Because We’ve Had Enough: A Look at the Slut Walk Movement

By Katie, 6:40 am

Hold onto your hats, folks. I’m about to express some really strong views about sex and sexual violence. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

When I first heard about the representative of the Toronto police force saying that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimzed,” I can’t say I was surprised.

Angry? Yes. Frustrated? Absolutely. But surprised? No way.

 (Source)

That’s because I’ve heard the language of victim-blaming time and time again. When a woman is sexually assaulted, too often the finger is first pointed at her. Too often someone says “she was asking for it” because she was wearing a miniskirt and high heels, or because she has a “reputation” for being sexually promiscuous.

In other words, she brought it on herself because she’s a slut.

My response to that claim has always been this: I don’t care how short her skirt is. I don’t care how low her top is. I don’t care how sexually active she has been. Indeed, I don’t care one bit how “slutty” she is. None of it is an excuse for sexual violence against her. None of it implies that she deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted. None of it.

In the end, sexual violence has less to do with sex or lust and more to do with power.

I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this, as illustrated by the international Slut Walk movement that has sprung up as a result of the Toronto police force’s comments.

(Source)

Here’s the explanation given by the founders of Slut Walk Toronto:

With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation…whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

I do want to emphasize that my understanding of the Slut Walk Movement is not to claim the “right to be a slut.” Rather, it’s about coming together and stripping the word “slut” of its ability to turn a victim of sexual assault into the instigator. It’s about recognizing that the word doesn’t really have any meaning anyway, as you can be accused of “sluttiness” no matter who you are or what you have or haven’t done.

Indeed, the movement even goes beyond the word “slut” to challenge the all-too-accepted notion that there is something wrong with a woman who enjoys sex or embraces her sexuality. It’s refuting the idea that those women are somehow inciting violence upon themselves and it’s up to them to change instead of the perpetrators.

 (Source)

I like how Lindsay Beyerstein describes it:

[Slut Walk] organizers told people to wear whatever they wanted. The message was: Who’s a slut? We all are. Or none of us are. And who cares? It’s a stupid, meaningless concept anyway.

“Slut” is just another way of saying “worthless” without having to come up with a reason. Little girls get called sluts before they even know what sex is.

If someone calls you a slut, there’s nothing you can say to refute the claim because it never had any cognitive content anyway.

In reclaiming and reappropriating the term, the women (and men!) participating in the Slut Walks are effectively saying we’re taking back the word “slut” so it can no longer be used as a weapon against us. We’re coming together to make it known that we will not succumb to the unwarranted shame and blame thrust upon us.

 (Source)

Of course, some might argue that even though the message is sound, the means are inappropriate and ineffective. They could say it’s too easy to think that the movement is about promoting “sluttiness,” instead of about breaking the mythical link between a woman’s sexuailty and the violence that is done against her. They could say that the bawdiness of the walks will turn people off and make them uncomfortable, inhibiting the spread of the underlying message.

And yet isn’t the raciness exactly why the walks have garnered so much attention already? On some level, isn’t it worthwhile to push the envelope in the name of reaching a larger audience? In any case, they must be doing something right, considering thousands upon thousands of people have participated in the walks thus far, with many more planned.

In the end, to me the message is this: there is something deeply wrong with blaming the victims of sexual assault for the violence that was done to them, and we’ve had enough of it. That’s a message I can get behind.

Ok, stepping off my soapbox now!

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Have you heard of the Slut Walks happening all over the world? What do you think of the movement and its attempts to reclaim the word?

**As always, I welcome an open discussion in comments. Feel free to express any opinion you have; I will not delete any comments – no matter what angle they take – so long as they are respectful and serve to further the dialogue on this issue.

Moment of Zen: Auto Correct Edition

By Katie, 6:08 am

I cannot tell a lie: when I first discovered this website, which posts awkward and hilarious text message mistakes that occur through the iPhone’s Auto Correct feature, I nearly peed my pants with laughter. I couldn’t catch my breath for at least five minutes. My jaw was sore afterward.

