Teach Boys Not To Rape

Audrie Pott

Audrie Pott

It has not been long since the Steubenville Ohio rape case, and unfortunately two other rape cases have come out with similar scenarios but have ended in death.

Tragically, Audrie Pott,  a fifteen year old girl from California hanged herself after being sexually assaulted by three boys.

Not too long ago, Rehtaeh Parsons  a seventeen year old Canadian girl also hanged herself after being sexually assaulted by four boys.

 

This story is repeating itself over and over again and it has to stop. We need to teach boys not to rape. We need to teach

Rehtaeh Parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons

boys to respect women. Just like we hold women morally responsible for their sexuality, we need to make men accountable for their sexuality as well. Women should not bear the burden of worrying about what to do to not get raped. The victim should not feel shame the rapist should. These boys in all three cases behaved like beasts, like wild animals in the jungle.

As a woman I should not expect to be raped or sexually assaulted. I should not have to tell my future daughters to expect to be violated by men. We as women have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, living in fear of getting raped or sexually assaulted takes that right away from us. I am calling for justice for Rehtaeh, Audrie, the women in the Congo, and the women sold into sexual slavery every day. They deserve justice.

For any woman who has been sexually assaulted suicide is not the answer. There is life after being raped, there is happiness and there is a future filled with hope.

If you have been raped there is help available for you

National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE

http://www.rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline

Sexual Assault/ Abuse Does Not Define You

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As most of you know from my previous blog post and tweets, I have been closely following the Steubenville Ohio Rape case.

Both boys, Trent Mays and Mailik Richmond, were found guilty. And the punishment fits the crime: [They]will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, and both will be labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

In spite of all the ugliness surrounding this case, the victim’s mother conveyed a message of hope when she addressed Richmond and Mays at the end of the trial: “This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on.  Her mother could not have said it any better. This is a message of hope for her daughter and millions of women around the world who have been raped, or sexually abused.

Sexual assault/abuse does not define you.

When someone violates you sexually, that can be hard to heal from.  Take your hurt, your pain, your shame and do something great with it, gather strength from it and move on.

I also what to extend this message to women who have chosen sex work, stripping, who have pursued a promiscuous lifestyle, or have experienced the heart ache of being used and dumped by a man like a Kleenex:

What you do or do not do with a penis, or what a man does to you, do not define who you are.

Live Well and Live Now: An Old Year Reflection

This past year I lived in a dark space chanting the same old, tired mantra:

Woe is I, I am in my mid-twenties, unemployed and then underemployed with a big masters degree and have no boyfriend or any prospects of marriage. 😦 And I live at home with my parents.

My attitude stank: whining, complaining and ungratefulness.

But I have been thinking, reflecting, reading, praying and observing others living out their lives, and I realized that it is possible, yes possible to live well wherever you are.

We are all waiting for something: love, marriage, adventure, a better job, more money, friendship etc. But in the waiting, we can live now and live well.

I am determined to make my life in the lack, the need, the smallness, and the want. To carve out something beautiful and satisfying.

Happy New Year! May you be surprised by joy and find happiness in the unexpected.

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Who told her that it was better to be a freak than what she was?

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Someone once told me that if I had green eyes, I would be more beautiful.

I was shocked and puzzled by his comment.  Aren’t brown eyes beautiful? Aren’t they as beautiful as green eyes?

But everyday, I see this pursuit of white beauty. I meet countless black women with store bought eyes, ranging from hazel, to grey, to green and to blue.

I turn on the television and I am inundated with high-profile black women who look like whitewashed versions of their former selves.

Now, I don’t have an issue with anyone wanting to change their appearance and try a new look. But often times these women undergo radical changes to their appearance. Suddenly they were ‘born’ with green or hazel eyes. Blonde appears to be their go-to hair colour. Their skin looks shades lighter than when they first started their careers and their noses become more hooked and narrow than flat. To name a few: Beyonce, Keri Hilson, Rihanna, Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and the list goes on. At times the transformation is almost freakish, unnatural and alien-like.

Toni Morrison, in her novel, The Bluest Eye, shows how society and the family impact a black woman’s view of beauty and her belief that if she possesses a white feature that she will be seen as beautiful. In the afterword of the novel Morrison states: “Implicit in her desire [for blue eyes] was racial self-loathing. And twenty years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. ”

Too often I hear the mantras: “black is beautiful” and “black pride.” But when we alter our appearance so drastically that we erase our blackness, how can we say that we are black, proud and beautiful?

Morrison goes on to pose a powerful and still relevant question:

“ Who told her that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?”

The answers to these questions are varied and at times painful.  They may begin with a stray remark a mother makes about her child’s hair. Or that we do not see ourselves on the television or in magazines or in Disney fairy tales  How everyone fusses over the girl or woman with the European features. Maybe at school we are bullied because of our appearance. Or we are told that our success in a certain industry requires a certain look .

