Well, clearly the world did not end on December 21st, despite all the hooplah. Hopefully my Netflix queue will stop recommending Mayan Apocalypse "documentaries" to me now.
And since the world did not end, it means that I am currently still on a mad hunt for jobs. Having finally graduated from university (after a long five and a half years), I am now among the many thousands of unemployed college graduates across our fine nation. Yippee! So far I make for a fantastic Fine Arts graduate.
This is why I've felt so particularly spiteful towards the GOP lately, who want cuts to so many social safety-net programs. I'm a college graduate who held jobs all through college; but now that I've graduated, I'm relying on unemployment checks and food stamps to be able to pay rent and eat. See, my previous employment was a student only position, which was automatically terminated upon my graduation from the university. I started applying to job in November, when my graduation was December 15th. According to my records, I've applied to nearly forty jobs. I either haven't heard back or been turned down for all of them.
Yet the GOP thinks that the vast majority on social safety-net programs are lazy slackers that simply don't want to work. Really? Because I know that for me state, I have to submit proof of applying to at least two jobs per week. If I don't submit proof of job searching, I don't get my check. It's that simple.
As much as I want to rant and rave about how the GOP and the more conservative Dems infuriate me, I just don't have the energy. I'm moving next week, getting my head scanned (because I've been having seizures. Yay.), and job searching like a maniac. Hopefully someone will hire me soon. I like having somewhere to live and food to eat.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Saturday, December 15, 2012
You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.
It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.
CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.
You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. -Morgan FreemanThe day that the U.S. media stops glorifying violence, is the day we stop the catalyst for these tragedies.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Alas, my thesis is not the only reason I've been away. I will be entering myself into therapy again soon, after being out of the system for about four or five years or so. I've maxed out on my current medication, but my symptoms are reaching the point where they become disruptive to my everyday life.
As I've mentioned in past posts, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and PTSD. I have been able to manage my illnesses with habitual management and minimal medication. However, my medications are losing their effectiveness, and my lifestyle adjustments haven't been adequate to keep symptoms at bay. I have had several panic attacks at work, I'm not sleeping, and have been seriously tempted on more than one occasion to self harm.
But why write this? Why put this out into the ether? I write this because I am familiar enough with my illnesses to know when I can no longer manage on my own. I know when things become too much for me to handle on my own, and I need to seek help. I seek help because I am not ashamed to, I am not afraid to admit that I can't do this by myself. Too many that suffer from mental illness are afraid to seek out the help they need; whether from social stigma or their own personal fears about the mental health system.
It is true that there are bad therapists out there. In too many places, quacks are able to legally advise people that are ill and need real help. I know first-hand how incredibly frustrating it can be to deal with those therapists and counselors that subscribe to dubious practices. It is hard to find a therapist that is right for you, that fits with your goals and meshes well with you. But to me, the benefits far outweigh the negatives once you do find a therapist that fits. I don't honestly don't know how well I would be functioning, or that I would have ever stopped self-harming, had I not worked for so many years with the excellent therapists that I've had.
I know too many people that are afraid to get the help they need. They are afraid of dodgy practices, of being over-medicated, of receiving damaging advice, and so on. These are understandable and legitimate fears. But to me, I would happily risk all of those things, as well as the social stigma that comes with mental illness, if it means I get to go to class, to have my job, and to go out with friends. For me, being able to function, makes therapy worth it.
I write this because too many go without help. I feel that, like with the story of my assault, if I put myself out there and let them know that they are not alone, that they can perhaps find the strength they need to confront their illnesses. It is okay to be afraid, it is okay to be nervous, as long as despite those fears people still get the help they need. Share your fears with your therapist, tell them why you are uncomfortable seeking professional help. It's okay.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
For women, sexual agency is quite a taboo. Sexual agency is most certainly about recognizing what you want from sex and being able to obtain those desired results in the end. However, sexual agency is also about defining what you don't want when it comes to sex. It's bad enough that women have a hard enough time exercising their sexuality because doing so often leads to stigmatizing the behavior as 'wrong', 'shameful', 'dirty', 'slutty', or 'indecent'. Just imagine the kind of backlash that can happen in the bedroom when a woman clearly defines a particular action as 'off limits' (for the time being perhaps) to a partner during their first sexual encounter together!
Well, I can tell you what happened in my case on such an occasion: I put back on my clothes and I left the guys house. "You should blow me," he had said. My head snapped back from his and I just stared in disbelief. "I should what?"
