Orlando

Forgive me for the lack of eloquence in this post.

For those of you who don’t know: A gunman killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday.

50 dead. 53 injured. That’s twenty more than Virginia Tech, making it officially the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
174th mass shooting in the U.S this year, 13th this month, seventh since Monday.

Gun control laws are a different post. That’s a part of this. June is pride month. That’s a part of this. Trans rights have been in the media lately and last night was Latin night at that particular club with trans headliners. That’s a part of this.

I’m just tired. I’m tired and I’m scared and I’ve been crying all day.

We need to stand together. We need to care for each other. We need to not let this shooting go by without reform like every other shooting has gone by.

I want to still believe humans are fundamentally good.

Days like this make it so hard.

-JM

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Why, Aria, why?

So I just received a bit of disturbing news…

But first, a hypothetical situation:

Sixteen year old girl, back in her home town after a year long leave of absence, sneaks into a bar. She looks mature for her age and no one’s seen her around so she gets away with it. In this bar, she meets this young looking guy, very attractive, and clearly interested in her. Now she’s sixteen and he’s old enough to patron a bar so we already know he’s too old for her, but they flirt anyway. They both love poetry and have an intellectual conversation about literature and they’re clearly compatible and attractive and attracted to each other. When they later find out the next day that he’s her high school English teacher, it adds a forbidden element to the whole affair. It becomes more dangerous, more enticing. They continue to see each other, despite it being illegal and they go on to have a relationship and have sex and all that jazz.

I lied, this is not a hypothetical situation, this is the plot for one of the main characters of Pretty Little Liars: Aria Montgomery and Ezra Fitz.

In the pilot episode when Aria and Ezra first met, Lucy Hale (Aria) was actually 21 years old. That meant standing next to 24-year-old Ian Harding wasn’t shocking to the sense like a teacher/student relationship should be.

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That looks okay, right? We’re not immediately up in arms about this because they don’t look like teacher and student even though the show told us they are.

This, and the tragic romance of their whole story-arc, created a really creepy perspective in high school girls that dating older men isn’t just forbidden and exciting but desirable. Look at how pretty and acceptable this couple is! Wouldn’t you want the same thing?

Now I don’t know how many young girls this couple actually influenced into dating older men, but considering the popularity of the show, especially in young women of high school age, I can imagine there’s been a spike in age-inappropriate dating.

Now back to my disturbing news from the beginning of the post.

I have a friend who is now dating her high school English teacher.

It’s worth noting that she’s out of high school now: she’s twenty years old. So while the relationship isn’t illegal, it’s still very creepy and very off-putting.

Because here’s the thing about the teacher, let’s call him Mr. Shakespeare: He’s not young, or even young-looking like Ian Harding. He’s mid-forties, at least, and divorced. And guess who his divorcee is… ANOTHER ex-student.

There have been girls in high school who would complain about Mr. Shakespeare. That he would be staring at their chests or down their shirts. That he got too close, touched their arms or whatever when he passed. My brother’s friend literally threatened Mr. Shakespeare to stay away from his girlfriend because he wasn’t comfortable with how close Mr. Shakespeare was getting to her. He likes them young.

As far as I know, he’s never done anything illegal. He waits til they’re out of high school to marry them. But he’s still a predator. That first wife… my theory is she got too old. So he divorced her. Now he’s got another bright-eyed Shakespeare fan just wanting to be his muse. He practices photography. Takes pictures of her. How is this not the grossest thing you’ve ever heard?

To her it’s romantic. They’re both a bit quirky, it makes sense they’d get together. That’s what some of the kids have been saying.

And I don’t want to undermine her choice by saying this – I don’t, she’s an adult and she’s free to go out with whoever she wants – but I have a bad feeling about this. I don’t like the power-dynamic. I don’t like the age difference. I don’t like his history or methods.

This is a predatory relationship. And she’s just repeating what she saw on TV.

-JM

Mansplaining

Some of you may have heard this word, others may not have. Mansplaining is basically when a man tries to “explain” something to a woman in a derogatory and/or condescending way, only speaking over her, telling her she’s wrong even though they have no real knowledge of the information at hand. Yesterday I was mansplained. Hard. By my doctor. Now, I know that this is more of a personal story but things like this happen all the time and I feel that light needs to be shed on the way that privileged, straight, white, old, rich men speak down to women and others in less of a power position than themselves.

