Meta Post – What is SDSurvivalGuide?

First, announcement!: I will be moving posting day to Tuesday as an experiment for awhile. This should negatively affect almost no one because you can still check my blog on Thursdays; it won’t even be a problem.

I was checking my stats and there’s actually a consistent buildup of traffic on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are, in fact, exceedingly boring, even with all the taco deals in town. So I will attempt to make Tuesdays less boring and bring content to those shouting at their phones/laptops, “Internet, amuse me!” (Everyone does this, right?)

Secondly, ohmywhatthefuck I had some internet success WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? And, what, more importantly, is this blog about?

This website started with a dream. I could take all my knowledge about partying in SD (which is vast, primarily because of my main woman, Katelyn) and share it through the power of the internet. I could form an elite group of partiers who would descend on events like glitter locusts and leave kickbacks sparkling with glaze of alcohol and shimmer of sex-sweat. Meanwhile I would provide consistent weekly content to attract readers and build my reputation as an aspiring writer.

Over time I realized it was just NOT feasible to invite internet randos and even my facebook randos to all the parties. People just want to party with cool, non-creepy people, okay? Reddit does have public kickbacks, so go be with them if that’s what you want.

(I am still toying with a snapchat auditions idea — blast out a call for cool people to join me at parties, and those with impressive snap responses will be sent the time/location. Stay tuned.)

So, all that’s left is the writing part. How on theme do I have to be? I don’t know. Contrary to popular belief, no one pays me for this. My payment is the feedback I get when I run into people I know around SD. The unexpected followers. “Hey Sami! I’ve been reading your blog, it’s really good!” Aww shucks, buddy.

But! Glorious discovery this year! It turns out that what the people really want is feminism! (This post broke my all-time views record.) And I could write about that endlessly. Here’s my life: 1. Work 2. Go to bar/club/party 3. Encounter a situation that needs feminism 4. Want to write about feminism. So, the theme now includes feminism. Because I said so.

Anyway, the real truth is I’m writing this blog (and in-part started this blog) because I’m also writing a book. I knew that being able to show to agents/publishers that I can cultivate an audience and output consistently would only help me. I knew that I wanted to practice writing under deadline, and to develop my voice. And I knew I wanted to wrap my head around San Diego.

So, please do feel free to give me feedback (the comments section allows you to post without signing in to anything). Expect updates about the progress of my book after I get an agent (planned sometime later this year). And get ready for Tuesdays to be less boring.

<3 sami

P.S. consistent feedback suggests the internet needs more cute/wacky pictures of me:

Yes I am wearing a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

Yes I am wearing a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

 

Why does a party lifestyle blog need feminism?

Why does a lesbian need feminism? Why does a lesbian going out to a gay bar during San Diego Pride week need feminism? I mean, I’m categorically sexually disinterested in men, I’m in an environment which should not have friction or competitiveness or predation between women and men, and this week is, in theory at least, all about solidarity in our minority status as LGBTers. So you’d think I could take off my feminist hat and just enjoy my Adios, right?

Actually, my interactions went fairly well last night. The only example I can truthfully give is that a friend-of-a-friend started to tell a story and stopped at the word bitches, “Sorry, I always say that word. Anyway these bitches…” So, at least he was aware. Fuck though, I hear the most misogynistic crap come out of the mouths of gay men.

Part of me wants to give them a break. If the world has been trying to force-feed you women on a platter like they’re juicy delicious burgers (every Carl’s Jr ad, ever) and you finally want to express your right to want something different in life by proclaiming, “ewwww vaginas,” who can blame you, right?

I’m full of empathy until gay men I’ve barely met spin me around like I’m a little doll (ok, sometimes I like that because my shoes are awesome — but it doesn’t matter if I like it; he should get my permission first) or whistle at me in a drive by or slap my butt or (and, of course this happened) touch my crotch. They basically do this because there’s some sort of agreement between gay men and straight women that she can treat him like a little pet –hashtag gaybestfriend!! — in exchange for a boost in confidence from his (male) approval, and he can…well I’m not sure what he gets out of the arrangement but I’ll have to talk to my gay male friends and get back to you. Perhaps the social mobility through her straight world? Anyway, whatever the deal is, I think it’s a weird and kind of fucked up relationship. And it certainly doesn’t work for me when I’m assumed straight and so desperate for validation from a man that I will accept it gladly from one who isn’t even sexually attracted to me. More willingly, even, because I’m not expected to “pay out” for the favor.

Even when I attempt to retreat from the pressures of the straight world — when I try to go somewhere where I’m not going to be bombarded with cheesy pick-up lines or creepy staring — even at a gay bar, my interactions are still colored by the gender roles which filter and mutate into my environment. Sure, I’ll be able to relate with a gay man on many points about our shared queer space. But there are still going to be moments here and there where his viewpoint as a man means he’s going to trample over me. I will grant a few jabs because of my femme privilege — in that I blend into the straight world so easily and by choice of appearance or whatever he might not. But, I think there is a point where a negative attitude against women goes beyond the objection to the oppressive straight culture and into just mirroring sexism from that same culture. There are moments where I am made the object of a joke, or I have to witness a drag performance which is overly mocking of women rather than gender roles in general, or I’m actually molested, or I see other women treated this way. These things remind me of why we need feminism.

Just because it is to a lesser extent does not mean it should be ignored. Party environments can of course amplify misogyny — hello booze and hook-up culture. But environments which are expected to be safe can still host some of my most uncomfortable moments. Even a party thrown by a particularly enlightened bunch of hippies. Not every moment is going to be puppies and rainbows, but as long as the risks are so dire (rape, violence against women) I’d like to not be reminded of them. Not when I’m trying to get drunk on blue liquor, especially.

And that’s just the gay bar. Like I hinted at before, booze and hook-up culture makes for some pretty desperate maneuvers (and upsetting behaviors) at any party. All I really need to say is I live in a world where telling a man that I’m a lesbian does not turn him away; it turns him on.

There is no escape from the restrictive narratives which police gender. There is no escape from the entitlement that many men feel they have in regards to women’s bodies. Not even parties, and especially not parties in a lot of ways. People are trying to get drunk and fuck, after all. So long as I am surrounded by people who are trying to have sex with each other, and our larger cultural example of how to negotiate around sex and gender is so broken, I am going to be a witness, collateral damage, and/or a target of sexism. And I’d like to help fix that. So I can drink in peace.

Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too

…here is Part 2.

You saw in my last post that, “Women Hurt Women, Too.”

Patriarchy hurts men, too. It hurts men because it self-perpetuates. Even women become willing participants in patriarchy. Even women ignore other women’s struggles; even women use #notallmen on their tweets. And a self-perpetuating patriarchy does not give men much room to be their true selves; it punishes men for opposing it.

