How to not fuck up a relationship

Posted in just opinionated, Uncategorized with tags , on November 26, 2013 by idnami

black heart

Some time ago I ran across this article  which I thought was brilliant for many reasons. I shared it on Facebook and the two biggest complaints I got were a) it was too long and wordy and b) it had to do with feminism which certain men’s rights types claim oppresses men.

The latter complaint I will disregard as I think the men’s rights movement is largely woman-hating bullshit and I don’t have time to cater to those guys. I wouldn’t want them dating any woman I know so they can keep on fucking up their relationships all they like, till they breed themselves right out of the population.

The former I can get down with, as most of us are cruising the net while procrastinating at work. So here I’ll try to condense some of those ideas and a few others in 1500 words or less.

WARNING: The following is written from a fairly heteronormative female perspective as I am a (mostly) straight chick who (mostly) dates guys, and this stuff largely comes from my complaints in my past relationships.

It’s also geared toward romantic relationships. However, it’s pretty good advice for any gender and sexual orientation in any type of relationship as it’s mostly about treating yourself and other humans decently.

But it’s also kind of bitchy, cuz I’m like that.

Most men I associate with are not assholes who think women are meat puppets to be used and thrown away, or kept around and disregarded. They are largely caring, intelligent people. However many of them seem bewildered by the women they try to get close to. So here are a few tips that would at the very least have helped a few dudes I’ve dated.

1. The whole jerks vs. nice guys thing is bullshit.

Straight up. All you “nice guys” who can’t figure out why the women you’re attracted to all seem to gravitate toward dickbags, ask yourself this question: How boring am I?

That sounds awful I know, but speaking as a woman who has a lifetime of dickbag dating behind her, I can tell you that if all you have going for you is “nice” you don’t stand a chance.

The appeal of jerks is that they tend to keep things interesting and engaging, if only on a negative level. Every asshole I ever loved, I loved because he made music or art or poetry and deeply gave a damn about his legacy to the world.

 Do you live life passionately? Do you care about anything that matters? Do you have anything to offer, to interest her, to set her on fire? Or are you just inoffensive?

If you answered no to the first three questions and yes to the fourth, don’t bow your head in defeat just yet. Understand that relationships, like life, require more than simply breathing to maintain. If all you do is work and watch TV, why would you want someone to share that with? Do you really find it all that satisfying yourself?

If yes, eventually some boring woman may flop down next to you on the couch and you can spend your lives together in vegetative bliss. If no, what are you waiting for to do what fulfills you? If you want a woman who inspires you, you have to inspire her. So get off your ass and go be inspirational, or quit bitching. Do it for yourself first and watch your life transform in more ways than one.

The moral: Complete yourself. No one else can do it for you. 

2. You are 50% responsible for your relationship’s state of emotional wellness.

So let’s assume that you have successfully incorporated tip #1 and a fascinating, complex woman has fallen in love with you, or is at least interested. Good job! Do you expect things never to go wrong? Or a better phrasing might be, are you completely gobsmacked when things inevitably do go wrong? Uh oh.

Look, it’s gonna happen. One of you will step on the other’s toes at some point. If she does it to you, you may get hurt or mad. Can you express that openly and maturely? Passive aggressiveness is bullshit, don’t do that. But so is blame and accusations.

Try to find a middle way where you can name the action and its effect on you without making it a judgement on her. If she’s a decent person, she will do what she can to make it better. This skill may take time to develop for both of you, but it is a skill. 

So what if you step on her toes? What if she’s upset about that? One of the biggest problems I’ve had in relationships is, female hurt or anger tends to freak guys right out. And quite often in my experience they will immediately focus on the way I’ve expressed myself rather than what I’ve expressed.

I do consider it important to express these things in a non-threatening way for best results. However if she happens to cry or be visibly angry without being abusive, do not use her emotional expression as an excuse to dismiss her. Don’t attempt to rationalize or minimize your actions thinking that if she only understands why you did what you did she won’t be mad anymore. It doesn’t work that way.

