Why March?

img_0113

(That’s a sign a complete stranger gave to me on the way to the March when she saw I didn’t have one. That’s my friend Shon. I asked him to come with me because I didn’t want to go alone. He was already planning on going and happily walked with me.)

About a week ago, I attended an event at my law school where four women spoke about the impending hurdles women in our country will face under the new administration.

I learned that the stricter drug laws will affect females more than men. I learned that those seeking sanctuary will have a harder time of reaching safety, and most of those are women and children who need the protection. And I learned that basic healthcare will be harder (perhaps outright excluded in some instances) to obtain for women, especially transgender women.

While they commended us for marching and attending the event, they also said that the next step is to tell our story of why we marched in the first place. Stating statistics and blanket statements about the general repercussions of the current administration turning back the clock on our laws will not have an impact on those who cannot relate personally. But putting a familiar face on those statistics will. So here’s my story about why I marched:

When I was 16, and a very sexually-naive virgin, I was raped. After, I was lost and confused on many levels because I didn’t know what to do and felt I had no one to turn to.

The shame kept me from telling my friends. I, like many survivors, was too afraid to confide in others about what happened because in recounting the event to anyone, the bad decisions I made along the way would inevitably be revealed.

(This was later confirmed when I opened up about it to an ex-boyfriend. He said it was astounding how naive girls could be. This might have been a sentence or two into his response after I’d finished telling my story and was still wiping away my tears.)

The fear of someone telling me all the things I did wrong, and how those decisions led to a terrible situation, kept me from asking anyone for help.

(A.k.a., I wanted to avoid victim blaming)

The lack of communication that was the norm in my family kept me from telling my parents and other family members. I was afraid they’d look down on me, especially since we were a Catholic family and I was very involved in the church. Also, I never had a sex, or drug, talk with my parents. Any semblance of a talk amounted to, “No.” So that door wasn’t just closed, it’d never been opened.

My fear of getting in trouble overshadowed my need for help.

Granted, at that point, my self-worth and self-respect had been torn to pieces. So it’s not surprising that I thought I would be condemned instead of taken care of by family.

The one place I felt I could go and be safe and not judged was Planned Parenthood. And I found out I was right…

even though they should’ve turned me away.

The day after my rape, I went to work as usual and decided to visit Planned Parenthood during my lunch break to get checked out.

I showed up wearing business casual but told them I didn’t have insurance. I know now I most certainly did have insurance through my parents. At the time, though, I didn’t really know what it was or how it worked, and I was not about to go to my usual doctor in case it ever got back to my parents that I went to see a doctor for apparently no reason.

Plus, my doctor at the time was a parent of one of the girls I had attended grade school with. My very Catholic grade school in my very small town.

dewrr

They should’ve turned me away but they didn’t. The doctor checking me out recognized the signs of rape and asked if I wanted him to call the authorities. I immediately panicked and played it off as nothing really, it was just my first time was all,

I’m fine…

He made sure I knew I could come back any time if I changed my mind, that they keep a record of all their patients, and gave me Plan B (the morning after pill) just in case.

I never went back for anything else but I don’t know what I would’ve done had Planned Parenthood not been there. At the very least, I felt taken care of by someone. I’d been having suicidal thoughts even before this happened, so without Planned Parenthood I’m not sure what state my mental health would’ve been in.

Mine is not a unique story, unfortunately, but it’s also not the only type. There are so many stories out there about women who could not receive critical medical treatment for one reason or another but Planned Parenthood stepped in and took care of them.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-6-27-46-pm

Yet Planned Parenthood is still seen as only one thing to many people: a baby killer. This is wrong, wildly inaccurate, and seriously concerning for the modern woman. But on that note (since our administration seems to think it’s the main focus of Planned Parenthood services), an abortion is not an easy thing to get. It takes a lot of discernment and consideration for the woman making the decision.

And it’s one that will stick with her for the rest of her life.

And to all those protestors who harass patients as they walk into Planned Parenthood clinics but claim to be pro-life, they’re hypocrites.

If they were pro-life, they would be more empathetic to the life staring back at them as they walk into the clinic trying to shield themselves from the onslaught of harassing picketers. And they can do that because that woman HAS eyes.

Fully developed ones!

She’s not a recently fertilized egg that still has a few months or so until it’s safe to even announce to Facebook that she’s pregnant.

