Asking For It?

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE

Most people that know me can agree that I’m an outspoken feminist. They know that I stand up for women’s rights, try to be politically correct, the list goes on. They know that I love to write or that my favorite color is yellow. They know my face, the way I smile or laugh. To most people, I’m just an average teenage girl. Thank God that’s all I am. What most people don’t know is that this image could completely disappear, tarnished forever in a matter of minutes.

How?

Rape. Already I can sense one of two reactions: fear, a freezing shiver down a spine or bile pushing to the surface, or exasperation, a sigh because this post is going to be one of those posts.

When I think about sexual harassment, I think about the horrifying statistics. One in six girls will be raped in their lives. That means that out of the girls in my grade, at least three of us will get assaulted. One in 33 boys will be assaulted. That’s at least one boy in each grade. Yes, these are just statistics and all, but most of the times that’s all we think about.

Over the summer, I read Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, a story of a girl named Emma who was gang raped by four boys. At first, Emma is portrayed as self-centered, egotistic, and promiscuous. She is mean to her friends, constantly degrading them.

Photo Credit: cornflakegirlmusings.com

It frustrated me how rude she was, but as the story went on, the rudeness was actually unmasked as something else, self-degradation. Her entire life she was called pretty, fawned on by boys and envied by girls. She was constantly making sure to cover up, but simultaneously show off. Her mother would always tell her to put on a jacket or a longer pants, while her friends surrounded her with shorter and shorter skirts. She internalized something most girls have to.

Nowadays, the Internet is filled with selfies, pool pics, and photoshoots. Sleek hair and tanned, toned legs become a requirement before sending out an image on Instagram and Facebook. Emma’s world was filled with those kinds of pictures. She went to parties just to say she did, trying to keep up this delicate image of a girl who was respectable but still had fun.

However, that image was tattered when she was raped. She showed up to the party in a too-short dress, drank dozens of tequila shots, and tried a drug a boy gave her. Common ingredients in the recipe titled: She was asking for it.

It’s interesting to think that someone could be assaulted and instantly presume it was the victims fault. Even if she was wearing nothing, her body doesn’t become something to claim, to take advantage of. It’s sad that rape becomes so black and white, either the girl did something wrong or the boy made a “childish” mistake. No one ever gets into the nitty gritty. It’s always “She was asking for it” instead of “She was raped.”

Modern society has a fear around the word rape. People want to mask what that word means, mask the disgusting feelings around it. People hide behind anonymous names, jeering at victims, trying to make it less real. If she wanted to, then how can it be bad?

Louise O’Neill and many other have taken a stab at this ever-present issue, trying to raise awareness. I condemn these brave souls, as talking about rape is so taboo. Rape is an international issue, as this book addresses, and is not just some “feminist issue.” Rapists are let out of prison within weeks, while the victims are left with a lifetime of shame and painful memories.

Rape needs to become an outrage. Homicides are treated with heightened media attention, the deceased becoming a saint in the eyes of the public. Where is that same sadness for victims of rape? Yes, they didn’t die, but a part of them was lost when they were raped. Many are left chained to a life of stolen glances and hushed conversations.

It’s hard for people to talk about rape because they’re misinformed or it simply makes them uncomfortable. Personally, I agree. I would like nothing more than to talk about the weather report or to compliment my friend’s shirt, but sometimes I’m left fearing about out of my friends and me, who’s going to get hurt next? That’s why we need to talk about rape culture. We need to make rape not okay, make rapists see the wrong in their actions, as not to encourage repeated offenses. We need to make rape as scary as being killed, so that young girls and boys can go about their lives with one less thing to worry about.

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Friends Who Last Forever

There are different types of friends, as many of you probably know. Last year, I was friends with someone who I expected to be close with for years to come. This year, we have barely talked. When I confronted her about this, she said she just didn’t care to.

It was at this point that I realized that some people, even if you might be close to them, aren’t going to stick around through everything. Looking back, I can see how she would cut me down and embarrass me in public, or make me feel bad about something. That’s not a true friend.

This year, I have been lucky to find someone who I know will stick around. Every day at lunch, we have our lunch date, almost without fail. We talk about everything that comes to mind, from boys and friends to food and sports.

She boosts my self-confidence by threatening to no longer talk to me, which of course has changed my thought process tremendously since the beginning of the year finally found my best friend.

Papa Adventures

Let me start off by saying that I love my dad. He and I have always been very close, but especially so after the divorce of my parents four years ago. He is there for me to talk to whenever, and about whatever.

I can tell him about my friends, school, boyfriends. And no matter what he will listen and help me work through my problems.

As a kid we would go on “Papa Adventures”. In fact, we still do. During a Papa adventure, my two little brothers and I are rounded up and told to get into my dad’s dark blue Toyota Tacoma stick shift (the car I would very much like to inherit someday), and buckle our seat belts.

We never have any idea where we or going or what we are doing. But believe me, we sure do try to get it out of him.

Sometimes we drive for ten minutes, other times for four hours. But somehow we’d always find a way to play our song, “Live Like You were Dying“, by Tim Mcgraw. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would be able to take turns sitting on his lap and steering while on an empty dirt road.

We used to roll around in the backseat laughing our heads off as one of us sat on my dad’s lap and purposely steer the truck off the road, causing my dad to freak out, and then laugh along with us once we were back on track.

My favorite Papa adventure was a long drive up a very rocky road, which we all of course found very fun, especially while unbuckled and playing jello. After hours of driving, and about a mile of hiking, we would end up at this beautiful lake nestled in the middle of a crater.

Petroleum Lake, Aspen CO

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Boston Bound!

Around me, the chatter of many different people diverged into one dynamic buzz. Cash registers ring, papers being printed, suitcases being dragged. Noise engulfs me as I sit in a grey pleather chair in the Charlotte Douglas Airport.

 

I sit here, a venti Starbucks black iced tea (with two Sweet’N Lows and easy ice) and a packet of organic dried mangoes, and I can already tell the difference in the environment.

Although this is just an airport, I can feel the change in the vibe. I am on the East Coast. I am not in California. I can tell in the way people walk, talk, and gesticulate that the city I am in is absolutely different.

I guess I my awareness of all of these differences is especially heightened because this is my first voyage to Boston. As high school senior, I am applying to numerous colleges, many of which are situated in the East Coast. I am scared, nervous, excited, and curious of how different life in Boston will be.

What will the food be like? Will I stand out, strike people as different just as I do them?Who knows?

I’ll let you know how I like it soon:)