Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Assault Blame

I am so tired of being one of the ones to blame. This post has been a long time coming, and it's going to be a little raw. I'm not apologizing; I'm prefacing.

A draft sat with ideas and points but remained as bullet points. Now it is completely relevant. A young woman has gone missing. Weeks after beginning the second year of college, fresh-faced and full of life, she vanishes. Immediately images of her crop up over social media and the news to jog anyone's memory. Hasn't anyone seen her? Heard from her? Don't you remember something? Anything?

There is a picture of her at dinner with friends and then a picture of her the night she was last seen with a sparkly cropped top, originally described as mesh with cut-outs. The comments that followed the release of information and this picture, and other similar stories, are outraging.

"What did she expect dressed like that?"
"Stupid girl walking alone at night."
"She probably accepted drinks and led him on."

Are you seriously effing trying to pin this on the victim? Women may drink underage, but not all kidnapped women are drunk. Women may wear leggings as pants or sparkly club shirts, but their clothing is not solicitation for rape. Women may have left a building or gotten in a car with a perpetrator, but often it is forced and sometimes they are just asked to believe they are being helped and taken to safety.

There is no amount of immodesty or drinking, no amount or perception of leading someone on, no time of night one is walking alone that excuses a kidnapping, rape, or other physical assault. Implying that women should know what they have coming to them because of how they dress or act takes responsibility for action off of men. I don't care if someone else walks around this green Earth completely naked; that is no invitation to be leered at or assaulted.

So many comments and articles focus on who we are teaching women to be, the issues stemming from feminism, and how women these days bring these issues on ourselves. I'm tired of being one of the ones to blame. Who are we teaching men to be? If this issue was unique to our time and feminism, explain history. Explain some Bible stories and other stories of cultures at the time of the Old Testament. Explain how the victims are at fault. Also, most assaults are by someone the victim knows.

Humans, depraved and corrupted, act in ways we do not understand or endorse. The issue of assault ignites a fury inside me. More than I have gone into here. It should ignite a fury in us all. We should be filled with a holy and righteous anger, a desire for this atrocity to be stomped out, and mouths salivating for justice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

easily amused

A favorite faculty member calls and in the middle of asking a string of work-related questions, pauses to ask, "Can I ask you a personal question?" I thought it was going to be about restaurant suggestions, which was our topic of the moment. He continues, "Those pictures I see...is that your boooooooyfriend??" I reply with schoolgirl giggles (Yes, I know I'm in my thirties), "Yeeeess." He followed up saying he's going to tease me incessantly. I say bring it. I'm easily amused.

After this, he was a little more serious and said he was glad to be out of the dating world and had found his wife but wished me the best and said I seem quite happy. He also figured out they are technically working in the same department so he tacked on that he's glad I'm dating a smart guy. His tone throughout the conversation suggested what he had wanted for me, what he thinks I need, and in some small way, that he thinks Brian would be glad too.

You know, I think Brian would have been glad at how my year is shaping up. Work, school, dating, a new turn toward wellness--life isn't perfect, but it is good. It amuses me to think of this too since about four years ago we were having a serious work conversation, and he interjected, "YOU AREN'T GOING TO HAVE A BABY, ARE YOU?!" My reply, "Cart. Before. Horse!" He was just worried I was going to run off and have a baby and leave him. We talked about that a lot...me leaving, not him worrying about me having a baby. He never wanted to pry, but he was always interested in my life and wanted the very best for me. Work dad. He also just wanted me to be there when we wrote a grant. I have thought about him a lot this year, particularly with work and school. I often picture his head nod and boisterous laugh and his many enthusiastic questions. Yep, I think he would be pretty pleased and amused at my life. Me too, sir. Me too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Light provides a better source of illumination.

This is for you, and it is for me.

The image is from a London subway wall June 2012. Someone carried a simple piece of chalk and scrawled a statement in a dingy exit over wet cement and a bit of trash. I saw it just as I started walking up the stairs to exit and did a double take. What a weighty metaphor. Months prior were a dark time for me, and as I headed to Ireland and the UK, I was determined to claw my way out of the dark, if need be. Everywhere I turned on that trip I heard and read light, and when I read this line in the subway, I was literally walking up steps into the light of day.

I believe some of the darkness shrouding my days was brought on after blogging a chunk of my story. I had felt healed. I had felt forgiveness. But I believe I dredged up indirect feelings during the writing process, and I began remembering who I was for so long rather than who I was at the moment. When our memories are cloudy and our view of ourselves skewed, we need an intervention. We need light to show us who we really are.

Dear one, you, too, have been someone in the past you are not currently. You have felt feelings you no longer feel. You have acted in ways that are so contrary to current-you. You have believed things about yourself that are no longer true. No. Longer. True.

And it's time for you to start letting go of your memory of you and embrace present day you. It is time for you to believe you are worthy and precious and all of the good things. It is time to shake off that coat of shame and live free and unburdened. It is time to let go of grieving the loss of who you were and open your arms to who you are. It is time for you to stop living as if you were that old person and start living your better now-story. 

Rest in your present-day self. Lean with me into our potential. As we continue changing and growing, let's shrug off the old and dance in the new. Light will prevail. It will overcome the dark and the dim, the muck and the mire. It will illuminate. And you will see how radiant you really are.