My Vegan Journey

My journey to becoming vegan is an interesting one. It’s like I just woke up one day and saw the light. I suddenly started really caring about why all this unnecessary killing of animals is taking place…Like I had been in a stupor all along.

This was quite recently (24/11/18) but I had been preparing for it for quite some time. Like drugs, it’s difficult to quit meat cold-turkey (no pun intended). Something about meat gets infiltrated into your system and it takes a while to get it out (no pun there either). It’s a mental process that begins with you first accepting the idea in your mind that, yes, despite the challenges, I AM GOING TO DO THIS.

My diet has never heavily consisted of meat anyway and Hindus have always naturally been vegetarian so it was something I’ve always strived for. I have also found that I have actually been able to save money by eschewing (not chewing lol) or not buying meat. However, veganism takes it one step further by omitting milk and eggs and I admit that this has been challenging. Why no milk and eggs? Because even more torture is involved for the poor animals (look it up.Just google “Erin Janus”..Her videos changed my life.) You could also google Dr. Melanie Joy from whom I first heard the term “carnism”.  Both these ladies make very interesting points that stuck with me:

#1. Why is it NOT ok to kill your pet but OK to kill other animals? I mean, is this like George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ where some animals are ‘more equal than others’? (Melanie Joy)

#2. How is it that we can feel compassion for a chicken or other animal trying to cross the road but then drive a few blocks down and order Chicken Mc nuggets? (Erin Janus)

#3. If we were really meant to eat animals, why is it so difficult for us to kill them with our bare hands and chow down on them raw the way other natural predators do? (another experimental video I saw).

Of course there are countless other reasons, but I won’t get into them here. Just watch the videos.

Anyhow, I am not here to morally lecture anyone as I believe that everyone has a choice. I’m just trying to share what my journey has been like. A significant day for me was the day of my first class party after going vegan. This was in my First-Aid class when the teacher was planning meals and I announced “I’m vegan”. It actually felt very strange to hear myself say that because I had never owned it before. Everyone looked at me strangely and I must have felt as strange as they felt.

Part of me was also feeling like they must be thinking I’m such a pain because I’m making such a fuss about what to eat. In the past, I would go along with whatever food was convenient for everyone else because I just didn’t want to make a fuss or stand out. I could kind of relate to the video below:

But now, owning my “veganship” felt like the thing to do. Like a recovering alcoholic, I think that giving up meat requires active acknowledgement of your new way of life. Sure, there may be challenges, but you must be prepared to stick with it. When you announce it, you are making a vow to yourself and others that is harder to break than if you keep it secret.

I am aware that some meat-eaters may find that vegetarians/ vegans are just being “difficult”. I’ve also read where they dislike us because we bring up a secret shame inside them. Whatever it is, I believe that we should love everyone, whether they are meat-eaters or vegans. I also believe that we should love all creatures, as we love ourselves.

I am aware that in times of dire need, no other product might be available but meat but I am also aware that this is modern times, and we have lots of choices on the shelves. Hell, I may be trying “tofurkey” next, thanks to Laura Clery (in the vid above).

When I first decided to go vegan, I found the lack of vegan food choices in the groceries to be offputting and really irritating. Tofu seems to be a scarce commodity in my country (Trinidad) for some reason; Pricesmart does not stock it at all, nor do they have rennet-free cheese.. Like, why is rennet still even used when you can make cheese without it and it tastes even better? Neither do they have eggless cakes.. I’m considering a boycott.

In other groceries, everything else that’s vegan is really pricey, like the vegan chicken, fish and sausages. But I think if you’re going to go vegan, why remind yourself of all those labels that include meat-sounding names? Just go vegan.

But seriously, how is it that meat is so plentiful while vegan meals are so hard to source?  It’s like we are subliminally brainwashed to want meat and to be desensitized to the violence and gore that accompanies meat-eating. I don’t understand how it could be more convenient to slit the throat of an animal, gut it and chop it up into a hundred tiny pieces than to simple pick a fruit or vegetable?

