real life

i told my dad i was raped. not because i planned to or particularly wanted to–it has been several years since the assault and i specifically did not tell him once i came to the place of healing where i told anyone at all. largely because i don’t feel the type of connection, the relationship with him that would create a reason for telling him. we were having an overall cordial conversation about our different opinions on religion. simple version: he believes christianity is holy and right while islam is evil and wrong. i believe they are different versions of the same. to prove a point that other cultures are more evil than westernized, christian societies (i.e. the US), he gave this example: “In India, they think it is ok to gang rape 10 and 12-year-old girls. If that was my daughter I would blow their brains out.” There could not be a more privileged, machismo, heartless, ignorant thing to say. 1. His privileged position looks at a gang rape and relates through the position of the father. NOT the person who was actually raped. 2. Since he has no traumatic response to rape stories (apparently), he can bring them up at any moment with no concern for it triggering trauma. 3. He gets to fantasize about “blowing the brains out” of some imaginary villains while speaking to someone who was able to do absolutely NOTHING to her real life rapist. 4. He takes a horrific assault and makes the occurrence about him–the victim still has no power (how would she define justice?), the victim is still objectified–this time it is just as a possession that requires defense. “Your daughter was raped while in college just like about a third* of my peers. Stop talking about other cultures you don’t understand and look at your own culture and country.” “I’m not saying bad things don’t happen here, I’m just saying…” blah, blah, more bullshit that in no way acknowledged what his actual daughter had told him. This, of course, proves what a shitty thing it was for him to say in the first place. When his own daughter was actually assaulted he did nothing. When she told him about it and he could have actually done something he instead barely acknowledged I had spoken and instead moved on to his next important point in the debate and has since never mentioned anything. When we teach our daughters they are possessions of men we strip them of their sacred power. When we teach our sons that women are objects to be sexualized and female family members are objects to be defended, we place power into incompetent hands.  In both we create societal dysfunction. We must move past the machismo, the violent responses to grievances. We must teach our boys to empathize, to listen, to validate, to acknowledge. We must hold the givers of life as sacred.

P.S. I have also been personally challenged to be more careful in the examples I use to prove points or the “if that were me” scenarios.

*exactly as I said it but not an exactly scientifically accurate figure

conversations with a two-year-old

“mama, why do you want to be a doctor?”

“because i want to help people be well.”

“ohhhh…” (disappointed face)

“you don’t want me to be a doctor?”

“no, i want you to be a mama.”

“my love, i will always be your mama; i will just also be a doctor mama.”

smiles and hugs.

International Women’s Day

perhaps you never had your male boss physically drag and shove you in the direction he wanted you to move. and if you did would you have realized that not only made you feel bad, but that he was wrong enough in his action to have deserved serious repercussions? perhaps you did not spend your teenage years with nearly daily unwanted physical touches by your male peers. friends. innocuous enough to feel safe, frequent enough to feel normal, unwanted enough to feel violated. and perhaps if you did then you had a similar reaction when you were later raped. the questions of your culpability, the disgust for not somehow preventing the unpreventable. the sense of loss and shame. the overwhelming isolation. perhaps your first longterm employment was not in the female role of the grocery store when only the male role led to management. perhaps you were never questioned by your male interviewer how, as a woman, you would be able to handle a certain situation. perhaps an interviewer has never commented on your exotic appearance, beauty. perhaps a mentor has never done the same. perhaps the majority of powerful roles in your world are not held by men. perhaps you have never had sexual threats yelled at you as you walk down the road, drive in your car. perhaps you were never responsible for feeding a child from your breast in a society that is only comfortable with breasts exposed for adult male pleasure. perhaps the emotional, biologically normal responses of women are not medicated in nearly a quarter of women in your society. gray hair is not distinguished in men but scary in women. i hope so, but if so, don’t fail to listen to others.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Maya Angelou

blood

it is not just your own blood that you are afraid of

but also your pain

when you start to feel too much

when the first drops flow

turn your head

pretend

it will all go away

listen

one of the most disastrous consequences of male privilege is the unwillingness and inability for males to listen. when men run society (patriarchy), their decisions are critical so this affects all issues.

what do i mean when i say listen? i mean the ability to hear and think and not respond but instead to support. to hear a woman say that society is constantly telling her that her beauty is inadequate and then reflect on how his own actions may further this. to ask this woman (and others) their ideas for positive change and then to respond accordingly.
to hear a community of people saying they are scared of the police and react by finding a supportive role within the work they are already doing.
to hear the LGBT community say that marriage equality is crucial and support their right to determine for themselves what is important regardless of personal opinions.
to hear Native communities say seeing themselves as mascots is hurtful to the youth and respond by changing the mascot.
this ugly trait—not listening—is not just seen in men. women need to come together to change society, not just to hold the role men historically have. in haiti, foreign men and women alike think they have better solutions than Haitians themselves—as proven by the hundreds of NGOs on the ground.
so maybe i see it daily in men—congress legislating women’s access to healthcare, male family members telling me what i need to breastfeed my child, interviewers commenting on my physical appearance—but it is more about privilege than gender. the more privilege we have (race, gender, sexual orientation, class, education, zip code, religion), the less we listen. good to be aware of in myself, good to be intentional about with my son

parenting mantras

he is not doing something TO me. he is simply doing something.

he is not GIVING ME a hard time. he is having a hard time.
pause. listen. understand.
good for them, not for me. (other parents)

time

they got me thinkin about time

about how i can control it with you

breathe deeply the sweetness, the sweat, the last notes of shampoo

these are the moments

you can create in any moment

time is yours to mold

experience

breathe life into your time