Do apologize sincerely first.  I recommend this to everyone. You may not have meant to hurt or upset the other person. You may think they shouldn’t feel the way they do. But guess what? They do, and as a caring partner your job is to try to rectify your own part in causing it.

Apologize first, explain later, and for God’s sake don’t go into hiding because you aren’t comfortable with displays of emotion. Learn to deal with the discomfort head on. You will grow as a person and your relationship will grow too. I promise.

The moral: Make it better, not worse.

3. Take space if you need it, but don’t disappear. And don’t be jealous and clingy either.

Let’s say you’re dealing with the above scenario and don’t trust yourself to have the conversation in the moment. Or maybe there are questions about the direction of the relationship that you don’t feel prepared to answer. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into having an immediate conversation you aren’t ready for. The results will never be good.

So, step back, take a few hours or days, think hard about the question or issue. But don’t take forever about it. If someone has presented you with a problem you helped cause, you need to do your part to fix it in a timely manner. Don’t assume it will go away if you ignore it long enough. It will grow.

Similarly, if you’re being asked to make a commitment or state your intentions, this is a defining moment in the relationship. Refusal to answer the question is in itself an answer. If you let that hang, she will draw her own conclusions and you will wake up alone one day. But, do take your time exploring your feelings before answering, lest you be forced to backpedal later.

On the other hand your partner also needs space. Don’t try to make another person compensate for your insecurities. If you’ve been cheated on or deceived in the past it’s reasonable to fear that happening again. However acknowledge that your choice to be with this person needs to be based on a reasonable faith that they won’t. So treat them like it.

The Moral: Balancing sharing and privacy is healthy!

4. Don’t be an asshole.

Evaluate your maturity level. Fucking and chucking is not ok. Mind games are not ok. Punishing another person for hurting you instead of working toward positive change is not ok. Sticking them on a shelf is not ok. Comparing them to a past lover is not ok. Dating someone but only caring about your own needs? So not ok.

If you’re looking for a punching bag, step away from Plenty of Fish and go to the gym. If you’re looking for someone to prove something to you, prepare to be disappointed. If you’re looking for someone to make you happy, you are missing the point. If you are looking for someone to share happiness with, you’re headed in the right direction.

The moral: Give good to get good.

Above all, remember that we are all struggling human beings who make mistakes. Honestly admit to your own and be as forgiving to the other as you would want someone to be to you.

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My response to knee-jerk reactions to the word feminism

Posted in just opinionated, Rants on November 7, 2013 by idnami

Occasionally I feel the need to post something with the word “feminism” in it to see which of my male friends react, and how. I find that if there is a negative reaction it’s usually the same complaint. What that complaint usually boils down to is, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for being a man. You have your rights now so be quiet.”

I’m sorry that you feel my desire for actual equality means you have to feel guilty. You don’t. If you are a man and you have a problem with feminism, you don’t get it. Because you are a man.

Every single day I have to face the million little signs that I am not considered the equal of my male peers. Most of them are innocent enough, a sort of benign sexism. At work, online, on the street. I see it in the way other women think of themselves, this insidious feeling of inferiority, weakness, that never goes away. In all but the strongest of us, it pervades everything we do. The way my social currency goes down in value as I age, gain weight, or simply choose not to make an effort with my hair and makeup one day. The way I am automatically taken less seriously at work unless I assert myself almost forcefully. The way people are surprised when I do.

I see this inequality when men who express vulnerability are told to “man up” or are called pussies. I see it in the bitterness of men who are told it is not themselves women value but their status objects. I see it in the unreasonable expectations placed on both genders because of their genders. I see it woven into the very fabric of our language where masculine words express power and strength and feminine words express weakness.

This is patriarchy, and it is a load of shit. Feminism is not a dirty word. It is a movement that demands closer examination of our culture and our assumptions. It is not about being bitter, or taking away men’s rights. It is about not being content now that we aren’t barefoot, pregnant and confined to the kitchen anymore, not being content to be allowed to vote, not being content because we are “relatively equal” when compared to some other societies, or our own 100 years ago. It’s about not being content until we are actually equal, meaning also that we’ve rectified the social pressures on men to play their prescribed roles as well. It’s about calling out those prescribed roles for the complete bullshit that they are and fixing this.

So please don’t take my feminism as a personal affront, an attack on men or a war waged in bitterness. I see it as a social responsibility and necessary, though I’m sure my hopes will not be fulfilled in my lifetime.

Your accusations of racism might actually make you a racist

Posted in just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , on September 1, 2013 by idnami

Because there’s no escaping it, and in the interest of staying abreast of current events, I made myself watch a 2 minute clip of the Miley Cyrus VMA video. I dismissed it by saying something like, “She looked like she was having the time of her life. Good for her.” And then I got back to the many more important things in life, like watching Schmoyoho videos on Youtube.

A friend of mine responded that it was racist because she slapped a black woman’s ass and was “using black people as accessories to be ghetto.” I didn’t think she needed any help being ghetto, but I replied that as she is an accessory herself I didn’t see the big deal so long as the backup dancers were paid well.

Later on I saw my gorgeous black neighbour taking out the garbage without his shirt on. I admit, I gawked. Then the conversation I related above crossed my mind and I had a sudden stab of guilt for objectifying a black man. I thought about this for a moment then said to myself, “Don’t be such a goddamn racist!”

This was not because I had been objectifying a black man, but because I suddenly felt guilty about it because he was black, which is frankly ridiculous.

Let me be clear. I’m an equal-opportunity pervert. Black men are attractive in a quite different way than white men. And when I am ogling a guy I’m not thinking about his personality traits or intelligence, his value as a human being, how much money he makes or whether or not he would be a good father or political candidate. There is no human quality judgement going on there.

I’m not going to tell you what do I think about because it may change your perception of your favourite blogger.

furry-fandom-sex-fetish

Not this.

I think there comes a point, a very awkward point, where sensitivity to issues of race can become racist in itself. and there can be a fine line between caring about protecting people from exploitation and simply being patronizing.

What if the woman whose ass got slapped liked it? What if they planned it out beforehand giggling all the while? What if maybe she didn’t enjoy it particularly but the pay cheque was high enough that she didn’t care? It was clearly planned and the woman didn’t appear surprised by it, so what’s the big deal?

All of these possibilities are equally valid but I don’t see anyone asking the lady who got slapped how she felt about it. Instead we are using her too.

We are judging the situation based on the skin colour of the people involved and shamelessly using both of them to make our point. That is racism and exploitation right there, my politically correct friends, and it’s just as wrong.

We must acknowledge that if Miley was on that stage by choice, so was everyone else. To imply that the black person was a victim rather than a willing participant (an assumption based on her blackness?) is to fail to give her credit for intelligence, equality and the capacity to choose. We hold Miley responsible for her actions on stage, so why not the others?

As a member of a historically oppressed group (women) who is all too aware that the time when I could have been considered property isn’t long past, it really chaps my ass when it’s implied that every woman making a pay cheque off her sex appeal is a hapless dupe being exploited by the patriarchy. This assumes a lesser intelligence in women making these choices, a sense that we cannot be trusted with our own sexual expression. And though possibly well-meaning, it’s sexist as fuck.

As a burlesque artist I’ve done some extremely risqué stuff. Each time I walk onstage I’m there by choice. As a feminist I demand that choice be acknowledged and respected. Many women making a living as strippers or porn stars would say the same. Many of us do this because we like it, because it pays well and because we don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about that. So if a woman chooses to have her ass slapped on stage, why are people who weren’t part of that decision crying racism?

As for white people “stealing black culture” I’d like to point out that black urban culture is as heavily influenced by European culture as it is by ancestral African heritage. If you don’t believe me please take off those blue jeans.

