Friday, October 21st, 2016

aurora-at-the-jw-marriott-spaMy skin feels amazing.

I stayed in Austin this week. And I ended up getting to stay the JW Marriott for a night (last night) and I am totally obsessed.

It’s within walking distance from a bunch of the Austin stuff you need – “bat bridge,” State Capitol, Austin Visitor Center/duck tour, etc.

And I had a sweet corner room on a high up floor. It had a gorgeous view, and I felt like I was on top of the world!

I had a rejuvenation facial in their spa, and goodness does my face feel rejuvenated! Come feel my face! It’s so soft!

And everyone there is so *nice*!

(In fact, I got this pedicure that was supposed to come with an alcoholic drink. And I was like, “I don’t really drink alcohol for the most part, you guys can have it.” And instead, the woman who booked my appointment (Amy, the angel) was like, “Well, do you like fruit smoothies?” And I said, “They’re one of my favorite things on this planet!”

And then she got me one.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more pampered than at that spa.

Also, they have pecans. (And cinnamon-covered pecanss as well!)

The fitness center is dope. The machines are great. (I watched The Price is Right while I worked out in the morning.)

Apparently, even though there are JW Marriotts with spas, this is one of only two official “Spa JWs” in America (and one of only 4 in the world). And it was dope.

I want to come back to Austin for like a month – spa up, blog up, and get some more sightseeing in too!

Oh, and I had chocolate chip pancakes in bed. (Oh yeah, I splurged! (Roooom service, baby!)) And those pancakes were amazing. (They’re even more amazing if you ask for extra chocolate chips… And if you watch Rachel Maddow in bed. I love MSNBC!)

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

[Trigger warning: I re-describe a sexual assault somewhat in detail in a paragraph in this post.]

For one thing, I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. It’s been a tough year, and now I’m talking about sexual assault on my blog… Not because I want this to become the “sexual assault blog.” I don’t.

But I do think it’s an important conversation to have. And I do think I have things to say about it here… And I enjoy hearing from other people. So… I think it is good, to some extent, to talk about…

(Sexual assault has also been a humongous part of my life this year, and no matter how many safaris I go on, or whales I swim with, etc. I can’t escape that. So, why am I trying to escape it in the place where I talk aaaaaall about my life? (I mean, there are some legitimate answers to that question. But still… Anyway…))

There’s something I’m sort of kind of beginning to regret-ish about sharing that story from college

I’ve tried to make it clear (but I don’t know that I did a good job of it) that I was sexually assaulted this year – and because of all the circumstances that surrounded that (some of which I may feel comfortable getting into, some of which I may not), it was exceptionally tough on me (and kind of continues to be, to some extent).

But that was the one that was really tough (for me) – not the college one.

I tell the college story because it’s been long enough that I can handle talking about it more easily than I can with something the recent one (as I’m still kind of working through it such)…

And I tell the college story because I think it’s a fairly black and white situation that’s short and easy to digest.. I think it’s perhaps an interesting kind of base to the conversation… that as a woman, I don’t even realize at the time that what’s happening is assault? A man is completely ignoring every one of my (multiple) requests to stop (and pinning me down so I basically can not get away).. He’s shushing me, and being condescending to me – calling me baby at every turn… He will not stop thrusting himself into me (no matter how many times ask him to stop), to the point where I’m bleeding.. And then I apologize for bleeding on his bed?

And I just think of him as “kind of rude,” as opposed to thinking of that as any kind of sexual assault, or breach of autonomy, or what have you?

To me, that’s sort of an interesting weird story – and a point-of-view that to some degree, I’ve kept through this year. And I think it’s the wrong point of view, and a place to being talking about all this stuff…

But then I started getting some reactions to that story. Some people on twitter (or this blog) have been reacting mostly with empathy… (sometimes not, but mostly).

But there comes a time where I get almost weirdly upset about the empathy…

It’s almost as though I’m afraid when people start worrying too much that that night affected me that I want to scream out, “This specific example has not broken me! This did not affect my life in any way other than the fact that I got my IUD re-inserted (and ultimately went with a more permanent option) – and I don’t like to be called “baby.” That’s it.”

It didn’t make me afraid of men. It didn’t make me afraid of sex. It didn’t feel like anything was taken away from me.

I’m merely trying to put a base down for the conversation. I’m trying to talk about these subjects like consent, and assault, and what people (oftentimes women, but I don’t want to gender assault) expect and stand for – and what I expect and stand for… I don’t know if that makes sense…

And when people respond with love in their hearts, I’m always going to appreciate it. But I just wonder if I’ve mistakenly shared the wrong thing, or shared in the wrong order, ’cause I’m trying to have a generally larger conversation (which I also understand gets lost in smaller blog posts). But it’s hard when I feel like we’re all just focusing on one guy from 8 years ago, when I literally don’t even remember his name.

And I just don’t want to give that story (or that guy) so much power (as it/he seems to be getting).

