Too often, I get accused of victim blaming, so let me start by saying that no women, no person, deserves to be raped or victimized. Specifically, a women wearing revealing clothing is not “asking for it”.
I do, however, have a problem with the way society and social culture seems to believe that a way a woman dresses doesn’t play a role in potential victimization.
Yes, I am well aware that means that there needs to be more education surrounding consent, but that doesn’t mean we get to discount a value just because we don’t agree with it.

Let’s look at an example; a party, maybe a college party, maybe a sizeable group of young professionals, it doesn’t really matter just a group of people getting together eating, drinking and having a good time.
One woman is sociable and friendly, but wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. She makes it clear that she is just there because her friends dragged her out and she just wants to eat snacks and drink wine.
Another woman, equally as sociable and friendly, is wearing a short dress and flirting with any attractive man that is near her. This woman is sexually assaulted later than evening by one of these men.

Does she deserve it? Absolutely not! Is that guy a huge loser? Hell yes!
But…. did her provocative dress and flirting play a role in the horrible thing that happened. Yes. Undeniably yes.

Perhaps the man that victimized her misinterpreted her intentions. Perhaps her intentions were misinterpreted due to his misogyny. Maybe he is just an asshole. Maybe, just maybe, it was an honest fucking mistake (with horrible, traumatic consequences).

In an ideal world, it wouldn’t matter what a victim was wearing, or how s/he was acting, and even now it is not a mitigating factor – a perpetrator should be be held less accountable because of the way the victim was dressed. But we have to stop pretending that it doesn’t play a role, it does, and it matters.

Somehow, these two things seem to be mutually exclusive. It seems crazy to imagine a successful, confident person suffering from anxiety. I am not talking about a bit of nervousness before a presentation; or some test anxiety. I am referring to the crippling anxiety that causes an inability to eat, weight loss, loss of focus, depression – you know that kind of anxiety.

I think about this now because I am experiencing it. I have some things going on in my professional life that are causing extreme anxiety. I can’t eat, I have lost six pounds in a week, I can’t sleep, I am always tired, and there is a constant ball of dread in my stomach.
I also feel so alone. My husband has been a great support, I have no complaints about him, but he also doesn’t understand the politics at my workplace so he can only empathize so much. I tried to open up to a co-worker, but because I usually exude confidence I just got told “everything will be fine, don’t worry about it. You are always so sure of yourself, why are your worrying about this?” Which, let’s be honest, is less than helpful.

This experience got me thinking about mental health today. Everyone accepts that mental health issues are a growing concern, and the number of people suffering is high, but we always seem to think that people who are suffering will show outward signs. How many people are going through an acute mental health concern without any support.
I talk about anxiety specifically because that is my lived experience. I know that this is a short term problem for me and that my anxiety will either recede or shift once this issue is resolved in a few weeks, but until then I suffer in silence.

I have been thinking a lot lately about high school. Who I was. How I have changed. And some influential moments in my life.

In my last post I commented on having sex for the first time and it got me thinking about a very memorable conversation I had with a friend of mine.
I was in grade 10, in woodshop, sitting and chatting with a (guy) friend, he asked me if I planned on having sex before graduating high school. I thought about it for a moment and said that while I didn’t plan on it, if it happened, it happened.

Overall, that conversation shouldn’t seem so memorable. But, ironically, this conversation happened about two months before I had sex. And for the life of me, I can’t remember what changed in that short time frame.

So, as a teenager I always assumed that I had sex for the first time at a relatively “normal” age, maybe the lower end of the spectrum, but nothing crazy. However, now when the conversation turns to sex with new friends, it seems that I was very young,

I was 15 when I had sex for the first time. My boyfriend at the time had just turned 16 and we had been together for almost a year. Prior to this, we had engaged in other sexual activities, including oral sex, but this was the first time we had PIV sex.
It was awful, we were both clumsy virgins.

Even though I knew that most of my friends weren’t sexually active, I did have a few close friends who were having sex with their partners. This is what led me to believe that I was fairly average when it came to losing my virginity.
I like to talk about sex, so I do often ask friends how old they were when they had sex for the first time, and it seems that most people I ask were in the 18-21 range. Which seems crazy to me!

My husband and I are that couple, you know the one that everyone is jealous of? That’s us. Beautiful house, stable jobs, the cutest son, a cabin on the lake. We have everything that we could possibly want – the perfect life.

But there is always a dark secret hiding below the surface, mine is nothing sinister, I just want more. I have a kinky side. My husband tries to indulge me, but it just isn’t the same. I want to be able to submit, I want to know that the man I am with is enjoying himself; I want to lose myself in my submission and I can’t do that with my husband.

So yes, I have the perfect life – 95% of the time. I get it, marriage is hard and we all make sacrifices in our relationships, but the 5% I am sacrificing seems so fucking important. Then I met him. All I know is that 5%, fuck the rest – I already have all that. He makes me feel alive; he makes me see how just how important that 5% is. He needs this too, he is in the same situation as I am.

Five percent.

18 days.

How can I have it all? How can I keep my perfect life? The same way that he can.