The shame that those protestors and others like them place on women seeking help from places like Planned Parenthood for an abortion comes from a place of ignorance. Likewise, I realize now that the shame stemming from my rape is due to the rape culture in our country. We seem far too quick to judge and blame the victim instead of focusing on the perpetrator of the crime.

That’s like blaming the victim of a B&E for not having an alarm system.

Oh, your house got broken into, huh? Well did you have an alarm system? Did you put locks on your door? How many locks? What about bars on your windows? You know, windows without bars could send the wrong message to potential intruders…

The lack of empathy for those who have survived rape is poignantly astounding. The same is true for those going to Planned Parenthood.

And for those who come to our great country seeking asylum, refuge, and opportunity.

And for those who were born in the wrong body and need to take hormones and receive medical treatment and procedures to feel more themselves.

And for those who are not white.

And for those who are not male.

And for those who are deaf, blind, or have some sort of disability, whether physical or mental.

And for those who identify as anything other than heterosexual.

And for those native to our country, whose land they love and care for has slowly been taken away while they watch others destroy and pollute it.

And for those whose greatest worries are financial but have no way of ever relieving that worry, whether due to lack of education, resources, or access to our political system.

So that’s why I march. I may not understand what it’s like to be anything but myself (a white, cis, heterosexual female and rape survivor), but I do understand not being understood, and judged and condemned because of it.

So now the question isn’t ‘Why march?’ Rather, it’s ‘What now?’ What can we do now? The key is empathy over apathy but how do we convey that message? Well, if you’ve stuck with me this far I’d be willing to bet you’ve got a story too, so share it! We need to be heard and seen so people understand that we exist and we deserve equal rights, protections, and opportunities no matter how our first impression might affect the eyes of the observer.

Then get involved.

One of the panelists suggested being a mentor to or volunteering to help homeless youth. Their stories are tragic because a lot of them have the same ending: they had nowhere to go. They’ve been kicked out by parents who don’t agree with their ‘lifestyle choices’ or went through the foster care system only to be alone at age 18. There is an astounding number of transgender youth who need our help, love, and support.

Another panelist encouraged us to run for office. This is especially important for people who are not well represented in our political system and feel the calling to run for office. The more representation minority groups obtain in political office, the faster we can progress as a society.

While I understand the need to have more representation of minorities in office, I will encourage  and support others but not participate myself. That’s because I’m no politician, but I am a future-CEO of a Benefit Corporation, and I believe representation in any of the more influential positions in our society is a step forward.

So what are your strengths? And how can you apply them to support others who will feel left out, forgotten, and less-than under our current administration?

I obviously cannot possibly know your story or what your main concern is socially and politically, but this is one place you might want to start: Women’s March Resources page.

I joined the American Civil Liberties Union on campus and the national page has a ton of information on current concerns and how anyone can help: ACLU.

If those don’t work for you, the Google knows all.

Finally, as frustrating as it is, keep yourself informed. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to the ugliness happening because it is so depressing. Personally, I cannot read the newspaper first thing in the morning. However, I force myself to eventually read it because we need to stay abreast of what’s happening and stay angry.

Because at this point anger is better than apathy.

It’s not cheap but the quality of the Wall Street Journal is worth it, in my opinion.

Since this post started with a (not-so-happy) story, I’d like to leave you with an uplifting one. Because no matter what action you take, any action forward helps.

I think most people have heard of the Starfish Story but I read a similar version the other day that I liked (because, dogs):

An old man was going for a walk on the beach when he noticed a little boy feeding a thin, shaggy looking stray dog with bits of bread. He went up to the boy and asked him why he was sharing his bread with the dogs.

The little boy answered, “Because they have nothing. No home, no family, and if I don’t feed them they will die.”

“But there are homeless dogs everywhere,” the old man replied. “So your efforts don’t really make a difference.”

The boy looked at the dog and stroked him. “But for him, for this little dog, it makes all the difference in the world.”

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-2-46-05-pm

Supergirl

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 7.55.37 PM

Given the content of this blog, one might think I was drawn to Supergirl because the show revolves around a badass, crime-fighting female. While being very true, it isn’t the full story.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too interested in watching a female-version of Superman. I mean, I wasn’t all that into Superman or the vigilante scene to begin with.

I actually started watching because I really like Melissa Benoist and enjoyed her in Glee. Hers is the voice I wish I had. While a good amount of the characters on Glee came from Broadway and have perfectly polished voices, hers is my favorite. Her tone is so pure and clear, and her voice has a depth and earthiness that makes it so unique. And her petite size belies the power of her voice!

