We are Broken

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broken

Recently, I had a talk with my granddaughters about what is appropriate and inappropriate to say or do when with friends. They are 7 and 10 so it is expected that this discussion is not only necessary but will be repeated a few times during their childhood. The discussion centered around, if you must close the door, if you cannot say or do the same with your friends at school, if you cannot demonstrate or repeat what you have said/done to your teacher or at the dinner table, it is inappropriate and unacceptable. Whether another child or an adult is attempting to engage you in such actions, you need to leave the room immediately and inform an adult that you trust, of the situation.

As more conversations are coming into the spotlight related to “locker room” antics between the “boys”, I am saddened to realize that in 2016, there are people who still believe that a “locker room” culture should exist and we should continue to perpetuate the same. Apparently, there are those who see nothing wrong with “boys being boys” especially when they are the school jocks, rich, or popular. This subculture is encouraged to treat women as objects with little or no accountability.

As a society, we are broken! 

There seems to be a belief that there is nothing wrong with a few guys drinking at the bar and saying disparaging things about women. Among the boys, it seems to be acceptable to nudge each other and discuss how you would “handle” a random woman in the bedroom.

Well, I will tell you specifically what is wrong with this attitude and these types of conversations and why they must stop.

First and foremost, a woman rarely reduces a strange man to the girth or length of his penis. Woman rarely stand around nudging one another discussing, if they could get Guy X alone, they would do this or that to him. Women rarely call a man into their office to suggest that sexual favors will help him move up the professional ladder. I am not saying this does not ever happen, but it is rare. Also, if women do talk about a guy, he is usually within her circle of acquaintances, the conversation takes place with a trusted friend, and it is done in private with the promise of secrecy.

Women do not generally seek approval from their friends through discussions of over inflated sexual prowess or their ability to “handle” a man, especially a random stranger. 

On the other hand, males frequently judge women “worthy” or “not worthy” based on their bodily dimensions, length of their legs, size of their breasts, or the ampleness of their hips or ass. Society continues to deem this behavior acceptable because, “it’s just boys be boys”, they do not really mean anything by it, or “what woman does not want to be desired by a man?” I heard this one recently, it is just what guys do. How can you be mad at them for being boys? There is also the repeated mantra, it is harmless chatter.

Well, this woman and many others like me do not find any comfort in this behavior and societies acceptance of it. It is anything but harmless. This behavior does not make us feel desired, it makes us feel disgusted, as though we are proper of the random boys who make these comments, even though they have never met us. As other boys hear the stories that have no consequences, they are encouraged to do the same.

What comfort do I get from a random stranger only seeing me as a “p***y”? This does not make me feel desired, it makes me feel sick. It makes me want to retreat from society. 

Furthermore, what gives  boys the right to look at women as a group and categorized us based on a “sexual criteria” that is flawed and biased in every possible way.  This “criteria” is created by boys who believe that the more sex they can drag into a conversation, the more manly it makes them. The more they can sexualize a woman, the better they feel about themselves and the more macho they look to the group.

This woman finds this behavior to be archaic, caveman-like. This woman finds this behavior to be the precursor that leads some to move the conversation from the locker room to the party room, bedroom, backseat of a car, or under the bleachers.

This is the behavior that ends up costing women their lives because they are unable to deal with the stigma that follows an assault by a “boy just being a boy”. 

When these “boyish” conversations occur, as with any group conversation, there are varying levels of maturity in the group. Where many will walk away from the conversation and forget it, there are some who take it to heart. Given the opportunity, these are the boys who go to far. These are the boys who are having sex with girls who are too drunk or otherwise incapacitated to say no. These are the boys who believe that women are their property and we should “take it” and “like it”. These are the boys who believe that every woman wants sex without any regard for who the boy is or the time or place. Boys tend to believe that women lack gratitude.

Have these boys really gone too far?

Often, it seems other boys do not think so. Typically, following an assault, we hear, she should have said stop louder or he was just being a boy. Judges give boys community service but provide no support for the women. As a matter of fact, boys are frequently treated as the victim, The women are described as having “asked for it” or they should have worn more clothing or not been the only female in a group of boys, or should not have been out so late. Simply being a woman and existing in the world make us the property of any boy that wants to use us in any way that he sees fit.

It is all unacceptable and heartbreaking.

