Yea, Me Too

Hi hello friends and strangers. I very much did not think I was going to write this, nor did I necessarily want to write this, but I have things to say and therefore my voice deserves to be heard.

Let’s forget about the current case gripping the nation, this is very much not a post aimed at any particular party or person. I have absolutely no agenda in posting this other than to share my opinion and hope you can see things from a young woman’s perspective.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives. That means that, statistically speaking, out of the (roughly) 30 girls in my graduating class, 6 of us will be raped at some point in our lives. 6 of the girls I knew from age 10 on. That is an absolutely disgusting thing to have to think about.

At age 14, trucks would honk at me as I ran by; at age 15, a boy told me girls were only good for one thing; at age 16, I was told no one would want to date me if I didn’t want to have sex; at age 17, I sometimes forgot that my body was my own. And now, at age 18, I am terrified to walk around a college campus at night, for fear of unwanted advances.

Is it sexist of me to be scared of men? Is it wrong of me to not trust a guy to walk me home simply because they’re male? If you’re answering yes (even a little bit) let’s talk about it.

Say I did walk home with that guy I met at a party, say something happened, say I was taken advantage of. What would you say then? I can almost guarantee it would be along the lines of “poor girl, but she put herself in that situation”. You’d ask what I was wearing, if I had anything to drink, if I had led him on in anyway, and why did I walk home with him if I didn’t want anything to happen?

I remember telling my best friend about an uncomfortable encounter I’d had with a guy one time. I hadn’t really wanted to do anything, but he did. I hadn’t said no, but I certainly hadn’t said yes, and I can assure you I was not asked for consent to begin with. But as I sat on the carpet of my friend’s room, I made excuses for him. “I didn’t really make it clear. It was my fault. I should have said something, he didn’t know what I was thinking.” “Yea,” she responded, “but did he ask?” “No, but I still should have said something.” She practically rolled her eyes and called me out on my hypocrisy. I am always preaching about how no one should victim blame, and there I was doing it to myself. Now, I am not saying I went through something terribly traumatic or anything near the level of the brave women coming forward, but it was still an uncomfortable situation that I should have never been put in to begin with. And, hey parents, guess what? There’s a 67% chance that this has happened to your daughter (or son)!

And you know what is even more disturbing? A study conducted in 2002 found that 63.3%  of men who self-reported rape, or attempts at rape, admitted to committing repeated rapes. And, yes, there is bias in self-reported statistics, but if anything that would mean this number is lower than the true percentage. And no this is not just the way it is and women should just be more careful. refuse to accept that as the response to all this. I will not tolerate teaching young women to hide themselves for fear of accidentally attracting a rapist! And, yes, that sentence sounds ridiculous, and it’s very rare that anyone has ever said those words, but the implications are often there.

In seventh grade, I was told that “us girls” should follow the dress code so we didn’t distract our fellow-brothers-in-christ.

Just let that sync in for a second. We were twelve and thirteen and already being taught to accommodate for the men in our lives. And I love my fellow brothers in christ, but those homeboys are gonna have to learn how to keep their eyes on the board because my shoulders are going absolutely nowhere.

And for those of you asking why now? Why report these crimes now? Let’s look at the statistics, with convenient links to the research so you can do further research when you try to prove me wrong! Rape is the most underrated crime; 63% of sexual assaults go unreported. For all my college buds, more than 90% of us who are assaulted don’t report it. Why, you ask, why? What a fantastic inquisition, thank you so much for asking.

Because no one effing believes victims. (We have now reached the point of this ted talk where you are thinking oh geez here she goes. She’s getting awfully passionate. And yea, you know why? Because this affects me! And you! And all of the fantastic people in my life! And I wish you could feel just as passionate as me!) If you no longer want to listen to an 18 year old girl spit some hardcore facts at you then I’d recommend reading this article.

Victims, often women, are almost always blamed for sexual assault. What were you wearing, how much did you have to drink, did you make eye contact with him, smile at him, dance with him, did you agree to go back to his place, did you get in bed with him. Apparently those are all valid ways of proving someone consented to unwanted sexual encounters. Listen, I can get dressed to the nines, talk to you at a party, and maybe even exchange snapchats, and still not want to have sex with you! It’s a fairly simple concept! And maybe you’ve been taught wrong and that’s not your fault, but buckle up buttercup it’s time to learn the new ways of the force.

When/if victims come forward, their lives are usually ruined. They are called liars and publicly harassed. They are often called sluts, whores, or that they were-asking-for-it and are forced to relive the memories each and every time they are asked about it. Would any of you want that in your lives? I certainly wouldn’t. Victims who come out are incredibly brave, so so so incredibly brave. Because the consequences are often terrifying.