Also, it’s like her time on Glee was foreshadowing for this show: Dynamic Duets anyone? She sang “I Need A Hero” while in superhero gear. So… the detour is justified!

 

SIDENOTE: Mechad Brooks (James Olsen), Grant Gustin (The Flash), Jeremy Jordan (Winn) and Blake Jenner (Adam Foster) also have stellar voices. Quite the talented cast! And so many Glee alums (another empowering show for so many without a voice). I wonder if there’s any hope of them spontaneously breaking out into song next season…

Anyway, after I watched the first episode I was hooked.  So besides the obvious, here are a few more reasons why I’ve come to love Supergirl:

  1. She’s Supergirl, not Superwoman

While I actually think it’s a bit of a misnomer, I’m still happy with it. The show addresses this very issue head-on in the first episode: why Supergirl instead of Superwoman?

Kudos to the writers for acknowledging a question that most viewers probably had, however, I’d be pandering if I said I agreed.

Despite Cat proclaiming she’s a girl but also a boss and empowered and rich, I didn’t buy it. Cat is beyond the point of being able to claim girlhood and I think the same about Kara. I’m now twenty-nine and feel a very real need to correct anyone who calls me a girl.

I’ve touched upon the unique power and struggle our girls face today, and Kara and Cat are out of the woods on that one. However, even though Kara is more woman than girl, I’m happy girls have a Superhero just for themselves.

Especially since Supergirl is basically covered from head to toe in a practical supersuit and not bearing midriff in shiny black leather and chains.

supergirl-girl-scouts

  1. Female Leads: 90% of CatCo is owned by women, The President’s a woman, God’s referred to as female, co-head of the DEO is a woman

Supergirl has a bunch of female leads in top positions: a media mogul, superhero, lead undercover agent who occasionally tells her boss/alien what to do, and, for a time, Cat’s in-house council.

While there are also excellent male leads, the stacking of women at the forefront is so refreshing and promising to see. Growing up, I aspired to be like my dad: President and CEO of his own company.

tumblr_o0h4jhbcpo1qhh8jso3_250

But I never had the female equivalent of him to identify with. And being female in the business world is a very different experience than being male. Cat has discussed this a few times throughout the show and it’s very validating.

So cheers to Supergirl for placing so many women in positions of power and addressing the issue straight on about what it’s like to be a female at the top. It gives girls watching the show an opportunity to pictures their future selves as powerful and confident women as well.

3. “Let’s settle this like women. What? There’s more of you here than me.” – Flash.

I damn near broke out into applause when the Flash said this. For many reasons:

-he acknowledged he was outnumbered and framed his statement appropriately

-he said to act like women, and he meant come together to efficiently settle a matter (as opposed to acting ‘crazy’)

-he included himself in that, showing that acting like a woman doesn’t mean being weak or fragile but rather being a strong and even-headed person

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 4.11.48 PM

Beyond that, it sometimes irks me when I’m referred to as a male (notwithstanding someone calling me “Dude.” I’m from CA, I totally understand). I almost wrote a post about using words like, “Hey, you guys” to a group of people that includes women, but lost momentum with it. It still bothers me though.

Just the other day, the only dude in a group chat of women said something like, “Ok, I’ll be a bit late but I’ll see you guys at the Echo tonight.” (Emo night LA. So much fun!)

I wanted to respond with *LADIES but bowed out. There are many female-centric fights worth fighting but that’s not one of them.

4. “I don’t normally inhale” when Supergirl saved agents and that guy from some fumes… funny!

In the realm of good versus evil, it’s expected of the good guys to stay on the straight and narrow. While I completely understand this, it gets boring and predictable after a while.

Hearing Kara make a joke about not inhaling smoke was like the equivalent of my Type-A nana banging her knee and saying, “SHIT!” It’s unexpected for something not so sweet and nice to come from someone so pure and good. Or in the case of nana, a curse word coming from someone so tightly strung.

It also makes the lead character a bit more relatable and realistic. We can all be good human beings constantly trying to be better, but we are bound to fuck up every once in a while.

C’est la vie.

5. Good wins out.

There are plenty of shows dramatizing unfortunate things that happen all over the world:

-The Wire: narcotics and law enforcement in Baltimore

-Homeland: terrorism

-Law and Order SVU: really messed up, sick, and disturbing crimes

-House of Cards: vengeful politicians cheating the law

-Breaking Bad: teacher turned BAMF meth dealer

-The vast majority of reality TV: junk food for the brain

Now I know I’ve listed a few holy grails there but please don’t hate me just yet. A lot of these very popular and successful shows depict the darker side of our world but also highlight the humanity in it.

