Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stop Saying…anything that might make an unsuspecting stranger feel uncomfortable.

Alright, alright, alright.
I haven’t posted much since my move to the Bay, but I’m back. And I’m feeling kind of sassy today. I was going to just let it go, but it’s been over 2 weeks now and STILL my facebook friends and groups across the world keep reposting this article. “Stop Saying “I Have a Boyfriend” to Deflect Unwanted Attention.”  No offense to Ms. Ebenhardt, I see where she was going with it; but the call to all of us to stop saying whatever the hell we need to say to stay safe when we’re walking home from the grocery store  in our slutty yoga pants with a big “please harass me” across our foreheads, is quite frankly, absurd.*  The real message should be “Stop asking if I have a boyfriend to determine whether I’m free game for unwanted attention!”

I was in full agreement with her, -especially when she wrote,  “The idea that a woman should only be left alone if she is “taken” or “spoken for” (terms that make my brain twitch) completely removes the level of respect that should be expected toward that woman. It completely removes the agency of the woman, her ability to speak for herself and make her own decisions regarding when and where the conversation begins or ends.” I was all, amen!

But then, this happened:  “And the worst part of the whole situation is that we’re doing this to ourselves.”

No. Full stop. And all of my lovely friends who reposted this article, I want you to really hear this. The fact that some guy feels so entitled to your time, attention, body, or whatever else, that only “ownership” by another man may deflect his attention is absolutely not. your. fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not the thousands of other women who have used that phrase’s fault.  It is his refusal to see you as fully human and capable of making decisions that are right for you simply because they are right for you. And it’s not your job to teach him.

Especially not when it’s 11 pm and you’re in the club trying to have a good time with your friends & show off those sweet Beyonce moves you learned on youtube.

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This is your time to relax and have fun and laugh and experience life and engage in consensual flirtation–not your responsibility to fix his fucked up views on women.

Also, for those who are doubting me; I have tried “I’m not interested.” Sometimes I still use it.
Does it often work? no. Did the men I said it to “learn their lesson?” eh…maybe like 1 in 10. Did it require way more time to explain than I cared to give? undoubtedly yes. Did it make me feel safer? no, not always…sometimes I regretted it immediately.
I’ve also used “I have a boyfriend” “I’m on call & I have to run because I’m superwoman,” eye rolls, “bitch face” (aka mean-mugging), look at a friend & secretly call for backup, “I’m married” and I felt great about all of them. no regrets.

So what should you do when someone tries to start a conversation with you//get your attention//harasses you on the street/subway/dance floor/coffee shop/airplane/etc?

1. Say something. or don’t. Because it’s your choice to respond however you see fit. Just choose whichever feels safest and most comfortable to you.

2. Remember that you’re not responsible for changing another person’s words or behaviors; and that in this moment you are doing the very best you can.

3. Continue on with whatever you were doing. You deserve to claim space to just “do you”

*Bonus* Be a good ally when you witness it happening to a friend or someone around you. Ask if they want you to walk/dance/talk with them until the person leaves; interrupt shitty behavior; make eye contact to let the person receiving the unwanted attention know you’ve got their back.

*obviously, sarcasm.

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Dear Portland, Stop Sex Trafficking Budget Cuts!

“All that’s needed for the triumph of evil, is  for good men to do nothing”

Update:: Thanks to all the fabulous advocacy and refusal to remain silent,  the city restored its funding to SARC advocates on May 21. Thanks for all of your support, everyone!

 

An open letter to Mayor Hales & Portland City Commissioners,

It’s 2 am, and as the majority of Portlanders are sleeping safe and dry in their beds. I wake to the sound of my phone with a fourteen year old girl, who has just been sexually assaulted by several 30-50 year old men in order to make money for her pimp, on the other side. She’s huddled in the Lloyd center parking garage with no place to sleep knowing if she returns to him he will beat her for not meeting her $500 quota for the evening. I call her a cab to Harry’s Mother as I wipe the sleep from my own eyes and jump into my car with enough time to stop at McDonalds so I can meet her  with a hug and a warm meal.  While I sit with her, safe for the first time in two months; I know there are 100 other commercially sexually exploited youth still out in the rain trying to survive in a city that sleeps while they are raped, beaten, and neglected.

