Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Proof of Sexual Assault

I have a very real question. . . when people sit and demand PROOF of sexual assault, what exactly are they looking for?

If sexual assault turns into rape, there are rape kits available (if you have the wherewithal to go to the hospital and get one done, and if where you're located they even process it). But in cases of assault, what evidence is there really?

A few years ago, I was sexually assaulted.

It was scary. And gross. But I didn't feel like my life was being threatened. I was able to walk away shaken, but otherwise unharmed and mostly just really grossed out.

If I think about it, his lingering and last, "Text me," haunts me a bit. But it's been years now and I don't think about it.

It happened. But the thing is, I don't have any proof.

I do not remember what year it was, much less the day of the week or even the month. (I could sit and figure out the math to get the year... I remember where I was working at the time, but asking me off the top of my head? Nope. Unsure.)

There aren't photos or video--it's not like you're able to say, "Hey, pause for a minute on that trying to rip my shirt off... I want to take a snapshot for posterity, and potential evidence later on."

It's an assault, not a rape, so there are no bodily fluids.

We were in a car, so there were no witnesses.

I didn't save the receipt to his Hotdog on a Stick french fry purchase or the ticket from the parking garage.

But you know what? If he ever decided to run for office or was appointed to the highest court in the land--you know what??? I would speak up. I would want people to know that he is garbage.

I could tell you what he said to get me on the date in the first place. Or how I felt when I saw him bob into the food court. I remember how he looked as he stuffed those fries into his face. I could tell you the outfit I was wearing. I could repeat the fact that he grabbed me from behind on the way to my car and asked, "So, no sex?" And I turned him down.

But do I have anyone to corroborate? No. Do I have proof?

No.

That doesn't mean it didn't happen!

So instead he's out there. And hopefully he's grown up and figured out a better way to try and get his rocks off than pressuring women into doing something they don't want to do. But maybe he didn't. Maybe there are more women out there who could back me up if I ever needed to go public with his name.

Why didn't I report it?

I got away with nothing more than heightened stress levels and a little bit of shaking. I did check to make sure he didn't follow me home. I did make sure that I triple locked my doors for a few days. I dreaded seeing his number on my phone should he call or text.

But I didn't have nightmares after. I was physically fine. I was emotionally shocked but recovered quickly. I didn't report it because it didn't seem important at the time.

It didn't seem like assault. Because it wasn't rape.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dating App "Compliments"

When a man tries to kick off a conversation on dating apps with me by saying something like

  • You are so gorgeous
  • Your pictures turn me on
  • Hey, sexy
I think they want me to take it as a compliment. I think they want to fluff my ego a little bit. Make me feel good and receptive to their overtures. Maybe feel inspired to kick off a conversation with them.

It backfires. 

Every. Single. Time. 

But why? Why can't I just take these comments for what they are and ignore how gross they make me feel? Why do I immediately feel like I'm setting them up to be catfished? Or immediately feel defensive?

The problem with comments like these is that they are based solely off of a set of photos.

Photos that I specifically curated to showcase my BEST looks. While they are definitely photos of me, and I don't really think any of them are misrepresenting me (too bad), they are also the very best looks.  

These guys haven't met me in person. They don't know what I look like when I'm walking my dog. Or when I've been doing hot yoga for 90 minutes. Which are arguably times when I absolutely look my worst. Would they still be calling me sexy then? Probably not.

Which means that it all feels like a line. Insincere. Disingenuous. Unbelievable. 

They may as well be leaving comments on Tumblr posts or liking random Instagram accounts of any woman that looks good. The internet is filled with billions of options.

It's just superficial. If there is nothing else in my profile that sparks a talking point, then it's hard to believe that the guy is interested in anything outside of the surface, physical stuff. And if that's the case, I just don't think that there's really a chance for anything to go anywhere.

And it usually doesn't. I don't know how to respond to those "opening lines." Do I just say thanks? I know? You're right? 

Where is the conversation supposed to go from there? 

If I were just looking for hook-ups, maybe this wouldn't bother me so much? Or maybe I would still be irritated by the way I feel objectified on dating apps. Replaceable. Interchangeable. 




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Action

In high school, juniors and seniors had an opportunity to attend the local community college with all books, tuition, and fees paid for by the state under the Post Secondary Education Option. This program was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of long before I even entered high school. It was a part of my master plan to attend BYU; something I had also determined at an early age was the only option for me.

I knew paying for college, especially one that was out of state, was going to be incredibly difficult. My parents were not wealthy and neither of them had earned a bachelors degree. So this was new territory for my family and one that made all of us nervous. But the promise of having an associates degree by the time I graduated high school seemed like an answer to a prayer that hadn't yet been given, and an opportunity that could not be wasted.