Yes, I saw the movie “Alive” (1993) and it haunts me to this day. But I also acknowledge that those guys in the Andes had no choice but to feast on the corpses of their fellowmen. Nobody should give them wrong for doing what is necessary to survive. But look around you…Unless you live in a cave or the Andes, do you really need meat in order to survive?

Why do we recoil in horror at scenes of cannibalism or Ed Gein skinning people alive and using them as leather when we do the same to animals every day? Someone else made a point that something is inherently wrong with the meat industry. Imagine if the tables were turned and animals chopped us up for dinner, milked our females to make cheese then melted that cheese made from breastmilk over meat patties made from human meat… That would be horrifying, wouldn’t it? Then why is it OK for us to do that to other living creatures? I really don’t know.

Plus butchers have always scared me instinctively: if you could stand up and butcher animals all day without batting an eyelid, I don’t think I’d feel too safe around you if you had a knife or chopper in your hand. But it’s not only butchers doing it, I’ve seen ordinary housewives buying whole hog heads, chopping up animals, and just wiping the blood off their hands and faces like it was nothing. Like, horror thrillers have nothing on them. I used to eat meat before but could never bring myself to kill the animal or chop it up for myself. Anyhow, I guess we do what is necessary to survive.

However, in today’s world, I’ve come to the conclusion, that meat-eating is not necessary to survive (at least, not for me). As someone of East-Indian descent, I’ve also faced unique challenges since East-Indian diet heavily favors starches and oils; however, I’m looking to be vegan AND healthy too and I don’t like flour, soya and potatoes that much.

So I’ve been forced to get even more creative in the kitchen but it hasn’t been that hard.  (I’ll be sharing some recipes soon). And I’ve noticed something even better: due to all the healthy fibres found in vegan food, I feel full, yet somehow lighter and even more energetic than before. Can I keep it up? Only time will tell. But this has been my journey thus far and I’m glad to share it with you. Do share also if you have had similar experiences, any tips, etc. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

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Why we need others, Part 2.

If you do something special and no one notices, does it still feel special?

By my own admission, I’m somewhat of a loner, preferring lots of alone time to meeting others. While I’m perfectly capable of talking and sustaining a conversation for hours, I prefer lots of self-talk. No, I’m not crazy and I don’t talk to myself aloud (at least, not all the time!) LOL.

I guess I’m also very laidback and low-key. For a woman, I’m very weird and tend to forget a lot of things, like dates and accomplishments. Reviewing social media has made me realize that there’s a lot of things I’ve never highlighted about myself or realized were that important.

I graduated with a B.A,  First Class Honours in English and French (in 2001) before I joined Facebook (in 2007); I’m not even sure if Fb was around then but if it was, I might have posted about it and gotten lots of likes and probably felt even better about it. But while I was proud, this was a relatively quiet moment without a lot of fanfare except for my university graduation ceremony, which came and went like just any other day in my life.

My point is, I’ve never really made such a big deal about anything in my life and now, after having spent some time on Fb, it BOTHERS me. It has me questioning things like, is something wrong with me? Am I guilty of taking things for granted? Should I be showing more appreciation not just to others but also to myself?

 

Recently, I read a post where a teacher was marking 15 years of service. It made me realize that last year (2017) made it 16 years since I’ve been in the teaching service as a secondary school teacher but it never occurred to me that I should celebrate a teaching anniversary every year or make that into a special experience. To me, it was just like I was passing time. It was a very stressful period of my life and I was like I was so focused on surviving that I forgot to enjoy the experience. To compound matters, I didn’t come from a family who was keen on any celebrations and neither was my husband.

Now I’m thinking, we should really treat every day and every moment as a celebration. But at the same time, we should not seek attention from others to validate how important or special that experience is. As I type this, I realize that this is much easier said than done. By human nature, we are attention-seekers. Facebook strives on this basic fact of human psychology and this is why it’s so successful. Experts even agree that the instant gratification gained from likes on Fb is comparable to a “hit” by drugs. Indeed, it is highly addictive. So what if no one noticed all the special things we did, would it matter or would it feel pointless?