Women are socialized (here in The United States) in a very confusing culture when it comes to issues surrounding sexuality. As Susan J. Douglas puts it in her book The Rise of Enlightened Sexism, "Old-fashioned American prudery has always been an important component of keeping women in their place. So has pornography. A culture that is prudish AND pornographic--how's that for a contradiction to navigate?"
Prudery and pornography can work hand in hand to really do a number on a woman and how she may view her own sexuality. In my personal example from above, it was the particular tone this guy took with me when he suggested what I should do for him. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm far from a prude but when in the middle of foreplay with a completely new lover (even if for just the night), there are certain things that I'm just not going to do. Blow jobs are one of them. "But I have to have a blow job to stay hard," he reassured me. "Listen, I don't feel comfortable doing that. I just don't," I tried to explain. I wasn't really sure why he was so insistant being that he seemed pretty well hard to me at the time and more than able to deliver the goods, if you know what I mean but his demeanor and sense of entitlement to it just made me more and more uneasy. "Listen," I said. "It's not all about you. I am not going to just do whatever you command of me." He countered with, "You just don't like not being the one in control." I had to laugh at this point because to me sex is never about me being in control or my partner being in control but rather it's about the dance. I totally understand that there are sexual dynamics that others enjoy that do involve some kind of give and take of control but, again, sexual agency is knowing and defining your terms and not backing down. Yes, he had specific things he needed to be satisfied but I couldn't meet those terms so I had to gather my clothes, dress and leave. "Wait, what are you doing?" he asked. "I'm leaving. We're not having sex."
I love sex and believe me, up until he uttered those few words, I was ready to fuck his brains out but the tone and manner in which he demanded (it wasn't a polite suggestion or even a polite question) something I wasn't comfortable doing, I was as frigid as an ice cube.
He, of course, tried to change my mind but I just kept saying no and shaking my head. I had made up my mind. "But...well...we could...will you come back?" I finally had had enough, "Listen, I don't know what kind of porn you've been watching but when you have a real, live woman in front of you, you have to remember that I'm not some actress on a screen engaging in a sex act that is often times staged, written and filmed by men. I'm a real woman and am not going to suddenly submit to your every raging desire. Sex is about two people not just about you rubbing one out onto my face." He just rolled his eyes at me which had me fuming. "Go ahead, roll your eyes. You can't stand that I'm not afraid to tell you what I want and what I don't want."
Pornography is a tool and it's also an act. It can be a wonderful way to live out those naughty fantasies that we all have vicariously through others. It is a good resource to find new ways of enjoying sex but it most certainly should not be regarded as reality, especially when jumping into bed with someone new. I think that last point is rarely ever remember by some people. I sincerely think porn often times puts these expectations in (some) guys' heads and when someone snaps them back to reality, they really do seem completely let down.
This is why it's so incredibly vital that we encourage one another to talk about sex; what we like, what we dislike, what we want and most importantly, what we don't want. That last part may be hard because it might end up in you (or someone you know) not getting laid.
I start fall training this week for my security job. A refresher for returning employees and an introduction for the newbies.
I also became a certified instructor in armed assailant and ground self defense, through the FAST Defense program and its founder, Bill Kipp. It was an immense honor working with Bill, and the experience is one I will never forget. I hope I get the opportunity to work with him in the future. The weekend when I did my certification was an exhausting two days, but I got to meet and work with some amazing people and strengthen my bond with my new mentor- Mrs. Pamela Hickey, who taught the self-defense class this past semester. We got to try out Bill's new Predator armor (I even got to get knocked around in it for a bit!), putting the new suit through its paces. The video below shows some of the guys trying out the armor... and finding its weak points!
Trigger Warning below the break for discussion of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault.
Friday, June 22, 2012
As national PRIDE month is slowly drawing to a close and the weekend parades, festivals and get-togethers are coming to a close, I am finding myself slightly torn about the whole thing. On one hand, there is the initial reaction of "Woohoo!" that I have as a bisexual woman involved with my local LGBTQ community; then there is the "Ugh, really?" reaction I have as a bisexual woman reading the obligatory rehashings of 'progress' in LGBTQ rights and community.
I have this reaction due to the nature of the articles that these writers are creating to relay the history of LGBTQ rights and communities and individuals. The articles center around the plights of gay white men, completely whitewashing history. If you knew nothing of LGBTQ history or culture, just based on reading these articles you would most likely think that there were no such thing as LGBTQ women or people of color that made significant contributions to rights progressions and society as a whole.
