Feminism Vs. Rape Culture Vs. Self Defense.

*TRIGGER WARNING: The following post talks about rape and violence in the US.*

So a couple of days ago we had some big news come out in regards to the new Miss USA and her response to a very important question, what were her thoughts on the sexual assaults happening on campus’ across the US. Now usually I don’t get into this stuff or blog about it because I don’t want to start a shit show but this is seriously important. I want to make one thing very very clear before I start: I am a feminist, not an extremist, I recognize that not everything is a black and white issue when it comes to dealing with social issues. I am also a survivor of a few instances of sexual abuse and the topic of rape culture is really important to me.

What is rape culture?

Rape culture is a concept that links rape and sexual violence to a culture and it’s society to a point where it is normalized and even condoned and often times is expressed in victim blaming, sexual objectification and making things like rape and violence towards women not such a big deal and belittling the idea of it. We see it constantly in the US, in our media, in our schools, people we are supposed to be able to turn to for safety are blowing it off and it’s coming out as a scandal months later because of shady detective work done by the police. Back in February multiple states had to really take a good look at making a change because they still had rape test kits dating back to 30 years prior, rape culture is well and alive in America and we have to do something about it.

What is not Rape Culture:

Suggesting that women empower themselves by taking a self defense classes to protect themselves.

How do you stop Rape?

By not accepting it in your society, by standing up against it and making it illegal, by creating safe and effective laws that protect the victims that are effected. By teaching people what rape is, how they can prevent it and how to not do it.  The reality is that we may never fully stop rape.

How do you stop Rape when it is happening to you?

You fight for your goddamn life. Just because I don’t want to get raped and that I do not condone rape doesn’t mean that it isn’t a very real possibility when I close the restaurant and walk into the crowded streets of downtown to the bus stop. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t carry mace because bad things happen. People have been mugged blocks from my house. Is mugging bad? Yes. Is it illegal? Yes. Should you be aware of how to defend yourself against someone if they pull a gun out on you? Abso-fucking-lutely.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking responsibility for our own safety, saying that nothing bad is going to happen to us because we don’t want it to and it shouldn’t exist and expecting that to be a reality is a very, very, dangerous mind set. Understanding that Rape happens isn’t perpetuating rape culture or victim blaming, you can be against rape and still prepare yourself just in case it happens to you.

Who should be taking self defense and what are the benefits?

Personally I think everyone should take some form of self defense, if only for the fact that it really helps boost self-esteem (something we seem to lack here in the states.) In every class it’s pretty clear that self defense isn’t about beating the crap out of someone but about creating enough space to get away from the attacker and get help, which is pretty damn useful for just about anyone.

So what’s your point/TL;DR?

Miss. USA isn’t perpetuating rape culture. We as feminists talk all the time about taking power back and standing up for ourselves and keeping ourselves and our fellow woman safe. We talk about empowering ourselves by doing things that aren’t in societies views of our gender roll. By attacking Miss. USA for stating an opinion that is a pretty damn valid one we are taking ourselves out, so all I have to say is:

Congratulations Miss. USA! You go girl!!!!

Host Stand Fun and Thoughts on San Diego.

There’s always something exciting that happens up at the host stand, whether it’s watching Shake Weight Guy (Anyone who lives in San Diego and spends way too much time downtown knows who I am talking about) or dealing with a man who clearly is coming off of some sort of drug walking around with a gun and muttering to himself. Least to say Gun guy was the other night. Let me just put it out there that the entire time I was living in New Orleans I never saw a person pull out a weapon, I saw plenty of people arrested for being drunk angry slobs but not one pulled out a gun and started waving it around. Not that I knew what to do anyway, my first response was to call Brian who is the gun Guru of the house and the conversation went something like this:

“Uhm… There’s a guy walking around in front of the restaurant caring a gun… Is that even legal here?”

“Wait, what?!?!”

“Yeah….”

“Why are you on the phone with me, call the police!!!!!!”

And so we did. I didn’t, but my manager, K, did.

Least to say I have no idea what happened to the guy but it certainly was exciting there for a few minutes and honestly I was more concerned with people’s safety than the fact that he had a gun in the first place. Was he okay himself? Did he need assistance that he clearly wasn’t getting? Was he even willing to get help? How the hell is there so much poverty here?!?!

