A response to a 13 Reasons Why response

So the new binge-watching craze: 13 Reasons Why. A book that I read a long time ago and now is causing incredible controversy. Official guidelines on how to address it with kids in schools, criticisms, praise, weird confusion over what era Tony is from. Let’s start off with a quick read who’s show reviews I typically enjoy.

http://www.betches.com/13-reasons-why-thirteen-reasons-why-is-a-terrible-show

Okay. Now, they make a lot of good points. I agree that there are many flaws. But first of all, so does every freaking show out there. When was the last time you saw a movie that depicted teenagers in a normal way? I mean, the high schoolers on Disney channel shows these days wear six inch heels and full makeup everyday. Let it go, people. It’s a movie.

Only barely mentioned in this review, but often brought up is the fact that this show is not appropriate for children. And it’s not. As is the case with most shows rated TV-MA. Which is the rating on this show. So let’s just put that to bed with a reminder that parents should be paying attention to what they let their kids watch.

Now, what really caught my attention was their criticism of the school. In particular, this sentence: “One girl kills herself and another boy with a perpetual cut on his forehead starts showing serious signs of mental illness and nobody does shit?”

Ah, but see this is incredibly realistic. And I know this how? I’ve seen it happen. I have a bit of experience in schools and they don’t do enough to address mental illness. Most people aren’t aware that they can receive free therapy through schools if they have a mental health problem that is impacting their education. Or even sometimes if they don’t. And schools don’t like to add therapy to their list of recommendations for kids because they don’t want to spend the time or money on it. I was once working with a girl who had been raped (it was reported previously), was truant, and had home life problems. She was showing signs of possible mental illness, including being disconnected from reality. When I told my supervisor my concerns, he brushed it off. A week later, she showed up to school high out of her mind and was subsequently sent to an alternative school for kids with emotional disturbance and other mental health needs. At a nearby school, a seventeen year-old student was gunned down in the parking lot after school and nothing happened to address it. Counselors held open office hours for students who wanted to talk and virtually no one took them up on it.

This is real life. A student can walk into a school and act like Clay Jensen did and the teachers and students will look away, or punish him for bad behavior. Schools are afraid to admit that there are deeper problems.

People are afraid of mental health problems and they don’t want to admit that they are real. That’s why it’s so easy to shake these kids and make a mess of them with some tapes blaming them for a suicide. Those kids didn’t kill Hannah. Hannah was killed by depression, which was aggravated by all the events she describes. But no one ever says that word: depression. They would rather put the blame on themselves than admit that Hannah had a mental illness.

And THAT is the silent message that 13 Reasons Why screams to its viewers.

 

 

Dear white girls….

 

A facebook page, a tumblr, a poem, countless headlines and memes.

Apparently people have a lot to say to white girls.

Now before anyone loses their shit, I do agree that there is racism in society today. And maybe more common that that, there are the hidden biases that, however unintentional, have negative effects on those who are not white. I try to recognize and be grateful for the fact that I don’t know what that is like.

But, (you knew there had to be a ‘but’) I disagree with two articles I read today that reeled you in with this or a similar headline. Both were about the cultural appropriation happening at Coachella. Now, I still struggle to understand where things go from being fashion or flattery by imitation to a mockery. As a kid, I was a gymnast. And when I competed, I wore cornrow-style braids in my hair. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be black. I didn’t do it because black girls did it. I did it because it was one of the only ways to keep my hair in place on my head through four hours of flipping, jumping, tumbling, and rolling around on mats and floors. Was that inappropriate of me?

But that wasn’t my biggest beef. No, what bothered me more was the arguments against Native American headdresses. The first article I read said that they were a sign of power that only chiefs deserved to wear. You know what else used to be reserved for royalty? Crowns. Tiaras. The color purple. Things that anyone can wear now. But a tiara from the dollar store holds no meaning. Even an expensive one means nothing on the head of girl at prom or turning 16. And the same thing goes for the feathered head pieces that festival-goers were wearing. Yes, they are honorable and noble when worn by the men who earned them. But these are not those and they do not mean the same thing.

Now the second article got me even more confused. A Native American girl was horrified at her decision to post a selfie of herself in her grandfather’s headdress on facebook after hearing a stat on how Native American women are more likely to be sexually assaulted. She could not believe that she had contributed to this epidemic through her sexualization of traditional Native American dress.

Hang on now. The sexualization of Native American women is what’s leading to the rise of their sexual assault? Now tell me that the same people who are upset about the cultural appropriation are not also the ones who tout that they have a right to dress, talk, act however they want and not be raped. Women in skimpy “Native American” costumes are responsible? Hell no. Rapists are responsible for rape. Plain and simple.

You can’t have it both ways, ladies. You can’t fight for equality and say that women deserve as much as men and then turn around and call a woman disrespectful for wearing a traditionally male garment. You can’t say that rapists are the only ones responsible for sexual assault, not their victims, but then also think that posting a picture of a pretty girl in a headdress contributes to the problem.