This is a real shame, given the struggles within the community for decades between white gay men and every other demographic in the community. Progress has been made, and particularly with my generation their is fairly general acceptance of the validity of each person's given sexuality or gender identity. And while I come from a place of relative privilege, I have encountered the frustrating tendency even within my own generation to be casually dismissive of bisexuality and people of color.
Part of this I understand; as in society on the whole, it is white men that hold the power. As such, it is fairly easy when paying lip-service to PRIDE month, that the media look for white men who just so happen to be gay. This makes the national coverage of 'gay holiday' a bit easier to stomach for the general populace. After all, major network television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, How I Met Your Mother and Will & Grace have nearly (if not) exclusively featured white men as their token gay characters.
The problem with the media continuing this pattern during PRIDE month is that it ends up undermining the whole point of PRIDE celebrations to begin with, as well as further cements the pattern of solely acknowledging the dominant group during special recognition time frames. The entire point of PRIDE is to show that no matter how different we may look or act, no matter the differences in lifestyle or political affiliation, we are all human, and we deserve to be treated as such. When the media chooses to only acknowledge the dominant group, it reinforces the power structures that oppressed the group receiving recognition in the first place. When recognizing Black History Month, it is the male leaders that are lauded; for Women's History Month, white women make the headlines.
Obviously, this does not happen 100% of the time, as there are exceptions. But the overwhelming frequency with which the media chooses one kind of face to represent dynamic and complex demographics in social justice movements narrows those movements, undermines them, and reinforces long held prejudices both within and beyond those communities being recognized.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Warning: This post contains triggering content.
It's taken me a long time to finally draft this post. I've been wanting to put it up since May, but to find the words to explain how I feel has been difficult. But, at last, one word finally came to mind, allowing me to write this: peaceful.
This coming fall, it will mark ten years since my rape and assault. And now, ten years after the initial trauma, am I finding the peace in myself to allow me to speak openly and publicly about it. I am becoming a certified self-defense instructor, and I plan on speaking frankly with my future students about my assault.
Ten years of hard work and therapy have brought me this far. But in May, I finally achieved a goal that at one time I never thoughtI could; telling my parents about my assault. The goal was not an easy one to achieve. I searched in vain online for articles to help me prep myself, mentally. I found none. I knew I needed to tell them, for my own peace of mind. While I knew they were aware that some kind of sexual trauma had occurred, I felt a deep need to tell them, in my own words, what had happened and how it had affected me. It was the lack of survivors sharing the experience of "coming out" to their loved ones that was that impetus for this post.
It is my sincere hope that by sharing my experience, others will be able to learn and decide for themselves how and when it is best for them to undertake such a task. I knew I needed to research prior to confronting my parents. The last thing I needed was to be unprepared for that amount of emotional influx and to have my PTSD send my flying off the walls. I am lucky enough to have access to a public outreach center in town that provides psych services at scaled cost (much like planned parenthood). I met with a PTSD specialist to discuss my goals and how to handle my emotions should they start to overcome me.
I also met with the PTSD specialist in order to make sure that I was indeed at a point in my recovery that I could do this without setting back any of the hard work I had put in. The last thing I needed to accidentally do was to undo any of my recovery. The counselor was a dream to work with, and after only a single session she felt that I wAs in a solid enough place mentally to speak to my family without any ill affects. I discussed extensively with her confrontation tactics, best case versus worst case scenarios, and coping mechanisms should things become too triggering and intense for me.
Also vital in this process was the involvement of Significant Other. He was present through the whole thing; from initial conception of the idea, to the final execution. I really truly could not have done it without him, as I very nearly chickened out at the last second. He held my hand (literally) throughout everything and couldn't have been more supportive. His calm support helped keep me calm and resolved.
And that was it. I wrote down what I wanted to say, to ensure that I would say what I wanted/needed to, in the order it needed to be said. I read everything off, listened to my parents' responses and had a brief discussion with them about the whole thing. Afterward, I felt lighter. I wasn't scared anymore, because everything was out in the open. The sensation of calm in my mind was so refreshing and uplifting.
Being able to talk to my parents about my trauma was a goal not easily attained, and it required a decent amount of prep work. As I said before, I sincerely hope that through the sharing of my experiences that I will be able to help other survivors. Doing so also furthers my own catharsis. By speaking out, writing here on this blog, and being hands-on in my crime prevention and self-defense work, I want to reduce the number of women who have to share my experiences, and to empower other survivors.