The PSEO program wasn't something that was highly encouraged by high school staff. I remember sitting in the meeting with our guidance counselor explaining how everything worked and feeling as though they were trying to dissuade us from even attempting. I had friends who wouldn't even consider going because the appeal and allure of high school--the 10 Things I Hate About You version, not the real-life experience--was too much to consider giving it up. But that didn't deter me. This was what I wanted and this is what I had to do.

Imagine my disappointment when I was told that I hadn't passed the entrance exam into the program.

It wasn't just disappointment. It was full rage and upset. Upset to my plans. My future. Everything that I was counting on hinged on this test, and I had failed. By one lousy point. I kicked a hole in the wall of our kitchen because I was so angry.

The test was pass or fail, so it didn't matter that it was by one point. A fail was a fail. And I had to face the idea of attending high school for my junior year. Something I did not want to do. Something that I knew would interfere with my plans for going to BYU.

I could not accept this outcome.

I did not accept it.

I found out that the only way for me to be accepted into the PSEO program was to take an 0900 level class during the summer. I had to pay for it out of pocket, and I had to pass it. If I did that, I could attend Edison as though I had passed the test.

So I found a way. I'm sure my parents helped pay for that class. I also assume that many of my Bob Evan's paychecks went toward the $350 or whatever tuition was at the time. I took the class that summer, and I was admitted into the program. And by the time I was ready to apply for BYU, I was on track to have my AA. I was accepted and my plans were back on track.

The experience taught me that I did not have to accept the terms that were being presented to me. That there are multiple ways to solve a problem, if you are just willing to ask and act.

I fought for my degree at BYU. And in the end (after too many years) I graduated.

Again, my plans were on track. But I had accomplished the thing that I had set out to do, and now my goals were a lot less concrete. There isn't a course that you can map out for "get married and have babies." It isn't like college. In order to be accepted into college, you know you need 1) good grades, 2) decent recommendations, 3) a show of responsibility in either clubs, service organizations, or jobs. You know what you have to do to get in. And you know what you have to do to stay in. And if you do A, B, and C, you get the Degree.

But marriage and babies are a different story. The goal line remains elusive while the clock continues to count down. No amount of asking and acting has yielded any results. In the meantime, you fill your life with distractions. Some more meaningful than others. But on days when the distractions fail to work, and you feel as though you are just being handed one consolation prize over the next, it is frustrating. It is unacceptable.

We're told to live "productive, faithful, and grateful lives." But none of those feel like real actions toward accomplishing the things you want the most. They feel so passive, as though you are just sitting, waiting for the thing to happen to you, instead of making it happen for yourself.

I don't know how to not feel that way. I don't know how to make faith an action instead of it feeling like the equivalent of wishing on a star or throwing a penny in a well. All of it seems to give the same results. We are supposed to have faith in the Lord's timing. But that feels like a copout. Or contrary to the belief that "God helps those who help themselves." I believe in making things happen for myself. I also believe that God supports me when I do. We are grateful when we find the person we are supposed to be with, and credit God and His goodness. But we aren't to feel bitter and resentful while we are still waiting, as if He is somehow withholding blessings from us.

But agency plays into all of it too. And when you are involving the agency of another person, how do we know if it is timing, your actions, or the actions of the other person that is keeping it all from happening? I don't know that it is any of the above. Sometimes I think you just need luck and happenstance.

When I was applying to go to college, I didn't apply to a single other college than BYU. It was the only school I had considered. It was the only school I wanted to attend. When I hadn't received my acceptance letter after some weeks, I began to wonder if I should consider another alternative. If I should pick another option. I couldn't imagine what life at another school would look like. It made me sick to think of it and incredibly sad. If I didn't get into BYU, what was I really going to do with my life? Utah was my destiny.

I waited for weeks and began to think that I really needed to have a backup plan. I started my application to OSU. To Liberty University. I tried  to consider BYU-I or SUU. I did my research. I tried not to cry at the thought of having to abandon the thing that I had been working toward since I was in fourth grade.

When I got my acceptance letter, finally, and was able to abandon all  the other applications before paying application fees and writing too many essays I cried with relief.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm starting to wonder if I need to consider alternative plans. And it makes me sick and exhausted and panicked. I keep going back to the end of my high school career and feeling that same worry that things are not actually going to work out. That for all my preparation and hope and work, I was not going to make it.

You don't have much control over whether or not romantic love and pairing off is in your future. You can put yourself in the awkward situations that arise from trying to date; make sure that you remain social and open to new people, and hope that something works out.

It may never happen.

