We know, we know. You missed us.
We took a hiatus in order to equip ourselves with the professional tools we need to keep up the good ole fight.
In other words, Grace is in law school, and I am attempting to get back into school for public policy. While writing, blogging and even tweeting have a great reach and are increasingly great ways to interact with many people, those same people might not respect what we have to say without certain credentials, or what I like to think of as “Sesame Street” cred. We also love blogging and spreading the feminist truths of the world, but we both want to get involved in the public sector in a way that’s more tangible so that our blogging can be both opinions and reflections from real-world experience.
As Grace continues her efforts in law school, I back her up 100 percent. She will swing by when she can, but law school is no piece of cake. (If it were, it certainly wouldn’t be as happy as funfetti.) So, the rebirth of the blog will primarily feature quips, articles and observations from me and a guest writer here or there.
We encourage you to get involved! Comment. Follow us. Write to us. Write for us. Share. If there is something happening in your area that you want to share, we are all ears. 2014 will be a great year for Herlinked and we hope a great year for feminism.
Until next time, I’m Ron Burgundy?
The barbecues. The pools. The fireworks.
I understand why Independence Day is so popular in America. It’s easy to get caught up in the grandeur of the festivities and the free time most people get to enjoy with their families and friends.
I’ve had my share of red, white and blue outfits. I’ve clapped and kissed beneath the big booms.
But as I get older, I can’t help but feel a little dishonest for celebrating the Fourth of July when most people, including myself, are not really free in America.
It’s hard not to be a skeptic when women such as Wendy Davis can’t use their time to fix our broken education system or crippling debt, but instead have to focus their political energy on legitimizing my right to do what I want with my own body. Governors such as my hometown “dicktator” John Kasich, find it appropriate to take away funding from organizations that could help women be happy and healthy, and continue to focus on marginalizing people whose rights have already been affirmed by law.
Celebrating independence also seems like a farce when I can’t hold my girlfriend’s hand at a July 4th celebration without acknowleding how LGBT people have to fight to protect their loved ones from harassment and legal exploitation. A trip to the Supreme Court was a step in a long journey that shouldn’t be necessary.
I could continue. Privacy rights. Immigration reform. Class disparity. Voter oppression.
A shrinking minority of conservative bureaucrats continues to dissect and diminish the rights of minorities who are increasing in number but whose opportunities to control their own lives are dangerously disappearing.
For the most part, we are not free. We are drowning in legislation and legislators who want us to believe in a democracy that is slowly eroding. There was a reason the United States was established, yet the idea of freedom as the result of revolution is something Americans now avoid, and to some extent, fear. Until we follow the examples of people such as our brothers and sisters in Egypt, we may never show our leaders that freedom and independence are something we expect to be true, not something we blindly celebrate once a year.
Yet, I will still attend a family picnic today. And I will still drive as long as it takes to get to the best local fireworks in the area.
Because I know I deserve to be free, no matter who agrees with me. And that’s still something to celebrate.
Three women, kidnapped as teenagers, were found alive on Monday after missing for nearly a decade. The amazing recoveries of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight from a house in Cleveland defied the tragic endings of most lengthy disappearances.
The women were discovered when Berry started to break through the door of the house where the women were being held captive, catching the attention of neighbor Charles Ramsey, who called police.
Each woman appears to be in good condition, despite years of sexual abuse leading to violent miscarriages and at least one child, who belongs to Berry. The unbelievable discovery of the women made national headlines, deservingly so. It is unimaginable what they endured, living in the home of a man who neighbors say knew at least one of the victims.
My initial reaction to this miracle is similar to many other Northeastern Ohioans and countless others who will hear about this rescue. I am elated for the people who have a second chance to squeeze their daughters, sisters, and friends close one more time. I am equally relieved a man capable of such heinous crimes, and potentially the relatives who helped him, cannot hurt anyone else, at least for now.
The more cynical part of me, however, can’t participate in this local celebration without lamenting the topics people won’t discuss on the grimmer side of this miracle. While I appreciate the news coverage of the hundreds of people supporting these women in the streets, I wonder how many news outlets will discuss the reality of sex trafficking and the ways it continues to claim millions of victims in both the U.S. and abroad. Will news outlets discuss the harsh realities of overcoming any type of sexual abuse, whether it is repeated or a one-time occurrence? Will anyone consider why it’s so easy to be lost in a land where disappearances aren’t daily news but daily norms?
We owe it to Amanda, Gina, and Michelle to make their story more than evening news, but instead, a cautionary tale. These women didn’t suffer so everyone could chuckle at Ramsey’s offbeat interview about saving the women as it gains popularity on YouTube, then go back to our daily routines.
