sports

day 15: consent | jokes on jokes

Sunday, 3/20/2016 

I did literally nothing today. I laid in bed all day and watched 'Covert Affairs.' So if that can be called “doing something,” well, that’s all I did. I think I needed a day to just not think. 

Annie Walker is my hero. Like, if I could be a fictional character, I'd be her. 

Annie Walker is my hero. Like, if I could be a fictional character, I'd be her. 

The past two days have been tough for me - I’ve thought a lot (cue the jokes.) But Friday night keeps replaying over and over in my head… 

On Friday, I was out watching Day 2 of March Madness, and I could not hide my feelings when Texas lost to freaking Northern Iowa at the buzzer.

Basketball is no football to me, but sports are sports. I’m from Texas, therefore I’m patriotic, and as long as they’re not beating North Carolina (my loyalties run deep,) I want my Texas boys to win. So the look of shock, sadness, and utter dismay that took over when Paul Jespersen made a three at the buzzer to boot Texas from Round 2, did not surprise my roommate (who was out with me .) But it sure did shock the group of guys standing one table away from me. 

Now, I don’t know if this is a southern thing or not, but it seems to be that a girl residing in New York city, with a remote knowledge and/or liking of sports is an anomaly. It’s weird. Weird as in I have had at least three guys jokingly propose to me over my ability to discuss football ‘on their level.’ (so. many. reasons. not to accept those proposals in that one little phrase right there - ew.)

Anyway, this group of dudes waltzes over to me with the various comments about heartbreak - a word to the wise: nobody who has just witnessed their team lose wants to hear some dumb joke about said loss or rehash the specifics about why they lost, how they lost, or if they could have done something different to make them not lose. No one. 

“Can we buy you a drink to ease your pain? Don’t worry, we won’t roofie it. HAHAHAHA (as if they’ve just told the joke to end all jokes) Weeeeeelllll Jared might roofie it, but we’ll make him stay right here with you while WE get the drink. We’ll watch him the whole time. Nothing to worry about here!"

Ok bro, I don’t wanna be that girl, but REALLY? In what world is that a funny joke? Actually, remove the funny part of that statement - is that even a joke at all? 

It’s a weird, weird world we live in, that we joke about rape. It’s even weirder when you tell someone maybe we shouldn’t joke about roofies, and they don’t get why. 

This guys literal inability to understand why that’s not funny, makes me nervous for the next generation - what are we teaching them? Are we teaching young men and boys that roofies are a joke to be laughed at? Are we teaching young girls that their lucidity in giving consent is not important? Living in New York, I hear young people’s conversations on the street, on the train, and on the bus, more often than I’d care to (I pity the poor adults that had to overhear my friends’ and my teenage conversations!) and I’m disheartened at the value they seem to place (or not place) on their bodies and their sexuality. Yesterday, while walking home from a run, I heard a girl who couldn’t have been more than 16, defending herself to a young boy that called her a “worthless ho,” with, “Boy, my p***y so tight, I ain’t no ho.”  

I just wonder if between entertainment, politics, social media, and how insanely easy it is for anyone to access porn - are we giving the next generation a fighting chance at self-respect? Do young girls know where their worth is found? Are they being taught to value their minds above their bodies? Are we teaching young men that women have far more to offer than what they can provide in the kitchen or in the bedroom? 

I don’t remember much from my sex education class in middle school besides that it was short. I may be wrong here, but I don’t remember consent being discussed. I think it was assumed. I don’t fault my school for that - I think the assumption of consent might partly be a generational thing. My parents have said to me on more than one occasion that the fact that my generation has to worry about roofies is shocking to them - they didn’t even exist back when they were in college. But the world has changed, and if our tools of education aren’t evolving with it, well, as one of my pastors says, “if you ain’t helping, you ain’t helping.” 

I mean, I would assume, that a grown ass man in a bar at least knows one female that, if she were roofied and assaulted, he’d be horrified, and would therefore never make a joke about it. But, here we are. 

Assumptions will get us nowhere. But change will. Now, I’m the first to admit that I hate change. In fact, I abhor it. But when change is absolutely necessary (as in there is literally no other option because I’ve explored them all,) I can get my butt in gear and do what needs to be done. 

