What About Us?

It’s been a while since I’ve felt the need to blog.

Last week, they announced the verdict of the Eric Garner case which resulted in the officer not being charged.  My heart sank, tears came to my eyes and my mind searched for a reason why this happened.  Just as Jon Stewart pointed out, unlike the ambiguities of the Ferguson case, this case had none, zero.  It was on video, filmed, the murder of this man by a police officer. Clear cut.  Not surprisingly, this proof did nothing.

Police brutality affects us all, however, minorities suffer a much greater impact, loss of life, assault.  The thought that my family could be pulled over for a DWH (driving while Hispanic) or worse…and that is a terrifying thought to me.  My skin is white, I don’t look mixed so I don’t have to be afraid.

There is another reason why I came here to blog.  Lately, NFL players have been voicing their protest of Eric Garner’s trial and Ferguson.  They have entered the field with their arms raised, they have worn shirts saying “I can’t breathe” and that same sentence has been written on their shoes, wrist bands and more.

I applaud their protest, I love that they are using their voice to speak up not only for minorities, but against police brutality, for the families who voices are so limited.  They made the choice to make a public statement, using their status to change our society and I love that.

At the same time though, it makes me want to scream at them in anger, it makes me want to cry, it makes me want to shake them and look them in the eye and say what about us!  Why weren’t there any players using their voice when a woman was knocked unconscious by her partner, why weren’t there players using their voice when a woman was raped, why weren’t their players using their voice when a child was beaten?

For decades, the NFL has harbored, supported and covered up domestic violence and sexual assault cases.  Finally, in 2014, something is being done about it.  Their own organization supports perpetrators of violent crimes, crimes of physical assaults and sexual assault, crimes that kill women and children.  Every day, it is estimated that 3 women are murdered in the United States by an intimate partner.

How many women can’t breathe because the man they love grabs their throat and tightens his grip? How many women can’t breathe because he broke her ribs? How many women can’t breathe because every day they are in fear for their lives?  How many children can’t breathe through their tears of pain? How many women and children can no longer breathe because their life has come to an end?

The video of a woman being assaulted and knocked unconscious brought attention to the problem that has been going on in the NFL for decades.  Since 2000 alone, there have been over 70 domestic violence related arrests….Players now have been asked to or forced into participating in Domestic Violence commercials and campaigns, but no player has voluntarily offered up his voice in this fight. Before this season, no player has voluntarily used his actions or clothing during a game or practice to say that what the NFL has done for decades is wrong, that the perpetrators of these crimes, the abusers, the rapists, the murders, should be in jail.

Again, while I can support their protest, I also have the right to feel angry at them for ignoring the abusers in their own organization.

Through my partner, a die-hard Chargers fan, I have a new-found appreciation and love for this sport.  I haven’t missed a Chargers game all season.  Even when I’m at work, I watch it on my phone.

However, as a woman, I feel that this sport, like so many others, is purely for men where women are reduced to the color pink, the amount of cleavage we show and how short our skirts are.  I can’t help but feel  ignored and marginalized knowing that higher ups in this organization would rather hide and protect these abusers for a profit then do anything about it.  Even the players don’t want to take a stand….

All I can hope for, as in most cases, is that things do change and maybe, eventually, these athletes will volunteer their voices for all of the women who have been harmed or killed.  I hope they will fight for a change.

♥ Meggie

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Fighting for Change

It’s been a rough week last week.  A variety of things have just piled up and for a while, it just felt like nothing was going to work out and that I had hit a wall.

Always say positive and always keep your head up, that’s what I have to remind myself.  With the help of those closest to me, these hard times are made so much easier and I don’t know what I’d do without my friends.  I don’t know how many times I can say that about them.  I know I’m lucky.

I’ve made some changes to myself, fun ones.  I now have bangs and my hair is a dark purple.  I like the change a lot.  It’s fun, a bit strange and barely acceptable for my job, but that’s ok.  As long as they’re ok with it, then that’s all that matters! 🙂

I also had a meeting Wednesday with a local university about hosting the domestic abuse/sexual assault seminar there.  I’m working with another young woman too and she is incredible.  She is so knowledgeable and has so many valuable contributions to this event.  It just makes everything so much easier!  She is a wonderful partner for this project.

The meeting went so well, we were able to get a good deal to host the seminar there and right now we’re just waiting on a date and then I need an insurance quote (of course we need special event insurance).  We decided a Saturday in October would be  perfect.   Saturday most people have off work, it’s in the beginning of the school year when people are really active in their university and it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  It’s perfect!

We’re both getting really excited about it.  Looking through our 7 page outline and handouts, it’s going to be so much fun to discuss these topic with people, sharing resources and information.  Each time I add or edit our existing documents, each time I create another marketing strategy, my excitement just keeps building.

We want our seminar to be different from the average event.   We don’t want the audience to be  talked at for an hour or two and listening to really heart breaking stories.  Those type of events typically attract people who are already interested in these topic or involved in the industry.  We want people who aren’t already involved or who are aware but haven’t gotten involved yet to come.  We want men to join in too.  We laid out this seminar to be a discussion where people can ask questions and discuss DV/SA in an open, judgement free area.  We want to hear people’s thoughts, opinions and questions and facilitate positive dialogue not only with each other but also (hopefully) with the administration of the university so students know where they can go for help or additional resources.

We all have to work together to solve a problem like this and I know it’s possible.  I am so excited that all of this is happening.  I think it’s about time I took a step like this and put myself out there.  I know I can do this and if we don’t get the amount of people we’re hoping for, we can always try again!  We can make a difference and by putting ourselves out there and going for it, that’s just the first step.  I’m not afraid to fail because no matter what the outcome is, I don’t see it as a failure.  We’ll learn how to improve what we’re doing until we get it just right.