Twice a year, we find a way to meet. 9 days together each time; 18 days per year – 5%

Eighteen days per year where we can both live out all of our fantasies. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. Most of the time we don’t even leave the hotel, there isn’t enough time to explore the world.

Being a woman who is very open sexually and proud of who I am has been an interesting experience. It is both liberating and ostracizing. As an adult, I find it much more liberating because I know the people close to me know the real me, and they like me for me. However, it created a lot of conflict and angst when I was a teenager.

Apparently, I am intimidating. I have friends and co-workers who admit that they found me super intimidating when we first met – it is because I am outspoken and opinionated, and confident. Confident women often seem to be labelled intimidating.
For example, I took a first aid course over the weekend, while we were working with the CPR mannequins I opted not to use the stupid little cushion they provide to kneel on. The instructor was very concerned for me, repeatedly telling me that there was a cushion I could use. It eventually got to the point where I said that he had to walk away because it was taking all of my willpower not to say something sexually inappropriate (that it’s okay, I am used to being on my knees).
Well, when that happened, everyone else in the class looked at me awkwardly.

After that, most people in the class avoided eye contact with me – ostracizing.
On the other hand, if I was a man, there was no way that I would have been able to say that out loud without getting into trouble.

I say weird, inappropriate shit all the time. I am so thankful I own a vagina because I would easily have been fired from my job if I was a man.
I hate the double standard. Personally, I think society needs to loosen the fuck up.

I was cleaning out my house, going through some old papers, and I came across a short essay I wrote in high school and I want to share it.
I am lucky, I have always been academically gifted and school is easy for me. I also have never felt pressured to fit into “normal” societal molds. This created an interesting environment for me, and I was often judged based solely on the way that I looked.

Who would you rather have as your daughter?

A smart girl. A girl who takes her education seriously, working hard to absorb as much of the information as possible. A girl who is in Honours AP classes, and in most subjects is a grade ahead. A girl who will have finished a semester of university classes before she finishes high school. The kind of girl who takes calculus for fun.
This girl is kind and compassionate, she stands up for others. Bullying is not tolerated. She has friends from all cliques in the school, from the “math nerds” to the “jocks” to the “stoners.” She is happy to stick around after school and help the teachers with a project.
She is responsible. She organizes school events and is part of the grad council, always willing to put in the extra effort. She has two jobs, and has never been late. She has a car, but pays for it all herself – she doesn’t get any help from her parents, the car is her responsibility.
People always assume that she is almost a decade older than she actually is, based solely on her maturity.

Or, what about this girl….
This girl can be confrontational, she will not tolerate disrespect, which means that sometimes she talks back to teachers and other authority figures. Her assertiveness often get mistaken for aggression.
She is intimidating; she doesn’t look normal. She has blue hair and more piercings that one can count. Paperclips, safety pins, and binder rings adorn her clothing as a fashion statement. Handcuffs are an accessory. People she doesn’t know cross the street to avoid her.
Music must be a terrible influence on this girl, she listens to metal and hard rock – who knows what it will make her do.

So who would you rather have as your daughter?
It doesn’t matter, either way, it is me.

I remember the situation that sparked this reflection. I was late to one of my math classes – advanced placement calculus to be exact – we had a substitute teacher that day, and this woman judged me only on the way that I looked. That particular day I was wearing red and yellow “demon eye” contacts and all black, including a black trench coat and knee-high heeled boots. I looked like an angsty goth teenager.
When I entered the classroom she took one look at me and asked, “Are you sure you are in the right class? This is advanced placement calculus
Well, I was rather offended and responded as such. I informed her that it was the middle of the fucking school year and of course I knew what damn class I was supposed to be in! And that her judging me based on the way I was dressed was so beyond inappropriate that she should go fuck herself.

Alternative kids can be nerds too! I was proof of that.

My husband and I have been married for a while now, but a good friend of mine is getting married soon. Despite the fact that she has been with her partner for a decade already, I told her to prepare for everyone to ask, “So, how is married life?”
She laughed at me and said that no one was stupid enough to ask that…. everyone knew they had been together for a long time already.
I said it didn’t matter….

Seriously, what the fuck is it with people? Do they actually think that getting married changes things?
Prior to getting married my husband and I had a child already. Getting married didn’t change anything! But people still asked, and were still shocked when I said that married life was the same as before.
Someone enlighten me…. what is supposed to be different???

I understand that in the past (and for some people now), that couples didn’t live together before getting married. And premarital sex was frowned upon (although I am not sold on the fact that it was uncommon).
So asking how married life was was like asking how living together was. Or how the sex was. Those things at least make sense, large changes in life – cohabitating or fucking. But now?? Most people live together before getting married, and most people are fucking before getting married. So what does marriage change?

That is all. End of rant.

My husband and I recently had an interesting conversation about jealousy – sparked by the Jealousy episode of Whore Rapport. The conversation evolved into the difference between envy and jealousy.
We both agree that there is a significant difference, but I’m not so sure others would agree.

