Category Archives: Women

Living in An American Fairy-tale? Time To Grow Up

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“The hardest part about growing up is letting go of what you were used to, and moving on with something you’re not.” – Lyrikal

Growing up is hard. Things are never what they seem. You can kind of  live in a fairy tale, seeing life the way your parents kind of want you to. But as you get older you realize things are not as they seem.

Everyone is not your friend nor do they have your best interest at heart. Your parents aren’t the worse thing ever or vice versa, they are not the perfect people you thought they were. The realizations aren’t all bad. Like learning that those vegetables you used to hate actually taste pretty good and you really do need to eat more of them. Your parents weren’t lying to you.

Growing up was something I always wanted to do before I was ready. My mother reminded me often to not rush growing up. As I grew older, I learned that she was right. More importantly, while I was rushing to grow up, I learned is that I got to live in my fairy tale much longer than most.

Some kids don’t get to live in this fairy tale ever or very long. They come from very traumatic and abusive backgrounds. They get a tough reality check from almost birth. These kids have to grow-up fast, and it’s sink or swim.  They don’t get to complain, because what’s the point? They have to accept their pain and punishment, because who knows when the next traumatic event happens.

So, how does this relate to America?

For many Americans, they are finally growing up as it relates to America. Seeing America for what it is. It’s always been the same, but how it manifest itself is always changing.

The ones in power get to make the rules. We’ve had a few shiny moments. But often those in power are preying on the weaker, abusing natural resources for personal gain, and using that power to push their ideals forward with no consideration of certain people.

The Republican Party, of late, always seem to be quite aware of this and in national politics are a little more vocal about ensuring their best interests happen against all odds, and to some extent, can you blame them? Since they live in this reality, the last 8 years would have been hard on them. 8 years of Barack Obama where ACA was passed, gay marriage was legalized, and the economy improved under a non-Republican. Holy mother of WTF?

If liberals were less idealistic at times and awake to how America truly works they would have been getting their knives ready, because the GOP, no matter who the candidate was going to be, Trump or not, they were coming for the jugular.

Now, this is hard for me to say as someone who used to be in love with all things America (told you I lived in a fairy-tale). It is still a noble thing to be an American, to be born American, but how we go about life in politics is no longer noble.

We really have to start the conversation there.

We have to grow up and get it back to being noble. People still believe that most politicians go into politics from a good place. This could be true, but the system consumes you and spit you out a different person. I don’t care what anyone says about Hillary. I think people fail by talking about her like she was this young, wide-eyed law graduate with ideals of making this country better. At one point in time, she probably did. But after 30 years of being involved in the political game, she couldn’t help but be tainted by it.

And somewhere along the way, enough Americans convinced themselves that Donald Trump, who was not a seasoned politician, wasn’t tainted by the system. But he comes from the system, business, that majorly taints the political system. Dollar dollar bills ya’ll.

At first, I didn’t really get what “Make America great again” meant for Trump. People always assume that he is talking about when people of color, liberties for women were oppressed. Sometimes I believe he’s referring to era of American monopolies when one person completely controlled the market and working conditions and treatment of employees was poor. Trump and Rockefeller would’ve been best friends. That is the America Trump wants. But I digress.

Back to seeing America for what it is.

Since the election, I have been surrounded by people who were truly traumatized by Trump’s election and people who were not surprised. Now, this is my experience so hear me out.

The people who were traumatized, all white. Caucasian. Not one single black friend or family member was truly surprised or traumatized by the election (that I know of).  Yes, black people are like those children who grow up in trauma. Even black people who are born with a better station in life feel the pains of race (unless they are rich enough to lie to themselves). We aren’t complaining about Trump, because anything can happen when it comes to us in America.  When you’ve spent years seeing things happen unfairly right before your eyes or receive mistreatment simply because the color of your skin, it isn’t surprising a man could win on divisive rhetoric.

