Archive for October, 2013

Who should do what

On Oct 15, 2013, Emily Yoffe over at Slate.com published this article. The headline, which I’m guessing Yoffe did not write herself, changed a couple of times but the gist was: We should tell female college students to stop getting stone drunk to reduce the chance of rape.

This led to one of those internet mini-storms, with writers from Jezebel.com, Salon.com, Huffington Post, even one of Yoffe’s colleagues at Slate.com rebutting her claims in tones ranging from calm to pissed off. Focus on the rapists and their behavior, many said, and that is a valid claim. Yoffe herself posted a rebuttal to the critics, which drew its own replies– here’s one at Salon.  Quite frankly I got tired of reading about it all.

Let me state here that I’ve been really lucky. I haven’t encountered much in the way of sexual discrimination during my schooling or my work. I’ve never had a boyfriend who tried to force me to do anything I didn’t want to when it came to a physical relationship. I realize for many women — and men, let’s be real here — this is not the case.

I am also not and never have been a big drinker. There are lots of reasons here, but none of the moral variety, I don’t think. My dad stopped drinking beer after one too many close calls driving, and although he drank wine from time to time after that, he doesn’t now. My mom also stopped drinking when she felt it was getting out of hand. Drinking too much seems to run on both sides of my family, but no one ever took me aside and said, “Don’t drink! Drinking is bad!”

For me, personally, I didn’t and don’t like the way most alcohol tastes. I know that when people drink to get drunk, taste isn’t always the issue, but again, I’ve been lucky that I’ve never felt that kind of pressure to escape. It took me a long time to figure out wine, let alone like any. I figured it was made from grapes, hence should be sweet, and when it wasn’t, I didn’t like it (I have a sweet tooth). I read up, learned some stuff, and now enjoy some wine from time to time. I’ve also learned it doesn’t take a whole lot of alcohol to put me a little off. I don’t like that feeling and so I don’t drink past it. Going from that, I have never wanted to be that much out of control in front of people, and so I have not.

But if someone else wants to drink,  I have no problem with that. I don’t even care if you get drunk, really, so long as you’re smart enough to take some precautions, like designating a driver and all of that.

So, back to the kerfuffle — is it really so awful to advise women (and men, for that matter) to not drink themselves into oblivion? Is it that much different from advising people not to walk in dangerous neighborhoods?

It is no doubt true that women bear the brunt of self-security measures in a ton of situations. We’ve all been told, I’m sure: don’t walk alone at night; keep your keys between your fingers as a potential weapon; park near a streetlight; be aware of your surroundings; etc. Much of the advice comes down to this: Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position. While all of this is applicable to men as well, women are more likely to be attacked, so women tend to think about it more.

I remember when I split an apartment with a friend of mine, a gay man I’d gone to college with. He was just getting comfortable with coming out and being gay, and we lived near a city, which gave him a whole different outlet than the area where we’d gone to college. He was pretty self-involved and self-centered at the time. Once, he was going out to a club and I asked, are you going to come home tonight?

He had a bit of a fit, but he was putting on a bit of a show. I didn’t care whether he came home, or who he went home with, or anything like that. I only wanted to know if he was going to so that I knew whether to put on the door’s chain lock. He didn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s, well, anything (he admitted as much some time later), and so he took it out on me.

The point is, had I been going to a club, I’m sure whether or not to put the chain lock on wouldn’t have crossed his mind. But he was a guy and he had different self-security concerns, I’m sure. I think women think about this a lot more because statistically it’s women who need to be concerned about it.

It’s not fair. Totally unfair. But a lot of things aren’t fair and you deal with them.

So what to do about things like sexual assault? Well, let’s be honest, a lot of it is an uphill battle, because what needs to change is attitudes, on a lot of issues. For all the advances in various rights and such, there is still double standard that a man who sleeps around is a cool stud, and a woman who does is a slut. That’s stupid and wrong, but how many people caution their sons about ruining their reputation in that way? There’s one we need to work on, as I’m sure the episodes in Steubenville, OH, and Maryville, IL, have shown.

We need to work on the perpetrators, too. They are mostly men, but not always. People need to learn at the most basic level that no means no. That getting someone drunk with the intention of having sex with them is wrong.

