Monday, November 30, 2015

Why I sympathize with Stoya

This last weekend news hit that Stoya, a famous porn star, had accused her now-ex boyfriend James Deen (another famous porn star) of raping her. In a twitter post she said:

“James Deen held me down and fu@^#$ me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

24 hours later, another porn star, Tori Lux, stated that she had been assaulted by Deen as well. In her recounting of the incident and in response to why she didn't call the police, Lux said, "because people—including the police—tend to believe that sex workers have placed themselves in harm’s way, and therefore can’t be assaulted." And then another woman, Ashley Fires, spoke up, saying "that he has boundary issues, basically that he tries to break women...that he is dangerous.” (He's since been accused by a total of 9 women.)

These situations in the news have been unpleasantly triggering for me. There are a LOT of rape victims out there who didn't stand up for themselves because they didn't think they'd be believed, they were ashamed, or they felt guilty. I know, because I'm one of them. And while I might not be a sex worker, mine and Stoya's experiences share some commonalities.

In 2008, I moved to Seattle, after a partner and I separated. I was raised in a small town with not a lot of exposure to diversity, culture, or alternative lifestyles and was excited to live in "a big city." About a year after moving, I met a nice girl who became a much-needed friend in the city. Making new friends is tough and I was grateful for her kindness. I was also fascinated by a sub-culture she was a part of that I knew nothing about. This friend was part of Seattle's kink community (you read 50 Shades, right?). In our time as friends, I met a lot of really interesting, genuinely nice people. I also met a few predators who used the wave of sex-positivity in Seattle to do damage to naive me.

In 2011 I met a handsome, successful, charming man who was also a part of this community. I trusted him enough to go to his house. I trusted him enough to go in his bedroom. I had no intention of having sex with him. We kissed. His hands went a few places. And, when I pulled away because I didn't want to go any further, he grabbed my hair and pushed me down onto the bed. I told him to stop. He didn't stop. I said no. He didn't listen. He held me down, called me terrible names, and punched me until 30% of my body was black and blue while he raped me. When I was frozen with fear and humiliated, he smiled and took a picture.

Here's where it gets really gray: I froze. When it finally occurred to me that he wasn't stopping and something terrible was about to happen, I just froze. I felt guilty about that for a lot of years - like it was my fault - like, because I didn't kick and scream, it wasn't rape. I didn't understand that freezing during trauma is a physiological coping response. Here's a great article explaining what happens to the brain during a traumatic experience and why some people (particularly rape victims) freeze.

I said no. So did Stoya. I asked him to stop. So did Stoya. And I willingly went into the bedroom of a man I knew. So did Stoya.

My roommate was home when I got home that night. I went straight to my room and didn't come out for 2 days. I showered a dozen times. I couldn't touch my bruised skin without crying and feeling like I was going to vomit. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I finally told a longtime friend, Ray, who came and coaxed me out of "hiding."

I didn't call the cops because I didn't think anyone would believe me. Everyone would have said I invited it. I knew he was kinky. I went into his bedroom. I was wearing a shirt that showed a little extra that night. A lot of people would say I was asking for it. A lot of people will probably say Stoya was asking for it. Those people are part of the problem.

My story doesn't end with that night. I was raped again...5 days later. I'd been seeing someone non-exclusively, that year. I thought he was a friend, someone I could trust and confide in. 5 days after I was raped, "John" called, worried, because he hadn't heard from me and I hadn't responded to any of his texts. I told him I didn't want to see anyone, that something had happened and I just needed time to process it. He asked me to come over because he was concerned. I went. I showed him what was left of the bruises and told him what happened. I cried again. He kissed my cheeks and held me. Then he started undoing my top. I told him I didn't want to. He shushed me and told me it was okay, placating me like I was a child. "John" raped me again and I just went numb. I learned later, in therapy, that this is called dissociation - where the mind can't deal with the trauma that's happening so, unlike freezing where you're present but frozen, your brain literally checks out. That's what I did. I checked out. He finished. I left. We didn't really talk after that. And once again, I didn't call the cops. This time, it was because he was a well known defense attorney. I knew better. I know how men and power in our society works and I wasn't about to bring that storm into my life. Instead, I tried to continue on with life like nothing had happened to me. And my life fell apart. I fell apart. A year after that, I moved away. I left Seattle and moved to Kitsap, met nice people, got a cute little house with an alarm system and dead bolt on my bedroom door, and I started therapy.

I've had a LOT of therapy in the years since. I also ruined a lot of relationships because I just wasn't an emotionally well person for a long time. I've been a terrible employee in a couple of jobs because I couldn't deal with male authority (although, I had one male boss who knew and was pivotal in getting me into therapy). I'm grateful for friends who were there for me when I was really ugly and manic. It took a long time to be something of a normal human being again. Here's the thing:

You never really "get well." It's always there. You're always triggered. You'll always be a little sad, a little jumpy, a lot suspicious. With very few people being the exception, I really don't like to be touched. But I finally don't deadbolt my bedroom door anymore. Most of the time, I feel safe again.