At heart, we are inclined to share everything about ourselves with others. We seek approval and this is natural. But sometimes, it gets out of hand. When we go to the gym, do we really need to show off a picture of our body on Instagram or other social media in order to feel gratified or can we feel happy in ourselves just knowing that we are fit?

I think those who don’t care whether others notice what they look like are rather in the minority if non-existent. Indeed, activities like bodybuilding competitions and Carnival are centred around the idea that people are innate exhibitionists. We want others to notice us, especially if we look good. Is anything wrong with that? Perhaps, perhaps not. I suppose the answer would depend on the individual.

But if I were to express what I think, I’d say we need to re-evaluate our motivations for doing certain things. Because if we do it for others and not for ourselves, it will lead to ultimate disappointment.

But, we are social creatures and this is easier said than done. We seek out others to share experiences with; who likes going to a movie or party alone? Come on, be honest. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that the best experiences are shared experiences. Because as much as I like being alone, it’s better when I have someone who can relate to what I’ve been through and share in my pain, joy, sorrow, whatever.

While I like being alone, it’s also nice knowing you are not alone. I think though, maybe, at the end of the day, I’m scared of people. I’m scared of needing them too much and so I tend to push them away. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin and safe in the knowledge that I can make it on my own.

But that’s the most fearful question of all: can we really make it on our own? And if yes, how far will we get? Seems to me that without that extra boost, encouragement or support from others in our lives, we aren’t likely to get very far.

And that scares the bollocks out of me. Because I hate needing people. But I guess it’s unavoidable, isn’t it? After all, if I didn’t need others, I’d have no one to read this and honestly, that wouldn’t feel very special at all….

To Hustle or Not to Hustle?

The term “hustle” is thrown around rather loosely these days. But who or what is a hustler? Traditional definitions of the word held a negative connotation, such as a person who cons others out of money. Nowadays, the definition has morphed into something more positive, even desirable with countless memes proclaiming “Proud to be a Hustler”, among other things.

So, apparently, by modern standards, a hustler is someone who knows not only how to make a living but who takes it further and makes a shitload of money. More conservative definitions see a hustler as someone who is just able to endure the daily grind and traffic jam to and from work and survives all the rushing around or “hustle” necessitated by life.

Modern hustling apparently involves a fast-paced lifestyle punctuated by regular bouts of insomnia because our nerves are constantly on edge for the “next big thing”. Contentment may not be a word in the dictionary of a hustler but AMBITION is, in big bold letters.

For most of us nowadays, our lives are characterized by relentless drive and hustle followed by self-doubt because we never feel that our “good enough” is ever good enough especially when trying to keep up with the Joneses. While hustling can signify the positive traits necessary to survive in today’s world, it is not always a desirable quality because comparisons and competitiveness also go hand-in-hand with a hustling lifestyle. We rush around barely stopping to catch our breaths, then we wonder why our stress-levels are so high?

Perhaps if we stopped to re-evaluate our definition of “hustling”, we might be able to break the cycle. First of all, we need to determine, what we are hustling for, then why we are hustling and is it worth it? If money is your number one answer, then you will never be satisfied because there’s never enough of it. If we are hustling for fame and recognition, we are heading to disappointment because that never lasts; if we want to just help ourselves, that’s all well and good, but if we also want to help others, then perhaps that might be the greatest reason for hustling.

So, it all boils down to: what’s your motivation for the hustle? Is it to impress others or to impress yourself? And how many of us actually hustle for God?

While hustling may be inescapable, we might also ask ourselves do we need to hustle at all? Maybe if we slow down, we would actually be able to think outside the box and realize that there are so many other ways to live life other than following the crowd.

Every day when I encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic dropping my kids off to school, I can’t help but think that many of us are slaves to a system and don’t even realize it. We think we are being strong and independent by hustling when in reality, we are just following the dictates and rules set out by someone else/ society.

