I Love You

I Love You

You told me you loved me
in Seattle, Washington just after
midnight. And I told you I loved you back,
just after midnight.

Leaves littered the streets where raindrops
usually lie on their backs, gazing up at stars
that usually aren’t there. But they were on this
night, repeating themselves, a spangled refrain.

I love you! Three words
hold so much power. A
boy pulling a little girl’s braids in class,
your boss curling her sadist lips, announcing
You’re fired!

Rape Culture, Feminism, Women, Men & the Internet.

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The other day, I confessed to my boyfriend that I was concerned when I first met him, that he wouldn’t see me as ‘girlfriend material’ because admittedly, we’d slept together on the first date. I am aware there’s a popular opinion that girls who ‘give it away’ too quickly are seen by some men as “less” than girls who wait. I told him I don’t see it that way: the way I see sexual chemistry is, as a series of moments. And if, in the moment, you are feeling like you want to engage the sexual parts of yourselves, then by all means you should be able to. I told him I was just doing what I felt was right for us and but I still had hoped he wouldn’t see me as someone not to be taken seriously.

He told me this: that men who believe some girls are ‘worth waiting for’ and some aren’t, is a terrible thing for men to say, because it places them in the position of saying that a woman’s worth is measured by him. That, as the man, he gets to decide that some girls have worth to him, and some don’t. He agreed with me: that if you enjoy each other’s company and both people are consenting to be a part of that moment, that moment can and should happen without and judgment.

The reason this meant so much to me is that it reassured me of two things: one, that I had nothing to be ashamed of in terms of adult choices I have made about my own sexuality; and two, that there are really good MEN out there (not BOYS, but MEN) who don’t measure a woman’s worth by their own desires and their own beliefs about how women ‘should’ behave; they simply see people they like or don’t like, as people. This to me, is a very progressive and feminist attitude that I was proud and happy to say my boyfriend possesses.

I know women who are so down on men. They have been burned before by men – countless numbers of times. I have been burned in the cruelest ways possible and I know so many girls who have dealt with the same disrespect. I know girls who have seen the worst in men, had men do things to them that if mentioned, would make your blood run cold. After my first-ever devastating heartbreak I remember just how much I hated men, and I remembered just how much I hated myself in return. Lorena Bobbitt had suddenly become my hero. I believed all men were only after themselves and I never thought I’d hear a man tell me he loved me or witness a man treat me with any ounce of respect. I was done for. Love was dead and if men were going to treat me like shit I was going to treat them, and me, like shit to protect myself. I’m guilty of that. I’m guilty of man-hating. I’m guilty of believing men want a sweet piece of ass and that’s it. And for this, I am deeply sorry.

The internet has exploded so many times this past year – NFL scandals, the plight of Jain Ghomeshi, and several social media accounts such as this one on instagram that publicly shames men who believe women owe them something or else those same women are selfish stuck-up bitches. With all these (VERY justified) portrayals of men in the media, on social media, and spreading like wildfire, it’s easy to forget the underlying message of feminism: that it is NOT about ‘man-hating’; rather, it is about equality. And it is ultimately equality between men and women which will stomp out the Jian Ghomeshis and Stuebenville football players and ‘Felipes’ of the world. Emma Watson’s UN speech so eloquently pointed to this and thus, the short-lived He-for-She movement was born. But as soon as some other incident which prompted the finger pointed at all men once again, that friendlier, purer version of feminism was closed and the man-hating, all-men-are-assholes book of feminism was reopened once again.

Do I believe men are assholes? Yes. I do. I know men in my life who agree that there are fewer ‘good guys’ out there than there are ‘good girls’. And do I believe this is true? Based on my own dating life, my experiences as an abuse survivor, and the experiences of my friends on the dating scene, yes, I do. HOWEVER… is it also possible that women can be awful to men as well, and that the way we treat one another speaks to what else in our 21st century social-emotional world is broken? Open halls of personal communication for example; or how about too many outlets to look deeply into the ‘good parts’ of others’ lives and relationships and feel inadequate, jealous, or worse, unworthy of having the good things our peers, celebrities and politicians have? Or what about the fact that we all carry cell phones so we have excuses as well as easy ways to ignore one another right in our pockets? Technology, 21st century living, and even consumerism and body image portrayals are all contributing to our own fears, inadequacies and/or feelings of entitlement as men and women. The WORLD is not necessarily a great platform on which to place how men and women ‘should’ behave anymore. Society creates rape culture. Both men and women are victims of it. That’s what I believe.

I will admit I’m saying this in part because I have a man in my life who is far from the ‘entitled rapist’ that characterizes 21st century males out there. I will admit I’m saying this because when one is suddenly happy and in love, she sees men differently than she does when she is a spurned lover. But having laid these disclaimers on the table, I will say I’m sick of the negativity surrounding the male gender. I’m sick of the view that all men believe they are ‘owed’ sex because they bother to compliment a woman. Just as I am aware of pickup artists, pickup gangs, high school boys sending snap chats of their naked girlfriends to everyone in their school without considering the consequences, and so on and so forth. These issues are issues, but being positive about where we are going and how we as men and women relate to one another seems more productive than man-hating and man-shaming. Women can be powerful without being bullies. If women can only feel empowered by bullying the opposite sex, are we not contributing just as much to rape culture? Stop it, ladies. Not ALL men are cold-hearted bastards, k?

