Monday, May 26, 2014

Vacation

This past week, the first week of the first real summer vacation I've had in three years (can't say I miss the 9-5 at this point), I decided to take it easy. Almost to the point of absurdity. But after grading all those essays and writing all those final papers, I just wanted some time to relax and do roughly zero things. Well, that's not exactly true. Zero difficult things. Only 100% pleasant things. So far, this plan has been working out swimmingly.

In no particular order: barbecue/pool party with Austin's adorable parents, X-Men: Days of Future Past (the sexual tension between Charles and Erik is still there--I feel we are owed a Fassbender/McAvoy lip lock at this point), RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 Finale Party (viva Bianca del Rio!), karaoke at Champagne's, tiny mojito party (the party was tiny, not the mojitos), um...other things, probably, but it's all running together and I can't remember what day it is. All the sleeping in doesn't help.

Don't worry. I know what day it is today. Memorial Day. Austin and Jamison and I are going to see Against Me! tonight at the Punk Rock Bowling festival! I've never seen them before, so I am psyched. (I know--a band I've never seen? Practically impossible.) Then tomorrow my week of complete-and-utter-vacation will end. I'm going to take my car to the shop, and then hopefully late next week/next weekend I will drive out to Los Angeles so that my internship and other California adventures can officially begin.

I'm going to miss Vegas though. A lot. I don't know how to live without these people anymore! I see them almost every single day! I hope I receive some visitors in LA. That'd make life easier.

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On an entirely different note, I'd like to say some brief words about the recent shooting in Isla Vista. So many people want to make this about mental health, and I understand that impulse. Mental health issues should be taken more seriously in this country--counseling and treatment should be far more readily available. At the same time, mental health issues need to be better understood by the general public as well. Most people with mental illnesses would never hurt anyone. I have several mental health issues related to anxiety. I take medication for them. Many of my friends have mental health issues. It doesn't mean we're anything like this shooter.

This shooter was a vicious misogynist. He hated women. That is what people should take away from this. Sexism and violence against women is still a huge problem. Many people who share this shooter's opinions about women are expressing their support for him, or at least for his worldview, on the internet right now. I'm glad to see that women and feminists of all gender identities have taken this opportunity to start the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter as a space to share all the ways in which misogyny still exists in our society. It's true--all women experience it on a regular basis. I've been harassed on the street more times than I can count. I've been groped in public, followed home from bars. I've had dates try to force themselves on me. And that's just me. Every single woman I know has stories like these, if not worse stories.

When I talk to my college freshmen students about rape on college campuses, it's no wonder that these disgusting views are still so prevalent--nobody has ever talked to them about it before. None of my students had ever heard the term "consent" used in regard to sex. In each of my classes, male students asked whether having sex with a drunk girl is rape because they legitimately did not know. Nobody had ever told them how to respect women. The women in the class, of course, all felt that it was a bad idea to wear short skirts and/or get drunk at parties, because women are constantly taught that we have to "protect" ourselves. Men are not taught that they should not rape.

I'm well aware that not all men are misogynist creeps. You don't have to tell me twice. I know many wonderful men who I'd trust with my life. The problem is, when it comes to strangers--all strangers, everywhere--women have no idea which ones are the misogynist creeps and which ones aren't. There's no visible way of telling. On some level we have to be wary of every male stranger all the time. That's just daily life for all women.

If you're a man and you're feeling uncomfortable reading this: good. You should feel uncomfortable. You should help make changes in society so that women don't have to feel this way. Fight the good fight with us. If you hear or see one of your friends behaving in a misogynist manner--or if you see a stranger behaving that way--call them out on it. If you continue to tolerate misogynist behavior, misogynists will simply continue to believe that their behavior is right and acceptable. Men and women and all those with different gender identities need to work together to stamp out these dangerous sexist views, or else more people are going to die. The Isla Vista shooter may be an extreme case, but violence against women is common. Rape and sexual assault of all people, regardless of gender, is common. It needs to stop.

Oh, the other thing we should take away from this: legally purchased guns are just as much of a problem as those obtained illegally. Our politicians need to stand up to the NRA and fix it.

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