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If you think Gender did NOT play a role in this election…

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Today a white left-leaning political comedian posted the following on social media.

Voting for Hillary Clinton was not an act of feminism. Now it’s time to prove your true feminism.

I wasn’t the only woman on his thread to react negatively to his statement.  I posted two comments. One was along the lines of

Wow that’s tone deaf

Then I waited a moment, thought about it again, and completely unloaded a rant about feminism, putting up with misogyny, and how liberals are far from immune from white male privilege.  I kind of lost my shit and blocked him.  I didn’t know this man well but there was something about the paternal quality to his request that set me over the edge. He might believe he has empathy for feminists, but he honestly has no idea what it would be like to put up with sexism EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE.  He also doesn’t understand the complexities that gender played in this election.

Voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching this election cycle unfold has been intensely difficult for many women.  To act as if Hillary’s gender did not play a role in how she was perceived by the media and the public at large is a complete farce.

To give an example, let’s take both Trump and Hillary at face value. Now imagine them switching genders.  We would then have a wealthy, bombastic, outspoken political novice with five children by three different husbands.  Her current spouse would be a former model, over two decades younger than her, and a stay-at-home dad.

She’s a self-purported billionaire, born into wealth with a self-aggrandizing ego the size of the moon.  She announces her candidacy with an overbearing, profanity laden, extended rant in which she tears apart entire ethnic groups, and repeatedly declares the United States is deeply broken. Over the course of her primary battles, she encourages violence against protesters and stokes the flames of racial tension. She also flings personal insults at her opponents, mocks a disabled person, and gets in late night twitter battles with private and public citizens.  She even insults the mother of a dead soldier and a Gold Star family.  Any time she is criticized, she reacts in an emotional and dramatic way often resorting to harsh language and personal insults.

The same candidate doesn’t bother to prepare for all three presidential debates, and only keeps her cool for the first 25-30 minutes each time.  Instead of discussing her policy specifics she hurls insults at her opponent and moderators.  She is caught in lie after lie during interviews, and gets basic facts about US foreign policy completely wrong.  This woman even goes so far as to speak admirably about dictators and despots while managing to insult our allies.  She never releases her tax returns, despite promises of the contrary, and openly admits that she hasn’t paid federal income tax for the past two decades.  She’s caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting much younger men; and audio footage is released in which she admits to walking in on teenaged boys just to get a peek of their naked bodies. Nude photos of her unemployed, formal-model husband are released to the press.  In speeches and interviews she declares that she does not seek help or advice from others, and that she is the only person who can solve all of the country’s problems.  Then to top it all off, she’s endorsed by the KKK and the Alt-right movement.

If anyone believes for a moment that the female version of Trump would have lasted more than a week in this primary battle they are living in a bastion of male privilege or they’ve wrapped themselves in a blanket of patriarchal delusion.  In reality if Trump was a woman, he would not even be considered a viable candidate based on his two divorces, and five children by three different men.  That fact alone would have caused the public to turn against him.  Even ONE emotional outburst or twitter war would have doomed her candidacy.  Women are simply held to a different standard than men.

Watching the fall of Hillary on Tuesday night felt personal.  What I saw was a professional and immensely qualified woman get trounced by a boorish, thin-skinned, sexist man-child who had no intellectual curiosity or desire to learn anything new.

Every woman, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal has been made to feel lesser at some point in her life based solely on her gender.  We have worked twice as hard, only to have someone reduce us to our looks or break us down into body parts.   We’ve sat silently in the room when a man in a position of power makes degrading remarks about our gender. We’ve had to overlook and ignore sexually inappropriate behavior because we didn’t want to lose our jobs or get a bad grade in school.  When we have spoken up for ourselves we are labeled as bitchy, shrill, difficult, mannish or worse.  We’ve had to walk down the street as strange men hurled insults at us, blocked our paths or even grabbed us simply because we didn’t stop to chat, smile, or make eye contact with them. We’ve consented to sexual acts we didn’t want to do because we realized giving in would be easier than fighting back. We’ve had every boundary pushed and ignored by men who decided we were more object than human being.  Many of us have been sexually assaulted, beaten or stalked by men we knew and trusted.  We have learned to fear all men in certain situations – to not walk home late at night, to be constantly aware of our surroundings, to not get too drunk, to worry about our drinks getting drugged, to avoid wearing short skirts or low-cut tops, to understand that we could be sexually attacked by a random stranger.