“A Letter to My Future Husband”, from c. 2011

Hey there!

It’s me! Sometimes I feel like I never want to meet you… sometimes I am repulsed by the mere thought of you. Sometimes I feel as though if we never met, I wouldn’t care. But… other times, I hear a love song and I get sentimental about you, despite that we’ve never ever encountered one another. In all honesty, I WILL, much to my dismay, probably meet you somewhere sometime. And when we kiss, I will compare you with him (I’m wired to – I’m sorry!), and you will slowly grow on me. You will remind me of how I felt as a small child and I would gaze out at evenings and wish on stars for everything, and I will remember when my mom got me the grad dress I dreamed of and I was beyond ecstatic. Beyond. Gradually, and healthily, you will enter under the wire, and I will realize what I love about everything. I will become the person I fucking hate. But… then, I’ll be ready to handle you. I’ll feel liberated, elated, overjoyed, thrilled, and absolutely everything. You will be comically tall; you will be jovial and friendly and witty and we’ll watch Extras together and we’ll go on hikes, we’ll swat the mosquitoes from each other’s backs and hair and we’ll laugh and smirk and sometimes judge people and read books and go to every Wilco concert ever. And one day, we will be sitting under a willow tree and presto – you and I will magically look at each other and you will ask me to marry you. I will say yes. And our first dance will be to one of the following songs: “Yellow” by Coldplay, “When the Stars Go Blue” by Ryan Adams, “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel or “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. It will be of course, the biggest decision of our wedding, the music. We will debate about it forever, but you and I will find the perfect choice. You will be there for me through it all, though not always in body. You will love my mom and my friends and they will loe you back and together, we will be just a perect, ideal couple. Our wedding will be the greatest day. I’ll get pleasantly shitwrecked and you’ll go out and smoke cigars with your friends. I’ll be so glad – so glad – I made whatever decision it was I made that allowed me to meet you. Because to me, you will be perect, and you alway will be. Where are you now? I don’t know you yet, or care. It’s not our time yet. But when it is, I’ll know. And so will you. Maybe I’m the girl of your dreams. You’ll know from the start, too. You will take me on a date one day and it will be perfect – exactly what I would have picked for us. And I’ll be in touched disbelief. We’ll listen to Wilco and Ryan Adams in the car. We’ll watch shooting stars on the beach. You’ll make fun of me and I’ll fight back. It will be the absolute greatest. I can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

M

How to Tell a Girl You Love Her.

Step 1: By treating her with dignity; by choosing the right time, when you’re both light and airy, when things are at their very best and both of you feel invincible – impervious to pain, invincible, stronger because you’re standing in each other’s mingling shadows. By choosing the moment by which to measure all moments: when the stars align, when fog passes gently over the black Washington sky, when leaves are crisp and blow in mystical whirlwinds and land and gather in gutters; and you’re nestled in the quiet streets of Belltown.

Step 2: By taking her hand tightly and holding it, so you’re warming her chilly fingertips.

Step 3: By looking into her eyes – right in – so that she can see how deep you’re searching inside of her – so that she knows he can see every artery and vein and ventricle of your heart and every space in between.

Step 4: By saying the words, simply and poignantly, so they leave her spellbound, so they leave you full from giving something away, rather than empty.

Things I Miss About Edmonton.

O’Byrnes Irish Pub. 

What is still one of my favourite bars in all the world (including bars I’ve been to in New York, San Francisco, my own Vancouver, Seattle, Vegas, etc. etc. etc.) not for any one particular reason, but for all the reasons your neighbourhood pub is irreplaceable:good food, fond memories, friendly random strangers, a great patio, the best music, and many, many, many amazing drunken nights. Plus where else on the planet can you sit down and pour your own pints of Guinness?

Rexall Place

Luckily, Oilers fans have a hub here in Vancouver in the form of the Black Frog, where Edmonton fandom runs rabid and bleeds copper and blue. Even so, nothing compares to actually attending a game in Edmonton at the outdated, Stanley Cup banner-laden arena and drinking Rexall beer and eating slices of Boston Pizza pizza. When the Oilers win a game, the LRT rides home are loud with drunk fans yelling “WE WANT THE CUP!” even though we all know that’s not actually going to happen, and if they lose, you’re commiserating with good company who all understand the painful sting of Oilers losses. There’s nothing like it.

Alley Kat Beer

A trip back to Alberta wouldn’t be a trip back to Alberta without Aprikat and Main Squeeze. And remember when they had that seasonal cranberry ginger beer? Alley Kat is craft beer.