To me, the most successful hustlers don’t hustle at all. Paradoxical as it might seem, it’s true. People like Richard Branson and Oprah are super-successful but give off such a relaxing vibe. They are the kinds of people I don’t mind emulating not because of their enormous wealth (though that would be nice too) but because they have managed to build their own empire by standing out from the crowd. In my opinion, the true hustler does not work for anyone else but fixes his own schedule and lives life on his own terms. While everyone is stuck in traffic heading in one direction, the supreme hustler, the one I call “the master of life”, is heading in the next direction.

It takes a lot of guts and oomph to stand out from the crowd. It also involves following your heart and not allowing others to dictate what you do. Most of all, it involves enjoying what you do/ doing what you love so that your life does not feel like hustle at all and work is no longer work.

To me, hustling has always implied a certain degree of rushing, stress and panic. At the start of this new year 2018, the thought hit me that I’ve been hustling my whole life and for what? Seems like since I was born, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety and panic. Why? Because I’ve always been a perfectionist and high-achiever and having critical parents couple with the relentless schooling system does not make it any easier. So many demands and expectations are placed on your head not only by others, but self-imposed. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself burnt out before age 40 as I have felt.

When this realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I took a step back and said to myself, if I do not slow down, I might find myself with a host of diseases by the time I get to middle-age in my 50s. High blood pressure, obesity, stroke, etc. are all lifestyle diseases as a consequence of all this hustling.

It is not necessary to cut short our 8 hours of sleep per night; it is not necessary to work overtime; it is not necessary to miss out on all the activities we enjoy simply because we have “so much to do”. In my opinion, hustling does not have to be hustling. We can do relaxed hustling, can’t we? As oxymoronic as that sounds, it’s possible. I always find that I’m more productive after a good rest, any way.

The Monkey in Our Minds

MIND= Monkey In Need of Domination OR Monkey I Need to Dominate? You decide.

We were not put here to be average, to barely get by or to make do…We were put here to shine so dazzlingly and brilliantly that we make the earth light up like another galaxy in the sky..
But something is preventing us from doing so and I believe the root of the problem lies with the monkey in our minds. Each of us is controlled by an invisible monkey telling us what to do; he’s a slavemaster and we are his b*tches, though we rarely realize it…
This monkey is an amalgam of all our experiences and habits over the years rolled into a ball who jumps around in our minds trying to control our every move. There are deep-seated reasons for this monkey and self-awareness is the only key to taming him and getting him under control. This monkey feeds on our fears, insecurities and people’s reactions to us, among other things.
This monkey seems adamant to prevent us from realizing our goals and ambitions. He is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of us fulfiling our dreams.

From the time we wake up in the morning, the monkey jumps up and tries to convince us to go back to sleep. If we do manage to shake him off, he sprinkles more sleepy dust in our eyes and makes our feet feel like lead so that actually getting out of bed takes superhuman effort. When we make it to the kitchen, he encourages us to reach for that doughnut instead of the healthy breakfast we had planned. When we try to exercise, he convinces us that we’re too tired and invents a myriad of excuses…

Most days, it takes too much energy to fight this monkey, so we give in. This monkey goes by several names: Temptation, Distraction, Fear, Desire, etc, but perhaps the biggest one of all is Procrastination. Because of this monkey, we lead far less productive lives than we could. For whatever reason, we keep putting things off that we could do in the present and so our lives pass us by seeing us do barely a fraction of what we’re capable of.

Every time we feed this monkey, he grows bigger and stronger and far more dominant. Some of us don’t have monkeys but full-blown gorillas in our minds.

But when we become self-aware and get to the root of why we are behaving a certain way, the monkey actually shrinks in size and exerts little to no control over our lives.

Basically, we were put here to show the monkey of our minds who is boss. Whenever we feel hurt, down, sad, pained or depressed or inflict hurt upon others, you can bet your bottom dollar that a monkey is at work there. Untethered simian activity in our brains is responsible for many of our negative feelings but with hard work and effort, we can re-train our little circus monkey to supply us with only happy feelings. You can start by listening only to positive self-talk and ignoring anything else that makes you less productive or unhappy.