Rape effects EVERY part of your life. It's tough to talk, not talk, sleep, eat, communicate, spend time with family and friends, trust anyone at all, feel joy, sustain any kind of meaningful relationship. I don't wish it upon anyone.

Stoya and Tori Lux: I am SO sorry for what happened to you. I am SO sorry for what happened to me. I'm so sorry we still live in a society where some people assume that, just because I kiss you, I've given consent for you to do whatever you want to me. I'm SO sorry that we live in a society where men see women as objects or as something of less value than them; where some people in this world enjoy doing harm to others. I'm SO sorry that, unless we're kicking and screaming and fighting a man off of us, it's not considered rape. We shouldn't have to live in that kind of society. 

Why do I tell this story now, years later? I've never told anyone exactly what happened (and even this is a very truncated version). I shouldn't have to hide it. It's not my fault. It's NEVER the victim's fault.

"A man in a room full of 100 women is excited. A woman in a room full of 100 men is terrified."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Have a seat. Snuggle up.

This is way to creepy for me to be okay with it:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Benevolent Sexism. It's so darn friendly!

This article was written by Melanie Tannenbaum in Scientific American and I LOVE IT.

The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly…

Something can’t actually be sexist if it’s really, really nice, right?
I mean, if someone compliments me on my looks or my cooking, that’s not sexist. That’s awesome! I should be thrilled that I’m being noticed for something positive!
Yet there are many comments that, while seemingly complimentary, somehow still feel wrong. These comments may focus on an author’s appearance rather than the content of her writing, or mention how surprising it is that she’s a woman, being that her field is mostly filled with men. Even though these remarks can sometimes feel good to hear – and no one is denying that this type of comment can feel good, especially in the right context – they can also cause a feeling of unease, particularly when one is in the position of trying to draw attention towards her work rather than personal qualities like her gender or appearance.
In social psychology, these seemingly-positive-yet-still-somewhat-unsettling comments and behaviors have a name: Benevolent Sexism. Although it is tempting to brush this experience off as an overreaction to compliments or a misunderstanding of benign intent, benevolent sexism is both real and insidiously dangerous.
What Is Benevolent Sexism?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Humanity shows its ugly face on the ferry

This actually just happened:

Couple #1:

Guy (in cliche trenchcoat) - I'm not going to watch the Labyrinth, if that's what you mean. I can't do it.
Girl - But it's SO. GOOD.
Guy - Or the Dark Crystal. I just can't do it.
Girl - What? Why not!??!
Guy - It's muppets. They freak me out. it's like some bizarre expose of human life.

Meanwhile, couple #2 (who's standing RIGHT NEXT TO COUPLE 1):

Guy: I feel like humanity is mocking itself.
Girl: I know riiiight?

Oh man. This kind of shit is why I don't do drugs.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Beef Island

One of the islands in the British Virgin Islands is called Beef Island. Really.

Flights to the land of beef are less than $700 roundtrip right now. This makes me want to, once again, jump into questionable territory for the sake of a good story.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This is what happens when you stop eating food...

Song for this post: "Can't Hold Us" ~ Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

I've been pretty MIA since around Christmas both online and off. It was necessary given the decision I had made about the direction my life and my health were headed. And now that I'm on my last week I'll fill you all in on what the last 2 months has been about for me:

I haven't chewed food since Christmas.

I'm not joking.

I made the decision in December to do a 30 day juice cleanse. I'd spent a lot of time being really unhealthy. Emotional trauma had lent itself to using food as comfort. I wasn't just eating too much, I was eating the wrong things and it had taken a toll on my body. I was tired, irritable, my skin was dull, my muscles hurt...I just wasn't a well person.

I'd thought about eating "clean" for a long time and, after a few forays into vegetarianism, I knew I wanted to go that direction. Something just HAD to change and I knew I wouldn't stick with it unless I reset my whole body...and my life. I decided juice cleansing was the right choice for me. I'm a HUGE advocate of the Gerson method so juicing made sense for me as a way to kick start such a huge change.

Many of you have heard about juice cleansing. Some of you have heard nightmare stories about what an awful experience it was. I don't know about other people but, for me, it was fantastic and I'll definitely be doing it again. I loved it so much that when I hit my 30 day mark, I decided to keep going.

Today is day 43. I'm on my last week of a 50 day goal. Today also marks the first time I've eaten solid food. Let me explain how it is that I have one week left but I ate solid food:

When you're juice fasting, you pretty much give your digestive system a break. So, when you complete a fast, it takes some time to get your body used to digesting food again. To come off of this properly, I'm mixing soft fruits and vegetables in with my daily juicing for this last week. I want to transition slowly and healthily so my body can reap the most benefits from this experience.

