortest answers in the world, and am clearly not engaging with him, but he will not stop talking to me; about his job, his dentist, his weight loss.

Man, I didn’t buy a ticket for the train. Oh well.
It happens. Luckily, you can buy tickets on the train.
So what do you do?
Marketing.
Yeah, me too. I’m a TMM…Telemarketing Manager. I’m going to check in on my Bridgeport office to see how they’re doing.
*No response from me*
I like gum…my dentist said I shouldn’t chew it, though, cause it leads to cavities…but I like fresh breath, so now I use mints instead.
*blank stare*

Is This Real Life

Is this real life?

Then as my stop is coming up, he asks if he can give me his business card, to “talk about marketing, strictly for networking purposes”. I say sure, so he pulls out this business card.  Suddenly he says, “Well I’m actually out of business cards, but I have my my boss’ card, I’ll write my contact information on it.” AND PROCEEDS TO GIVE ME HIS TWITTER HANDLE AND FACEBOOK URL. ARE YOU KIDDING, DUDE?!?!
While he’s taking forever to write down his information on the card we arrive at my stop. Unfortunately, I’m sitting on the inside, so I’m kind of trapped.
Soooo this is my stop, so I need to get off.
Oh, sorry, sorry. Nice meeting you

I nod and fly off the train.

That was last week.

This morning, I’m on the platform and I see him walk by, but I’m listening to my headphones and looking at my phone again. I see him walk past, see me, and then walk back up the platform towards me.

He walks over to the post that I’m standing next to and gets on his phone. (I guess he finally got one.) He makes a huge production of dialing and speaking really loudly on the phone while waving his arms around, but I don’t look up. I shrink further and further behind the post hoping he doesn’t really see me, but I know he does. I see him start to come over to me like 3 or 4 times, but I made sure to look extra busy. All the while I’m pretending I’m deep into my phone, but I’m actually texting my girlfriends.

Omgeeeeeeeee that guy from the train is back again! The one who wouldn’t stop talking to me.

If he does it again, you should definitely move.

Nooooooooooo he’s walking over!!!!!!!!

Move!!!

The train finally arrives and and he’s still standing on the other side of the post from me. When the doors open, I take off down the platform in the other direction, so I can get into another car. But he follows me. I run to another car and , much to my relief, I don’t see him for the rest of the ride.

I’ve come to a conclusion after talking it over with my older sister:  He’s either really aggressive, or doesn’t understand social cues…but either way, no thank you.

The most interesting thing about this story is the reactions that I get. So far, 100% of the guys have said, “Why didn’t you get up? Why wouldn’t you just move?” While most of the girls all say, “Ugh, that’s so annoying but it would have been super rude to move, especially if you were on the inside.” Funny thing about this, while the guys all have had the same reaction, the female reaction has been quite mixed. Most of them did say they would have wanted to move, but probably wouldn’t have, but there were a few that said they would have told the guy off and moved immediately. My question is, what’s the difference between the girls that wouldn’t have moved and the girls that would have? And why was everything so cut and dry for the men? Why do some men keep after a woman after EVERYTHING about her demeanor and body language says, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”? Any insights from either side? Opinions are welcome, as this is a judgement free zone…for the most part 😉

#31WriteNow Did That Really Just Happen?

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind emotions; I’ve seen and read some things that have made me very sad. A few people got together and thought it would be funny to make a Harriet Tubman sex tape. Yes, you read that correctly.

The fact that this even happened was painful on several levels. In the name of comedy and YouTube hits, this group of people decided to belittle and marginalize a woman that, had it not been for her, I wouldn’t be where I am or even who I am today. A woman who is the epitome of the struggle for freedom. A woman who put her life in danger, time and again, to free others. They basically relegated her to a mammy; a caricature of sorts. Not to mention the horrible and painful truth that black slaves were routinely raped. I can’t even BEGIN to talk about that part of the video.

Bottom line, the video wasn’t funny at all. The actors that played in the parody initially tried to defend themselves via Twitter, saying things like ‘That’s not how the story was pitched to us.” I don’t buy it. And further, there is absolutely nothing funny about rape. Ever. The video was pulled and the actors/producers involved ended up apologizing, but they were text book ‘non-apologies’.

“I’m sorry your feelings were hurt, but that’s not how we meant it.” is not an apology, and honestly, it’s insulting. “I’m sorry I don’t have the same sense of humor you do.” Is NOT an apology.

dream hampton kindly shared with them the anatomy of an actual apology after blasting them for what they had done.

1.  I’m sorry

2.  Here’s my understanding of how I hurt you.

3.  I will never do this again

4.  Here’s how I’m going to make this right.

5.  Please forgive me

THAT’S how you apologize, folks. Apologies don’t come with buts or excuses and every single person involved with that video should be ashamed of themselves.