Stylistic fusion is how humanity develops culturally. I don’t get mad at drag queens for “stealing” my feminine culture, even when they look better in heels than me. Similarly I am not being racist when I:

Sing the blues

Wear a shirt with a Mandarin collar

Eat bannock and salmon

Wish I could play sitar

Twerk (lying. I can’t twerk)

Slap a consenting human adult of any colour on the ass.

And feeling as though I am is as silly as it would be if I got mad at a black guy for wearing a plaid shirt because he’s “stealing my Scottish culture.”

I feel that one of the most important human rights is freedom of choice. Too often in trying to stand up for oppressed minorities we treat them like children and oppress them further. If we fail to respect a human being’s capacity for informed and intelligent decision making based on their skin colour, exactly who is the racist here?

If you like this, share it. If you don’t share it, don’t “like” it.

Posted in Rants with tags , , on August 24, 2013 by idnami

If a writer publishes and no one reads it, did they make an impact?

Hi! My name is Mandi and I’m a writer.

I recently had the mixed blessing of my first viral post! I’m not linking it here. Go find it. Or better yet, find something better to read.

See, I’ve learned a few things since I ill-advisedly posted my rantings about a particular subject of public outcry. They are:

1) Anger sells, even more than sex.

2) The “like” button is a cheap and easy way for people to acknowledge that you’ve spoken while not addressing what you said. It’s the social media equivalent of saying, “uhuh” when your friend is telling you about their day.

3) When your best work is getting 2 hits a day and your worst is getting thousands, it really sucks.

Discovering blogging was one of the best things to ever happened to me as a writer. My first crappy post was probably read by 5 people. And that was amazing!

For a budding writer, the feedback of even one reader was a breathtaking experience. The idea that I had the audacity to publish my words in a public forum instead of just a journal was exhilarating. Someone actually reading it and saying so, even better. Which made writing a viral post so awesome!

This was before Facebook was a thing so sharing meant people actually checking for new posts and emailing the link to their friends. Every post was an adventure! People debated the posts at the site of the topic itself rather than on social media unrelated to the actual source of content.

Facebook is a blessing and a curse to bloggers like me. On the one hand I have 500+ “subscribers” I can boast. On the other, who cares? 10-20 people click the Like button and there may be some discussion but the greatest thrill of a writer’s life – new readers – is as hard as ever to achieve.

So I wrote the worst, most careless, least well thought out post I ever tossed off first thing in the morning in response to a story already well documented by other media sources. And so far in 72 hours it has over 55 thousand hits. Out of those I have 20 new followers.

This happened because my Facebook friends, in similar outrage, shared the hell out of it. The link to that post on my wall was shared 57 times by my friends and exponentially thenceforth by thousands of strangers. And now I feel a bit like Robert Plant does (I imagine) every time someone calls Stairway to Heaven the greatest song ever written.

Only way less cool and rich.

Because really, why that one? When I have informative or insightful or amusing or stupidly hilarious things you can read and share with your friends, and they with their friends, why is that the only post on my blog that ever got more than 70 hits?

So let’s be clear; I don’t care or benefit in any way if you “like” my post. I care if you read it and what you thought of it. If it isn’t good enough to share, don’t click Like. Instead, tell me why it wasn’t. Because the feedback of my friends is what will help me become a better writer, so that one day I can get eaten alive by critical strangers who don’t love me too much to hurt my feelings. This is my greatest dream.

Tell me it’s too long, boring, stupid, insipid, offensive, conceited or you just don’t like my face. This will make me much happier than a like. Or tell me it’s awesome and pass it on so I can break through the Red Rover line of my own friends into the greater world. And if it never gets farther than that I know I still have work to do. But I’ll never know if it goes no further than my wall.