White men in this country have the gift of being neutral.  They are judged on their words and actions.  Everyone else, in every demographic, is filtered through a lens of gender or ethnicity.  Throughout the entire ordeal of the process the public and press measured Hillary by a totally different standard than they did Trump.  With all of his talk about the media bias against him, the overbearing white male could say and do anything, while the woman had to carefully watch and monitor her every move.  Even then she was criticized for being too inauthentic, robotic, and finely polished.  Voters would declare they just didn’t like her, they didn’t know why, but something about a strong and an accomplished woman shook them to their core.

So yes, voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching her lose to an undisciplined, abusive, ignorant, sexist, racist and xenophobic bully hurt me deeply as a woman.  I couldn’t help but think of all the times in my own life I’ve been underestimated, torn down, humiliated, picked-apart and ashamed just because I was born female.  I could list all of the incidents but this article would become far too long, and every woman I know could also fill several pages with stories of her own.

The smug white progressives can save their advice for how I, or any woman should process this loss.  For me Hillary represented all of us, with all of her flaws and shortcomings she was the woman working twice as hard getting half the credit.  She won’t be the last woman to run for president, but in many ways she was the sacrificial lamb for the next woman to follow.  Maybe by then, our first female president will be judged more on her words and actions, rather than the narrow constraints of what it means to be a woman.

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What I’ve learned as I enter the Disney Villainess stage of my life…

If I was a character in a Disney princess film, I would most likely be the villainess.  I kind of fit the profile.

  • I live alone.
  • I am childless.
  • I live with two cats.
  • I’m not just single, I’m divorced.
  • I look young for my age.
  • I dress young for my age.
  • I own a lot of fabulous heels, dresses and coats.
  • I love makeup.

At first glance these traits might seem like nothing but put them all together and I’m basically the Evil Queen in Snow White,

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The twisted Fairy Maleficent

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Or even the aging Mother Gothel in Tangled.

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This is me in a mermaid costume, you can see it now right?

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In Disney’s universe and in many of our iconic fairy tales the most dangerous threat to a young maiden’s well-being is a scheming, jealous, aging beauty.

The bitter fallen woman antagonist is so ingrained children’s fables you’d think there be some basis in reality for the archetype.  We all know bitter angry women but where are the marauding mobs of middle-aged gals destroying modeling schools, poisoning cheerleaders, or torching beauty pageants?  There is the popular Real Housewives series on Bravo but those ladies are mostly Disney villainess types attacking other Disney villainess types.

In the real world around 77% of murder victims are men, and men commit about 90% of all murders..  Statistically speaking women have far more to fear from the men in their lives then they do from other females..  Intimate partners, former intimate partners, relatives, neighbors and co-workers are the most likely to murder or maim any woman.  Female murder victims (41.5%) were almost 6 times more likely than male murder victims (7.1%) to have been killed by an intimate.  Men are also more at risk of violence from men they know well, as more than half of them are killed by an acquaintance, but for the most part women aren’t much of a threat to either gender.  Of course women do make up 10% of murderers and 15% of serial killers but it does seem odd that most fairy tales showcase the exception and not the rule.

Our most iconic fables were obviously written by men, in a time when women were lucky if they even had a rudimentary education.  The theme of an older jealous homicidal female might have made more sense when women had far fewer choices.  Until fairly recently most women had four basic paths in life – wife, nun, prostitute or domestic laborer.  Women and girls also had little agency in their choices.  Most families decided the fate of their daughters, as women had few rights to make their own decisions.

Since it’s 2016 and I’m not limited to whatever choices my family wants for me, I don’t see young women as adversaries.   I see someone who will soon learn how hard it is out there to just exist as a woman.   I know she’s going to go through situations where she won’t be taken seriously, when she’ll have to use her husband or boyfriend as some type of mouthpiece to get her point across. I know she’ll face disappointment after she sees man after man promoted ahead of her for no reason. I can hear her sigh with disgust when she reduced to nothing more than breasts, butt and legs.  I can feel her cringe as a man in power touches her in a way that makes her skin crawl.  I can imagine the many painful years ahead of her when she’s been let down by her husband, becomes frustrated by screaming children and disillusioned by white picket fence dreams.