Sunsets From High Level Bridge

Sunsets in Vancouver are indeed nearly as stunning as prairie sunsets. But I can remember the first time I saw one, from my friend’s window in residence. Her entire room turned this bright, vibrant shade of marmalade and beams of light shone through the window. Every cliche crossed my mind when I saw that sunset. Every cliche crosses my mind with every prairie sunset.

Dadeo

When you want a food coma, there is nothing else that satisfies like a po’boy and sweet potato fries. And if you can fit in the bananas foster after, you’ve not only experienced the quintessential Edmonton food coma, but you’ve experienced southern comfort culinary perfection.

Summertime Whyte Avenue Walks

The first sign of summer in Edmonton is when you walk down Whyte Avenue and it’s so full of people, you have to weave your way through the throngs of Edmontonians who are so happy that it’s not -40 anymore. There’s ice cream and patios and sandwiches and late-night tacos and teeny tiny little clubs with one disco ball hanging from the ceiling where you’ll have the most fun you’ll ever have. The whole neighbourhood, the whole city, just lifts. It’s wonderful.

Mourning the Loss of Trusting Someone.

I have a lot to say about Jian Ghomeshi this week. A lot. I am in awe of the developments in this story, as it resonates with me personally, and it resonates with me as a woman, and a huge media fan.

I almost saw Ghomeshi speak live and launch his (apparently terrible) book, 1982. I would have been ecstatic. However, I was heading to New York City that month and I had to move my trip forward a couple of weeks, to the same weekend as Ghomeshi’s Edmonton talk. In retrospect, I’m grateful for this unhappy coincidence, as it saved me from being even more confused, saddened and conflicted seeing someone I loved, admired and respected under scrutiny, guilty of something I am sure they did, something that rings true and deeply with me, and something that is frankly appalling and disturbing – and I don’t even mean just the acts themselves, but the image of Ghomeshi himself doing them.

Imagine what it’s like to be a fan of Ghomeshi’s, be in awe that he has reached out to you personally and invites you to spend time with him – you – an ordinary, star-struck fan of his work. Imagine going there, anticipating at the very least, an exciting and juicy story to tell your friends, and at best, the claim to fame that you’re dating the handsome, witty, smart Jian Ghomeshi. And then the unthinkable, unfathomable happens. And then you walk away knowing it’s you, the fan girl who showed up at a famous figure’s home, versus the powerful Canadian famous media giant that everyone loves, including you. So you walk away. And you might think, “I trusted him…”

So many people, adults and children, are placed into positions where trust is abused by a prominent and powerful person – even if that person is simply an authority because they’re older and bigger, or because they have made you feel like you’re small and unimportant. And once you’ve been abused by them in this intimidate, sick disgusting, violating manner, trust and respect are gone. They can never be reconciled. Sometimes the worst happens and other people in similar roles in those people’s lives are subject to that burden of mistrust and mourning. It hurts so badly that it’s maddening. Unless you’ve been so beaten down, so betrayed, and had so many pieces of yourself – who you were before, and after – this terrible betrayal and violation of trust, you could never understand the void it leaves. Sometimes it takes years to fill. Sometimes the only thing to do is accept that it won’t ever truly be filled and the only way to get past that is to move forward and ignore the void. It will come back occasionally, like now, when reading about Jian Ghomeshi and the fact that it took more than four women to come forward before anyone would trust these women and not the person who betrayed their trust this way. And then it will go away like a passing rainstorm. But the sidewalks are still damp, the windows still streaked.

Mourning the loss of trust is intangible and mixed up and you question and question and question how you could be so stupid, how could you be blind, how could you let yourself be placed into positions that allow you to be taken advantage of, how you could believe someone. That mistrusts takes from you when it causes you to pool with ugly sinister guilt. A part of the process of grieving over this loss is over time, realizing it’s not your faultIt has never been, never will be, and never could be your fault. Because trusting someone is not a reason to be taken advantage of. Trusting that you will be taken care of in the hands of someone you trust is never a mistake. The mistake is on the part of those who abuse that.

Losing that trust will render you scared of trusting everyone – everyone who is in charge of the legal system, every adult you might tell your story to, everyone who will ever ask you, “Why didn’t you say anything?”, and everyone who will take the fibres of your being, frayed and repaired over and over again, and try and rip them behind your back. You will grieve and mourn and even as time goes by, it may still hurt from time to time. Like now.

When not reporting a rape seems like a sensible option

M:

This rings so true for all survivors.

Originally posted on Another angry woman:

Trigger warning for rape and systemic abuse of rape survivors

Some years ago, I was raped. I never reported it.

I am not alone: the vast majority of rapes are not reported to the police. Some estimates suggest up to 95% of rapes are unreported. The thing is, a lot of the time, not reporting a rape seems like a sensible option.

When a woman reports a rape, forensic evidence is gathered using a rape kit. This procedure is highly invasive, consisting of a full, intimate physical examination and sampling from parts of the body which have only recently been violated. It is highly understandable that many survivors would not want to subject themselves to this intrusive procedure following a traumatic experience. There is also questioning, sometimes with an insensitive or disbelieving tone from the police. Between half to two thirds of rape cases never make it past…

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