Sex trafficking is an international epidemic which didn’t start with Cleveland and won’t end until it is recognized for the international crisis that it is. Maybe it took a local miracle to open Ohio’s eyes to sex trafficking, but I hope our collective eyes don’t close before people take a stand against this devastating practice.
Editor’s Note: I chose the video featured above because it is an attempt to look at the long-term effects the victims may face as a result of their captivity and sexual assault. I find these discussions too rare on television and believe mainstream media discussing the effects of sexual violence legitimizes that there are such effects to those who need such justification.
That place meant much to few and little to many before a rape scandal, involving football players from Steubenville High School, rocked the small town, and ignited debates about sports entitlement, free speech, and rape prosecution.
During a series of parties after a high school football scrimmage, a teenage girl from West Virginia was “allegedly” raped by multiple members of the Steubenville High School football team. The victim was carried from party to party, unconscious throughout most of the events. Numbers of teens witnessed the crime(s), and none of them stopped it by calling authorities.
The victim was unaware of many of the events until she started seeing and hearing about the attacks via social media, such as Twitter and text messages. Most of the Tweets, videos, and messages about the incident were deleted when the event became more heavily investigated.
Why is a rape case from August still relevant news?
The police force was accused of being lax with the evidence, including the treatment of on-the-scene witnesses who decided to speak against the main defendants in the case. Some feared the victim would receive little to no justice, but a blogger and a group of activist hackers started following the case, demanding the removal of preferential treatment for the football players and exposing personal connections to the accused and some public officials.
Now, typical to the cyclical nature of the American news cycle, people will get outraged briefly, question how something like this could happen, and continue about their day-to-day lives.
I’m tired of American news consumers treating every news event as something happening in some mysterious “other” place to some mysterious “other” person. When we fail to acknowledge the misogynistic culture that allows underage athletes to feel as if they can gang rape a teenage girl because their trophies will get them out of it, we fail every person who will ever fall victim to such a horrific crime as rape.
Steubenville is every other town or city in America. Shadows of the horrific effects of such sexist culture linger in the hallways of high schools and colleges across the country.
My hometown of Ravenna, Ohio was no different.
When I was a senior in high school, I learned what it meant to be a woman in a country that often values the skills of male athletes more than the safety of everyone around them.
I had a friend who babysat for one of the coaches there. This coach was married with children. Many valued his status in the Ravenna schools programs because he was involved in so many sports.
The first red flag I had about this coach was when he told this friend her “boobs were nice and he could put his face in them.” I couldn’t believe my ears when she told me this, and I told her it was inappropriate for him to say such things for any reason.
The friend reconsidered babysitting for him but continued to help him, believing his comments were a slip-up. Then, the coach left her a disturbing voicemail, inviting her to a Cleveland Cavaliers game, just the two of them, because he had been thinking about her.
Immediately, I begged my friend to go to a counselor or principal about the situation, but she instead stopped babysitting for him and wanted to let the incident disappear with time. I asked my friend to reconsider and while she was present, I told a female teacher about what happened.
The teacher discussed the situation with other faculty, and before I knew it, I landed in talks with the principal about my allegations about the coach.
Except, there was no investigation. And there was no dismissal or suspension of this coach.
The principal discussed the incident with the coach before he talked to me and concluded my entire accusation was a conspiracy. According to the principal, the coach claimed to be close friends with my mother and knew about a large number of parties I was attending. In the coach’s opinion, I created this entire story about his inappropriate behavior to stop my mom from hearing about these parties I was attending.
I was shocked. There was a voicemail proving my story was true. There was not truth to this coach having anything close to a friendship with my mom, which could have easily been proven by a phone call. I attended very few parties in my high school career. I was too busy being one of the school’s valedictorians, captain of two sports teams, and maintaining leadership roles in honor societies and volunteer groups.
And none of that mattered.
The principal wrote me off as a newspaper editor looking for scandal, and the coach continued to coach. There were more rumors about him and other girls, and based on the lack of punishment he received when he was caught harassing an underaged student, I’m sure those rumors had validity.
I’ve never told that story publicly until this blog post. Even though I was trying to help my friend, a victim, I was made to feel ashamed and embarassed because the adults who were supposed to protect me were slave to a bigger master than the truth. That principal chose to protect a mediocre sports coach and a mediocre school’s reputation instead of protecting the past, current, and future students at that school.
That is the definition of rape culture.
It is a school, a city, a country, or world where victimization breeds fear and secrecy, and rapists and harassers receive confirmation of their normalcy.