 

Yesterday was not a great day for me. I was in excruciating pain from yet another kidney stone and that pain lasted me two and a half grueling hours. While I was in all of this pain I called my eurologist to figure out what to do and he told me to come to his office to figure out what was going on after getting some tests to show where the stones were.

I had to wait a long long time to see this doctor and waiting around isn’t fun in general but it’s really not fun when you feel like you’re giving birth. So I’m writhing in pain and finally get called back to see this doctor, and then have to wait another 45 minutes until he comes into the room. About 15 minutes before he comes into the room my pain subsided, and thank goodness it did or I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool the way I did.

So he comes in and talks to me about the kidney stones for maybe 15 minutes and then asks what I’ve been up to. I told him that I recently got accepted for a job at my school’s women’s center, and his immediate response was “notice how there are always women’s centers and none for men? There need to be more men’s centers.” Of course I silently was cursing myself for even bringing this up to a straight, white, old, rich dude, but it got worse.

I explained that our center helps everyone who comes in, and has many male staff members which makes men more comfortable to come in and talk, or I tried to explain this. However, before I could even finish my sentence, this doctor interrupts me. He cut me off to tell me that advocacy is not being executed properly, and that men need more advocacy than women.

Let me stop there and break this down so far. Not only did he dismiss the work that I, and everyone that works in and is passionate about topics that I am, do, he said that we do it wrong, and that men need more advocacy than women. I completely agree that men need advocacy, but for this man to tell me that they need it more than women when he’s never worked at a domestic violence shelter in is life? And to do so when he has no idea what we do at the shelter I was talking about? Extremely uncalled for. However, that is part of mansplaining, hence the title. It doesn’t stop there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I jump at any opportunity to defend my passions and my work, but I bit my tongue. Hard. I told him that this is not a topic we should debate, and that we should move on. Who would feel comfortable debating (and by debating I mean being mansplained and cut off) by their doctor? That’s a complete power play. BUT, he decided he wasn’t done.

Somehow he moved to the topic of the election, and once again I asked him that we stop talking about this issue, and once again he ignored that request and spoke over me. He asked who represents him, a straight white male, in office. HAH. I said “probably Trump” which I guess was kind of talking back and giving sass because of the way I said it and how I meant it, which was a mistake because it enticed him to continue. But I was proud of the little come back. Anyway, He kept going.

Somehow, he ended up on the topic of abortion. Now, before I even continue, I’m going to break this down some more. I had just spent two and a half hours in excruciating pain and came to this guy to discuss my kidney stones. He first insults me and my work, talks over me every chance he can get, says that he has no representation because he is oh so oppressed, and now moves on to the topic of abortion. After I asked him MULTIPLE times to please focus on my kidney stones since that is what I was there for.

He decided he had more to say, so he kept at it. He was telling me that women shouldn’t always get the  right to choose what they do with their body and that men should have a say. Whatever, in certain circumstances I agree, but ultimately it’s the woman’s body, therefor it’s her choice. That’s a debate for another time, which is exactly what I told my doctor, but he wouldn’t stop. Every time I tried to defend a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body he would talk over me. At that point, I stopped trying. I would only speak to ask him to move on and to stop talking about this subject.

After about another 15 minutes, this guy is still going, and he is practically blocking the door so that me and my mom can’t leave. Not only did he do all of the previously mentioned, messed up things, but he physically wasn’t allowing us to leave. And what could I do in that situation? My doctor, who might have had to do surgery on me in the next few days, was mansplaining me and physically blocking the door. He was on a power trip. Eventually we got out of there and by that point me and my mom were FURIOUS, to say the least.

Once we got out of there my mom and I immediately complained to higher ups and got my doctor switched, because that was super inappropriate on so many levels and in so many ways. My lesson for this, I guess, is to not let people mansplain you but also analyze your situation. It’s ok to not always speak up, especially if you feel uncomfortable and that there is a power difference that another person is exploiting. Stay firm but also stay safe, my friends. Also, to the men reading this, please stop mansplaining. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that you aren’t always right. Stop talking over women.

-JB