This is going to be a rather dense post, so here are the bullet points you can discuss on your Facebook walls in lieu of actually reading the whole thing:

  • Patriarchy is a system that, by its own (sloppy yet powerful*) “design,” holds itself together and pops up everywhere
  • Men are hurt by patriarchy, too
  • Patriarchy punishes men who want to be “different”
  • The fact that Patriarchy exists means that women have (valid) reasons to be distrustful of men, for their own safety. For a well written, male perspective on this, I recommend the “Women are Defensive (With Good Reason)” section of Pepper’s larger essay (which, though it is about nonmonogamy, is useful in general)
  • This distrust hurts men (especially those who are sexually interested in women), too. Men have a crisis of identity, because they are told they could be “accidental rapists” and, like, no one wants to be that
  • The Patriarchy protects subtle, hurtful behaviors such that they are supposedly invisible even to the men that do the hurtful behaviors. This hurts men, because men can begin to believe that they can’t trust themselves.
  • Part of the solution is to banish these hurtful behaviors from the shadows. One of the ways to do that is to, as men, call out other men you see doing hurtful, Patriarchy-supporting behaviors.
  • If it is not obvious to you what these behaviors are, spend more time listening to women and to feminists who have spent a lot of time experiencing / thinking about these behaviors

*Sloppy Yet Powerful is my new band name.

Liberal media is talked about like it’s a monolith, a fucking machine or a conspiracy meant to control our brains. Regardless if that is true (and I have my suspicions — a little cog named Jenji Kohan got me fantasizing about conjugal visits with particular jumpsuit-wearing actresses), there’s another monolith that controls our interactions as if by invisible gears — actually, it mostly uses social scripts — and that is Patriarchy. For the benefit of my readers that might not throw around the word “scripts” like I do, they’re not just the things Laura Prepon memorizes for her job. Social scripts are those little memorized stories that tell us what to do when we have to interact with other human beings.

Social scripts tell us that when we love someone, we kiss them, and that when we really love someone, we marry them. They tell us that when someone is being a nerd, and it makes you uncomfortable, you laugh at them. They get rewritten so that nerds can be geeks, and some geeks are cool, and if you aren’t a big enough geek, maybe you’re not cool.  Social scripts are passed down to us from our parents and grandparents and/or other guardians. They play out in our favorite TV shows, and movies, and the movies we hate but we watch anyway because they’re on TV and the remote is too far away.

“Alternative” scripts are shot down, demeaned, framed as a waste of time, and, worst and most frequently of all, not imagined in the first place. Ordinary men are Patriarchy’s unconscious deliverers, because without help, ordinary people cannot imagine their own scripts. Ordinary men aren’t told any other way to be, and are seduced by the charm of stories whose outcomes they know. Any impulse to be otherwise, to be “different,” is squashed, leaving men the apparent choice of a hyper-masculine bravado (and its spoils) or an empty valley (some people call this the “friendzone”). This personality crisis hurts, too.

This is how men do not realize that #yesallwomen experience discomfort at the hands of men. The monolith of patriarchy makes a smokescreen for men like Pan to exist in the “benefit of the doubt” arena where their behaviors are seen as “normal” and not “fucking creepy.” Because it’s “normal” for guys to “sweep women off their feet,” or “seize women in a passionate kiss” — I saw it in all the movies, ever. And it’s “normal” for women to want these things, because princesses.

(Update: when a friend told Pan that “Blotted” was too fucked up and should be left alone, Pan said we are adults and she could make her own decisions. Either he has no idea about “too intoxicated to consent” or he’s using a facade of ignorance to do whatever he wants.)

Patriarchy hurts men too in that it allows these subtle aggressions to live unchallenged. That is: any man can expect that sometimes (or often) his transgressions will be invisible. Predators abuse this system; average men bumble into predatory territory because these walls are kept hidden from them. I have male friends who tell me they worry so much that they could be like the man in the “I Need a Man” story — that someday women could earnestly tell these stories about them.

Part of me is baffled, because my friends are good men, and how could they see themselves that way? Part of me knows that even my most consent-obsessed friends have moments of blindness, where they make other people uncomfortable because they take their sexual agency for granted. The world tells them it is thus, and how can they escape it?

I have a friend that was falsely accused of rape. First, the criminal justice system intervened and found him not guilty. Then, quite some time later, administrators in his college found out about the case and decided to conduct their own investigation and protective measures. This is how his entire campus found out. The administrators’ actions make sense in a lot of ways – they know how ineffective the so-called justice system can be and need to protect their students.

What is most painful for my friend is not the repeat “trial,” though it is stressful and hard and depressing, but the reactions of people he thought knew him better than to mistrust him. That his “friends” are quite capable of seeing him as “the enemy” now, when they happily fell asleep next to him on couches or walked arm-in-arm with him before. Now they are swatting his hands away not just from themselves but from others. I am sure he has even had moments where he asked himself what has he done, no truly, what has he done to deserve this?

Guys, the impulse to fear that you could accidentally be a predator is the right one. The system protects predators, makes excuses for their transgressions. The system will make excuses for your transgressions. It will tell you that you were too drunk, too overcome with testosterone, just trying to be friendly, just trying to have fun, just teasing a little, that girls like bad boys, or strong boys, or confident ones, that nice guys finish last. This same system means there is no easy distinction between rapists and men like you. As long as predators are allowed to lurk in the shadows, the women who have lived in fear of the shadows will see you in them. It is their right to be afraid, lest the shadows devour them.

Proclaiming “Not All Men” is not the answer. Women know not all men are like this, in fact a lot of heterosexual women look forward to the fact that not all men are like this and they might fall in love with one (or more) of them. Yet, for her own safety a woman has to assume the potential for any man to hurt her. She knows that other men and even other women will count her the most responsible for her own safety, rather than protect her from or blame the predators. She should carry mace. She should stand up for herself. She should know better, shouldn’t expect better. The world shows her it is thus, and how can she escape it?

This is how patriarchy hurts men. It assumes everyone is a participant. It tears the ground right out from under them when they resist it. It creates shadows around all of us. The solution is to shine a big blaring spotlight into those shadows. To stop protecting the transgressions of others. I know (some of) you see yourselves in those shadows, are afraid of being called to stand trial for your bumblings. But when the excuses stop, the dark mirror will break, and you will see which pieces of yourself you need to throw away with the shards. I really hope you will.

If you are not sure how to shine this spotlight, stop and listen. There are people out there who can help direct this light. There are people who see the shadows when they close their eyes in fright. It is not their job to tell you, because they have a hard time knowing if you are made of shadows, too. It is merely your job to listen.

Women Hurt Women, Too

Wow.

My last post blew this place up.

