Equality at the Races

Yesterday I went to the drag races. Growing up, that was the sport we watched in our house, not football, not baseball, I was the little girl who grew up with cars.

I love everything about it, speed, power, noise, nitro, the complete excitement of watching the cars run, the competition. People don’t realize what really goes into drag races.  It’s so much more than just running a straight quarter mile.

Unfortunately, one of the hardest things to deal with as a young girl and young woman is that it is a male sport so even attending the races, you will be faced with sexism.  To some (not all) a woman is meant to be in tiny shorts with a shirt that is about 5 sizes to small sitting atop a car to take pictures with or maybe hand you a free sample of something, maybe beer?  We are to be shouted at, we are to be gawked at.

I was so excited to start my time at the races. My idol, the first woman of drag racing, Shirley Muldowney was signing. She still has records that haven’t been beat. I’ve met her once before but any time you can meet your hero is amazing.

In line I was with my partner and an older man in front of us turned around, looked at me and said “I bet he (pointing at my partner) dragged you into this line and you don’t know you you’re going to see”. Then he laughed.  He wasn’t trying to be mean or anything, he was trying to start an innocent conversation.  He was older and typically older generations assume genders still fall into the stereotypes they grew up with.

I wasn’t angry, but I was frustrated. I smiled back and laughed saying “I was the one who dragged him to the races.  My dad taught my baby sister and I everything about drag racing. Mukdowney is my idol. You shouldn’t assume a woman doesn’t know what she’s taking about.”  Then I laughed, I wanted to correct his incorrect assumption, but I didn’t want to be mean about it.  I knew he really wasn’t trying to be hurtful, but it still did hurt.

The next experience was when I was looking at car products with my dad.  The salesman came up and stood next to me, saw me picking up products reading about them. Several minutes went by and he didn’t ask if he could help me at all. Once dad walked over to the stand I was next to, the sales man immediately asked him if he needed help and if he could be of any assistance. It goes without saying that women typically experience this lack of service when dealing with mechanic shops, car dealerships and other car related retail shops. Again, another frustrating moment, so I left. I told my partner I see how much I’m valued here, let’s go.

The final moment was leaving the drag races, walking though the parking lot at night.  Men were shouting things out windows, one guy was screaming how he wanted ‘boobs’.  As I walked by an R.V., a man knocked on the window. First, my partner looked up and I heard the man say “Not you, the girl” and then he said something unintelligible. That type of street harassment and cat calling is so hurtful to me. I hate it. I hate having to worry about what I’m wearing or the location in at.   It’s not like I have any particularly raunchy clothing or I’m dressed in something revealing, I’m not at all, but I still have to be careful.  I hate having to be near my partner or my father to avoid this harassment.  It makes me feel like nothing

I don’t think my partner really understand how hurtful those things are to me, or to most women. I don’t think a lot of men really understand how humiliating and upsetting these things are. I think some believe it’s innocent fun or a joke.

I know it shouldn’t affect me, I mean it’s a bunch of men and that shouldn’t bother me, it’s just words. Just like parents tell their children about bullies, let it go, their words can’t hurt you, but you know your child is still hurting.

What bothers me too is that, last year at the races I was walking with my mom and sister and a man shouted incredibly lewd things to me and no one said anything, they just looked. My mother though (in a mother’s fury) whipped around and said “She is young enough to be your daughter, you’re disgusting!”  That was very true, he looked twice my age (or more) and it felt good that someone said something.  I wasn’t alone.

This year I did find my voice though.  I refuse to remain silent when I’m treated like this and never again will my mouth stay shut, especially when the phrases directed at me are aggressive, lewd or disrespectful.  I always hope for the future to change, I think we all do, but it would be nice to live in a time where that hurtful behavior (the cat calling, not the first man) will be unacceptable and bystanders refuse to remain silent about that.

Also, I hope that maybe one day my partner will understand what it’s like to be a woman and to be accosted like that.  He does see a variety of behaviors as completely unacceptable and will stand by me and any decision I make, any reaction I have to a situation.  He will support me and that is always the best place to start, I just don’t think he always gets it, like my male friends, it kinda just goes over their head sometimes.