San Diego is a pretty incredible place, it has mostly perfect weather year round and the hikes you can find here are amazing (see Black Mountain.) It also has it’s issues much like any other city. To be honest, this has been the hardest move I have made in my travels, it has also been the HARDEST culture shock to deal with. At current I am still dealing with the culture shock of the west coast on a daily level and the Poverty level here might be the hardest part of the entire move.

Perhaps it’s because there is such an obvious difference between the higher upper class and the poverty or maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention or sensitive enough to the issue for it to effect me as much as it does here. It may also be the fact that every single day I am at work I watch people dig through garbage cans, beg for change and they seem to mostly do it with a smile and deep appreciation for when they do find what they are looking for or receive that extra parking change you don’t really need. Many of them wish me well on my way to work and cheer me on at the end of the day when they see me head to the car. Many of them know me at this point, they come in and I let them use the restroom or I have volunteered with them before, regardless of how they know me (if they even know me) they all show me respect and I have no problem giving it in return. I have almost gotten into really heated arguments with people who refused to do the same even though the homeless person was just trying to help me help them get directions.

Least to say I have been working on this blog post for about two weeks now to find a good way to wrap it up but I just can’t seem to let it settle and so I am cutting it off here to perhaps be finally finished at a later date.

Louisville (Loo-we-ville)

When I left Vermont I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was going out into a world by my self and it was exhilarating. I remember crossing the state border into West Virginia and opening my windows to the smell of wild flowers and the summer heat, how lost I got on my way into New York City and how I was fairly certain that I was going to die (Thankfully my Grandparents are AMAZING and guided me through the city to their apartment,) but what stands out to me the most out of the traveling I’ve done so far is Louisville, Kentucky.

Maybe it was the fact that Louisville was the first city I ever moved to on my own or perhaps it’s the fact that Louisville is seriously underrated. Go ahead, have your giggle. Every time I bring up Louisville, or the fact that I even lived in Kentucky, I generally get some pretty interesting reactions. Generally they have to do with the fact that everyone seems to think Kentucky is all Hickville but it’s really not and Louisville in particular is  very very special.

Why Louisville? Well partly because my best friend Ronnie lives there with his wife, Rehna. I met Ronnie online way back when I was 17ish and we became fast friends. Together we trolled the internet, ready to take down any uneducated fool who dared to comment idiotically on something they obviously knew nothing about, played ridiculous amounts of games and most importantly we talked. We talked about everything, he helped me get through the worst break-up of my life and I helped him open up more in his marriage to Rehna. After we met over Thanksgiving in Vermont we decided that I should move to Louisville and out of the amazing grace of their hearts they gladly shared their home with me. It was hard, four people living in a two bedroom apartment, but it was home and we had a BLAST. They had another roommate named Leigha (That’s Lee-uh not Lay-uh, sorry SW’s homies) who was one of the quietest people I have ever met but when she does get comfortable and she talks she is one of the most hilarious people you will ever meet. The other part was because my mom lived in Louisville when she was in her early 20’s and she loved it herself, my mother and I have the same taste in many many things and Louisville is just one of those things.

The culture of Louisville is unique in the sense that it is a lot of the Northern Culture with mostly the good Southern Mannerisms and enough of both the West and East coast fashion influence to create a style all it’s own. The musical aspect is another really really strong part of Louisville and the Local Bands rock the town regularly and will more than gladly have a beer with you provided you can find the bars they enjoy most. Beyond the people though you have places like Bardstown Road where most of the locals spend their time (Oh man do I miss Cahoots) and you can find secret places like Baby D’s Bagels (Insert picture of homer drooling,) as well as some incredible restaurants.  The falls of the Ohio is another part of that area that astounds me. It’s on the Indiana side of the Ohio River but it’s worth the quick drive over if you get the chance. The rock bed you walk out onto is covered and filled with fossils; on warm days it is amazing to walk out onto the ledge, pop open a book and enjoy the sun with the sound of the river roaring by.  It’s comfortable in the sense that it’s a little-big city that fits just right, or at least just right for me.

At some point I will type up some of the stories of Louisville for you, including when I moved there and mistook the Yum! Center for a Giant KFC and the first time I met my crew at The Levee.

Cheers for now!

-NG