I had an overwhelming amount of support, attention, and even a little bit of criticism. I got many private messages saying “thank you,” from women who related to the story. I got a lot of comments in that vein. I also got a few comments from a woman who questioned my tactics, my beliefs, and my grasp on reality. She said she’d rather say something to someone in the moment than write a blog post about it. Sorry, I’m going to write a blog post about it.

This will be Part 1 of a two-part series.  TW: rape, racism.

Instead of breaking down the values and dangers of confrontation, I wanted to go into a realization I had the first time I found myself arguing against women on a matter of gender. That is, women hurt women too. Women protect patriarchy, too. I am seeing it now in the news, with the SCOTUS ruling. I am seeing women standing on the other side of the fence, joyous because to them it is their own victory, they have taken on the fears of reproductive health as their own, they’re saving babies or some shit. Not concerned at all about their own uteruses. Because they’re not sluts. Or something. Anyway.

I was so naive, once, to think other women would understand me by virtue of also being women.

Let me tell you the story.

It was February, Black History Month, 2010, at UCSD. The Black Student Union (BSU) was waiting on an answer for their demands. A party with a racist theme, and some of the things said in defense of this party, and a noose hung in the library, revealed the toxicity of the campus climate against black students. “The University is allowing the African-American students to be racially demoralized by a group of students on this campus,” the demands letter read. This becomes relevant, later.

I’d only been a student for about 1 year. I had joined one of my University’s largest Facebook groups, which mostly posted events. Occasionally, people posted internet articles and discussed them. I mostly did not participate, because I was busy being an art student and doing art student things (read: get fucked up and play Minecraft). One guy posted an article about how chivalry was seemingly dead.

People responded to the post, generally agreeing that chivalry was dying, and it was such a shame. The article stressed that it was women being ungrateful for chivalrous acts that was part of the problem, and why were they doing that? I saw an opportunity to help explain why a woman might feel uncomfortable with chivalry, and I gave personal examples and explained in a rather diplomatic way (or so I thought). I said that it is possible that women could be uncomfortable because they are afraid. That, for example, when I walk to my car alone at night, I put my keys between my knuckles like wolverine because society tells me I should be afraid I could be attacked. So if a guy runs to open my car door for me, I might be unsure of his motives. I may have also said men should pay attention to their surroundings and make sure they aren’t accidentally making women uncomfortable.

People’s responses to my comments stunned me. Two women, especially, picked me apart. I tried to defend my statements, but they told me I was stupid to be afraid. It’s difficult to remember anything but the most horrifying of the things that they said, and that was this: “If you’re so afraid, why don’t you go run to the BSU and use their ‘safe space,’ then? Or are you too afraid of the big black men?”

I deleted everything I wrote. I was humiliated and shaken. I did not expect this from women. I thought all of them knew the fear I sometimes carry with me. I thought all of them had at some time or another distrusted a man who seemed to have “chivalrous” intentions. I thought they would stand up for me, in light of all that has happened to our fellow women.

Just one year prior, a student walked alone to her car at 8:30pm. She was held down in the parking lot, between the cars, and raped.

I Need A Man

Edit: I forgot to mention that I was inspired to share this personal story after the North Park attacks on women made me start thinking critically about my own safety. It was a depressing reminder that it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of false safety, but that horrible things happen to women even in my own neighborhoods.

You catch those predators, San Diego, and you work hard to make this an environment where such things happen less and less and hopefully, someday, never.

——————

I am brazen, compared to most. I am not afraid to say mean things, when mean things need to be said. I am also a skilled diplomat, disguising my vitriol as obliviousness, couching my barbs in pseudo-flirtation. I ended up using the latter strategy for this party.

A good friend of mine, along with two female friends of his, wanted to find a darker, couch-ier place to pass around a bottle of whip-cream vodka. We did find a couch, in a dark room, with very loud music and an open dance floor, though no dancers. I’m noticing a trend at these burner types of parties that alcohol is scarce; perhaps we’re all skilled consumers, and by the midnight hour the beer is gone. So, when my good friend left (me with the bottle in my lap) to go to the bathroom, a man immediately approached to take his place in the center of the couch. I will call this man “Caveman.”

I don’t know if I was protective of the bottle only at this point, or the women already, but I defended my place. “I’m saving this spot for my friend,” I shrugged with a grin. I clutched the bottle.

“Oh, so you’re going to be 2nd grade about this?” Caveman said.

“Yeah,” I was.

He sat at the end instead, by who I will call “Blotted” — as she was. The way he stroked her arms made me uncomfortable. She periodically flailed them, proclaiming, “Everything is so nice.” I was not sure if she evaded his grasp or celebrated it, but at least my good friend came back and we passed the whip-cream bottle for awhile.

Between dizzy swigs I peered at Blotted. My good friend noticed my glances and began to share my uneasy expression. I leaned over to my good friend, “I think I’m going to diffuse the situation a little.” It was Blotted’s first time partying with the burner community and I wanted to make sure she felt safe and happy. She was also only 21, and not so experienced with being so blotted.

I pulled Caveman away from the couch. He was easily led. “It’s Blotted’s first time at a party like this,” I said over the music.

“She’s beautiful.”

“Yes.” I nodded.

“But you, you are even more beautiful.”

Instead of retorting in my head like I might normally, I said these words aloud, “That’s a terrible compliment.” After all, I looked fierce as fuck in a half-undone Spyro the Dragon Kigurumi and a black sports bra, so why hold back?

“What?”

“I like women. I don’t want you to put them down to raise me up. A better compliment would be…. you are also beautiful.”

As we talked, I bobbed and danced around him so his hands could never quite land on me. He seemed to, at least, understand that much — that I didn’t want him to touch me.

“What’s his secret?” he said.

“Who, him?” I looked over at my good friend where he still sat on the couch with his friends. “We’re not intimate. I’m gay. He’s my really good friend.”

“No. You’re not gay. Like all the way gay?”

Oh fuck you, too, Caveman. Just question me immediately — it’s not like I don’t get that reaction every time. “Ummm…. Welllllllll. Yes.” All the way gay, it is. He did not deserve a nuanced explanation of my complicated sexuality.

I spun and I stomped to the beat, and then said to Caveman, “His secret is he knows how to interact with women non-sexually. So I can feel comfortable with him, and they can feel comfortable with him. Your problem is that you exude sexual intent. I’m immune of course.”

“No, no you’re not. I can tell you have a heart.” Caveman. I don’t have a heart if it doesn’t beat for you/your penis? You’re killing me, Caveman.

“Yes, yes I am.” 100% immune and heartless.

I think introductions finally happened here. I think a half-naked gal started to walk up to us for some group dancin’ but smelled his desperation and pivoted away. Then he said:

“How old do you think I am?”

Looked 42, so I guessed 38. He was 50.

