Friday, April 25, 2014

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve always been curious about that phrase. I know the basic meaning of it, which is pretty much “do what you said you would” or “prove that you are telling the truth”. Right? 

(I actually googled it just for kicks and I liked one of the responses I saw: "It means anybody can talk about it, but if you really mean it, put something of value on the line. Like placing a bet on who's right about whatever it is you're talking about at the time. Essentially, "prove it!" ". So says LindaPam on Yahoo Answers from 6 years ago.) 

Anyway, I was just thinking about that the other day and then my brain spiraled around to a different meaning for that phrase: what you put in your mouth (eating) is what you are paying for. I mean, “duh”, right? Obviously.

I found this on Pinterest and I was like "Yup, that's my brain"

My mind kept rolling this around and around, eventually landing on the conclusion that money equals support. We buy things because we like them and as a result, we support that company. It’s not what we usually think about when paying for something, but it’s true. I, however, have also done the opposite where I support a company because of what they believe in and therefore choose to purchase their product.

For example, I used to be a big supporter of Dove beauty products because of their commercials promoting loving your body in any shape or size. And I liked their two-in-one shampoo and conditioner because I’m lazy when it comes to washing my hair. ;) Or I used to be. These days, I don’t NOT support Dove, I just have other issues that I choose to support.

Since becoming vegan, I have been doing my best to switch my hair and beauty products to more animal and environmentally friendly products.  Let me tell you, as a person who likes routine and consistency, this has not been easy. Of course, it wasn’t an instantaneous event. I didn’t just dump all my hair products and makeup in a trash bag, throw it away, and then buy all new stuff. First of all, I can’t afford to do that. And secondly, I don’t believe in wasting. Ever. So it has been a slow process where whenever I ran out of something, I would just do my best to find something that fits my new needs and requirements.

Instead of Aquafresh toothpaste, I now use Tom’s of Maine, which I do like. As for my hair stuff, I have mostly turned to Lush Cosmetics, which is an AWESOME company that uses all natural ingredients without harsh chemicals, no animal products or testing, and they are also largely made by hand by a real person. Whenever I buy something, there’s a sticker that says “This product was made by so-and-so on (this date), best if used by (this date)”, and I like that fact that it expires. Things that are shelf-stable forever and ever and ever make me nervous. Like Twinkies.

Many of their products are also vegan. Yay! And there happens to be a shop in the mall right by my apartment, so if I ever do go to the mall these days (rarely), it’s usually there because I’m out of soap. The products I have come to love are:

I love Juicy Shampoo

 Veganese Conditioner

R&B Hair Moisturizer

This helps tame my frizz. Mostly. : )

And then I switch up which chunk of soap I buy once a month or so. 

They have a good variety and you just have to ask them to cut off as much as you need and you pay for it by weight. A 4 or 5 oz piece lasts me about a month. One product that REALLY didn’t work for me was solid shampoo. 

It’s one of the first things I tried at Lush, Jumping Juniper shampoo in the form of a bar, like soap. Supposedly, you can just lather it up and then work it into your hair, but I guess I just have too much hair because it never seemed clean enough. Now I use a liquid shampoo and it’s just perfect. Live and learn. : )

All of these products are expensive, compared to other brands, but even with my limited funds, it’s worth it to me. I use them very sparingly and make sure not to waste even the smallest sliver of soap. Just stick it to the new bar! : )

I want to support a company that helps a vegan lifestyle, fights animal testing and makes a real effort to be kind to the environment. These are things that have become important to me.

I’m sure some believe that I’ve just been “drinking the kool-aid” and followed in the footsteps of other “radical vegans”, but it just all makes sense to me now. I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. ;) But seriously, I’ve come to realize that we don’t HAVE to put animal products in beauty products to look good. We don’t HAVE to eat meat, dairy, and eggs to enjoy a meal. We don’t HAVE to wear leather or fur to be fashionable.

That gets me to my next point: things I can no longer support in good conscience.

