Category Archives: WTF

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

#31WriteNow Sketch Award of the Day

This post won’t be long, but I thought I’d share since it’s the sketchiest thing that’s happened to me all week. Did I mention it’s only Monday?  I mean, I’ve had my fair share of sketchy thing happen, but this one might be up there in the Hall of Fame.

I was in the elevator with a coworker and there was a random UPS guy in there. As we ride up to our floor and are getting off…

Him:  Hey, don’t you live at [insert old address] ?

Me:  Ummmm I used to, like two years ago.

Him:  Yeah yeah, I thought I recognized you. I recognized your face.

1) That was two years ago
2) UPS leaves packages downstairs….so how did he ever even see me?

I’m sufficiently creeped out for the rest of the day…

 

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.

Afro Blue Vocal Band pays tribute to the late Trayvon Martin

As if I couldn’t love them any more.  The Sing Off’s Afro Blue Vocal Band has recorded a soul-stirring rendition of their version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in the memory of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year old boy shot to death by George Zimmerman.  If you don’t know the story you can click the link below.

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot and killed in a gated community in Florida late last month by a white neighborhood watch captain, according to police. But the watch captain, George Zimmerman — a 28-year-old who has admitted to police that he shot the young man — still walks free. And Martin’s family is pleading for answers and demanding justice. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/family-of-trayvon-martin-_n_1332756.html

The following tribute by Afro Blue Vocal Band embodies how many in our community felt during the Civil Rights Era…and sadly, still today.  Rest In Paradise, young Trayvon….

We are ALL Trayvon Martin

By now you have heard the tragic story about 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead while walking home.  If not, see the story here:

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot and killed in a gated community in Florida late last month by a white neighborhood watch captain, according to police. But the watch captain, George Zimmerman — a 28-year-old who has admitted to police that he shot the young man — still walks free. And Martin’s family is pleading for answers and demanding justice. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/family-of-trayvon-martin-_n_1332756.html

 

People all over the globe are outraged, myself included.  If you are in the NYC area, tonight, please support this call for justice.

http://www.idontdoclubs.com/2012/03/20/1000000-hoodie-march-for-trayvon-martin/

1. WEAR YOUR HOODIE ON WEDNESDAY 3/21 and upload a pic to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #millionhoodies.

2. SIGN THE CHANGE.ORG PETITION – started by Trayvon’s parents. Currently at 530,000 signatures, we can move the needle to 1 million this week!
change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin

3. JOIN US IN NYC – Throw on your hoodies and come gather in Union Square to show your support for justice for Trayvon Martin!

A black person in a hoodie isn’t automatically “suspicious”. Let’s put an end to racial profiling!

*Wednesday, March 21st is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Location: Union Square

Address: 14th Street and 5th Avenue, New York, NY

How do I get there? Click here.

Weather Forecast: 54°F, 20% chance of rain

Crowd: Justice Seekers

Dress Code: Hoodies

Cover: Free

More Information: facebook.com/events/347784265268106

GENESE JAMILAH on Mar 20, 2012 • 8:49 pm idontdoclubs.com

 

 

     “A Black person in a hoodie isn’t automatically “suspicious”

 

Thomas Czarnecki’s “From Enchantment to Down”: Lazy or Misogynistic Masterpiece

Before I begin, I want to warn everyone up front:  These pictures are  EXTREMELY shocking.  If you are easily upset, or very sensitive, please do not look at the photos; stop after reading the post.

Thomas Czarnecki has shocked many people with his photo editorial “From Enchantment to Down”  This editorial showcases everyone’s favorite Disney princesses meeting some NOT so happily ever afters.

After looking through all of the photos, the ones that affect me the most are Pocahontas and Sleeping Beauty.  I suppose real art is nothing, if not provocative, but the only picture that has any real artistic value, in my opinion, is the Pocahontas photo.  This photo showcases the ongoing themes of  racism, male domination and the idea of women as “trophies” that still pervades our modern society.  The Sleeping Beauty photo is clearly a depiction of r@pe, and rubs me the wrong way.  The rest of the photos are lazy, sick and scary, in that order.  They are shocking for the sake of being shocking and they aren’t really saying anything important.

I don’t pretend to be a photography expert, because I am not.  While I think the photos are kind of pretty to look at, the underlying themes are gruesome and quite ugly.  I know that many people feel that Disney Princesses are idealized women and are bad influences on young girls, but do they deserve to die for that?  This photo editorial, while shocking, is still a little scary.   These photos appear to be the musing of a man who has a very particular idea of where pretty young women in society ought to be:   Assaulted, poisoned , kidnapped, r@ped pushed down stairs and washed up on beaches……Yikes, Thomas Czarnecki….was high school really that bad?

 

Thomas Czarnecki photos C/O The Huffington Post

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