After his dismissal of my sexuality and this tidbit, I came to a swift conclusion: this man is a predator. He goes to parties, he finds young, inebriated things (I’m 24, but look younger, and of course Blotted is 21), and he eases himself into grope-central. Like, age is just a number but he wasn’t staring into her old soul through her young eyes. She didn’t even know his name and he was kissing her whenever her face was pointing in the right direction.

“Can I ask you something?”  This is, of course, an omen that something offensive is about to come out of someone’s mouth. “And if you want you can break my heart, you can stab me right through the solar plexus….”

Warning. Trap: I am going to confess my undying love/lust for you and if you don’t like it, it will cost your guilt and discomfort as I throw myself on the sword. He trailed off before completing his sentence and his emotional trap, unable to finish his thought, so transfixed was he by my fierce sports bra.

“I’m up here.” I actually fucking said it. I actually fucking said those words for the first fucking time in my flat-chested, itty-bitty-titty-committee fucking life. If this dude was going to be old school, this dude was going to get some old school sass to make him understand I am a human being, not a walking sex doll.

He sputtered, probably some excuse but I missed a lot of what he said due to the loud music and my blind-white shock that a guy like him got into a party like that (a very cool party, btw), and was still bothering me.

Actually, actually I remember now, at some point he told me his name was Pan. This is obviously his burner/community name, but still, he could be recognized. I don’t care at all. Hey Pan, this girl talkin’ shit over here on her blog about you. Take that in your solar plexus.

I was beginning to feel like I needed a diffusion, myself. I’m at a party to have fun, not explain to men like Pan that lesbians are actually lesbians and quit staring at my chest. I went back to the couch. He resumed his post next to Blotted.

Through an unfortunate miscommunication, I was left by my good friend and our other friend to be Blotted’s babysitter for the rest of the foreseeable night. Normally I would be happy to let her wander around in such a community on her own, and perhaps that is what my good friend expected, too. This particular crowd is very loving and enlightened and take good care of fucked-up 21-year-olds. Nevertheless, I could not bear to leave her alone on the couch with Pan.

“Want to go on an adventure?” I tried to suggest as she struggled to figure out which way was up, let alone how to end Pan’s creepy kisses. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. Perhaps she couldn’t process my invitation for an escape or perhaps she really didn’t mind, because she said, “Uhmmm…… I don’t know. I’m okay.”

Lucky break, he had to pee. Not a moment later I said, “Want to go on an adventure?” She agreed immediately. This, and, the fact that she never once asked, “Hey where’s that guy I was making out with earlier?” makes me certain she wasn’t interested in making out with that guy.

I was very happy to tote her along for a bit. She’s sweet and played fun blotted party games, like let’s gather a circle of people and give them new names because I can’t remember their names anyway. They smiled, like, “isn’t she adorable?” when she named them Jason, and Richard, and Amazon. I got Dory, “like that fish from Finding Nemo.”

After awhile I became uneasy, because I wanted to go in the hot tub with Katelyn and I couldn’t leave poor Blotted alone, not when Pan was still lurking. I looked and looked for my good friend to relieve me from my babysitting shift, but it seemed like he was never coming back to find me, from wherever he went.

Eventually I found one of the party hosts, a genial, tall and wiry man with a great smile. I explained my predicament, that I didn’t want to leave her unattended only because I wasn’t sure just how predatory this other guy was. The host offered a confrontation session, but honestly even if we could have found Pan (and I hadn’t remembered his name yet) I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to him for another second. The host incorporated Blotted into a circle of new friends and I felt like she was safe again.

I had a good night, a very good night, and before I left I saw Pan again. I had since remembered his name, but I wanted to call out to him just to be sure I got it right. I would say, “Pan?” I would see his head turn, and say, “Nevermind.” But in that twisted staircase, even though all the lights were on, my mind was as blank and foreboding as his big, bare chest and I coudn’t say a thing at all. I knew nothing was going to happen to me, not realistically, but I still felt something like fear. I don’t know what kind of confused glare I gave him as I tried to memorize his features — to know if they were really his, all the while the gut of panic behind my eyes knowing, yes, it is him. There’s sirens blaring in your head that it is him.

And after that overwhelming moment in the staircase, I thought, “I can’t do it. I can’t speak up. I can’t rely on myself.” I remember feeling helpless — that even after all the empowerment I’ve experienced as a woman, I can still be held to the flames of fear. That to be safe, I need to call on the help of others, even when I would rather stand strong on my own. That to be safe, I needed a man.

Related:
Women Hurt Women, Too
Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too

6 Party Coping Mechanisms

So…if you’re my friend on snapchat, you may have gotten this picture:

Snapchat-20140417115114As I sat on the floor, pants recently removed, and flung my flabbergasted hands at my lacerated shin, Katie Siebert said frankly, “You are such a beautiful sad creature.”

“Beautiful sad creature, where did you pick that up?”

It turns out she got the phrase from me, but I’d forgotten. Back when I consoled her over a terrifyingly serious ear infection (read the whole story on her blog here) I had texted over a “wealth of coping mechanisms” that I’ve gained from the hilarious combination of having a sluggish immune system (born premature) and a creative/anxious mind.

sad-beautiful-creature

I would never diminish the suffering of others, but I understand my own weakness for melodrama. I have to laugh at myself or else I’ll just spend the night intermittently sweating with a pillow over my head and snatching my phone up again for some more WebMD torture.

If it's possibly cancer: whatever, you always wanted to be interesting

Turns out if there’s a lump sticking out of my shin a terrifying extra 1-inch, my reaction is mostly jovial. This is a battle wound. Also, I had taken 3 Ibuprofen before the concert in anticipation of wearing my improbable shoes.

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Also, I was still drunk. Still, the benefit of having physical injury over a communicable disease is I get a lot less crap from my doctor. Every time I get strep (like this time & this time) she acts like it’s my fault for being irresponsible with my health. But cut off part of my finger washing dishes? Now that was just an accident! Poor baby!

my-friends-are-going-to-be-so-impressed

If I go to a concert and fall down the stairs (twice) the only person who is going to be mad at me is my daddy. “Wear sensible shoes!” he says sternly every time I show him the progress of my bruises. I think they look pretty cool.

Snapchat-20140422055656

I rely on my coping mechanisms when life’s got me bruised or battered, whether at parties or otherwise. Here are some more:

1. In general: Become a writer or an artist so that every bad experience is fodder for your craft. Like when you got drunk on labor day weekend and someone stole your wallet — Blog post!

maybe-theyll-give-me-the-fun-drugs

2. If you’re stuck having a conversation you don’t want to have: Opportunity to practice conveying boredom true and pure through your every molecule. Can you do it? Can you do boredom justice?

maybe-theyll-give-me-the-fun-drugs2

3. Girl, if some guy is bothering you: Enjoy the anger. Feel the rage. Let it build into a feminist fury. Launch into a diatribe he is ill-equipped to understand but that you felt impressive for saying anyway. Then let that on-top-of-a-mountain feeling carry you for the rest of your night of revelry.

