Jessica Jones is gritty, honest, and REAL.

Here be spoilers for Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix.

So, confession: I’m an action-flick, science-fiction, total adrenaline junkie; sure I like to go and watch films that make you think but sometimes I’m in the mood for explosions, unrealistic acts of physics (HI FAST AND THE FURIOUS), and characters that I grew up with due to their  relevance within popular culture. I loved Batman, Wonder Woman, The Hulk, Iron Man, She-Ra, He-Man, and so many more parts of popular culture. I am a a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was created with the first Iron Man Film and I loved Netflix’s Daredevil last year.

This past weekend, I sat down on my couch with snacks and drinks, and queued up Marvel’s Jessica Jones; I know a little bit of the backstory after doing some research because while I enjoy comic books, I was more of a manga reader growing up. I knew about Killgrave (The Purple Man), and the whole reasoning behind his powers, and I’m also a fan of David Tennant.

I was not prepared in any way for what followed.

This show is an incredible, nuanced, harsh, gritty take on the superhero genre; the heroine is flawed and abrasive, and so incredibly screwed up due to her past. She is brutal in her dealings with people and while she doesn’t advertise her powers (super strength, endurance, flight, and healing) she doesn’t hesitate to use them if needed. She prefers to drink her issues away and when anxiety hits, chants with that tired resignation of someone who just wants to be better.

I love this character; this role that Krysten Ritter took on because it is so real. Anxiety from trauma is genuine thing and it can’t ever be cured; it can only be dealt with on a day by day, second by second basis. You never know what will trigger an attack and if you get through it, all you can do is hope to be better than the day before.

Jessica’s relationship with her adoptive sister Trish is also the thread throughout all thirteen episodes; not her romance with Luke Cage or the obsession that Killgrave has regarding her as “the one that got away”. Her thread to this world, to being a better person is through her sister who is the antithesis of herself; Trish Walker is a successful, beautiful talk show host who used to act and while she isn’t perfect, it is obvious that she loves her sister very much. From the moment the flashbacks show how Jessica saved Trish from an abusive mother to the penultimate scene between them and Killgrave, this friendship and sisterhood is SO DAMN GOOD.

Also the supporting characters in the series are great; Malcolm, played by Eka Darville from The Originals, is a junkie who doesn’t seem to be anything else. Yet Malcolm is also one of the few people that Jessica keeps helping, even if it’s into his own apartment because she wants to be able to do good. The twin neighbors are heard first and then scene with Reuben and Robin playing a pivotal pair in Jessica’s story as the series progresses. The antagonistic relationship between Robin and Jessica is so hilarious as well because as a viewer you are fully aware that Robin is paranoid and protective but also because you know someone who is like that. I thought the supporting characters were great for this series, fully fleshed out human beings that do exist in real life.

Now, onto the villain.

I’m sure you’ve met a charming, handsome man at a bar or on the corner; he flatters you, smiles at you, maybe even suggest you do the same. As women we are socialized to be polite when strangers approach us in public, especially if they give you a sense that something isn’t right. Imagine that this man says to you, “Smile!” and you find yourself smiling back.

This is Killgrave; a man who can make people do whatever he tells them too. He tells someone to walk in front of a speeding car, they will. He tells someone else to not move, they won’t. He tells a young girl to smile, she will. This is the nightmare of every single human being, having someone strip away your ability to consent, to control you to the point where you will do anything that they say even if you truly don’t want too (a man abandons his son, another gives hi jacket, one woman is told to smile).

Killgrave is an abusive man with the ability to make people do whatever he wants. Period. He is not misunderstood due to having a shitty childhood, he is not redeemable or able to be a hero because he is a complete and total sociopath who doesn’t know or care about right or wrong. He wants, he takes, simple as that. He tries to convince both Jessica and viewers that he is obsessed with her because he loves her.

“Jessica,” he says, “I’m the only one who matches you. We’re inevitable.”

The way that David Tennant played Killgrave in this series is incredibly terrifying; up there with the Joker, Killgrave is quite frankly one of the most psychotic and nuanced villains in recent years. His ability to be convinced that Jessica does love him is terrifying because for women and men who have been in situations similar in real life, abusers believe that their victims do love them. They fully believe that they are the injured party and that everything they do isn’t their fault. He is the walking, talking stand-in for abusers and rapists because he truly doesn’t know that what he is doing is so terrifying while all his victims do his bidding, they do so unwillingly deep down.

The most raw scene between Jessica and Killgrave takes place in Jessica’s childhood home where he has done his best to recreate the time before she was left alone with powers. A time when Jessica was young and innocent, only concerned with her brother being annoying. Killgrave has taken her childhood and perverted it, in more ways than one; this entire scene is Killgrave denying what he has done to Jessica and other folks, claiming that everything that was done to Jessica is what she wanted, and that he doesn’t know how to know when people are doing what they want or what he wants. It’s an incredible scene between these two and both actors play the hell out of it.

The raw fury in Jessica’s face, the way she states plainly and without any sort of fear, “You raped me” is exactly why Jessica drinks, stays away from people, and is terrified to become a hero. She went through months of abuse at Killgrave’s hands and is livid that Killgrave doesn’t care because he has no empathy or compassion whatsoever.

The penultimate scene between them in the final episode is so satisfying because Jessica has finally reached her breaking point; she has finally allowed herself to understand that she has to own and live with what has happened to her but that it doesn’t define who she is. The truth is, when she finally took care of Killgrave, I felt nothing but satisfaction because quite frankly there was no other alternative.

This show has blown wide open the cultural and social realities behind rape, rape culture, and why women and men sometimes don’t speak up. Why asking someone if they fought back is a stupid and inane question, why victims stay with their abusers, why it takes survivors time to heal and live with what happened to them, to find a way to heal, and be a new version of themselves.

Jessica Jones is one of the most incredible examples in pop culture today of how the true struggle is the aftermath of trauma; and they did a damn good job.

Rachel Dolezal is NOT Trans-Racial

Rachel Dolezal is NOT trans-racial.

Let me repeat this again: Rachel Dolezal is not trans-racial.

She is not having an identity crisis nor is she having any form of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). She is not creating or paving the way for a new form of self-identifcation nor is she a misunderstood individual, nor is what she has done at all similar to that of the experiences of the transgender community.

To make it easier, the term trans-racial does not in fact mean what so many American’s seem to think: “The term originates from adoptive and academic circles to describe the very lived experience of children raised in homes that are phenotypically and culturally different from their birth”. For example, if you are a child of color who is adopted by a couple that differs from your own ethnic background, you are trans-racial. THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO RACHEL DOLEZAL’S GROSS ABUSE OF WHITE PRIVILEGE.

Rachel Dolezal is white. She was born white and her parents are white; she chose, for whatever reason, to pretend to be a black woman. She became an activist and spokesperson for black women and gained certain privileges and professional accolades. She sued Howard University for racial discrimination as a white woman and lost the case.

Rachel Dolezal CHOSE to be black and lied about her life; through alleged hate crimes, discrimination, and other actions that when examined were revealed to be self done. Rachel Dolezal lied, simple and point-blank, for her own gain and when she was found out, tried to justify her actions. This is the most obvious example of white privilege I have ever witnessed and no one can convince me it isn’t. A great discussion about this with Anderson Cooper and panelists ensued talking about this happened on CNN.

Her statement that she “identifies as black” makes  me question what that even means. Is there a checklist to be a particular ethnic group? What does it even mean to “feel” or “identify” as black? I don’t wake up every morning and think, “Hmm, I feel white today” then gain the privilege that comes with whiteness. I am Latina and while I may appear to be ethnically ambiguous, I am constantly aware that I am not white through having to prove my intelligence and merit.

I do not have the privileges that Rachel Dolezal is showcasing; I cannot choose my ethnic background as she has. I cannot do anything to change both my ethnic markers nor my upbringing as a Latina cis-gender woman within the United States. I cannot, as Rachel Dolezal can and could eventually do so, wash off my skin color and change my hair to be of another ethnic persuasion.

As for the argument that this is exactly what Caitlyn Jenner has done, that is an erroneous comparison. The transgender experience is NOT something that individuals go through for privilege or accolades–it is a personal experience that differs for each individual. Coming out as a transgender man or woman is not done for gain but for their own happiness and their own self; it is not for anyone else. Caitlyn Jenner is not doing this for money, despite reports on her upcoming reality show and the money she will be making. She has finally accepted her truth and to suggest that Rachel Dolezal is experiencing the same exact things is negating the experiences for both transgender individuals and for black women/people of color.

Also, the suggestion that transmen and transwoman aren’t real is so fucking insulting and egregious. As someone who suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a menstrual disorder where the body does not produce enough estrogen which can cause irregular menstrual cycles or no menstrual cycles, body hair, weight gain, and more, do I meet this alleged criteria of being a “real” woman? Does my having PCOS negate my being a “real” woman? Does a real woman have to be able to have children? Because many women who were born with medical disorders that prevents them from having biological children may argue that not having children doesn’t negate your experience as a woman. Also, if being a real woman means that you have to become a mother what about those of us who choose to not become mothers? Have I suddenly stopped being a “real” woman? Do I need to have some sort of identifier to prove that I’m a real woman? Is my experience of being catcalled, harassed, and constantly being aware of my biological sex enough?

I find it grossly ignorant for folks to suggest that Rachel Dolezal is misunderstood; she could have chosen to be an ally and done the same things. She could have been honest and said that she is a white woman who wants equality for all, regardless of color or creed. She could have helped paved the way as a white professor teaching about racism and also about white privilege at a university; she could have chosen so many other routes other than this one.

Rachel Dolezal does not have to be afraid of being born a person of color. She doesn’t wake up every morning wondering if today will be the day she is killed for being guilty of being born a person of color; she doesn’t have to worry that her life could end simply because she was born in a country that privileges white over other ethnicities. Those of  us who were born a person of color are assaulted, insulted, killed, and mistreated for the simple reality of being born. We did not choose to be a person of color; we did not choose to live in a country that constantly places individuals in categories.

Rachel Dolezal can go home and wash off the self-tanner, take out her weave, and reclaim her whiteness without a pause. She has arrogantly used her white privilege and made a mockery of the struggles for all people of color. She has made a mockery of the social justice movement in regards to both race equality and gender equality; she has mocked the valid experiences of actual trans-racial individuals. She has done this for reasons that I cannot fathom but yet has also gained professional accolades.

Rachel Dolezal is not trans-racial; she is not anything more than a gross example of white privilege at its finest.

The Importance of Caitlyn Jenner

There is no right way to discuss issues regarding gender and sex without having people confuse the two, and when you add in the term transgender, even more confusion and uncertainty can occur. As a Latina cis-gender woman who has witnessed how my people prefer to erase or ignore these types of discussions, who knows that it is culturally taboo to discuss these issues, the reveal of Caitlyn Jenner’s choice of name and post-op features is a historical moment for transgender individuals, allies, and others who may not fall within the binary gender spectrum.

I commented to my mother about this reveal; she bristled and said she wished that he had chosen a different name because she nannies for a young cis-gender girl with the same name down to the spelling. I countered that it is her choice what her name will be and found myself choking up because even though I  am not transgender nor could I ever fathom what it feels like to be a transgender individual, I am an ally and I do know how it feels so feel utterly alone.

My mother and father don’t understand this mindset; perhaps because they were raised in a different country and time, and even though I admire them both and consider them to be some of the smartest, compassionate people I have ever met, these are issues that they cannot understand. Cultural upbringing, era of childhood and adulthood, ideas of masculinity and femininity, and even their own cis-gender identity has given them both a perception regarding the transgender community that is not as supportive as I wish it was.

It is difficult for me to discuss these issues with my parents because as much as I pride myself on being an eloquent, passionate, supportive ally who is willing to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves,  there is still in an element of fear. My mother demanded to know why I was choking up, was I transgender?

I paused for a moment, wondering where that question had come from? Why she jumped to this conclusion because I was defending Caitlyn’s right to exist in this world, to be happy and open with herself, and others—

If I was braver, I may have taken that moment to look at my mother and say that no I’m not transgender, I have never felt that the body I was born in was wrong but I am queer. If I had more courage, I would have told her that my sexual orientation wasn’t linear nor straight but I am not that courageous or that brave.

I once had someone comment that my refusal to tell my parents about my pansexuality was wrong and unjust because I could pass for straight if I chose, and I remember feeling furious that this individual assumed that my refusal to tell my parents about my pansexuality was because I was unwilling to openly be pan (coincidentally, how does one be an orientation? Is there a handbook?). The reality is that I am unwilling to have anyone dictate to me when and why I should tell my parents about my sexuality, and Caitlyn Jenner had the right to come out as a transwoman when she chose, not anyone else (I’m looking at you TMZ).

The truth is that Caitlyn Jenner is creating history just by being open and honest with herself, and due to her celebrity status,  the world. This is exciting for those of us who have witnessed the crimes against transgender individuals, within marginalized communities and the broader community that is heterosexual, cis-gender society. It is exciting to see the support she has from other celebrities, to see how her family has rallied around her.

Yes, Caitlyn Jenner has privilege as she is a white, wealthy individual; however, I take her privilege as a blessing because she will be able to speak about her experience, about her choice to be who she has always felt she is supposed to be. Regardless of her politics, her lifestyle as a wealthy celebrity, she has now opened the door for discussion and if even one transgender youth gains hope because of her openness? I count that as a win.

Family and What It Means

I’m writing this as I sit in my father’s car while we make our way down to visit my grandmother who is turning 90 years old. I’ve got music blasting in my ears, a book to read and I’ve been ruminating on family, and what it really means.

My father comes from a large family; he is the youngest boy and has three older sisters, an older brother, and a younger sister after him. There is also family in El Salvador and allegedly we have extended family on the East Coast as well. Growing up with so many cousins, aunts, and uncles gives you a perspective that only those with a large extended family understand.


However, I also consider my closest friends my family; perhaps it comes from the loneliness I felt as a child outside of my family because I didn’t understand the other children, who treated me differently due to my love of books and ability to talk like an adult at the age of twelve. It also could stem from the luck and fortune I’ve had in my longest non-familial relationship with my best friend of 25 years.

We have gone through many things together and yet we still are steadfast in our friendship; we have both been betrayed and mistreated yet have found that rock we need in one another. We have called each other sisters because we know that regardless of how our lives change, we will always be there. When she got married and had a child, we joked that her husband got 2 wives. I love her son as if he is my own and can’t wait to see him become an incredible human being.

We grew up within the same group of people from our church; the same boys who became men as we changed from girls to women. Even though some of us have moved away and others have lost touch, when it matters, we still call one another family.

My best friend and I have a saying, “Ride or die”, which originally started when the first of the Fast and Furious films came out. I know some people are surprised that I love those films and they typically don’t understand why; they aren’t Oscar-nominated films and they don’t speak to my social justice, feminist persona. However, I don’t just love the films because they’re about fast cars, hot men and women, and extreme action that defies the laws of physics.

I love the films because they are about family.

These films may be glammed up with Hollywood necessities of good-looking actors, fast cars, and other things that aren’t important. The central message is about family and how family isn’t just blood. Connection is about people and sometimes these emotions aren’t limited to simple mathematics.

Whenever I am reunited with my father’s family, I think to myself about the people I’ve met over the years who have changed my life in small and significant ways. About how when my best friend and I went to the movies one random Saturday night to watch the newest film with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in 2001, neither of us had any idea of how significant the film and its sequels would have in our lives.

Granted, no family is perfect and the people I love and call family aren’t exceptions to this. However I adore them because they aren’t perfect and because they don’t pretend to be. They are messy and flawed, just like me.

Family isn’t just blood and knowing that I have a larger family than those who were placed in my life due to biology and genetics is a comfort when I am feeling less than stellar. Knowing that I have people who will always love and accept me with all my imperfections is incredible.

I am grateful to my family, biological and otherwise. They have shaped me into the woman I am and love me even when I can’t love myself.

That’s family; that’s ride or die.


Cultural Differences and Victim-Blaming

I suggest if you don’t want to read about a heavy topic, you go on to a different blog; this is going to be a doozy. We’re talking rape, discussion of rape culture, and also discussion of victim blaming from a cultural lens (FYI: If you want to see a great article about rape culture, go ahead and click over to BuzzFeed).58bc206c476c3aed53bc40eafc0c0416

Last night,  as I ate dinner with my parents, who were watching the news in Spanish, there was a segment about college campus sexual assaults in Columbia, Princeton, and other Ivy League schools across the United States. I was immediately on edge because as an advocate for victims, as someone who has worked extensively in the field against sexual assault and against victim blaming, I knew that what could be said would trigger a reaction from me.

I wasn’t prepared for what followed from my own parents.

I have done my best since I began college to keep the things I witnessed as an advocate and the things I heard quiet because both of my parents tend to lean back towards their cultural upbringings. Case in point, during the segment, one of the young women admitted to having been drunk during her first assault and then revealed that a year later, she was raped by a boy she was dating casually after a night out where he bought her drinks. My mother immediately scoffed and said that she was stupid for getting drunk, especially since she had already been assaulted once before. What did she expect to happen if she got drunk?

I wanted to bite my tongue but I couldn’t–not only because I have seen what victims go through as they try to heal but because as a feminist, I couldn’t justifiably be silent. “Bad judgement,” I said firmly, “is NOT a rapeable offense.” My mother snapped back that if I was stupid enough to get drunk, then the consequences of that were on my choice. I firmly responded that she was wrong; it is not the responsibility of young women to police other people. We deserve the right to be able to go have a few drinks and safely arrive home. We deserve to be treated like human beings by those around us, even if our ability to make decisions is impaired in some way.

She continued to protest, calling the victims on the television stupid, and claiming that if she was going to go somewhere, she wouldn’t trust anyone to take care of her. I was appalled and offended that my own mother was blaming the victims for what happened to them–I was even more appalled when my father tried to defend her point of view. I cut both of them off and said that they were wrong.

No matter how you try to say it, how you try to justify a bad judgement call, there is still no reason for anyone to take advantage of someone’s inebriated state. Be that state from alcohol or drugs or even exhaustion, NO ONE has the right to take advantage and NO ONE has the right to blame anyone other than the person who CHOOSES to take advantage.

“I am so sick,” I told my parents, “Of people telling women that we shouldn’t get raped. We shouldn’t drink, we shouldn’t wear this, or do that or go there or LEAVE our homes, just in case. How about we teach people not to rape instead? How about that?”

Neither had a response to me.

After dinner, I ruminated over what happened and I tried to figure out why they would blame the victims, why they would suggest that it was their fault instead of the people who took advantage. I recalled another conversation over dinner about the topic of human trafficking and how neither of my parents wanted to admit that it occurs in their country of birth. Ironically enough, an article in that month’s Time magazine was about human trafficking and it was full of facts regarding the reality behind that particular issue, including Central America’s own problem around human trafficking. The denial that my parents showed about that issue came to the forefront during this argument between my mother and I.

I am saddened by the fact that the two people I look up too, even now at 31 years of age, are unwilling to understand that it is not the victim’s fault if they are assaulted. However, I can’t blame them either because they are merely a product of their cultural upbringing; as two people who grew up during the 12 year long civil war that continues to tear their birth country apart, they both subconsciously have taken on certain cultural beliefs and mentalities that can’t be erased. Abuse or sexual assault of any kind is not discussed openly–they are the dark secrets that plague Latin American communities within the USA and also outside of the States.

There are so many people out there who have survived these horrendous acts that were done to them; I know and have befriended many. It is so disheartening to hear what people I love and respect say when it comes to this type of topic, and it is so disappointing as well.

When I was twenty-two, my best friend and I planned a night out with another group of friends as the youngest of them was finally turning eighteen. I was looking forward to a night of dancing and sweating out all the stress from classes and work; I was excited to thrown on some tight jeans and forget about the realities I had seen that week or heard from survivors.

I warned the girls to be careful; don’t take any open containers from people, even water because there had been a rash of incidents all over the city at different bars and clubs. The girls all said I was being lame and I merely sighed because youth is blissfully ignorant.

When we got to the club, one of two eighteen and over clubs in the city, we all immediately made our way to the dance floor. After some time, my best friend and I decided we wanted water and made our way to the bar to purchase a bottle to share; the birthday girl was there, talking to a guy she had met. He was buying her a water as well and the bartender handed it over.

e7a9dbaab465774093e9d5b826a53774The cap was open.

I immediately went over and took the bottle from my friend, smiled politely at the bartender and the guy, requested an unopened bottle, and watched as the bartender returned with a new bottle, the seal tightly shut. The guy was angry and demanded to know who I was, to which I replied, “Her friend. Who are you?” as our eyes locked.

He knew I knew what his game was; the bartender watched with a wary eye and I kept my eyes focused on this asshole who was trying to pull one over on my young, naive friend. Even though I was only twenty-two, I had been working in the field of sexual assault for 2 years by then. I knew exactly what this guy was trying to do and I wasn’t going to let them get away with it.

My friend was furious with me, claimed I was embarrassing her. The guy she had been talking too broke eye contact with me as I looked at her and my best friend pulled her away, hissing for her to be quiet. The guy stepped forward to try to reach my friend and I planted myself in his way, legs spread, knees loose and ready to kick out with my steel-toed boots that had been all over the city with me since I turned eighteen, in alleys and dive bars and raves.

“Don’t even try it,” I warned him.

Understand this, I am not the most physically intimidating person; I am only five-feet tall and only have what little self-defense training I’ve learned over the years. Yet there was no way in hell I was going to let this guy intimidate me to get to my friend, even if she didn’t appreciate it.

Hindsight is 20/20; I know now that if he had chosen to get violent, I probably would have wound up with some serious bruises or maybe I would have been arrested for brawling. Yet the guy seemed to rightly realize that I wasn’t budging, threw his hands up, and walked away into the darkness of the club. I immediately turned to my best friend and our friend, who threw a tantrum and walked way, angry that I “ruined her night”. I sighed and look at my best friend, who shrugged.

This is what happens when you become aware of what goes on in the world; when you have the rose colored lenses stripped away from your eyes and no matter how much easier it was to not know these things, you can’t put those lenses back on. You won’t because you find yourself better able to help those around you, to understand how these people who have been violated in the most basic way survive and thrive and become more than the label they are given for making one bad judgement call.

I’ve heard other women called slut, whore, cock-tease, and other derogatory terms by men who are angry they won’t acknowledge them. I’ve been called a bitch, frigid, asked if I need a good hard fuck to get over my issues.  I’ve been told that if I am stupid enough to trust the men around me, then I deserve whatever happens. I’ve been taught to be afraid that I will someday be another statistic because I was born a women, and my worth is only equal to the value of what is between my legs.

This is wrong.

This is rape culture.

This is what needs to be changed.

This is why I identify as a feminist; no one is going to tell me that I don’t deserve the same rights of safety and existence as everyone else. I deserve the right to be able to walk home without fear of being assaulted, to have a drink after a long week at work or school, to enjoy my time with friends without being afraid that they may take advantage of my inebriated state.

I am aware of the size difference between myself and other people; I have been aware of this since I was old enough to realize that my size was seen as a weakness. So I make up for it by having a large presence, a skill I learned working in the field and dealing with people who wouldn’t give the respect my clients and I deserved. I make up for my lack of physical intimidation by being brutally honest to the point of cruelty. These skills I learned as I moved from private school education to community college realities, have saved my life more times than I can count.

I refuse to allow anyone, be they stranger, friend, or family, to blame the victims. Because if I hadn’t made certain choices, I would have been a victim myself and I would have heard that question that so many ask:

“Why didn’t you fight back?”

I want my nieces and nephews to grow up in a world where rape is obsolete; where consent is taught to all children from the time they are young and unable to fathom the ugliness that exists. I want people to understand that until we force this change to happen, until all victims are not blamed and receive justice, regardless of their state of mind when the incident occurred, this will not stop.

We will still have young women and men shamed and forced to retreat into silence; we will still have media outlets sympathizing with the perpetrators and not the victims; we will still demand an explanation and rationalization for why this woman or man was the victim of that moment.

We will still wrongly blame the victim.

Why What Tina Fey and Amy Pohler Did Is Important

So, as most know, there has been continued press and discussion regarding the emergence of multiple women who accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault and rape. Two weeks ago, as I watched The Golden Globes, I was taken by complete surprise when the hosts Amy Pohler and Tina Fey slyly and without fear called out Bill Cosby in a way that is so crucial to the continued fight against both rape and rape culture. For those who are unaware, there are articles all over the internet discussing what has happened regarding these women and their stories but I’ll link to this section of Jezebel where different posts have been filed so that you can read up if you don’t know what is going on.

Let me explain some context for myself here: I was never a “Cosby Show” fan. It wasn’t a show that called attention to me as a child and even now as an adult, while I can appreciate what the show did for African-American individuals, I still cannot call myself a fan. I’ve watched clips online of certain scenes that were considered ground-breaking but as someone who grew up watching “All in the Family” and “Maude” in syndication, I was only aware of Bill Cosby through Jello commercials and the handful of times I watched “Ghost Dad” on television. I’ve also never watched any of his comedy so I don’t know if I would find him funny since I tend to skew towards Margaret Cho, Gabriel Iglesias, Anjelah Johnson, Mo’nique, Cristela Alonzo, Louis C.K., John Mulaney, and Ever Mainard.

Do I have any emotional attachment to Bill Cosby as so many people do? No because I don’t consider myself a fan of his–I recognized his face and could tell right away when it was his voice but other than that, I never really thought about Bill Cosby. Until now, it never crossed my mind despite the whispers of things I heard on and off over the years.

It is imperative that what was said at the Golden Globes is remembered as both actresses purposely called out a man who has been shown in the last few months to believe he is above, and beyond, the justice that these alleged victims deserve. There is no excuse for his alleged actions and as the victims continue to come forward, continue to speak out, perhaps eventually there will be justice not just for them but for other victims of alleged sexual abuse by powerful men in Hollywood.

When I realized what Fey and Pohler had done, I was amused at how celebrities in the audience reacted to their mentioning this black mark on Cosby’s career. The shock at their sheer gall to call out a man who has been called iconic for his work with low-income communities and calling out his own community is both ironic and sad. Has society come to that point of no longer expecting all of us to be equal in the eyes of the law? Is Cosby’s continued silence through his lawyers not showing that he is either ignoring the accusations because he innocent or because it may be that the time of reckoning is at hand?

Do I know if Cosby is guilty? No, I don’t. However, I can also not ignore the 29 women who have all stated that he drugged and assaulted them. I cannot ignore that because it is uncomfortable for me as a consumer of media to toss aside an alleged victim’s story. It doesn’t matter if they have all waited for too long to come forward, it doesn’t matter if dates have been mixed up, or if the victims have been arrested at some point in their life. What matters is that they have had the courage and bravery to come forward and speak up, to tell their stories as painful as they are.

Do I know if Cosby is guilty? No, I don’t. However, I also can’t claim he is innocent because of who he happens to be. For those who claim his innocence, is it because you truly believe he is innocent or is it that you want to believe he is innocent because you are confusing him with a character he played on a successful television series?

Television is fantasy; we must all be aware not to confuse the characters actors play with the person they really are. While we live in media consuming culture, we also need to recognize the realities we exist in. We need to acknowledge that all of us, celebrity or not, are human beings and so many of us fail in aspects of life. We make mistakes and learn from them; yet it is important to also acknowledge that some of humanity is damaged in ways that others are not.

What Tiny Fey and Amy Pohler did was important because they didn’t allow any of the people in that room or watching at home to forget that somewhere, another victim of sexual assault, of rape may be taking that first step to speak up, to tell their story, and hopefully, get the justice they deserve.



I’m writing this in the morning as I sit on public transit, over an hour late to work. As I was boarding the subway train at one station, another individual was throwing themselves into the path of an arriving train, killing ab4ec207062d6065a73237c286c2fcd9themselves instantly. While it was frustrating that I was so late for work and was also hungry due to my tendency to eat breakfast at the office before I get to my desk, I realized how situations like this bring into perspective what really matters.

It is so crucial that we don’t forget what matters in between all the other things in our lives. To remember to enjoy the food we eat, the music we hear, and the people we love. To remember that being late on a random morning isn’t the end of the world.

It reminds us to never forget what is important and that doesn’t include material possessions. It’s nice being able to pay my bills but it’s also great to know that I have a support system of people who will be there when it gets hard and when I feel like nothing I do is making any difference.

wpid-wp-1415030370066.jpegI’ve mentioned before To Write Love On Her Arms in a previous entry; this nonprofit is so important because they are reminding us that people need people. The truth is that we all need someone and whether that person is one single person or a group of people, you are their person. You are someone’s favorite voice, favorite laugh, favorite person. There is NO ONE like you.

The person who killed themselves this morning breaks my heart for many reasons; as someone who has suffered from depression and who continues to struggle with that and also generalized anxiety I can only imagine what drove them to see this as the only solution to their problems.

Please take the time to tell those close to you that they matter; it could be that they’re in need of hearing it.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact To Write Love On Her Arms.

Please stay alive. Please get the help you need. You aren’t alone.


Letting Go and Moving On

I have found as the years pass that I have become better at letting go–letting go of material things, of img_9124people, and relationships that aren’t giving me anything but stress and grief. I have become adept at the continuous reinvention of myself every new year and that is because I am moving on from the things that hold me back.

In the last four years, I’ve lost friends and gained friends, I’ve let go of childish dreams and faced the adult realities, and while I am grateful for these experiences and opportunities, it is also painful. At times, if felt like I was losing who I was in order to keep these relationships in my life and finally I couldn’t pretend any longer that I was the same.