As a society, we must move away from the traditional ” locker room, boys talk”! We must stop seeing women as meaningless, sexual objects. This attitude is NOT okay. We must stop viewing women as property to take advantage of when and however a boy sees fit. We must hold boys accountable for their conversations as well as their actions. We must help them advance to the stage of a men.

Women also have responsibilities. As women, we must stop calling each other bitches and whores. We must stop joining in when others start the name calling. We must try and help women get through the aftermath of these situation. We must stop putting others down to feel better about our actions.

Even if a woman does willingly sleep with around that does not make her worthless or a sexual object to be abused. We must stand together to change society. 

We must inform our children of appropriate and inappropriate conversations and behavior. They must know that when a conversation or an event is not going in a positive direction, to immediately leave and get help. We cannot have just one conversation, we must have 1000.

We must bring our children into this conversation so that the cycle stops. 

How can we teach the next generation what is appropriate or inappropriate when we clearly do not seem to know the boundaries ourselves?

In order to teach our children what is appropriate and inappropriate, we must re-education ourselves. As women we can no longer accept this behavior. We cannot brush it off and blame ourselves (unless we are truly at fault).  As men, you must acknowledge that “the good old days” are gone. The days when locker room talk rarely left the locker room are no more. Locker room talk has taken on a life of its own that can result in negative actions that cause horrible pain and it can no longer be perpetuated.

As men, get your mind in the right place, change how you view women because, as shocking as it may be, we are people too. We are more than our dimensions, more than our tits and ass, and definitely more than a conquest to tell the boys about on Monday morning.

Disrespecting woman is not a badge of honor. 

*As I was writing this article, I struggled between the terms “boy” and “men”. As I was editing, it occurred to me that the term”boy” is typically used when a wrong has occurred and blame is being deferred. The term “man” or “men” is used when the event was respectful and pleasant. I decided to align with societies lingo.

UPDATE: This article and the included tweets are good to read. I know that there are men who grew up not viewing women as objects.

Not in Their Locker Rooms.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Vacation Reflections

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Vacation has always been a time for me to forget my real life and lose myself in something fun and exciting. For me, vacation is about saving my money for months or even a year, and then, throwing all caution to the wind. Vacation starts and it is time to spend money on food, trinkets, and entertainment. It is time to wake up early and stay up late. Usually, my vacations last for a week. Before I know it, the week is over and it is time to get on the plane, return home, and go back to work.

In 2009, I did vacation a little different. I booked a 17 day trip to Ecuador. This trip took me away from home over Christmas and New Year. Having never been away from family and friends during the holidays, I was a bit nervous about how I would feel being alone. Let me explain what happened.

Booking the Trip

Gap Adventures allows singles to book without that horrendous “single supplement” fee. What you agree to, is being assigned a roommate that you will not know. As a matter of fact, everyone who books a trip is booked as an individual and once the maximum number is reached, no one else can join the trip. I was a bit apprehensive but excited that as a single person, I could take a vacation and not have to pay extra for simply, being single.

Friends Reactions

My friends were amazing. Since I would be gone during the holidays, they provided me with more spending money than I could have used on 4 vacations. They all told me how much they wanted me to have a great time and they were willing to make sure the vacation was a success.

Getting There

Quito, Ecuador

The trip from Florida to Panama was great. I was seated next to Sophia. She was approximately 5 years old and lives in Panama. Yes, after all of these years, I still remember her name. She asked me lots of questions, told me stories, and drew pictures for me. When the plane landed, we said good bye and I headed to my gate to wait for my connecting flight. For more than an hour, all announcements were made in English and Spanish. Then, an announcement was made only in Spanish and everyone got up and started leaving the gate. I became a little worried and asked someone, what did they just say? He told me that the gate had been moved to the opposite side  of the airport. Really? This is the announcement they make in only Spanish. I followed the others to the gate and                                                              made my way to Ecuador.

Meeting the Group

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Fernando

Ecuador was a sight to see. Living in Florida, mountains and altitude are foreign to me. The country is absolutely beautiful. I made it to the hotel and eventually connected with the others.Some had been the victims of a street holdup but they were fine and excited to start a 17 day adventure.

In the group, there were other singles, two sisters, and two families. It took us no time at all to begin chatting and getting to know each other. They were from Canada, Australia, Austria, and the US. I will not suggest that we were all the best of friends but everyone got along for the entire trip. Our guide, Fernand0 was from Ecuador, he knows his way around, and was the best tour guide ever.