We click the share button all the time on idiotic, misspelled memes that probably took a minute and a half to create. Why not make that click mean something to a person that you know and interact with who may have spent hours creating their piece? Critique if it’s not good, share if it is and remember that a person taking the time to write is probably passionate about writing and being read, because otherwise these would all be private journal entries.

 SHEHR MEHR GEHRDDAM BLEHRG!!! | Ermahgerd

This meme actually took me five minutes to create because I was waffling between Ermehgerd and Grumpy Cat.

I know I’m not the only online writer who has this problem. Share this so they know they’re not alone and so their friends will realise they could use the support. Share it for the embedded link to the awesome Cracked.com article above.

Or just share it for the stupid meme. But don’t like it unless you do.

The Ominous Omnibus – my thoughts on Bill C-10

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by idnami

It is no secret that I strongly disapprove of our current government. Stephen Harper is the reason I started taking any interest whatsoever in politics because I looked into his icy blue eyes in 2008 and decided I didn’t want that man running my country. This opinion has been strongly reinforced by the fact that I’m daily inundated with convincing indications that the Harper Conservatives are taking Canada in a very bad direction.

But I thought there must be some reason they’ve been voted in twice. So I’ve been actively seeking Harper-positive people to tell me why this is. Trouble was, I didn’t think I knew any.

But it turns out I do! So I asked him to send me any pro-Harper information he came across and asked his opinion of Bill C-10, that being one of my biggest beefs with this government. I’m not alone on that.

He very kindly explained why he is for it. Harsher penalties for crime would mean fewer criminals on the streets. Not giving special consideration to first nations and immigrants from troubled countries puts everyone on equal footing. Fair enough.

I would have no problem with this… if it worked. However, prolonged incarceration doesn’t serve as either as a deterrent to first offenses or repeated ones. You can threaten the death penalty for theft but a person will still steal food if they are hungry enough. A rapist or child molester knows there are penalties for their acts. The idea that this knowledge will stop them from their wrongdoing fails to acknowledge the mental illness that makes them not care.

This obviously doesn’t apply to absolutely every case but the causes for the majority of crime are poverty, desperation, lack of options and mental illness. And when I say lack of options I don’t mean you had no choice but to steal a car. I mean that you were given no good reason not to. Why should disenfranchised people care what society wants when society clearly doesn’t give a damn what they need? And for many, the prison lifestyle is preferable to the free lifestyle. At least you are guaranteed food and shelter.

So now we have a crime bill that basically says to these people, “You have committed a crime and you must be punished by being fed, clothed and housed on the taxpayer dime even longer. Take that, miscreant!”

I grew up around a lot of lower class people who turned to crime early in life. Some of them have been in and out of prison since their teens. So it’s a mindset I’m extremely familiar with. And due to my familiarity with it, I can definitively say that the prison system’s main contribution to preventing crime is separating the criminal from society. But the criminal mind, and the resentment towards society that leads to criminal acts (especially violent ones) thrives in prison.

And why should that surprise us? If you want to change someone’s thinking do you confine them with a bunch of other people who think the same way and can teach them better tricks?

The truth is our entire sense of justice is messed up and outdated, based on emotional, revenge based thinking rather than rational, solution oriented thinking. We seek to punish misdeeds with the very erroneous idea that people will “learn their lesson” and emerge contrite and somehow cleansed of the urges and mindsets that put them there in the first place.

Making punishments harsher doesn’t scare criminals enough to stop them, as evidenced by the ineffectiveness of methods used in centuries past. Did the threat of hanging or transportation keep England, for example, from being absolutely riddled with crime? No it didn’t. It wasn’t effective as a deterrent and it didn’t keep the public safe. So if the threat of death or indentured exile didn’t stop crime, why would extra jail time?

This is assuming we catch them at all. Harsher penalties do create incentive to take extra precautions against being caught.

So we are treating the symptom and not the disease, and we aren’t even doing a very good job of that. It’s obvious that the root problems need to be addressed, but that is way harder without overhauling our entire society.

