Facts and Opinions

What Consent Is…and What it Isn’t

Consent. That word has become pretty controversial over the past few years. With the #MeToo movement, so many people are mustering up the courage to come forward with their stories of sexual assault, rape, and abuse. Consent is the permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Not too hard to comprehend right? Well, for some, it’s relatively confusing.

That could have to do with rape culture says Lena Finkel in her article for Medium.com called Why is Consent So Difficult to Understand? The no means no mantra should be instilled into people’s brains, I mean it’s simply self explanatory. If you ask someone if you can eat their fries for lunch, and they say no, well there you have it…you can’t eat their fries. If your hairdresser asks if they can chop all your hair off and give you a tapered fade and you say no, guess what? They better not be chopping your hair off and giving you a tapered fade. If you are lounging on the couch with your boo Netflix and chilling (oh, how I hate that term), and he is starting to go a little bit further than you want, when you say no or stop…he better go back to paying attention to Thanos evaporating most of the Avengers on TV (spoiler I guess, but you should have seen it already. If you haven’t…what’s wrong with you?). Of course, there are people who think that no means “let me try a little bit harder to persuade you until you give in” and stop means “I’m going to do it anyways because you’ll eventually like it later on.” No is a powerful word…and there are many times where uttering that word still doesn’t give the other party the bright idea that what they’re doing is wrong and not wanted. Well how about when no isn’t said, but the act still isn’t wanted? This is where consent begins to get a little fuzzy to some.

 

To add on to the definition of consent, consent must be clear, concise, and enthusiastic. There is nothing wrong with just getting down to the nitty gritty and asking, “do you want to have sex?” I know, I know, that is probably the least sexy way to get in the mood, but better safe than sorry. If the other person does not give you a solid green light, abort the mission my friend. I mean a succinct, “yes I want to have sex with you.” If the person is hesitant, saying things a long the lines of “I guess” or “maybe” sorry bud but that’s a no. For your safety, that should be a no. If the person consents, and things are going well, and then all of a sudden the other person wants to stop, what do you do? You stop! There is this weird belief that a person can’t cease consent if they already started getting physical. I’m here to say that’s not the case at all. You can always revoke consent at any given time.

 

What about if the other person is intoxicated? Or incapacitated? In 2014, music artist Cee-Lo Green tweeted that it wasn’t rape…if the woman was unconscious. He also added, and I quote, “people who have really been raped remember.” You’d be surprised, but there are actually a few people who believe this. It’s like when someone comes into your house and takes from you when you’re not home. “Oh it’s not stealing if you’re not in your house.” If I hit you in your sleep and you don’t wake up, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t hit you, I still did. You just didn’t feel it. On January 18, 2015, Brock Allen Turner, was spotted raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. This woman experienced a significant amount of physical trauma, as well as emotional. People should be able to go out and enjoy themselves at a party, but at the moment, it’s just not something that we can do. Society tends to blame the person who blacks out or gets inebriated is shamed. Yes, a person should know their limits in terms of drinking, but we are human, people sometimes can get a little out of hand and drink more than they need to. That doesn’t mean that someone should just take advantage of them because it’s now easier for them to be manipulated. If I take a glance at your wallet while you’re at a parking meter and see a large wad of cash in there, does that give me the right to bash you over the head and take it? I mean, you opened your wallet a little too wide, obviously you wanted to get robbed. Does that make sense to you? In my personal opinion, if a person is drunk, they are not able to consent. Point. Blank. Period. You have no business trying to sleeping with a person who can barely stand or make rational decisions for themselves. A lot of people use this as a loophole. Oh she said yes so it was okay. Oh he didn’t fight back, it was fine. This person also is a light weight and gulped half a bottle of Hennessy and washed it down with Capriccio and one-third of a 4 Loko. I don’t really see the fun in having sex with a person who is on the verge of passing out or choking on their own vomit.

 

Predators like to prey on people who are more vulnerable because they have more power over the situation. A drunk person won’t really fight back as much as a sober person. What if they’re both drunk? Who takes the ownership? Even I am stumped on this. Typically, it is determined based off of the person who is the most conscious in the situation. If the person knows that they are drunk, and the other person is drunk as well, and the initiate the act, they are the ones at fault. The court would really have to go through the case with a fine tooth comb if it was ever sent to trial. This argues the fact that drunk sex can never be consensual. I don’t really know about that, but I do believe that it depends on the amount of alcohol that is being ingested. There’s a difference between tipsy and drunk. Going back to the statement I made before, who would want to have sex with a sloppy drunk person?

