Comfort Zone · Feminism

wings with a side of ‘feeling safe in your own skin’

“Do you want me to bring it back to you?” He asked as I handed him a travel mug of steaming coffee. My cupboard was full of travel mugs, and this one actually had a lid that fit properly, didn’t leak, and kept things hot.

“Nope, it’s yours” I said as I poured coffee into my own favourite travel mug and he pulled his shoes on, zipped up his coat, and pulled his hood up.

I said “Stay warm hey” as I looked at his shoes and wondered how those sneakers were going to hold up to the frigid temperatures outside. It was the middle of winter in Canada after all.

He said ‘Thanks” as he walked out the door, and I shut and locked it behind him, never to see him again.

This morning took place a few months ago. And despite how you may have read into it so far, it is not the morning after a one night stand, although some may consider it as cavalier as one.

It was a Thursday morning, and the previous night had entailed cheap wings at a pub just up the street from my house. As the night was wrapping up, the group of friends I was with gradually convened outside the pub doors, and in the time it took for everyone to be accounted for I had struck up a conversation with a guy outside the bar, who I assumed had also been enjoying wings there that night. In our short chat, it came up that he was from the city that I originally came from, one notorious for being “friendly” (it’s on our licence plates for goodness sake), and also for being well connected. I often say to people that I meet from my hometown – “Now how do we know each other?”

Within the few short moments that we were conversing, it came up that this young guy (I would guess early twenties) was actually making his way to the west coast, on his own, no real plans for accommodation, kind of a Lone Ranger type of guy.

So I offered him our spare room.

Now, the rest of the evening was incredibly uneventful. The couple of housemates I was out with, this new friend and I headed back to our house, hung out in the kitchen for a bit, then all went to bed. I had to get up early for school the next morning, so had to wake this guy up. I knocked softly on the door, he was quick to rise and collect his things and head for the door, but not without first being incredibly gracious of the warm place to sleep. He asked me if I could add him on Facebook so that we could stay in touch, but seeing as he had no phone, and we couldn’t find his profile on my phone, that was a lost cause.

Our short connection, was an incredibly powerful experience to me. Now, to reiterate my intentions from my first blog post, “Please, for the sake of my conscience, do not take this blog post as encouragement to put yourself knowingly in dangerous situations, for a chance to ‘connect’. But do challenge yourself to reflect on what your comfort zone is, why it is the way it is…”

There have been many times where I have interacted with people who are strangers to me, and it did not lead to anything more than a few second exchange of words. But the encounter I have just described, is one example of a time that I connected with someone and knew that there was something that I could offer that person to make their next step a little safer, and less difficult.

I never have to think about where I am going to sleep the next night. I never have to think about if my feet are going to be warm enough (unless I make a silly wardrobe choice on a cold day). And I very rarely have to worry about feeling safe in my own skin. Maybe it was because we connected over being from the same city, maybe it was because I could not imagine walking away from him on this freezing night, knowing he was just going to end up “wherever”, or maybe it was just one of those spur of the moment things that turns out well. I don’t think it really matters.

“The best gift you are ever going to give someone – the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough.” (Hannah Brencher) This quote is so applicable, in so many situations. I use it here to challenge that feeling safe should not require “permission” but rather, is a right. However, for some that right deteriorates due to gender, race, sexual orientation, SES, physical or mental health status, family structure, religion, faith, language, amongst many other factors.  I hope that I was able to make that guy from my hometown feel safe that night, despite whatever factors may have been at play in his life at that time. I also hope that the judgement I received from friends who heard about it after created an opportunity to reflect on why their judgement came so quickly, and harshly, ranging from simple “oh my god” to “I hope you disinfected the room after”. He is still a human being. Why is that so easily forgotten.

The choice to live life in a way that is considerate of the safety of others, is a choice that I try to make every day.  Everyone likes existing in a strong community – be a part of building yours.

Love always and all ways,

R

Comfort Zone · Feminism · Uncategorized

so rise.

“Ahh the good ol feminist…Love to blast bitches like yourself. In the sack and in debates…More so in the sack though”

“Wow. Do you know how harmful you are? Did I bruise your quivering ego cause I didn’t respond? That you have to assert yourself? …Reported”

This conversation followed a two day lag in my response to “Hey :)”, during which time I also added to my dating app profile that I am a feminist, and I use reusable shopping bags…clearly things worthy of being blasted… in bed and in debates. *eyeroll* Moments after my response, he deleted me. I like to think he was banned from the site but chances are he wasn’t.

A few days later, I was hanging out with some friends, and this “joke” made it way into the conversation somehow…

“What do you tell a woman with two black eyes”

Uncomfortable silence ensued. Another friend said “I don’t think I want to hear the answer”

“Nothing, you’ve already told her twice”

Same friend said “Yup, didn’t want to hear that.”

I was appalled. My response was immediate, “That’s inappropriate”

The “jokesters” defence was that another friend (who was female) had been joking about men being castrated…a continuation of talking about her cat not having balls… He said “Well you were just talking about male castration”

My response.. “Male castration is not a social problem in our society…”

I left it there. I could have gone on to talk about the power differential between men and women and how despicable and harmful jokes around abusing women are.

READ THESE STATS and visit this site : http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-violence

  • Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.[2]
  • 67% of Canadians say they have personally known at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.[3]
  • Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Out of the 83 police-reported intimate partner homicides in 2014, 67 of the victims—over 80%—were women.[4]
  • On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home.[5]
  • On any given night, about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full.[6]
  • There were 1,181 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada between 1980 and 2012, according to the RCMP.[7] However, according to grassroots organizations and the Minister of the Status of Women the number is much higher, closer to 4,000.[8]
  • Aboriginal women are killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women.[9]

These are but two examples of sexism that have occurred within the past week of my life. Some weeks it happens more often, some weeks less. Some weeks I don’t even notice it because it is so normalized.

I have a problem with the normalization of harmful topics. I have a problem with the cop out “It’s just a joke”. And I have a problem when nobody holds people accountable for their harmful comments. If you are reading this and you find yourself thinking “she needs to chill out, it really isn’t a big deal” then I urge you SO strongly to reflect on where that feeling is coming from. Is it out of defence for jokes you have made in the past, jokes you laugh at now?

Regardless of your reaction to my above comments, I encourage you to click on this link, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/toula-foscolos/sexist-jokes-women_b_4815632.html which, among many other great points, brings to the readers attention “ A research project led by a Western Carolina University psychology professor indicates that exposure to sexist humour can lead to tolerance of hostile feelings and discrimination against women.”

I will take the label of “aggressive” any day, over letting harmful conversation exist in my presence. I will not sympathize with it, and I will hold the instigator accountable, whether it is a random creature off the internet, or a friend who I actually enjoy spending time with. Sometimes it is hard to hold people accountable, as it drives an automatic defensive response. Sometimes I fail. Rupi Kaur is a beautiful poet, she reminds her readers “If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise”.

So rise – I remind myself when I fall, when I fail to maintain integrity in my words and actions.

So rise – I remind myself when I witness harmful conversation.

So rise – I remind myself when I am informed of how my own behaviour may be harmful.

Self reflection is so important, and sometimes we need the encouragement of those around us to rise. Humility goes much farther than defence in such situations.

I will end with this well known saying…

Watch your thoughts, they become words,

Watch your words, they become actions,

Watch your actions, they become habit,

Watch your habits, they become character.

Until next time – love always and all ways,

R