Can we reduce poverty, disenfranchisement and racism? Can we incorporate an emphasis on mental health into routine medical care? Can we change the pervasive, ingrained attitudes that allow rape culture to flourish? Can we hold society as a whole accountable for the people it produces?

I really mean that last one, not that there’s much anyone can do about it. Irresponsible parenting, indifferent teaching, negligent medical care, race and gender hate, stubborn ignorance, religious fanaticism, bigotry and generally mean-spirited attitudes are largely responsible for producing criminals in the first place. And responsible for all that is the unthinking, uncaring, selfish, shortsighted, terrified stupidity of the human animal. That’s you and me, pal. If we could bring ourselves to actually treat each other as we want to be treated we could probably weed out a lot of criminal tendencies.

But mostly we don’t, so we’re doomed. But is a vengeful, punishment based justice system our best option?  Even Texas doesn’t think so, and that’s saying something. They tried it. It cost them tons of money and their crime rate dropped at half the rate of the national average.

So they tried a more rational, statistically viable approach. They invested in drug treatment, mental health programs, and improved probation and parole programs. And it worked. They still have people in prison, even on death row, but far fewer. And their crime rate is far lower. It’s cheaper too!

This goes against our instincts. When we hear of horrific violent crimes our primal, animal brains scream for blood. But going against our instincts, rising above our primal urges is what enabled us to build civilization to begin with.

So what I don’t get is why our government thinks we have the money to burn on a way of doing things that has already been proved a bad mistake. Bill C-10 and the thinking behind it could cost us the opportunity to prevent crime at the root level, ruin more lives, destroy civil liberties and still not accomplish its objective of a safer society. I rarely point to America as a positive role model, but in this case, I’m with Texas.

A letter from a bird

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2013 by idnami

Swainson's-Hawk-0031

Hawks are circling me.

Since I’ve been working as a print production coordinator I see them every day, sometimes as many as 7 at once. Initially they were just lazily soaring blips in the sky. I started carrying binoculars with me so I could get a better look.

A little over a month ago I posted on Facebook that one had flown by so close I saw it poop. A friend of mine responded wondering about the significance of these birds being in my life. I responded by saying that the area around my new job abounded with ground squirrels, which is what they eat, so that was probably why.

Of course I do have a solid occulty/shamanistic/witchy streak that wanted there to be greater significance but at the time I was trying to be pragmatic.

Since then it feels increasingly like they are trying to get my attention. They’ve been getting closer and closer, so that I could clearly see their beak shape and wing markings. Finally the other day one was circling the parking lot when I was outside. It was gliding very slowly and finally hovered directly over my head for a moment, not 5 feet above, right between me and the sun.

The light shone through its wing feathers. I could see individual spots in the patterns of its markings, imperfections where the feathers were a bit ragged along the edges of its wings. Its shadow must have looked like a mask over my face. It hovered perfectly still for a long moment before gliding away.

And I said to it, “Ok, I’m listening. Can I have a feather to confirm?”

Now at this point I should mention that this isn’t the first relationship of this type I’ve had with birds. It happened with eagles one summer. Ironically despite about eight or nine sightings I never recognized what they were, I thought they were hawks! It got to the point where one visited me in a dream. It spread its wings out and turned its head to one side like the E Pluribus Unum symbol on the U.S. dollar bill. It was as if it was saying. “Eagle. EAGLE. Get it?”

Not a hawk.

Not a hawk.

The high point of that time was riding my bike around the reservoir when this great swooshing shadow flew over my head close enough that it ruffled my hair. I stopped and looked back and there was a massive golden eagle (which I still didn’t recognize! I had to look it up after) perched on a chain link fence. I very gently set my bike down and slowly approached it. When I was about 10 feet away it flicked a wing at me as if saying, “That’s close enough.”

