Tuesday, June 03, 2014

#yesallwomen #yesevenmormenwomen

Over the past week or so, I have been following the #yesallwomen debate. For those who might not know, last week a man (who may or may not have had mental problems, but was definitely messed up) went on a killing spree because he hated women, and felt that they owed him sexual favors.  When that didn't pan out for him, he "acted out" to put it mildly.  

After the occurrence, a lot of women were understandably upset.  They made comments about how women are the subject of sexual assault and violence, and no one was paying attention. Then some men got upset, saying that not all men were like that, and used the hashtag #notallmen to indicate that not all men were misogynistic, sexist abusers.

Feeling that the debate was being hijacked by men trying to refocus the debate on themselves and away from the important issue of assault on women, a woman started the #yesallwomen hashtag to start talking about the ways that women are sexually assaulted and abused.  Then a Mormon woman started the #yesevenmormonwomen to discuss the ways that Mormon woman have been sexually assaulted and abused.  

I have been reading these debates, and thinking about the situation.  On the one hand, I wholeheartedly agree that women should not be sexually assaulted, and should not be the subject of abuse.  I am a victim of sexual assault, as I think most of the women I know are (I believe the reported numbers do not account for all the women who never report the assault, as they "don't think it is a big deal.")

Of course, this opens the question of "what is sexual assault?"  From the comments, it is clear that, as a society, we don't even have a clear indication of what rape is, much less sexual assault.  Some people think it is fine for a husband to demand, even force sex.  I would like to point out that this is legally rape.  But also, rape is one of the hardest crimes to convict.  

From the comments I read, there were some things that I don't think count as sexual assault, and it bothers me.  For instance, I read a comment where a woman was mad that she had been making out with a man, and then he had propositioned her.  She didn't say he forced her, or demanded or coerced.  He just asked.  She apparently thought this was sexual assault.  Or the woman that was upset that men looked at her boobs.  Does that count?  Yes, it can be annoying, and shows that the man is interested in your body.  But, if he isn't touching her, isn't making lewd comments, is doing nothing else besides look, is that sexual assault?  

For me, sexual assault is when a man touches a women for sexual pleasure without her permission.  

It seems to me, that some women are trying to deny their sexual natures, and the sexual nature of men in general.  Their complaints are about men seeking to fulfill those sexual desires at all--not that the men have done anything improper (by improper, I mean contact without consent).  In my understanding, sexual assault of women happens, not because women are sexual or men are sexual, but because men don't understand that they need to ask permission before acting on sexual impulses.  

As I understand it, we have been trying to solve the problem of rape and sexual assault by teaching women to be chaste.  By telling them that men are sexual creatures, and they have to dress modestly to keep themselves safe.  I have seen men get very upset by this premise-- men are not animals, and can control themselves.  And suggesting otherwise does demean men.  But I have never seen anyone clearly elucidate how to solve this problem.

I've been thinking, and this is what I have thought so far.  Men act out on sexual impulses, because they don't realize that they need to ask permission before acting sexually with a woman.  Why is this?  I believe that their are 2 main reasons.

First, I believe that this is because many men grow up believing that they can act however they want.  Because when they are little, they are allowed to act on all their impulses.  We let our little boys hit and punch and yell and scream.  We let them roughhouse, and play in the mud and eat all the cookies.  We say, "well, that's the way little boys are."  They pull a little girl's hair, and we laugh--because he likes her.  But what we are teaching a child when they have no discipline is that they are free to do whatever they want.  That they are free to fulfill their every impulse.  And when little boys don't learn impulse control, they grown up without the skills or knowledge needed to not sexually harass.  Because they haven't been taught that other children's feelings are important.  Or that they can't do something just because they want to.

Second, I believe that men grow up to sexually assault women when they are not taught to honor women, and never, ever hurt them.  Boys who are taught that women are precious, and to be honored above all else tend to grow up into men who treat the women around them with respect.  And respect=not sexually assaulting a woman.  I have known men who have taken the feminist movement to mean that they don't have to honor and respect women anymore, because they get to treat women like men.  I am always sad when I hear this.  Feminism is not asking to be treated like a man.  Feminism is asking to allow women to have a say in what happens to women.  

There are other reasons that sexual assault happens-- like when sex is stigmatized, and hidden, and boys aren't taught to control themselves, because that would necessitate talking about sex--which isn't talked about.  Or men who simply do not care about societies rules that you can't sexually assault.  These men try to get away with everything, so this is just one more rule they are breaking.  Or when society tells men that what they are doing "isn't a big deal"--that it's not a big deal to grab a woman's butt, or grope her on the subway, or stand so close you can "accidentally" touch her.  