Have any of you ever been frustrated or hurt by street harassment or sexism?  Both men and women feel free to answer, this topic is definitely not limited to women.

♥ Meggie

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You Need to Stop….

You need to stop making everything a gender issues

You need to stop acting like women have it so much harder in life

You need to stop with these feminist ideas, it’s just because you were hurt in the past by men, you need to just let it go and move on.

I’ve had all of these things told to me before, even very recently and I’ve been thinking about it more and more after watching the most amazing sketch on The Daily Show.  Jessica Williams tackled the topic of college campus assault.  She points out the differences that men and women face when entering various situations.

I know I bring up gender issues, but it’s not in a way that is over blown or “man hating”.  I think there are very negative gender separations with regards to male stereotype which I’ve written about before and I know there are very real and dangerous problems when it comes to being a woman in a patriarchal society.

How do I know this? because I’ve experienced them.  I know what it’s like to be afraid at night, to be cat-called and told it’s just men being ‘honest’ and giving me a compliment.  I know that more women are assaulted or kill than men and most of the times the perpetrator is a man.  I know that in our world, it is more common for a woman to be a prostitute, typically sold by a man and men are more likely to purchase them (and purchase from the sex industry in general), purchasing another human being like an animal to use and let go.  Keep in mind, before anyone freaks out with men are abused too and women purchase from the sex industry! Yes I am completely aware of it and I focus a lot of my education on men’s rights in regards to abuse & the sex industry.  These facts I’m stating are statistics and the majority of the instances women are the victims.

Though this may seem incredibly harsh, I think it is exceptionally ignorant to ignore these gender differences in society and to accept behavior that supports them, support behavior like cat calling or purchasing human beings or not speaking out when you see someone treated like this.  I will continue to speak out about all of the topics that I feel strongly about.

My biggest pet peeve is when people attribute my past negative experience with men to my current opinions or when they act like I hate men because that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I’m not damaged goods, I’m not broken because of my past.  I am a perfectly capable and intelligent young woman  who has formulated opinions based on what I know & learn, what I’ve seen and yes my own personal experience.  I form opinions just like everyone else in this world so do not act as though I am broken and incapable of intelligent thought.  It’s not only frustrating, but it is hurtful to be looked at as broken.

I wish, in a perfect world, each gender could switch for a day.  Women then can experience the ridiculous expectation of masculinity and inability to express themselves that men face, we could see what it’s like for men who are dealing with issues like sexual assault or difficult topics like those.  Men can experience the harassment and fear women face going into situations at night, alone, with alcohol, being cat called, touched, groped, masturbated at and more.

Unfortunately, that can’t happen, but our society is becoming increasingly more aware of what we all go through.  As we continue to open our eyes, opinions will change, behaviors will change and I hope society will move in a more positive, accepting and understanding direction.

♥ Meggie

Life Unaltered

I just returned from a trip up to nowhere Wisconsin, a place without air-conditioning, radios, T.V.s and locks on the doors. (Actually I lied, there is now a T.V. in the lodge, but honestly, who would use it?)  Days are spent on boats, fishing, riding bikes, running, soaking up the sun on the beautiful beach and being chased by vicious mosquito and monstrous flies.  It is one of my favorite places on Earth, at least that I’ve been to so far.

It’s a nice way to take a step back, back to what I experience growing up, no cell phones, no WiFi everywhere, no texting, no Facebook, nothing. absolutely nothing except outside and family.  I did take advantage of their newly acquired WiFi for one afternoon during a small rain storm.  I walked with my computer up to the lodge and took some time to get work done for a Sexual Assault Seminar I’m planning and to do some work for WAR Chest Boutique.  That’s how I justified entering the modern world for a few hours, because I was doing something positive!

