Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Weirdly Awkward

"I'm nervous."

"It'll be fun!"

"But I'm so awkward!"

"No you're not."

"I am! I'm super weird."

"That's not the same as awkward."

I paused. It wasn't? Huh. It wasn't. I am weird, but that doesn't have to mean I'm awkward:  "causing difficulty; hard to deal with; causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience." Being weird doesn't necessarily mean socially unskilled, unrelatable, distasteful, dull.

Being weird is an asset; being awkward is a handicap.

Somehow I had never noticed how I was conflating the terms. I have been living my whole life thinking that because I'm weird--because I read "school books" in my spare time, have two razors in my shower, get dehydrated easily, and can't get into binge watching TV--I am an "awkward person." But that's not necessarily true.

What if owned my "weirdness" and stopped acting like I thought it made me an awkward person?

What if instead of hiding my copy of Romanticism and Consciousness, I brought it with me to the pool and used it as a conversation starter, or even just let people think what they want?

What if instead of making an apologetic explanation for my two razors, I said "Yeah, I have a weird system. But hey, at least I don't leave food debris in the sink. That would be a lot harder to live with."

What if instead of chewing my nails off and smiling weakly and having an inner freak-out when I'm getting dehydrated, I said "I'm really thirsty. Wanna go with me to find something to drink?"

What if instead of chiming in with a lame "Oh, Pretty Little Liars...yeah...I saw an episode one time, maybe..." I just came right out and said "You know, I've never really seen that. What's it about? What are the characters like?"

What if I stopped mining every conversation for the hidden "right" next thing to say, and just focused on being Real? What if I talked when I felt like talking, and let silences flow as they would? What if I used my weirdness as a way of being profoundly honest and authentic? What if I used my weirdness to put people at ease with their own selves? (After all, aren't we all a little odd?)

That sounds a lot easier and more fun--for everyone involved.

Yeah, I AM weird. But I can have a perfectly "normal" conversation with you. I can go to normal restaurants and watch normal movies and listen to normal songs and have a normal good time. Not only that, but because I'm actually weird, I can probably offer you something that the next "normal" person can't.

I'll be interested to see the effects of this latest revelation :)


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Processing "Rape Culture"

I'm not sure how to write about this. I don't even know what I want to say yet (which is--as always--why I'm writing in the first place).

You've probably already heard more than you care to about the girl who was raped behind a dumpster and how her rapist got sentenced to only six months in prison. Part of me agrees that you can never say too much about how awful that was. But part of me is also emotionally exhausted by all the hate and horror floating around on the internet.

If it's not police violence, it's a gorilla getting shot. If it's not a gorilla getting shot, it's how males are absolute pigs and responsible for "rape culture."

Are males responsible for rape culture? Well, they are statistically more often the rapists and than the victims. Males do have more of a reputation for objectifying and sexualizing women, and reputations don't just form for no reason. So, I guess yeah, males are primarily responsible for rape culture.

But not ALL males. Gem is not responsible for rape culture. My dad is not responsible for rape culture. And I resent all the broad, sweeping statements about how "No, you know what, because you have a penis you ARE part of the problem and the fact that you don't think you are means you're even worse and there's nothing you can say or do to make me change my mind."

I'm sorry, but isn't that just another form of sexism? Don't women get enraged when sweeping statements are made about them? People are individuals. "Men" is not a homogeneous group of macho rapists any more than "Women" is a homogeneous group of emotional b*tches.

Brock Turner did something wrong. But TWO other males did something right by stopping him and calling the police.

Yeah, males are primarily responsible for rape culture. But not ALL males.

I also happen to think that it is really stupid for a young woman to get so drunk she can't remember her night, so drunk she thinks it's wise to wander behind a dumpster with a strange boy. I do NOT mean that it was "her fault" that she was violated. But you are more likely to get knifed in a dark alley alone than in a well-lit Starbucks. You are also more likely to be molested if you are totally plastered and unable to enforce your wishes. (A 2012 study posted by Campus Safety Magazine reports that "90% of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol.")

But then again. I just read an article (why do I even do that to myself? It's like reading the comments on YouTube) by a 20-something Christian guy who made a point I had somehow overlooked:  "As men, it’s our job to protect women regardless of what they wear or how much they drink."


How could I have forgotten the way I was raised? How could I have forgotten the Southern values I hold to so proudly? How could I have forgotten the Biblical responsibility of men?

I've been so caught up in how dumb and irresponsible it is to wear short skirts and get plastered in an alleyway that I forgot that THAT SHOULDN'T MATTER. In a common sense and empirical kind of way, it totally does matter, but on a moral, Christian, Southern level, it shouldn't matter at all.

Men are supposed to protect women, not because women are weak or cowardly, but because it's polite (and clearly women are the ones who need protection in this particular case, since most rapists are men and most victims are women).

But no matter how confident in and proud of Gem and my dad I am, I will never wear a short skirt and get plastered in an alleyway.