Here’s a selection of what had me rolling on the ground. (Note: I’ve chosen some of the cleaner ones; if you visit the website be forewarned that some are extremely inappropriate! Hilarious, yes, but inappropriate. This is a family-friendly blog after all!)

 

Bwahahahahahaha! Apparently I have an extremely immature sense of humor!!! :lol:

Ideal Women: Arts Vs. Mass Media

By Katie, 6:41 am

Here’s a really cool video juxtaposing images of idealized women in the arts with images of idealized women in today’s mass media.

It was created by Elena Rossini, who describes herself in this way: “Documentary Filmmaker. Feminist.  Tree-hugging-animal-loving-vegetarian. Bookish. Liberal. Idealist. (In short, a real life Lisa Simpson)”

Enjoy!

Ideal Women from Elena Rossini on Vimeo.

Have you noticed this stark difference before? Between portrayals of women in the media versus the arts?



Inside My Wallet: Everything I Need to Know about Debt I Learned in Kindergarten

By Katie, 6:59 am

Two weeks from now I go to settlement on this bad boy.

That means two weeks from now I officially begin payments on my mortgage. Seems like an appropriate time to talk to about debt, huh?

Three Lessons from Kindergarten (care of Robert Fulghum) Applied to Debt

Lesson #1: Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

I find the notion of balance quite helpful in thinking about debt because it reminds me that not all debt is necessarily bad. What matters is finding the middle ground instead of living at the extremes – going into debt for everything, or never going into debt but also never living life to the fullest.

Generally people talk about “good debt” – debt that reaps some kind of appreciation or long-term value, like a mortgage (hopefully!) or student loans – versus “bad debt” – consumer debt for items that depreciate in value, like a car. I see the merit in dividing it up like this, but I worry that it can create a lot of guilt if you do have a portion of “bad debt.”

So what I’m more focused on is finding the balance, which usually means paying most expenses out of pocket, but having a few worthwhile debts that are paid off dutifully and responsibly.

Life Lesson #2: Put things back where you found them.

I generally have a pretty poor attitude about paying off my student loan debt. I guess I just like the instant gratification of seeing what an expense is going toward, but my education is so intangible that I don’t have that encouragement.

Remembering my duty to put things back where I found them – in this case giving money back to the government for helping me through both an undergrad and a graduate degree – helps me to be more grateful and less grumbly about the whole thing. Even though I can’t see my education in front of me day-by-day, I can still appreciate its huge impact on my current life.

It’s also a great reminder to prioritize my debts in my overall plan of intentional spending.

Lesson #3: Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

In terms of debt, I interpret this as “don’t buy things you can’t afford.” Specifically regarding general consumer debt. That shiny brand new car with payments way out of reach? I’d find something cheaper but still awesome. Those amazing kitchen appliances with a heart attack-inducing price tag? Less expensive models will probably still get the job done.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t want nice things, or that we don’t deserve them. But is it really worth it to put ourselves into financial strain for them, especially if the item in question isn’t in line with our personal money philosophy and values?

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If you are looking for more specific resources with direct strategies for paying off debt, here are some recommendations from The Wisdom Journal and Get Rich Slowly.

If you want effectively manage and control documents in every deal and don’t want to miss important information, please, read “How To” documents.

What lesson did you learn in kindergarten that you find valuable in adulthood, in regards to finances or some other area?

Things Fat People Are Told

By Katie, 6:47 am

When I wrote a post in honor of Fat Talk Free Week, I pointed out that while we often discuss our struggles with negative self-talk, we shouldn’t forget that fat talk can also be directed at others. I was referring to off-hand comments like, “she really shouldn’t be wearing that top…”

Turns out that’s not the extent of it. Not even close.

I recently stumbled across Brian Stuart’s attempt to expose fat stigmatization by asking people to share their experiences on Twitter via the hastag #thingsfatpeoplearetold. On his blog he posted a sample of the responses he received in just the first twenty-four hours.

They left me with my jaw hanging open in dismay. Here are a few examples.