Getting Around

This was a rustic vacation. We stayed with the locals, rode in the back of pickup trucks, took the “chicken” buses with the locals, and did a lot of walking too. During our home stay, we got up one morning to hike to a waterfall. Yes, we hike up a mountain and then careened down to the beach. At this point, it was about lunchtime so I thought there has to be a shortcut back to the home. Well, unlike the magic that is Walt Disney World, there was no magic. We careened back up the mountain and returned home the same way we came.  That was the longest, most rewarding day of my life. I had never thought about doing anything like that but I did it without even thinking about it.

Altitude Defeat

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At the Spa

Our first excursion was to a spa nestled between two mountains. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. The first evening, everyone went out to walk down one of the mountains. At some point, many decided to turnaround and head back. One person, the marathon biker from Canada wanted to continue to the bottom. Me, swimming a mile a day, five days a week, felt that I was in the perfect shape to accompany her. Well, going down the mountain was super easy. When we turned around to come back up, I took about three steps and could not breath. I did not want to say anything so I pushed forward and took a total of eight steps and went to my knees. I could not breath. She consoled me and I stood up and was determined to climb the mountain. I took five steps and went to my knees. The next go round, I took three steps. We can all see that I am not going to climb this mountain before the vacation ends. A few cars passed us and finally, one that passed, backed up, and asked if we needed a ride. Hell YES! I do not know you and maybe you will kill me but it is a chance I am completely willing to take. We made it back to the spa and I now know first hand about altitude and elevation. It is NOT available is Florida.

Eating

The food in the restaurants, was good and cheap. A very filling meal costs no more that $3 American. I had my first fruit pizza and it was delicious. However, be warned, the more delicious a meal, the more likely your stomach is going to protest later. The home meals were not great. I am sure they were feeding us as cheaply as they could in an attempt to keep more of the money but it was all about the experience. I managed to lose 15 lbs on this vacation because I was very cautious about what I ate. Besides, one can only eat so much chicken, lettuce, and carrots. I did not want to get sick in a foreign country so eating less was my mantra. One of my travel mates did get sick and he had to return to Austria. Lesson: when in a foreign country, be cautious of what you are eating and do not share food with other people.

The Locals

No matter where we went, the people were very friendly, even if they did not speak English. We were actually fortunate to have a few people on the tour who spoke Spanish so we did just fine. We hung out in the same places as the locals and had a great time doing it.

Home Stay

During the home stay, we went to the beach and on the way back., we noticed a brand new pickup truck in the distance. As we got closer, it sped away. I noticed a backpack behind the bush where the truck had been. One of the group members immediately headed over

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Home Stay

to retrieve it. We all emphatically told him NO! To this day, I have no idea what was in the backpack but a desire to return home alive easily outweighed everyone’s curiosity. We even took some of the people who were not with us back to look at it but we NEVER got close or touched it.

Monkey Business

Of course, there is always a zoo visit when on vacation. So, off we went. It was boring until one group member and her daughter decided they would become friends with one of the monkeys that was running wild in the zoo. Again, my overwhelming desire to return home alive kept me a good distance from these monkeys. So, the mother reaches for the monkey and it jumps into her arms. For about half hour, she carried this monkey around as though it was her nursing infant. Finally, she put it down. We continue walking

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Good times carrying a wild monkey.

around and where ever we went, the monkey always lurked in the bushes next to us and was sure to follow. Then, the woman who was carrying it calls for her daughter. As she and her daughter are talking, the monkey jumps out of the bushes and bites the daughter on the leg. I guess he had some jealousy issues. Everyone is speechless.

No one who works for the zoo has any idea what to do, which is not a surprise. They insist the monkey has “had all of his shots”. I was itching to ask, can you please tell me what those shots are?” We all know, it is Ecuador, there is zero chance that a wild monkey has had a rabies shot. So, the daughter limped around and said she was fine. I have no idea how that played out when they returned home other than to be fairly certain, the incident was not declared on the customs form.

The End

The best part of the vacation is that after all these years, I still keep in touch with 4 of the people who were on the tour. I truly consider them friends. I came home with a new way of looking at life and felt happier and more at peace with the world.