But what about all those false accusations that ruin mens lives, huh? Well, howdy-hey, I’m quite glad you asked in such a respectful manner. Did you know that only 2% of reported rapes turn out to be false accusations. And that’s out of the roughly 38% of assaults that are actually reported!!! Meaning, if all sexual assaults were reported that number would go way way way down.

Long story short, victims are tired of being called liars, so they choose to stay quiet, to live with horrid memories, to see their rapists faces on national TV, at the Student Store, on Franklin Street, in positions of power. Victims that come forward should be listened to and respected.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. And please, if I have misspoken or those links are wrong, let me know! Life is a journey of growing, and I recognize my journey is still in progress, as is yours. I always do my best to be educated on a topic before I speak on it, and I’d recommend you try doing that too!

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The English translation is at the bottom

J’ai un cours de français à 2h00, alors voice un poste entièrement en français. Chuis pas la meilleur à écrire en français, donc ce sera probablement mauvais.

Récemment, je pensais beaucoup de mon futur. Cette grande idée qui trouble les foules et  inspire les rêveurs. Je veux faire si beaucoup dans ma vie, trop beaucoup être franche, mais il n’y a pas de temps suffisant. Un jour je veux devenir une écrivaine qui change les opinions du monde, un autre jour je veux juste devenir un prof. Je sais que j’ai beaucoup de temps à decider, mais je suis une personne qui aime planifier. J’ai besoin de structure constante pour sentir comme un personne sain. C’est probablement pourquoi je pense que je dois planifier toute ma vie maintenant.

Pourquoi est-ce que j’ai peur d’être seul, pas seulement au sense littéral, mais dans la vie. Je pense que c’est ma plus grand peur, peut-être c’est stupide, je ne sais pas. Je sais que je suis jeune et cela signifie que j’ai nombreuses d’occasions de rencontrer les gens. Et si je manque un opportunité? Quoi alors?

Ces sentiments se sentent mieux en français, peut-être parce que ne personne comprendre. Alors la douleur sens en sécurité en une autre langue.  Mais quelle est la vraie langue de douleur? De désir? De les mots qui on ne peut pas dire, on ne veut pas dire. Tout est compliqué en Anglais. C’est peut-être pourquoi j’aime les autres langues, parce que il y a des choses je ne veut pas dire en anglais.

Par example: je me sens seule maintenant. Et je sais c’est pas le cas. Je sais qu’il y a tellement de gens qui m’aime, qui m’encourage, qui veut le meilleur pour moi. Et je suis très contente avec ça. Si contente avec ça! Mais de temps en temps je me demande si j’ai été faite pour être seul. Peut-être que c’est juste la façon il était censé être. Peut-Être que je dois être contente avec ça.

I have a French class at 2:00, so here is an entire post written in French. I’m not the best at writing in French, so this’ll probably be bad.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my future. That grand idea that troubles the masses and inspires the dreamers. I want to do so much in my life, too much to be honest, but there’s not enough time. One day, I want to become a writer and change the opinions of the world, but another day I just want to become a teacher. I know that I have so much time to decide, but I’m someone who likes to plan. I need constant structure to feel like a sane being. That’s probably why I feel like I need to plan my whole life right now. 

And why am I afraid of being alone, not just in a literal sense, but in life. I think it’s my greatest fear, and maybe that’s stupid, I don’t know. I know that I’m young and that means I have so many chances to meet people. But what if I miss a chance? What then?

These feelings are are better felt in French, maybe because no one can understand them. Pain feels safe in another language. But what is the real language of pain? Of longing? Of the words we can’t say or don’t want to say? Everything is complicated in English. Maybe that’s why I like other languages, because there are things I don’t want to say in English.

For instance: I feel alone right now. And I know that’s not the case. I know there are so many people who love me, who are rooting for me, who want the best for me. And I’m very happy with that. Really happy with that. But from time to time I wonder if I was made to be alone. Maybe that’s just the way it was supposed to be. Maybe I have to be okay with that.

I’m not too worried about it.

Tomato Red and Cherry Chapstick

Inspired by a conversation I had about mental health with some cool peeps yesterday.

“Absolutely famished.”

“Honestly, same.”

“Should we?”

“I mean, probably.”

I held the door open for her; she slipped inside. The walls were still wet with a fresh coat of blood from a can. She ran her finger over a drop as it migrated down.

“Bad paint job.” She muttered.

“Granted, the walls were pretty hard to fix.”

“That’s what happens when you take a sledgehammer to a building.”

I shrugged, kicked open a box of pizza, and sat on the dusty floors.

“Do you even remember what this place looked like before—”

“Sometimes.”

“Why do you never want to talk about i—”

“Why did you order pepperoni? You know I can’t eat that.”

“You could just pull them off—”

“You could have just ordered cheese.”

“Next time.”

Eventually she sat down next to me, handing over a water bottle while avoiding eye contact

“How’s work?”

“Same as always, ah’guess.”

What a fantastic conversationalist. You ever yelled at yourself in your head before? Weird thing.

“Tell me one thing.” She started.

“I don’t—”

“Let me—can I just—one thing, that’s all I want to say. Can I say one thing?”

I sat silently awaiting.

“Why’d you do it?”

“Do what?” I tried.

“Why’d you take an axe to our living room, Jacob? Why’d you knock over our photos? Why’d you tear the strings of the carpet out one by one?”

“It wasn’t one by one.” Too much effort. Impressed she thought differently.

“Who are you?” She cried. No one ever means that question. “Who are you?” A little louder. “TELL ME WHO YOU ARE.”

I broke my own trust and snapped my eyes in her direction. The tight curls around her face defied gravity. Gold was missing from around her eyes; they were swollen. She wasn’t boring to look at, at all. But when I stared too long, her face mushed together. Into a Pangea of regret and pain. And she thought she didn’t know me?

“Have you ever considered becoming a model?”

“What the fu—”

“You’re nice to look at.”

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that.”

“Then again, I’m biased.”

“What are you doing?”

“What’cha mean?”

“You’re ruining everything.”

“It was already ruined.” I laughed a little, she didn’t seem to like that.

“I’m leaving.” She wouldn’t. I knew her better than she did. She’d stay, help me rebuild the walls. We’d paint them a new color, something hopeful. But the walls always found their own special way of not doing the wall thing. She really liked building houses.

“Did the neighbors like the baguettes.”

“Bouquets.”

“I thought you said baguettes.”

“Why would I buy the neighbors a baguette?”

“We should buy them a baguette next time.”

“There won’t be a next time. This isn’t happening again. I won’t stay anymore.” She would.  I didn’t have to say it either. She knew. Of all the houses she’d built, this one was by far her favorite.

“Lillian, tell me this. Why paint the walls if you’re leaving?”

“Walls deserve to be painted.”

“And painted, and repainted, and peeled back to reveal the last twelve colors you thought would be better.”

“I just want the house to look ok.”

“It doesn’t deserve to be standing.” There was mold. Somewhere, I was sure. She looked to be angered. Not surprising, she pointed her eyes downward, the rest of her face arching. I laughed at her, couldn’t seem to stop laughing.

She suddenly jumped up, flinging herself at the wall. She punched and clawed at the holes, wet red left behind on her clothing and fingernails.

I’m tired of never being enough.” She kicked the bottom left corner, the only spot I’d never tried to ruin, between hot breaths, and screams

“You’re enough for me.” She stopped. Looked at me.

“Who am I?” She whispered, color dripping down her sleeves, soaking into her skin. Golden stained crisp apple candy. Chocolate made cherry. Love and hate and anger and passion and cherry red lips later, looked me in the eye, told me she loved me. Told me she didn’t know how to live without me, told me she wished we’d never met as kids, told me she wished I’d torture someone else for eternity instead, told me her demons ever appeared as men.

“Valid.” Cranberry handprints followed their way to my face, two layers of red, the third a neurological response. She began clawing at my eyes, pulled out my hairs one by one. Tore the shirt, felt the boiling heat of rage bubble over into the worst decision she’d make. Brought her palms into the air, making fists, bringing them down onto me. Over and Over. But demons don’t feel. Surely, she knew. Surely, I’d made her aware.

“Sweetheart.” I did not resist, I asked politely. But kicks and screams and piles of something else to match the else on the wall. The shelves fallen over.
I wasn’t worried. She’d rebuild me too.

Running Through A Storm

I went on a run yesterday, which is a weird way of saying I’m trying really hard not to think about certain things. And I got some odd looks, because who the hell goes for a run in the middle of a hurricane; when the pouring rain makes your clothes stick to your skin, your hair curling around the tip of your ears and melting across your forehead.

But it’s indescribable, running in a hurricane, breathlessly flying into nothingness as everyone hides in their 4 by 2 shelters avoiding the joy of jumping in puddles, for fear of getting wet. But I’m already soaked, so there’s no point holding back – sprinting up stairs as water pummels my skin, swinging around the columns at the library pretending I’m Gene Kelly, I feel unstoppable.

And the funny thing is, the whole time I keep thinking about how this is the best way to describe what falling in love is like. As I blast Rex Orange County through my now-water-damaged headphones, I think about that falling feeling. That oh-my-god-this-must-be-what-skydiving-feels-like, that driving-with-the-windows-down-in-the-middle-of-fall, that what-do-you-think-this-text-means feeling.

Today, a friend and I discussed the struggles of being a hopeless romantic – and when I say that I mean an actual Hopeless Romantic, not just someone who cries over hallmark Christmas movies, but someone actually infatuated with the idea of love (and being in it).  I used to think my obsession with love stemmed from my constant need for validation, maybe if I was just in love I would feel great about myself! But I’ve grown fairly confident in myself over the past few years, and I’ve learned that no amount of love can bring that total validation.

Maybe it’s because I like to dissect people and figure out why they do the things they do, but I fall in love with people so easily. Head over heels in love. Far too easily. I give away little bits of myself to nearly everyone I meet, but I don’t entirely think it’s a bad thing. Who knows, maybe I’m just young and naive, but I have a hard time thinking it’s bad. What’s the harm in loving as many people as possible? And not just love in the romantic sense, but beautiful wonderful platonic love. The kind of love where you send your best friend a song that makes you think of her; the kind of love where you sneak someone a cookie from the dining hall.

What’s the harm in running through a rainstorm?
There will always be dangers; limbs to fall, wet patches to slip on, hearts to break.
Maybe running in the rain is more fun.

To the Girl Who Wants to Kill Herself,

Don’t. Please don’t. I’m not saying that because it should be the obvious response, or because I have been trained to say this when people express suicidal thoughts. I’m just starting there, because it’s a good place to start. Don’t do it.

Do you remember your fifth birthday, that wild year before kindergarten, before you became entangled in the spiral of education-for-the-next-18-years-of-your-life? Do you remember the birthday cake? Those five lucky candles, a whole 25% more than last year! (unless your five year old brain’s math is wrong). Do you remember the way your parents smiled when you blew them out!? It was pure joy – and so what if Jeremy from next door broke your brand new lego set that you just finished! You were five – nothing could touch you.

Do you remember your first kiss? All awkward and jittery and nervous? When you had no idea where hands were supposed to be placed, and you began questioning their necessity to begin with. And if you don’t remember that moment, do you at least remember that night? The run to your phone where you could spill a brand new secret to your friends – anxiously awaiting their responses. Do you remember that absolute-teenage-bliss?

Do you remember that little girl that waved to you in the doctor’s office? With her tight braids and dancing beads. Do you remember that smile she dawned on her face? Remember how you couldn’t stop thinking about her? How she reminded you about the exciting world of motherhood that you’d have one day. If you make it to that one day.

There’s a chance you don’t remember any of it. There’s a chance that demon in your head has repainted all those old memories with a heavy ink, it’s not your fault you can’t see them! He’s covered the joy, the bliss, the hope for the future – for any future. I know what you’re feeling. There’s a chance you can remember it though, if you really try. If you scrape away that dried ink plastering the memories important enough to be laminated.

Scrape away until you’ve rediscovered the way your mother’s hair looks when she finally takes it down from a pony-tail. Can you see your brother’s head shaking when you say something dumb? Or hear the sound of your dad’s voice singing on a Sunday morning? Can you recall the time you thought you’d lost your favorite pair of socks forever, but found them later buried at the bottom of your gym bag. Do you remember that feeling?

Screw the moments, forget the details, those were never important. It’s the feelings – can you remember those feelings? Can you prove to yourself that you know how to feel something other than emptiness? Can you show yourself that this life of ups and downs is worth it? That you are and always will be worth it? Can you hit a low and be thankful to know you still have room to climb? Can you break your bones so you know they will heal?

You don’t need to scrape at your skin to be reminded of your humanity. You don’t need to hold your breath to remember you can breathe. There is a world of people out there who will count those sighs for you, just to show you that you can. You can breathe, I swear, you can breathe, I swear. You can love, I swear, you can love. Damnit, you can get through this.

Just do your best, that’s literally all you can ask of yourself. Who cares what the neighbors think if you nail post-it notes to your garage with smiley-faces and suns and things that show you the warmth you need help remembering? Who cares if your parents disown you for fear of losing the daughter they thought they raised? You won’t care about anything if you’re dead.

You won’t leave us with the image of what you did, what the demons did to you; you’ll leave us with the empty photo-book from your wedding, the empty hallways where your laughter used to ring, the footsteps in a theatre where we’d talk about the smell of the wood. Who will notice the smell of the wood with me?

To the girl who wants to kill herself, I don’t know if you want to get better. But I know you can. I know that you’ve felt, and grown tired of feeling, that you’ve hurt, and grown impatient waiting for your wounds to heal. I hear you. But don’t.

To the girl who wants to kill herself, don’t. I swear there are too many good things in this world that you’ll miss. Hamilton will still be on Broadway, we can get tickets! Stranger Things is making a new season that will be worth waiting for, and Gluten Free Mac-and-Cheese can only get better! There is so much to look forward to. Please, don’t.

Your time is not up.