Leather: I’ve never really been “fashionable” and I’ve really only come to understand what looks good on me within the last few years. I still generally choose jeans and a Graphic t-shirt on casual days, but one item that has stuck with me over the years is a black leather belt that I remember buying with my mom at Wilson Leather at the outlet mall in Park City at least 10 years ago. It’s still in amazing shape and it now serves as a reminder of my weight loss in reference to the number of holes I had to tighten it during that time. It also serves as a reminder that leather and cow hide is a huge business on its own, and not a “by-product” of the meat industry, as many people believe. The meat, dairy, and leather industries depend upon each other, which I didn’t fully see until I learned more as I did research when becoming vegan. Do I still own and wear that belt to this day? Yes. But like I’ve mentioned, I don’t like to waste, nor do I have the money to replace it, and I will never purchase another leather belt again. Also,I will just say that I don’t think I have ever owned anything with “real fur” so that never was a draw for me. Also, ew.

Milk and Cheese: I LOVE CHEESE. Honestly. This is still true, despite the fact that I haven’t eaten it in almost a year. Trust me, I know how hard it is to give it up. It was made a little easier when I noticed that it made me really sick almost every time I ate it. However, I didn’t stop eating it because I stopped liking it. So just keep that in mind when I say that you CAN live without cheese. I promise. Cow’s milk? I had stopped drinking it when I became vegetarian, actually. I discovered almond milk and never looked back! IT TASTES LIKE MELTED ICE CREAM. Especially the chocolate, which tastes like Rocky Road. No joke. There are really good cheese alternatives these days, too. I use them sparingly, but it does hit the spot sometimes. Milk comes from cows, obviously, but most people are severely undereducated when it comes to the realities of the dairy industry. We all would LOVE to believe that female “Happy” cows spend their time grazing in a grassy field and basking in the sunlight all day, only stopping to trot in to the big red barn to be milked by a loving farmer once a day to avoid their udders from bursting. It’s a pretty picture, I know. I really wish that were that easy. Maybe there are a few farms in the world that really are like that. I don’t know. 

My core issue with where milk comes from in reality is who it is intended for. Shockingly enough, it’s meant for baby cows. I know, right? Seems like common sense, but once again, we have come to believe that cows can just produce milk forever and ever and ever without it being pregnant and that they MUST be milked or they’ll be uncomfortable or burst or whatever.  That’s not how it works for mammals, is it? A female human only lactates when she has a baby to feed, right? Yes, lactation can be extended for longer periods of time, but eventually, the milk will stop. Cows are the same way. Bottom line: female cows are artificially inseminated (by hand, mind you. Ew.) resulting in milk for humans and a baby cow that is removed shortly after birth. Newborn females are given the same fate as their mothers and the males are sold for veal, kept in tiny crates, and only live a few months. Once the mother can no longer give enough milk, they are useless and are sent to slaughter. It’s the absolute truth. And as a female, the manipulation of the reproduction system, shackling and caging of such kind creatures, and the treatment of living beings like machinery really bothers me. I couldn’t do it anymore. I can’t support the dairy industry because I know it’s wrong.

Eggs: These were the last food item that I "gave up". Not because they were my favorite or anything, just because milk had made me sick and I stopped eating it because I actually don’t enjoy feeling yucky. I knew after that that eggs were next. It was a logical progression. I never loved eggs themselves, really. I would have scrambled eggs maybe twice a month and egg salad once every other month. As a baker, though, eggs are an integral part of the process. Or so I thought. The more research I did and the more recipes I found, I realized that there were other options. I like options. And also, I love to experiment in the kitchen and try new things. It’s been a challenge, but I am loving these new products and possibilities that I’ve found. For example, did you know that ground flax seed mixed with water can replace eggs in banana bread and other baked goods? Whaaaat. I know, that blew my mind. Also there is a product called Ener-G found in the baking section of the grocery store, it’s a powder that when mixed with water can also be used to replace eggs. It’s so awesome. I’m telling you, the possibilities are endless. 

As someone who was TRAINED as a baker to use eggs, milk, and butter, trust me: change is possible. My family was a little skeptical at first when I would bring a new experiment over, my dad sometimes asked if there was anything “weird” in it. And granted, I did put zucchini in brownies once. They were delicious! ; ) But for the most part, they love what I make now! Or at least willing to try it. Not every recipe or alteration works, but that is true of baking in general. It just takes a shift in thinking and a few new ingredients and voila! Vegan dessert. Amazing. Eggs were another thing that I never thought much about. I mean, chickens HAVE to lay eggs, right? They don’t have to die. Eh, well, yes and no. Out of all animals used in the food industry, egg laying chickens get the worst treatment. Crammed into tiny cages with up to 8 other chickens so they can’t spread their wings, beaks cut off so they don’t peck each other, their feet cut by standing on the wire bottom of the cage. Awful. And they live significantly shorter lives than nature intended because they become useless once they stop laying eggs. Another example of exploiting the female reproductive system. Nope. I no longer support the egg industry. Can’t do it.

