The Things I carry

Carry

Women all over the world carry objects, purses, keys, water bottles, pepper spray, knives, tasers, and even concealed weapons for self-defense. We also go to and from places in groups, we “dress accordingly”, we mind our manners, and we even avoid certain events or areas, such as Greek-row at night, just to feel safe. I walk two blocks to my car after work, and I always try to be on the phone, or carry something that I am mentally prepared to fight back with. It’s a scary world we live in and even in the nicest neighborhood anything could happen. Furthermore, statistically speaking, anything is more likely to happen to women, regardless of our measures so what can we do?

Frankly, we shouldn’t have to do anything. Robbers, attackers and rapists don’t care who you are. If they target you, you are a target, there is no getting around that. However, there are measures we as women can take to defend ourselves, and though we shouldn’t have to, it’s better to know how to do it and not need it than to need that information and not know it.

From a young age I was taught how to box. My Dad is a large man, a gentle giant, and he thought that around age twelve, that I should learn how to defend myself in some way. You know when I began to go out on my own around the neighborhood, when I started hanging out with boys, and pre-emptive puberty was beginning to rear its head. It was fun, it was great exercise and I loved spending that time with my Dad. Then, there were times though he would get really serious he told me, “Hit them, make noise, and try to run away. Aim for center mass, (Groin, stomach, throat, head, nose, eyes, ribs) and, if you can’t run you keep hitting them until they can’t hurt you,” I asked him what he meant by that. He looked at me his tone getting stern, “Boug, if someone pins you and want’s to hurt you, you knock them unconscious. That might not work though, if they’re going to get up and try to hurt you before you can get away you hit them and don’t stop hitting them until they can’t. If someone wants to hurt you and you can’t get away, you try to kill them,” That stuck with me, and the boxing with my Dad suddenly became something else. As an adult this is a terrifying concept, and as a kid I couldn’t put it into words. I couldn’t fathom fighting someone off yet alone killing them. Taking a life? What did that mean?

Now that I’m older, I still don’t know that I could it. I certainly don’t want to but if someone wanted to hurt me, what could I do?

My Dad is not a violent man. My Dad has always been my safe space and protector. He fears for me on a level I am still only beginning to understand and in this world we live in I finally understand his point.

Unconscious people wake up, men fight through tasers and pepper spray, law enforcement of any kind is trained to do that, and then what? Most of the time they’re that much angrier. So how do we fight back? How do we learn?

When I was eighteen, I chose to take self-defense classes. These classes are offered at certain gyms, and on campus. It was empowering, and our class had primarily women students. I taught some of the basics to my friends. I learned how to disarm someone. It brought me peace to know my own capability, but it still wasn’t as easy when my sparring partner was a man larger than me because I couldn’t get the same momentum and I had to learn to adjust.

In the moment I don’t know that I could adjust. I really don’t, and it terrifies me. I wish women didn’t live with this fear but we do and while I’m not going to say learn self-defense, that’s your choice, but it’s not a bad idea. Learn how to throw a punch, don’t be afraid of hitting, get down get dirty, be a nasty woman, be dangerous because we live in a dangerous world. Don’t do it for fear though. Do it for you. Bring yourself peace of mind, tell your friends in your groups, at bars, show them how to fight in short skirts and how to disable someone reaching for their hijab or other religious headcovering.

Studies have shown that most attackers/rapist are cowards, and if you can fight back and make noise even for a few minutes they will run away and that could save your life. Your life matters, what you do with it matters and if you can protect it for a few minutes you could save it yourself. If you don’t want to learn self-defense though, it’s not your fault. Let me repeat that. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT WHAT AN ATTACKER DOES OR DOES NOT DO TO YOU.

Even the most prepared women can still be hurt because, as much as they try, there will always be someone stronger, bigger and more prepared for the fight than they are. Self-defense training will not magically make you the best or more able, but it might just give you the leg up to get out of there and that’s all that really matters, and sometimes it’s as simple as hitting someone over the head with your metal water bottle.

Please stay safe. I hope you never need any of it. I wish we lived in a world where I felt I didn’t need it. Right now though we do, and I hope this helps inform you.

Advertisements

Remembering Katherine

By: Madeleine Clow

Katherine Groggett was not only a strong leader and a passionate learner, but she was a loving friend, family member, and a beautiful soul. I only personally knew Katherine briefly, but she left a glimmer of light in my life that I have so much more drive to sha-

IMG_1483.PNG
Katherine on her 20th birthday

re now, for her memory. Katherine came to the University of Idaho community as a freshman and new member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority Theta Tau chapter, where Katherine and I crossed paths.