And that’s nice.

But sometimes I just want good to win. Period. Those shows exist because messed up stuff like that actually does happen. The last thing we need is even more of it streaming through our various devices and glamorizing an awful reality.

I know Supergirl and Once Upon A Time and Vampire Diaries are all fantasy but I appreciate how much the good triumphs over evil. It’s not real but at the end of the day, after reading cases on rape or assault for law school, I want nothing more than a fantastical show where the good guys win.

We have enough depressing reality. We need more shows that promote positivity and truth and love. In my humble opinion, of course.

6. It’s passes the Bechdel Test!

And it occasionally turns the test on its head.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Bechdel Test is as follows:

  1. The movie/show has at least two women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man

One of the first things I noticed was that Supergirl knocked the Bechdel test out of the park. The show has a ton of women in it who speak to each other occasionally about men but also about work, life in general, and flying around National City without being seen.

james-supergirl-winn-1447172564

But later I also noticed that the show turned would have violated the test had it been between men and not women! For a while in the beginning, the dudes didn’t have much to talk about besides Kara. Obviously that didn’t last long but it was interesting to see that turned around.

7. Despite being an alien, she’s very human

Supergirl isn’t unattainable in terms of being like her. Well, minus her super powers of course. Desipte her impeccable timing and saving many lives, she’s not completely perfect or invincible.

She is obviously vulnerable to kryptonite, especially the red kind that makes her into an evil person. But even on a human level, she messes up occasionally. She has no idea how to speak to men she’s interested in, and she feels real pain when she and her sister are not getting along.

tumblr_nxym2ms3m61qey15po2_500

Occasionally she needs to ask friends to help her, which shows that it’s perfectly fine to ask for help. Our society seems to place a lot of pressure on the individual to do everything themselves since needing help is a sign of weakness. But that’s bullshit and Supergirl knows it.

8. New spin on old story

This is a favorite theme of mine: expanding on tried and true stories. I loved the sequel to Alice in Wonderland because it continues, but doesn’t really change, the story. And I sincerely hope Once Upon A Time goes on forever expanding on stories from my childhood.

Perhaps it’s just me but I appreciate the creativity and thought put into continuing a story that generations for years have loved. And Supergirl seems markedly different from all the superhero movies being put out, that seem to be on some necessary rotation where they MUST come out with another one in 2-5 years (I’m sure it’s legal in nature…)

Supergirl isn’t just another remake but a continuation of the legend that is Superman. She allows us to continue to enjoy the morals and messages Superman started years ago. And most importantly, we get to see this timeless story in the eyes of a female.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.12.27 PM

I’m really glad Supergirl got approved for a second season because I can’t wait to see what she does next! In the meantime, I’m keeping myself busy by binging on the domino effect this show has had on me: Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, The Flash, Arrow 🙂

Added after season 2:

9. The introduction of non-heterosexual characters

While I identify as straight, I really appreciated watching Alex’s self-discovery. I clearly have no idea what it’s like trying to be straight all my life and then finally finding out I’m not. But I think this plot line might help those who don’t understand what it’s like living in a society that assumes you’re straight and taking that assumption as a self-truth.

My aunt and uncle still don’t believe my cousin is pan because she’s had boyfriends in the past. What’s more, her mom ‘has a lot of experience working with lesbians’ and ‘cousin just doesn’t come off like they do.’

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-12-45-23-pm

As with most issues, I think it boils down to communication and empathy and letting go of unfounded fear. Having more shows that include characters who are not straight is important because it opens a world to people who have a very narrow, biased opinion of non-heterosexual people.

(And for anyone who’s scared of the non-heteros due to the threat it poses to their person beliefs, don’t tell them Glee exists, SHHHHHH!)

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-12-52-45-pm

Boys Will Be Boys

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 10.26.14 AM

For those who might have noticed, I apologize for my silence and absence. I’ve been dark for a while since I started law school.

If you aren’t familiar with law school, it completely takes over your life. I seriously struggle to be engaged in conversations that don’t have to do with law school since it’s now so out of my norm to be talking or thinking about anything else.

Until today.

I was particularly inspired by a dear friend and fellow student/sufferer of mine. She asked, jokingly, how anyone could really expect a guy to stop (sexually) with a girl when things were heating up.

