Archive | September, 2014

Some Things Will (Never?) Change

4 Sep

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for a while but my life has been quite the whirlwind these days. 

After finishing up my summer jobs down at Roger Williams University, I headed back home vowing to live a healthy life. And I did! I met with my trainer, Laurie, & began eating healthy once again. I drank a ton of water & walked anywhere from 7-9miles a day. I was so happy & I felt good. Life was great. 

That is, until I babysat for the first time.

See, the actual babysitting was not the problem. The two kids were adorable. We colored, we played hide-and-seek & they told me I was the best babysitter in the world. It was wonderful. Soon their mom came home & I had my money in hand, ready to go. 

Then the kids asked their mom if I could meet their giant German Shepard dog sitting in the car’s back seat. I absolutely love animals so she agreed.

She grabbed the dog by the collar & led him over to me. Sniffing my hand he began to wag his tale & everything was fine. 

What happened next took place both in slow motion but so, so fast.

One second I was standing there chatting with the mom & kids.Then the dog wrestled free from her grip. Then he lunged forward & clamped his massive jaws around my leg. Then he was off me. Then I was just standing there with my hands on my thigh saying, “Oh my God, oh my God.” again & again. 

Military Working Dogs

I could not believe what had just happened.

In pure shock I looked down at the wound to see my hands covered in blood & other extremely graphic insides. This was serious. However, I did my best to stay calm, knowing the kids would be traumatized if I panicked. I calmly asked them to get my phone to call my mom. Five minutes later I was on a stretcher being lifted into an ambulance right before my body collapsed due to shock. 

The next 4 days would be pure hell.

I got countless bandages, was pricked & prodded by tons of nurses, spoke with numerous doctors, received 6 stitches…left the hospital. Then my bite got infected. So I went back to the hospital, spent the night, got over 10 bags of different antibiotics through an IV, got a stitch removed, went home. Later that night the infection was still spreading. So I went back to the hospital, sat in the waiting room for an hour, waited another 2 for the doctor, got another IV, was knocked out via anesthesia , got surgery to take all the stitches & probe/cut/scrape/drain the infection, came down from my high where I dreamed/hallucinated I traveled the world & went home. 

I am exhausted. I am drained. But I feel so much better. 

& You know what? Even after all this, I do not blame anyone. It was an accident. A painful & expensive one (which the dog’s family offered to completely cover), but I am very lucky. I am okay. It was not my face or somewhere that permanent damage could have occurred. & I’m glad it was me, instead of one of the kids. Stay positive. 

Anyways…

All this downtime being immobile allowed me to be very up to date with current affairs. Over the weekend news broke that several naked photos of celebrities had been hacked, stolen & then publicly released on the internet. What caught my attention was the name of one of these celebrities: Jennifer Lawrence!

jlaw

(WHY would you ever f**k with Katniss, though?)

As one of my role models, I think that Jennifer is not only a powerful, versatile actress but a wonderful human being. She’s so real. She’s funny, sweet, quirky, weird, clumsy & loves to eat. She doesn’t hide behind a facade of perfection, which is so refreshing for little girls to see. 

Unfortunately though, her naked pictures were hacked. 

& Just when I thought JLaw would quickly be labeled as ‘careless’, ‘slutty’, ‘dirty’ or whatever other stupid word relatively squeaky clean celebs are pitted after they ‘go bad’ (aka: admit they have *GASP* a sex drive)–the opposite happened. In most of the media covering the topic, the main concern was catching the hacker, not shaming Jennifer. The instance was not being called a ‘scandal’ but a ‘sex crime’.

While there were still cases of closed-minded misogyny…

ricky

Oh, really? It’s also harder for rapists to rape you by wearing a chastity belt out, but hey, I like to live on the edge!…

ceelo

(SMH..oh, CeeLo, this is a whole other blog post…)

Unlike Ricky, the majority was blaming nobody but the hacker. 

Every inch of the ever-growing feminist inside of me rejoiced. This was progress!

Instead of blaming those effected for being ‘irresponsible’, the media was defending them. Many other celebrities commented on the instance, offering support & creating a dialogue about the issue at hand. By far the best response was the always straightforward Lena Dunham. She tweeted: 

lena

These words bring up an age old belief deeply ingrained in some of society: girls who dress or act a certain way (show more skin/are more sexually aggressive, etc.) want to be objectified & dehumanized, therefore it is okay to do so. 

The underlying idea in this belief is a woman’s control over HER own body. The lower end of the spectrum of this problem would be something like inappropriate comments about her appearence or catcalling & the highest end would be rape. 

During my time living in Europe, I began to become more informed about these issues. Having been the victim of much unwanted male attention ranging from getting whistled/howled at in Italy to actually scary body groping in France–I always thought that it wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact, before I went to Europe people told me to expect it because I was blonde. 

Expect it because I was a woman.

Do they warn men about things like that before they travel? That someone will most likely invade their personal space, objectify their body, & that the situation could escalate to violence? No. 

While in Europe I was more prone to more blatant instances of catcalling (which I will now, more accurately refer to as street harassment) but in the USA I was also not safe. Several instances occurred while waiting for buses, going out with friends or just walking down the street where I did not feel safe because of what a man was saying about me or my body. 

& I was not the only one.

I read an article on Buzzfeed about Lindsey, a 28-year-old girl from Minneapolis. Lindsey was experiencing so much everyday street harassment from men that she began to secretly film it. In each video (with the A-hole’s face blurred out) Lindsey does not panic, or violently defend herself…but instead logically discusses what and why the harasser said such things to her. Lindsey soon began creating small cards to hand out to her harassers after such instances to educate them about what they did wrong.

harass

(Please check out the awesome Cards Against Harassment website Here )

In most of Lindsey’s discussions the harassers explain that they were simply complimenting her. She probes the idea further & some say that she was dressed all sexy to flaunt herself & wanted the attention. Therefore she should be thankful. Thankful some random man on the street told her she had a nice ass. 

Well I don’t know about you, dear readers, but usually after some random man I don’t know says something like that to me the last thing I feel is ‘thankful’. I feel uncomfortable. And if it’s night time or the person seems drunk, then I feel scared. Because their harmless ‘compliment’ is coming from a place where they think that I put on the my outfit solely for the purpose of looking good for them.

What about looking good for me?

Maybe girls who wear short skirts or low cut shirts want to look & feel beautiful for themselves…not for you. It is by no means an invitation for objectifying compliments, unwanted touching or full on sexual assault. She is not ‘asking for it’, because I am pretty sure if she was, she would ya know…literally use her words & ask for it. 

Like Lena said, on the smaller scale, my outfit does not automatically grant you access to my body & on the larger scale, a celebrity’s public life does not grant you access to their private life. 

Jennifer Lawrence’s stolen naked photos show that us women still have a long way to go. It’s painful, scary & hard. There will be plenty of setbacks. But going back to what happened to me over the past few days, regardless of all the needles, stitches & pain–I still love animals. I always did, I always will. I will not let one horrible instance ruin that forever. 

So, as feminists, or even just people who want to truly see equal rights for all & want to live in a world where the perputrators are blamed, not the victims, we need to keep going. We need to protect ourselves, our bodies & our dignity by fighting back. Not with fists, or insults, but with knowledge & understanding. 

We have come so far in the past 100 years, & if we keep moving, there is no place to go but forward.

-JG 🙂 

 

 

 

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