Perception of Equality is Not Universal.

I am incredibly disappointed with the commentary on the nation’s Women’s Marches, both by those for and by those against. The lack of charity is overwhelming.

Opinions should be expressed. This is how we learn. There is a means to expressing one’s opinion without belittling, shaming, or guilting those that disagree. I am appalled by some of my fellow women. I have seen judgement of moral character. For some, this issue has determined whether another is a good person or not, expressed in nothing more than a hastily written sentence. How incredibly sad. Are we blind to the irony and injustice of this? If you’ve never felt victimized for your gender, I am so glad. That doesn’t give you the right to cheapen another’s experience.If you have felt victimized, you’ve no right to impose on others why they should.

Had I been able to, I would have absolutely marched. I know a lot of women who wouldn’t have. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. I deeply respect many of those women.

I am not a feminist because all women have felt victimized for their gender. I am a feminist because I have. In my experience, institutionalized gender equality does not automatically instill societal gender equality. Words on paper have changed. Many minds have not. I do not speak for everyone. This is one girl’s experience in a man’s world. And it’s trivial, but that’s why it’s important. I would have marched for numerous other reasons. But injustice often occurs at the most trivial of levels, and many are calloused to it.

I run everyday on the streets of an average sized city. If I am alone, these are the comments I hear nearly daily from men:

“Keep trying, fatass.”

“Work that ass, girl.”

“Eat some fucking cake, you look disgusting.”

“Put some clothes on, slut.”

“You’re fucking ugly.”

“Hey bitch, you want this?”

It gets worse.

And, men have exposed themselves to me. Twice.

When it’s warmer out, I am typically running in a baggy t-shirt and loose shorts.This does NOT mean if I were running in anything different that these comments would be justified. I’m just trying to give a little perspective for comparison.

I’ve asked some of the men on my cross country team about their experience on the same streets. They run shirtless and in shorts often shorter than mine (again, not suggesting indecency, just giving perspective). Runners always get innocently catcalled. “Run, Forrest, Run” is an (unoriginal) favorite. Yet, the men I spoke with hadn’t heard anything overtly objectifying. Comments were far less frequent.

The man who runs the same streets that I do hears nothing outright offensive or objectifying on his run. He is above the crude remarks. He is an equal. He is a person.

But I’m not. I’m just a source of amusement—an object, a toy. A joke. And I’m instantly reminded that every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in America.

I do not believe every male runner has not experienced objectification, this is a sample that I’ve gotten information from. I’m also not suggesting all men scream at female runners. I believe most men don’t. But many do, and many think it’s okay.

I am not a dog. I am not a  creature to scream profanities at for amusement. I am an equal. And until this, among many other more pressing things, is not occurring regularly, I will pursue changing the population’s mindset on gender equality.

Tell me why you did not march, not why others should not have. I will tell you why I would have, I will not tell you you are wrong in not marching. How about that?

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Listen to the Heart Tugs

This week, I have a story.

In November, my roommate and I were walking out of Target. A young girl about our age stopped us and asked for a ride home. She said her friends she had been with left without her, and she had no way to her apartment complex down the road. The sun was going down, and the temperature was dropping fairly quickly, so I said it wouldn’t be a problem (after checking with my roommate of course).

Yes, I let a complete stranger into a small confined space with me and my roommate. Terrible things could have happened. I know it wasn’t the smartest decision in the world. It would’ve been smarter to call her an uber or maybe a cab. But I’m kind of naturally naive about such things, and something about this situation caused me to set my instilled reservations aside.

We began to drive, and to fill the silence, my roommate and I talked about the upcoming projects in our classes.

“Are y’all in school?” The small voice from the back seat asked. We said we were, and she proceeded to tell us all about her hopes of attending college soon. She had dreams of becoming a nutritionist. Apparently she had been a student for a semester at a university near by, but dropped out. Her present situation was undesirable–emotionally abusive friendships, living paycheck to paycheck. She felt stuck. She felt trapped.

My roommate and I told her about the school we attend, and took a little detour to take her around campus. We encouraged her to apply, and on a whim I did something else a lot of people would consider outrageously stupid: I gave her my phone number. I really wasn’t even sure why. She just seemed like she needed help. I reasoned with myself that if things got out of hand, numbers can always be blocked. But, I knew that I wouldn’t have a problem. This girl was just lost and knew it. She had no malicious intentions. She didn’t even ask for my number. Before I even know what I was doing, I just gave it to her. It was just the little tug in your heart, you know?

My roommate and I weren’t exactly expecting her to enroll in the next semester, or even take our advice at all. But, we thought the encouragement might have been beneficial nonetheless. And, at least she got home safe and sound. I hadn’t heard from her at all, and I wasn’t really expecting to.

I learned two lessons from this situation. I learned one in the moment, and I learned one yesterday.

