Archive for the ‘college life’ Category

I’m not the confrontational type. I’m not the loud type. I’m not the “in your face” type.

But there are changes going on inside of me; inside of my mind. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I know time is short. Maybe it’s because I am just fed up with things. Maybe it’s because old feelings and memories that I have suppressed for decades have come tumbling back into my mind. I’m seeing things that I saw before but didn’t face and I’m facing them, at least inside of me. I’m angry at the way things are. The next step? I think I have to start speaking out; start acting. I have to try to help bring about some changes.

What kind of things? Well, I keep seeing, day after day after day, instances where women get blamed for men’s actions and poor decisions. Yesterday, I read about a court case where a Yale student was exonerated of rape charges even after the jury was shown video tape footage of a very drunk girl being dragged to her room, barely conscious. The young woman was asked, in court, by the judge, why she had chosen to wear a close fitting cat costume to the Halloween party where she encountered her assailant. The judge asked her why she hadn’t worn a Cinderella costume or something  “like that.” So the male walks free and the female is left not only with the trauma of waking up after passing out only to find that her clothes are off and the guy is on top of her, but she is also left with the humiliation of having to testify in open court and then called a liar. The jury’s verdict called her a liar. The judge’s questions called her a liar. Yale called her a liar. They failed to stand by a female student in favor of a male student.

Why is it that when a girl gets pregnant she is blamed for it; often she is said to have seduced the guy. Why is it that no one blames the guy? It’s pretty difficult for a girl to force a guy to get her pregnant. Possible but difficult, yet it’s the girl’s fault.

Why is it that when a woman is sexually assaulted, she’s to blame because she wore provocative clothing or smiled at a stranger?

And this one, while unrelated, still gets at the point that women are always blamed. Why is it that when a man cheats on his wife or partner, it’s the woman’s fault? She didn’t pay attention to him. She didn’t dress nice for him. She didn’t wear makeup for him. She didn’t hold his interest. It’s her fault he couldn’t keep his zipper up in the presence of other women.

Yup, time after time, it’s the woman who gets blamed. It’s always our fault.

And this all keeps women down. It keeps us from speaking up and reporting attacks. It keeps us oppressed. In our place.

It won’t end or change significantly in my lifetime but I have daughters and a granddaughter and I pray that they will see this change in their life times. For now, all I can do is express my anger over the way things are and I can support women who have been victimized by the system. I can tell my stories of my experiences; there are more than one. I was blamed. Then I got smart and stopped reporting them because no one would believe me anyway. It’s time to speak up in the hopes that others will benefit.

Changes. Lots of them. The time has come.


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Room Mates~Part 1

Room mates can be a god sent, but they can also be a nightmare, or perhaps more accurately, a series of nightmares. Although I have not had a lot of experience with room mates, I do have some interesting stories.

First, let me tell you that I lived a very sheltered life.  My parents were very strict and I wasn’t allowed to go out much unless it was with my sisters.  None of us were really allowed to date.  My older sister would end up going places with me and then sort of disappeared until it was time to go home.  I was a “good girl,” or at least obedient.  In high school, I went out on a date once.  Just once did I have someone come and pick me up and take me out and bring me home.  We went to play miniature golf but I wasn’t allowed to go by myself.  I had to take my younger sister with me.  Then after it was all over and Larry brought me home, my father said something about my date being a “telephone pole” (Larry was about 6′ 2″).  I never wanted to put anyone through that again or go through it myself so I never had anyone pick me up again.  Instead, I’d go with a big group to the football games then for pizza afterwards.  Sometimes I’d be dropped off at a group function and meet Larry there (which is also a good story about my first kiss but that’s another post).

When I graduated from high school, I was lucky enough to win a full scholarship to a major private university (think a very irreverent marching band and a tree for a mascot) about twenty miles from home.  I had also been accepted at another private school in my own town (think Catholic nuns and a real honest to goodness  mission) and received a good amount of financial aid but not a full ride.  I chose to go to the one that gave me the full ride for a number of reasons, among them the fact that it was quite prestigious and the fact that it was a full scholarship.  My main reason is that they did not make exceptions for local freshman as the other school did, meaning that I would not be allowed to live at home and commute.  That’s what I needed . . . to get away from home.  My parents were in the middle of a very messy “situation” which ultimately ended in their breakup and I just didn’t want to be around home.  I wanted MY turn.

So I moved into the dorm and met my room mate who was K from North Carolina.  K was from a very wealthy family.  K was in the marching band which meant that she had a group of  “built-in” friends.  Three days after move-in, our phone was hooked up and she began to get phone calls from a man whose voice sounded much older.  When I gave her the messages from R, she said it was her boyfriend.  Later on she told me he was also the vice principal of her high school and a married man with whom she had been having intercourse with.  I had never spoken to anyone about having intercourse.  I was THAT sheltered.  I wasn’t too comfortable with the fact that she had been sleeping with a man three times her age who was married and she was way underage (still 16 years old).  I said nothing.  Within a month, she was dating an upperclassman who was also in the band.  There were many nights that I had to sleep on the couch in the dorm lounge because she had a band-aid over the keyhole,  meaning she was “entertaining.”  Then, a couple of months after that, when we were both sleeping in the tiny dormitory room with our twin beds four feet from each other, she opened the door to her very drunk boyfriend who came in and proceeded to have sex with her, thinking I was asleep.  I was not.  All night long I could hear them having sex.  When I needed to get up and go to the bathroom, I didn’t because I’d have to face them having sex and that wasn’t something I wanted to do.

The next day, I went to a friend who lived in another dorm and cried as I told her what had happened.  She said it was not right for me to have to put up with that when there were open rooms elsewhere.  Apparently there was a room in her dorm and although it was university policy to not let freshmen change room mates, the Resident Fellow at her dorm talked to the people in the Housing Office and by the end of the day, I had gotten the clearance to change dorms.

I had a room to myself at the new dorm.  I had friends there.  I was much happier there.  Then I got a room mate.  This room mate proved to be no problem, almost.  She had a boyfriend off campus and used the dorm room only as a cover for her parents.  In the four months we shared the room, I only saw her twice; when she moved in and when she moved out.  Her parents did come to look for her once and I had to make it sound like she did live there, although I couldn’t tell them what her schedule was or when she’d be back to the dorm.  That was awkward but I could deal with it and I did.

The following year, I had a room to myself again, except for having to share it with Sandy for about a month until another room opened up and she moved there, leaving me alone. During my junior hear, I was in a singe once again, however, about three months into the school year, Melanie who was one of the Residential Assistants, came to talk to me.  She told me about a freshman who was having a really tough time with her room mate and needed a place to move to.  My room was technically a double but as an upper classman, I had it as a single because we were not at capacity.  She came to ask if I could take Linda in. I didn’t have to but she wanted me to know that there was someone who really needed to move as I had needed to move during my freshman year.   She assured me that if I took Linda in, they would move her to another room as soon as one opened up.  How could I say no?  I couldn’t.

That was one of the best things I have done in my life.  Linda became not only the best room mate I ever had but she became a sister and her family became my family.  We know each other’s secrets and we support one another, regardless whether we agree with the other’s choices.  Isn’t that more like a family than a friendship or a room mate?  We are still in touch with one another and the day Linda’s father passed, I felt as if my own father had passed.  My children knew her father as a grandfather.  Her family knows mine as part of their own.  Linda was a blessing disguised as a room mate.

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