What are the benefits? It's pretty simple and comes in 2 parts:

Friday, December 7, 2012

i am an emotional creature

Here’s what you will be told:

Find a man
Seek protection
The world is scary
Don’t go out
You are weak
Don’t care so much
They’re only animals
Don’t be so intense
Don’t cry so much
You can’t trust anyone
Don’t talk to strangers
People will take advantage of you
Close your legs
Girls aren’t good with:
Making difficult decisions
Lifting things
Putting things together
International news
Flying planes
Being in charge.
If he rapes you, surrender,
You will get killed trying to defend yourself
Don’t travel alone
You are nothing without a man
Don’t make the first move,
Wait for him to notice you
Don’t be too loud
Follow the crowd
Obey the laws
Don’t know too much
Tone it down
Find someone rich
It’s how you look that matters,
Not what you think.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh God I Can't Handle It!

It's just possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen, EVER.

^^Do you see him petting the kitty?!?!? Do you?!?! Gah! I can't handle it!!!

I know. Relax. Even though right now I'm telling myself, "I WANT A PET RACCOON!!!" I realize this is a totally unreasonable idea.

I mean...they could be house trainable.....


Oh! But that reminds me: I do have a pet raccoon. Sort of. I mean, it lives outside with the tailless squirrel who lives in my tree. Guillermo (that's the raccoon's name) scared the shit out of my best friend when she was housesitting for me. I guess she took my trash out for me (I know right?!?!? She's just lovely) and it reared up and charged at her.

Obviously NOT a raccoon I raised. If I had raised him, he would have had much better manners...Spanish Dignitary manners...Espanoles Dignitario.

"El Dignitario Espanol es muy educado!"

"Si! Estoy muy impresionado! Y un bailarĂ­n experto!

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why doesn't MTV play music videos anymore?

In this installment of "Ask A Network Head," Natalie asks the head of programming at MTV why they stopped playing music videos. And gets a fun answer! Yay!

In other news, there's a digital sign above the loading dock of the ferry I take to and from work every day. It says, "vessel loading" but, for some reason, I always see, "Fear & Loathing."

Things are consistently better and more interesting in my world.

And with that, another Alice in Wonderland reference:

Clearly I've surrounded myself with the right kind of people

Click screenshots to enlarge

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Seattle continues to be witty and irreverent

Saw this ad today in downtown Seattle on my way to my bank:

My city cracks me up. Way to maximize current affairs for advertising, Roku! 

In other news, I continue to adore the company I work for. Tonight we hosted a networking event up in Bothell with a certain member company that's doing cutting edge high-performance computing software. There was local beer, trivia, snacks, and a kick-ass photo booth that we took FULL advantage of.

I know. We look STUPIDLY happy. And we are. That's how much I love my job. These girls are the bee's.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Side effects may include...

Song for this post: "I Ain't Mad At Cha" ~ 2Pac

Aren't we all so glad the election is over? Aren't we all so glad I'm going to be blatantly irreverent again?

It's okay. Me too. Thanks for hangin' in there with me guys. It was tough. Hey! How about some awesome mid-week gangsta rap with some smooth-ass R&B mixed in?

Today I went to get my vaccinations for the upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, which I like to call "Drunk on our faces in the lawn while our security guard fishes our pants out of the pool" trip.

Needles hurt! I mean, I knew this. But really. I didn't KNOW this. I got vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and a prescription for anti-malaria pills. So basically, I'm now bionic and potentially light up under black lights. I'm the life of the party.

Just a little while ago I was emailing a friend about it and preening about how my arms didn't hurt at all.

I guess that just makes me a great big liar.


On the up side, I look exceptionally Popeye-ish right now. Suuuuuuper buff.

So, I don't know if I ever told you guys this but I'm irrationally phobic about parasites. So bad, in fact, that I was able to dissect a pig in high school but not a worm. The worm was so disturbing to me I had to leave the room...and I cried. So disturbing that even typing the word now makes me want to vomit in my nose.

So clearly, I had to ask my doctor about the safeties of 3rd world countries and if she would just prescribe me a few rounds of charcoal pills now, you know, just in case.

There was a noticeable pause in the conversation and she just kind of looked at me blankly. I'm assuming it's because she was processing the genius of my forethought.

Immediately after that she said she was required to have me complete a survey on mental health because it's just something they do now with everyone, every visit.

I'm insisting assuming the two situations are mutually exclusive.

Lastly, I've seen posters in medical offices about proper methods of hand washing. But never have I seen one about hand RUBBING.

I feel like this should be given to teenage boys.

And this, because it's been a while...and I miss Weeds.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Listen to your elders, people.

Listen to your elders, people. They have a WEALTH of knowledge to share: