Monthly Archives: August 2012

Teach your children well

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When I posted the original story that I included an excerpt of in my last post, I got quite a few comments & emails in response. Of all the responses I got, one-third had experienced something similar (or worse). Another quarter had a friend or relative who did. Not even counting the secondhand reports, that’s a lot – ONE-THIRD! Think about that. Think about your daughter. Or niece. Or sister. Now think about her and nine of her friends – her swim team, her cheerleading squad, her girl scout troop. Three or four of them will go through something like I did – or worse. Maybe it will be her.

Did it happen to you? Maybe you weren’t raped, but maybe – like me – you narrowly escaped it. Or maybe you were just forced to go further than you wanted. Or maybe there was no physical force – you made the decision to do something that you didn’t want to because someone berated or threatened or belittled you. Maybe you feel responsible because you were drinking.

Maybe you were high. Maybe you were passed out and you woke up having sex. Maybe you weren’t sure if you initiated it or not. Maybe you felt guilty for being upset because after all – you left the party with the guy and thought he was hot. And in fact – you probably would have slept with him anyway.
Not you? You’re lucky. Ask a couple of your friends. I bet you won’t go through too many of them until you find someone who’s been through it.

A long time ago, had a guy – a nice guy – tell me (in a skeptical & sarcastic manner), “Every girl I know has a story about being forced.”  Think about that for a minuteabout all those women – every girl he knew. Even if “every girl” part is hyperbole, it’s still enough for him to think of it as every girl.  For someone to say that every woman (or most women or any portion of women) they know has that story is frightening and sad and very, very telling about the sexual practices of the youth of America. That women & girls are not only not believed when they make such claims, but that they are mocked for making them, whether true or not. It’s a prime example of the way women’s rights to their own bodies are not taken seriously. Is it any wonder that more than 60% rapes go unreported?

And getting back to this “nice guy”, how does one hear this story from “every girl”? I think basically two ways one – from girls who are your friends, who are clearly opening up to you about something traumatic. Do you mock them? If yes, you’re no kind of friend. And two – from girls in that very situation – being encouraged, coerced, or even forced to do something they aren’t comfortable with. Nice guy indeed. I think of him occasionally now and I wonder if he is married or has daughters. I wonder how he’d feel if they told him their stories.

We as a society need to take some action. It doesn’t need to be a big grass roots movement. All we need to do is talk. Start talking to our girls (and our boys, for that matter). Start telling them that they and only they get to decide what they do with their bodies. That they can say no. That they can tell someone if something like this does happen. We need to stop blaming the victims. We need to stop calling women sluts and whores because they are sexually active or even sexually promiscuous. Because if we want them to believe that they have the right to say no and be respected, then they need to know that just because they may have said yes once or twice or even a thousand times, it doesn’t take away their right to say no this time.

We need to start young. Start teaching them that being pretty isn’t important. Start teaching them that being beautiful on the inside is what matters. Start teaching them that it’s OK to care about how they look, but that the motivation for that should be health and fitness and natural beauty, and not to please others or to get attention. Start teaching them that they ARE beautiful as they are. Start teaching them that just because they are beautiful doesn’t give anyone a right to touch them. Start teaching them that their beauty or their body – no matter how well-endowed or sexy – doesn’t make them public property.

Start teaching them that the billboards and magazines and commercials are not reality. Start teaching them that the sitcoms and movies are wrong – that beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. Start teaching them that love and lust are two very different things. Start teaching them to love themselves so others can show them love and not just lust. Start teaching them that they are worthy of respect and love. Start teaching them that respecting themselves is necessary for others to respect them. Start teaching them that it’s better to be alone than with someone who doesn’t respect you. Start teaching them alone doesn’t mean lonely. Start teaching them that they are strong. Start teaching them that no matter what they wear. . .or how they walk. . .or what they drank. . .that no means no.

Start now.

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The Politics of Rape and Why I Don’t Like Chocolate Cake

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Unless you live under a rock, you’ve been hearing a lot about rape lately. And most of it isn’t good. Not that rape it ever good, but hearing about educating girls, protecting women, punishing offenders are all good stories about a very bad thing. But no – instead we’re hearing about idiots who are so profoundly stupid that they are trying to spread a whole bunch of nonsense about what rape is and its effect on women (and society in general, for that matter).

I won’t go on and on about it, since unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard it all already. But I will say this. I am outraged and sickened that – in 2012 – we have people who:

A) believe that women’s bodies have some sort of magical, bad-guy-rapist-fighting secretions that keep them from getting pregnant (and lest you think that the latest asshole, Akin is the only one, this has been going on for years – for YEARS, assholes have been telling us that “rape causes a woman to ‘secrete a certain secretion’ that kills sperm”, that “women do not get pregnant when raped because ‘the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work’” and that “the emotional trauma of rape upsets the possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy”), and

B) are seeking to “define” rape. Let me help them out here – rape is defined by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) as:

“Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape: women, men or children, straight or gay.”

Got it? There is no “legitimate rape” vs. well…I don’t know what the alternative is – illegitimate rape? I don’t know what they are thinking with that one.