Let’s stop tearing each other apart for conflicting reasons, ladies! And if you have a problem with someone, talk to them about it. Don’t write a letter blaming everyone who’s not like you.

 

Dr. before Mrs.

There comes a time in life when you’re considered to be “an adult” and suddenly everyone starts expecting big things from you.

Now, I could go on some feminist rant about how these expectations differ for men and women, but go talk to a real feminist about that if you so care to learn.

All you need to know here is that for a woman of a certain age, the only topic of importance is when the heck someone is going to put a ring on it.

When is this certain age? It’s a secret carefully guarded by the Illuminati, but it’s somewhere between too young (my 22 year old engaged sister) and move it along (my 23 year old friend living with her bf). You shouldn’t rush to get married just to have sex, but you shouldn’t have sex before you’re married. You should be financially stable, but also no one in their 20’s is financially stable these days (thanks, student debt!).

As for me, my response to anyone who starts hinting at how my boyfriend of 2 years needs to make an honest woman of me is that I’ve got a more important goal in sight. I have poured years, tears, and (hundred) dollar bills into my education. I’m well on my way to a doctoral degree that I have had to work my ass off to get. I have been a dedicated student for my entire life to get to this point. I’m not about to let a ring get in the way of getting my degree. I have no time to plan a wedding when I’m in classes 15 hours a week, working (without pay) for 10 hours a week, working (with pay) for 15 hours a week, and spending the rest of my time trying to balance sleep, homework, and some semblance of a social life.

Having someone to come home to every night is a nice idea, sure. But that’s not the first thing on my mind when there are mountains of knowledge in front of me to be conquered. Being a Mrs. is cool, but it’s certainly nothing that I would feel proud of. My parents aren’t going to brag about how their daughter got married. I’m going to be proud of what I have accomplished in my schooling and the career it will lead to. My parents can brag about their daughter, the doctor.

Yes, it is possible to get married and still get my doctoral degree. I understand that. But I have my priorities. And getting my degree is at the top of my list right now. So instead of asking me when I’m getting married, ask me how school is going. Let me tell you all about what I am learning and doing. I guarantee it’s far more exciting and relevant than the color of bridesmaids dresses or the cost of venues.

“Friends”

Here are some stats for you:

In the last 2 years, I’ve visited 7 friends in different places, traveling over 4000 miles altogether. None of them have come to visit me.

I’ve invited a dozen people to hang out at my place. 4 have showed up.

I’ve made plans with at least 6 people who have then bailed on those plans at the last minute.

 

I’ve been a damn good friend in my lifetime. Friend has surgery? I’ll make a surprise house visit (with a 6 hour round trip drive) to cheer her up. Graduation party on the same day that I get back from a semester in Europe? I’ll put off sleep and being home for the first time in 5 months to make that pit stop. No, I’m not a perfect person. But I am very forgiving, perhaps to a fault, and therein lies my downfall.

See, I have horrible anxiety when it comes to making everyone happy. That combined with a great love for my friends meant that I was a fantastic friend. I would be there nearly every time at the drop of a hat. I don’t always give expensive gifts, but a heartfelt one you can expect, even if it’s just the homemade dessert that you love best. And if bad things happened, I was sympathetic. And silly me, I didn’t realize that people were starting to take advantage of that. I’m the one who travels everywhere, so surely it’s no big deal for me to travel to see people where they live instead of them coming to see me. Works great for both of us! You have to work or spend time with your girlfriend or go to a party while I’m there? That’s cool. I get it. You’re busy. I’m only a grad student who works multiple jobs and gave up a weekend of getting shit done to spend time with you.

The worst part is that I keep hoping and expecting. Next time, I tell myself. They’ll pull through. They’ll make plans. They’ll text first. Because they’re my friends. And that’s what friends do.

No. That’s what I do.

Okay maybe I’ll clarify. That’s what I do for people I consider my friends, people I care about. So maybe that’s where the snag is. Maybe it’s that these people don’t feel the same way about me. Because they would do more if they cared about me. Right?

I was afraid before to lose my friends. I was so caught up in trying to keep them that I didn’t even notice that they were already gone. See, they’ll still come to me when they need something. They’ll still want to be a part of all the good times in my life, especially if they get to make an appearance as ~good friend~. Yeah, I’m looking at you, wedding. But the days when I need them most, they’ll be a void. Hell, most of the times I need someone to talk to these days are because I’ve been let down by a “friend” yet again.

But they know that the next time they need advice or someone to laugh with or are just lonely, I’ll come through for them. Because I’m such a good friend to them.

Now, I’m afraid to make friends, to be a friend. I’m afraid of the disappointment I’ll face. I put on my armor and I brace for impact. But they keep hitting me in the exact same spots and now my shield is weak. I didn’t come here for a battle.

To my friends, those people that I have loved and treasured, and still do:

My heart is battered and broken. You once lifted it so high, but that only made the fall worse. I try so hard to hide it, but you already know that I will keep offering it to you, over and over. So I ask one last favor from you. Surely you can give me that.

Leave me be.

Don’t keep taking what you can’t give back. You’re not worthy of my friendship anymore. And unless you intend to change, don’t accept the heart from my outstretched hands any more. It can’t take this anymore. You’re a better friend to me by admitting that you’re not one than pretending.

I’m not afraid of not having friends anymore. I’m afraid of the black hole of self-loathing and doubt that my friends will send me into.

 

 

 

 

Love: Half-price

I don’t really believe in Valentine’s Day. I guess the red heart socks that I wore yesterday might make me look like a hypocrite. And it’s not that I don’t believe in love. Because I definitely do, and I’m even lucky enough to be in love at the moment. And it’s not even that I don’t do anything for my special someone. We each give a little treat or spend some extra time together.

But here’s where I get stuck. We do those little things for each other on other days. You shouldn’t need a national holiday to show the people you care about how much you love them. I saw a stat about the billions of dollars that are spent on cards, flowers, chocolates, and jewelry for that “one special day”. Being the cynic I am, my mind automatically jumped to the idea of bought love.

You can see it even in the way that men and women (I know, not everyone thinks this way, yadda yadda. I’m generalizing because it applies to a heck of a lot of people) treat the holiday. Men begrudgingly handing over a credit card to pay for the flowers that their wives/girlfriends/etc so sweetly reminded them to get, either in subtle hints for weeks or flat out demands.

One day a year, couples are reminded to rekindle their love. But why should they need reminded? Why has the flame gone down so much anyway? Shouldn’t you be with someone who makes you want to love them everyday? There’s no need for a grand romantic gesture to save your ass if you do the dishes when you’re done cooking or write your SO a note every once in a while.

I am against Valentine’s Day. I am not against love. In fact, I am for loving like every day is Valentine’s Day. So maybe I’m for it after all.

Go tell someone you love them right now. Use words or actions. Tell you SO or your mom or even your dog. Don’t let your love be the half-priced chocolate that goes on sale as soon as VDay is over. You’re worth more than that.

Kumbaya and other things

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to get involved in politics on social media, but no one reads this anyway, so what the hell.

I believe in the right to protest the government. It’s a free country. But, like everything else in this world, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it.

Wrong: Hateful rants on Facebook.

Right: Talking to your government representatives about your concerns. (Hint: that’s why they’re there. To REPRESENT you.)

Right: Voting in your municipal elections so that your local representatives might be people who care about what you have to say.

Wrong: Rejecting people who think differently than you.

Wrong: Arguments.

Right: Conversation.

You will never convince anyone to think differently by posting a meme or an article or a paragraph-long status. People who agree with you will like it. People who don’t will get mad at you. And in the end people are upset and nothing has changed.

Don’t be idiots. If you want to better yourself, listen to someone who is on the opposite side. Don’t listen to tell them why they’re wrong. Listen to hear them. Understand why they think what they do. You don’t have to agree. Build some freaking empathy and say sure, I see where you’re coming from, even if that’s not how I see it. If they invite you to, share your side. Don’t throw it in their face. Don’t insult them. Just tell them why it means something to you.

And just like that — conversation. And you can still be friends! Super.

There’s a meme out there that I love. Jesus (don’t start with the religion thing. It’s a good message no matter what you believe spiritually) says to a crowd “love one another”. Now there are various versions in which the crowd asks “what if they’re….gay, black, immigrants, etc?”  His response: “Did I stutter?” I think we should include “What if they have different political leanings than me?” Did. I. Stutter? Love one another. Period.

For those of you who can’t get behind something Jesus said, let’s instead follow the example of Jackie Moon: Everybody love everybody. And if we can’t even figure out how to be as good as Will Ferrell, we’re in real trouble.

Love you all.

 

Double standard: friends and boyfriends

I recently had a conversation with a friend about a mutual friend of ours. I told her that I was feeling a little shafted in the relationship, that I didn’t think she was making as much effort to stay in touch and maintain our friendship. Her response was that I shouldn’t worry because she knew for a fact that this friend loved me and valued me. And so I was placated.

But only for a moment. Because when I thought about it deeper, I wondered what that really meant. Did she know this just because this friend had said so? Because my recent experiences have been that the friend is willing to say she misses me and wants to hang out more, etc. But when it comes down to it, there’s no follow through. And words just seem like words when there are no actions to add meaning to them. What kind of a friendship is that really?

And then I thought back to times when friends had questioned someone I was dating, or vice versa. “Why are you with him.” Because he loves me. “But is that enough?”

Is it?

I know very few women who would accept a man for themselves or their friends who said that he loved her, but never showed it or followed through. We don’t stand for boys who cancel plans last minute, or don’t make them at all. We rage at text messages that go unanswered for more than a few hours. So why should we accept these behaviors in our friendships? Surely they carry as much weight, if not more, than a romantic relationship.

“Bros before hoes” and “chicks before dicks”. We’re told to value friends over partners. So I’m going to expect just as much from a friend as I would from a partner.