So it was no surprise that my Facebook timeline was full of people of color commenting on all the white woman who finally woke up to what America is. It has ALWAYS been this way. Listen to when I say this, it is nothing new. But here’s the thing, we can’t get upset at people who are in the ivory tower and they didn’t know they were up there. Once they recognize it, do we want them to stay up in the tower? No, we want them to come on down and join us.

The need for solidarity was important for many people this past weekend who have finally grown up to see what America is. But just like Trump can’t make America great again and turn back the clocks, every one whose eyes have been open can’t want the America that it was, because you were wrong. When people say they are fighting back, let’s be sure we understand what we are talking about.

Citizen participation

Citizen participation is necessary …. but it has always been and will always be, not just because you are unhappy with what’s going on at the moment. Understanding different perspectives and keeping them in the forefront is important. Speaking about your thoughts and beliefs so someone can correct you, and this goes for all people, is important. Each of us has a weak spot or bias. Lately, I have allowed myself to listen and be educated by Liberals on their ideals, their hesitations and frustrations. I don’t always like or agree with what they have to say, but I am not acting like a child with my fingers stuck in my ears. I am adulting. It’s not going to be easy, but that is the only way to push America forward. I am ready. Are you?

America… Voting Isn’t Enough

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“There is a lot of mediocrity being celebrated, and a lot of wonderful stuff being ignored or discouraged.” – Sean Penn

Yep, I said it.

Let me first say that I am happy that people are voting, I really am, but something has really been annoying about this whole election from two different angles.

For one, people who say:

“I am not voting, because we have TWO bad candidates”

And for people saying:

“I voted! Voting is the most important thing I can do”

No, no, and a really big NO to the second one.

I have tried to restrain from sharing my frustrations about both of these sentiments, because for some reason I feel like I am being a negative Nancy. But the more I marinated on these statements, the more I felt convinced of my perspective.

If you have a problem with both candidates, you know that you are part of the problem, if you’re only engaged at this point in the process.

I am not saying that Bernie Sanders would be doing any better than Hillary, but for liberals who don’t particularly want Hilary, if you weren’t out there pushing for him and his movement, he was a pretty good alternative. Otherwise, shut up and Vote for Her.

I really wanted Kasich to win the Republican nomination, but he didn’t. And to be honest, I step back and see Trump as the candidate of my former (sort of) party, and it is part of my fault. I did not volunteer in the primary election and take the campaign of Donald Trump seriously, and for that I am sorry.

If you don’t like Hilary or Trump, what have you personally done besides take your ass out to the polls. Like seriously. Did you canvass? Did you make calls? Have you ever in your life?

People need to hear this. People need to keep saying this till they understand.

There are ways to change the candidates in our political process, but you have to be engaged to do so. There are too many of us that are convinced that are voice doesn’t matter, but the Tea Party HAS PROVED THIS TO BE WRONG. The Tea Party, in the past, has completely changed the outcome of statewide elections and now has a Presidential candidate with the help of evangelical conservatives. Their insistence on coming together and making their voice heard…. it worked ya’ll. It didn’t happen overnight either. This has been brewing since 2009.

They have literally taken over the Republican Party and people still have the audacity to say things can’t change. Oh, they can. We have ALL seen it. Now, this doesn’t mean they have enough power to win the election, but it was enough to get a candidate to win the nomination based on some sound fiscal policies, but completely combined with racist, bigoted and archaic policies as well.

On to point two, voting is just simply not the most important thing you can do. It’s just not. Not even a little bit. And I feel weird writing about this, because I want people to vote. But, I want you to see the importance of it, but it should be paired with something else besides simply casting a vote.

What else are you doing in your community?

What other conversations are you having with people outside of your comfort zone?

What are you doing beyond yourself?

Anything? I literally mean anything!?!

Now, I have written about how people in Austin love animals, especially their dogs, almost to a fault. The community will come out and save animals when we have a disaster such as a flood. It drives some people insane, and rightfully so, because it’s like, “What about people?!?” But I can respect people with different passions if they are committed and are contributing to it.  Similarly to focusing on the arts. There is a place for it. You want to advocate for those things you do that.