 

Katherine was a junior at the University of Idaho, and studied dietetics, a nutrition science. She was incredibly dedicated to and passionate about dance, and had been most of her life.

42044381_1845852172177172_2339809882628161536_n.jpg
Katherine performing at a dance concert

She was a beautiful dancer with flawless technique and infallible talent. Katherine was currently in term as president of Tri Delta’s Theta Tau chapter, promoting to “steadfastly love one another” and support St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

 

Continue reading “Remembering Katherine”

¿Hablas Español? (Do You Speak Spanish?)

By Vicky Diloné

I am always proud to talk about my Hispanic heritage. I grew up watching my parents host salsa dancing parties at home, eating tacos de lengua and mangú, and spending a couple of summers in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. But there was one thing I did miss, the language. Like many first-generation Americans, I didn’t grow up speaking the language of my parent’s home countries. They would talk amongst themselves in Spanish but to my brother and I, they would speak mostly English with an occasional Spanish word thrown in.

I don’t blame them at all for this. Spanish was my brother’s first language. But when my mom took him to the pediatrician for a regular checkup, they told her he wasn’t hitting the markers for normal development, mainly in speech. You see, when they tried asking my brother questions he would only respond in Spanish. The doctor told her that he wouldn’t develop properly if they didn’t choose one language to teach him. It would confuse him and he wouldn’t learn either one. So following her doctor’s advice, she only spoke English to my brother and I. We now know that this is ridiculous. There have been a number of studies showing that being fluent in two languages can increase intelligence, even in young age. Continue reading “¿Hablas Español? (Do You Speak Spanish?)”

Girlfriend Limbo

coparenting3

What do you do when your partner has kids and you aren’t their stepmom? As a woman in this position, and mostly being me, I never asked myself this question because I never expected to be with someone who already had  kids. I never saw myself as a mother, especially not so young, and my age creates a difficulty in starting this conversation. I think it’s a conversation that needs to happen though.

Continue reading “Girlfriend Limbo”

Work Place Entrapment

Not asking for it

“I did work at a mall in college- I think working retail/customer service is one of the most hideous jobs in the world.” – Jayma Mays (Actress/Singer)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have in worked in retail since high school, in almost every capacity. While I made some great connections while working at those places, the job of putting on a happy face and trying to help everyone is exhausting. And what made it worse? Even after I was at my job for two years and was trained as a manager, no one believed I, a young woman, knew anything.

They would ask to speak with the department managers, or in a few cases, ask if there was a man they could speak to. Both men and women have done this and are probably doing it somewhere right now, much to my chagrin. Most of us are familiar with this narrative, but unless you’ve worked a service job or talked intimately with someone who has faced these issues, you can’t imagine how retail employees feel trapped. I think it’s high time to shed a little light on this.

Every retailer store I’ve worked at uses the classic model “the customer is always right”. That’s not a bad way to treat people who have gotten a bum product or have questions, but it is very seldom true. The customer is not always right.

Correcting customers in the wrong is like herding cats. They could just go with it, they might realize what you’re trying to do, but most of them will go their own way or may snap at you. This creates fear of the customer, especially when they change very quickly.

You’re probably thinking, but wait, isn’t the company supposed to protect employees? Can’t management handle these situations?

Companies, say they can and managers can only handle so much and most of them aren’t even prepared to handle situations. Training videos might describe and demonstrate how to handle a grumpy customer or when to get a manager, but every situation is unique and management just can’t always be there. This creates both a feeling of independence and one of isolation.

Now for the most part there is hope—grumpy customers usually just vent or go to Customer Service or can be handed off to a department. The problem I have faced as a woman is when primarily male customers start to get to friendly, flirt, ask out, or in a few cases make blatantly sexual advancements. In my case, I’m lucky none of them have gotten physical, but that is not always the case.

I worked with a girl, we’ll call her Gene. Gene worked in a clothing store, and she was helping a man find some pants. Management was in a meeting and while we all had our radios on, we all had different projects in a fairly large store. Gene helped the man even though she could “feel his eyes wandering.” They talked for a while, because in the world of retail you want to get to know your customers to help them. He started making comments, trying to flirt. Gene felt uncomfortable but was polite, trying to keep things professional. He took this politeness as an invitation to ask her out. She declined. He got very mad and started yelling all sorts of obscenities which I heard, and I rushed over to ask the man as politely as possible to leave. He called me and the other mostly female workers other obscenities, and then management escorted him out of the building.