Today, I am breaking my silence. I refuse to be quiet about that school year that taught me to dismiss my concerns when I perceive sexual harassment or violence. I’m taking back my power.
The best opponent to rape culture is the refusal to accept it. I will not be intimidated. And for those who ever doubt telling their stories, I hope you read this, and feel as if you don’t need to be again.
The New York Times: Is New Delhi So Different From Steubenville?
The New York Times: Rape Case Unfolds Online and Divides Steubenville
You may also be interested in:
How to pick your outfit appropriately by Grace.
Editor’s Note: The following post was submitted to Herlinked.com by a guest author. In order to protect her identity, the author does not want her name released. The editors stand behind the integrity and honesty of the author’s work.
Never throw a frog in boiling water. It’ll know it’s in danger and jump straight out. Now, if you put it in some cool water and crank the heat—it’ll be boiled half to death before it realizes the heat’s on. This is the story of how I got boiled to damn near destruction.
I met Frank when I was 21. I was naïve, inexperienced. He was kind and funny. We hit it off and things became serious. My first time with Frank, he fucked me like a blow-up doll. Frank had more sexual experience than I did, so I thought maybe that type of sex wasn’t abnormal. I believed Frank cared for me, and I couldn’t imagine he would try to make me feel cheap. Then, another issue arose. Frank often had trouble finishing. Was it his depression? I didn’t know. But, I loved him! I could work with this. But, when Frank began sharing grandiose stories of his past sexual exploits, my confidence waned. Was I the issue?
To assuage my fears, I tried to fix the problem. I bought sexy lingerie. His response: “I’m not a lingerie kind of guy.” I made efforts to gently discuss our sex life. To this, he responded in one of three ways: stare and ignore, make fun of me, or become angry. When we did have sex, sometimes it was good. But sometimes, I still felt like the goddamn blow-up doll Frank had fucked months ago.
Over the course of our relationship, my self-esteem diminished. I felt plain, powerless, and small. The decline was gradual. In time, feeling like shit became the new normal.
As my self-esteem deteriorated, so did my health. I already had a short history of stress-induced chronic pain. This developed after my sister died suddenly many years before. But, the pain was mild and I was never diagnosed with a disorder. I was in remission for several years before meeting Frank. But, after we’d been together about four months, my pain returned. This time it was severe, and with many new and different symptoms. Flare-ups felt like the devil himself was shooting fire straight into my bladder and vagina. Doctors were baffled. I started having anxiety attacks. I was falling apart. Then, sex began to hurt—the pain ranging from minor to excruciating.
At some point, I don’t remember when, Frank decided my body was his property. He would make a move. “No, I’m in pain,” I would say. He would keep trying. “I’m hurting; I can’t.” He’d climb onto me anyhow. He was “nice” about it, laughing and smiling. How fucking creepy. This sex was torture. My vagina was an open wound to his searing sandpaper dick. I would hurt for hours or even days afterward. I lost sleep, dozed off in class. Even wearing jeans became painful.
Why didn’t I fight it? Kick him or scream “get the fuck off me”? Maybe I saw no point, him having ignored my protests again and again. Maybe I didn’t want to embarrass him; given his sexual insecurities, I rationalized that he wanted to prove something to himself. I guess he did, because he never had trouble finishing when he forced himself on me. Maybe it was because my vagina was locked up in spasms like some goddamned vice grips. Did he think because I didn’t physically push him off, I was giving passive consent? (Oh wait, there’s no such thing as passive consent…) So I resigned, body spasming, spirit numb.
We had consensual sex sometimes. Frank occasionally showed consideration for my pain. But the rough times persisted. Stress tore me down, becoming so severe that on one occasion, when he was unkind to me, I passed out from a torturous flare-up and didn’t wake up for twelve hours. Between these spells, he was kind and caring…at times. That’s how I convinced myself he loved me—I clung to those rare displays of tenderness. I excused the inexcusable.
…And the pot simmered…
People who say politics are slightly personal are absolutely wrong.
Politics are completely personal.
They define who we are, where we go, and what we have.
The election today requires a definitive referendum about what rights we believe we deserve and who we think our government should protect.
Ohio is the unofficial “decider” of this election, and the voters here are in the national spotlight, with their clashing viewpoints and concerns treated as a microcosm of the entire country.
One Ohio voter, who I know personally, demonstrates how a vote for Barack Obama is both a rational choice and necessity for proponents of women’s health and rights.
