consent is mandatory

The older I get, the more conscious I am about how we raise our females within our society.  Female bodies are viewed as inherently public property, in a way.  People, male and female, seem to feel that they have a right to touch the bodies of females that they do not know.  How often do you see a man touch the hand of a woman he finds attractive?  Watch how they interact with cashiers and other service people, people who are paid to smile at them and be friendly.

Almost daily I have (mostly male presenting) customers who feel that it is perfectly acceptable to touch my hand or arm or shoulder.  And as I’ve gotten older I’ve fought my upbringing and subconsciously absorbed societal mores of not offending others, even at the expense of my own comfort.  I now have male customers who imperiously hold out their hand to me, an expectant smile on their faces because they know that our society has taught me that the expectation is that I accommodate them, who become upset or offended if I decline.

I have also discovered that I don’t know how to decline, which just adds to my sense of discomfort.  Not only do I have this perfect stranger who is offended that I don’t want to share the sense of touch with them but I’m feeling anxious because I don’t know how not to make them feel badly about it!  It’s intensely frustrating that I’m still fighting with that subconscious urge.

I want my son to understand the very simple concept of consent.  Our popular media portray the strong man kissing the woman without ever checking in to make sure that she’s ok with it.  Grabbing her into his arms without a thought.  Consent is such a simple and yet profound thing.  I have been completely thrown on the few occasions where I’ve been *asked* if it’s ok to proceed.  I’ve had to process the CONCEPT of being asked before I could even address the question at hand.  So much of my youth was spent going where the wind blew, without a strong sense that I had the right to make sure that *I* was ok with what was happening.

I use the experiences I have at work as diving boards for conversations with him.  I tell him about the various encounters I have as examples of how not to treat others.  I point out that it’s an unacceptable way to treat anyone, not just women.  I want him to grow up internalizing the outrageous idea that women are people too.  That everyone is equal, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, quirkiness, funky clothing choices, startling piercings, etc.

Read Harder Challenge 2017

My friend Krista told me about this last year but I was already doing a different one and didn’t feel up to putting in the effort of adding this.  This year I rose to the challenge (pun gleefully intended).

I wasn’t certain what to expect as far as the types of books that I would be requested to read but I’ve had a really good time coming up with titles to fill each of the slots.  It has definitely forced me to broaden my reading horizons a bit and I must say that I’ve really enjoyed the vast majority of what I’ve read.  ….it also got me to plow into my prodigious “to read” pile.  It’s now smaller!  Woot!  ….that won’t last.

One of the categories was “Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love” and I was fairly leery.  I *write* poetry, but other than my friend Tanah’s I don’t generally *read* it.  There’s a discussion thread for each of the categories which I found helpful because there were all sorts of suggestions of books to read, but I actually found my choice for this one by searching on the greater web.  I found a suggestion on Amazon for a book called “Are you an echo?” by Misuzu Kaneko which was getting some really nice reviews and sounded intriguing because they were previously lost poems by someone who was very well-thought of in her time.

Once it arrived I was really pleased to find that it not only had a collection of her poetry but also a sweet story of her life. It was an unexpected and interesting peek into life in another culture in another time.

I’ve decided to put up some of my old poetry occasionally.  Some of it was objectively terrible (you won’t be seeing those) but I quite like some of them.  Poetry has always been a sort of cathartic force for me.  I have written almost all of them when I was dealing with intense (usually negative) feelings and I needed a way of parcelling those feelings, a way to make them a bit more manageable and bearable.

Misty forest

Mists of time

clouding everything

the future

lost in the past.

The mists cover the beast

that we may follow its tracks

yet blunder blindly into it.

’90

Victim Blaming

We hear so much about this lately, which is a good thing, the more that people are aware of it and discussing it, the more chance we have of changing it.

I find that it’s the more obvious forms that we currently really notice and comment on.

“What was she wearing?”
“How much did she have to drink?”

But what about when it comes to the so-called Islamophobia (which isn’t a phobia at all, but I digress) or bullying or how black people are treated, or, or, or…

We police what religious groups who aren’t Christian wear, what they say, how they pray.  We comment on how black people wear their hair, what they wear, how they walk. We discuss ways in which bullied children can “deal with it”.

Bullied. Children.  Even there?  Even then we focus on what the victim can do in order to stop being a victim?  How they can help themselves to not feel so alone, so ashamed of being themselves?

Our society is so focused on FITTING IN that everything else falls by the wayside.

I was watching an old Vlogbrothers video and was struck by this thought.

 

I’d never really thought about how we victim-blame bullied people. How we always try to give children ideas on how to deal with it.  Because we apparently don’t expect anyone to deal with the bullies.  That’s kind of depressing and it leaves me feeling helpless.