4. If you lost your friends: Sweet, no one can judge me while I play 2048 in this corner over here.

because-im-gay

5. If no one is dancing with/except you: People who dance by themselves are fundamentally interesting. At their worst they are a little socially inept, but they could also be unhinged, weird, carefree. Even a total dweeb, if he’s truly lost in dancing and not checking for his peers’ approval, becomes legendary when he dances alone, silent, inexplicably powerful (think Napoleon Dynamite). People who dance by themselves are Fun people.

6. If there’s not enough alcohol at the party: Actually, this is truly devastating. This is not a time for Coping. This is a time to Do Something. My favorite is Pretend I’m going to Rescue the Party and Get Alcohol but Actually Abandon the Party for a Better One. If you don’t have parties double-stacked for that night, you could actually rescue the party, anoint yourself beer czar, and make people do stupid shit to get at your monopoly of booze.

 

 

5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really

I saw an article, “5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having,” by HuffPo and got excited to get my feminist morning-read on, but….what was I thinking this is HuffPo. Of course it’s just “5 Conversations People Should Stop Having” …if they want to stop being boringgggzzzz.  Everybody talks about being stressed out, “traumatized” by their parents, annoying people, where to eat dinner, and clothes. This article is not news.

Good on HP for not resorting to all-out disgusting stereotypes, but if this was supposed to be an appeal to female readers it was weak. Actually, no. Shame on HP for implying that these conversations are only problems, only annoying, when they are had by women.

These are the 5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really:

1. I am not a feminist, because… You’re actually some kind of feminish. Fine. We get it. There are so many different ways to be a feminist, and so many disagreements about those ways.  Some of us take CGS classes. Some of us raise boys up to be good men someday. Some of us burn things. Some of us just try to go about our day without ruining anyone else’s. But unless you truly believe that women don’t deserve equal rights with men…you’re a feminist. Pretty much.

I’m not going to argue with you; you can self-identify however you want, but you’re wasting precious breath that we could be spending on “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” That’s all feminism is to me.

bra-burning-is-a-lie

2. Your body is amazing/beautiful/perfect but my body is sad/horrible/flawed. Actually, I do think there can be value in comparing our bodies and our feelings about them so that we can learn and grow. But I’m sick of impossible compliments, sick of the whiplash of first trying to process the nice thing you said about me and then the gloomy thing you said about yourself.

HOWEVER. I am trying to teach myself to hear the little plea in such statements: “Please see that you are privileged and acknowledge your advantages over me because you are socially recognized as attractive.” Because I know I’m a minx with glorious hair (er, actually, that I don’t face discrimination for my weight, physical health status, and race), I think I hear this plea and I try to answer it when I can.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t so obvious that I might have a particular privilege and it really just comes across as another beautiful lady telling me I’m more beautiful-er than she. Um?? Girl you’re amazing. I guess I’m just supposed to say, “Stop it, no you are.”

Here’s the conversation I’d rather have: “I’m dissatisfied with _____ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me contend with that. Maybe I just need you to boost me up, or maybe I need you to agree with me that you are fortunate to not have this problem and that it’s ok for me to feel disadvantaged sometimes.”  And I’d also like to make time for this super special conversation, “I am proud of _______ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me celebrate that.”

shut-up-prettier

3. “She needs to stop wearing the Hijab.” One woman will say, the Hijab is a symbol of oppression, and muslim women (in America) should not wear it. Another woman will say, it is her choice, her freedom of religious expression: “Don’t bother her.” The two will argue, neither side will concede.

Which of the two will also say that revealing clothing degrades women? Which of the two will counter, it’s her choice, let her wear those daisy dukes and boob toob? (It’s not always a predictable pattern.)

We should not argue over how much or how little cloth we use to cover our bodies. We should instead agree that what is more important is our freedom to choose for ourselves. Whose eyes do you feel when you get dressed in the morning? I’m a femme lesbian; I feel the eyes of women who might think I should put on a flannel instead of a frock. I feel the eyes of women who see the advantages of my femme invisibility, and yes I acknowledge and understand them to be true. I ask them to see the loneliness in my femme invisibility, too.

Can’t we just agree the whole point is to have the freedom to wear what you want? Please let the communities who wear particular items of clothing discuss within their own communities about the symbolic significance and/or necessity of those items, and shut up and enjoy your high heels and/or combat boots.

Bad-feminist-fuck-it

4. I’m not like other girls because…. You. Are. Not. Like. Other. Girls.  I know. Thing is, we’re all incredibly different from each other.

Don’t tell each other this, don’t believe this. If you form a friendship on the basis of, “It’s ok, we’re not like the others,” you won’t make it through those moments where she is like all the others. You’ll be sniffing out each other for signs of the enemy, The Conforming Woman. You’ll want so badly to be seen as Not A Typical Woman that you’ll erase yourself, you’ll erase entire identities.

The only time we should see each other as fellow women is when we are on the same team, when we are sharing in our suffering or our growing, when we’re listening to the experience of someone who is going through “woman” differently than we have — or soul-touchingly “the same.”  Otherwise we should see each other as other human beings.

Which leads me to….

5. I have all guy friends because I don’t get along with (normal) women (but you’re an exception).  If this is a conversation you hear yourself frequently starting, you need to Just. Stop. Go stand in a mirror and practice a new conversation: “I don’t understand why I’m insecure in my ability to relate with other women. I need to heal this in myself.” I get that it’s tough sometimes to form relationships with women when the patriarchy often pits us against each other, but if you believe it’s only other women that are the problem, then you’re part of the problem.

This conversation breaks my heart more than all the others. When a woman starts this conversation with me, I wonder, does she think she’s not getting along with me? Does she think we have reasons to be enemies simply because we’re both women? “I’m not like other girls, don’t fear me,” she says as if it’s a truce.  Excuse me, but I like women. I love women, actually. You can’t take that away from me. You can’t make me some sort of “not really a woman” woman.

And if she knows I’m gay, do I not count as a woman, because I might look at her the way a man does? Does she think I’m not capable of valuing her as a person rather than a person I’d like to touch naked?

Does she realize the poison she is spreading between women by perpetuating this conversation?