Tee

harriet-tubman2-library-of-congress-600

In The Arms of the Angel

nf-sandy-hook-victims-1217

This story is not about me, but is about how the events of December 14th, 2012 will forever affect not only me, but all of us in these United States. I got to work on December 14th of 2012, craving my morning coffee as I do most days, but when I sat down at my desk and logged into Twitter, things looked quite different, to say the least.

A friend who is a journalist for a local Connecticut newspaper posted a concerning, but seemingly innocuous tweet.

One shooter is dead at Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, school is now cleared of shooters.

“Thank God”, I thought to myself. “Thank God a shooter went to an elementary school and only shot himself. Think of how horrible it would have been had he shot others, and, God forbid, some students.”

But then the details began to emerge.

First we heard: 1 dead. Only the gunman. Then we heard: 2 dead; the gunman and the school’s principal was killed. But, by the end of the day, all innocence would be destroyed and we would learn that not only did 7 adults die in this senseless massacre, but 20 children died as well…children in kindergarten. 6-year olds; children that had their entire lives yet to live.

As the death toll began to rise on the 14th, I hoped, prayed even, that children wouldn’t be among the dead, but, somewhere inside of me, I knew that wasn’t the case. Turns out, I was right. 27 dead; 6 adults, the gunman, and…20 children. 20. No first dates, no proms, no graduations, no waiting for college acceptance letters with bated breath, no marriages. 20 lives ripped away from their families before they had even had the opportunity to really live. I cried for the families, I cried for the children. I cried for the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. I cried for the entire town. Tragedies such as this are always hard to cope with, but this one happened in practically in my back yard.

As details began to emerge about the shooter and his mental health, the political debates also began to emerge. Gun control or the lack thereof; Healthcare, Health Care reform, and the gaping holes in the mental health care system here in the US, the argument of people over the age of 18 being able to decide whether or not they wanted to take their meds; the very issue of civilians being able to purchase assault rifles. Almost instantly, my friends from other countries began to weigh in as well, mostly on gun control issues. All these conversations were important, and needed to be had, but all I could think about were those 20 children who saw the barrel of a gun instead of Christmas presents.  Children who had done nothing wrong, but somehow incurred the wrath of this deranged gunman. Children who had to see something that no-one should ever have to see, much less, a child.

I had to shut the door to my office, because, by 4:30pm, I was openly crying at my desk. No, I didn’t know these children or their families personally, no, didn’t have children of my own, but this massacre was unfathomable.  How could this happen? Why did this happen?

Many questions are still unanswered. We know the gunman’s mother was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. We know she didn’t make it to work that day, because her son took her life that morning before he traveled to the school to take the lives of many others. We know that the mother was a gun enthusiast, who collected guns and brought her children to the gun range. We know that the gunman had a history of mental illness. We know that he was a child of divorce. We know that he shot and killed himself before the authorities could get to him. What we don’t know, is what motivated his murderous rampage.

In heart wrenching situations such as this, we are often left with more questions than answers, but there are several shining beacons of hope. The city of Sandy Hook came together like never before. They are continuing to hold each other up, and are still working toward getting through this, one step at a time. Churches of various faiths have had their doors open and clergy members were and still are ready and willing to lend a hand, an ear, or a shoulder to cry on. The Hudson Valley Golden Retriever Club even sent several dogs down to help with the healing process, but this process will, no doubt, take months, if not years.

One sign in downtown Sandy Hook read “Love will get us through”. The lives of those affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary will never be the same, that is for certain, but the outpouring of love, support and kindness can at least help restore their faith in humanity.

God bless those affected by this terrible event, and I will continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

 

~ Tee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chick fil-Asco

So…I really like Chick Fil A. And I really like gay marriage (I like straight marriage too…I just like marriage, but I digress.) And I’m sure you all have heard by now that Chick Fil A President Dan Cathy made his feelings about gay marriage known in a July 16th interview with The Baptist Press. If not, here is his comment below.

We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

Then the sh— ummm chicken hit the fan.

Supporters of same-sex marriage balked, as did opponents. On Wednesday, those in support of Cathy’s comments were encouraged to show their support of Chick Fil A by eating at the restaurant.  Those in support of gay marriage were encouraged to donate the cost of a Chick Fil A meal to a gay/lesbian rights group of their choosing and GLAAD even backed “National Same-Sex Kiss Day”, where same-sex couples were encouraged to engage in (tasteful) public displays of affection in front of Chick-Fil-A locations.

When I first heard the news of Cathy’s comments, I was a tad miffed. I thought to myself, “Ugh, am I going to have to boycott Chick Fil A now?” Then I had another thought, “The same way I believe that gay couples should be allowed to get married, I also think those who don’t believe in gay marriage are entitled to their opinion.” As my sister said, “Tis fair for everyone to share”

Many of my friends have offered up opinions of their own.