I think we have to take a step back sometimes, detach ourselves from the phones and computers that are now permanently welded to our hands, even during sleep.  We spend so much time attempting to document all of our experiences via social media we often forget to actually embrace and enjoy the event itself.  Enjoy the hours on the boat, freeze that embrace by a loved one, lay in the sunshine and resist the urge to take pictures of your legs….don’t let the world fly by.

While this message is so often told to us, you’ll have to read it again!  Take a day, and drive to no reception.  Just take an adventure, an adventure to a new place, an adventure with a loved one and an adventure of life without technology.  We all got along fine without it before so try it again.  Get in touch with yourself and the world around you, experience it without the influence of anything at all.  If you can’t enjoy the world around with without being affected by something.  Whether it’ss technology or anything else, that is so heartbreaking.  It’s heartbreaking because the world is amazing, why not enjoy it as it is and enjoy people as they are?

I’ll step down from my soap box now.  The vacation itself was amazing, I loved every minute of it! It was so incredibly relaxing and the food there, oh my goodness the food…..it’s so amazing!  I could live off their pancakes. . . and really anything else they served!  On the way home we stopped at House on the Rock, which is just incredible.  The tour itself took 4 hours. . .and we walked quickly!! There is just so much to see.  I’ve been there 2 or 3 times before, but it is just as bizarrely enthralling each time you go!

We finally arrived home last Sunday.  I did some clean up, helped start the laundry and then went out again.  I couldn’t wait to see him.  When I got to his place, he greeted me with this beautiful red rose and an amazing kiss (but let’s be honest, what kiss isn’t amazing from him?).

Happiness seems more and more present in my life.  First of all, I have found a new respect for myself and that’s where everything starts, your love for yourself is the most powerful love you will ever experience.  Also, at this point in my life, I’m going for what I want.  I love my volunteering so much and my family and friends are so incredibly supportive its ridiculous! lol They would do absolutely anything to help me.  Not only that, I’m happy I have a partner in my life who I can start sharing these things with, to an extent.  Maybe eventually, I can bring him in on more things I do.  I cannot wait for future adventures as well!!  I feel completely alive and this summer is going to be the summer of my dreams.

♥ Meggie

Let’s Clear Some Things Up

http://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/confessions-that-prove-being-a-feminist-is-a-complicated+

The link above is a link to probably one of the worst articles I have ever read in my life.  It is called 23 Confessions That Prove Being A Feminist Is A Complicated Identity when really, the title should be title People Who Are Slightly Confused as to What Feminism Is. As you can see by most of the comments below this article, there are many who agree.

Feminism isn’t this idea that a man can’t take care of a woman, that a woman has to be this totally man hating, independent, masculine lady.  Feminism is about making your own choices. We see these radical feminists who are so extreme that they convey a very sexist message, ordering women to not do what they want (like be a stay at home mom) and spewing hateful words toward men.

If a woman wants to be a stay at home mom, she is a feminist.  If she wants to work, she is a feminist.  If she wants to cook for her partner, she is a feminist.  If she and her partner decide he will be a stay at home dad, she is a feminist.  If she likes to be dominated in intimate situations, she is a feminist.  If she chooses to submissive in intimate situations, she is a feminist.  If she is looking for her prince charming to take car of her, she is a feminist.  If she is not looking for her prince charming, she is a feminist.  Do you see where I’m going here?

Feminism was created because women didn’t have a choice. Women didn’t have rights, we didn’t have the ability to make our own decisions about our own life.  Those decisions were dictated by our partners and our society.  We have the feminist movement so we can choose whatever we want.  There is no difference in a man telling a woman what to do or a woman telling another woman what to do. Feminists make their own choices as to how they wish to live their lives.

I am a feminist.  I’ve written about this so many times.  I will pay for a date, the entire thing.  My partner will not pay for every single date.  He knows I am a strong, independent woman who can do anything he can.  He knows I spend the majority of my time fighting for my rights as a woman through all of my work.  I will be dominant, I will think for myself and I will stand my ground when I have a strong opinion about something.