Straight Girls Pt. 1 “Mean Girls” as seen by a notorious Toaster Taker

Consider this a letter to my fellow humans of the feminine persuasion.  Dudes, let me know in the comments if this was at all valuable to you. Frankly, I wasn’t thinking of men when I wrote this. I could write a book on this subject (Straight Girlz), so let’s go ahead and call this Part 1. This has less to do with the “straight” part of “straight girls” and more to do with women in general, but through my personal perspective as a kissing bandit. I have probably smashed faces (and other…) with maybe 3 bonafide lesbian chicks. The rest have been varying levels of bisexual or straight. So very many straight women. I swear I don’t specifically target them. They’re drawn to me — outgoing, harmlessly femme; I think they feel safe and welcomed. Not just the ones that kiss me, but the ones that befriend me also surprise me with their warmth and trust. Often women will tell me “I don’t normally get along with other girls” or “I prefer hanging out with guys.” How do I manage to break down social barriers and engage women on deeper levels? Am I just appealing because they project or sense a level of desire in me (as a lesbian) that they find familiar from men? Is it just my pretty hair? Or am I managing to do something else… My friend wrote to me about her recent experience (anonymity preserved for work reasons):

Friend1Oh. Surprise, surprise. I finally kissed a girl that I liked it. Sami

??

You accidentally a word. Not sure if you finally liked kissing a girl, or one finally liked kissing you

Friend1 haha…I kissed a girl…well…and it worked out anyways it didn’t tweak my usual “that doesn’t work” reaction Sami Sexuality is fluid so maybe something changed for you Friend1

I dunno. There might be a few girls I can kiss and it would work out. I’m pretty sure there aren’t a lot. I’m definitely not anything beyond heteroflexible.

I wanted to know what was special about this kiss. Why, when she’d always asserted that this wasn’t a thing for her, did she have a successful experiment?

Friend1 I think bubbly, friendly, outgoing girls maybe sometimes work for me. I know the first time I managed to successfully kiss one without it tweaking me was similar in that respect. Girls who are a bit oblivious to the fact that I may not actually be bi…and are just super friendly/warm and bubbly, I guess. Sami

You don’t want to be targeted maybe?

Friend1 I think part of it is that for the most part I don’t trust women, in general, because so many of them are so catty…and this personality type tends to be fairly opposite the catty persona that I feel comfortable with it? I mean, this girl, she heard I didn’t feel well and immediately took me downstairs and hooked me up with cough drops and was just super sweet. The more I learn about her…she is a straightforward gal…so, someone I would get along with easily.

Sami

Women in general are nice at the core. I don’t know why they catty front has to be prevalent

Friend1 This doesn’t account for your basic nerd/lezzie girl types I tend to get along with just fine, as well, of course.

Sami It’s interesting to me that you operate with so many categories

Ok, I started to get a little rude. Really though, women need to STOP acting like their problem with other women is other women. If you categorically cannot get along with an entire gender, it might be something you’re doing wrong. My friend rocks for taking my criticism in stride.

Friend1 Haha! I think I do nowadays because I used to just think it was women, in general, that I didn’t get along with. Then, as I got older I noticed there were certain personality types/traits that I got along with a lot better. I grew up, though, with mostly boys for friends. I thought a lot of girls were just plain mean.

Her younger self’s perspective is one that I see perpetuated even by women my age and older. I’ve come to realize that since our society evaluates women strongly on a rubric of “niceness,” failure to perform to the gender is read as “mean.” Saying it like it is? Mean. Standing up for yourself? Mean. Setting clear and firm boundaries? Mean. This analysis is further muddied by the fact that “mean” is also willfully taken on as a strategy by women who see its value in power plays. If a woman (nice) is expected to be docile, and gentle to the point of weakness, then the opposite (mean) is brassy and cruel to the point of strength. Your popular “mean girl” will be perceived as mean both because she is rated on the mean-nice scale and because she draws her ideas of power from the anti-feminine ideal: act like a man to game the system. Then of course she (the popular girl) overcompensates in other stereotypically feminine roles (make-up, clothes) and we hate her for being a hypocrite. You really can’t win. How do I pull people out of this overwhelming network of social scripts and assumptions so I can have a decent conversation, or even make a friend?

Sami Women are obsessed with being nice, at the expense of being fake. Since the opposite of nice is mean, fake-nice comes across as mean Friend1

there you go fake nice=mean at least, that’s how I feel about it disingenuous can’t trust people like that Sami

Thing is, it’s not actually mean. It’s just fake. Get real with her and the fakeness stops

Friend1 that’s a good observation .. “Get real with her?”

I really struggled to explain myself here. It’s not something I had consciously analyzed before.  I just…do the me…and the friends…happen.

Friend1 Maybe most girls are just nicer to you because you are cute so they want to be seen with you. Sami

Haha sure but it’s still fake-nice until they realize I’m going to be real with them Friend1

Maybe I just prefer dealing with women who are real from the beginning…and don’t know how to deal with fake nice.

She makes an excellent point. It’s not her fault if women observe her naturally open and interested nature and throw a wall up in her face. She is fair, genuine, and very used to managing expectations and relating to people (she deals with young-ish ones for a living). But I want to deal with fake nice. I find it immensely rewarding to get people to come out of their shells, even if it is a shell made out of gender shenanigans. Or maybe I’m a jerk that just likes to poke people out of their comfort zones.

Sami Just see it as insecurity. Validate them and the insecurity goes away. Unless it’s insecurity matched by ego/arrogance. Then sometimes you have to call their bluff Friend1

That probably explains the difference I run into between the women I get along with and the ones I don’t in a nutshell. Validate them? Like, “Wow, I really like those shoes (if I genuinely do),” you mean? And what’s up with the “calling their bluff?” What do you mean by that? Sami

Well, like, it’s never something you can do verbally per se. But you can disengage from their bullshit. You have to direct the conversation in a way, don’t react with the script that we all know

And after you call their bluff, you have to be nice for real I typically will kinda zone out when the fakeness is gushing. Then I chime in with the conversation I want to have. Faker will typically get a bit unsettled by this. I look for an opportunity to mitigate her fears. Get her on my sailboat and give her a life preserver Friend1

LOL…I guess that makes sense. I am constantly redirecting student conversations from where they want to take them back to the class concerns in ways that kind of broadside them. I use humor and self-deprication to move them back in the right direction…maybe a mild insult that gets their attention without really insulting them. Kind of the same thing? Make it more comfortable to have a real conversation? Sami

Sure, stuff like that, as long as it’s recoverable. Kinda like hey I know what you’re doing and knock it off, but I understand how you feel I do it too

We hinted at a few strategies.  Let me elaborate:

  • Disrupt the script – do something unexpected
  • Refuse to play the game — you don’t have to prioritize being “nice” over all else. I, for one, get more out of life with “honesty.”
  • Being “fake-nice” will often get misread as “mean” because most women know exactly what you’re doing, at some level. Even if they don’t feel like you’re being mean, they’ll often balk at your apparent insincerity (and they may not even understand why they don’t like your demeanor)
  • …Regarding getting along better with teh menz, they may not see life through this same lens and so they interpret “nice” as just plain “nice.” So maybe that’s why you get along better.
  • Extend olive branches. Make the effort to truly connect. Show that we’re all on the same team here.  If you “don’t play the game” but also skip this step, then you’ll fall into the category of “girls don’t like me because I don’t act like a girl WOE is meeeee”
  • Use the “benefit of the doubt” both to show that you will be considerate to her point-of-view, but also to allow yourself to believe she doesn’t hate your guts already
  • In other words, be “actual” nice
  • Don’t assume that girls are mean and awful and it’s not in any way your fault you get along with boys better.  YES it’s a systemic problem but the only way we’re going to get around it is if we do actual work to relate to each other like human beings and not “mean girls.”