Our future, our kids, are the most important thing to me, therefore, I invest my time, money and effort towards them. I volunteer with different organizations to make sure I am not only giving to the kiddos, but also to kiddos that look like me, whether it’s young girls/women of all shapes, colors and sizes or children of color of different ethnicities. I am not here to say everyone should do the same, but whatever “community” you care about, you need to give some time to it. I see many of my counterparts investing in the justice system. I see my counterparts investing in the health and wellness of others. I also see counterparts investing in themselves professionally for a time to make a better place for themselves in order to do better and give back.

We are all at different places in our life, but if you are doing nothing more than waking up and breathing for your own good…You are not doing enough.

The bible says “Judge not, lest you be judged”, so I am not here to be judge-y…. But if all the time and effort you have is at the polls and vote, and you don’t work 2 or 3 different jobs, struggling to survive than you are really missing the mark. And it’s sad. This is one of reasons people don’t have a global view of the world or people continue to live with biases.

Do you think the world will just shape itself and doesn’t need any help?

The reality is if you are doing nothing you might be a little more scared about Hilary or Trump more than others. Yes, I know I sound condescending, but it’s the truth.

What you don’t do, is just as important as what you do.

Making money is important. Being happy is important.

But just voting is not enough.

M/P

 

Media, Do Your Damn Job

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“Education is our only political safety. ” – Horace Mann

The first presidential debate happened.

I went to bed uninspired, and woke up with a burning fire in my chest.

I sort of want to rail on Trump and say how I was actually impressed with Hillary, but I am going to say that I am really mad at the media. (I can’t help it ya’ll.) They really do have the capacity shape and change minds and do it in a non-partisan way, but they refuse to just spit facts.

I think that even if people think the media tends to lean to the LEFT (with the exception of Fox News and a few others) the reality is at the end of the day, ALL media just simply cares about making its viewers happy.

When the debate was over, there was no commentator on the channel that I was watching that made any clear references to the errors and blatant misquotes by Donald Trump.

Tom Brokaw at least pointed out that both candidates avoided giving solid answers during the race discussion, but we didn’t expect much from an old white man and woman about race. I did however expect someone to be like, did you hear some of the errors he said in his talking points?  Instead, we got a lot of “he kept his base tonight” or “Trump is held to a different standard”. Well, no shit Sherlock, because you all are holding him to a different standard too and refusing to be more critical in the job that you all have been foolishly given.

The reality is the general public, who probably didn’t pay attention in history class or go to law school, may not understand how big of a deal that not only was Trump promoting a practice, “Stop and Frisk”, that is discriminatory, but it really is not THE REASON violence and crime went down in New York City.

Not to mention throughout the debate there were clear instances in which he did not articulate an identified plan and seemed ill informed about topics. Not an exaggeration or a bias. I know that I have had more in-depth conversations about trade than his one broken record about our “jobs cannot leave”. We get it. That resonates with everyone, especially those of us, who know people who lost jobs in America for their industry moving overseas.

I was sitting at home in complete shock. But more frustrated at how the media really didn’t harp on his clear errors as soon as the debate was over. Maybe people would’ve just turned their TV off and that’s okay. It’s better than not critically analyzing the debate in it’s entirety.

Although there might have been a ton of people tuning in for the debate, everyone is still competing for first place for viewership, and to me it shows.There needs to be real discussion that Hillary was informed about topics, and her being informed makes her seem like a politician which apparently is what everyone wants to avoid.This is why Trump won the Republican primary, because he didn’t sound like a politician. But SOMEONE needs to remind people that there comes a point where you need to be polished, have solid points and share them. Being President is not about sound bites and one liners that sound good.

I am glad that Hillary made it clear that the world and their leaders are watching and I am sure that they are laughing at us. There are people who don’t understand how important our relationships around the world matter with TRADE and the ECONOMY. All they really care about is stopping “those people” from coming into our county.

Although, I am not a fan of Hillary, I really wish I had the opportunity to choose between Kasich or Rubio (maybe even Cruz, I know scary) AND Hillary, their knowledge and experience hurt them on the campaign trail and it is scary that it could factor into whether Hillary will win or not. Because sounding like a politician, i.e. having real answers, is apparently a bad thing.