(And I don’t want to feel weak, and something about the responses I’m getting sometimes make me feel that way…) Sigh. I don’t know. I don’t want people to be afraid to talk to me… I appreciate all of you who reach out. There’s just something I feel like I’m maybe miscommunicating in the way I’m telling that story… So, yet again, I’m just saying – I have no idea what I’m doing.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

One thing that I find absolutely fascinating about sexual assault is that, in my experience, in certain situations you are asked a barrage of questions along the lines of, “Did you fight back?” “Did you kick him?” “Did you scream in his face?” “Did you punch him?” “What did you do to try to get away?”

And this is the only crime I know of (and I could be totally incorrect here, please feel free to comment), but it’s the only crime I know of where you can be admonished for not fighting…

If I were being kidnapped on the street, and I was terrified of attacking the person, or maybe I didn’t think I was strong enough to overpower him, would that change his chances of being convicted when I was found?

If I were being mugged and I was too afraid or shocked in the moment to fight back, would I not be able to report my purse as stolen property?

There are many reasons not to “fight back” when someone is having sex with you when you don’t want it…

Maybe you’re in shock. Maybe you’re terrified – not necessarily just of him physically in that moment. You might be afraid of that.
You might also be afraid of retaliation on any level if you fight back to hard – whether he starts talking poorly about you in your circle of friends, or tries to take steps to hurt your career.
You might be afraid that if you do fight back… what if you actually do get free, but in the process you seriously injure him – and he calls the cops. All of a sudden are you the one who’s going to be in trouble?

There are 1,000 reasons to be scared.

Someone grabbed me in a subway once and I whipped around to potentially fight him, but he was already running away…
Someone tried to stop me on the street and and me in his car, and I got away as fast as I could (without laying a hand on him, thanks to a stranger who saw and looked out for me).

Those are two different scenarios – both scary, both inappropriate. And I am the same person in both. And yet, in one, I tried to fight and in one I tried to flee, because while making a split-second decision of what’s going to protect you, sometimes it seems safer not to fight.

And I think I may have tangented a little here, but my point is, I find it odd that sexual assault is the one crime where people seem to expect this vigilante justice… And it doesn’t seem 100% fair to me.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Picking up from yesterday (talking about consent and crime and all that…) –

Someone explained it to me once with this analogy… (And I know there are so many. But here’s another one, if you haven’t heard this one already…)

It’s like if someone came to your house because you often lend them $20. But this time for any reason (that you’re under no obligation to explain if you don’t feel comfortable explaining – since after all, it is your money), you think, “Oof. Maybe I actually don’t want to lend them money this time after all.”

And if they get there, and you say, “Eeeeeh, I’m sorry. I’m really not sure I can lend you money this time,” and they just proceed forward anyway, reaching into your purse, grabbing $20, and leaving, they have now stolen money from you.

They took it. You didn’t give it to them.

You didn’t yell at them or scream at them “NO!” But you still made it clear you were not offering up $20, and they took it – without taking any steps whatsoever to try to make sure it was okay. That was your $20. No matter how many times you’ve given them $20, no matter how giving and open you are, they can’t just take your $20.

And I suppose we could poke holes in that analogy all day – as we could with any of them. But I think they’re sort of the easiest ways to understand consent… kind of…

It’s also interesting to me that sometimes we need these analogies to help… On the one hand, I feel like they help me as I continue my journey with getting over my own sexual assault from earlier this year (and trying very hard not to blame myself).

But on one of the days where I struggling the absolute most – and one of my sweet, sweet friends was helping me – I was struggling through analogies to try to get across what I was trying to say. He said, “Friend, you don’t need a metaphor. You are a human person and someone violated your core humanity and ignored your subjectivity. You deserve more and better.”

Of course, that was told to me by one of the nicest, most wonderful people on the whole entire planet. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that he knows exactly what to say and is a genius. But it is interesting to me on some level that so many of us (including me) feel this need to use analogies, metaphors, what have you to compare ourselves with objects to make people see why something is wrong…

Is it truly easier to understand the nuance or intricacies or legality or ethical issues of a crime against a woman if we put it into terms of objects?

I mean, maybe I’m overthinking things here, but there’s something about that that’s interesting to me.

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Kind of picking up from yesterday –

Sexual assault is so odd because it’s the only crime I know of that people view as so subjective.

I sat here for a while, and I started writing out this post about how it’s the only crime I know of with a “gray area.”

However, I’m not 100% sure that’s true…

I think there are maybe other crimes where people have questions… For instance, if people get into a fight at a bar, because someone instigated and someone else fought back – is the instigator charged with assault? What about the person who fought back? Were they merely acting in self defense? Or are both people in trouble? Or neither?

So, I guess there are some gray areas that we could point to in other crimes…

But, to me, it feels like there’s more grey area in sexual assault than there is with other crimes.

I’ve been reading a lot about assault over the past number of months. And it’s amazing the different definitions across the internet (and in people’s minds). There are so many different stories, all with different details, that are all viewed differently by different people…

For instance, I read of a woman specifically asking a man not to finish inside her. But he did, and when he did he flipped her two middle fingers and boasted about it. He directly laughed in the face of an expressed wish about her body, and he put her in potential danger by doing that (pregnancy, STDs, etc). Some people don’t think that story’s a big deal at all. I think it sounds terrible… Look at the comment section of nearly any assault case, and it’s all over the map!

Heck, look at the man who raped a woman when there were witnesses(!) and medical reports… But he was a good swimmer who people liked. So, there are people out there wrote it off as merely a “young mistake.” “Boys will be boys,” and all of that. I understand empathy and I don’t want to crucify anybody, but come on!

That girl lives with the repercussions of that. I don’t think it’s fair not to label it as assault… (And it was indeed labeled a crime by a court of law.) And yet…

Some people have a strong belief that there is no gray area in sexual assault – that no one should have a hard time understanding whether they have consent or not. And if consent is not there, a crime is being committed, period.

And that’s when some people get hung up on what the definition of “consent” really is.

I’ve heard people talking about being afraid of accidentally crossing a boundary and not even realizing it… And while I guess I kind of understand that sometimes there may be nuances or miscommunications (I guess?), (And of course I like the idea of people not wanting to accidentally hurt anyone…) I think for the most part, it shouldn’t be all that super hard to be able to tell if someone is consenting or not. Right?

(I think this is a pretty good video that easily shows the difference between yes and no without always using those exact words, because I think people sometimes fall into the idea that “anything other than a “no” is a yes… whereas I don’t believe “eeeeeh, I really don’t know about this” without any follow-up questions or addressing of concerns constitutes a yes.)

And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Picking up from yesterday –

So, I shared the story of my sexual assault from college on twitter…

(I know the one that’s seemed to basically kind of “traumatize” me (even though that seems like a dramatic-ish word) is from this year,  is still hard to talk about. And to me, it doesn’t feel quite as “cut and dry” as that one… But a conversation about sexual assault was being sparked by Donald Trump’s terrible comments. And it is something that’s affected me a lot. So, I thought it was important to be part of the conversation…)

Anyway, I shared that story – that I feel like is pretty cut and dry. I never stopped asking him to stop… And yet, someone quoted a tweet from my story and said, “He didn’t f*** me good, so I was raped.”

And not long after, he had over 100 likes on his tweet (and 20 retweets). Now, those aren’t record numbers or anything. But that’s enough people invalidating my experience that it doesn’t feel good.

Then, some followers of his started commenting stuff such as, “Dude, I like your comment, but this is f***ed up. Her other tweets explain how she told him to stop and he didn’t.” “Whoa, yeah, I though you were hilarious and this is so f***ed up. Stop means stop.”

I thought that would help the situation, but instead he doubled down and retweeted a tweet bragging how he “triggered” people – because for some reason, on social media, people seem to think that word is really funny and that triggering someone is an honor of some kind.

[Ultimately, the guy did delete his tweet – though, to my knowledge, he never tweeted any acknowledgement of crossing a line.]

But this little story is a huge reason why it seems so easy to question myself. I mean, I can’t speak for other women, but when I tell a story this cut and dry and people still question if it was assault – heck, I still question if it was assault… that’s when/why it becomes so potentially hard to have a conversation about sexual assault and how we treat women…

And tomorrow, I’ll talk more about the “gray” area (and if it even exists).

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Picking up from yesterday –

So, why didn’t I view it as assault? (And sometimes I even still have trouble thinking of it that way…)

Well, for that specific instance, I guess I just figured since I said out loud that I’d still happily have sex with him if we moved positions – it wasn’t like I didn’t want to have sex… I did! I just didn’t want to be in such pain. So, I suppose kind of viewed sex as a compromise or something – where apparently his thing (of wanting to finish) was more important than mine (of wanting to stop my pain)…

When in reality, while sex can, I think, be a compromise – finding what things you really like together… I think I’m starting to realize that if I ask someone to stop because something’s painful, that’s not me “asking too much” or not being aware of his needs and not compromising… That’s protecting myself and I’m allowed to do that and not feel bad, or like it was my fault if I bled on someone’s bed after making it so clear how painful it was…

That night was weird though… I wasn’t even livid when I left. I didn’t cry. I didn’t think of it as traumatic. Just, “Welp, that’s sex with a rude person.”

The only way it’s affected me is that I ask that people never call me baby in bed (or even out of bed, really). I hate being called baby now. (He wouldn’t stop calling me baby, and I hated that!)

But that is the only way (I know of), in which I’ve been affected. So, that’s not so bad! I mean, who needs the word baby, right?

Anyway, I guess that was kind of my thought process on that night specifically. But, I think overall, sexual assault is such an… I don’t even know the appropriate word here, but like a different type of crime. It’s the only crime I know of in which there’s this gray area…

And I think me talking about that is gonna take up more space than I have with the rest of this post… So, I will get to that tomorrow.