Kaley Costello caught HPV from a former boyfriend, who she trusted with her heart and body. She not only received the news she had HPV, a common disease among American adults, but also discovered she had a severe type, which could quickly lead to cervical cancer.
Luckily, Kaley was able to get proper screenings and surgery because she was eligible to receive care through the “Affordable Healthcare Act,” as she was young enough to receive care from a parent’s benefits.
Millions of women who need preventative screenings, contraception, or treatment for diseases that significantly affect women, such as cervical and breast cancers, currently receive help through policies or programs Mitt Romney would cut or eliminate.
Kaley is one of those women. Politics is not some obscure idea that she can’t touch. A political conviction by Barack Obama is the reason she had preventative surgery instead of cancer treatment.
Kaley started a movement, “Run Against Romney,” to express her gratitude and support for President Obama and his commitment to protect women’s health. She encourages male and female runners to purchase “Run Against Romney” shirts, to spread the word against Romney’s agenda during anything from a morning run to a marathon.
When someone sees a runner in her baby blue “Run Against Romney” t-shirt, it is more than a political statement. It is bigger than partisan bickering. It is a commitment to the man who wanted all people in this country to have a right to healthcare. It is appreciation for a man who thinks family planning and contraception is a government priority, not nuisance. It is a thank you to the man who believes Kaley’s body, and my body, and any other woman’s body is just that. Ours. And not anyone else’s.
I am proud of Kaley for telling her story. When statistics have faces and voices, they are harder to ignore. Politics are completely personal, and choosing a candidate defines you as a person.
Herlinked.com is proud to stand with Kaley and the millions of women who will vote for Barack Hussein Obama because we refuse to lose the ownership of our rights or our bodies.
We hope you take this election personally, too. Get out there and vote as if your life depends on it. Kaley’s did.
For more about Run Against Romney and Kaley’s journey, click here:
The editors at Herlinked.com are looking for new contributors for the website. We pride ourselves in taking a snarky, yet refined point-of-view to the tough, and not-so-tough, issues of today’s woman.
The level of commitment to the site and the topics covered are pretty flexible. We are looking for writers, video bloggers and illustrators. Please check our contact page for the link to the application. Email Herlinkedblog AT Gmail.com (Take that spammers) if you have any questions.
When I told some of my friends I was attending a rally called “SlutWalk,” I received more than a few odd glances. When I further explained the walk is an anti-rape rally protesting victim blaming, the glances were even more confused. Many questioned why the demeaning word slut was incorporated into an event with such a positive message.
I have to admit, when I first heard the term SlutWalks, I wasn’t enthused about looking into the event any further. I’ve always considered the term slut as something both men and women use to make women unnecessarily ashamed about their expression of their sexuality. I couldn’t understand why people who sympathized with rape victims would want to associate victim support with such hurtful language.
I was so wrong.
When I saw a SlutWalk event was coming to Cleveland, I decided to take another look at the history of the rallies. Last year, a comment made by a Toronto police officer sparked the first SlutWalk. The officer said women could lessen their chances of being raped if they “avoid dressing like sluts.”
Men and women united in Toronto to express their outrage about such a comment, and cities around the world took notice and had SlutWalks of their own.
I was fortunate enough to walk in Cleveland’s SlutWalk on Sept. 15, and it was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. A group of us united at Williard Park to march downtown, chanting phrases of solidarity with those who have experienced sexual violence. When we returned to the park, victims of rape told stories of struggle, fear, and triumph.
I’ve never seen so many heroes and heroines emerge at once. I cannot imagine the courage it took to get in front of a group of strangers and share such a personal tragedy. There were stories about rapes at parties. There were stories about being raped by family members. There were countless accounts of women losing their precious virginities at the hands of rapists.
I was so empowered by the bravery of the men and women who chose to take a stand against the senseless act of rape and the ridiculous notion anyone would ask for something so destructive to happen to them. I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who fight every day to forget when someone ignored their right to decide what happens to their bodies.
I came to the SlutWalk as a supporter, but I left a slut. No matter what someone calls me and no matter what I wear, it does not give someone the reason to think my body is anything but mine.
Donations collected at SlutWalk Cleveland went to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Donations were approximately $800. If you live in the Cleveland area and need to talk to someone about being sexually assaulted, visit the center’s webpage.
“It might be a quarter-life crisis. Or just the stirring in my soul.”
People can say what they want about the cocky swooner, but when John Mayer put these words in his song, “Why Georgia,” he became my honorary soul sister, even though he released the song a decade before I could imagine what a quarter-life crisis was.
I may not plan on living until I’m 96, but I think I am in that quarter-life crisis stage right now. For those of you reading who are younger than 24, or who left 24 behind long ago, let me introduce you to a thing I call the awkward twenties.