Part of the problem, is that as women, we believe that we need to let things go.  That we should try to solve problems, not start them.  I remember the first time someone told me I should stand up for myself, and not let someone sexually assault me.  I was at work, at Joe's Crab Shack.  I needed to go into the office, to get my check and tips, and as I was entering, a male co-worker was leaving.  He brushed his hands against my chest as he was leaving "on accident".  My boss yelled at him.  I was like "its ok, its not a problem."  And then my boss turned to me, and told me "it is a problem, you shouldn't let men do that.  Stand up for yourself."

When we let men get away with a million little sexual assaults, they start to believe that it is ok to get away with the big ones.  When we don't stop them grabbing butts, and brushing against girls "accidentally," when we don't tell them to control themselves, or treat women with respect, when they aren't sat down to a frank talk about what they are allowed and are not allowed to do, we teach men that they can act however they want.  By not stopping the behavior before a serious sexual assault, like rape, happens, we teach men that what they are doing is ok.  And then when they get caught, they make a million excuses, because in their head they did nothing wrong.  Because, until the girl demanded that rape kit, they had no idea that what they were doing was wrong.  Because no one had taught them otherwise.  

To stop sexual assault on women, we need to educate our boys.  And we need to teach our girls to stand up for themselves, and tell an adult when they are assaulted.  That there is no shame in being sexually assaulted, that all the shame is on the head of the boy.  That if they stand up for themselves, they will be protected.    

Friday, May 23, 2014

Upper West Side Living

So I moved to the upper west side.  For those who aren't up to date on where exactly that is-- it is a neighborhood in Manhattan, on the west side of central park.  I live about 1 block away from central park.

The air is clean here.  It smells sweet, and fresh, and like springtime.  This is probably because I am right by central park.  Plus, there are trees everywhere, and the upper west side is on top of the hill on the island of Manhattan, so lots of fresh breezes.

My apartment is clean, and smells fresh too.  My allergies are finally dying down.  Which is amazing.  

I love my neighborhood.  There are lots of people-- family type people-- not scary "I might be in a gang" type people.  

There is a crepe stand downstairs.  I've already gone twice.  It is amazing.  Yummy, fresh made crepes, crispy and delicious.  I think I might get fat.  Last time I went I had a nutella crepe with strawberries.  Yes, that is as delicious as it sounds.  Yummy warm nutella oozing everywhere.  

My room is bigger, and I have room for all my things.  Its easier to keep clean now that I have more space.  Also, my room is nice and cool--lots of light, but the direct sunlight is in the morning, so its not so hot in the afternoon.

I still need to find a good grocery store.  There is a small one about half a block away (15 sec walk), but it doesn't sell some stuff-- like meat.  Couldn't find it anywhere in the store.  Maybe it is a vegetarian grocery store?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Things that make me angry, especially on Facebook

There are a lot of things on facebook that make me angry.  You don't need to read this.  I just wanted to say all the things that I want to say on facebook everytime I see one of these things.  

1. Homeschooling articles:  education is important.  In addition, children need to be properly socialized to enter into society and be productive.  I am constantly annoyed by homeschooling articles that several of my friends on facebook post.  Like the one I read today-- about how homeschooling should be about fun, not about meeting some sort of educational standard.  Yes, lets take our children out of schools, and play with them at home while ignoring educational standards, so they learn that if they are having a bad day, they can just slack off, and don't have to face reality.  Yes, that sounds like an excellent way to raise a generation of productive adults.

2. Vaccines: if I have to read one more article posted by someone about how vaccines are going to give my future children autism I am going to shoot someone.  Posting these articles is socially irresponsible.  I shouldn't have to explain why.  Yes, lets have disease outbreaks worse than 3rd world countries because a bunch of parents are afraid of vaccines.  

3. People whining about being a parent:  STOP WHINING ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN.  If you can't handle being a parent, don't have children.  If you realize too late that you made the choice to have children when you can't handle it, keep it to yourself.  It isn't funny or amusing to get on facebook every 2 days and whine about the greatest gift God has ever given you.  It is repulsive, and frankly, I just think to myself what a horrible parent you are.  Also, I am super, insanely jealous that you have children, and you are failing to see how they are a blessing.  And now I want to scream.

4. Obamacare: people who whine about it.  People who blame all health industry problems on it.  People who have obviously not read the act who make statements about it.  People who complain about having to pay a little more for health insurance, who completely miss the fact that their low cost health insurance was at the cost of individuals who couldn't get health insurance-- and were forced to pay out of pocket for everything.  Do you know how expensive it is to pay out of pocket for everything?  Its expensive.  Its not $50 expensive.  Its hundreds of dollars expensive for one little visit because you are so sick with a sinus infection you can't stand.  And thousands of dollars just to see a specialist to try to deal with your chronic sinus infections.  So suck it up people.  You made the decision to have 7 children.  So boo hoo for you, now health insurance is more expensive.  If you couldn't afford 7 children maybe you shouldn't have had 7 children.  IT ISN'T OK TO BLAME YOUR LACK OF FINANCIAL FORETHOUGHT ON OBAMACARE.  What if you had suddenly lost your health insurance.  How were you going to pay for your 7 children out of pocket?  Before you take to Facebook to whine about Obamacare, maybe you should do some real research.  And reading an article on Fox News does not count.  

