Rape Culture in High School

(After a few months, I’m back writing. No More Distractions.)

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(Source – Google)
rape cul·ture
noun
noun: rape culture
  1. a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.
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About a week ago, I was told by a friend that one of our old classmates had just been charged with sexual assault. Sadly I saw it coming. Things like this happened too often at my old school. But no one ever did anything about it. Too many people in my school had sexist views. They believed things like, “A woman should dress the way she wants to be approached.”, or “Only certain women are worthy of respect.”. There was a lot more said and believe me: It was a lot more vulgar. Boys would grope random girls in the hallway and everyone would laugh, including me. We thought this type of behavior was okay. Being grabbed in the hall by a stranger was uncomfortable, but I always let it slide. I was a naive and insecure girl, so I was just happy to have their attention. I knew it wasn’t right, I wasn’t going to say anything though.

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Around tenth grade, rumors started to fly about me. People started to accuse me of sleeping around, being easy, being a ho- You get the point. The thing is I was a virgin. I had never even had sex. That’s when I started attracting the attention of the football team. Football players started believing it was okay to grope me and bluntly ask me to do obscene things with them. They would call me names in the middle of the hallway and talk about what they heard about me. I didn’t do anything about it though. I ignored it even though it bothered me a lot. It slowly stopped as the years went by, but it still makes me angry when I think about it. It was sexual harassment. I was a victim of rape during my senior year. I prefer not to get into detail about it. It still affects me and I have not received treatment for it yet.

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At my school it was “cool” to expose girls. Expose as in guys would record themselves having sex with a girl or save their nudes, then they would pass it around to their friends or put it on social media. This is actually considered a crime. As far as I know, no one at my school ever got into serious trouble for it. The girl would become a laughing stock for a few weeks. She would have a bad reputation at school because words spread fast. I used to laugh and joke about this type of stuff to my friends. But, it wasn’t funny at all. I imagine how the girls must’ve felt. The embarrassment and betrayal. They were probably scared to report it.

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If only we were taught in school about sexual harassment and sexual assault. If only we were taught that everyone is deserving of respect, no matter how they dressed or how “pure” we believe them to be. If only we had sexual education classes in school where everyone could have learned what consent was. I wish I could go back and report every single thing that happened to me. But at the same time I don’t want to go back, those were painful times for me. One thing I can do now is discuss rape culture with my peers and younger generations to keep this dangerous cycle from continuing.

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The Election of Donald Trump

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I am truly disgusted with America right now. How could anyone vote for this sorry excuse for a human being? This man is racist, xenophobic, and sexist. He has no respect for women and brags about forcing himself on them. He called Mexicans rapists and wants to deport them all. He made fun of a disabled man. He tells his supporters that the immigrants are stealing everyone’s jobs. He also refers to black people as “The African Americans” and tells us that we have nothing to lose. The list of disgusting comments Trump has made is endless. This is the person who the majority of voters deemed fit to be the leader of the United States? A reality star who is also a racist and a misogynist? Are you serious? This has to be a joke. But then again…the U.S. elected George W. Bush.

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America prides itself on being the land of justice and equality. Donald Trump represents none of that. The fact that people support him scares me. Watching his supporters cheering and screaming whenever he makes a bigoted statement is alarming. I knew racism still existed and I understand that it will probably never go away. But seeing the majority of Americans vote a racist into office is frightening. It proves that there are plenty of people in the country that share his views. I don’t know what to expect when Trump gets into office. I don’t know what to expect now that he has been elected. I fear for the safety of Muslims. I fear for the safety of women. I fear for the safety of Latinos. I fear for the safety of the LGBT community. I fear for the safety of African Americans. I fear for the safety of my family and friends, who are all people of color. Some are Muslim. Some are apart of the LGBT community. Most of them are African American. It broke my heart seeing the panic in my mother’s face, when we saw that Trump was winning.

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Besides him being a bigot, he is also unqualified to be a politician. This man has no experience in politics. He has no idea how to run a country. Trump is a reality TV star. A businessman? Eh…I guess you could call him that. He is the heir to his father’s construction firm and real estate. It’s still up and running, I’ll give him that. But running a business is nothing like running a country. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. There is a HUGE difference. I’m really worried about the future of this country. I feel like this country as a whole took a few steps forward when Obama was elected. But, we took giant steps backward when Trump was elected President of the United States.

 

 

The Hypersexualization of Black Women

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(Before you read: I am aware that women in general are sexualized from a very young age. But this discusses the experiences of black women.)

When they announced that the new Iron Man would be a black, teenage girl, I was excited. I was excited, until I saw the new art for Riri Williams. She is now a few shades lighter. and her hair is no longer kinky. Riri’s crop top is shorter, her pants are lower, and her waist is now defined. While I was upset that her skin was lightened (I will discuss this in another post), I was also upset by the way she was dressed. It’s actually quite disturbing the way they made a fifteen year old girl look. She was inspired by Skai Jackson, a fourteen year old actress. Is that how fourteen year old black girls are seen? Seeing this art, reminded me of how black women’s bodies are hypersexualized in the media. And what we see in the media, becomes apart of our daily lives.

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The hypersexualization of our bodies goes way back. During slavery, black women were stereotyped as being “promiscuous” to justify the sexual abuse they endured from their slave masters. The slave masters weren’t held at fault for raping these women. The women were blamed for “seducing” and “tempting” them.  This is where the Jezebel stereotype originates from.la_belle_hottentot

In the 1800’s, there was a Khoisan woman named Saartjie Baartman who was famous for her large buttocks. She was paraded around Europe and used as an attraction at freak shows. She was called the “Hottentot Venus”.  When she died, a plaster cast was made of her body. Her genitals, brain, and skeleton were also put on display. She was treated like an object. Her body was disrespected. It was if her body didn’t belong to her, and it belonged to the public.

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I grew up during the era of hip hop where every music video had video vixens in it. I saw curvy, black women dancing around half-naked like props in rap videos. I still see this in rap videos now. These videos cater to the male audience, to what men want to see. Some people actually believe this is an accurate portrayal of black women. We’re just video vixens. We only serve one purpose: To please men.

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When I was around sixteen years old, my body started developing. My breasts were bigger and so was my butt. My body was garnering attention from men and women. I’ve been groped multiple times by boys at school, even by some girls. Some strangers have even been bold enough to grab my butt.  People would make comments about my body. My lips were described as “DSL”. Other students would assume that I was sexually active just because of the size of my butt.  I had often been told that I was dressing “slutty” and being “fast” because of the way my clothes fit. As if I had any control over how my body looked. Men have honked their car horns at me, shouted vulgar things about me, and even followed me. No one cared that I was underage. No one cared that I was uncomfortable. I didn’t have a say in it.

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Many black women have heard the ignorant statement, “Black women better watch out! White girls are catching up!”or “White girls getting butts now too!”.  It insinuates that the only thing that we have is our bodies. That our bodies is all our worth. It honestly disgusts me.  These negative images and messages can be damaging to one’s self-esteem. We are not just our bodies. Our self-worth does not comes from how our bodies are viewed. It comes from within.

What “Carefree Black Girl” means to me

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I would like to explain how important being a carefree black girl is to me. The Carefree Black Girl Movement encourages black women to be themselves. It encourages us to love our kinks, our noses, our lips, our bodies. It encourages us to love our personalities, the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we dress. It encourages us to love and support other black women. We can rise above the negative images that the media attempts to instill in our heads. We are not angry black women. We are not Jezebels. We are not mammies. We are not baby mamas. We are not welfare queens.  We are women. We are human.

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When I was in middle school, I began to love classic rock. I would listen to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, etc. I kept it private like it was something to be ashamed of. I didn’t want to seem weird to my classmates. I thought that it was only normal for black people to listen to r&b and hip hop. I thought that there was a certain way to be black. I perpetuated stereotypes of my own race. I grew up being told that I acted like a white girl. Other black kids would tell me I talked “white”. They would tell me that I dressed “white”. That I danced like a white person. I used to think that I wasn’t black enough. I believed that there was only one way to be black. Instead of talking the way I normally talked, I would try to mimic the way the “cool” kids talked. I thought I was “lame” because I couldn’t afford to buy Jordan shoes, Nike jackets, and Michael Kors purses. This lasted throughout middle school and high school until senior year.

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Senior year was when I noticed the carefree black girl movement. I saw black women who weren’t afraid to be who they are. They dressed the way they wanted. They talked the way they wanted. They danced the way they wanted and listened to whatever music they wanted to. It inspired me. It made me realize there’s nothing wrong with who I am. I am a black woman. I don’t have to change myself to prove that. I like to wear my hair natural. I like to  wear braids and weaves. I buy clothes that I like, not what everyone else likes.  Sometimes I dance offbeat and awkwardly. Sometimes I twerk and Milly Rock. I listen to different music genres. A little pop. A little classic rock. A lot of hip hop and r&b. I think of myself as quirky. I’m also feisty and bossy. But, I’m still a caring and sensitive person too. I feel that the carefree black girl movement is about being unapologetic. It’s about destroying the ideas of what a black woman is “supposed” to be. Yes, we are still affected by racism, sexism, and many other things that affect us personally. But we won’t let that stop us from being proud. Stereotypes and labels won’t bring us down. We love each other and we love who we are. We will not be shamed for using slang. We will not be shamed for talking “proper”. We will wear our clothes the way we want. We will wear our hair the way we want. We will dance anyway we want. We can be bossy. We can be loud. We can be shy. We can be eccentric. We will be ourselves and we won’t be apologizing for it.