Crafty creature that he is, this monkey needs to be kept in a corner and receive constant vigilance because if we are not careful, he can easily slip through the cracks and dominate us again. The antidote: build crack-proof walls in your brain. Yes, it is a Herculean task and might take lifelong effort, but it’s worth it.

It’s too bad that too many of us are slave to our own minds. Let’s hope we realize it and make the necessary changes before it’s too late.

 

The Marriage Files (Part 3)

Two years ago (yeah, can’t believe it’s been that long!), I started this blog and one of my first topics was on marriage (Hey, it’s a meaty and controversial topic, and I love it!).

I was a (fairly) newlywed then but still had a healthy dose of cynicism.

Flashforward two more years later and shit’s got more real. Yesterday, don’t know what possessed me but I started another bout of venting on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. People wanted me to write more and more and spill all the beans I have on marriage.  Nine years into marriage (hey, I’m no expert) but I write what I know. Sometimes it’s personal, sometimes it’s based on observations of other people’s life stories and sometimes we’re going through the same shit together, so we can all relate. I, for one, believe that the truth can set you free, so not going to hold back or pretend here.

I refrain from posting actual names, etc. for obvious reasons. So, here I am amalgamating everything I posted on Facebook with a few essential edits here and there. But don’t worry, the essence of it as always..real cuz you’re getting pure “vanessence” 🙂

WARNING: these are the secrets married people don’t want you to know so if you prefer living with wool over your eyes, LOOK AWAY NOW.

I repeat, this is REVOLUTIONARY: What I’m about to say might exterminate the human race as we know it..(or we might exterminate ourselves any way). LOL.

Well, here goes: the secrets ‘they’ don’t want you to know…

Let me start by saying,

No one is complete: we need each other but you don’t have to get married because of it.

People make you feel like something’s wrong with you for being single. That’s all trash. Don’t give into it. If you’re happy being by yourself, that’s PERFECTLY FINE. Love yourself first before you seek to love anyone else. Enjoy your own company, revel in it: I can’t stress this enough.

Society has imbued us with a lot of faulty, obnoxious mental programming (Thanks, society!) They’ve created snooty, snobby, snorty, facetious, obnoxious, noxious, pretentious folk walking around, turning up their noses and passing judgment on anyone who is not them.

In true societal fashion, I used to look down on people who were living together instead of getting married. “Living in sin” is what they call it, isn’t it?

And there’s always a “they”, isn’t there? Yep, you guessed it.
That “they” is society: the visible and invisible consciousness subconsciously or consciously influencing us all, the masses. Till someone dares to step out of the masses then woe be unto him/ her! How dare he/she challenge the dictates of society, right? LOL.

But society has also given us some good ideas too, like “it takes a village to raise a child” or the value of cooperation, etc. (So thanks again, society!) But with regards to marriage, I really think you got it all wrong. So, let me repeat again:

Marriage is NOT necessary.

I used to join you in frowning upon people like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, etc. they are now my true heroes for defying societal constructs.

Sometimes when people enter a marriage, one wants it more than the other. Worst case scenario: both people actually don’t want it and they’re really bowing to societal pressure. Anyhow, it’s always better if BOTH people want it equally, isn’t it? But very rare.

Even better, I think, is if they each don’t see the need for it at all.
To me, marriage signifies a glaring lack of trust and low self-confidence. It’s like saying, if I don’t somehow tie you down, you’re not going to be faithful to me or fulfil your duties, etc. Why would you want to be married to someone like that anyway? If someone can’t be committed to you without a piece of paper, best to leave them free.

Some people just want a big wedding and are not prepared in the slightest for what marriage entails. When the shit hits the fan, they get the shock of their lives. They expected a fairytale and got reality tv..

Marriage involves taking the good with the bad with the ugly.