Sorry, I couldn't stomach searching the google images
for a picture of meat. I'm pretty sure you can 
imagine it yourself. 

Meat: Obviously, I stopped eating meat when I became vegetarian almost 5 years ago. My vegetariAnniversary is coming up on May 3rd! Man, how time flies. And look! I’m still alive!! I’m sure many people are shocked that I found a way to live without meat, but it can be done, I assure you. : ) Once again, I didn’t stop eating eat because it didn’t taste good. It just wasn’t worth it anymore. I’ve already mentioned the fates of dairy cows, their babies and egg-laying chickens, but did you know they have genetically altered certain female chickens so they can’t even lay eggs? They are called “broilers”. Their sole purpose is to grow as large as possible, as quickly as possible, so they can produce large chicken breast and drumsticks and buffalo wings. That’s just crazy to me. The chickens grow so large and so quickly that their legs can’t even support them. It’s not natural. And pigs, wow. Have you ever heard of the term “gestation crate”? They are about the saddest, meanest contraptions ever. The pigs can’t even turn around in them and the larger they get, the less they can move so they end up just laying on their side for the rest of their lives. Only used for making more little piglets, exploitation of females seems to be the common factor. It’s not right. Clearly I haven’t supported the meat industry for years and I have never, ever regretted that decision.

There’s so much more to say, but I will leave it at that. I now know where I want to give my support. I hope you might give it some thought and consider where your money is going.

If you doubt anything that I have said above, you are welcome to watch this video below. Honestly, I have done so much research and reading that I don't have specific sources anymore. I've only stated what I know, but here is proof. It's tough to watch, but honestly? If you can't stomach these images, then there might be a reason for that. Think about it. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I've been thinking lately about my body. I know that sounds weird or conceited or....something. But I mean it in a good and healthy way. I think.

But seriously, there have been many things lately that have made me realize how much I can do with the body I have been given. Does it do everything I wish it could? No. But it does everything I need it to. And more than I even thought.

I don't think I'll ever be a runner. In my head, I'm a runner, but my body disagrees.

Ballerina? Gymnast? Figure skater? Probably not. I've pretty much let those things go. Except when it comes to Olympics season... *pines to wear glittery outfits*

Anyway. I've learned how much I put my body through lately.

Like hauling my butt all over England and Wales, along with too much luggage, on often sore feet every day for 2 weeks. And I loved every minute of it.

Like working 8-10 hour days on my feet every day after said trip while semi-jetlagged. Accomplishing that and catching up on everything was nothing short of a miracle.

Like doing repetitive motions all day for the sake of a fancy VIP dessert, leaving my already weakened hands and wrists feeling like aching limp noodles. They've recovered. Mostly.

Like pushing it to the limits with frequent yoga sessions, which I now love and crave.

Whew. And that was just in the last few weeks. My body was able to do all that and I am extremely grateful. I truly have been blessed and I am trying my best to keep that in mind in my lower points.

I can walk. I can run (sort of). I am perfectly capable of fulfilling all my duties at my rather physically-demanding job. I can hug my family whom I love. I can see, hear, sing, speak, smile, and I see now all these things are a gift.

One last, more sobering reason for my collection of thoughts. I was driving down the canyon late after work and yoga today when I saw at least 6 cop cars flashing their lights on either side of the canyon road. Next I saw the beige-ish 4-door sedan sitting on it's roof by the side of the road, broken glass scattered everywhere. I don't know if anyone was injured, but I suspect they may have been.

Not long after that, I turned off the canyon road toward 9000 s and as I approached the intersection at Wasatch Blvd, I saw a Silver pickup truck sitting in the middle of it. Then I saw the bicycle on its side in front of the truck and a half dozen people huddled around a figure on the ground. I suspect that  a bicyclist vs. Automobile accident had just occurred minutes before. The girl at the wheel was clearly sobbing and the police hadn't even arrived yet. Two lives changed forever in a split second.

Will the bicyclist ever walk or bike again? Will that girl live with the guilt the rest of her life? Can a person walk away from a roll over accident unscathed? I don't know if I'll ever get these answers. Thankfully, I was just a bystander, but it made me realize how fortunate I am.

Those affected by tragedy today will be in my prayers tonight. Count your blessings. I know I am.

Friday, January 31, 2014

It Can Be Done. Believe it.

I like to think that I'm capable of anything I set my mind to. My own insecurities and occasional negative mentality is what usually stops me. I'm trying to give myself more credit these days, though. I can do it. I just need a challenge. A little push.

I've proven my negative thoughts wrong on many occasions and I'm so glad that I have.

"I can't."

"I could never do that."

"I don't have the strength or the will power."

"I don't know how."

"What will others think of me?"

"What if I fail?"

So what if I do? So what if I fail? Not trying is so much worse because then I always wonder.

I'm more sure of what I'm capable of these days because I've tried. I've done well, I've done not-so-well, and in many ways I'm still learning and growing. But I just don't want to be too afraid to try anymore.

Do you ever tell yourself those things? Does it keep you from taking that step?

I hope not. I hope your inner self is kinder. And I want you to know that YOU can do it. It bums me out when awesome people say "I could never do that". Yes, you could. I KNOW you could. It may not be easy. It may take time. The result may not be what you expected, but a lot of times that's a good thing. You may surprise yourself.

I know I have.

I can write every day for a month just to prove that I can.

I can do yoga in public, not just in the privacy of my own living room.

I can go out and meet people who I might have dismissed in the past.

I can go to a foreign country for the first time. (England! 4 days!)

I can put myself out there and occasionally get shot down (still working on that one in a more recent manner).

I can let go of things that are good for things that are greater.

I've found things and projects and causes that are worth it.

I've discovered so much to be passionate about.

Make it matter. Let it in. It can be done.

Believe it.

More to come... (which will hopefully put this post in context)   :)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2014? Let's do this.

Yeah, yeah. It's been a while. My words, all of them, were being used elsewhere for the month of November, which I will explain later. And then the holidays and BAM. Here we are. January.

So. It's a new year and stuff. Pretty smooth transition, actually. My New Year's was pretty much uneventful, but eventful often tires me out, so that's okay with me.

Let's reflect, shall we? I vaguely remembered writing a blog post in early 2013 about some improvements and goals I had in mind for the year, so I read through it and....I kinda think I might have sort of accomplished them all in a way? Granted, there were only 5, but still. Here's how it went down:

1. Move out---->  Done! : )

2. Start my Own Business---> Done...ish. There is still a lot to take care of to make it official.

3. Accept Myself---> That's an ongoing project, but there has been significant progress this year.

4. Eat Healthier and Exercise Regularly----> I have actually done pretty well with this.

5. Letting Go---> Again, an ongoing project, but progress occurred.

I had forgotten all about that post, so I'm feeling pretty good about the progress I made. So let's do it again, huh? Here we go in no particular order.

  1. Finish my NaNo story (explained below).

  2. Get more serious about yoga, possibly including *GASP* doing it in public. Scary.

  3. Get more involved in my ward. Oy.

  4. Make a serious dent in my To Be Read pile. And attempt to not add to it. Heh. 

  5. Change my hair. Something different, just for fun. Haven't decided on what.

  6. Make my business official and kick it into high gear. 

  7. Take control of my finances. 


  9. Do something in regards to my dating life. Which may involve actually trying to meet people. 

 10. Simplify. Read "The Joy of Less" and get rid of unnecessary stuff.

Yeah, I decided to up the ante a bit. Trying to push myself a little more. : )

But seriously, looking back, I did a lot of things that I wasn't sure I could do in the last year. Here's a few of those things, some of which have been mentioned above but I'll elaborate a bit:

  -move out of my parents' house and move into my own apartment, which I LOVE. I've truly been able to make it my home. Even renewed my lease for another year.

  -discovered that dairy no longer loved me like I loved it and we finally parted ways, which led me to....

  -becoming fully awake, allowing compassion to be my guide, and became Vegan. Cheese really was the only thing in my way. I mentioned that I was leaning toward going vegan in my last year's resolution of eating healthier, but that darn cheese. Once it started to make me really sick, that was the push I needed. And you know what? I don't even miss cheese. Seriously. Really. I love love LOVE being vegan. One of my best decisions ever!

  -drove to Berkley, CA, with my younger sisters to see MUMFORD & SONS IN CONCERT!!! One of the best nights of my life! It was truly incredible and I can't even describe how great those 4 men are at playing music. Loooooove them.

Don't mind the photobomber. She asked for the pic
so I sent it to her. People are weird. 

  -went swimming in the ocean for the first time and then consequently got sand EVERYWHERE and ended up with quite possibly the worst sunburn of my life. Not awesome.

  -kept up with yoga, practicing just at home 3 or 4 times a week, and I've really improved. It feels SO good and I really notice a difference when I go a few days without. Related note, I was looking at yoga pins on Pinterest and poses to help a person do the splits caught my eye. That has never been my goal in yoga, but I recognized a lot of poses that I already do regularly. And you know what? I tried it. I can almost do the splits. WHAT. I have NEVER been able to do that. Ever. And that's without even trying. Whoop! : )

  -participated in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, aka NaNo. Meaning I wrote 50,000 words in the shape of a manuscript for a novel all in the month of November. It was pretty nuts and like I mentioned, it took ALL my words. No more words for blogging. But it was a great experience and proved to myself that I can do it, when pushed. I didn't finish my story, and honestly, I haven't written a word for it since the 30th of November. SO. MANY. WORDS. Wow. But I won! I did it! Proof:

  -bought a Christmas tree of my very own! I prefer real ones, although the vegan side of me wonders if it's wasteful. It smells amazing in my apartment, though! And the tree industry is actually sustainable, so. ; )

  -became more DIY and self-sustaining by doing things myself! Like making my own bread, pan spray, and almond milk, also buying in bulk and cooking at home 95% of the time to save money. I'm also trying to grow a balcony garden, although my avocado and celery plants are currently living inside right now cause it's friggin' FREEZING outside.

Left is celery, right is avocado. 

  -tried so many new foods, it's insane! Many people think being vegan is limiting, but it's really not. You just have to get a little more creative, and I love a challenge! : )

  -plan a trip to ENGLAND AND WALES that is happening in exactly a month!! A few more details to secure, but my passport is on its way! YES!! I'm so stoked. :D

Well, it's getting late and I'm starting to lose my train of thought, so I better wrap it up. Turns out 2013 was a pretty great year for me. A lot of growth and learning.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I'm having a Skinny Day today, people. Glory Hallelujah!!!! These days are so few and far between that I felt I should document it before the feeling subsides. I think most people (or girls anyway) know exactly what I'm talking about, but in case there are some rare people who have nothing BUT skinny days and therefore cannot sympathize, I will explain.

In my experience, a Skinny Day (or whatever you want to call it) is a glorious, uncommon, incredible day where you just feel.....awesome. Confident. Beautiful. Thin. Happy. Your clothes fit the way you want them, you like your outfit, the small annoyances you have about yourself disappear....It's an amazing feeling. You feel like you can conquer the world!

It's also a really weird feeling. Partly because it can be so rare that you kinda forget it can happen, and also because you think, "Why was I so hard in myself yesterday?" and "Why can't I feel like this all the time?" I don't know why. All I know is that my self-confidence and self-image fluctuates all the time. 

That's not to say that I almost ALWAYS feel not confident or whatever. As I've grown up and become more comfortable in my own skin, the good days have become more frequent than bad. I still can't completely silence that voice in the back of my head saying that I just can't ever look like those other girls. Comparison is horrible, but we all do it. And the media lies to us constantly. Literally. Have you seen those videos about the reality of photo shop? Awful. NO ONE actually looks like that. Even the models. And I don't think the "fitspiration" on Pinterest helps one bit. I don't need to see frequent pictures of girls' abs and butts. Seriously. But I digress...

Anyway, this post isn't me fishing for compliments or whining about my looks. I just wanted to be honest because I think so often we feel the need to put on a facade that we have it all together. We never feel bad about ourselves, never feel overwhelmed or sad or lost. But we do. And trying to hide it just makes it worse some times. And it's exhausting. So all we can do is support each other, lift each other up and know that good days are ahead. Always. 

I don't know why today was so awesome.  I had the day off work, so that always helps. ; ) Maybe I was channeling some Veronica Mars amazing-ness from wearing my awesome new t-shirt. :D Truthfully, I have lost a little weight. One of the many benefits of being Vegan. ; ) But that doesn't account for feeling like a busted can of biscuits (my dads term) yesterday or last week but awesomely great today. Our personal perception is so weird. I don't know. I probably don't look much different from yesterday or last week. I just need to hold on to this feeling, knowing that THIS is what I really look like. Those other days, the bad days, are full of lies. Remember that. I know I sure need to. 

Photographic evidence for posterity. Gotta post it before I change my mind: 

          Slightly blurry bathroom selfie! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lost Between the Pages

I really need this t-shirt. But not in black.

My junior year of high school,  part way through the semester, I became the TA for one of my math teacher's classes. I don't remember the circumstances of how that happened, only that it did. I would grade quizzes and file stuff. Whatever. But one particular day, she didn't have anything for me to do. So I pulled out a book, which I always have with me and I still do to this day, and I read. For almost 2 hours. In high school, we only had 4 classes per day, alternating which classes each day. It made for VERY long class periods. But in this case, I was grateful. I was completely immersed in the story and with no distractions (I may have had headphones in so I wasn't bothered by the lesson that I didn't care about), I was in deep. I wasn't reading the words on the page, I was seeing it in my mind clear as can be. I remember that feeling, but oddly, I don't remember what book it was. I read over a hundred pages or so. And then I was jarred back to reality by a rude school bell. I closed my book, gathered my things, and flowed into the hallway with my fellow students. 

But then...I realized I didn't know where I was supposed to be going. No idea what my next class was. I didn't even recall what day of the week it was to know which set of classes I had that day. It was....strange. I was still so caught up in the world I had just been in. The one of which I was reading. My body was going through the motions of heading to another mundane class (which ever one it was), but my mind still resided with the characters on the page. It was bizarre. And it only lasted a minute or two. I did eventually remember what day it was, and the corresponding class my feet directed me to. But to this day, I still remember that feeling. That total sense of getting hopelessly lost between the pages. 

It hasn't happened since, that feeling of losing touch with reality so fully because of a book. But I do occasionally find a story that I can hardly bear to put down. One that I want to dive into fully, allow myself to be swallowed whole. I have to know what happens next. I have to get to the end, although  saying good bye to these characters I know will be painful. This it what non-readers don't understand. And it is why I don't understand those people who don't read. I need books. I crave them. I have too many and I still buy more. No regrets (except when I move). I just can't get enough.

I have found such a book as I described above. Half way through it in 24 hours. I can't help but devour it, although I try to tell myself to take it slow. It is "Every Day" by David Levithan. My first of his books, but certainly not my last. 

Here's a bit about it:

I wake up.
Immediately I have to figure out who I am. It’s not just the body—opening my eyes and discovering whether the skin on my arm is light or dark, whether my hair is long or short, whether I’m fat or thin, boy or girl, scarred or smooth. The body is the easiest thing to adjust to, if you’re used to waking up in a new one each morning. It’s the life, the context of the body, that can be hard to grasp.
Every day I am someone else. I am myself—I know I am myself—but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.

Right? Check it out. You'll thank me later. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Define. Understand. Acknowledge. Act.

I warned you. This first post of a serious nature is a difficult one. You can't get much more serious than the subject of rape. It's not easy to talk about, but I feel strongly impressed to shed some light on the subject. This also serves as a trigger warning, should anyone tragically be a victim of rape or sexual assault. Read on at your own discretion.

I have read about, heard about, and been a part of many discussions involving rape culture in the past few months and with each instance, I learn so much more. Things that I never thought about or had occurred to me. So I thought, maybe I'm not alone. Maybe if I share what I've learned, others could be informed and we could start to make a difference. Maybe we could put a stop to rape culture. So, here are some terms and definitions as *I* understand them. Here we go. 

Rape Culture:

Rape culture creates an environment where it's okay to rape. I know what you're thinking! "I would NEVER be a part of that!" And maybe you're right. I hope so. But in too many cases, people do so without even realizing it. Here is an excellent blog post on the subject of rape culture from one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale. Definitely worth a read. The next few terms will break it down a little more. Hopefully make it more clear how rape culture even occurs. 

Victim Blaming/Shaming:

If you heard about a girl in the news who was raped or sexually assaulted, what would be your first thoughts? Were they "Was she drinking?" or "What was she wearing?" or how about "Did she fight back?" ? If so, then you are contributing to rape culture. Any time when the victim is blamed because she wore a short skirt or had a little too much to drink, it becomes just a little bit easier for the rapist to get away with it. The more a girl is told that it was "her fault", the less likely it is that she will report it. And the person actually to blame gets off scott-free. And free to do it again. 