The fact that schools anywhere are teaching abstinence as the only form of sex education BLOWS MY MIND. Like, we’ve established that I love Jesus. I get the whole waiting till marriage thing. I think that is a great thing to hope and pray for for your kids, teach them, and lead them towards. I’m not poopoo’ing that. But it’s statistically very unlikely that a teenager will wait to have sex until marriage that in not educating them, we’re setting them up to contract STD’s, HIV, and get pregnant. 

However, all of this is a moot point if we fail to consider the issue of consent. Consent has somehow become confusing…. how? I don’t know. But if police officers are confused by it (well, how did you tell him no? Uhhhh I used the word, no….?) we can bet our sweet asses that kids are confused by it. I mean, rape porn is a thing. Did you know that? It’s an actual, money making, thing. The idealization of rape. How is that legal? The porn industry as a whole disgusts me, but that? I can't. Porn is one of the most easily accessible things on the internet. It pops up constantly when you’re not even searching for it. If young people, whose hormones are absolutely raging, come across it, are we really shocked that they don’t look away? And are we surprised when they go back for more? And when their minds are being filled with that garbage from the age of 13, 14, 15, 16, why are we surprised that their view of what sex is meant to be is skewed? Why does it surprise us that college boys turn to roofies in order to act out those fantasies? 

We’ve got to completely change the way we teach young people about sex. That’s initiative #2 on my big dreams list for I ARISE; to tackle sex education in this country. I want a country wide mandate that states that schools must prioritize and enact a comprehensive sex education course that includes abstinence, protection, contraception, and above all else, consent. If we have come to a point where we have to spell out what consent is, so be it. Let’s do it. Let’s train up our kids in the way we want them to go.

Consent: 

  1. cannot be given when a person is unconscious
  2. cannot be given when a person has been drugged (so if you drug a girl and she says yes, it doesn’t count.)
  3. cannot be given when a person is black out drunk 
  4. can be redacted at any point without explanation 
  5. is non negotiable 
  6. is not about equality or a a political agenda
  7. is not to be automatically assumed 
  8. is only the person’s to give and take away as they deem necessary
  9. is not limited to sexual intercourse but also includes any other sexual activity 

If there is any confusion about whether or not consent has been given, chances are it has not been given and it’s time to step away. 

Consent is the biggest part of sex education because without it, it’s not actually sex - it’s rape, assault, and abuse. There’s no such thing as consensual and non-consensual sex. There’s consensual sex, and there’s rape. And that piece of the puzzle is missing from what we’re teaching today’s kids. I’m just not ok with that.  

52 Days

out of the ashes and into the light

When I sat on the beach meditating that morning (you may already be like, "oh geeeeez make it stop!") and had the thought, “if JD can do that, what can you do for 52 days?”, I decided to begin a 52 day challenge. I’d been stuck in a negative space (that's a kind way of putting it) for months and wanted to drastically change my life. So, I starting thinking of personal mantras that I could adopt for 52 days, all with the underlying feeling that this was a silly, new-age-y, foundation-less idea that I was concocting. Basically, I was annoying myself. 

But then I felt prompted to count out 52 days on my calendar. Day 52 would land on April, 26, 2016. Uhhh what? That couldn't be right. So I counted again. And again. And one more time for good measure because I don’t believe in coincidences, (also because anything in the math realm, even something as rudimentary as counting, is not my strong suit.) My friends might tell you that I have a tendency to take things to be signs. I can categorically say that this was not one of those instances. Because of that, I decided to not only go on this journey, but write about it. Don’t fear - that idea was immediately accompanied with humbling and self-deprecating thoughts like: “Becky, who the actual eff is going to want to read a '52 day journey' about some random, normal chick who doesn't have any idea what it is she's journeying toward or even what she wants out of it, inspired by a random encounter on an Antiguan speedboat?” But that date...

Two years ago, on April 26, 2014, nine months after moving to New York to pursue my dreams, I was drugged at a bar, taken to an apartment with the promise of finding my missing friend, forcibly held there, assaulted, raped, and then physically thrown into the rain with the trash. It changed the course of my life. 

Sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, fear, recklessness, shame, confusion, pretense, destruction, excess, bitterness, self-hatred, and doubt became the foundations upon which I very secretly, and somewhat unknowingly, rebuilt my life. (Geez, that's a lot of emotions for one sentence.)