People, other than those on Hillary’s campaign, need to remind people that if they want to “make this country great again”, you actually have to know how to run the country. But who is holding Trump’s feet to the fire besides Hillary supporters?

Everyone who has a pen and pad, laptop or a voice, needs to speak up.

If you cannot prepare for a Presidential debate, which he clearly didn’t, then how are you going to prepare for meetings for our country?

I hate meetings with a passion, but when I am in charge of one, I prepare for the meeting, draft my talking points, and I can speak off the hip just as good, if not better than most, but that’s not the point.

Trump is a second-rate boyfriend getting first-rate attention. He ain’t even trying to win our heart, and he just knows we’re not paying attention to see his errors and you are going to love him anyway even when you shouldn’t.

And for those who actually care and like political debate, I am happy Hillary had to run against Bernie Sanders. She is more polished than when she debated Bernie, but it is unfortunate that we will not have more policy discussions in this presidential race unless we get a moderator with some major kahunas. Hillary will not be able to fully express her vision and it be questioned intelligently as any good politician should have to do.

I am sure many forget that Mitt Romney kind of won the first debate in 2012, because Barack Obama phoned in that day and sounded like a law school professor with his long-winded answers. Many Americans felt that he was acting like he had the next election in the bag. It was debate two that America was reminded of who Obama was. Mitt forced him to come with his A game after a good showing in the first debate. Hillary’s policy and standings will not be challenged and that worries me too. Her responses on race weren’t good enough to me, but they sounded better than Trump trying to promote Stop and Frisk.

Media, it is our responsibility to do our job. Ask questions, educate, commentate and question some more. The WSJ published an excellent article about what debate used to be, check it out here. It kind of makes me think about the role of media used to play.

I don’t want a biased view. I want a job well done.

Do your damn job. (oh, and everybody Vote)

M/P

Being a Woman in a Man’s World: My Thoughts on Hillary with a Pinch of Pat Summitt

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“The man’s world must become a man’s and a woman’s world. What are we afraid of?” – M. Carey Thomas

I have been working on this piece for quite some time. I rarely shop out my ideas, discuss in detail, but something wasn’t quite right with my thoughts. Maybe, I felt that my thoughts were a little controversial or maybe, writing a post that was (kind of) in favor of Hillary, a person I am not fond of, was actually quite difficult.

But as I talked with several people about the public relationship between Bill and Hillary and how it has shaped America’s view of her, and consequently caused the American people not to see her in a positive light. I was met with the same resounding response that points to a simple fact for most people:

“I just wish she had made it here (the Presidency) based on her own merits”

“I think Bill being President has everything to do with her getting close to becoming President”

“She wouldn’t even be the nominee if it wasn’t for Bill”

And so on. Each person I asked was a Democrat. Their responses perplexed me. As humans in this vast and complex world, we are unable to write our own story. Who is to say had Bill not become President that Hillary wouldn’t have risen to the Presidency, to be successful in politics, or affecting change in this country. For this we do not know, but I find that most people think, Hillary is here solely based on her husband.

It’s not even a matter if people think she’s a liar, corrupt, or made mistakes as Secretary of State – it is because, if she makes it to the White House, it will be on the coat tails of her husband.

But I think it’s more than that.

It could be her desire for her own fame and success that has fueled her to the Presidency or it could be her commitment to serve this country. But you know what, if she was a man, it wouldn’t matter.

Hillary is being unfairly judged, because she is a woman. I know people have made this point over and over, but I, an outsider, wanted to make this point again. Because, despite my strong dislike of her, I am flabbergasted by the disrespect Hillary receives from members in her own party.  People still have more respect for her [enter all the bad adjectives you can think of] husband.