A lot of the information I gathered about rape culture, I have learned from the Steubenville, Ohio case that came to light last year. I'll be honest, I didn't know too much about the horrific ordeal that occurred last summer until the verdict came through in March. If you are not well aware, at an end-of-year high school party in June 2012, a young girl was raped and assaulted repeatedly at multiple parties by 2 high school football players after she passed out from drinking too much. And if that wasn't bad enough, the boys and other party goers took pictures and videos of the attacks and posted them on social media sites. The victim, still known as "Jane Doe", didn't even remember what had happened to her until she saw the videos and pictures. Her parents got involved and then the police were made aware. And you know what? The rapists didn't even think it was a problem until they found out their football coach wasn't going to be able to "sweep it under the rug". The whole town was under the influence of what I would call The Glorification of High School Athletes. It's a tight-knit, small town community that had a tendency to look the other way when it came to parties and underage drinking because of their "talent" at football. Reportedly, there were multiple parties that the victim was dragged to, literally, as seen in pictures, and we are supposed to believe that NONE of the parents or neighbors or police officers knew anything about these parties? Exactly. And even after the fact, the authorities had to bring in outside officials so there would be a fair trial. No one in that town wanted to send those two boys to prison for rape, despite the irrefutable evidence even supplied by THEMSELVES and their friends on social media websites. Also, texts from the boys to the victim asking her not to come forward and blaming her for their getting kicked off the football team. It's all just completely disgusting. 

But in the midst of all this, you know what happened? The victim was called a slut and a whore, she received horrible messages from people who actually knew who she was, even death threats. Does that seem fair to you? And she's not alone. There was a girl in Nova Scotia, Canada, who was threatened and taunted by her attackers and classmates after a photo of her rape was sent around the web. She was pushed so far, that she finally committed suicide. And guess what: her attackers have not been prosecuted. This is the kind of stuff that gives clear evidence that evil is real and present in this world. It all makes me physically sick. 

Let me state this once again: the more rape victim is blamed, the less likely she is to report it and get the help she needs. Put the blame where it belongs: on the rapist. 


"No means no." We've all heard that phrase. It's still true. If a girl says no, that should be the end of it. But apparently, that's not enough anymore. So, let's be more specific: "No means no. Also, the inability to say no because a person is unconscious or too inebriated DOES NOT MEAN YES." I truly wish that didn't need to be pointed out, but clearly, it does. Another  blog post from Shannon Hale on the subject of consent really hit the nail on the head. The best way to know for sure if the person you are hoping to be intimate with is to get an ENTHUSIASTIC YES. I like that. I mean, would you really want to have the most physical connection with someone who didn't even want to be with you? I personally wouldn't think so. And this quote from Shannon's blog said it best:

What are we worried about here? Yes is such a wonderful word! Don’t we want to hear that from our partner? Yes! Yes please. Don’t we want to be sure that our partner is as excited and willing as we are? Don’t we want there to be no doubt? Just imagine a world where all those entitled high school football players had parents who taught them "Consent is an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes." Imagine those frat boys one commentor mentioned, sitting on their porch chanting about raping women--if they instead had been repeatedly and lovingly taught that "Consent is an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes." Wouldn't everyone be better off embracing this ideal? Why fight this brilliant idea when there are so many more important things to fight? Like, say, rape?

john doe asks, “What if the two parties disagree on what it was? you need to get consent in writing now?”
Yes, do that. If you have to ask, then yes, yes, yes. Sounds like you’re walking a line, and one that can be horrifically devastatingly life changing and even life ending for many a victim. If you’re not sure if she’s consenting, then ask her to sign a consent form, a napkin, your belly--whatever. And then her consent (or non-consent) will be perfectly clear. You’ll protect yourself as well as your partner. Do that. Please.


YES. GET IT IN WRITING. Make it clear. No doubts. Err on the side of caution. Those who say that Jane Doe wasn't raped because she couldn't say no? You will one day have to explain yourself. And it won't be pretty. 

Lack of Education:

I grew up in a conservative, religious household. I was taught to respect my body and that no one had the right to touch me without my say-so. We even had the sing-along tapes called "The Safety Kids". I remember the lyrics to one in particular that I remember: "Stay outside of my line or I'll tell on you. There are some things that are mine alone." That's all I can remember right now, but it stuck with me. And there was, of course, the rather awkward Maturation Program in 5th grade which, honestly, I don't remember a whole lot about. I took health class in junior high, I think, and then again in high school. I remember learning the physical anatomy and protection. STDs. Probably something along the lines of "No means no." but barely more. Along with other stuff, like nutrition and exercise. 