Sex can be great, let’s not pretend otherwise. It feels good, it can be fun, and funny, and it can bring people closer together. To me it should always be a mutually-desired encounter, whether we’re talking BDSM or something more mainstream.

However, sex can have consequences, like STIs or pregnancy, and there can be emotional consequences a well. So we prepare people for that, don’t we? Use a Pill, use a condom, whatever. If we are willing to tell our sons and daughters to alter their behavior in those ways to protect themselves, why aren’t we more willing to tell them (both) not to get falling-down drunk in bad situations?

That won’t stop rape, of course. Yoffe’s column was addressing a specific subset of the crime — the rape that occurs when women are so drunk they can’t think or make decisions coherently and are often encouraged to do that by predators. If women take responsibility and don’t get drunk in these situations, that will hopefully reduce (but won’t stop entirely, let’s be real) the incidence of assault and rape in those situations.

But nothing will end rape until people face harsh consequences for raping; until victims are not blamed and the perpetrators are, so that victims will bring charges against those who attacked them; until there is a consistent effort across all layers of society to say that this is wrong, and that it’s not “worse” if a rich, white woman is attacked as opposed to a poor minority one.

That’s a whole lot to change, and it will take work, but I hope I can be optimistic.

Advertisements

Oops

It seems I forgot to blog in September. My bad. I can blame this on many things, but I suppose it comes down to two main issues, which are that a) I forgot and b) I must not have had much to say about anything.

Not that I don’t have anything to say. There is plenty going on that I have opinions about, but it often seems useless to voice said opinions. I’ve no wish to get into political bickering with anyone — a debate is one thing, but debates are sorely lacking these days — and although some people get some relief by shouting into the world, regardless of whether anyone hears them, I am not one of those people. If you are going to take the time to read this, I hope I give you something interesting to pass the time.

I did do another interview, and I should have posted the link earlier. Blak Rayne was kind enough to ask questions and post my answers on this blog.

What have I been doing, aside from that? Well. This September, both of my children started school. So now I have some time in the mornings, which I hope to use to write. So far, however, my muse (if I have one) is conspiring against me, as every time I turn around, there seems to be something to do and it needs to be done in the morning. It is  nice, however, to have some kid-free time. I love my kids, but a few hours without “Mommy, can I have/do/see….” is a nice change.

I have not been watching any TV news. I get enough news from the internet and it’s depressing. I don’t need Wolf Blitzer to add to it. And honestly, watching Mr. Blitzer is rather depressing in itself. The only time I had the TV on for news recently was during the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. I used to live there, and still have friends there, so I was concerned. Believe it or not, I miss getting news from television, but it seems to me anymore that there is less news than there are shows with opinions about the news. I’m liberal, but equal opportunity about it — I don’t watch any of the channels.

I have been watching some series television and movies. I love movies. 🙂 For TV, my husband and I watched Broadchurch (careful, there may be spoilers here), from the UK, and which I highly recommend. For us, it was on BBC America. David Tennant was in no way Dr Who, and I mean that in the best way. The rest of it was excellent as well. Then Boardwalk Empire started, and I’m enjoying the season so far. For the fluffier side of things, we have Sleepy Hollow, which I think is suffering from first-year awkwardness but could easily improve, and S.H.I.E.L.D. Since Joss Whedon is involved in the latter, I have faith it will only go up.

For those of you who like little, indie movies, I recommend El Mariachi Gringo, which I stumbled upon last weekend while scanning the HBO On Demand listings. Warning; mariachi music featured heavily. Shawn Ashmore (Iceman from X-Men) plays a directionless young man in Kansas, who finds himself drawn to a mariachi musician and his family, and off to Guadalajara he goes. It’s a sweet, unpredictable movie devoid of explosions, smart-ass dialogue and cliché situations. What a nice change. And the scenery, both in Kansas and Mexico, is lovely.

Books… I have actually read some. Wish I could remember which, and I have more lined up. Never enough time for reading or writing, is there? I’ve just started Capote by Gerald Clarke, upon which the movie of the same name is based. I also watched that recently and again give it a full recommendation. Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazing as Truman Capote.

However, now that it is autumn, and school’s been in session for a month, I intend to blog on a more regular basis, and also to write more. It just remains how to manage that time, and isn’t time management easier said than done?

So thanks for reading, and I aim to give you more to read.

%d bloggers like this: