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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3 Responses to “Some Things Will (Never?) Change”

  1. pickledwings September 4, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend and that the dog’s family is helping you out.

    I think Ricky Gervais has a point that is, as usual, clouded by his trademark snideness.

    People should have figured it out long before now that the term “Internet security” is a very relative one and that pretty much everything you put online has the potential to be downloaded and shared around by complete strangers without your foreknowledge or consent.

    The line dividing a violation of one’s person from a lapse of one’s personal accountability has become very blurred over the past couple of decades and the internet has really only served to exacerbate that. The internet is so instant, that we’ve lost a lot of ability to think ahead before we do something on it.

    Basically, don’t put anything online that it would bother you or get you into hot water if it got shared around. This goes well beyond leaked nude pictures, it also encompasses pictures of you doing stupid stuff that could potentially cost you credibility socially or professionally. This holds for people of either gender.

    As for the comparison between the leaked nude photos and victim blaming in the case of sexual harassment or rape victims; that’s a very stilted comparison that should not have been made.

    There is little comparison between a nude, still photo of someone who chose to get naked and a violated flesh and blood human being who did not consent to a sex act forced upon them or unwanted public attention due their appearance. In fact, such comparisons only serve to further blur the line between getting violated and being lax in personal accountability. Ultimately it helps nobody, least of all rape victims. There should be a very clear divide between these situations.

    I did not see the leaked pictures of Ms. Lawrence and won’t trouble myself to go looking, so I don’t know their exact context. Regardless of if they were professional shots she posed for, screen captures from film or amateur shots someone took of her at a nude beach, it ultimately comes down to a combination of her choosing to be nude and a lack of proper security measures on the part of those responsible for making the images or managing the security of the locations where the photos were made.

    Professional photographers and film makers today certainly should have the knowledge and tools to properly protect the images they make against illegal downloading and hacking; watermarking and image locking are good first lines of defense.

    Reputable nude beaches and other clothing optional facilities will have security personnel well versed and trained in spotting and dealing with the Peeping Tom sorts.

    Ms. Lawrence can at least make a case for poor security, but she can’t get around the fact that she freely chose to get naked in front of cameras or in a semi-public environment. That much is on her.

    Rape and sexual harassment victims don’t choose what happens to them.

    I’m not unsympathetic to Ms. Lawrence; however, given the circumstances, I hardly think she should be accorded the same degree of sympathy as rape victims should be.

    • jgravesss September 4, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      I completely agree.

      I guess the comparison was more me trying to stress the fact that some people have become so de-sensitized to other peoples’ bodies and the respect we should have for them. That they dehumanize them.

      Sexual harassers do this to their victim whether they think they are being complimentitive or helpful (this would be only cat callers or street harassers).

      Just the act of stealing, and distributing a naked photo of ANYONE (celebrity or not) is a violation of privacy but also a sex crime. It is done with malicious intent (whether the hacker ‘admires’ the body or not) because it ruins a reputation for someone both socially and professionally.

      Usually in the past celebrities have been shamed for this. Vanessa Hudgens, a Disney actress, was very young when her photos were hacked. She was immediately labeled as ‘a good girl gone bad’. And after the ordeal her image changed. She was a victim being blamed as a perpetrator.

      So far this case has got the most attention than any previous. However the language used by the media is quite different. Racier celebrities in the past received less/negative attention when their privacy was violated however in this case (with Lawrence as the main poster child even though the hacker attacked several female celebrities at once) the language is different.

      It does make me think it’s because of Lawrence’s image. If this were Lindsay Lonhan or someone with a worse image I don’t think the media would be handling it that way and that’s what bothers me. And where the ‘short skirt’ comparison comes in.

      Also if you search for the photos, there are multiple fakes. Some obvious and some more believable. This is the most disturbing. We live in an age where if you don’t have a naked photo stored away on your computer to leak, someone can still expertly photoshop one of you anyway and share it.

      I read a disturbing article in the spring about a man doing this to random women then sending the picture to their work and family. I was unable to find the article which is why I didn’t discuss it.

      Sorry if I am not articulating perfectly it’s 4am and I’m on a lot of medication. Thank you

      • pickledwings September 4, 2014 at 10:58 am #

        No need to apologize, you were very clear. 🙂

        You are, of course, right about Photoshopping images. I think the bigger part of that problem is that a big part of western, celebrity following culture has been conditioned by the media to believe so much is true and be naively gullible to what gets put in front of them for consumption. It’s conditioning away from rational, critical thought and healthy skepticism.

        I had not heard about the man you mentioned at the end; that’s pretty sick and depraved if true.

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