The first: I became so aware of the blessings that are my relationships. This girl was born and raised in the town we were in. She was incredibly sweet, and had the kind of disposition one would never expect to deviate toward intolerable enough to be so inconsiderate toward. Yet, she had to ask a stranger for a ride home that was just two miles away. With the wonderful friendships I’ve made and the incredible family I have been blessed with, I am 100% confident that no matter where I was in the country–perhaps even the world–I would have someone working desperately to help me try and get home.

The second lesson was a result of the last thing I was expecting to happen yesterday.
I got a text.

I had nearly forgotten about the whole event in the first place.

The text said a simple: “hey this is the girl you picked up from target not too long ago, I was wondering when the next classes started so I could sign up?”

I helped her through the application process, and she sent it in. Maybe she’ll decide not to enroll. Maybe she’ll chase a new dream instead. But if nothing else, that small exchange we had pushed her to take steps toward chasing her dream. And if I had listened to my practical judgment, I wouldn’t have let her into my car, and I certainly never would have given her my phone number. Sometimes compassion confronts practicality in our minds. Giving in to the compassion is terrifying and often unconventionally disruptive to one’s routine. I sometimes think I try to give in to it the compassion more than I should. I’ve been told I think too romantically about the world, and thinking the best in everyone is pretty dangerous. Well today, I’m thankful for my naivety. Never underestimate the interactions you have with people. You might be the stranger that gives them the confidence to follow their dreams. And always acknowledge the heart tugs.

35 Simple Happies

After sifting through idea after idea for this week’s blog post, I decided I had had my fill of serious. Some simplicity was in order. Here are 35 simple things that make Taylor freely happy–no conditions.

  1. kayaking
  2. films from 1978-1994
  3. pumpkin pie
  4. wind chimes
  5. long runs
  6. slow mornings
  7. hot chai tea
  8. hotter black coffee
  9. dusty antique books
  10. cellos
  11. paddle boarding
  12. bomb salad bars
  13. my nephew
  14. christmas lights
  15. noiseless laughs
  16. the smell of pine
  17. silent snow
  18. fire places
  19. deer sightings
  20. oatmeal
  21. soulful voices
  22. manatees
  23. pandas
  24. yoga
  25. peanut butter
  26. fresh air
  27. vegetarian menus
  28. calla lilies
  29. empty hiking trails
  30. vintage hats
  31. tea-length skirts
  32. cinnamon
  33. deep shades of green
  34. bare feet
  35. Tom and Jerry

New Year Resolutions

We’ve welcomed 2017, and with a new year comes new hopes in the form of New Year Resolutions. It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? One night—a night not particularly unlike any other night of the year—and so many gain the courage to change their lives for the better. Throughout the years, I’ve heard many people say New Year Resolutions are pointless and overdone. Well, they can bite me. I, like so many, need to shake off 2016, and a few resolutions that will probably be nearly impossible to keep are just the thing to help me do it.

I’ll be honest: I have too many resolutions,and I treat them like any other average human. Chances are, I won’t be keeping more than half of them.

One of them is to dust off the cobwebs on this site and write at least one blog post a week. I’m not a blogger in the slightest, so we’ll see how that goes. Yoga twice a week, a weekly sketch here and there, weekly piano playing, nightly reading—the list goes on. I’m fully admitting my own over-ambition here.

However, there is one resolution I am determined to keep this time around.

I want to be a valuable addition to the lives of the people around me—an addition worthy of them. If there is one thing 2016 brought out in me, it was selfishness. Perhaps it was more self-focus. More than likely, it was a little bit of both. It wasn’t entirely my fault. It wasn’t entirely not my fault either.

Over the quiet weeks of Christmas break, I’ve looked back over the past year and really questioned if I brought any substantial and significant joy in someone’s life, or even my life. If there were times when I did, the times that I didn’t heavily outweighed them. I truly hope that changes. I don’t want to merely exist, to fill the space in the lives of those around me. To do that, I’ll have to stop treating people like space-fillers. The independent routine I’ve so comfortably nestled into has desensitized me to the wonderful hearts that are just footsteps away, whether they be my very best friends, or strangers I’ve never spoken to. I pray in this new year I am able to give joy, and be gracefully receptive to joy and overtly aware of it.

It seems to me, the only way to even attempt to accomplish this is to consciously ask myself if my actions are adding anything of value to my world and the world of those people whose lives I have the privilege to be a part of. I want to live for them, for people, and I think by association I’ll be living for me, too. At the end of the day, our worlds are truly one world, after all.

I’ll fail some days. I might fail some weeks. Maybe I’ll even fail months. That doesn’t equate complete and utter failure. We start again. I suppose that may be the wonderful thing about beginnings that gets so overshadowed by the hype of the new year; A new year only arrives once every 365 days. Thankfully, a new day arrives with all 365 sunrises.

My first actual blog post was inspired by someone telling me not to write it.