I can’t wait for the next few weeks until everything is finalized.  I’ll keep everyone posted!

♥ Meggie

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

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

#Yesallwomen

I’ve seen this hashtag being used, #yesallwomen.  Initially I didn’t know it was in response to anything, but I loved it.  I truly think it does open up people’s eyes (especially some men who don’t necessarily see a problem with how society treats women).

I can relate to the majority of the posts as well.  I can relate to being afraid in a dark parking lot in the middle of the night, keys braced by my fingers just in case a man attacks me.  I can relate to going to a party or club and not drinking too much because I knew I could get attacked and then be blamed because society tells me it’s not the rapists fault, it’s mine.  I can relate to being harassed on the street, the feeling of someone actually grabbing my butt and laughing like it was ok when I was terrified.  Through the work I do, I’ve heard the abuse stories, the rapes, assaults, beatings, I’ve heard it all.

I know I was primed by society to know I wasn’t safe alone, that if I was with a man, he should walk me out into that dark parking lot, join me on the street and defend me from potential harassment and assailants because it is safer to be with a man.  The men I grew up with were never taught to be afraid because a woman might rape them or attack them, but I was taught a man could and that was a reality I had to accept.  I had to accept the fact that I could be attacked, be taught how to keep myself safe, but potential attackers didn’t have to be taught not to attack me in the first place.

That is what you learn, growing up as a woman.  People tell you that you’re supposed to go through life independently because you can do anything, just don’t dress like a slut (whatever that means), don’t drink too much and always stay armed if you’re alone, keys between your fingers, mace in hand.

After doing more reading, I discovered that this hashtag was in response to the shootings in Santa Barbara and I see more and more articles appearing on my Facebook focusing on ‘women’s’ issues and how the shooting solely relates to those issues. To be perfectly honest, it is really bothering me.

I agree, his manifesto was sexist and misogynist, however I do not believe one bit that this is solely a woman’s issue nor should it be made into one.

As a feminist, I fight for equal rights, equal for both men and women.  I recognize my own struggles in society as a woman, however I know men have different struggles at times as well.  With regards to the shooting, we need to talk about the sexual violence against women, we need to talk about how we are NOT property, men do not OWN us, we are not to be sexually dominated.

At the same time we need to talk about the hyper-masculine version of a man that society creates and pressures men to be.  They are supposed to be strong, dominating, sexually driven and yes that is part of the reason why there is violence against women (another great conversation) but it also impacts men as well.

If we’re going to bring in topics on how this hurts women, we should talk about how it hurts men too.  We should also be talking about how when men are sexually assaulted they can’t come out and talk about it because then they appear to not be ‘real men’.  God forbid a man is sexually assaulted by a woman!!  Our society makes that into a joke that is seen in movies, we laugh at that, think it’s not even possible.  What about when a female beats her male partner??  That’s a joke in society too.  There was a video that was created first showing two actors.  First the man was grabbing and hitting the woman in public and people intervened!  They said they’d call the police, shouted at him to stop, were visibly upset!  When the tables were turned and the woman beat the man, no one came to help me.  There were actually people who laughed at the scene, as if it were a joke.

So yes, I strongly believe we need to talk about violence against women, we need to start this conversation, we need to talk about what we go through, we need to talk about how the stereotypically masculine image hurts us because we are turned into sexual property.  At the same time, we need to acknowledge that this hyper-masculine image also hurts men as well, especially in cases of abuse (as it hurts women).

If this hashtag was unrelated to the shooting that would be a different situation where it could only involve the struggles women face.  Since it’s not and if we’re going to bring up all these topics of violence against women, we should do the same for men.We must have a conversation, and all-inclusive conversation about abuse, neglect and how gender expectations hurt us, not only as women or as men but as a society.

Rescue

I was so ready to leave work yesterday.  It was so slow.  I had a plan for when I got home.  First was to take a nap seeing as how I was out so late the night before, then finish some cleaning, dinner, catch up on Supernatural, nothing too exciting but that was ok with me.

I was talking to Mom in the kitchen when I see my phone light up and I have 2 missed calls, both from my best friend.  Something was up, she never calls.  So I listen to one of the voice mails and I don’t even get through the first sentence which was “Hi Meggie, I picked up a …”  I got too excited.  I knew she picked up some animal!  I deleted the message and called her right away.

It turns out she was driving down a busy main road in town when she saw a Robin flopping and flapping around on the street.  Sitting in the left turn lane, she kept checking her mirror and looking at it until she decided to put her car in park and as she explained it “I ran out into the road with tissues like a crazy hippie lady and picked up the bird and put it in my car!”

Then she called me to see where she could take it.  I got a box ready, cut holes in the side and put a shirt and towel in it.  The wildlife center was closed so she was going to have to keep it over night and take it in the morning.

She got to my house and the bird was on the floor on the passenger side of the car.  She thought its neck might have been broken and that’s what it looked like.  I picked it up in the towel and it was flapping around a bit and shaking.  We laid it in the box and tried to decide what to do next.  I was going to stop at a store to find an eye dropper to give it some water since it wasn’t in any condition to get up to drink from a bowl.

Unfortunately after a few minutes, the little bird stopped flapping, stopped shaking and just laid there, its eye started to close.  I touched it with my finger and felt nothing, he didn’t make it, but at least she tried to save it!

This is why we’re such good friends.  At times, we’re very different at times, but at the core we’re the same. She is the only person I know who is crazy enough to run into the street to pick up an injured bird and this is why I simply adore her.

One crazy, wild heart is perfectly suited for another crazy, wild heart.  that is just the perfect recipe for best friends.

♥ Meggie