I’ve always prided myself on being honest–I don’t sugar-coat things for my friends or family and that may cause issues sometimes but a lot of the time people appreciate it more. I’ve also always told my loved ones that all I want is honesty from them as well because I feel that it is more important than being told a lie or being told a sugary excuse.

Recently, a situation arose that had been years in the making; now I am faced with the decision of whether or not I can continue to allow this person to be a part of my life. However, I have also realized that while they need me, I don’t need them to be happy in any way. This is part of growing up, of becoming an adult–you learn to let go of the relationships and people who don’t really give you anything.

I will not deny that I have a lot of love and affection for this person as they were a large part of my life for the last twenty or so years; however, I am also aware of how they have been unappreciative of my friendship and loyalty. Hindsight is 20/20 after all, and perhaps someday they will see how much I have done for them and acknowledge that I was there in ways that others they called friends and family weren’t.

I cannot wait for that day.

I am aware of my flaws and my weaknesses; I judge people by their actions and not their words. I can be moody and bitchy, and I am fully aware that my honesty can be considered cruel. However, I am also aware of the fact that I am an excellent friend, who is loyal and willing to be there for the people she loves. I grew up feeling very alone and now as an adult this has made me value the friendships I do have.

Whether or not this person will realize what they have done, and what they need to do to fix it, is still a question. Whether or not, I can forgive this person for their lack of caring when it comes to my feelings is also in question.

I’m not sure what will happen and I can’t predict what I will do.

Look for the good today and be safe, dear Readers.

Until next time.


Goals, Plans, and Realties

As most people do around this time of year, I have been contemplating about the things I want to accomplish and the things I want to experience in the upcoming new year. I have always wanted so much for myself and for my life, and so far I have been unable to comply with certain things due to the reality of actually living my life.wpid-wp-1419441137607.jpeg

In the last few years, I’ve been completely aware at how much of my life has been lived for the purpose of just existing as opposed to joyfully experiencing my life. Perhaps this is a human condition of being afraid of change or being afraid to try something new because there is a chance it will be a failure. However, since I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in being afraid of experiencing life because what is the point otherwise?

It’s been a long, chaotic year for me–the first full year without my nephew who still is in my thoughts every single day. His photo sits in my cubicle at work and when people ask, I smile and tell them about the blessing I had for six years. Grief is a constant presence; despite what is said, it never really goes away–instead, you learn to grow around it, to carefully create a new version of yourself that has this hole that never truly goes away.

I’ve learned how to become more aware of the failings of those who seemed at one point, infallible and constant. To remember that they are as human as I am and as capable of making mistakes or failing. It is also important to remind myself that failing at something doesn’t mean that I am a failure; it merely means that this option didn’t work and therefore a new option or plan is needed.

At certain parts of the year, I let things go; I didn’t want to do anything or socialize. I felt lost after graduation and didn’t know how to re-energize myself. The lack of job offers and continued rejection also didn’t help. I applied everywhere I could and was dreading the reality that I was facing: after so many years, was I destined to work retail like so many other graduates? Would I have to give up my weekends and holidays to keep myself from going into debt in January when my loans would be due?

I was falling into a funk where I felt unattractive (because I had stopped doing yoga and running), unmotivated (because another thank you but no had come), and depressed without any sort of hope in sight.

Then, something happened.

I got a job.

Currently, I am writing this post at this job–a receptionist position that I enjoy and appreciate because it means that someone noticed me. I had something that they felt that they needed and I was (am) so pleased to be working a job that utilizes my skills and education. It isn’t perfect, I’m only working 3 days a week but it pays well, and I’m happy to go into work every day. The people in my office are incredibly kind and caring people, who truly value the work that they do. It’s refreshing to see that after working jobs that people don’t care about or appreciate.

I’m so happy to be on a new path for the upcoming year; so happy that I won’t be worrying about I’ll pay off my bills, so happy that I can wake up and know I’m valued for the work I put in. Did I imagine myself as a receptionist? No, but reality is always different from dreams.

4fb2e17618c932e1bba21d860c3530a2It’s never really too late to start a new part of your life; it’s always going to be terrifying and I think it’s important that we learn to live without fear of failing. I’ve realized that I need to expand my horizons, to look at things that may terrify me and accept challenges as they come. I’ve learned to hold myself accountable for things and have sworn to keep myself healthy, happy, and most of all, willing to have taken on challenges that may terrify me.

I’ve never believed in resolutions or promises because they can be broken or ignored. However, I’ve always told myself that there are certain things about my life that only I can accomplish and I can’t expect those things to be other people’s responsibility. I can’t demand people to make me feel better about myself, it has to come from me. I have to remember that I’m imperfect and that is perfectly fine. I don’t have to be perfect nor do I need to be perfect; perfection isn’t something I attain to be.

I’ve also taken a step back and really thought about the direction I want this blog, and my YouTube channel to take. I began both to discuss feminist issues and to cultivate my spoken word; however, I’ve also been very interested in reading lifestyle/DIY blogs which may cause the odd post to occur in the next year. I’ve also wanted to do on-the-spot VLOGS with friends who are willing to appear on camera so that we can discuss certain topics and question the realities that the media continues to convey for mass consumption.