I also reject the notion that I’m in competition with young women for attention from men.   A man’s affections aren’t necessarily worth much.  I’ve just seen too many marriages fall apart or turn into something less than fulfilling.   More than a few married men have sent me awkward emails in the middle of the night, or dropped their wedding ring into their pockets while chatting me up, or confessed that they hated their wives.  After these examples and my own divorce I know marriage is mostly a crapshoot.  Some are beautiful unions that strengthen both partners but many are sad and tragic illusions.    I also can’t help but think of the bad relationships I’ve had with emotionally needy and draining men who demand constant reassurance yet give little in return. Then there are the pretty boys who have to chase every woman they find to help feed their insatiable egos.  A good partner is hard to find for both genders and I’d rather be alone than be in a toxic disaster.

Sure there are some younger women who frustrate me. I do get annoyed when I see them treating themselves like doormats just to keep their boyfriend or partner happy.  My heart hurts when I see them trash each other or buy into the notion that women must always compete with other women.  I roll my eyes a bit when they seem to crave and demand attention based solely on their appearance.  I also remind myself that we’ve all been brought up in a culture that reinforces the notion that women are only valued for their appearance.  I try to give younger women a break too when I remember what an insecure, attention seeking mess I was at their age.

I’ve often said I want to rewrite all the fairy tales.  If I were a Disney villainess I would wrap the young maidens in an invisible cloak that would warm them every time they makes a misstep or danger approaches.  I’d bequeath magic potions to detect date rape drugs, weapons to protect against would be predators, and magic mirrors that would offer daily affirmations not criticism.  I’d give them glitter bombs to throw on aggressive cat callers and tutus to slap on angry misogynistic bullies.  I’d create a kingdom where there were no glass ceilings, no demeaning remarks by men in power, no boys clubs, no cyber-stalkers, no angry internet trolls, no sexual predators, no gender biases, and no assumptions that women are lesser or only the sum of their physical parts.  I’d do it all in my fallen woman finery with dresses that are “too young” for me, tight skirts, high heels, full hair and bright red lipstick.  I wouldn’t wear a coat made of puppy skins or a high-necked caped gown but I would include all my sisters young and old to celebrate in the sisterhood of womanhood.

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When Saying “Smile” is the rudest thing a person could do

Teen Angst

On the day after Christmas, I sat in the airport and tried to keep myself occupied before my flight.  I was trying to play the NYTimes Crosswords app on my phone, but I just couldn’t focus.  My carry-on had a couple of books I knew I had to read, and a frivolous magazine.  Nothing sparked my interest.  The TV screens suspended from the ceiling were broadcasting CNN and it was some inane story about the economy.  No matter how hard I tried, I could only think of one thing – her face.  It was the face of a woman who was far too young to die.

On Christmas day a year earlier my cousin dropped dead of a massive heart attack.   She was in her late forties, unmarried, and was only in town for the holiday.  Multiple underlying medical conditions contributed to her unexpected death, but it was still a huge shock to everyone that she was gone.  Two days after Christmas her funeral was hastily arranged to allow as many relatives from out-of-town to pay our respects.  She was twice divorced with no children, but had three beloved cats.  On that side of the family I have 16 cousins, and she was the first of our generation to die.

Divorced and childless myself, I couldn’t help but think of my face in that casket.  Would I suffer a similar fate?  I also felt horrible that I didn’t get a chance to see her one last time and I worried for my aunt.  My Aunt was the oldest five and had already buried her husband and daughter-in-law.  Sitting alone in the airport on the anniversary of my cousin’s death caused me to grieve all over again.  As I sat there staring off into vacant space, tears started to roll down my eyes.  And then I heard him – a booming voice with a thick Southern twang.

“Hey pretty lady, you know you ain’t got nothing to cry to be sad about.  Come on and show me a SMILE.”  He was an average looking white man in his mid-thirties with messy hair and coveralls pushing a large piece of equipment.

“Why don’t you mind your fucking business!  Asshole!” I snapped back, giving him some New York City attitude.

I could tell by the look in his eye and his attitude he didn’t care at all about my emotions or what I might be going through.  This was his feeble and pathetic attempt to try to get me to talk or engage with him.  As if a woman couldn’t just sit there and have sad thought.  With that one phrase he wasn’t actually telling me to cheer up he was negating my feelings.  I was just sitting there completely minding my business.  I wasn’t dressed in anything garish or attention seeking.  A black down coat, black jeans and a sweater, minimal makeup and my hair wadded up in Saint Louis cardinals baseball cap.  Why wasn’t I allowed one moment of solitude?  Would he had dared to snap out such an order to a man sitting by himself?

I had a completely opposite situation once while riding the subway.  A man I now refer to as rebound #2 had just abruptly broken up with me.  My post-divorce depression was crippling, and I really shouldn’t have tried to date anyone.  I had just started treatment and was on medication but I was nowhere near recovery.  So that day on the Q train I just couldn’t hold it in anymore and had a total meltdown.  As I sat there sobbing, a woman sitting across from me simply said,

“Are you OK?”

She was tall, well dressed, close to my age, with dark skin and beautiful long braids.  I was so taken aback by her reaction.  I hadn’t even realized I was crying like that in public.  My depression had completely taken over me, and here was this total stranger expressing real empathy. At first I tried to get it together and said,

“I’m fine.”

She looked and me and responded,

“You don’t look fine.  It’s OK.  We’ve all been there.”

Then it all came spilling out,

“I just got a divorce, and I can’t date anyone.  No one wants me.  No one will ever want me. I’m damaged goods.”

The woman came over and sat next to me.  She told me about her own traumatic breakup, and how she had recently met a great guy and had renewed hope in life.  I realized quickly, she didn’t want anything from me, she didn’t ask for my card or information and she didn’t give me hers.  She put her arm around me and told me it was going to be OK and I wiped my tears and we just shared about 10 minutes of a real human connection.  I got off the train and waved goodbye.  It was one of the nicest moments I’ve ever had with a stranger.  She didn’t negate my pain, she acknowledged it.  We all have suffering sometimes and just hearing another person say,

“I’ve hurt too.  I’m sorry you’re in pain.”

It was enough to stop the spiral if for only a second.  Having a stranger scream, “Stop crying you don’t have any problems” is the exact opposite.  We all fall down.  We all go through rough times and we should mourn and give ourselves time to grieve.

When I recently found out that a friend of mine died suddenly at the age of 45 I was on a sidewalk in Union Square.  I literally fell down and had to brace myself on a fence to keep myself from completely collapsing.  As I struggled to make it to the train, get home and keep myself together all I could think of was…please don’t say anything to me…please leave me alone….I just want to get home.  Luckily for me that day, I was given peace.  I worry I might have physically assaulted a man who shouted “Smile honey you don’t have anything to cry about” Luckily no one was that rude or stupid.  Sadness is a perfectly healthy emotion and sometimes it doesn’t come in nice and neat ways.  We will find ourselves breaking down in public.

Making the decision to approach a total stranger in distress is a tricky one.  It’s sort of like going up to a wounded animal.  Will they try to attack back?  Will they go into shock?  Will we make things worse?  As I’ve said multiple times on this blog, the best thing anyone can do for another person in crisis is simply listen.  Don’t tell them what to do, don’t try to fix their problems just hear them out.  But whatever you do, don’t scream “Smile.”

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A friend of mine was viciously attacked – Please help.

I don’t normally use my blog for things like this, but last night something horrific happened to a woman I know.  The police are still searching for her attacker and I’m sure there will be a criminal investigation and hopefully an arrest.  I don’t know the name of her attacker, and so far he hasn’t been apprehended.

This is what I know.  A man entered my friend’s apartment under the guise of looking at leak in her bathroom.  The man worked with the building’s owner and was not some random guy off the street.  For reasons still unknown this person beat my friend across the head with a hammer about 15-20 times.  She managed to escape and ended up with 60 stitches and a few staples in her scalp. She also broke a toe during the ordeal.

So many of us have been victims of random violence.  I’m sure a lot of my readers can relate to what happened to my friend, or have known someone who went through a similar experience.  Another friend set up a fund for her medical and other future expenses.  She’ll probably have to move since her home is not exactly safe for her anymore.  The police know the identity of the person who did this but so far they have not apprehended him.

Even if you aren’t a position to donate to a total stranger, please consider sending her a kind word or virtual hug.

Here is a link to her Give Forward campaign.  She is a highly skilled costumer in the New York burlesque scene and the name associated with the account is a nickname of sorts.

Much Love to all of my regular readers.  I hope you are all safe and out of harms way.  🙂

I will probably delete this post after a few days.  I would hate for any legal trouble to come from it for myself of my friend.  Hopefully justice will prevail and this violent criminal will be taken off the streets.

Sexual Harassment – Nothing to Brag About

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sexharass (Photo credit: iVoryTowerz)

The first time it happened I was shopping with my mother in a discount department store.  I felt a physical quality that was completely new to me.  It was a fear, almost primal in nature that filled me with an uneasiness and mild panic.  I was drifting in and out of the circular racks of clothing when I felt it before I heard their words,

Look at blondie.  Someone thinks she’s sexy.  Hey, little sexy girl.”

I was only five years old.  They continued,

“Do you want to come home with us pretty little lady?” as they laughed in a way that caused my spine to ache.

My mother, at first in shock that this was even happening, laid into them in a rare public display of anger.  Her voice strident with all the rage of an animal protecting her young,

“What is wrong with you?  She is a child?  You are disgusting! Get away from my daughter!”

Even with my mother’s objection they simply cackled in her face and walked away.  I wondered what I had done to cause them men to do that.  Was I walking strange?  Did I have a weird look on my face?  Was it something I was wearing?  I knew it wasn’t just the words.  What I felt that day was unseen and startling to me – it was predatory sexual energy.

That incident was the first of many.  Strangers have grabbed me on the street, I have been stalked, cyber-stalked, intimidated, threatened, insulted and fought off more than one would be attacker.  My childhood dentist would make blow job references.  One eye doctor was noticeably aroused in front of me, when I was only 13 years old.  Then there was our parish pastor who simply creeped me out.  A photo exists of me in my first communion dress standing next to him, the rigidness in my back, apparent from my body language.   I am not sure why he made me uncomfortable, I just knew his hand on my shoulder made me queasy.

In the workplace I didn’t fare much better.   It didn’t help that most of my jobs, meant to supplement my acting career, were rife with toxic work environments.  When I worked at a sandwich shop near the Chicago Board of trade my manager had the back room plastered with X-rated porn images.  He would comment on my body and more than once graze up against me.  Was it an accident?  Why did it seem to happen nearly every day?  I needed the job for the summer, I put up with it with the message in my brain. Just one more month, just one more month, just one more month.  I only had one more month until school started and I didn’t have time to quit and find a new job.  I had to pay my rent, so I put up with it.

Multiple food service jobs that I had over the years I dealt with: comments from co-workers, full on gropings and even uninvited kisses.  I would always blow up and chastise the men for their behavior but why did I have to constantly correct them after the fact?  Even in the corporate world it didn’t completely stop.  Once when discussing my tax returns a co-worker implied that my acting and modeling income was the same as working as a stripper or prostitute.  I threatened to go to Human Resources and report him, he immediately apologized.

Recently I shared a story about having to drop out of college and give up on a full ride scholarship due to overwhelming sexual harassment. A peer in a writing class commented that

“I was bragging”

because of this admission and another story about being hit on in a work related environment   He  put the two stories together and decided I was boasting about being sexually desirable.  I was just so floored that a man would view sexual harassment this way.

“I should be proud that “I still have got it!” was his second quote.

Well at the time of the first sexual harassment, in college, I was all of 18 years old.  I think most 18-year-old women have got plenty to attract most men.

When the words came out of his mouth I was just too dumbfounded to actually say much of anything.  Is this really how some men view sexual harassment?  Should women be open and gracious to all sexual advances no matter how unwanted or inappropriate?

Is it really so difficult to understand the concept that sometimes women just want to go to work, get and education or walk down the street without having to feel like the object of some man’s sexual fantasy?  Do these men understand that we don’t want to feel like we must “go along” with comments or actions to keep our jobs, get a good grade or be polite?

Would this same man view a story about rape, attempted rape or child molestation as boasting?  That somehow I was so physically attractive that a man just couldn’t help themselves and decided to force me into a sexual situation.  Harassment is simply a weaker form of sexual abuse.  Rape, molestation and sexual intimidation are all various shades of the same color.  Because that is what harassment is at its core – intimidation.  It is forcing a woman who has no power to speak out or do anything about the abuse to put up with it.  She may have thought she was getting an education, or working at a job, but a man with some power over her, has decided that it is more important that she is a sexual plaything.

As if being intimidated to the whim of an older man with power over my future was somehow something to envy.  It seemed like a classic case of projection.  Perhaps he had a fantasy of an older woman coming on to an 18-year-old version of himself.  What he failed to understand about female and male sexuality is profound.  Perhaps he resents the sexual inequality between the genders.   Woman can get sex easier than most men.  The downside is of course, that woman also have to deal with sexual violence far more often than men.  I wondered if this man had ever had a grade in college determined on whether he would or would not have sex with a teacher.  Would it be OK if the teacher harassing him was a gay man?  Had he ever been pushed up against a wall by a stranger and groped?  Had he ever had a man force himself on him sexually?

Was he implying that sexual harassment is not a real problem?  He even used the phrase

“I was making much to do about nothing.”

It was shocking really.  I walked away from a full ride scholarship because I didn’t want feel forced into a sexual relationship.  Would this man want his daughter to face the same dilemma in her career?  Would he want his mother, sister or girlfriend to put up with this kind of treatment at her workplace?

I baffles me that sexual harassment should even be talked about in this way.  I am more than whatever sexual desire a man wants to project upon me.  I am more than the sum of my body parts.  I am more than my physical appearance.  And when I finally become too old, when my glory days are over.  I won’t look back and miss the feeling that I first felt at such a young age with my mother – like a prey animal about to be devoured by a predator.  I am not bragging when I simply call to light a problem that nearly all women have had to deal at some point in their lives.  I am just sharing what it is like to be female – and our reality is not always so nice.

Stalking – Why it is no joke

Ted Bundy mug shot, Feb. 13, 1980.

Ted Bundy mug shot, Feb. 13, 1980. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I put a little sliver of my life on this blog, not my entire existence just fragments and pieces.  🙂  Due to some of my increased exposure as of late, I have had to deal with a problem of a few male “fans” who have crossed boundaries on various social media outlets.  What usually happens is they start commenting on everything I post, either on this blog or on Facebook.  Their correspondence gets increasingly personal and disturbing until I finally block them from my profile.  These men then respond with repeated vicious attacks using just about every means available to them.  I have received harassment on this blog, in my regular email, on Facebook, twitter and even once on an online dating website.  That particular man created not one, but two fake profiles with the sole purpose of harassing me.  In most cases, I have never met these men outside of cyberspace, nor have I had any personal history with them.

Immediately after a particularly bad episode with one male, a few of my friends posted the following joke on their Facebook pages.  I am not sure of the exact wording of the joke so I will paraphrase

“If a guy is unattractive he is a stalker, if he is good-looking then he is a secret admirer”

Women were gleefully posting comments as “so true” and the like.

I don’t know anyone who has had a “secret admirer” since grade school, maybe middle school.   When an adult male desires a woman, he will usually let her know and in the most direct way possible.  And in my 38 years on this planet I don’t know any woman who would find a stranger following them around in a car or hanging outside their apartment building or home, anything but a threat.  Even if the man is devastatingly handsome if he is lurking about on your property…how would that not be creepy?

Real stalking is a huge problem and it has only gotten worse with our privacy free world of the internet.  In most cases women are stalked by former boyfriends, or ex-husbands.  So conceivably at one time these women found their stalkers quite attractive.  Somehow the relationship went south and now the man is using stalking tactics to try to control, dominate and intimidate his former lover.   I have known several women who have had to get restraining orders against men who refuse to leave them alone.  And with background searches so easily and cheaply attainable any potential stalker can find out almost anything he wants about his would be prey.  A stalker can find where a woman works, where she lives, her phone numbers, friends, hobbies, and even her exact location thanks to those insane “check in” computer apps.

I have had men send multiple angry emails, at first begging me to write them back, followed by angry vitriol filled diatribes, and finally I will rue the day I snubbed them.  Why they feel the need to get so upset at someone they have no history with, and no shared experience is beyond me.   I won’t get into many specifics because I worry that if any of the men who have sent me threats read this, I would only be adding fuel to the fire by reprinting in detail what they have sent me.  But I have gotten the following two remarks included with sexually explicit degrading remarks.

Maybe I will see you at a show sometime”

or

You will really feel bad if I decide to show up at one of your comedy shows” 

I have a calendar on my website, as I am trying to promote my performances and help out the producers who have hired me.  I can’t really hide when I am going to appear onstage; and, producers are going to promote me anyway.

What a joke about stalking is really saying is that stalking isn’t a real problem.  That somehow women wouldn’t mind angry crazed emails on their blog, in their inbox and even in their online dating profiles if the man making them was attractive.  Getting nasty emails or letters filled with sexually threatening language isn’t exactly welcome from an older unattractive man, or a beautiful young man.  The physical appearance of the man sending the intimidating material is irrelevant.  A joke like this is yet another dismissive attack on women and the right for all women to lead independent lives.

According to the Stalking Resource Center – National Statistics for Crime

  • 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the United States.
  • 3 in 4 stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
  • 30% of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 10% of stalking victims are stalked by a stranger.
  • Persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking.
  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
  • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
  • 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology (such as e-mail or instant messaging).
  • 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.

The stalker “joke” reminds me of another poorly aimed attempt at humor that I have heard one too many times.

“He is only a rapist if he is ugly”

Well again, can’t really agree with that joke or find it funny.  After all Ted Bundy was an extremely attractive man, he was also one of the most prolific and brutal serial killers of our time.  He would not only strangle women but have sex with their corpses days sometimes weeks after he had murdered them.  His actions are not exactly funny or something to laugh about.   His attractiveness made him a more effective killer since women were less likely to suspect him, but according to his few surviving victims his sexual relationships weren’t consensual.   Bundy preferred to have sex with his victims after he killed them.

So call me politically correct, but I am going to disagree with anyone who thinks a “stalker” joke is funny or lighthearted.  Any woman, or man for that matter, who has had to deal with a stalker situation would never find it humorous.   My tactic for dealing with men who try to intimidate me on the internet is the following.

I stalk my stalkers.  I have the full names, emails, phone numbers, places of work, home addresses, criminal histories and even family members of the various people over the years who have threatened me.   If I have a flurry of activity from a stalker, I walk around with a hard copy of any threatening emails, and a background check of the person.  That way if they show up at a performance and try to harm me I will have more proof for law enforcement that this person has done more than just show up to see some comedy.  When I have stalker activity, I also don’t broadcast where I am going, or what show I might be attending on twitter, on facebook or in any other public forum.

I just want to live my life and this blog has improved mine immeasurably since I started it, so I am not about to shut it down.   And as I always say if you are really so worked up, write your own blog and get off of mine!  🙂  That is the more proactive approach now isn’t it.

And if you are experiencing a problem with someone who is stalking you.  I found an excellent resource in the Stalking Resource Center

Samantha Brick – Too Beautiful? Too Delusional?

A regular reader suggested I write about this so I thought I would give it a shot.  Samantha Brick, a columnist for The Daily Mail a newspaper in the UK created a bit of an internet firestorm with her article

The Downsides to Looking Pretty

I have a lot of mixed feelings on this very topic.  For starters I know that women can sometimes be cruel to other women for no other reason than another woman is younger and more attractive.  This does happen, and I experienced it when I was a much younger woman.  Disney movies come to mind with the perfect and beautiful princess and the older less attractive jealous queen or witch hellbent on destroying her younger rival.  The Disney films and many other pop culture references get their inspiration in part to the many of the classic Grimm fairy tales where this plot line is a common one.  However I don’t think it is as big as a problem as Samantha Brick espouses and I really don’t buy much of her story.

Too much of anything will invite envy, if someone is too smart, too rich, too physically fit, too confident, too funny, too talented, too lucky…someone will resent them for it.  Jealous is unfortunately a part of human nature for all genders and all ages.  We can all remember situations from our childhood when we were on either side of that fence.  When I was a child I was hated by some my bright platinum blonde hair, while others loved me for it and would make a big deal out of my ice blonde locks.  When colored contacts became common I was suddenly constantly asked.

“Are your eyes real?”

Of course my eyes are naturally blue, so this question always confused me.  Accused of both dying my hair and wearing colored contacts by people who barely know me, or think they know me well I can feel her pain.  What I don’t agree with her on however are some of her wild claims.   I won’t break down all of her tales of free alcohol, flowers and gifts from total strangers as they may or may not be true.   They do sound a bit fantastical to a taller than average, slim blonde who gets no such perks.   Here is one statement she makes in her article that might be the reason she is getting so much hate mail.

But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.

Perhaps as this happened to me from my late teens to early twenties.  Most of my friends in college were male, but that was only for the first two years or so, once I got more confident with who I was a person I gained more female friends.  The men hung around me hoping I would eventually sleep with them or date them.  I didn’t get along with women as well due to my own insecurities and awkwardness, not any overwhelming beauty although I think my looks played some part.  In most instances when I encountered a negative attitude once I opened my mouth and started talking to these hostile women it went away, not in every case of course but in most cases.    When the woman saw that I didn’t take myself very seriously and that I wasn’t obsessed with my appearance their impression changed instantly.

I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room.

Personally I think she is projecting a bit.  If she is sitting there obsessing that this is happening, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But I have never met Ms. Brick and I have no idea what her personality is like, she may be quite lovely or she could just be so self-obsessed that women just find her annoying.   We don’t know but we start to get an idea from the rest of the article.

And most poignantly of all, not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid.

I have been a bridesmaid once…only once but I don’t think it has much to do with my looks as most of my friends didn’t have huge weddings.  And I can’t imagine any bride thinks to themselves…wait that blonde woman will upstage me…it is nearly impossible to upstage a bride.  The bride is in a huge white dress that probably cost a fortune and the whole entire day is about her.  At my own wedding my extremely attractive tall and curvaceous sister was my maid of honor and two of my bridesmaids were my college aged, and drop dead gorgeous petite cousins…all of which were blonde.  Their appearance had absolutely nothing to do with their selection, the fact that they were all related to me and near to my heart had much more to do with the process.