Look. I just want waffle fries and deep fried yard bird. That’s it. I don’t need a bunch of Christians creating traffic jams to show that their chicken is holy in Jesus’ name and those who don’t partake are going to hell. I also don’t need gay men spinning in circles listening to Sylvester, wearing glitter and making out in a chicken joint. It’s all just too much

I hate that even fried chicken is now political. Just give me some chicken tenders and polynesian sauce and leave your politics at home. Sheesh.

How are you going to be surprised at the man’s answer when he’s the president of a company that’s been closed on Sunday since 1949?

Clearly, some of my friends are more ridiculous than others, but in general, they all seem to be on the same page as it relates to this Chick-fil-A incident. The general consensus is that everyone is infringing and getting offended by everyone else’s rights. It’s a hot unorganized emotional mess.

CapitalGazette.com has featured a story about my Grandfather

Just wanted to pop in and say hi to all of my readers. Thank you so much for you kind words in this difficult time. I really appreciate each and every one of you. I wanted to share a news story featured on CapitalGazette.com with you guys about my grandfather. He touched so many people in his life. I hope to one day be able to say I did even a fraction of the things he accomplished. I love you, Granddaddy….Rest in Paradise and I’ll see you when I get there…..

The legacy of a man is not what he builds but what he builds in others.

Well done my good and faithful servant, John J. Jayson Sr.

After 78 years of a vibrant life, my grandfather, John Jefferson Jayson, Sr. passed away today. It didn’t come as a shock considering that he had been sick for a while, but for some reason it was something of a shock to me. I consider myself very even-keeled; I tend to be very matter-of-fact about most things and tend to not get very emotional. For some reason, this was different for me, though. I knew in my heart that my grandfather was nearing this end of his life-journey, but when I got the call that he was admitted to hospice on Friday night, it felt….different.

Unlike most of my friends, up until today, I still had both sets of grandparents, maternal and paternal. Until recently, I even have great-grandparents on both sides. In my life, death was something of a specter lurking in the distance as opposed to something that was real and tangible. My father sent me a text late Friday night while I was out with friends. Already 3 sake bombs in, I still knew something was wrong when I saw his message

When you get this, give Mom a call

Even in my sake-induced haze, I knew something was wrong. I stepped outside and called my mother immediately. We had a very matter-of-fact conversation, and I told her I would drive down as soon as I could. When I walked back in with my friends, I told them I had to leave because my grandfather was very sick and had been admitted to hospice. Even as the words left my mouth, I couldn’t really believe it. My grandfather was such a fixture in my life; I couldn’t imagine my life without him. As the words came out, no longer was I matter-of-fact or emotion-less. Out of nowhere, the tears came. I cried for my grandmother, because she was losing her soulmate of over 60 years. I cried for my mother, knowing how difficult this was going to be for her. Finally, I cried for myself, knowing that I would never see my grandfather again.

When the family was finally all together at the hospice, it was just like old times. My younger sister, who lives in L.A., couldn’t get a flight out, made a video and we played it in the room. As we all sat in my grandfather’s room, we laughed and talked, as we always have when family gets together. Some people may not understand why that was important, but even though he couldn’t talk and laugh with us, I KNEW deep down that my grandfather knew we were all there.

Quiet hours at my grandfather’s hospice start at 10pm, so when the nurse came around at 9:30 to gently usher us out, I helped to corral people so that we could leave on time. We all agreed that we would come back later on the next day to sit with my granddaddy, but somehow I knew that this was the last time i would see him.

About 2:45am that morning we got the call that my grandfather had taken his last breath. John Jefferson Jayson: Father, Brother, Uncle, Friend, Philanthropist, and all around wonderful human being left his earthly body on Monday July 23rd. If he didn’t teach me anything at all, he taught me the value of a dollar, the value of a hard days work, and above all else, he taught me how to be a living example of God’s love.

I love you Granddaddy. Rest in Paradise and I can’t wait to see you again.

“Well done my good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:21

As someone who is friends with a lot of artists, this hits home…

The Trichordist

Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.

Emily:

My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting…

View original post 4,169 more words

Black Silk or How to Turn a Man Down In 3 “Easy” Steps

I learned a long time ago that when a man approaches you to ask for a date, you should never be rude, but make it quite clear if you aren’t interested. You can smile and keep walking if he tries to grab your hand on the street. You can politely entertain his conversation, and then, still politely say “No thank you” or something to that effect when he asks if he can call you. I’ve had some good experiences avoiding men I wasn’t interested in…but I’ve also had some bad ones. Let’s begin…

I’ll never forget, I lived in the “athletic” dorm in college (They weren’t really allowed to call it that, but that’s pretty much what it was because a vast majority of the student-athletes lived there, but I digress) There was this guy on the soccer team who ALWAYS tried to ask me out. I tried time and again to let him down gently, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He just WOULDN’T!  And I reallywasn’t interested. For starters, when he introduced himself (and sadly, I don’t remember what his actual name was) he said…and I quote, “My name is Whatever-Since-I-Can’t-Remember-His-Name, but all the ladies call me Black Silk.