I didn’t want to be hurt. I didn’t want to give my attackers any power. I didn’t want to be another statistic. I definitely didn’t want people to identify me as this. And I certainly didn’t want anyone to know the deep wounds, previously healed with some antiseptic and a bandaid, that this ripped wide open. I didn't want to think about any of it.

So while bleeding out, I stuffed some lap pads in there (avid Grey’s Anatomy watcher over here,) abandoned my dreams, and said I was fine and “healed."

I “knew" that one day I would understand why this was allowed to happen and that "God was at work somewhere in it." But I didn't actually believe that. I just knew it's what I was supposed to say. When you really know something is true, you feel it in your bones (or in your fingers and toes… Love Actually anyone?)

I felt like I was being blown around in a tornado. But because I didn’t want to be feeling enraged and embarrassed, I decided to "trust God" the way I have been taught to my whole life. And I believed that the longer I blindly trusted Him, the healing would just come; the more that I got on with life and ignored it, this would fade into the background. That I was exhibiting faith. But I wasn't and it didn't.

Within a month, I stepped into new leadership roles at my church. Within nine months, I decided to start a foundation (this is how I ARISE was originally born) that would raise awareness towards the issue. But being a highly functioning, jerry-rigger of an emergency surgeon on my heart helped no one, least of all me, and the in-between was filled with patterns of self-destruction, often hidden in the dark of late night and early morning hours. 

I wanted I ARISE to be a non-profit, activist, organization that pioneered change, raised awareness and shifted the reality of so many women in the world. My free time was filled with researching sexual assault statistics, finding people who wanted to partner with me, watching documentaries, building a website, putting together a support team, partnering with a production company and filming the beginnings of a documentary. But I quickly burned out. How could I build something designed to help others when I hadn’t even begun to truly pick up my own pieces? But instead of asking for help, I ran in the opposite direction. I stepped down from leadership in my church and within two months, stopped going to church altogether. 

A blog was certainly never on my agenda. The thought just kind of arrived in my mind a few days prior to meeting JD, and I immediately dismissed it. I’m one of those cynics who is almost instantly annoyed at anyone who starts a sentence with, “Well on my blog…” - oh yes, please do tell me about your surely earth shattering blog filled with political opinions, healthy recipes, spiritual guidance, conspiracy theories, and an essay on how if you were the coach of your favorite sports team, they would absolutely, positively, never have suffered such an embarrassing and clearly avoidable loss to                          (insert winning team here.) Not that I don't understand the anger that drives that last one - I mean, I still feel personally victimized by the Texans loss to Miami last season where at the half, they were down 41-0. Sorry. Not the point and I will now get back on track.

Despite my hoity toity attitude toward the blogosphere, here I am blogging, so clearly God humbles our negative attitudes and pride even when it blows - actually let’s just be real here, being humbled pretty much always blows because it means admitting you're in the wrong….oh wait, is that just me? 

So the idea is this: one entry for each of the 52 days of this journey. The day of the idea is March 5 and will go up tomorrow, April 30. Day 1 = March 6 = May 1. 

I have no idea what these 52 days will hold, and therefore, no freaking clue what this blog will look like. Today is March 14, aka day 9. I started writing this introductory entry on March 8, aka day 3, and it'll probably get another edit before it goes live. All other entries will be in the voice of that present day. Here’s what I do know: this will not be a curated blog where everything falls under the same well thought out theme, follows a fluid storyline, or depicts photos all edited the same way for aesthetic consistency. It will be honest (likely to a fault) and at times will seem random - but uh HELLO, we all have a million random thoughts a day...I'm just the ding dong that's putting mine out on the internet for all to see - I'm also the ding dong who is immediately beginning to question this decision.  

But here I go - 52 days, huh? Doesn't seem so long until you come up with a weird idea to span them, and then it's like uhhhh what was I thinking? But if JD could survive his 52 days (I tell you all about that tomorrow,) I can get it together for this. And if I can't, well, I've got a lot more to figure out than I realize! 

 If you've stuck it out thus far, thanks for reading. Hopefully you'll come back and see what happens. 

One thing I've learned already - adventure isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for dang sure.