The subject of sex was only a week or two long in the semester, I think. I live in a conservative state where basically, abstinence is taught. Period. So, we pretty much learned about our bodies, that we need to be careful, use protection, and wait for marriage. I'm not disputing that. I grew up that way and made it a decision of my own somewhere along the way, but not everyone had my upbringing. Not everyone is going to wait until they are emotionally prepared for sex and mature enough to handle the consequences. So what about them? They just forge ahead uneducated and hope for the best? What if it's forced upon you? What then? All you've been taught is that you shouldn't until you're married. Does that mean you've done something wrong? That you are now "damaged goods"? NO. You are not. 

Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her home at the age of 14 and sexually abuse for months on end, spoke of this subject not long ago. During a speech at Johns Hopkins, she explained why she didn't run away when so many thought she could have: she felt worthless and unwanted. Growing up in a home much like mine, she thought maybe her family wouldn't love her the same or want her back after what she had been through. One of her teachers even made the comparison that after sex you are a "piece of gum already chewed...who's going to want you after that?" She felt like she had no worth. Horrible. 

In light of that, I believe there needs to be a change. If not possible in school, then in our own homes. Lets talk about consent, and NOT JUST FOR THE GIRLS. The boys need to hear ALL of the information as well. Consent. Respect. The emotions involved. Consequences. Open dialogue. Sex can't just be this embarrassing, unspoken thing. It needs to be a conversation. Be open to questions.  

I asked my mom if I ever got "the talk" when I was younger, because I honestly didn't remember. She says I did at around 11 and was sad I didn't recall. I was probably embarrassed and cut the conversation early. I wish I would have been more willing to listen, because I know a lot of what I have learned about sex was NOT from my parents. More like tv, movies, books, overheard conversation at school, and the like. Not the best way to learn. Let's make sure the correct information is out there. 

Those teenagers in Steubenville who claim they didn't know what they witnessed that Summer night was wrong were CLEARLY not getting the right information. Or they were too afraid to say anything negative about or to these supposed football stars. As terrible as the situation is, I hope it opens the eyes and ears of those who haven't been informed. If they witness the violation of ANYONE, no matter what they've heard about him or her, what they had to drink, or anything, it's time to SPEAK UP. Speak for the victim, if they can't. If it doesn't look right or feel right, it probably is NOT right. Err on the side of caution. Speak up. 

What it means for men:

If we *were* to believe that women who have indeed been drinking, wear short skirts or low-cut tops, or have even been walking down a dark alley; all of these things that as women we are taught that we should "avoid" to not become a victim....what does that say about the men? If we are in one or even all of the situations listed above, then we're "asking for it" and any male person within the vicinity has no choice but to take advantage? Do men have no self control or respect toward women that if we are in a certain state, they have no choice? It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? I know PLENTY of good, decent, respectful men who would stand up for woman in need of help and do the right thing. So why are women continually told to cover up, don't drink too much, take self-defense classes and be aware of our surroundings? Are the men told to respect women, be a gentleman, and, I don't know, NOT RAPE??!? Seriously. If the blame is on the woman, the man is....blameless? She put herself in that situation so, really, there's nothing he could do BUT attack her. Disgusting.

Let's educate the boys. Drill it into their heads that girls are equals to be respected and protected, if need be. There are plenty of men who stand on our side and were taught right. Let's add more to that, shall we?

Some Good Progress:

There have been good advancements in getting to word out. In this article from Vancouver, they talk about a series of ads regarding sexual assault, encouraging men "Don't be that guy." The marketing tool has lowered sexual assaults by 10 percent. Can we get some of this in the United States? 

Get Help

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of rape, sexual assault, or harassment of any kind, go to or call 1-800-656-HOPE. Call 24/7, completely confidential. Talk to someone. Get help. Start the healing. 

Well, this post has taken forever to right and I'm emotionally exhausted. If you have read all of this and stuck with me, thank you so much. I know it's not easy to read, and definitely wasn't easy to write. But no more silence. It's time to shine a light into the darkness. Knowledge is power. There's more to be added, I'm sure, and I may add to it in the future, but I hope this cleared things up to those confused and gave you something to think about. I hope you'll share and talk about this. Chances are, you know someone who has been affected by rape or sexual assault. Even if you don't know it. Add your voice. You never know who could be listening and needs so badly to hear it.