Friend1 Thanks for all the insights. I might understand women when I’m ninety. Sami

didn’t know I had them til you asked! Give me more insights on getting girls in the kissing mood! Friend1

Be super nice and helpful and welcoming? Sami

Will try that haha

Only nerds assume asking for consent is nerdy

I’m fucking sick of nerds.*

And by nerds, I mean unimaginative literalists.

I was at a party, searching for a topic to fill the lull in conversation. I remembered that I’d pledged for a cute consent panties kickstarter and I brought that up with the intention to offer a pair to my friend, if they were interested, since in my pledge bracket I’d be receiving 5 extra pairs of boxers and briefs emblazoned with phrases like, “Only yes means yes.”

My friend’s reaction floored me. I thought they’d be receptive. This is a friend who wears brightly colored wigs, just asked if I’d like to see their merkin, and regularly walks about parties with floggers and paddles. I figured they might be into consent. I’d barely said, “Speaking of Youtopia, I got these ‘Let’s Talk First’ panties from a kickstarter and…” I was interrupted.

There are basically two ways to be a feminist at a party. One is to stand up for your beliefs and counter any bullshit the best you can, whether through reasoned quips or belligerent screaming, as is necessary. The other is to realize you are outnumbered, down another drink, and to instead store up your dismay and upset for an angry blog rant.

My friend has a much louder voice than me, and sometimes I am a coward, so I opted for plan B. I listened to this friend say, “Oh god, the consent thing is just annoying. I mean how nerdy is it to ask, ‘Can we have sex,’ or ‘Can I kiss you?’ I mean why can’t people just use body language like adults.”

Right, because no one in the history of ever has suffered from relying on just body language.

Now that I’m not frozen by shock, slouching on a bar stool with a headache trying to gracefully hint to this nearby guy with a cookie monster onesie that I’m pretty gay, yo, stop asking me “what do girls like about men” while ever slowly inching closer to me, please?  … I just want to emphatically say, asking for consent does not have to be nerdy.

Asking for consent can be highly erotic! I have lived this; my dearest moments contain that asking, and not because I churned out “can I kiss you?” like a robot trying to follow robot laws, but because I have internalized consent; I have made it part of who I am.

This is not about literally asking, this is about wanting to hear the answer. This is about not accepting anything less than eager, dripping-wet consent, or, if that isn’t there, at least having a talk about if we’re still all cool to try this. In real life, sex is often a bit awkward and sometimes we push through it because we still really want to get laid tonight, even if the moment isn’t perfect. What we shouldn’t do is push through a maybe because, if we take a second to ask, we know we won’t be getting laid tonight.

But fucking nerds just hear the frustrated bleating, “ask first?” and they think that literally means ask first. As if asking “can I have sex with you?” is magic phrase that shields you from qualifying as a rapist… No. There are moments when you will use your precious body language, and in these moments you have to admit to yourself when her back isn’t arching and her skin is dry and her eyes windows to another world outside of herself and her smile holds a little pain.

That’s the moment when you stop, when you use your words, when you check in sweetly, “babe, are you ok?” That is the moment you graciously tuck away your desires and spend the night holding her, knowing there will be a better time.

Or, that is the moment when her attention falls against you like a tidal wave, and that you asked breaks her walls, and she decides then, yes, she wants this, she wants you, the one who asked. That is the moment your care for her makes her brave against her fears.

These scripts are missing from our movies, our TV shows, the popular media engine. People cannot imagine consent language being sexy, because they have not seen it modeled over and over again the same way they have seen men wordlessly seize women in impassioned kisses over and over again. This mute tension, not knowing if your desires are symmetrical, fearing what speaking will do to the myth you have created… I concede this is worth living once. I’m not saying we need to strike that out of our vocabularies entirely.

We do, however, desperately need to eroticize consent. “Rebecca, I’d like to kiss you,” doesn’t do it for ya? Well, fine, use your bloody imagination. Create your own stories. I’ll share two, and guess what guys, in both of these I felt like I was in a goddamned movie:

Erotic Consent Story #1

I sat in a tree with a friend and gave myself the same mental nudge I do before jumping off the high dive. “You have to know that I find you tortuously attractive,” I said. Deep eye contact.

Tortuously attractive, huh?”

We returned to our previous conversation a moment, about socialism and money as debt, and again I found a pause. “Stick of gum?” I offered, very intentionally referring to Wet Hot American Summer, which we had watched together the week before. I’d been intensely aware of our body positioning on the couch, wondering for a moment to kiss, but not finding it, and going home uncertain, still just friends.

I added, “I’d really like to kiss you, but I have this terrible cough and I’d hate to get you sick before you travel.”

“That’s a bullshit reason.” This was almost the yes I wanted. I felt my grin more than it showed on my face.

“Well, it’s up to you,” I sat back, “I’m serious about not wanting to get you sick.”

“Wait, am I reading into this too much??”

Emboldened by my friend’s flustered reaction, I responded with a warm low voice, leaning in, “What I mean is, if you say bullshit, I will kiss y–”

“Bullshit!”

We almost fell out of that tree.

Erotic Consent Story #2

I finally had come to the house of someone you will recognize from the comic below ;) and we’d spent the night playing videogames and watching Howl’s Moving Castle. “Help!” I’d texted my friend, “We’re actually playing videogames.”

As we were both too shy to make the first move (or so I’d thought, turns out she just likes tormenting people!) I’d squirmed the whole night in borrowed jammies next to her on silk sheets. We actually slept together without sleeping together. As an ex-Christian I am especially familiar with the ‘thrill’ of delayed gratification. I’d once gone 7 months without orgasm. I relieved all 7 of them in that single night.

As soon as I heard her stirring in the morning, excitement pounded in my chest and in my arms as I kissed her. I remember her delicately small ear more than anything, colors washed from my memory in the dimness in her room, and how her earring twinkled. I whispered into her ear, between kisses, “Can we… have… sex now?” Her yes was full of laughter and everything I wanted to hear in the world.

comic-lesbian-first-sleepover-sexP.S. I am the big spoon. Duh.