It helps

I think the one thing I want most in this new year is to be happy and be able to experience life without hesitation or fear. I want to look back and say that it wasn’t just a good year but an amazing year.

Here’s to camping, to reading new books and old books, to dancing, to listening to music that moves you, to laughing, to hoping, to dreaming, to believing in a better world. Here’s to empowering ourselves and others, to educating those around us and being educated, to listening to the stories of those who came before, and to the stories of those after us. Here’s to writing, be those blog posts or fiction or nonfiction or whatever it is that sparks creativity. To new adventures and experiences and challenges.

Here’s to you.

Happy New Year.



Agency and Assault (Or, Why I Believe Shia LeBeouf)

If you haven’t heard, Shia LeBeouf has recently opened up and alleged that a woman raped him during one of his #IAMSORRY performances earlier this year. The reason I am writing about it is because I am stunned at how quickly many people, including educated and intelligent people who I personally know in my real life, are speaking about both the allegations and Shia LeBeouf himself. As someone who has spent time working with rape victims, spoken out against victim blaming, and who has lived her life with the knowledge that my luck could run out at any time, I am horrified at the mistreatment and callousness of these comments.

Do I know if Shia LeBeouf is telling the truth? No, I don’t and yet I believe him for now because I can’t NOT believe him. Having witnessed many survivors be told that they are at fault and having silently watched the accusations against Bill Cosby pile up in the last few weeks, I cannot say that Shia isn’t a victim of rape or sexual assault because I AM NOT ALLOWED TOO. I DO NOT have the right to say that someone’s story is false nor do I do have the right to suggest that because Shia is a celebrity that he was “asking for it” or that “he should have fought back”.

It is disgusting how people immediately demand to know why Shia didn’t defend himself; why did he get an erection if he wasn’t excited? Why didn’t he end the performance right away if he was being assaulted? Why didn’t he/she/they do this/that/or the other? Shia LeBeouf is a celebrity–I am not disputing that fact of how he is known and who he is. However, his being a celebrity doesn’t negate the right he has to his own agency and also his own right to being treated respectfully and humanely, regardless of the situation.

It is not any victim’s fault if someone else decides to perform actions against their consent; not saying no does not equal consent. I’m going to repeat: It is not any victim’s fault–be they a celebrity or not. If you find yourself saying, “Well, Shia did agree to allow people to sit with him in room, alone during the performance” then you are victim blaming.

There is a really, really excellent article at The Atlantic that discusses the ways folks are speaking about Shia’s revelation. I want to quote a portion here:

“Men can be raped by women, and they do not need to fear physical force for rape to occur.”

This is so important and so ignored by the general public; rape is NOT about sex. Rape is about power and control–men and women can be raped, and men and women can also be rapists. The reality is that men are overlooked in statistics, despite 38% of rape and sexually violent incidents having men as the victims, despite male victims in the military being a real issue, despite men revealing that they were harmed as boys by family members or friends or peers that may be older or younger.

We continue to perpetuate this idea that women are the only victims and while 1.270 million women have stepped forward to admit what has happened to them, there are also 1.267 million men who are waiting to be acknowledge. No one is responsible for their own assault nor should anyone suggest that there could have been an action taken; I’ve known women and men who tried to defend themselves and wound up seriously injured, or sadly lost their lives because they tried to defend themselves. While I am a firm believer in self-defense, I am also a firm believer in doing what is necessary to survive, even if that means to longer fight back because there is always the slightest chance that fighting back can cause your death.

There has also been question of Shia’s credibility as he has been struggling within the public eye the last few years; this is another way to try to take away his agency because he is willingly putting himself in the public eye and allowing himself to be critiqued by multiple media outlets. This doesn’t justify what may or may not have happened nor does it excuse the actions of the woman he accused. Whoever this woman is, she may or may not have chosen to take another human being’s agency regarding their body away and this is a crime because no one should have that stripped away. None of us deserve it, regardless of who we are or what we do for a living.

Piers Morgan criticized Shia on Twitter, claiming that his allegations are demeaning to “real victims”. I have to question, however, what does a “real victim” look like, Mr. Morgan? Is there a specific type of person that rape happens too? Is there an ethnicity, a weight, a height, or hairstyle that a person wears to be considered a “real victim”?

Piers Morgan suggesting that “real victims” is an actual thing bothers me because all victims are real. There is no checklist when a person is sexually violated nor should that term even be used when discussing rape or sexual violence. It is not his job to decide if Shia is a real victim; quite frankly, he should keep his mouth shut.

To end, it is important for all victims to be supported. It is important that both women, men, and all the genders in between understand that they are not at fault for their trauma. It is not anyone’s fault, even if they are walking buck naked in broad daylight. We are human beings and we all have the right to be treated humanely, and to have our agency when it comes to our bodies to be respected. Celebrities may be in the public eye but that does not give the public the right to their bodies or their time, and if you believe differently than maybe you should take a look as to why you feel that way.