How many Presidents of the United States of America made it, because they were white males, from an affluent family, and they just so happened to end up in the White House. There are few Presidents, who earned the spot every step of the way. In general, there are far more people who were given a little help to get where they are today, so why are we holding Hillary Clinton to a different standard? Why do we as women give men a break, but don’t quite do the same thing for women? Is it because we have to be better? Or would we prefer to just work double time and allow men to work half of the time? Not to mention…. infidelity and cheating in marriage sometimes seems so commonplace in America because of the over sexualization in this country. How many of you, who’ve experienced betrayal in your life or in your family, could imagine experiencing infidelity in the public eye at the highest office in America, and for the world to see, not just America, and bounce back from it? How many of you after being completely embarrassed and disrespected, could then decide to run for a public office in the state of New York, one of the most media hungry places in America? How many of you all could face that kind of fire and win, and continue on.

Yeah, her hunger and need for the spotlight might fuel it, and I don’t really care, because to me, that is a tough thing to do and she should deserve a little more respect for her tenacity. Respect that we would easily be given to her if she was a man.

Now to preference who should be respecting, if you have ideological differences with Hilary (as do I), then by all means, you are free to disagree/dislike/hate her and make claims along those lines. But there are women, young and old, black, white, blue and green, who furiously supported Barack Obama, that struggle to support Hilary or diss her for no good reason in my opinion.

I would like to just make note, that Obama’s rise to the Presidency, although historical in its own right, the differences between overcoming the obstacles of race versus gender are actually drastically different. As a black woman, I can tell you the preference and deference black men with less abilities get over me time and time again from women is not only maddening, but sad. The blunt truth is that it’s happening simply because they are men. The long and short of it, women want to support men. It might be biblical. I get it. But we represent over 50% of the population and continue to allow men to make decisions that affect our lives and bodies, and yet, we struggle to view women in a positive light for being strong, dominant, and unafraid.

And I must pause here, because Pat Summit passed away last week, one of my favorite sports hero and I believe she was one of the few women, in the public eye, who was strong, dominant, and unafraid – and she had our respect completely. There is no question that her success and rise to popularity were forged with her own blood, sweat, and tears to be successful as a coach in women’s college basketball and to win Olympic gold. But she was the best of the best in a woman’s world. Many wanted her to cross over to coach men, whether in college or professional sports. But as I write about Hillary, I wonder if not crossing over was one of her best decisions.

One reporter shared:

“More than once, Tennessee’s athletic bigwigs considered asking Summitt to coach the men instead. With each crash-and-burn, it became more obvious that men couldn’t handle this particular job and that Summitt would be the safest hire available. She considered it but kept turning it down.

I think women should help women,” Summit said. A good reason, but there was a better one.

I wouldn’t want people to think I looked at the men’s game as a step up.”

It wasn’t. But it remains a concrete ceiling. If it were glass, a woman could at least see the path to coaching a men’s team. Imagine the fun, if Summitt had decided to burst through it. ” (Source)

And maybe we should take a lesson from Pat’s book.

  1. Women should be helping women.
  2. Let’s stop acting like their “world” is a step-up.

I must say this article is really less about Hillary, but my views on how women should go about supporting each other. Let’s try to hold each other to the right standard and support them in the same way we support men. Let’s stop holding ourselves to a higher and more unrealistic standard, and stop burdening ourselves for no apparent reason. We make mistakes, we are human. If we aren’t forgiving our fellow women then we probably aren’t forgiving ourselves. And trust me, men are not thinking twice about it, and moving on to the next thing.

M/P

Looking Through Her Lens (My Thoughts on LEMONADE)

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“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer

So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.

I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my  satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)

So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.

Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”

Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”

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Just stop.

Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –

Seriously?

Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.

The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.

We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:

Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12

See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.

So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:

  • could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
  • felt betrayed and stay; AND
  • told the world all about it.

I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you?  I kind of felt like it was more  along these lines:

Life is hard.

Love is hard.

Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.

That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.

But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.

So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out –  some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only  a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .

In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.

Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.

M/P

Can We Talk about Consent?