The overarching message we receive is that black women are deficient in beauty. And in our quest to possess a beauty that  is not our own, we twist and pull, sculpt and carve, until we are neither black nor white,but distorted  versions of the furthest thing from ourselves. Sadly, we fail to enjoy and experience our own beauty.

Beauty and Brains.

Scandal’s Olivia Pope is exquisite. Sexy and smart all mixed into one powerful woman. Here is a list of why I love her:

  1. Olivia Pope does not use her appearance as a weapon. Kerry Washington plays the beautiful Olivia Pope.  But Olivia is not just her looks. She is always professionally clad.  Only a sliver of her skin ever shows, but she doesn’t need to use her body to command attention. As a politically-savy lawyer, she rubs shoulders with some of the most powerful people in the US government. Dictators, senators, reverends and CEOs seek her crisis management skills.
  1. Olivia Pope is no Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy). They both have romantic relationships with their bosses. However, Olivia Pope doesn’t choose the man: she chooses herself, her integrity and her career. After her breakup, she doesn’t medicate herself by spending countless nights hanging around a bar waiting for some man to pick her up. instead, she focuses all her energy into her career.
  1. Olivia Pope is at the center of the narrative. Currently, there aren’t any  shows on a major network like ABC  featuring a black woman as the lead of a drama. Kerry Washington’s portrayal of Olivia Pope is compelling. Her character is complex. She is a crisis management guru struggling with her feelings for the most powerful man in America. Olivia manages  a band of employees with colourful pasts which forces the viewer to question whether  Olivia is charitable or simply the ring leader of a band of criminals.
  1. Olivia Pope does not play into any of the stereotypes that float around about black women. Olivia is not a black American she is an American. She doesn’t speak Ebonics, she is not loud, her name is normal, she’s not overweight, nor is she overly religious and she does not play into the hypersexual stereotype of black women. And she is wanted and lusted after by the most powerful man in America. Olivia Pope leaves the stereotypes in the dust.
  1. Olivia Pope is not just a black woman, she is a woman. Shonda Rhimes does an excellent job of leveling the playing field for shows that have black women as the lead. As the lead, Olivia is relatable. Every woman can relate to Olivia Pope. She is vulnerable, funny, rational,emotional, and ambitious.. This is how I want to be perceived: not as a black woman but as a woman.  Before I am black, I am a woman. I give Scandal’s Olivia Pope the 3 B’s of approval: black, brains and beauty.

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Don’t be a Meredith Grey but try to have her luck.

I’m only now just discovering the Grey’s Anatomy phenomena. I can admit that I am now a Grey’s Anatomy zob. I don’t admire Ellen Pompeo’s (the actor that plays Meredith Grey) acting but I admit that I am jealous of Meredith Grey’s luck.  Meredith Grey is supposed to be a dark and twisted tall, skinny blonde (sounds like a drink one buys at a bar). She has daddy issues, mommy issues and abandonment issues. This tall skinny blonde ends up having a one night stand and is lucky enough to have it with a neurosurgeon. Not only is he a neurosurgeon but he is FINE, FINE, FINE.

Turns out this neurosurgeon happens to be Meredith’s superior at work, and their romp in the sack was so good that he has to have more.  He has to get to know Meredith more. In fact all the guys at work seem to think that Meredith Grey is hot stuff. Even in scrubs she still manages to get hit on by her patients. 

Meredith Grey’s one night stand turns out to be her knight in shining armor, her prince charming who leaves his wife and marries her. “McDreamy “as he is nicknamed in the show is able to ignore Meredith’s commitment issues and turns his cheek to her promiscuity. He lovingly takes this damaged woman into his heart, into his strong, safe arms and willingly tries to repair her. The brain doctor ends up with the skinny blonde; it’s what fairy tales are made of.

Let’s recap Meredith’s luck, shall we. Meredith Grey, a single, tall, skinny blonde, with a dark and twisted personality has a one night stand with a neurosurgeon.  This neurosurgeon happens to be one of Meredith’s bosses and Meredith is favored by him at work. In the end the super-rich neurosurgeon marries Meredith and they live happily ever after.

In reality, having a life like Meredith Grey would leave one feeling, well, grey. Years of bringing home random men from the bar would have written its story across her face. She would probably take up smoking or drinking to deal with the effects of sleeping with multiple random strangers. Smoking would cause vertical wrinkles to form around her mouth and the chronic drinking would cause her to have a puffy face. So at the bar she would be a wrinkled, puffy faced, smoker in her 30’s. She would not be able to trust men because they hardly ever called back, and even if they did, these men would not be her prince charming. Men would be able to see the emotional baggage from a mile away, and a good man, a man that one could live happily ever after with, would run far, far away. After 50 or so men maybe, number 51 would be the well off neurosurgeon, a prince charming but not for her, she would be his one night stand. Remember don’t be a Meredith Grey or do things like her but try to have her luck.