But that “till death do us part” clause sounds so ominous, doesn’t it?  It’s like signing a death sentence. Perhaps that’s all marriage is: a death sentence. Someone else called it “social imprisonment”. I believe that’s quite accurate. Prepare to say goodbye to your freedom and your old self as you know it. If you enjoyed doing certain things before, prepare to give them up now. Watch your old self slowly die…And if you’re in a really bad marriage, death will come even faster! Lol.

Forgive my cynicism. I only write what I know.

Any wonder marriage is the butt of most jokes? Someone I know loves to tell this corny but true joke, “Before marriage there’s a ring, after marriage, there’s suffe-ring!” The internet is littered with countless more. Check out this one:

Various Traps.

Coincidence? I think not. So it’s not just me 😛
Why are people really getting married? Seems to me, for all the wrong reasons.They fear being lonely, they want assurance, they got pregnant, they want to increase their assets, they want an “escape”, they want to “prove something”, they want to entrap the other person, etc. etc. Who really marries for love today anyway? What is love, anyway? Isn’t love the absence of fear and the need to control? Seems to me, marriage is the opposite of that.

A woman might enter a marriage needing a man to be the provider or she might be the provider herself, but from my observation, men generally enter a marriage needing a woman more than she will ever need him.

We all know that marriage is a societal construct; it is a business arrangement..and too many of us make bad “business deals” or have business arrangements that have gone sour..

It might work for some, but it is a very, very limiting institution as many will inevitably find out (but will be too embarrassed to admit).
So what I propose (pun intended) is that:
There should be no marriage.
And no one should have children, either. There I said it. Don’t have kids if you like lots of quiet time and a stress-free life. Also, don’t have kids just to “see what they’ll look like” and ESPECIALLY don’t have kids if you’re not sure your partner is going to stick around.

Why? Because when things don’t work out, those poor innocents are the casualties. And it’s awfully hard to raise kids as a single parent. In the end, the emotional turmoil is just not worth it.

So, stop getting married and stop making babies. Yea, like anyone will listen to me when that primitive pull of hormone comes calling. The urge to procreate is too real, too strong, so despite knowing all this, people will subject themselves to all this agony anyway. Beats me why anyone would want to go through childbirth after experiencing it the first time but that just shows the power of the biological urge. Have sex, by all means but take every precaution to protect yourself and bringing an innocent life into this world if you can’t take care of it.

Physical pain is not match for mental and emotional pain, especially when one partner is abusive or neglectful. Besides, when you limit yourself to one person, you are limiting your soul from expanding.

EVERYONE holds a missing piece of your puzzle.
There is no such thing as one soul-mate:
We are ALL soul-mates.

Everyone has something to teach the other in order to make them “whole” or “complete” again..
That’s why everyone should be able to associate with anyone else freely and not necessarily sexually, because soul-mates are concerned with a union of minds, not bodies.

TO SUMMARIZE (And this is PROFOUND, if I do say so myself):
There are 3 basic types of marriages which can be further subdivided as follows:
A) Two incomplete people coming together, either making each other “whole” or destroying each other due to their very incompleteness;

B) One complete person helping to complete the other incomplete one and being quite happy together OR eventually, the incomplete one might end up annoying the fuck out out of the complete one and they could end up going their separate ways;

C) Two complete people coming together, being indescribably happy together or ultimately ignoring each other and going their separate ways. LOL.

All marriages must fall into either one of these categories…For those who are married, where you at..Hmmm? I think the majority of marriages fall into the latter category of B).

And to those of you THINKING about getting married, THINK very very carefully before tying that knot…Because believe me, it’s one hell of a knot.

Movie Review

Last night, I was privileged to see the riveting female-powered film “MFA (the Best Revenge)” directed by Natalia Leite and written by Leah Mc Kendrick, who also played a supporting role. The  film stars the gorgeous Francesca Eastwood, love-child of Clint Eastwood and Frances Fisher, in her break-through performance.

Seeing as it has been a year promoting awareness of sexual assault on females, this film could not have been more timely or appropriate as it treats with the same theme.  A college student in the film, Francesca’s character Noelle is pursuing her MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree. She has the hots for a talented young stud in her class and he notices her too. On the encouragement of her friend, Skye, she wears something sexy and goes to a party that he has invited her to. The conversation is going well and they go up to his room. This is when things start to go awry. Her would-be suitor becomes uncontrollably aggressive and she is helpless against him.