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“There is no policy too sensitive to question, and no subject so taboo that you cannot even mention it”  – Lee Hsien Long

I can tell you I feel a little uncomfortable writing about this, but it continues to be a problem. I was appalled by the case of pop singer Kesha, who is unable to get out of a contract obligation with her producer who,according to the pop star, raped her and the biggest takeaway is that they think she is lying. (source). Of course, the court doesn’t say that explicitly. The article states:

“The judge said that granting the singer’s request to nullify her deal would undermine the state’s laws governing contracts and the court couldn’t do that.”

The court wouldn’t make a person stay in a contract if they believe she was in harm or danger. But they obviously think she is in no harm or danger, and just wants to get out of the contract, and using her lady parts as an excuse. She probably had sex with him to advance her career. Of course. Oh, wait, did I mention she is considered a party girl, and sings about it? (source). To me, this is saying that her consent doesn’t and didn’t matter. What people and what the judge believes, is all that matters. And that is why I am here.

I want to write about consent, because there are not enough of us, who have never  been sexually assaulted, talking about the issue, talking about our close calls. That’s right, not all women, but a lot of women in my generation, may have hung out with a guy who we thought was cute, and we had no intention of having sex with them. We may have kissed a little too long, but we got the courage to say that we didn’t go any further, they got it, and they stopped. Not because they are superheroes, because that’s what you are supposed to do. The thing that cannot be highlighted enough, is that we are in control of our bodies, and when we are with a guy this should respected no matter what. Now, Amber Rose gave an example a couple of weeks ago on Tyrese and Rev Run’s show on Oprah’s network that might be a little too raw and uncut so people would easily disagree with her. She takes it all the way to the point that even if you’re naked with a man, and then you decide to not have sex, no is no. And the reality is why it isn’t enough? Now, I have discussed this with several people, men and women, and I find that they think Amber Rose’s example goes too far. That if you allow yourself to be naked in front of a man, what do you think he is going to do?

Here, look at the clip.

If you think that a guy should just be able to have a go when they’re naked, what is different when they are clothed? If a girl tells a guy she wants to have sex with clothes on, and changes her mind, what does having clothes or not having clothes on make a difference? To some extent we are saying men have no control of themselves and we should let them have a go anywhere or that the women deserves it? I think they need to exercise some self-control, we let them run some of the most important parts of our lives and country.

So let me take it out of that extreme example.

When I was in law school, my first year, I had a boyfriend. We were still getting adjusted to a long distance relationship. He was slightly the jealous type, but not when we were in the city, in fact, he wasn’t clingy at all, so when I went off to law school, I thought he’d be fine, no problem. Well, not so much and when I would go out, he was one annoying person even when I was just trying to hang with my girlfriends. So one day, I was tired of it, and slightly stressed out about law school and we were fighting quite a bit so I went out with a few girlfriends. I met a guy, a tall, dark and handsome guy, and I may have had too much to drink, and at the time, I wasn’t much of a drinker so when he asked to come over, I was flattered, and hesitantly gave him my address.

After we left the bar, he came over and we were having good conversation, but the alcohol was waning. We eventually started kissing, but my mind was already changing. Talking to him, made me miss my boyfriend at the time. I forgot to mention, even though I invited him over, this was the first time I had ever done this. And I remember how I felt when he tried to push me further and I wasn’t feeling it. I was terrified, and I realized I potentially put myself in a dangerous situation. Why? Because here was this man who was 6’2”, maybe 6’3”, in good shape and everything, and I was worried that he could make me do anything. Eventually, he got the picture with no problem, and went and slept on my couch till the morning. As I laid on my bed, I prayed and was extremely thankful. Because the reality is that it could’ve went really left. Like, it really could’ve been me, and it would’ve been all my fault, because I let him in. But no. The guy accepted my non-consent, and that’s what missing in the conversation. There are plenty of men who understand what no is, so the ones who don’t, they don’t get a pass. THEY DO NOT GET A PASS. If I was in a similar situation, with a guy who didn’t accept my no, why would it be my fault if I am subsequently was raped. (Feel free to explain otherwise in my comment section)

So with any movement there is always a need to allies. I find that a lot of advocates involved with sexual violence are people who have experienced it themselves. What about all the women who have made it through without being attacked? Regardless if you have been in a situation such as myself or you have had sex with one person your whole life, we need more people (men and women) who have never sexually and physically assaulted, especially those who have gone out on a date, and said no.