I am also a feminist because I love to cook for him.  I love to take care of him.  I’ll go grocery shopping for him, make dinner for him and his friends, I’ll clean his kitchen for him.  I know this isn’t a required part of our relationship, but I love doing it.  I love taking care of him.  If I am ever married one day, no matter how much I work, I will want to cook for my husband because that is something I love.  I also love when he comes up behind me and grabs my butt.  I love that he takes care of me.  I love that he protects me.  I love when he introduces me as ‘his girl’.  These are all things people don’t think are part of feminism, but guess what?? They are because they are my choice.

I am a strong, independent woman who is quite capable of making my own choices with how I wish to live my life and that is exactly what feminism is.  So if you want to be a stay at home mom, if you want to cook for your partner, if you want to work, if you want to propose to your man, go for it!  As long it is your choice, that is feminism, there is nothing confusing or conflicting about it.  This is why that article is absolutely ridiculous.  Everything those women said are part of feminism because it is their choice.

What are your thoughts on this article? I’d love to hear.

♥ Meggie

My What?

Sometimes people think I’m a lesbian, that’s the response I get most often when people ask me if I’m dating anyone or ask me about a significant other.  Most often, I will refer to my boyfriends as my partner and people tend to question that.  There are a couple reasons why I do this.

First of all, with the work I do (domestic abuse/sexual assault, women’s groups, human trafficking) you’re always trained on how you talk to people.  For example, if you’re talking to a female survivor of domestic abuse, you shouldn’t ask if their boyfriend did it because they might have a girlfriend.  By assuming they have a boyfriend, this could make the survivor withhold aspects of their life important to the situation because they might worry if you will judge them or treat them differently if they define their sexual orientation.  So whenever I talk to anyone, I ask about their partner.

This is also the same reason in a group setting, I talk about my partner rather than my boyfriend, so I can create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing and knows that it is an open, judgement free zone.  After I say their name, it is clear I have a boyfriend, but I want to use neutral language to everyone can express every aspect of their life they wish to.

Not only that, but being a straight female, I can openly disclose my orientation without any fear or negative repercussions.  No one is going to discriminate against me or treat me poorly because of who I’m dating.  Others don’t have that privilege.  If someone discloses they are in a same sex relationship they do have that fear and rightfully so.  I hope social environments are changing to become more accepting, after all, love is love, but I know there are still major challenges that arise.

In a way, calling my boyfriend a partner, is now just a habit, but also I don’t think it’s fair that I can disclose my boyfriend but others can’t.  Like I said, most of the time when I say that, people assume I’m a lesbian and I get strange looks until I say my partners name and that’s ok.  If people want to assume thing about me, that is their choice.  It doesn’t affect me one bit. 🙂

I do discuss this with my parnter.  I haven’t had many boyfriends at all, but none have been opposed to it after I explain my reasoning, but I always want to be considerate.  At times, I think people assume you are lessening the relationship, demoting it from boyfriend to partner and I have to explain that’s not the case at all.

I wanted to share this because of how many questions I get regarding this aspect of my life. 🙂

Next week I have some very exciting news to share!

I’ve also been working on planning a few events, one in July which I’m very excited about.  Hopefully those will start to fall into place and will be successful. 🙂

♥ Meggie

The Color Run!

This weekend was a blast!  My best friend Kristiii wanted to do this 5k called the Color Run.  As you run, they have color stations set up where they spray you with colored corn starch.  There is music and events before the race and after.

Two of her friends, who I’ve gotten to know as well, came in from Indiana to join us so it was a busy weekend.  Friday we were out, Saturday they came to visit the bird rescue with me, Sunday was the race and one of our friends adopted a little yellow parakeet after!

We get to the race early, wander around, listening to the music, anxious for it to start.  Finally, they say we can head toward the starting line so we join the massive crowd of white shirts.  People really went all out, there were colorful tutus, boas, bright hair and a unicorn wandering about.

The course was simple, the stations with color were easily seen by the clouds of dust spilling out over the city (they brought 20,000 lbs).  Running through the stations, volunteers, completely coated in their assigned color, tossed, sprayed and covered the runners.