*Possible Trigger Warning*

  • “No one will ever love you.”
  • “Fat people are stupid. If they were smart, they wouldn’t be fat.”
  • “But have you really, really TRIED to lose weight?”
  • From the window of a passing car: “Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”
  • “He didn’t get you candy for Valentine’s Day, did he? You don’t need it.”
  • “Are you sure you didn’t just imagine them checking you out?”
  • Said by a surgeon during a C-section: “Take this fat out while we are in here.”

Believe it or not, there are many that are even more cruel that I chose not to re-post here, even with the trigger warning. :cry:

It all begs the question, what is going on here??? How can anyone be so downright vicious?

Honestly, I don’t think the people who say these things are simply cold-hearted and hateful. Rather, I think the urge to pull other people down in such an outright, ferocious way stems from a place of deep insecurity and pain within the discriminator. And the only way they see to ease that insecurity and soothe their own self-image is by trampling on someone else’s.

I find it incredibly sad and horribly sickening at the same time.

The second question we inevitably ask is, what can be done? I personally like the three-pronged approach endorsed by Linda Bacon of Health at Every Size. In an interview she emphasized that in order to see positive change, we need to 1) work on our own self-acceptance, 2) encourage self-acceptance in others, and 3) fight the institutionalized prejudice – including workforce, educational, and medical discrimination – that hurts those who do not fit the idealized body size every day.

I’ll join that fight, and I hope you will too. Then maybe someday, fat people will no longer be told such hostile and ignorant things.

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Were you previously aware of how deep anti-fat discrimination and cruelty runs in our society? Like I said, I knew it was bad, but didn’t realize it was this bad. Or at least not this open and outright.

BLT Pasta

By Katie, 6:39 am

First of all, thank you for your incredibly kind words on yesterday’s post. Your supportive comments mean so much to me.

Today I thought I’d go with a lighter topic…

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Well, well, well, who’s this handsome fellow?

That would be my brother, Matt, also known as the Bacon-a-tor. He loves the stuff and thinks nothing of eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…all in the same day. ;-)

I can’t say I love bacon that much, but this BLT Pasta dish is pretty darn good!

Well, I suppose Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato isn’t the most accurate. More like Turkey Bacon-Spinach-Tomato!

The original recipe calls for a topping of grated Parm, which I realized I was out of at the last minute. I substituted this Penzey’s seasoning, which is a mix of Parm and herbs. Worked out perfectly!

A perfect weeknight dinner for a hungry brother Bacon-a-tor!

BLT Pasta
adapted from Baking Serendipity
Serves 4

Ingredients
8 oz. whole wheat penne
1 large tomato, diced
8 slices turkey bacon
big handful of spinach, torn into large pieces
drizzle of olive oil
a few tbsp grated Parmesan or other cheesy topping (could use Penzy’s Salad Elegant Seasoning or even nutritional yeast)

1. Cook the turkey bacon by your preferred method. (I just do it in a skillet, but some people use the oven or microwave.) When cool, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, boil water and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

3. Add the bacon, olive oil, tomatoes, and spinach to the pasta. Wait for a minute or so for the spinach to wilt.

4. Serve topped with grated Parm or other cheesy topping.

Do you like bacon (turkey or otherwise)? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

The Post I Wrote Through Tears

By Katie, 7:20 am

I just wrote a very thoughtful, organized post about handling grief. It had bullet points and everything. But then I deleted it.

Because the truth is that I’m not thinking in bullet points right now. My feelings can’t be summarized in list form. Three years ago today my grandma passed away, and the subject simply isn’t lending itself to well-formed sentences and properly-defined paragraphs.

I just keep thinking about that night when I knelt beside her medical bed and said goodbye, kissing the skin on her forehead that had become paper-thin from the draining cancer treatments.

Just writing that sentence brought on the burning sensation behind my eyes, and now I am typing through tears.

But I’m OK with that. I’m tired of not acknowledging her memory because I don’t want to start crying or make those around me uncomfortable. I’m tired of pretending that time heals all wounds.

The truth is that I miss my grandma, not in a wistful, contemplative way but rather in a coarse, heart-splitting way. The truth is that my body feels like lead, like I could just crumble onto the floor, whenever I think about her swift downward development – from diagnosis to passing away in a little over half a year. The truth is that sometimes falling apart feels so much better than keeping it together.