Here are some hypothetical/not so hypothetical conversations I’ve had in recent memory:
Nosy person: So, what are you doing with your degree?
My thought: Thinking of doing a Thelma and Louise dive off a cliff because I’ll never get my dream job, and I’ll be in debt until I’m 1000. Thanks for asking what I’m doing with life, even though you Facebook stalked me enough to know the answer. Thank you even more for gloating when I tell you I’ve been working retail after graduation.
Real answer: I’m still looking for something in my field.
Bitter person: So are you and (insert significant other) still together?
My thought: You’ve heard from every person except me that we broke up. You just want me to be single and angry like you so you can recruit me to listen to Alanis Morissette with you forever.
Real answer: We are still the very best of friends. It just didn’t work out.
Rude person: Man, someone put on a few pounds. Are you pregnant?
My thought: I will take a bow and arrow to your forehead.
Real answer: I like to eat and no longer have a free membership to a college gym. Sorry?
Being 24 means I suddenly went from the college kid who knew everything, to the brand new adult who knows nothing. I am forced to acknowledge all my dreams may not come true, and if they do, they might have a higher cost than I ever imagined paying.
I am judged by the people who think it’s either Wall Street or more education. I am judged by those who think a ringless finger means an eternal marriage to my dog. I am judged by those who think I should drink less on Saturday nights, even if I don’t drink the other six-and-a-half days of the week.
I gain weight in places I don’t remember existing. My favorite t-shirts are suddenly more appropriate for someone who graduated high school when I graduated college. My budget doesn’t accommodate my free time, and my location doesn’t accommodate my potential.
This is 24 in 2012.
Sometimes, I feel so lost, but I’m not sure if that feeling is from a self-inflicted wound or a societal pressure.
I’m single. I have a job, but not one I’ll have forever. I don’t have any children. I am in a lot of debt.
But, I’m also not dead.
I can’t speak for every woman in their mid-twenties, but I’m tired of my life’s uncertainties portrayed with a direct correlation to failure. I may not have a masters degree, and I might not have a family, but it’s by choice. I want the career path I choose, and the partner I love, to be decisions that are permanent because they feel they should be, not because I’m forced to keep them that way. I might take longer to make life choices than the married peers I see on Facebook, or the young millionaires I see in magazines, but it’s because that’s what is right for me.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to translate this “unachieved” happiness to older generations, but I realize I have an advantage they’ve lost. I look at everyone’s parents, including my own, and they have divorced once or twice. They all had that point in their lives when they looked back and wished they would have done some things differently. Luckily, the place where they are looking back is where I’m standing now.
Even at my age, I get nostalgic, and reach for the music of my teens. Usually, I stop at my John Mayer collection. Then, I meditate on that magic line.
I get it, John. I’m 24, broke, and alone.
But mine’s not a quarter-life crisis.
It’s just a stirring in my soul.
It’s time to party, which means it’s time to choose my party outfit. I want to look hawt but not so hawt that I “attract those not-so-respectful guys.”
Lucky for me, I found some tips on how to pull this off in “Survival Guide: College-partying tips and how-tos that save your mind and dignity — Pick your outfit appropriately.” This was published in The Louisville Cardinal:
“It should be common sense,” the author astutely observes, “but choosing the right attire for any occasion is crucial. Just in case you do attract those not-so-respectful guys,” the author suggests taking the following precautionary measures:
1. “Be sure to cover up the assets.” (Might I suggest an off-shore bank.)
2. “The goods should not be on display for everyone.” Again with the commodification.
3. Wear “nothing see-through, too thin or too short.”
4. Show no bras or underwear and “definitely no would-be censored body parts.” (Exnay on the assless chapsay.)
I think it’s safe to assume based on current standards of dress for men and women that tips #1–4 are meant for women. There is but one bro-tip:
5. “Guys should stick to clean shirts (if possible).” If possible!
Remember, this “common-sense” advice will help you in case you “attract those not-so-respectful guys.” Because how “not-so-respectful guys” react to you is something you have control over?
No. It is not.
Women (and men) have been and will be victims of unwanted sexual attention no matter how they dress. After you’ve made it clear that the sexual attention is unwanted but the person does not stop, it becomes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not caused by clothing. It is caused by the
“not-so-respectful guys” ASSHOLES who sexually harass.
Instead of telling women how to dress to avoid sexual harassment I don’t know maybe we tell men (and all people) not to sexually harass people at parties, on a boat, in a moat, eating a root beer float?
Just a tip.