And while we’re on the subject, we don’t need to call it “forcible rape” either – because by definition, rape is always “forcible” – otherwise it would just be called sex.

And we don’t need to qualify the circumstances either. There is no date rape, or acquaintance rape – calling it by those names diminishes the severity of the crime. If sexual activity is forced on a woman (or man), knowing the rapist, dating the rapist – being <i>married to the rapist</i> doesn’t change the fact that it is rape. We need to stop this nonsense and start valuing the rights of our women (and yes – men, but let’s be honest, if men getting raped were more common, this would likely not be an issue).

I had an incident when I was in high school that the “rape qualifiers” would call (attempted) date rape (actually, “acquaintance rape” because he wasn’t my date, but he was a classmate at the same party) – and that offends me. Because the phrase “date rape” sounds like two people who decided to fool around and then one felt guilty afterward. It’s basically a way of condescending to the woman who has experience, while winking at the man and saying, “We know it wasn’t really rape.” This is not what happened to me. I was physically restrained, touched without my consent and nearly raped, and only a lucky break of circumstances stopped it. It was violent and terrifying and to this day – nearly 30 years later – I can remember how I felt and how he looked and what he tasted like. It was no less serious than so-called “forcible” or “legitimate” rape. I wrote about it before, but the whole “going (more) public” with this blog has made me lock some entries up for privacy. But here is an excerpt:

He was harmless. Or at least I thought he was until he grabbed me and threw me on the bed. He got on top of me and starting kissing me. He tasted like chocolate cake. I was terrified and gagging and trying to protest, but he kept shoving his tongue down my throat and rubbing himself on me, grabbing my breasts, trying to get his hands in my pants. I fought him off as well as I could and then he got his knees on my arms and pinned me down. I wanted to punch him in his disgusting, ugly face, but I couldn’t move. He was trying to simultaneously get my pants off and take his penis out. Or maybe I should say his dick or his cock. Penis sounds too innocuous. Those words do a better job of getting across the ugliness. I couldn’t scream because he kept covering my mouth with his. I was crying and thrashing around and thinking that this was it – he was raping me. I wasn’t a virgin at this point but I was pretty close to it – sex was still something special to me and I sure as hell didn’t want to share it with this asshole.

Just then, a group of girls came into the room and he jumped off me. One of those girls was his date – a long-time friend. Another was a very good friend of mine. The third was a girl who hated me. And immediately, even though they saw with their own eyes the position I was in and even though they should have been easily able to hear my protests and even though my face was covered in tears and my clothes were in disarray and even though I had angry red marks on my arm, they looked at me and yelled, “Gina! What are you doing?” In that one instant, I went from being the girl who was almost raped to the girl who tried to fuck her friend’s boyfriend at the prom picnic. I’m not sure which hurt worse. At the same time, I hated those girls for treating me that way and was grateful that they stopped what almost happened. But mostly, it was like buckets of salt on a fresh, gaping wound and I hated them. I hated him, I hated them, I hated everyone.

And I stopped eating chocolate cake.

How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular!

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I had the opportunity to see How to Train Your Dragon live Spectacular last night at Consol Energy Center, and I have to say it was pretty spectacular. I went in knowing that the animatronic dragons would be pretty amazing, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rest of the show was just as impressive.

When you take your seat (and will say, there is not a bad seat in the house), you see basically an empty stage with only one raised circle, and you wonder (or at least I did) how on earth they are going to portray the Scottish Highlands and villages and forests and seas. And then the show starts and you say, “Ohhhh…I get it.”

Basically, they paint the scenes with light. The background is projected onto the backdrop of the show area. Now don’t think that I am talking about a simple high school play production backdrop. No – I am talking about an amazingly detailed background, which moves and flows with the story.

When Hiccup is running through the village & forest, jumping from tree to tree, the combination of the scenery on the backdrop and the use of cables & tracks is amazing.  Another scene takes place under water and the use of lighting, projections on the backdrop and floor, bubbles, and characters “swimming” around make you truly believe that they are under water.

One of my favorite effects of the show was probably the most low tech – the use of puppetry (of a sort). Lasers were projected in planes a couple of yards above the show floor, made to look like clouds or water and very basic, but lovely, dragon and ships on sticks were flying (or sailing) around, with the help of cast members with sticks (who you couldn’t see under the layer of lasers). It was a beautiful sight.

But of course, everyone wants to know about the biggest stars of the show: the dragons. And they did not disappoint. They are not only life sized (or what one would assume to be life sized for a mythical creature), but they moved in such a lifelike way that you forgot they weren’t actually real. Their tails & muscles moved along with their legs. They jumped & leapt. They blinked & twitched.  The breathed smoke & fire. And the best part of all – they flew.

The look on the face on every single kid in the place when the first dragon flew around the place was priceless. The adults, too – everyone was pretty much amazed at the sight.

If you are on the fence about seeing this show – jump off immediately and get tickets – there are plenty still available. The prices are very reasonable, and worth every penny. Whether your kids are boys or girls, toddler or teens, this is an entertaining and fun show. We saw plenty of adults there without kids enjoying themselves as much as the kids were.