Let me put it into more perspective…

One of the classes we’re required to take is criminal law. We cover a handful of crimes, one of which is rape. We were discussing the requirement of consent in regards to a Mike Tyson case we’d briefly covered in class. Tyson and a woman were flirting and kissing, which he took to be consent for just about everything else sexual and ended up raping her. Obviously that argument didn’t stand up in court as the jurisdiction called for affirmative consent for sex, not merely foreplay, and he was convicted.

This is where the offhand comment comes into play. Her commentary went something like this:

How can we seriously expect boys to stop when we’re allowing them to do other things? Yes, you can do this and that but not sex! How is that realistic? What a buzzkill!

Now I’m not immune to the ignorant comment here and there. I’ll be the first to admit, I say stupid shit occasionally. Alas, I, too, am human. However, I appreciate when people bring my ignorance to my attention. And like the good friend that I am, I called her out. But the comment stuck with me because I know she’s not alone.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to understand, and develop a love-hate relationship with in law school, it’s policy. Policy is the underlying reason that justifies why all of our laws are in place.

And the “boys will be boys” policy is absolute bullshit.

Allow me to demonstrate. Imagine you were out with someone, flirting and kissing and enjoying yourself, and your only intention was just that, you weren’t ready to go any further. But the person you’re with wouldn’t accept that. They take your actions as an indication that it’s acceptable to go further and decide to have sex with you based on that premise.

Without your consent and despite your refusal.

Now imagine later down the line that you are one of the brave few to take that asshole to court to try to get some recompense for the injustice that you most naturally feel you deserve.

You relive the encounter by telling your lawyer, your opponents lawyer during his heartless deposition, and, possibly, a room full of strangers to prove how and why you didn’t consent. And after all that, the judge tells you he’s not guilty because

Boys will be boys

Because you indicated through flirting and kissing and heavy petting, and perhaps even what you were wearing, that you in fact actually wanted more and got just that. That, dear reader, is the policy behind that notion.

We can’t accept this idea. It cannot be the norm. Sure, it must suck to have hormones racing at the speed of light only to be forced to come to a full (cold) stop. But that has to be acceptable compared to the alternative of giving license to anyone who’s getting ramped up and can’t stop.

The implications of such an acceptance would speak of a society that is out of control. Literally. That’s like saying,

“Well I got the notion that I hated him and was so wrapped up in my emotions that I stabbed him repeatedly until he stopped moving. It was his fault, he angered me!”

and then totally getting away with murder.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why provocation is not exculpatory!

Beyond a sexual context, it’s damaging to boys themselves, and a bit insulting. When a boy throws dirt in another child’s face or tries to lift a girls skirt or beats the shit out of another boy for not being manly enough – we’re essentially saying they’re perverted assholes and that’s just their nature,

Oh well!

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-45-01-pm

Much like any generalization applied to an individual based on a superficial identifier (skin color, socioeconomic status, age), assuming a person is going to be a heartless asshole since they were born male does them a disservice. Gender is just another way we identify ourselves but it does not control who we are. That remains up to us.

Unfortunately, I know a good amount of boys who give in to this idea. One friend of mine asserts he’s an asshole who lacks feeling. It breaks my heart when he says that because not only does he internalize it over time but it gives him an out anytime he actually IS being an asshole. He doesn’t feel guilty because he’s consigned to the fact that that’s just what he is.

And that makes me sad.

The gender movement is more alive today than I think it has been in all of history. Organizations like HeForShe and Happy Hippie Foundation are blazing the way in getting rid of gender biases. I can only hope that these notions catch on like wildfire so instead of shrugging our shoulders and saying boys will be boys, we’ll say

Boys will be held accountable for their actions.

Sh#t Your Ego Says

Red Lips Lie

shhhegoego

1 - CopyUntitled

blame

Your ego tends to blame others instead of understanding. Blaming is easier than opening up true emotions. Taking responsibility will not only break down this barrier from your true self it will make you and your relationships better. Do not let your ego point fingers for your own actions – to improve your life take accountability and reflect on your actions.

two2

witholdShutting the world out and not being open is a huge part of your ego. Most people do not want to show weakness, yet feel so weak. In order to tackle a hardship you have to stop hiding from your problems and express yourself. If you are not being honest with others you are not being honest with yourself. The ego is a huge wall blocking you from a connection with yourself and others, “I’m okay” just seems easier than facing the truth. Connecting with your soul and letting out a good cry…

View original post 331 more words