 

To sum up, I’ll go through a run down of what I’m talking about:

  • never assume the person wants to have sex. I don’t care if they are bumping and grinding on you in the club and singing The Weeknd’s Or Nah verbatim after deep throating a popsicle…ASK! Sorry for the graphic image.
  • pay attention to body language. If you are initiating sexual contact and the other person is not engaging enthusiastically or like they actually want to do it…stop! Remember, consent is clear and concise, and should be verbal to be safe.
  • if the other person is drunk, leave them alone. Just leave them alone. If the person is on some type of narcotics…LEAVE HER ALONE! They are not able to consent. If you’re not a shitty human being, maybe help them in some way.
  • it’s still rape if the person is unconscious. Cee-Lo Green is an idiot.
  • lastly, no means no.

 

Unfortunately, there are those people who know that no means no and that rape and sexual assault is not okay, but they don’t care. These people are mentally disturbed; disregarding a person’s well being for their own pleasure and sick compulsions. Those are the people that need the most help, but it might be too late for them. There are some pretty cruel people out there. Please be careful. Remember, you are not at fault. You are not in the wrong.

 

Here is a video that I think really helps demonstrate what consent really is:

 

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Poetry

Autumnal Equinox

*originally written on WeHeartit*

Window pane

Window pane

Why do you mimic my sorrow?

At nature’s end

It feels so sweet

Scattered autumn leaves

And willow trees

Bid me well

Til’ then

Bid adieu

My arduous ardent hour

Mid July

August sweltering heat

Beach bound bruising

Sun burns will always lose

Me and my perspired solstice

Hot and heavy

Heavy, humid, but lovely

The atmospheric pressure above me

Soothes it out

Tones it down

Into an environment of peace

I am in my element

I radiate

I’m me again

Splintered sun

Between the leaflet pattern

Foliage magnolia

Shone on the sidewalk

When I talk

I sculpt this

Little autumnal picture

It’s envisioned in my head

Red, orange, brown

Yellow dream

Cider sky

Auburn spice

Cinnamon swirled and nutmeg accents

Transcends thy might

The nicest flavor

The warmest feelings

The greatest color

My memories rebound

To the forefront of my mind

Of innocence

The younger years

Cavity ruined sweet teeth

And face paint

Late October afternoon

Molar chiclets

Bite down and get a quick fix

Of the sugar rush

I’ve had enough

But I’ve forgotten the meaning of stop

Times have changed

Been through a lot

But through my thoughts I can escape

My youth in fall

My future in Autumn

The sensation stays the same for me

The goosebumps still are evoked

I begin to feel whole

The corners of my mouth begin to defy gravitational pull

The earth spins slower

Longing still

My depressive state has gone

Flowed away

Gone solo

For the autumnal equinox has come

And I already know

The universe connects with me

It latches on to my soul

I will never let it go

Not for a single minute

I will not let it go

I will cherish it forever

Forever

In this three month moment

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Journaling

Self Care Isn’t Just Pedicures and Bath Bombs

Disclaimer: these are my opinions, as well as my own personal experiences

Self care is an art form. Being able to find something that can make you forget about the worries that you were stressing about can be a major release and relief on someone’s mental, spiritual, and even physical self. Everyone goes through something, no matter how trivial and no matter how ridiculous.

Life interrupts people in many different ways, and most times we don’t have the time to prepare for them. During this week, almost all of my homework assignments deleted itself due to a malfunction that occurred on my computer. I had three projects due at 11:59 that night. As I searched through the countless files on my Dell, I began to cry. Actually no, it didn’t start off as crying. It began as laughter. I was laughing at the fact this would have to happen the day everything had to be due. Then, the laughter turned hysterical, as if someone had told me one of the funniest jokes that I had ever heard. Tears began to stream down my face as they rolled in between my computer keys. The laughs became muffled, and then they turned into sobs. All of my hard work was lost. It’s okay to cry; crying is self care by itself. But, at some point, you’re gonna have to wipe away your tears and move forward.

I ended up missing my classes, sitting down on my couch, and redoing all my homework to the best of my ability. For hours I typed. My fingers ached and my eyes began to fall, but eventually…I got my work done. On top of that, I had work to go to, and then a meeting right after that. I was a mess dragging myself back into my apartment. I threw my bags down and nearly sunk to the floor from the exhaustion that I felt. I needed to recharge. I needed to refuel. I ran a shower at around 8:30 pm, sat my phone down on the bathroom sink as it played Mama’s Gun, and sang to my hearts content. The walls were thin, so I’m pretty sure the people next to me could hear me tell the bag lady to pack lightly. After that, I read a chapter from a book I had bought the semester prior at a book store in town. I meditated, and then pulled out my notebook to manifest how I wanted the rest of the week to go. I needed that time to wind down and gather myself together. That helped me, but for that time being.

Various ways on how to indulge in self care:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.goodtherapy.org/blog/134-activities-to-add-to-your-self-care-plan/amp/

Meditation, yoga, cooking…all those things can be essential to your self care routine, but that’s not all self care is. Self care can be bubble baths with rose petals in the water or getting your nails painted or even just taking a nap, but this will only get you so far. Not to go into great detail, but my second semester my freshman year was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I’m not talking about slight fatigue or exhaustion…I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore. It’s still touchy to talk about, so I’ll leave it at that, but just know that during that time, how I was coping was not the way I should have. Watching Netflix wasn’t going to save me from wanting to take my life (no matter how good the first season of Stranger Things was). I understand missing a day of class to calm yourself, but I would miss weeks! When the pain gets to be too much, buying yourself some Chick-fil-A isn’t going to just make all the trauma and suffering magically disappear. If it did, I’d be wolfing down waffle fries as we speak. You need to differentiate when self care is appropriate, and when self help needs to take the reigns.

Healing comes in many professional forms if you can afford them (a topic that I will discuss at a later date). There are mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and so on and so forth. If need be, psychiatrists; they’re equipped to prescribe medication for more serious cases. If I had pinpointed my change in behavior and had actually gotten some help earlier on, I might have been able to avoid the turmoil that came afterwards, or at least deal with it better. There are things that I will never be able to forget, but there will always be a way to heal somehow.

I ended up going to therapy over the summer. I am not going to lie, I did not want to do it…at all! Thinking about it, it’s somewhat hypocritical. I want others to get the help they need and deserve, but I didn’t want it for myself. I was scared. I was scared of being told that there might actually be something wrong with me. It’s intimidating at first. It took me some getting used to. The counselors even told me that I engaged in a lot of self care, but that my actual healing process seemed to be lackluster. I didn’t put in any importance or effort on the progress I wanted to make in the long run, I kept relying on temporary fixes to numb me.

Every day, I would sit down and listen to people share their stories. I’d sit back and think about why I’m here and would ask myself if this was necessary. I would go through the CBT and DBT exercises and worksheets while reciting positive affirmation mantras. I would engage in conversation when the physicians wanted to go into one on one sessions. It seemed extraneous, but as each morning came, I grew to realize what the purpose of this was and why I needed to be here.

Am I fully healed? No. Will I ever stop partaking in the act of self care? Absolutely not. It’s become a vital part of me not dropping out of college. With what I have learned, I know that it’s okay to take some time and do something special for yourself, but you’re doing a real disservice if you ignore what’s really bothering you. Everyone deserves to heal.

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Facts and Opinions

Gas Lighting and the Black Community: No…You’re Not Crazy

“Why are you making it a race thing?” “It’s not always about race!” “It’s all in your head.” Usually, when a person has to assure another that something isn’t about race…it is about race. We are living in a racially charged environment during this new Trump era, where two differing political opinions can create a mental detonation. Yes We Can and the presidential election of the first president of black descent in 2008 glossed over the fact that racism is still very much alive and thriving. I will say, Donald J. Trump is not my favorite person; he never will be, and I am not the fondest of people who agree with his ideologies. However, I will have to give him credit where credit is due. He exposed the racists in America! As people of color were a tad more relaxed during President Obama’s….sorry, former president Barack Obama’s presidency, they are on their pins and needles now more than ever before. I mean, out of 200 to 230 million registered voters, around 46.1% of votes went to Trump. To me, and plenty of others, that’s more than enough. That many people approve of what he believes in. That many people are against me and my basic human rights.

The black community is not a meek community. When an injustice occurs, they are right there on the front lines, giving their time, protesting the wrong doings of the government, and making it known that they will not take the disrespect that their community has endured for far too long. Being a person of color in America has it’s disadvantages, and no one can tell me otherwise. As a black woman from the city of Chicago, I am instantly seen as some ghetto, ratchet hood rat. I am seen as unintelligent and improper; un-ladylike. No, I do not sell drugs, and I do not know anyone who does. I have never met Chief Keef…no, I cannot give him your mixtape. I have not been shot at, nor have I fired a gun off myself. I don’t have sickle cell believe it or not. Those were all things that I have had to tell my non-poc counterparts. I decided to ignore it and grit my teeth, but now being older I wish I hadn’t. If I could go back to the conversation all over again, I would read them on the blatant stereotypes that conjured up as facts to depict the black race.

I was just reading about Serena Williams and her incident at the U.S Open. I watched the video, I saw what went on. Serena was mad! And rightfully so! Serena Williams is arguably one of the best athletes in the world right now. She’s confident in what she does; she knows she’s good. She has overcome a lot of adversity and ridicule, only to come out on top at the end. When she was being accused of cheating by the umpire appointed during the game, her response was warranted. I’m sure that if you were being arraigned for some type of cheating, you would not take it with a smile and a grain of salt. You’d be pissed! When Serena confronted the umpire on what he had done, now she’s seen as irate. The umpire’s call has nothing to do with her being a black woman, right? But when the majority white male tennis players curse at the umpire, throw their rackets down and spit, they’re deemed passionate and driven. Serena didn’t even do all of that! And she’s still being portrayed as this angry black woman. Soon after, Mark Knight, an Australian illustrator, drew a cartoon about the incident. A blind person could see that the comic was racist. The way he drew Serena reminded me of a Jim Crow era caricature. She looked like a mammy; jumping up and down on the tennis court with a pacifier laying next to her. Why was she so exaggerated? The umpire in the comic looked fine, and Naomi Osaka (her opponent), looked like a white woman! They basically white washed her to make Serena look like a brute. When confronted about his art, Knight claimed that it “wasn’t about race” and that “people are becoming crazy.”

That, my friends, is called gas lighting. Gas lighting is the manipulation of a person into questioning their own sanity. When it comes to the black community, in terms of racial inequality, it’s not a rarity to be questioned on how we feel or how we’re treated. When a person has a privilege, I assume it would be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It may be difficult to realize that other human beings do not get the same treatment. Being seen as the “right” kind of American might come with a set of rose colored glasses. That’s one of the biggest arguments that I’ve ever been in is explaining why white privilege exists. I brought up the fact that due to stereotypes and notions that have already been established about the black community, white people are seen as better equipped than a black person. She retorted with the fact that she once lived in a trailer and struggled financially, claiming that she did not have white privilege because money was tight for her and her family at one point. White privilege knows no class. If you’re white, in America, and practically any place that has people of color, you’re alright. That was not the only time that black issues were questioned into actually existing, and I had the honor of being in the midst of it all. Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter. Remember that debate? Ignorance was exposed when more and more people began to side with ALM, saying that all lives are cherished and valued. Do I agree that they should all be cherished and valued? Yes. In this political climate, are all lives being treated that way? No. Absolutely not. I have gotten into a few verbal wars about Black Lives Matter, dispelling the myth that it is a terrorist group, and that it’s a hate organization towards other races. “If you don’t believe that all lives don’t matter, then you’re racist!” one girl said in one of my political science classes. I was shocked. This girl has also said previously that trans-gendered people were mentally ill, so I knew that we would never ever get along. BLM focuses on the issues that black people face on a day to day basis. It has never wished death upon other races of people, and if people within the movement have, then they are not true BLM followers. They want equality, not superiority.

Another instance that happened to me was during my freshman year of college. I was apart of my college choir. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s not odd to be the only black person in the class, or one of the token few. It was me and four other black people in the choir. One of the pieces that we were given was titled, Death Is Gonna Lay Its Cold Icy Hands On Me. The fact that a chorus of 85% white people is singing a Negro spiritual irked me very much so, but the fact that they completely disregarded what the song is about was icing on the cake. One of the directors stated that he wanted us to sound “sexy” as we sang about slaves being afraid that they would die fleeing to freedom. That was terribly insensitive of them.  One of the other black girls in the group began to cry because it affected her so much. My friend and I approached the director about it, and how continuing to sing the song was not a good idea. He instantly tried to relate it to himself, saying that he was made fun of as a child because he was Catholic. Nice try, but you can hide a religion, it’s a bit harder to hide your race. I am not saying that you should hide your religion, but it would be easier for me to hide the fact that I’m a Christian than hide the fact that I’m black. Our plight fell on deaf ears. On the day of the concert, my and I closed our books and refused to sing in protest.

Those are just a few times that I came in contact with gas lighting, and I’ll probably come in contact with it. My Health Matters writer Dennis R. Upkins gave a few more examples of gas lighting that he’s heard. “The reality is whenever you’re a person of color speaking out against racism and white supremacy, it’s a safe bet that you will be on the receiving end of gaslighting” says Upkins. And I completely agree with him. It’s funny how non-poc people think that they know people of color better than people of color know themselves, huh?

Gas lighting is being told that you’re being rude when telling a white person that you don’t want them touching your box braids that are still sore. Gas lighting is saying that white people get killed by police more often that black people, when there are less black people in America, and their percentage of police brutality deaths are a larger population. Gas lighting is saying that Michael Brown being gunned down in the middle of the street was justifiable because he was a big, menacing looking guy. Gas lighting is neoliberal multiculturalism. It’s thinking that black people are complaining and not putting effort into the things that they do. Gas lighting is all around us. Stay strong and stay aware…and no….YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!

Where I found some of my sources:

Federal Elections 2016:

https://transition.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2016/federalelections2016.pdf

https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30441531/Roberts___Carter_Andrews_-_Gaslighting_of_African_American_teachers.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1537199931&Signature=Ti3zs%2FF4tK2PhqNaJP6I135IjHw%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DA_critical_race_analysis_of_the_gaslight.pdf

https://mental-health-matters.com/denying-racism-and-other-forms-of-gaslighting/

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