She is left bruised not just physically but emotionally. The trauma of her sexual assault is too much to bear. She must tell someone. But her friend Skye discourages from doing so, saying that she would not be believed and only ridiculed. Noelle goes to see the campus therapist any way and it’s just as her friend described. She is made to feel like she’s the one to blame. She does some research and realizes that she is not alone. It has happened to so many before her and nothing is done about it. This shatters her inside. She decides to take matters into her own hands. If no one will do anything to stop the rapists, she will.

As cheesy as some parts were, this was a serious film that raised some serious questions. Why are women made to feel like by dressing or acting a certain way that they “asked for it”? Why is it ok to blame the victim and allow the perpetrators to get off lightly? What is really being done to stop the prevalence of rape, especially on school campuses? What if women really took justice into their own hands?

In the film, we also see that most rapes are committed by someone familiar to the victim so that it is easy to argue that it was “consensual”.  In the film, Skye’s character asks a poignant question, “Do you ever wish you could go back to the girl you were before the assault?”  It emphasizes that aside from their dignity, rape victims have had so much taken away from them, such as their sense of self and identity. After this horrid intrusion into their world, they have to live with deep trauma for the rest of their lives which is only exacerbated by the judgmental stance of others who wonder what role the woman played in her own rape.

For a horror-slasher film, this movie was of the more intelligent genre. The imagery was as bold and neon-bright as the pink wig worn by the female nemesis, the movie was fast-paced and the soundtrack was haunting. While murder should not be condoned except in cases of self-defence, at least this movie will make people sit up and take notice and perhaps see women with a newfound respect. And that’s a big achievement. Would I recommend? Hell yeah. Especially for males. 4 out of 5 stars 🙂

Anatomy of Sexual Harassment, Part 3

The Me Too movement was founded by youth activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago. On October 15th 2017, people were reminded of it when all grown-up “Who’s the Boss?” celebrity Alyssa Milano tweeted about it. “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” she posted.

Three days later, People magazine reported that #MeToo had been tweeted more than half a million times. According to CBS news, the posts have gained momentum beyond Twitter. On Facebook, there were more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions in less than 24 hours by 4.7 million users around the world. In the U.S. alone, Facebook said 45 percent of users have had friends who posted “me too.”

A similar social media trend emerged in 2014. “Yesallwomen” posts also had women talking about their experiences with sexual harassment and sexism. While Twitter had fewer users in 2014, this hashtag was tweeted 1.2 million times in four days.

So for those of you who were not aware, you should be by now, especially if you use social media. What about people who still remain clueless? How can we reach them? Maybe by example only. We are creatures of observation. We learn from those around us. If a certain behavior is considered “acceptable” by our peers and no retribution is forthcoming, such behavior is likely to continue. The enormity of the #Metoo campaign has forced men to stop and take stock of themselves. And this is the first step to recovery. Denial is a big part of the problem; ignorance is an even bigger part. Many men claim to NOT even realize they may have been doing something wrong. They are shocked. At themselves.

How did we get to this stage? What happened to the voice of our conscience or reason even? Clearly men have become desensitized if they do not notice a woman squirming, shifting her gaze or generally appearing uncomfortable when they make suggestive remarks. Maybe they do notice, but choose to ignore? From where did this sense of nonchalance and even entitlement creep in? Do some men actually think that women ENJOY being harassed? Or maybe some are not even sure what constitutes harassment? The topic raises many questions and debate is always good.

Many rape cases have been thrown out because the men involved claimed that it was “consensual sex” even when evidence of violence presents itself on the women. There’s the idea that some women actually enjoy acting out “rape fantasies”. Or maybe it was a set-up to make the man look bad? While all these are possible scenarios, they are in the vast minority. Also in the minority are the number of women who actually REPORT rape. Why? Because they fear further harassment and stigmatization by society precisely because of the minority theories presented previously. After being raped in body, who wants their mind to be raped as well? This increases the likelihood that rape reports are genuine because it’s just too much trouble to go through such cross-examination if you were faking it.