Yet through it all I can’t deny that there’s a certain element of peace. Peace because I truly believe she is with God, while simultaneously she’s also still here with me.

She’s here every time I play a song on the piano that she taught me.

She’s here every time I eat applesauce, which never holds a candle to her homemade version.

She’s here every time I reach for Dave’s hand while we’re praying in church, which I learned from watching her reach for my grandpa’s.

Right now, as I’m swimming through the memories, I am suffering through what can only be described as gut-wrenching pain. But honestly, that pain is tinged with the joy and celebration of a life lived with compassion and love. It’s shimmering with the knowledge that my grandma lives on through her impact on me.

I will always love and miss you, Mamaw. ♥

Moment of Zen: Mom Edition

By Katie, 5:22 am

Today we celebrate our mamas.

Where would I be without this amazing woman? The answer is nowhere.

And as if that weren’t enough, I then married Dave and got a second awesome mom!

I am so incredibly blessed in the mom department! :-D _______________________________________________________________________________

Quick punctuation note. As usual at this time of year, people are debating where the apostrophe should go in the name of today’s holiday (or if there should be one at all). The truth is that all three possibilities are correct, depending on how you define it. The breakdown:

Mother’s Day

This is how it’s been punctuated historically, and it implies a possessive by a single mother. In other words, the day belongs to one mom (yours!).

Mothers’ Day

Again we have implied ownership of the day, but this time the day belongs to all mothers of the world, instead of just one.

Mothers Day

Here the argument is that the day is not possessed by anyone; rather, the word  ”mothers” is simply describing the day. This format answers the question “which day is it?” as opposed to “whose day is it?”

Ok, that was probably more than you wanted to know, huh? ;-)

Tell me one thing you love about your mom!

and/or

How do you prefer to punctuate today’s holiday?

A Quick Note About My E-Book

By Katie, 5:23 am

We interrupt regularly scheduled blogging to make a quick housekeeping note about my e-book. If you purchase the PDF version, you will need to click the link that says “Return to katie@healthforthewholeself.com” on the payment page in order to reach the download page. If you accidentally click out of the site before reaching the download page, please send me an e-mail at katie@healthforthewholeself.com and I will make sure you get your download!

Thanks to all of you who have purchased it already! I’ve been so overwhelmingly pleased with the response. :-)

On This Day, Four Years Ago…

By Katie, 5:16 am

If you came here today hoping for a Mexican recipe, I apologize.

Because while everyone else is celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I’m busy celebrating a canoe trip.

I took this canoe trip four years ago today with my boyfriend Dave.

Midway through paddling our way down the river, we stopped along the bank to enjoy a picnic lunch. But before I could take a bite of my peanut butter sandwich, Dave gave me a present: this Willow Tree angel. I collect them, and I had mentioned before that I wanted to get my first “couple” one when I got married.

When he gave it to me, I said something along the lines of, “What a sweet gift! But you know, this is the one I said I wanted to get when I got married.”

“I know,” Dave said, as he pulled out the most beautiful ring I had ever seen in my life. That’s when he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, and of course I said yes. Best decision of my life thus far.

But the best part of our engagement story is this. In college I worked as a tour guide, and during Open House events we wore special shirts so that visitors would know we were the ones who could answer their questions. Without any knowledge of what was going to happen that day, that’s the shirt I chose to wear on the canoe trip with Dave.

Yep, the day we got engaged I was wearing a shirt that said “Ask Me.” That’s fate right there, folks!

And the ring? Perfect. I mean, perfect. It’s exactly what I would have picked out for myself. I’ve worn it every day for the past four years and I still love looking down and seeing it on my finger. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds!

I’ve always especially loved the unique way the stones are set.

While I certainly enjoy a good Cinco de Mayo celebration, I love celebrating the anniversary of my engagement even more. Dave, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in this crazy little thing called life. I love you!

Now I’m feeling all romantic. Tell me a good engagement story, either your own or someone else’s!

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