*Grand Opening, Grand Closing*

BLACK SILK????!!!! THAT’S what you’re opening up with?! And “ALL THE LADIES CALL YOU BLACK SILK”???? Sir, that is not the way to my heart, nor any other woman’s heart. But, of course, I didn’t say any of these things aloud. I simply smiled, said, “No thanks. I’m not really into dating right now”, or some other type of excuse.

A few days later, when he asked me out the next time, I’m sure I came up with some other evasive thing to say and managed to hightail it outta there before he started massaging my hands again. (Yeah, he was THAT guy)

One day,he cornered me in the hall on the way into my room after cheerleading practice.  Again, don’t quite remember what he said, but again, I managed to give him the slip. After I went into my room and looked out of my peephole, I saw him standing there for a while, staring at my door…..yikes…….

A few days later I was eating lunch ins the café with my roommate (who also happened to be my sister) , and her then-boyfriend (who also happened to be on the soccer team) came walking over to our table.

Him:  Hey Tee… My boy Whatever-Since-I-Can’t-Remember-His-Name on the soccer team wants to know what’s wrong with you. *snickers under his breath*

Me:  *incredulous* What’s wrong with me????

Him:  Yeah, he said he gave you three chances. *laughing becomes louder*

Me:  Three chances? Three chances for what?????

Him:  Three chances for you to go out with “Black Silk” *throws head back in full laughter*

Me:  This is not funny! I’ve been avoiding this guy for the longest. I keep turning down his dates, but he just doesn’t seem to be getting them memo.

Him:  I know. That’s exactly what he said. He said YOU’RE not getting the memo. The ladies love him, so he doesn’t understand why you’re being so ridiculous.

Me:  I’M being ridiculous??????

Him: *dies laughing*

Needless, to say, I never did go out with Black Silk and I’m not sure what happened, but he never tried to ask me out again after that. But whenever I saw him around the dorm or on campus I always got the mean side eye…..

Ladies, how many of you have a funny story about avoiding a guy? How about you guys? Any crazy stories about avoiding a woman? Send submissions here and I’ll pick the two funniest and post them to my blog.

The Low-Hanging Fruit Theory is NOT a Dating Strategy

There’s this really cute guy I know who always dates the most alias girls. I know what you’re thinking. “What,Tee! That’s super rude! Why would you say that?” But they ARE alias, guys! I mean, this guy is smart, good looking, dresses nicely, etc. He has a college degree and comes from a nice family. But he always dates…randoms. The girls are never very smart…or very cute…or particularly well-spoken… so I’m really confused. I wonder why this guy keeps dating these types of girls. Then, one day while in a business meeting, it hit me square in the face. IT’S THE LOW-HANGING FRUIT THEORY! OF COURSE! For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, let me explain. In the corporate world, companies use the phrase “low-hanging fruit” when referring to easy consumer targets/markets.

The WiseGeek defines low-hanging fruit this way:

We have Mother Nature to thank for the expression low hanging fruit. A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this we get the popular expression “low hanging fruit”, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.

That’s it! That’s why he’s dating these girls! They may not be the most attractive girls, but they are easily obtained with the least amount of effort. Okay, so I get that part. But what I don’t get is WHY ISN’T he putting in any effort to get quality girls? I mean, like I said before, he’s a nice guy, attractive, well-spoken, all of that. Why is he being lazy about dating? Doesn’t he know that this behavior can lower his stock? And before you call me a jerk again, how many of us have seen a potential suitor’s ex and think, “Ummm nope. Not doing it. I won’t be put into THAT category.” Even The WiseGeek agrees with me!

On the one hand,low hanging fruit is usually plentiful and often ignored by those looking for more attractive offerings. But low hanging fruit can also be seen as a negative, since the picker understands how low the quality of the fruit can be and picks it anyway. Someone who consistently chooses the immediate gratification of low hanging fruit could be seen by others as lazy or unambitious.

So why is he doing this? Fellas, please? A little input on this one, because I just don’t get it. Ladies, feel free to weigh in as well. And to be fair, it’s not like I spend a lot of time with these girls, so they may have qualities that I’m just not aware of. I mean, it’s not like I’m dating them, so I guess I really wouldn’t know.  But as far as I can tell, using the “Low-Hanging Fruit Theory” as a dating strategy is no strategy at all….

quotes c/o The WiseGeek http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-low-hanging-fruit.htm

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