And then there’s this thing called….VICTIM BLAMING…

It’s one thing when men victim blame but I see a number of women who victim blame, like WHAT?!?! But do you know why? Because it hasn’t happened to them. And that’s the problem. A women who is snatched while walking to her car is the same as the person who is just making out with a guy she likes who doesn’t understand no. We have to stop making concessions for certain situations. We have to continue to push what consent really is, and make sure our boys and girls, men and women get it, therefore, we must continue to talk about it.

More than anything about us understanding consent, there is a special place in hell for women who make up allegations about rape. On March 13th, ESPN will premiere it’s 30 for 30 documentary called, “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke Lacrosse Team rape scandal. I am not by any means speaking to anyone’s innocence and guilt, but the whole situation didn’t help women at all. This isn’t an election where Hillary Clinton wants all the women to support her. Anyone could be in the position of being physically assaulted. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re just one experience from it happening to you. Regardless if it’s sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or anything else. Just because it hasn’t happen to you, because for every women who is victim blamed is one more validation that we are the problem and aren’t control of ourselves and our experiences.

M/P

Oh Me, Oh My: My Journey To Get In Touch With My Inner Girl

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“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I just got off of vacation and I really wanted to write about my experience and all the things I learned, but my mind decided to fight me and make me write about something, I promised I would never write about, but here it goes. Beauty. Fashion. All the things girly. Yeah, I never imagined writing about anything around the subject, because there are so many more pressing issues in the world, but as I delve into the evaluation of feminism or just simply watching how Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are being treated differently as women, I can’t help but think on these things to some degree. This is what makes a woman, we are layered, and even when we try to avoid certain experiences they sometimes still seem to creep in on us. What we look like still matters just as much as what it’s in our mind, if not more so, unfortunately. So I am in the middle of a feminine revelation, or shall I say transformation. Yes, America, the #1 tomboy has started doing things a little different and I feel compelled to kind of talk about it. I promise at times I was annoyed in writing this…How dare we be defined by a social norm. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s just say I have subscribed to the notion, that being “girly” is a thing and it looks a certain way.

So I have a lot of girly friends. Why? I am not sure and I really don’t know why, opposites attract, maybe? I am a bona fide Tom Boy, and I have a number of really good guy friends too. Not to mention my brothers and I are really close and they taught me everything that I know about sports and in fact, I always love to brag that I know more sports than the average man.

When I went to college that was the first time that I had to face the reality that I didn’t do a number of things that normal girls do. (Well, actually the first time I had to really deal with this is when I was 11 and was mistaken for a boy), but for the first time living with women other than my mother was a culture shock.

Now, of course, there are no absolutes, but there were a number of things, girly things, that I didn’t do. I won’t mention them cause who wants to be that transparent. To further take me down the road of girliness in college, I joined a sorority. Sometimes, outside of the amazing relationships that I’ve built, how did I manage that? Sometimes I used to feel like an impostor when it comes to “girl” things. What is a purse, why were heels even made, make-up – that’s for clowns, right? I used to feel like life would be easier if I were a man. And not because of the obvious benefits men get, but my personality, demeanor and my likes and dislikes used to be very much geared similar to that of a typical male. Heck, GQ is still my favorite magazine (I mean the articles are good and it’s full of half-naked men). I couldn’t even name more than 3 woman magazines.

So over the last few months, I decided to pamper myself, doing things like maintaining my nails, wearing make-up regularly, keeping my eyebrows on point, being dutiful in cooking and cleaning around my place, and diligently eating healthier and exercising. Oh, and my hair has been on point (most of the time). Growing up, with the exception of hair, things like this I was never taught to focus on. It was always about education, be strong, and fight for your rightful place in the world. I have never gone shopping with my mother, nor have we have ever made a trip to a nail salon or things of that nature.