*Actual nerds — like enthusiastically into science or books or something dear to them from pop culture, those kinds of nerds — are great, of course.

When is it okay to come to her rescue?

Queens-of-the-Stoneage-QOTSA-Like-Clockwork-Vinyl-CD-costFirst, can I just say I AM SO EXCITED for the new QOTSA album.  I just checked my alternate email inbox and found a message marked Tue, May 7, 3:12 AM.  Apparently I spent $51.43 on vinyl and a CD. It is the uber deluxe bestest vinyl version you can get and my favorite band, so I ain’t even mad that I broke my no-credit-cards-past-1am rule.  Play their song “I Appear Missing” while you read, if you like, below.

I am working on a Pandora station called Everything Homme Touches. When that’s mashed into submission to my tastes, I’ll post it.

Anyway, I wanted to examine something that’s been bugging me; when is it okay or even necessary to interfere, and when do you let people handle themselves?

I mean, as a brassy extrovert who’s not afraid to tell people to get their balls off of me, sometimes I resent it when a lesbro gets over-protective. Pro-tip: pretending to be my “boyfriend” in order to “rescue” me from some asshat is going to annoy me almost as much as the dude telling me I’ve got pretty teeth 10 times in one night. Also, is that some sort of PUA thing? Teeth? I have little baby chompers and the dentists had to put gadgets in my mouth to make it bigger; I don’t really think my teeth are that impressive.

So, this guy I’ve met twice in the bar before — he’s from Detroit so I’d told him about this blog — came up to me and asked me to be his wingwoman. He indicated a woman I’d seen on the dance floor earlier, who actually binged my gaydar for a change (my gaydar is fairly silent and inobservant).  She was standing with another young lady. “No, she’s not on your team,” I said. He insisted. “No. This is the wrong place,” we were at the Brass Rail, “and I am the wrong person,” I said. He went on a tangent and told me he has no trouble getting white chicks and won’t I please help him get this sexy black woman all the while hanging on my neck. “Seriously, I am the wrong person,” I said through my tiny teeth, a little bit of heat in my lungs.

He flew solo and persisted in pestering them. I didn’t know if I should walk up and say, “hey, this guy bothering you?” or let them take care of their own business, thank you very much.  When do you reach out and when do you respect other people as capable adults? And how does alcohol change this? Worse, would they see me as another predator? Ultimately I decided their two to his one was sufficient and turned my back so my eyes would stop rolling.

Below is my breakdown of when I’d want someone to help me, where “you” could be a casual friend or a stranger. (Close friends would probably know me better and be able to do more.) It is assumed you see me in a basically one-on-one situation. Do you agree?

Leave me alone if:

  • You know I’m gay and a guy is potentially flirting with me, but I’m smiling, making eye contact with him, and/or touching his arm or shoulder (I might be enjoying the conversation)
  • Really, if anyone is talking to me and I’m smiling, making eye contact, and/or touching them
  • I’m arguing with someone but there’s zero physical contact and I am making eye contact with my opponent (I might be enjoying the argument)

Enter the conversation as a neutral third-party, but don’t confront anyone when:

  • You know I’m gay and it seems like a guy is hitting on me aggressively
  • (You don’t know I am gay but) you suspect that I’m not enjoying a guy hitting on me
  • You suspect that I’m not enjoying a woman hitting on me
  • I’m arguing with someone but I keep looking away, crossing my arms, turning my body away, and/or make repeated eye contact with you
  • The person I’m talking to seems like somewhat of a stranger to me and is considerably more drunk and/or being more familiar than me (I might want to be nice, but need help managing someone who is a little out of control)

Say something to point out my agressor might be doing something socially unacceptable (Do you know this guy? Is she bothering you?) if:

  • I’m arguing with someone and they keep touching me even though I do not reciprocate their touches and/or even try to push them away
  • Someone (probably bigger than me) has me cornered, I’m avoiding eye contact with them, and I’m looking around (as if I’m looking for someone else i.e. to help me)
  • I make repeated eye contact with you (my way of asking for you to come over)
  • I’m sitting at a booth, trying to eat some food with my friends, and someone is looming over us and we’re alternating between telling him to go away and pretending to get on our phones, and we don’t want him to sit with us, but we’re kinda trapped in the booth, and this guy is shaking like he’s on drugs, and it’s 3am seriously party time is over…. (this actually happened)

This is a tricky topic for me, because while I’m an independent woman and I resent being treated like I need to be rescued, there are times when I could use some social help. Smoking patios can be rather narrow in this town, and I have been physically trapped in undesirable conversations. I may be able to leave the conversation, but don’t want to give up my chair or position because I’m doing my best not to be defeated or there are just not enough damn chairs. Or, more often, the agressor is a mutual friend.

I don’t know why more women don’t try to come to my rescue. I suppose we just aren’t given the scripts to “be the hero” and though we might want to reach out, it conflicts with the other scripts we’re taught to “be nice” or “avoid direct conflict” and we don’t really know what to do. I also suspect that like anyone else, women fear social judgement. They won’t risk interrupting a conversation because, let’s face it, how many times have you tried to help someone and they responded with rudeness?

I think we have to address that sometimes this rudeness is warranted or at least understandable — that by coming to someone’s aid you are essentially identifying that person as “in need.” Someone who is “in need” can be seen as inferior, weak, or defenseless. Because that person you tried to rescue has been spending the last 5 minutes to an hour defending herself from an aggressor, she may be in the type of mindset such that she refuses help in order to continue to look strong. Your interruption may actually be beneficial, but you may get no reward other than seeing an intense situation get derailed. Of course, you in no way deserve a reward for trying to help someone.

Or, you might be trying to help someone who really didn’t need your help. Hence needing to break down when it’s appropriate to intervene.

Then, I think, we have to be more willing to accept and acknowledge help. I sat on a chair in a really packed PB party: the attendees were a mixture of fraternity-types and redditors. Some smashed random came up to us and asked if we were playing beer pong. He tried to put his arms around us. My friend felt confrontational, possibly because beer pong got shut down awhile ago, duh, and this was our second strained interaction with him that night. So she told him, “Yeah, we’re playing beer pong right now.”  When he asked where our cups and balls were, I indicated the latter were in my lap and grabbed my crotch.

He asked a slew of confusing questions after that. A woman interrupted, “Hey, you girls alright?” and I didn’t really understand she was helping us. It was the first time anything like that had happened to me. Even though I was probably doing ok — what with my fancy word play and getting the dude to say he would enjoy touching my testicles, if I had them — he was becoming increasingly obnoxious. “Wait,” I turned to the gal, “Thank you for reaching out to us. I wish more women would stick up for each other like you just did for us.”

So, yeah, the moral of the story is that if I’ve resorted to discussing gonads with a guy, I probably could use your assistance.