5.  People who whine about their first world problems.  "Worst day ever, my Bentley is in the shop for an oil change.  Now I have to wait to go to the mall."  I hate you.

6. People who have fights with significant others on facebook.  Everyone is uncomfortable.  Also passive aggressive tagging loved ones in articles obviously meant to "improve them."  Cringe.

7. Potty training.  Please, just no.  No one wants to know the details of your child's potty training. I know this is something that is monumental for you, because you see the end of an era that is smelly and difficult.  But this is something you should keep to yourself.  Its like sex.  Everyone is aware you had it to produce your children, but you don't need to post the details on facebook.  

8. Dirty jokes.  Racist things. If you would blush saying it in public, or you would be selective about who you say it to, why are you putting it on facebook.  Even if you write on someone's wall, you know facebook is going to put that on everyone's newsfeed.  Stop putting offensive stuff on facebook.  Also, I had a cousin, a dentist post something that seriously looked like a person's head cut in half-- from a cadaver or something.  NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT.

9.  Children having children.  Just because you are married does not mean you are responsible enough to care for a child.  This leads to rant #3, above.  Babies are not toys or accessories. They are people.  And you should be able to care for them before you have them.

10.  People who use religion as an excuse to be rude or mean to other people.  It isn't ok.  It isn't Christ-like.  Grow up, and accept that this isn't something that your religion is making you do.  You are doing it because you are rude and mean, and maybe you should fix that.   

Friday, May 02, 2014

Spring in Williamsburg

Its spring in Williamsburg-- my second spring.  As I walk to quiet streets of Williamsburg, now lined with fruit trees in full bloom, their white bursting flowers remind me of my favorite song to sing in primary.  

One summer long ago, I taught Sunbeams instead of attending the single's ward.  And on my last Sunday, I got to pick which song to sing, and I chose "Popcorn Popping," which as any Mormon child knows, is about springtime and Apricot trees. It seems appropriate that that goodbye song is on my mind.  

I'm leaving Williamsburg, moving back to Manhattan.  And I am feeling a little nostalgic now that I am leaving this place.  While living here there were many things that bothered me about Williamsburg--chiefly the "run down" appearance, which the hipster community has perpetuated, because they like feeling like they live in a gritty neighborhood, though Williamsburg is completely safe. (It is that pretentiousness that is probably my least favorite thing about hipsters).

I am going to miss the way Williamsburg is never super busy, even on the weekends when the hipster flock to their mecca.  

I'll miss the flea market-- though the local yuppies are finally taking over the neighborhood and have kicked the flea market out, starting this summer.

I'll miss how the place is dotted with tiny restaurants with excellent food.  Where else will you find a Hawaiian fusian restaurant?

I'll miss the street art.  The murals painted on the walls.  The graffiti sprayed everywhere-- even on a tree or two.  The way art is celebrated.  Drawings on paper pasted places.  Quirky graffiti-- with mysterious sayings, not just foul language.  (There is one right by my house about "cartoon bacon, real tears.")  

I know I can come back and visit, just take the M or the L over the river, and I'll be here.  When I moved here, almost 2 years ago, I hated it.  I wanted out, and to never come back.  But now, I think I will come back.  To shop the flea market (if the hipsters win that war, and get it back), to see my favorite view of Manhattan.  To try a yummy restaurant that you'll find no where else on earth-- because the owner is a hipster, fresh from college, with some crazy idea about food, that no one else has ever tried.  

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Happy for Now

On January 29, I started dating someone-- met him on OKCupid, an online dating site.  (Which is great because it is free.)

He asked me out for that night, to meet at a coffee shop after work.  After a little foot dragging on my part, I agreed to meet him in my favorite New York City bookstore-- the Union Square Barnes and Noble.  I got there early, and found a book to read until he showed up.  Which helped calm me down, because I always get nervous when I meet new people.

The first time I saw him in person, he smiled so big, it made me so happy.  And then we walked and talked to a coffee shop, and everything made me happy.  From the way he sat between me and the door so that I wouldn't be cold, to how he told me that he loved that I was smart, and shy, and that he really liked me.  

And over the next couple months, I just wanted to stay happy forever, with him.  Because every time I see him, I smile.  And my stressful life of court briefs and money problems gets a lot easier after I spend time with him.  Because we laugh, and act like teenagers.  He skids on the ice, or we giggle at silly jokes.  We wander around, holding hands and walking slow-- even though we are both naturally fast walkers-- because we just like being together.  

But, he has to go away-- back to India.  And I have no idea when, or if he is ever coming back.  So I am trying to be happy for now.  For this last week we have together, so I don't spoil the little time we have left with all the tears I want to cry over him going away.