Now if you’re wondering why Gene didn’t radio for back-up initially, let me remind you. In retail/customer service positions, politeness is key. Presentation is key. You cannot be rude to a customer unless it is a last resort, because bad behavior on your part reflects poorly on the store, and in many places can get you into trouble. We had a good management team but it’s hard to call for back-up when your customer is standing right there watching your every move. In some cases, it’s genuinely terrifying. So radioing for back-up vaguely usually results in “What do you need?” “Is it a question I can answer?”, and when you don’t have a radio, you can’t just hand a customer off to someone else in the same way at all.

I can tell you that after this, we developed phrases, we had signals, and for a while we tried to help customers in pairs because it was so scary. There is no one you protect more than your friends at work, because they really do become your family.

The worst thing is though, while not to this extreme those little microaggressions that have made me as a woman uncomfortable happen every day, and retail workers have to put up with them. Eyes will look everywhere they shouldn’t, people will get asked if they have significant others, what they’re doing later, when they get off, etc. Certain regulars will pick you and go only through your line and say “See you later” in an all-too-familiar tone. The worst things that happened to me were verbal, but I refused to interact with those customers again, and I told my management so. Did I still have to interact with them if there was no one else around? Yes. Did I plan my quickest escape route as soon as I registered they were in the store? Yes. Did I smile and do my job despite my skin crawling? Yes.

Is politeness while someone working a reason to flirt with that person?

No, it is not. It never is. They’re doing their jobs and their job should not include compromising themselves so that you leave happy.

Or at least that’s what every retail handbook says.

Las Niñas del Buen Pastor (The Girls of Buen Pastor)

chapel
The internado sits behind the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Vicky Diloné

I first came to UI in 2016. I was here for a semester and doing well academically but I was struggling with anxiety. After talking with my parents, it was decided I would go live with them in Mexico. It was a decision I wasn’t all too excited about, but I came to be grateful for the opportunities it gave me. I found myself in my mom’s home state of Guanajuato and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I was taking Spanish classes (a story that deserves its own post) and exploring the state’s beautiful capital city. But I wasn’t feeling all that productive. I wanted to do something meaningful so that I wouldn’t feel bad for leaving university. I was prideful and the cure for pride is humility.

That is when I found out about the Convento del Buen Pastor (Convent of the Good Shepherd), and I immediately knew I wanted to volunteer my time with them. Though their website hadn’t been updated since 2011, others confirmed that it was still open, and I was able to talk with the social worker on the phone. Buen Pastor is a church-run  and state-sponsored foster home for girls and a women’s shelter that supports those in and outside of the state. The website describes their mission: Continue reading “Las Niñas del Buen Pastor (The Girls of Buen Pastor)”

Remington: The Beginning

Author of article stands in pink shirt leaning on golf club at a driving range
A photo of Remington Jensen, the top PGA prospect of the 21st century

By Remington Jensen

To whom it may concern,

Hello, I am junior Journalism student at the University of Idaho with a minor focus in Creative Writing. The opportunity to write for the Women’s Center as a blogger was offered by a previous mentor, Lauren Westerfeld, who now teaches writing at Washington State University. I’m a column writer for the Arts and Culture section at the Argonaut in Moscow who decided to pursue a career possibility like this writing internship because I have been a strong advocate for women’s rights and equality for a significant portion of my life. I also want to provide an apt minded male’s perspective to issues like non-binary gender disproportionality and inequality in a changing era that alludes towards an overdue female renaissance.

Aside from being a passionate writer in the non-fiction and poetic fields, my life revolves around my music intake. Bands like Radiohead or lyricists like Phil Elverum — lead creator from the Microphones, Mount Eerie — have prompted me to take writing into the commonly overlooked coincidental reality I am in by promoting me to focus on similes, metaphors and abstract sarcastic prose writing that — I hope — has rarely been attempted before. Although music is my central focus, I enjoy authors like Chuck Klosterman and Kurt Vonnegut and enjoy the films of David Lynch and Terry Gilliam. I DJ at the Moscow-based radio station KUOI on a weekly basis and I am a non-fiction previewer/reader for the University of Idaho founded Fugue Journal.

In addition to the experience this internship will provide me, I hope to come out of it a more culturally aware and observant person. I wish to promote the lives of my fellow XXs and remind my XY brethren that respecting women in 2018 is an underrated quality to have. I want to change thinking processes, adjust the scope of masculinity and fixate more on the power of inclusion of all kinds rather than the exclusion that is so vehemently loved by extreme thinkers such the alt-right. I wish for enjoyable peace, a decrease in global disruption and a place of mind devoid of bias that avidly encourages forward and critical thinking.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King
-RJ