I am a writer. I am not one to publicize my writing. Take this blog, for example. I have had this for two years, and this is blog post number one. I do, however, regularly read personal writing that authors make public.

And I’ve read multiple “Why I’m sick of reading about blank” articles in the past few months. They are blog posts that criticize the abundance of the current blog topic clichés: wanderlust, sexual purity, the sad state of modern dating, the validity/invalidity of the feminist movement, 12 reasons why your dog makes the best mac and cheese, etc., etc.  Just like anything, the new trend is discrediting the latest trends in one way or another. And if I’m being completely honest, I’ve often agreed. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t rolled my eyes at more than one Odyssey article that I’m sure someone laboriously wrote from the depths of their soul. I’m not proud of it. I can be as pretentious as the next humanities student. There is this stigma accompanying shock and awe, radically personal blog posts (the same stigma accompanying selfies, vines, tweets, Facebook posts, and the like) of “doing it for the likes” that I, like many others, get caught up in, dragging me down a judgmental spiral I have to rationalize my way out of.

But this morning, I read one of these “Why I’m sick of” posts that compelled me to respond, just in case someone else read into it and bought into the degradation that I personally feel the author is so distastefully perpetuating.

It is entitled “Why I’m Tired of Reading About Your Eating Disorder on the Internet,” and can be found here: https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/why-im-tired-of-reading-about-your-eating-disorder-on-the-internet/

Obviously, the title is a little harsh. After all, what is a blog post without a good, shocking title, right? I mean, it got me to click the link. In a nutshell, the author expresses her exhaustion with the “personal tell-alls” that have been filling all of our newsfeeds for the past year and a half. And she’s right. Just like many bloggers have noted before her, the relationship between millenials and social media is a precarious one. We are addicted to attention. We’ve been convinced that anything and everything we do is of some monumental importance, and reality is in a constant state of VSCO embellishment. We feel a constant need to assert our own originality (and therefore assert our lack of it). I feel like this has been well established. To be honest, that’s what I’m tired of reading about. But I digress.

Essentially, in her own words:

“In an age when we #doitforthelikes, the line between sharing in order to encourage others to feel safe in speaking out and merely word vomiting personal details onto the Internet has been all but erased.”

At first, I was only partially perturbed. Superficially, I thought she had a point, and it was something I considered myself on multiple occasions. Personal trauma should not be exploited for “likes,” and I appreciate quality writing being published over “word vomit” as much as the next English major. But the article kept itching at me all day, and eventually (following a run, which if you know me at all, you know that’s when I do my best thinking. Also, I can’t get through anything without talking about it in some way, so there it is), I was disgusted with myself that I originally agreed with part of it.

Let’s try and forget for a moment that she diminishes disordered eating, a very serious and life-threatening mental and physical disorder, to being an “obvious” consequence to “being a girl, playing with Barbies and owning a mirror.” Because this article isn’t just about eating disorders. It’s about personal trauma, depression, mental disorders, suicide attempts, anxiety, depression, self-harm. The author is also correct in that these bare-all testimonies have become commonplace. Well, so have a lot of things. But you know something? Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, are commonplace. That doesn’t make them less serious, but it does mean that any one of the countless people suffering from a mental disease has the right to share as little or as much as they wish through whatever method they choose. The author doesn’t deny this, but she suggests anyone questioning the tools they are providing their empathizers or value to the conversation should consider a diary. Let me just say from the other side of the screen, writing publicly and privately as a form of therapeutic relief and release are two entirely different worlds. Publishing my writing is not therapeutic for me. In fact, it gives me even more anxiety. I am not so ignorant to assume the opposite can’t be true for other people.

As a blogger and emotional human being herself, the author writes:

“If I’m not adding value to the blogosphere with my writing, I’d rather not do it at all.”

Let me break some news: the blogosphere? Not a real thing. It’s imaginary. A mere two decades ago, the “blogosphere” didn’t even exist. You know what’s real? People.

And this is really meant for anyone who has read this article or any like it and been convinced that their story is not worth telling or that they should feel ashamed for publicizing their writings as a form of therapy if it isn’t the most original thing since originality.

Who cares if you’re “doing it for the likes?” Do it for the likes.  If every like you get helps you to eat the next meal, or get out of bed in the morning, or keeps your from taking another pill or adding another slice to your wrist, then please, by all and any means possible, keep writing. Keep posting. Word vomit. Litter it with clichés if that’s what it takes. Honestly, I could not care less about the state of the “blogosphere.” And you shouldn’t either. Care about the state of you. Care about the state of one person in thousands that might find hope or meaning in your words. And neither this article, nor any other article, should ever make you doubt the value of your addition to any–to the–conversation.

And may I say to every person that has used the internet as their personal confessional for their benefit or the potential benefit of other people: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Also, if you found this post without value and therefore worthless to the blogosphere, I’d refer you to the beginning of it and would ask you politely to read it again.