*Enters my first real relationship (with a boy)*

So to only complicate the situation, the first guy I dated, was very much high maintenance. He would always take longer to get ready then I would. He definitely liked a kind of women who was well manicured, done up from head to toe. Over those 7 years, I tried to do it. I failed miserably over and over. We were in a long distance relationship after I left college (thank GOD), and I would go through a mini-transformation every 3 months when we would see each other. I would always tell myself, I would keep my nails done, hair laid, but nope, that rarely happened. I was never comfortable. I never enjoyed getting done up. It was very robotic to me.

*end of my relationship*

So 7 years later, I was free, the inner tom boy came back with a mad vengeance. I still liked to dress cute and do my hair occasionally, but I think over the following year or so, I rarely touched make-up, didn’t keep my nails looking decent, or even appropriately put jewelry together. For a period, I was going through the loss of a relationship so I wasn’t being horribly judged, and since I wasn’t really dating, I got several passes. As time went on, I wanted to start dating again, and I befriended some new male friends who provided me with a new perspective (that I am not sure I agree), but for the purpose of this article, it is the thesis statement and basis of this article.

This idea that most men (heterosexual) do like women who keep up a certain maintenance, because they can’t help but be visual, and it’s not from a place of shallowness, but why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself together and healthy?

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This “maintenance” involves maintaining healthy habits with exercise and maintaining certain “feminine” social norms (yes, I’m cringing as I write this). I personally feel like I should be able to do whatever the hell I want, and I should be accepted in that matter. But I decided to think I was wrong, and started making small changes, and began this transformation, and guess what I found.  I have completely different interactions with the opposite sex, with men I know and men I don’t know. But even more so I have different interactions with women too, even in my professional space. I have worn make-up more often to work, and see the differences in the interactions, and it’s puzzling to me. What does this mean? Am I not the same person, behind the make-up, clothes and nails?

When I used to look at famous people, who after hitting a certain level of stardom and maybe were a little over weight, they ALWAYS lose weight if they can. The reality is that people treat you different, and if I am not saying it directly, they seem to treat you better. Yes, I said it, and whatever that might look like to you. And I get that, but I was just raised differently. That the external just means less. That focusing on my appearance says nothing about you. I have met a number of women who focus on all those things, and not much else, and when they gain a little weight or circumstances make maintaining that look difficult, they are lost, and obsess over their appearance, because their interactions rise and fall based on their appearance and it’s sad.

I was fortunate not have to deal with these issues for a very long time, and I am very happy that it only took me 3 months out of my life, but I, like most women have to at some point in their life, wrestle with the social norms of femininity as it relates to being a women and what it means. I will never forget the first time Hilary Clinton ran for President and they were having legit discussions about pant versus skirt suits in regards to her “femininity”. It. was. disgusting. (and let’s not forget, I am not a Hilary Fan, unless you attack her womanhood, homey don’t play that). But I will tell you all this, I have enjoyed getting my nails, getting to have a “nail” lady, and trying new things with makeup and getting compliments from men and women alike.

But what I have learned, which I am sure many of you all guessed, but that it’s really about balance and there is no right answer. You can go overboard with anything, focusing too much on your outer appearance or you can look so bad that no one wants to be your friend. But it really is more than that. That this journey is one of the million things that makes our experience as women different and AWESOME. We produce strong young men and women, because we have to juggle so many different norms. That men don’t get to have the complicated and interesting life that women get to lead. Yes, I just said that. That we have to challenge ourselves, question ourselves more than they do especially in 2016. There is still a struggle with roles for women in the workplace, in the home and in relationships. Whether there is a spiritual component or not in your thinking, women are questioned about the way they parent, the fact they have no kids, are we too emotional or not having enough emotion, so that we are considered a bitch, and the list goes on.

I will never subscribe to this idea that I have to look a certain way to get the attention or affection of a man, but being pampered, getting in touch with my inner girl was and IS nice, but it is my friends, not mandatory to be kick ass. Being kick ass is just what women do whether you are or not in touch with your inner girl. So just do that. Kick-Ass!

M/P