During my time as a SARC advocate for two years, I met with countless numbers of commercially sexually exploited youth just like the one described above—sometimes as young as 11. The Sexual Assault Resource Center provides a service that is invaluable in keeping Portland’s children safe and intervening when they are not. By providing a confidential space for case management, crisis response, and advocacy; they are the gateway for Portland’s most vulnerable citizens to access safety, support, resources, and a way out of a violent cycle that for many years the city turned a blind eye to.

Over the last 5 years, Portland finally woke up to the reality that our children were being sex trafficked in our own backyards— childhoods stolen by adult men willing to pay $50 to rape fifteen year olds. The funding provided by the city to establish a collaborative effort of SARC advocates, Janus Youth housing specialists, law enforcement units such as the East Precinct prostitution coordination team, and LifeWorks NW mental health therapists has resulted in over 350 youth receiving the services owed to them. Since SARC started providing advocacy to sex trafficking survivors, prosecution of pimps and johns has increased by 350%—owed primarily to the fact that the young victims have felt so empowered by this microcosm of service providers and community of survivors, they were willing to testify in trials.

The young survivors I worked with while at SARC are the most courageous, creative, compassionate people I have ever met, and with continued support they will undoubtedly develop into some of the city’s greatest leadership in the years to come. However, these children’s lives are at risk every day and if these important programs are cut, we will be putting the city’s most vulnerable citizens even further at risk.

Mayor Hales and commissioners, should you decide to cut funding to these services, you will be complicit in removing the only lifelines many of these children have ever had. To say that protecting sex trafficking victims is not the city’s job is a travesty and speaks to the need for more services–not less– to both keep children safe and to teach the leaders & adults in Portland that we do, in fact have a responsibility to protect the children who live here. I am requesting that you continue to fund The Sexual Assault Resource Center and its important community partners. Decorative fountains can wait—our children cannot.

For more about city budget cuts watch this video (shoutout to one of the most amazing advocates and friends I know–Tanell Morton!): http://www.kgw.com/news/Sex-trafficking-programs-on-the-citys-chopping-block–208023061.html

Make 5 calls, send 5 e-mails, attend a budget hearing : https://www.facebook.com/notes/sarc-oregon/child-victims-of-sex-trafficking-budget-cuts-and-how-you-can-help/542378392472086

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“Hard Times Require Furious Dancing”-Alice Walker

It’s my birthday! There’s only room for joy and celebration in my life today, so please turn your attention to these wonderful things that deserve celebrating this week:

France Votes Yes to Gay marriage 

I’m moving to the Bay!  And my bestie, Amy is joining me for the adventure down!

Awesome community organizers in Washington are posed to stop predatory lending. Awesome immigrant women are organizing for comprehensive immigration reform. Awesome houseless rights organizers are working hard every day to stop bills like the one that will restrict sidewalk use in Oregon.  Awesome Saudi Arabian women are organizing to fight ridiculous guardianship laws. Awesome youth in Zambia are learning to use social media as a tool to end gender-based violence. Pretty much there are all sorts of community organizers all over the world doing amazing, progressive, community-based work & they should be celebrated every day!

I discovered this amazing meme-driven blog on returned peace corps volunteers and silent laugh-cried for over an hour at my desk  www.rpcvcallme.tumblr.com

Soul Pancake—host of Kid President is in the running for 2 Webby Awards—vote for them by April 25th

I have the best friends ever, as evidenced here.

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I got news this week, that like every week, some amazing survivors are enacting their resiliency, courage, creativity & hope for a different world

I have all sorts of things to celebrate on the day of my 27th year…I am learning and living and loving so much right now. I can barely contain myself–I’m like this:

Happy Hump Day all you beautiful people!

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