If EVERY woman who was abused, raped or sexually harassed admitted it, there would be no one left to say anything because we have ALL been victims in some form or the other. As a Fb friend of mine put it, men can walk casually down the streets whereas woman have to “navigate a complicated calculus of risks” every day. It is staggering and mind-boggling. Why can’t a woman walk down the streets with the same carefree attitude too? Why must she always look over her shoulder? That in itself, is a rape of the mind.

Aside from power, it has a lot to do with gender-bias and conditioning of males by society. Remember that feeling of “entitlement”? Until we get rid of that, sexual harassment will never go away. That, and the fact that mean need to learn how to keep their dick in their pants. Self-control is seriously lacking and sorely-needed by too many of the male species. Can we blame it on more aggressive hormones? I think not.

Men might have high sex drives but they are not animals who act base solely on instinct. As humans we are supposed to be gifted with higher reasoning and thought processes to weigh the consequences of our actions. And perhaps that’s the problem: thus far, there has been little to no consequences or retribution for the millions of cases of sexual assault that occur on a daily basis around the world. Other than a bit of embarrassment if found out, most men who are guilty of harassment go about their daily lives oblivious to the hurt they’ve cause women by their actions. Then, there are the real psychos who couldn’t care less about the pain they cause. CARING is the first requirement to change.

We cannot change someone who doesn’t care about how their actions impact others. So this #Metoo campaign has started a good thing by getting some men to actually CARE. I have seen various reactions. Some are quite mortified to think that they may have caused hurt to close female friends in their circle. Others become defensive and try to make it about them instead of the women, “We’ve been hurt too,” they write. Still, others are too ashamed to admit it. But SHAME is a good thing, too. When you lose your sense of shame, your conscience is next to go, followed by your humanity..

One thing is certain, AWARENESS is key.  As I’ve mentioned before, the trouble is that a high number of men claim to not be aware that they’re doing anything wrong. Perhaps they’re too embarrassed to admit it? Men seem to be generally confused creatures. After all, according to “the Body language project”, many women use flirtation even when they don’t mean it as a way to defuse a tense situation or just fit in with a group. Some women have low self-esteem and crave attention, hence low-cut cleavage-baring tops. Others cannot hide the fact that they have a sexy body because it shows no matter what she wears. So when can a man be sure that a woman wants him or that she’s trying to impress him? Well that’s where he would have to use his upper head for a change..

Male-female relationships are replete with many nuances which should be appreciated. At the end of the day, men should respect the fact that a woman has THE RIGHT TO CHANGE HER MIND. She may have started off all hot and heavy but then has second thoughts. That’s fine too. No amount of labeling, shaming, calling a “slut” or “cock-tease” is OK. It’s her body and if she decides she’s not ready, he should thaw off his blue balls elsewhere.

No amount of victim-blaming is ok either. To what extent should a woman be mindful of how she dresses and presents herself in public? If you are not her employer, you should not tell her how to dress. Women should have the freedom to EXPRESS THEMSELVES fashion-wise without being harassed. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to subdue my creative impulses to don a particular outfit then held back for “fear of what others might think”. Clothes are clothes, don’t use it as an excuse to harass a female. Look, but don’t touch. Admire, but keep it to yourself unless your opinion or advice is solicited.

At the end of the day, men must give up this sense of “ownership” or entitlement. No one “owns” another person, even when they are married. This might come as a shock to some but rape is possible even within marriage. People should retain the right to decide what they want to do with their bodies even while in a committed relationship. Men should realize that women respect a man more when he shows some self-restraint.

In the final analysis, men should allow women to just be themselves without fear of harassment. Why is that so hard to do? Sexual harassment is an invasion of space and freedom. It is also a form of imprisonment because it makes the victim self-conscious and prevents them from moving about freely.  It’s time we break these chains. #Metoo.