Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Feminsm? Me Too

For those of you who hang out on Facebook and twitter, you have probably seen the results of the "Me too" movement.

 If you haven't, here is a brief description: women (and others) are posting a "Me too" or #MeToo if they have personally been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, its a good time to do it. The number of the "me too" statements is a bit alarming. Which is the point. The hope is that by letting people know how many of us have been victims, we can raise awareness and maybe people will try to change things.

I hesitated, but eventually decided to participate.

And soooo many of my friends shared, too. Some simply wrote "me too" or copied the message that most people shared. And a couple of my friends shared pieces of their past or whole stories. Which inspired me to write this. The worst thing about this is that I know that some of my friends did not participate, but I am aware that they share the same experiences.

If most women are like me, this is not a one-time experience. I have had my body commented on several times while I was working. Two of the worst were from regular coffee shop customers who specifically felt the need to comment on my butt. I have never felt so vulnerable and analyzed before. I'm at work, I am not displaying my body, and I am certainly not inviting comments. All of those times were very deer-in-the-headlights moments for me. What do you do? What do you say? In all of those instances, these men were taking advantage of the fact that I am in my place of employment. I'm not really supposed to do or say anything aggressive. I don't want to smile because I don't want to encourage them. There are lots of people nearby and I don't want to cause a scene and draw attention. And I'm embarrassed. And I can't speak because now I know that while I have been working, completely oblivious, these men have been staring at my ass. Suddenly, my work place doesn't feel so safe and I feel that I can't do anything.

If those comments had been made in my hearing to another of my coworkers, I would have put my foot down then and there. I am great at standing up for other people, but I am terrible at standing up for myself. But usually these kinds of men are good at isolating you enough to make their comments unheard by others, but not isolating you enough that you feel you can stand up to them.

A couple times I have been lucky enough to have someone else nearby (always another man) who called the person out and stood up for me. Those are the moments that give me hope that things can change.

My worst experience happened over the course of a year or so. I was 9. Let me say that again I was 9 fucking years old. I had a friend who I was very close to and I spent a ton of time at her house. Her older brother (who was 15-16 at the time) continuously molested me, mostly by grabbing my butt (I'm starting to sense a theme here...).

I was young and I was confused and I did not understand what was going on. But I also felt ashamed and embarrassed and I never told anyone (and then I actually repressed the memories to be dug up in my senior year of high school. Fun times). All I knew was that I didn't like it. I tried telling him "No," and "Don't." And I literally used to press my back against the wall sometimes if I encountered him in the hallway. And he would laugh at me. And sometimes he would ignore me, so I never knew what to expect.

This had a trickle down affect in my life and I never liked guys/men to touch me (though I didn't know why for a long time). I once caused a scene in a chemistry class when a male classmate came up behind me and grabbed my shoulder and said something (that I couldn't comprehend in my panic) and one time I freaked out and yelled at my dad. Poor Daddy never said anything or asked about it and it certainly wasn't anything he had done wrong.

The worst thing about this? My story is a far cry from the worst ones out there. So many women (and homosexuals, transgenders, gender fluid people, et cetera) face much worse than I have. I came out (mostly) whole on the other side. I still panic when strange men enter my space, especially if I feel trapped. It has made romantic relationships more difficult. And I get sad for 9-year-old-me, dealing with things that were so far over her head. But overall, I am OK with the way I am. There are women and people out there who can't recover from their experiences. They will be forever haunted. And that is why things need to change. And why we need to show solidarity and have men decide that they will stand with us and help provide safe spaces with us.

I decided to share because I think its time to stop hiding. The worst of my stories happened a long time ago and I can disconnect from it. But hiding this won't help and won't solve anything.

Thank you to all of my amazing, brave friends who have shared their stories. I know its a hard thing to do and I think you are wonderful for sharing and helping to raise awareness. It's time for us to stop being embarrassed and haunted.

And to all of my friends who have had these experiences, even the ones who are not ready to share, you are so strong.

This is a safe space if anyone would like to share your story. Or if you just want to share a "Me too." We are stronger together.

For more information, there are websites and other blogs you can check out. Here is a site that I have looked at in the past: No More and another I found in the course of reading peoples' stories and writing this: End Sexual Violence. If anyone has other good resources, please, please share them.

Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 Spooky Reads

It's that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year. Our autumn here has been great so far. The leaves are changing, the weather is cool, skies are grey and rainy, and it smells like fall. Time for some Halloween-themed reads. Here is what's on my list this year:

Audiobooks:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Graveyard Shift
The Poisoner's Handbook
And the new Magnus Chase book because I am Rick Riordan trash. I adamantly refuse to wait until November to read/listen to it.

Books:

Strange Practice
I Woke Up Dead at the Mall
A Monster Calls
And, as usual, The Graveyard Book
And possibly All the Crooked Saints because I pre-ordered it many months ago. Stiefvater is pretty good at writing eerie stories, so it may fit right in!

Hopefully I have some good ones in here. Anyone else have Spooky reads planned? Or recommendations?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hello Again

Wow, I am terrible at this. I wrote all the way back in May that I was going to try to be better about blogging. Here we are in September without a single blog post in between.

Since October is coming, of course I am starting to get ready for my Halloween reads in October. To that effect, I seriously need to finish some of the books I have going. I got into a rut and lost most of my attention span for reading anything that wasn't related to my Disney World trip (which got rescheduled due to hurricanes). In that vein, I'd like to share some of the books I have read so far this year. Maybe I will compile Disney World trip books in another post.



I read these two earlier this year. I thought they were fun twists on the Sherlock stories. Sort of like fairy tale re-tellings. We follow the stories of Sherlock's and Watson's descendants. Who meet and become crime-solving friends at school.

 This is the much anticipated sequel to This Savage Song, which I read last year and loved immensely. I knew this one would break my heart (and it did) but I adored it. Her duology is incredible and really made me think. I love that dark deeds are turned into monsters and it made me wonder if people could see a physical manifestation of bad deeds, would that prevent more bad deeds in the future? Or as August struggles with, can humans not be redeemed? The setting she created in these books sucked me in.


Speaking of eerie settings, this one took the cake so far this year. This story was odd and rather different from her other books (in my experience, though I haven't read all of her books). The island that these rather demonic horses appear on is strange. There were things that I loved and hated about the book and the story. But no matter how you feel about the characters and their story arcs, you cannot deny that Maggie Stiefvater was the queen of atmosphere in this book. In related new, I am super excited for her book All the Crooked Saints which comes out next month.

This book came in the May owlcrate box. It sounded intriguing so I started it right away. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. There was something about it that spoke to me and I was so sad when it was over. I think it is kind of a niche book, but I guess I fit into that niche just fine. If you are a passionate nerd who is/has been a social outcast and needed creative outlets, I think this is a good book for you. It is cool to know that there are works that impact people on such personal levels.




Here is a little treasure. I heard raving reviews for this book and had to read it. It was beautiful, touching, and emotional. I think the poetry deters some people, but I promise it reads just like a story and is very good. I have been trying to read more books by POC (especially by WOC), and this was a great one to include. It also lead me to finally read The Color Purple which was a great story, too.






Last, but certainly not least is this one. I've had Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on my TBR for quite some time now, but this arrived in an owlcrate so I dove in. I was compelled by the fact that the main character is a big girl, but that the story didn't surround her weight, really. It was a good and touching story and led me on to read Dumplin as well. I have never been overweight, but I have struggled with my body image, too. And we all tell ourselves the same things. It was neat to see beautiful characters like these develop past those things and felt empowering.

I hope you enjoy. Look for Halloween-related book posts in the future!