 

 

Understanding Cultural Appropriation Part 1: Black Hair

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Reminder: This is about Understanding Cultural Appropriation. If you’ve already made up your mind that cultural appropriation is ridiculous and absurd, then this post isn’t for you. But if you are actually interested in understanding what cultural appropriation means and wondering why it is such an important topic, then keep reading.

The definition of cultural appropriation according to  racerelations.about.com is: “cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups — often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions.”

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Starting at a very young age, black kids, black girls especially are taught that straight hair is better. We are taught that the closer our hair is to being straight, the prettier it is. No this isn’t made up. No this isn’t an exaggeration. As a little girl, all I saw on television were women with long, straight hair. So I would often envision myself as a woman with hair like that. It was rare to see a black woman with an afro, braids, or dreadlocks. I saw women with curly and wavy hair, but never kinky. I was being brainwashed to think that my hair wasn’t beautiful. There were often advertisements on television and in magazines about perms and weaves. To this day I remember the “Just for Me” perm kits that were made for little black girls like me to have straight, “pretty” hair. I remember having my hair blow dried and pressed every Sunday before I went to school. I remember the girls at my school whose hair was silky straight. I would get upset and wonder why my hair didn’t look like that. Girls in my class would ask me, “Why don’t you straighten your hair? Why don’t you get a perm?” I would go home to my mom and beg her to let me wear my hair like the girls at school. I would beg my parents to let me put a weave in my hair because anything was better than having nappy hair. I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with cultural appropriation. Believe me, it has ALOT to do with it. See this is what is called Cultural Assimilation. The definition of Cultural Assimilation according to medicaldictionary.com is: “A process by which members of an ethnic minority group lose cultural characteristics that distinguish them from the dominant cultural group or take on the cultural characteristics of each group.” Many people wonder why black women wear straight hair. Well some of them like their hair that way, and that’s fine. But, there are some black women that may feel that they have to wear it. That belief has been instilled in them since they were little girls.

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Now how do you think it feels to see the hair that was deemed unruly, unattractive, unkempt, and wild on you – being praised when its on someone else? It’s ugly when it’s on me, but when they wear it, it’s sexy? Not only is it now sexy, it is has a whole new name, and it is credited to someone else. Cornrows become boxer braids, and Kim Kardashian somehow is the inventor of it. Bantu knots are now twisted mini buns. It’s no longer a wild hairstyle, its high fashion. Baby hairs are now slicked down, gelled hair. And guess who invented it: High Fashion. Something that’s been in black culture for decades belongs to high fashion after discovering it thirty years later. Something we have been shamed for is suddenly beautiful because black people aren’t the ones wearing it ? And don’t tell me that it’s just hair. It isn’t just hair. It’s apart of a culture. It’s apart of a culture with a painful history behind it. So don’t you dare tell me it’s just hair. I find that to be a disrespectful statement.

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We still live in a day and age where black women are being told they can’t wear their natural hair in workplaces and schools. Recently, the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it is not a form of racial discrimination to ban an employee from wearing dreadlocks. In South Africa, at the Pretoria High School for girls, the school’s code of conduct bans girls from wearing their hair in cornrows or dreadlocks. In 2016, black people are still being told that their hair is not good enough. Which brings us back to cultural assimilation. We can’t wear our hair natural if we want to keep a job. We can’t even wear our hair natural to go to school. This completes part one of understanding cultural appropriation.

Welcome to The Unorthodox Doll

This blog discusses a variety of different topics. I’ll talk about social justice, empowerment, mental health, etc. I will try to post as much as I can. I am still trying to improve my writing so please forgive me if there are flaws. I started this blog when I realized I had many strong opinions and really wanted to share them with the world. I have a love for writing so I knew a blog would be the best option for me. Writing relaxes me and I feel it’s the best way to express myself. Sometimes I feel like writing is the only way I can express myself. I consider myself to be a shy person, so I’m not always comfortable talking face to face. Writing provides me with a way to speak without feeling uncomfortable. When I write I feel confident. I feel strong. I feel fearless. I feel like that just writing this introduction post.