It doesn't matter how much you fill your life with productivity, faith, and gratitude. It still may never happen. And no matter how much I know that, I still find the whole thing intolerable. Unacceptable. But clueless as to how to change the cards. Where is the extra class I need to take? What is the extra steps? It's not so simple, because there are no guarantees.

I want to be fine with that. But accepting it opens up a lot of other things that I have to accept. And I'm not ready to do that. I'm not ready to start filling out the "other applications." But I'm feeling the pressure of the shot clock. And I'm nowhere closer to the basket.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

#WhyIMarch




January 21, 2017 I was in Washington D.C., participating in a march for Women's rights. The march was organized to be held the day after the inauguration of our 45th President, Donald Trump. The fact that a man such as he could be elevated into the position of the President of United States is abhorrent and so completely mind boggling, that since the election I have felt like we are living in a twilight zone.

There has been so much commentary about the Women's March, and given that my social media feed is a total blend of conservative, right-wing Mormons and my friends who are mostly liberals, I have gotten it from both sides--those who condemn the march and make judgments based on a few pictures and what they think happened. And from those who were really supportive and participated locally where they could.

This year, I've dedicated some of my reading to more feminist books. All the Single Ladies and Everyday Sexism have been excellent reads to remind myself why I participated in the march.

Because why would someone like me want to participate in something so crass and debase? I have voted in every election since I was 18. I went to college. I have a decent-paying job at a company that has women executives. What more could I possibly want?

There's a misconception that because women have the vote and are able to attend college then equal rights has been achieved!

Ladies, we are done! What more could we possibly want outside of women's suffrage and education? After all, both were denied us for so long. And things are "so much better than they used to be."

The problem is we aren't done at all. Just because I have had those opportunities, does not mean they afforded to women throughout this country. The problem with people who insist that civil rights are done just because a few laws are in place, means that they refuse to look outside their communities and actually see what is happening beyond them.

I don't want to be like that.

In all the books that I've been reading over the past year, in the blog posts, the news articles, the documentaries, there is resounding evidence that there is still so much to do. There is resounding evidence that despite the headways we have made for equal rights, we are still not being treated as full humans. Certainly not equals.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tips for Online Dating/Tindering

If you have been online it is possible that you have stumbled upon a site or two or twelve that show the hazards of online dating. Guys are made out to be complete idiots in varying levels of objectifying man whores, who are often disrespectful and crude.

While I've certainly had a few interesting propositions, for the most part, the guys that I have interacted with have been decent humans with varying degrees of intelligence and intrigue. I have mentioned in a dating profile that I like double entendres. Recently, a guy messaged me and said that I was brave for putting that in my profile, as it was like "opening Pandora's box." Which is true. Certainly anyone could use that as an excuse to start a conversation out with something entirely inappropriate.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I must have mastered the algorithm for avoiding what the internet has dubbed as "f*&k boys" and gotten a much nicer experience (if a little more boring) than other women.

I can only speak from a woman's point of view. So, while I am sure there are plenty of girls out there making total cakes of themselves, I have to stick with what I know.

Here are my tips to avoiding massive douches when online dating/Tindering.

Swipe left on douchey pictures. These include:
    • Shirtless photos (of any kind)
    • Pictures that highlight any specific part of the body--abs, biceps, hips, and penises are out--save that stuff for later conversation.
    • Gym pictures
    • Bathroom pictures
    • Pictures posing next to a (likely drugged) exotic animal
    • Pictures of said dude posing with other females--especially large groups of women
      • Unless they are nieces, daughters, or otherwise identified as a relative
      • Swipe faster to the left if the girls were paid to take the picture with the guy--often indicated by the fact that their boobs are on full display and their smiles look extra forced and fake
    • Pictures where the guys is flipping off the camera. (Why--WHY--do guys post pictures where they are flipping me off?) Also included in this, any photo that has a suggestive or offensive gesture documented.
    • Someone blowing smoke in your face
The way the profile has been filled out is also an indicator. Some guys will tell you flat out what they are looking for. If you aren't looking for the same, then get out of there! Others are more subtle about what they really want. I have found that the moment I let my standards for good grammar and full sentences fall, I wind up regretting it almost instantly.

There are plenty of decent folk out there looking for love, or companionship, or to make a good friend. But there are also a lot of idiots looking to test the boundaries and ignore the good sense we were all given. Don't let those guys (or girls) get away with it! The less matches they find, the more likely they'll start to realize that they need to change their approach.

If someone does cross the line, feel free to unmatch immediately. Or, better still, call them out on it! And then unmatch them. You don't have time for their nonsense.

When I see the articles or examples that float around, I wonder, "Who is out there letting them get away with this?" I hope it isn't any one of my single friends. It certainly isn't me.

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