For little ones, the “scary factor” is pretty low – there are some mildly intense scenes with fire-breathing dragons, but the 3 ½ year old with us only got a little nervous until he saw that the dragons weren’t “bad guys” and then he was all smiles & cheers. But the show is still exciting enough to entertain older kids and adults.

If you plan to go to the show in Pittsburgh, there is a discount code available for tonight’s (Friday, 8/24) show. Just enter MOM in the general promo box on ticketmaster.com for 25% off SELECT seats.  The same code will get you the discount for all weeknight shows in other cities, as well.

There is also a Living Social deal available for the Pittsburgh shows: https://www.livingsocial.com/events/436935-how-to-train-your-dragon-live-spectacular

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll see. Don’t miss it!

Disclosure: I was given free tickets to the show, but the opinions expressed are all mine

The Dragons Are Coming! The Dragons Are Coming!

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Something pretty cool is coming to Pittsburgh. Something fun and exciting and full of fiery goodness! That something is Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular!

Yes – the same How to Train Your Dragon that was released as an awesome animated movie in 2010. It’s now a live stage show that is making its way around the country and into a venue near you.

Like the movie, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it centers on Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

And if you thought it was pretty cool as an animated film, you will be blown away by the live version.

In addition to a cast of great actors, you will see 23 live dragons! OK, not live, exactly, but the closest thing you can imagine to a live dragon – life-sized, animatronic, flying, fire-breathing dragons! Over 2 miles of “Dragon Skin” was made to create the dragons, and the largest dragon (the Red Death Dragon) is over 40 feet high and 60 feet wide. That is pretty amazing, in my opinion. Here’s a peek at some of the amazing creatures that are part of Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular (click to see them in a larger size):

Now, here is the really cool part: While Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular will be in Pittsburg at the Consol Energy Center (where my family and I will see it) from August 23 to August 26, it will be making stops in cities all over the country, and I have a discount code that will get you 25% on select seats for weekday performances – including Friday nights!  All you have to do is enter the code MOM in the promo box which says “MOMMY BLOG”!

This is a pretty great deal, considering that the tickets are reasonably priced to begin with. Add the discount and you have yourself an affordable and fun night out with your family. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets, for showtimes and much more. There are also amazing VIP packages for many of the shows.  CLICK HERE for details on how to meet the dragons as well as other VIP opportunities!

I, for one, cannot wait! I hope to see you there!

Here is a list of cities and venues where you can catch this awesome show:

Montreal, QC                     Bell Centre

Pittsburgh, PA                  CONSOL Energy Center

Cleveland, OH                   Quicken Loans Arena

Philadelphia, PA              Wells Fargo Center

Buffalo, NY First              Niagara Center

East Rutherford, NJ       IZOD Center

Albany, NY Times          Union Center

Columbus, OH                  Jerome Schottenstein Center

Detroit, MI                        Joe Louis Arena

Milwaukee, WI                 Bradley Center

Saskatoon, SK                   Credit Union Centre

Winnipeg, MB                   MTS Centre

Seattle, WA                        KeyArena at Seattle Center

San Diego, CA                   Valley View Casino Center

Oakland, CA                       Oracle Arena

Fresno, CA                         Save Mart Center

San Jose, CA                      HP Pavilion at San Jose

Sacramento, CA               Power Balance Pavilion

Salt Lake City, UT            Energy Solutions Arena

Anaheim, CA                     Honda Center

Bakersfield, CA                 Rabobank Arena

Spokane, WA                     Spokane Arena

Veggie Babies: A Cautionary Tale

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Recently, someone gave me some zucchini, as people often do when they grow 25 billion more than they will ever use. Unfortunately, they were enormous, which makes them not so great for anything other thasn baking. I did eat one for duinner one night and it proved to be exactly as not great as I thought, so when the girl asked if she could play with the other one, I said yes (despite the fact that I had no idea what she wanted it for).

A few minutes later, she came into the room, carrying this:

A veggie baby. Yes – my child dressed a humungous zucchini in doll clothes and carried it around the house all night.

The next day, she asked if she could take it to day care with her. At first, I told her no, since it’s a freaking zucchini dressed in dol clothes, but she wore me down & I finally agreed. I warned her that a zucchini baby was not destined to live a long life and that she would have to throw it away in a day ro so, befoe it got mushy and disgusting. Her response was the typical 8 year old “I know, Mom”

Fast forward to 4 days later, when I got in my cart after work. I’m driving to work and suddenly there is a fruit fly in my face. Then another. Then 57 more. At every stop light I’m looking for the old apple that she must have shoved in the door console, or the half finished juice box jammed into a cup holder (can you tell I speak from fruit-flies-in-the-car experience?) to no avail. I couldn’t for the life of me find the source of those damned pests.

Until I noticed a basket that she often uses to carry her dolls and remembered the last “doll” she had in it. Zucchini baby!

Needless to say, the next night when she asked, “Mom, can I have this potato?” the answer was no.