You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances.

I work at mine — I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate. Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.

Now we really see some of the self-absorption.  By making this statement about working out, eating well,  she is implying other women don’t.  And that is simply crazy.  As we all know women who never work out and are blessed with perfect figures anyway, just as we know women who work incredibly hard with diet and exercise and still struggle.  And the rarely succumb to chocolate line is a bit much…so any overweight woman is just a lazy pig who shovels chocolate down their throat all day?  Or perhaps she might have a few children that have affected her body type or made it difficult to maintain the daily work out routines.  Maybe some women might have a genetic predisposition to being slightly larger and are perfectly healthy at that weight.  Body type has more to do with genetics than any workout routine or diet regime on earth and avoiding chocolate might help but it won’t turn a curvy shorter gal into tall slender one.  When she makes this comment it just reeks of arrogance.

Take last week, out walking the dogs a neighbour passed by in her car. I waved — she blatantly blanked me.

Again even more self-absorption.  Why is everything about her?  People blank other people all the time, most people are lost in their own thoughts thinking about their own problems not obsessed with their neighbors overwhelming beauty.

I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’ve committed is not leaving the house with a bag over my head.She doesn’t like me, I discovered, because she views me as a threat. The friend pointed out she is shorter, heavier and older than me.

This just flat out didn’t ring true to me.  I can’t imagine that someone would say to another person.  Especially the specifics, shorter, heavier and older.  I know this might be shocking but not every man prefers someone taller, thinner and younger.  Especially in the height department.  As someone who is slightly above average in height I have found it has caused me more problems dating than being petite would, as some men don’t like dating women who are taller than them, or close to their height.  Put me in a pair of heels and well…it can get tricky.  Some men don’t prefer skinny or thin women either and the age thing varies from man to man as well.  Models are tall in part because they are walking clothes hangers.  Sounds harsh but in the fashion industry, the emphasis is on the clothing, not the models.   And a thin woman with few curves actually draws more attention to the clothing and less to herself.  So taller, thinner, younger is not always more desirable, just ask any man.
And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are.

I would have to disagree strongly with this comment as a person who works in the burlesque scene in New York city all of my female friends are dressed to the nines nearly every time they leave their apartments.  Form-fitting vintage dresses, false eyelashes, makeup, hair, heels, fishnets, even glitter and they are all gorgeous.  No one gets excluded because they are “Too pretty” it is just unfathomable.  I am sure it happens, but I don’t see a lot of examples of it in my circle of friends, none actually.  I have seen women who are self-obsessed, bitchy or mean, get excluded though so again…she very well might get shut out of things, but it may have nothing to do with her beauty.  Since none of us know Ms. Brick personally we can’t really surmise, but I am finding some of her claims to a bit silly and her stories to a bit fabricated.

What I really found depressing about this article was that I think women trashing other women based on their appearance is a real problem, however I don’t think Ms. Brick makes a very good case of it.  She comes across as so arrogant and full of herself that she is just an awful spokesperson for this dilemma.  And I know nearly every critic has said this about her, but I would have to agree, she is moderately attractive and no stunning beauty.  And I say that not to knock her down a peg but because I know so many absolutely drop dead gorgeous women and most of them don’t seem to have this problem. Most attractive people both men and women usually have an easier time in life, not a more difficult one.  Here is an example of just one study that finds that attractive people have an easier time finding a job and another study that claims they earn more at their jobs.  If anything what is more destructive are articles like Ms. Brick’s just pit women against each other.  Do we really need more of the Disney stereotyping shoved down our throats?  And are jealous women really the main problem to women in the workforce or in our society? For instance to argue that female jealousy is the cause of the current birth control and abortion right debate would be lunacy.   I would argue most of the negative assumptions, prejudices and stereotypes towards women have to do with a boy’s club mentality, the constant sexual objectification of women and deeply engrained cultural traditions.  It would be nice to instead focus on strong women who are changing the world and are not obsessed with their hair, make up or avoiding chocolate.  Our current Secretary of State comes to mind as do many other powerful women.
And here is a photo of yours truly compare it to the one of Ms. Brick, we are close in age and in appearance yet I don’t get free perks of booze and train tickets wherever I go nor do I seem to have these same problems….which is the main reason I wrote this article.  Surely the lady does protest too much.