After we finished, we all were given packets of color and we headed toward the stage to listen to music.  Every so often they’d prep the crowd, throw out more color packets and at the same moment everyone would open them and spill them over the crowed and we’d all be engulfed in a mass of dust and bodies.

By the time we left, we were like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.  Our own personal dust cloud followed us where ever we went.  Before leaving, we headed over to the blowing station where we were partially cleaned with a leaf blower.

With our skin still stained blue and green, we walked back to the parking garage.  It took us forever to find out how to get back inside and once we did that, we discovered the car died.  The inside lights had been left on.

An hour later we were on our way after jumping the car.  Then off to the bird rescue.  We walked in.   3 of my relative were there and they got a kick out of seeing all of us.

I was so tired afterward, I fell right asleep after lunch.

It was such a fun day and I am so glad can’t wait to do this again next year!

♥Meggieleg

The List

More and more lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to be in a relationship, which is why I decided to write this blog to solidify and sort out my ideas.  I have been working through my own experiences and I’ve talked to people who long to be in a relationship but have a list of criteria  and others who enjoy their simplistic partnership.

I’ve never had a list of criteria, I’ve never had a type, I’ve never really thought that much about it to be honest, but now I’m considering my list, what I want my partner to be like.

In a partnership, I think there should be changes made by each person because whether you are married or best friends, in any personal relationship there will always be little annoyances or problems that have to be worked through.  Nothing huge or extensive, just little things and that’s ok.   If both people were identical, that would be pretty boring. . .As long as there is communication, it’s totally fine.  Both partners should feel completely comfortable talking about anything to each other, that is something I cherish and value.

There is a problem if you have to sacrifice too much of yourself, change who you are to suit that person, which I have experienced in the past and I won’t relinquish any part of myself for any future partner again.

As I was walking through my list, I thought about what people typically first mention, physical attributes. . . . I couldn’t think of any.  Of course there are physical attributes I’m more attracted to, I love green eyes, tall, in shape, dark hair, but eye color wouldn’t make me not want to date someone, height doesn’t make a man, race is unimportant, hair color is just as moot as eye color.  Really I have no list of physical traits, I could care less about what a person looks like because I know if I click with them, then I will be physically attracted to them so why waste type putting myself in a box with a physical definition of a man when their personality is what truly matters?

The next on most lists is what is their job.  Really, as long as they are employed and motivated that’s all that’s important.  There has to be a responsibility for bills that is necessary and a hope for a financially stable position in life.  Having a lot of money isn’t important, it is how responsibly you manage your money, I guess that’s a good way to describe it.

The most important thing on my list for a partner is to be respectful.

1. They must respect themselves, find value in themselves.  I think it could be very negative being with someone who doesn’t love themselves.  Not only will they not be able to give the care you need, but when someone has confidence in themselves, that is a very attractive quality.  They know they are a wonderful creation, a beautiful miracle on this planet.

2. They must respect other.  If I’m with someone who can’t value others, that speaks volumes about their character and I don’t think any more needs to be explained on this particular topic.

3. They must respect me.  I want to be cared for as much as I care for them, I would have a desire for them to be as excited as I am.  Since rediscovering myself and my self worth, I know I won’t settle, I know I won’t find myself in a bad situation again.  I will be exceptionally proud of my partner, I will be with someone who is interesting and charming, responsible and respectful, someone who can take care of me but accept me as the independent woman I am and someone who can communicate with me about anything, even if it’s something about me that is a bit annoying. 🙂

I will be elated they are by my side in life and show them off!  I know that might sound like a weird statement, show them off, but at this point in my life I feel even more secure in who I am as a woman.  When I find a partner, I know it will be a positive choice in my life, they will be an incredible person who I will be more than happy to show to the world.  I am exceptionally demonstrative in any relationship, whether it is friend, family or dating because I’m like an excitable puppy!  I love people who I chose to be around and are excited to share my love of them to whoever I meet.  I can’t help it! 🙂

So that is my list.  My list and my promise to myself to never lose myself and find someone who will value me as I value them.

♥ Meggie