I stood looking at it for a long time. It sat perfectly still on the fence. Several minutes passed and I was beginning to contemplate leaving the bird in peace and continuing my ride. Then it spread its wings and swooped directly toward me. Before I could do more than flinch it snatched a mouse from the grass three feet in front of me and gobbled it whole before flying back to the fence. It was so close I could see the mouse’s tail whip around in the bird’s talons and hear it scream.

So that was really cool. Especially when I read that golden eagles tend to be highly intolerant of humans.

Anyway back to here and now and the hawks.

I collect feathers. The oldest one I have is an owl feather that was given to me by a Seneca pipe carrier named Jenny Running Wolf when I was 16. Every time I am honoured with a new feather, life changes in interesting ways.

Anyway, the very next day after asking Hawk for a feather, what do you think I found under a tree, sparkling with raindrops from a shower that had passed leaving a radiantly blue sky? A 10 inch long wing feather of course!

Now, as I said I have tried to be pragmatic in my thinking. In an area that abounds with hawks one is not unlikely to find a feather sooner or later if one keeps their eyes open. Could still be pure coincidence right?

That evening I met my boyfriend in a park for a picnic. I’d been keeping him updated about the hawks because we are both kind of nature geeks. So I pulled out the feather to show him. And at that moment who comes soaring over the trees? Yup. My new friend Hawk.

Of course my more skeptical readers will continue to insist that this is all coincidence and that birds don’t talk to people. And this is because they have no imagination.

However, in case I were still inclined to doubt, yesterday I was doing tarot readings at a carnival. An absolutely delightful woman from the spoken word scene happened to be here. Her name is Orunamamu. She is black with the awesomest southern accent and a silver star on her tooth that flashes when she talks. She wears eccentric clothing and crazy hats and is about 80 years old. Her business card says “Storyteller/Raconteur” and she is just the most fun old lady ever. I want to grow up to be just like her.

She sat down at my table to rest and without any kind of preamble she grabs my hand and says, “If you ever find a feather, a soft and tickly feather, pick it up! Put it in your pocket. A feather is a letter from a bird!”

I threw back my head and laughed at that… and saw a graceful, soaring shadow cross the sun.

The insidiousness of rape culture – Or, why porcupines don’t have cell phones

Posted in Rants with tags , , , on July 17, 2013 by idnami

I am writing this to kill time while I wait for the cops to arrive. Calm down, I’m fine.

It shames me to admit (and shames me more that I feel shamed!) that I have been the victim of persistent sexual harassment for upwards of 3 years. The shame comes not from my state of victimhood. That just makes me resentful. No, the shame comes from never having taken decisive action to free myself from it until now, because I’m a feminist and should damn well know better.

So, many years ago I met a man who seemed nice and knew all manner of cool things about stuff like the wilderness and spelunking and the profusion of edible plants that grow wild in urban settings. He brought me a huge quartz crystal cluster he had knocked off the wall of a cave himself, and asked me out on a date.

I was not especially attracted to him but welcomed the rare chance to have a nice dinner bought for me and spend an evening talking with a person with such an impressive array of knowledge. It all went well until he tried to kiss me and I tried to gently explain that I wasn’t into it. Let’s just say he wasn’t a gentleman about it and after quite a blistering verbal outburst we parted ways and I didn’t see him for several years. Like a decade.

We wound up meeting again and he apologized for his behaviour that night. We were both involved in some of the same projects and exchanged numbers. I helped him write and publish an article on food sovereignty and created promo materials for a workshop he was giving. We became Facebook and coffee shop friends.

I had done an art nude photo shoot that I was pretty proud of and ill-advisedly gave him the link to some of the pictures. And then the 3 am messages started happening.

I should be clear that this guy becomes a completely different person when he drinks. At first the messages were fairly… vanilla? And I thought, “He’s drunk again. Meh.” The most disturbing part was that the messages woke me up when my phone beeped. As a person who has sleep issues I didn’t appreciate this, and I let him know it. But nonetheless, every few weeks he’d do it again. But I did not feel violated, I felt annoyed.