Let’s start by looking at the definition of each.
Envy: noun; plural – envies
1. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
2. an object of such feeling;
Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates

Jealousy: noun; plural – jealousies
1. resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.
2. Mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.
3. Vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
4. A jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.

On first glance envy and jealousy are pretty synonymous, it is hard to argue against that, but there are a few subtle differences that I think are important.
Envy is discontent or covetousness whereas, jealousy is resentment.
Jealousy speaks to suspicion, fear, and rivalry.

My husband and I agree that jealousy is exclusion based – feeling left out of [thing[, and as a result not wanting others to have [thing] either. On the other hand, envy in more inclusive – wishing to be part of [thing] but holding no resentment.

Let’s look at an example.
My husband is my primary partner, but I have a secondary partner who is equally important to me. My secondary and I are long (very long) distance, we only get to see each other once a year and it usually involves traveling – which means that we go to some amazing places together.
Jealousy would be expressed through ultimatums or rules
– My husband saying that I can’t travel to meet my partner
– Saying that I can only travel to places my husband and I have already been together, as not to “ruin” a new place
– Only meeting in places that don’t interest my husband

Envy, on the other hand, is expressed entirely differently. My husband is envious of the travel I get to do with my partner, he would love to go to all these wonderful places with me. But, he is happy for me. There is no resentment, he doesn’t want to hold me back or make me unhappy. He also knows that he will have other experiences with, and without me.

My relationship with my ex-boyfriend was passionate and tumultuous. We fought often, and sometimes those arguments would get physical. Without hesitation I will say that this relationship was borderline abusive. He was definitely manipulative and emotionally abusive towards me, but I can’t say that I was a victim of abuse. I wasn’t innocent, my own behaviour was toxic and borderline abusive.

When it came to physical violence, yes, he would hit me. But that usually happened after I hit him, I was often the one provoking the violence. Even in the rare instances that he initiated the violence, I wasn’t an innocent victim, I would provoke him – sometimes subconsciously, sometimes on purpose.
Our relationship was toxic, we both acted like terrible people and there is no excuse for the way we treated each other.

It seems to me that almost all cases of domestic violence are placed into a neat little box – there is a victim and an abuser. However, I don’t think real life is that simple… I honestly believe that most cases of domestic violence involve abusive behaviour from both parties. Now, this doesn’t excuse abusive behaviour, especially not physical abuse, but I just hate how simply it is always put.
Like everything else in life, violence and abuse in a relationship works in shades of gray.

Let’s look at some examples from my relationship with my ex.
I was invited out to a friends house for a get together, I told him I would be home around midnight. This friend lived about an hour away from my house, I was having a good time and people stayed out later than I had anticipated, at 11:45 I started saying my goodbyes as I figured I should start heading home, I had a long drive ahead of me and I expect people to be true to their word. If I was home by 1am I figured that was close enough to around midnight.
I was in my car ready to start going home at two minutes past midnight, I pulled out my phone to text my boyfriend that I was on my way home. Just as I did so I received a passive-aggressive text from him saying, “I guess you aren’t going to be home by midnight.”
His message was shitty, and it’s aim was to make me feel bad for being out with friends while he was home alone. However, I should have messaged him earlier stating that I was going to stay a bit longer than I anticipated. In my relationship with my husband, we would be able to talk about this and move on relatively quickly, because we would both understand the others perspective.

A second example of my ex-boyfriends emotionally manipulative behaviour.
I woke up in a great mood, on a beautiful day, we decided to go up to the mountains and go on a popular hike. On the drive up, he got cut off on a narrow road – frustrating? Yes, definitely. However, he proceeded to be in a bad mood for the rest of the day and I had to walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting him further.
(This was actually the straw that broke the camels back and made me break up with him a few days later.)

Now, for an example that isn’t quite as clear.
We were having a disagreement (over what is irrelevant). Things escalated, he expressed his opinion and I disagreed. He asked to be left alone so he could process the information we were talking about and see if he could reconcile my thoughts with his feelings. I disregarded his request and continued to talk at him and tell him why he was wrong.
He tried to walk away. I followed him. He asked for space. I said no.
This went on for some time…. until he eventually broke and pushed me away from him. I took exception to him pushing me and I slapped him. From there, the fight was on… It was ugly.
Who is being abusive here? The answer… both of us!

It was shitty of me not to respect his request for time and space. At the time, I was too emotionally immature to give it to him, because time and space is the last thing I want when I am upset. My husband also often needs time and space to process things. I give it to him when he needs it, but it feels like it is killing me! I still struggle with it, but I understand and accept that his needs are valid even though they are different than mine.
He shouldn’t have pushed me, but honestly, I think that is a pretty normal reaction given the situation. He tried to get space… he tried to remove himself from the situation. He tried.

I wonder how often something similar to the above scenario plays out and the woman is simply labelled the victim, and the man the abuser. Especially in situations where there is a size/skill differential. I can hold my own in a fight, so when things got physical, I wasn’t overpowered and beaten easily.
Sometimes, I get accused of victim blaming. I’m not, no one should be subject to abuse…. but “victims” need to look at their own actions and see if they influenced the behaviour. Abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum…