Category: woes

F*#! You, Rape Culture – via Jezebel

As an undergrad I proudly served as a member of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – Rape Education Services by Peers Encouraging Conscious Thought . I sigh for the youngsters who thought that the clothing a girl wore had some correlation to her rape, and that if a woman didn’t say ‘no and really mean it’, it wasn’t rape. Oye.

Today’s article in Jezebel is worth sharing:

Fuck you, rapists. You were all over the fucking place in 2012, to the point where Barack Obama had to explain to Jay Leno that “rape is rape,” in case there was any confusion.  Repeat: the president of our country had to make time to appear on national television and reiterate that rape is always a crime.

Here’s an alphabetical list of the rape-related insanity we’ve had to put up with in 2012:

A is for rapey advertising. There is a thin line between “dark humor” and “offensive bullshit,” one which companies seem to have a hard time figuring out, especially when it comes to making light of sexual assault. Some lowlights: Belvedere promising to make the ladies “go down smoothly,” Bar Refaeli’s bizarre app, one bar’s “stay away if you’re not D for the D” ad. Advertisers: let’s reconsider the LOL-rape ads in 2012, kay?

B is for basketball players. When will we stop pretending that college athletes can’t be rapists?

C is for rape culture on college campuses. From Amherst to BU to the University of Missoula, we could write an extra-special rape alphabet listing college sexual assault scandals and the administrators who don’t take rape seriously enough.

D is for different kinds of rape. Here’s a guide, for people (and uteri) with bad decision-making skills.

E is for emergency rape. Only women who have been “emergency raped” deserve emergency contraception, Republican Linda McMahon explained last October. Thnx, Linda.

F is for rape fatigue. Sometimes there’s just no anger left. Hopefully you’re not suffering from rape fatigue yet, because we’re only on the letter “F.”

G is for God. Because sometimes He gives you the gift of rape! We wouldn’t want to be in Richard Mourdock’s house this holiday season. (Or ever, for that matter>)

H is for the Sanctity of Human Life Act. Remember that time Paul Ryan sponsored a bill that would allow rapists to stop their victims from aborting? Now you do! You’re welcome.

I is for inane rape analogies. No, having a baby out of wedlock is not just “like” getting pregnant from rape. Weren’t any of you politicians English majors?!?

J is for rape jokes. Here’s how to make a good one.

K is for Kym Worthy. The Detroit prosecutor and rape kit advocate kicks major ass. What, is this some positive news in the midst of a sea of rape-related batshittery? It is. don’t get too used to it, though; it is “Fuck You” week, after all.

L is for “legitimate” rape. Presented without comment: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” — Republican Senate Nominee Todd Akin, 2012.

M is for military rape. It’s a huge fucking issue!

N is for Nice Guys. Nice guys don’t rape, but “Nice Guys” definitely do.

O is for Obama. Who, as previously stated, told Jay Leno that “These various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me, don’t make any sense to me.” A man who understands us.

P is for Pennsylvania House Bill 2718. It’s that recent super-shitty bill that would require low-income women to prove they were raped in order to qualify for welfare. America!

Q is for questioning rape victims. It’s something we do way, wayyyy too often instead of questioning, you know, THE RAPISTS. What were you wearing? Do you have a boyfriend? Why were you out so late? Why were you by yourself? Why did you invite him back to your apartment? Why didn’t you run away screaming the second he penetrated you? Why did you text him after? Did I ask what you were wearing?

R is for Redditors. They sure do love chatting about rape.

S is for spiders. Recently, a lawyer called an 11-year-old gang rape victim “the reason” that twenty teenagers and adult men raped her, like “the spider and the fly.” More like “the child rape victim and the dickhead lawyer without a case.”

T is for Team Rape. Hey, they lost big this election season!

U is for underwear. Wouldn’t it be cool if Victoria’s Secret had a line of consent-themed panties? They don’t (duh), but here’s how one feminist group envisioned it.

V is for victim-blaming. Rape without victim-blaming (a.k.a. slut-shaming, “she was asking for it,” etc etc) is like peanut butter without moldy, rancid jelly!

W is for Wisconsin’s Roger Rivard. He once said “some girls rape easy.” And some politicians lose reelection!

X is for X-Rated. It should go without saying, but sex workers can be raped — and deserve legal protection from sexual assault — too.

Y is for YES! Say it with us! Ask him/her to say it before you initiate sex! It feels so good, we swear.

Z is for zzzzz. Is she unconscious? Here’s a bright idea: don’t fucking rape her.

In conclusion: FUCK YOU, rapists, rape apologists, and all you politicians, comedians, advertisers, lawyers, and internet commenters who think it’s soooo hard to take the time to make sure someone actually wants to do the sex with you. Fuck you guys. Fuck all of you. Consensually, that is.

Thanks, Katie J.M. Baker

Super Spartan Plus Plus Turbo Charged

It’s not all fruit tarts and hummus, bookclub and wine sipping here in the land of the shinycopperpig. No sir.

Pre-race shiny faces and Roman Legion symbols

This weekend my training buddy, CJ, and I put our hard core running and calisthenics training to the test. We competed in the Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan Race.

Spartan Races come in four sizes: Sprint (3 miles), Super (8+ miles), Beast (12+miles) and Death (unknown miles, unknown obstacles). We opted for the Super, a race consisting of running and conquering military obstacles. If you fail an obstacle, you complete 30 burpees — thigh burning, shoulder heaving, breath stealing burpees.

In this case, we ran between 8-9 miles and hurled our bodies through a number of physical challenges including but not limited to: log-rolling in rocky mud under 50 yards of barbed wire; mantling 10 foot tall walls, flipping tires; hiking with (smelly) sandbags; lugging concrete blocks via chains uphill; flying across the monkey bars; climbing a muddy, wet rope; and bunny hopping over logs — all along running between.

Not for the squeamish or easily bruised – that was a wet rock roll

It. was. HARD. I underestimated my love of water and all things hydration, which resulted in me humbly asking the smart racers if I could share a sip from their Camelbacks. Upon reaching the 3/4 mark and thinking the muddy water looked appealing, it went something like this:

CJ on the final obstacle, the rope climb

– Penney to Volunteer: “Hey, is that a trash pile?”
– Volunteer: “Yep, you have something to add?”
– Penney: “Nope, but I’ll take that half-finished bottle of Gatorade.” (CJ watched, horrified as I chugged…then he shrugged and took a swig. If we get TB, it’s all my fault!)

My best moments happened on the monkey bars and cargo nets, and the tire flip wasn’t too shabby. The single track running through the forest was more pleasurable than expected, especially the downhills. CJ kept my spirits up with whoops and hollers and fist pumps. Camaraderie abounded on the course too. The best helps were big, burly, ex-military guys who showed us how to keep butts down on the angled wall climb and put weight on the nets for the next person.

Emerging from the last obstacle. Our blue steel faces.

My lowest moments included the incredible endless uphill mountain, and the [insert every explicative] concrete block drag — during which I lost part of my pinky skin and cursed the gods. My mother came to cheer and said the concrete block was like watching Dante’s Inferno.

The rope climb was tough, though not as impossible as feared. I made it within 4 feet of the top, then sat on a knot clenching my thighs, mustering the strength for another harrumph — and just didn’t get it. But CJ did, rocking it out to ring the bell at the top. In total I completed 90 burpees, and CJ a mere 30 (damn that unbalanced lance throw).

Done and done. Hoo-ah!

Despite the cuts, bruises, and mud in all possible orifices, we’re already thinking about 2013. As CJ said, “How much harder could the Beast really be?”

Note:SPQR was emblazoned on the standards and shields of the Roman Legions. While the flexibility of their formations and the discipline of their troops was formidable, many believe that the indomitable spirit of the Roman Army was their true strength. Hence, we paid tribute with SPQR pride on our arms.

Your Friend is Getting Divorced. 12 Helpful Things You Can Do

Update 8.13.12 – The Huffington Post published this piece!

I started drafting this during my divorce as a response to well-intentioned friends who kept asking what they could do for me. I was at a loss as how to reply (make me not hurt? speed up time? buy me a house far away?) and started jotting down moments when I felt loved or special or smiled – and the list grew. While no one can remove the pain, they can ease it.  Here are 12 things people did that actually helped:

1. Sent me flowers at the office – from the family dog.
Not only was this just the cutest idea, but the flowers were perky and colorful. And since they were from a dog I had a story to tell that didn’t involve me talking about the soon-to-be ex-hubby. Looking at them on my desk gave me a smile.

2. Included me in family traditions and meals.
Even if it was out of pity, I appreciated it. It made me feel wanted and like good company, and forced me to talk to people rather than (only) eat boxes of mac ‘n cheese on the floor. These outings often meant I didn’t have to cook for one. (Don’t underestimate how awful cooking alone becomes compared to the ritual of cooking with someone else).  This is one of the best gifts to give someone feeling lonely—the gift of inclusion.

3. Promised to introduce me to any eligible, worthy single men they knew.
This was important because I needed the hope. And a reason to wear eyeliner and care if I flossed. This led to some very interesting blind dates, as well as some lessons in love and even a few great guy friends. I didn’t always say yes to the offers, but I’m glad for the ones I did.

4. Cried with me.
Friends cried WITH me because I was sad. This was so unexpected and unexperienced that I was deeply touched. I remember sobbing in my friend’s driveway, then looking and seeing her eyes brimming with tears. Someone cared enough to hurt alongside me — which made me feel valuable at a time when I felt like utter shit. Kudos to those dear allies who held me, fed me and let me bawl on their couches, beds, floors, driveways, sidewalks, office chairs, shoulders, cars…

5. Let me give back to them.
It’s hard to feel needy and lonely and stuck in a dark cloud all the time. I wanted opportunities to give back to those who welcomed me while I was a mess. I did this by babysitting, making meals, volunteering to help set up parties, running interference at their uncomfortable family gatherings, recommending hair products or salons, listening, cat-sitting — anything that allowed me to offer a small gesture of gratitude in return for all the support I received.

6. Ignored the ‘judgment’ button and pushed down the “human” button.
I may have turned pink when I shared my walk(s) of shame, but the truest friends didn’t tsk-tsk or lecture. They asked with a smirk, “Was it good?” and “Is that a new shirt?” It is MY life and I have responsibility for it. Support the sometimes questionable decisions, and also let us vent about the disappointments – even if you saw them coming. Now is not the time to opine on the scientific validity of psychotherapy when you know we’re going 3x a week.

7. Allowed me to NOT talk about the divorce.
On occasion I wanted to listen to other people’s lives to get out of my own head. Sometimes I needed to NOT talk about the dissolution of my marriage so I could pretend to feel normal, and not solely identified as “the friend going through a divorce.” Don’t worry about complaining about your life, stress, jobs, and amusing moments. I want to hear about your struggles and realize that your life isn’t perfect either. Just try not to one-up us on horrible divorce stories.

8. Complimented me.
One of the lasting pains of divorce is the feeling of utter rejection from someone who vowed to love me for life. Combating the pervasive question of “What is wrong with me that made them leave?” is not a simple or quick process. I made lists of nice things people said to me during the day just to focus on positive interactions. Here’s to Caribou coffee guy saying my nose stud was cute, and to jealous colleague sending me a nice email, and to the creepy video man saying my shoes and suit were nice, and to the old men at the bar saying that I looked like a movie star, and the drunk concert hipster who said my hair was awesome. There can never be too many compliments in the world, and since your friend is feeling particularly unloved, your words bolster them. Be the person they add to their list of ‘nice moments today.’

9. Took care of me when I was weary to the bone.
There is so much emotional effort involved in divorce and maintaining sanity. The transition from a twosome to a single is tiring. All the time. And suddenly we don’t have a person to make soup or bring us kleenex or lay our head on, which doubles the misery. When I got sick after drinking too much, a kind boy held my hair, cleaned me up, and texted my sis that I was fine. When I was grouchy at work, a girl dragged me to yoga and loaned me an outfit. When I was too tired to leave home, no one make fun of me. When I fell on the ice, a colleague bought me a bar of chocolate. When I called bawling from a restaurant, a darling lady told me to taxi over – and then fed me buttered toast while I sniffled on her couch, wrapped in a Snuggie. The thing is, your friend IS capable and independent and doesn’t need a man or a woman to complete them. But sometimes they forget.

10. Offered to beat up my ex.
I adored this offer. And I loved that it came mostly from boys – including my dad. (Okay, so maybe my dad drafted an entire assassination plan, which I only recently learned about…), but the point is this sentiment warmed my heart. It still does.

11. Accompanied me to difficult, divorce-related events.
The day my soon-to-be ex was moving out, I thought I could handle seeing him and his sister pack up “his” pile. When that delusion quickly vanished in a pool of tears I called a friend. We made pizza at her place while I waited for the “all finished” text. Then she asked if I wanted her to come inside and see the place together. I would never have thought to ask, but it was exactly what I wanted – a steady hand to see the condo for the first time stripped bare—just how my heart felt. I was terrified at what I’d find, and she bolstered my spirits by walking around with me.

12. Agreed to hare-brained ideas.
Look, I knew you didn’t want to go clubbing; you were tired, stressed, had a family/child/pet waiting for you and a mountain of dirty laundry to tackle. Yes, you gave up sake bombs years ago and certainly don’t have any flag football skills to speak of. But when I needed to try new activities, I had friends who said yes. They were game! They were willing to step outside their comfort zones to prioritize time with me while I spread my tender, new wings in the social and dating arenas.  Say yes when your divorcing friend asks you to try something. At the least, it’ll make for an entertaining story.

Let your humanity shine: listen, compliment, be thoughtful, respond sincerely to your friend’s needs and withhold judgment. And give chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate.

Our Own Worst Enemy

“Very often we are our own worst enemy as we foolishly build stumbling blocks on the path that leads to success and happiness.” – Louis Binstock, American Rabbi

“Forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who betrayed and disappointed you.” – Rob Brezsny, American astrologist and author

10 Very Good Reasons You’re Not Married

Ah, I do love me some Jezebel. Here’s a great piece highlighting 10 realistic, legitimate and totally sane reasons for why you are probably not married:

1. You are focused on your career.

And you are not going to apologize for it. Some people call this being a “bitch,” because you are a lady and you have a job that you might be more focused on than smiling pretty and making sure you don’t intimidate Mr. Right. Most of us just call this being alive in 2012 (you know the time the economy tanked and we had to work to eat).

2. You have standards.

You know you could have settled for Mr. “I just don’t like your friends,” or, “I just don’t think women have ever done anything important,” or, “so, about that Ron Paul,” or even, “I only cheated on you once,” but you realized you could do better. And frankly, being alone is just more manageable and makes you happier than being in a relationship that’s the pits. So you didn’t marry him, even though you probably could have.

3. You can’t afford it.

According to the Brookings Institute marriage rates are down for people that don’t have money. It’s not even that women don’t want to get married, as much as men don’t feel ready to propose until they have the cash to support a family. There is no special Spanx you can buy that will bolster a man’s self-esteem to convince him that you don’t care he is broke. Many people are still tired to the idea that men have to out earn women, even though you have a job (remember that you are mega-focused on) and could probably support the both of you. Plus, the average cost of a wedding is 27, 000 dollars. Yes, you read that right.

4. You are waiting until all people can get married.

Yup, that’s right, your personal life is a fucking statement about love in America. (Good job Obama and states that passed same-sex marriage legislation).

5. You don’t need or want a symbolic public ceremony to celebrate something you already have.

You already know you and boo are ride or die, why spend the money on a wedding when you can do that Spanish immersion program you have been planning for the entire time you’ve known each other? You two are an adventurous lot, committed to each other and show it in more genuine ways than the most traditional and played out way ever known to civilization.

6. You’ve got a life and friends that you are happy with.

If a dude shows up that’s cool, but you are not sweating it because every day is an awesome new adventure full of phone calls from loved ones, cupcakes, yoga classes and dance parties. You enjoy each minute, focus on the positive and when you are down (a symptom of life, not just single life) you have 500 friends to call, because you have spent time on all types of relationships, not just the kind that will lead to marriage. Friendship-the realest investment a lady can make.

7. Monogamy just doesn’t work for you.

You tried it and it didn’t work. It’s better to know now then put unrealistic expectations on yourself and your partner only to have a crappy break-up where it is revealed you are an infidel. We don’t have “respectable” models of these characters (because often cheaters are assholes), so we assume they are all sex crazed home wreckers, but some are genuinely just born this way.

8. You are sexually liberated.

See also: sexually adventurous, referred to as “slut” by people from the olden days, religious leaders, people that think vaginas are gross and Tracy McMillan. Right now, you just wanna get down, and that’s not a lie, that’s libido #realtalk.

9. You have “issues.”

And you fully realize this and want to deal with them before you get into a serious relationship. Instead of being irresponsible and shoveling them under a rug to save face and look like Mrs. Right, you are dealing with your shit and getting ready to be in a serious long-term relationship. That does not happen overnight and you shouldn’t rush yourself because of some invented standard age by which you should be married.

10. You legitimately just don’t want to get married.

No, you are not lying to yourself; you actually just don’t want to get married. You’ve been to lots of weddings, you appreciated some of the sentiments, you were happy for everyone, but you didn’t walk out wishing it were you that got married. In fact, the idea of a wedding dress makes you break out into hives and you don’t want a blood diamond, you think forever is bullshit and you have no interest in feeding into the romantic industrial complex. You have a hard time reconciling your politics with what you see as a deeply problematic institution.


I am Fortunate

One of the nice things about life is the ability to learn – to learn new things as well as learn from mistakes and grow from experiences. When my heart is heavy and the future feels bleakly uncertain, I have a list of activities that I fall back on to lift my sagging shoulders, including:

Going to Ground. I literally sit on the floor. I sit to eat dinner at the coffee table, when talking to family on the phone, when outside; I sit to craft and pet my cat and make lists. The solidity underneath me is comforting.

Saying Yes. Apparently there’s a book about this (and a poorly interpreted movie) called, fittingly, Yes Man, by Danny Wallace. When a girlfriend asked me on Saturday afternoon if was around for a drink, I said yes, even though it was not convenient per se. Who cares if the laundry doesn’t get done today? People are important. When I was invited to an impromptu brunch while still streaming sweat down my face from a spin class on Sunday, I said yes. Join you and your mom for an opera? Sure. Try yoga on the mall? Okay. Talk to a stranger at the grocery store about my banana purchase? Why not? I am more open to experiences when my heart is hurting, and saying yes is a way I stay connected.

Drinking Less. I know, I know – this is apparently antithetical advice for a breakup. But really, I don’t enjoy drinking by myself as much as I do with others. Feeling buzzed alone doesn’t result in more fun, laughter, jokes or silly antics; it results in me feeling light-headed, sad and lonely – and then promptly falling asleep in my clothes on the couch. Giggles are best shared. Why else do you think karaoke is synonymous with drinking? (This guy is an apparent exception to this rule, as he seems very, very happy to belt out Bohemian Rhapsody while drunk as a skunk in the back of a police car).  

Remembering my Fortune. Not in a Pollyanna, everything-is-wonderful-all-the-time kind of way, but consciously thinking about the good things in my life. A reminder of how fortunate we are, from Danniel Dennet’s Freedom Evolves:

“Every living thing is, from the cosmic perspective, incredibly lucky simply to be alive. Most, 90 percent and more, of all the organisms that have ever lived have died without viable offspring, but not a single one of your ancestors, going back to the dawn of life on Earth, suffered that normal misfortune. You spring from an unbroken line of winners going back millions of generations, and those winners were, in every generation, the luckiest of the lucky, one out of a thousand or even a million. So however unlucky you may be on some occasion today, your presence on the planet testifies to the role luck has played in your past.”

And if all else fails, I keep in mind something my Mom says: “This too shall pass.”

Performance Review

Update 12.9.11: Success! All is well. I can breathe easy and continue my kick-butt work, while pursuing a new area of interesting work in 2012. Whew.

My three goals for today:

1. Don’t cry during the performance review.

2. Be prepared to make a case for new professional goals that genuinely interest my passions, suit my skills and support the organization.

3. Don’t cry during the performance review.

Anxiety is part of creativity, the need to get something out, the need to be rid of something or to get in touch with something within.” – David Duchovny

being grateful during a crummy week

Work sucks. It’s raining. I’m swamped. But I’m going to pick 5 things this morning – and throughout the day – that I’m grateful for.

1. My bus stop has a roof so I didn’t have to pop open my umbrella while holding 2 bags and digging for my wallet in the rain.

2. Ham and egg breakfast sandwiches. High protein, filling me up, comforting and healthy enough to feel good. They’re right next door, fast and on whole grain wheat makes ’em hard to beat on a running late day.

3. A meeting got cancelled! I got 30 minutes back in my morning to breathe and post this, and remember that this too shall pass.

4. I had one pair of tights in my drawer, though I haven’t the foggiest reason why. Which made dressing easier so I could get out the door faster.

5. Trader Joe’s Quinoa frozen veggie mix was awesome last night and now I have leftovers for lunch. No fuss, great flavor.



How did I not know about this site before now?! I must have spent 6 hours in the last 2 days perusing, liking, pining, repining, commenting and organizing images into categories. It’s a list maker’s dream. Visual lists of beautiful things! I mean, come on, how can you not love the whimsy of things like:

Feeling inspired for crafting. And doing my hair. And wearing a cute outfit to a wine tasting party tonight. I am going to wear some skinny jeans and heels for sure, and hopefully something yellow on top. Or orange. Something that says fall.

Though I love the folks hosting the party, I wish it were tomorrow night. I’ve got a cold, haven’t showered and generally feel cranky.  Yes the Bourbon Chase rocked but it really drained me too: mentally, physically and emotionally. I’m giving myself this week off from the gym, with the idea of trying a new class at the gym each month until I’ve tried them all. Variety is the spice of life, right?

I also want to feel more centered this month. I feel like my mind is going in a thousand directions and I’m watchful, wary of others. I need to relax internally and grab my sense of self. I want the sun to return and to get outside and breathe, to make choices that I want to make and feel solid about my decisions. To place myself in a place like this.

I’m pondering starting the Artist’s Way, or one of 2 other books recently recommended to me. I don’t know what my deal is of late, and if it’s due to the rain and clouds, the race, work stress or what, but I just don’t feel like my normal self.