The messages became increasingly graphic and sexual and there began to be an insulting element to them, describing certain nasty things he’d like to do to my body while also taking shots at my weight. And all the time I made allowances for him, because I liked him as a person, in person and sober. So I just kept calmly asking him not to message me in the middle of the night.

He was eventually ostracised from a group we were working with and he was angry about it. The threatening way that he spoke of the people responsible started to freak me out. I heard a violence and malevolence in his voice that suddenly connected the man I knew in person to the scary 3 am pervert.

Around this time he lost all filters. The messages started to come every night. He would tell me how he was touching himself while looking at my pictures. On my phone, in my inbox, on my wall. And I finally lost it and told him straight out to stop contacting me, period. And he turned that vicious, scary language on me. I stood my ground, blocked him on Facebook but drew the line at changing my phone number to escape it. This was last November and for awhile things were quiet. And lately it’s happening again.

Around the same time I found out that I wasn’t the only one. I now know of at least 3 other women he has done this to. But only with me has he persisted. Sometimes a few months will pass, sometimes only a week, but it doesn’t stop. Hence the cops are coming to take my statement.

So why in fuck’s name did I not call them before now? I told myself it was because I didn’t want the hassle just over some annoying text messages. If I were more honest I would say it’s because I’m fairly convinced that the cops won’t stop him, and that involving them will provoke him. So life should get pretty interesting after tonight.

But that right there is the fucked up thing! That right there is why I am talking about this in the context of rape culture despite the man never having laid a hand on me. Because I, an empowered feminist with martial arts training sufficient to handle that motherfucker, have instead protected a man who assaults me whenever he likes in the one way I can’t defend myself against. When I see his name on my phone my heart begins to pound. If I forget to turn off my ringer I get a whole night without sleep as I lie in bed and rage at the presumption, the entitlement, the sheer twisted arrogance of a man who thinks a woman’s no does not apply to him.

And this is a huge problem in our culture. Not only that we have men so poorly raised and educated that they think this behaviour is somehow acceptable, but also that we have women who do know better minimizing the impact it has on us, pretending we aren’t scared, offended, shamed, just to keep the peace. Because I didn’t want to bug the police with my little problem. Because I was scared that doing so would only make him worse.

Now take that minimization of the issue, take that fear of reprisals, and multiply it by a very large number and we see why so many victims of sexual assault never come forward. Because there are those who would say I was asking for it when I sent him those pictures, even when I let him buy me dinner when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to sleep with him. And to those people I say, get bent.

But not every woman has the confidence to stand in the face of such accusation and say, “Yes but I still said no.”  If I wear a short skirt, if I flirt, if I am a nude model and don’t mind who sees, if I let you buy me dinner or have a few too many at a party I’m fair game?

I don’t care if you jerk off to my picture. I just don’t want to hear about it.

I’d be interested in the breakdown of cost to see just what services I owe a man. If I let you buy me one drink do I owe you oral? No? How about three? Does dinner buy you penetration? Does dessert buy you anal? Do sexy clothes that I wear for me automatically mean I want you? 

And if you treat me as an object to be bought or simply taken and there are no consequences, why would you ever stop? If I let you rape my mind at will, deprive me of sleep and peace, force me to look at your disgusting thoughts every time I pick up my phone because now I have to archive every message as evidence, am I asking for it then?

No. And consequences are coming.

I may be accused of victim blaming, in my acknowledgement that I have not taken action to end this before now. It is not intended to imply that any victim of any form of assault is at fault for having been assaulted, but only to show how crucial it is that we do come forward when it happens. That responsibility lies with us. It is sometimes the only power we have in the situation and I wish I had used it sooner.

I’ve been a very bad porcupine. I have not posed a great enough danger that the predator backed off. That changes now. I invoke the protection I’m entitled to, to show him what he is not entitled to, from me or any woman. And I won’t lie, I’m kind of scared.

But when have I ever let that stop me, once I’m also good and mad?

Never.