Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Brief Respite from the Hermit Life

This week featured (uncharacteristically for me) an active social life.  It’s not quite winter yet, which is when I prefer to cocoon in my little house with my creatures thanks to the grey days and hockey nights.  In the fall I’m still willing to venture out into the world and actually DO THINGS and TALK TO PEOPLE!!  This past Friday, I took a late-afternoon off-peak Long Island Railroad journey (so much more civilized than peak rush hour times) to meet my good friend Carl, who was in NYC visiting from Sweden for a long weekend with his new girlfriend.  Our visit was entirely too short, but we enjoyed some quality time together.  First, Carl and I caught up over outdoor adult beverages at a pop-up “beer garden” on Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets.  (Waiting for Carl to arrive, I found an empty metal chair at the intersection of Broadway and 40th Street – literally in the middle of the street! – and sat there for a few minutes with a small smile on my face, feeling a bit like Buddha at the crossroads observing the world.)  Later, with his new lady friend Jessica and her charming ex-pat pal Ife, we made our way west to an open-house at an art studio where up-and-coming artists literally sat in their studios and welcomed visitors, happy to discuss their work and, in the case of Jessica, negotiate prices for purchase.  I don’t know if she was serious about buying the actual art; she has just started a new career as a real estate developer with an eye for design, so it’s conceivable that she was feeling a bit like a “connoisseur” in NYC for a weekend of fine art shopping!  It was certainly a fun few hours. I felt like I had known Jessica and Ife for years.

Then, on Sunday, I had a double-dose of entertainment – first, at a fantastic performance by Four Way Street, a CSNY cover band featuring a recently discovered high school chum who is a talented musician (as he had been even in high school).  My buddy Beanie came with me, and we enjoyed a 45 minute set (again, too short!) of gorgeous harmonies and toe-tapping sing-alongs at the Long Beach Public Library as part of the annual Long Beach Roxx music festival.  The folding chairs in the library auditorium had flexible backs so you could actually rock in your seat!  Then I raced to drop Beanie off at her mom’s and headed to the Third Annual Posh Pets Gala, a fund-raising event for my favorite animal rescue organization, where I had a delicious lunch and chatted with some of my friends from the shelter, all dressed up for the occasion.

It’s funny to me how I’ve changed over the years.  I used to be a social being, constantly surrounded by a rotating cast of beloved friends.  I’m not sure when I became such a hermit.  It might have been when I moved to Long Beach, which is in some ways a very close-knit community, especially in the neighborhood where I live.  (What used to be called in real estate jargon “the Trendy West End” has, post-Sandy, undergone a not-so-welcome transformation, with huge three-story monstrosities replacing the bungalows on the tiny, close-set lots.  While it certainly makes sense from a flood-mitigation perspective, the character of the neighborhood has been entirely altered.)  But apart from the shelter, where I started volunteering in 2012, I just haven’t managed to find a community here.  (See “Friend Zone”, 6/17/15.)

In some ways, my hermit lifestyle has become like a comfortable old blanket, protecting me from the hazards of humanity.  (Another benefit of my home-hibernating is that there is no need whatsoever for me to care what I’m wearing.  I rock a full-on ragamuffin mode most days: oversize black quilted coat, baggy old jersey pants that once belonged to my mother, man boots, Rangers cap, and a ratty-looking mismatched scarf.  Taken as a whole, it’s become my actual personal style!  Not a style that anyone would want to emulate, admittedly, but it works for me.  It’s clean and it’s comfortable, above all else.  I’m all about the comfort.)

All of my friends are wonderful people (I probably wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t!), but there’s another dynamic at play when you put yourself out into the world:  interactions with the opposite sex that have the potential to turn into dangerous liaisons.  Among circles of friends, groups and parties – isn’t that where most romantic relationships begin?  (And, more nefariously, isn’t that where affairs start?)  Is there flirting going on?  I never did that very well, but it wasn’t unheard of for me to be, at some points in my life, “sexually playful” at parties, especially when lubricated with liquor and other inhibition-removers.  These are foreign concepts to me these days, and have been for some time.  I don’t even remember what it feels like to be “sexually playful”.  After what I confess was a highly active libidinous life in my teens and twenties, and then almost 10 years of being in a monogamous relationship, those desires seem to have dried up.  Frankly, I don’t miss them.  Truth be told, I have basically written off love and sex for the remainder of my days.

But I do still enjoy being with old friends and meeting new people.  I believe I am a genuinely kind person – at least I always strive to be, to the point where someone who met me for the first time asked a friend if I was really that nice, convinced that I was a phony because no one was ever really THAT nice.  My niceness has even worked to my detriment, because I suffer from “the disease to please” (I think Oprah called it that) in that I want people to like me so I tend to swallow my anger and impatience when they arise in dealings with folks who are perhaps not quite as open-minded or fair as I am.

Of course, there will invariably be reasons for people to disagree – if everyone thought the same things all the time, what a truly boring world it would be!  And things are rarely black-and-white; there are always nuances and shades of gray.  For instance, people who are strongly in favor of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body could also believe that the death penalty is wrong in all circumstances (except perhaps where a heinous criminal wants to die, in which case they should probably be helped along to save the public expense of sustaining the life of someone who doesn’t want – or deserve – to live) and could also be in favor of assisted suicide and euthanasia.  Someone hearing these positions might think they are contradictory, but that is the beauty of individuality:  We don’t all believe the same things all the time.   My point is just this:  Humans will inevitably disagree, but there is no reason whatsoever not to start from a position of kindness.  I always cite the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”; instead of battling to get what you want, sometimes you just need to be nice.  But maintaining that sunny attitude can be exhausting, which may be one of the reasons I’m a happy hermit, at least for the winter!

Sophisticated Art Lookers

During our birthday celebrations, which we do twice a year (for her birthday in July and for mine in September), my friend Sue and I spend the day wandering in a chosen NYC neighborhood (although for my last birthday she came out to Long Beach with her dog and we were able to enjoy adult beverages at a couple of my local watering holes) and we talk about EVERYTHING. We go off on tangents and then circle back an hour later; we never run out of topics of conversation, only the time to converse.  Being with Sue reminds me of how thoroughly enjoyable it can be to spend time with someone who loves and accepts you for who you are (as she herself accurately stated about the way I feel about her). I feel blessed that I have a lot of people in my life like that (who I unfortunately don’t get to spend enough time with) but Sue may be the best.

This past Sunday, for my 2015 birthday celebration, we wandered on the High Line, the new park in New York City built on the site of an abandoned elevated railroad track. It’s a great use of public space, and it must be very pretty in the spring and summer. [As an aside:  I read that there are folks in NYC who are trying to create a Lowline as well, which would potentially be set in an empty subterranean trolley station under the Lower East Side. [Jen Carlson, “Get a Taste of What the Lowline Will Be Like If It Ever Happens”, Gothamist, http://gothamist.com/2015/10/16/lowline_essex_lower_east_side.php#photo-1] While it sounds like an intriguing idea, and folks like Lena Dunham and Spike Jonze are holding events to raise funds for the project, my first concern when I read about it was that homeless people would take up residence there. On the High Line, it was only the smiling Hare Krishnas with their little gold calling cards.]  It was surprisingly crowded for an unseasonably cool day (we even wore gloves and scarves!), but when the sun came out from behind the clouds, it was a delightful stroll, with never-before-seen sightlines into construction sites and empty white apartment buildings, but also the Hudson River, some surprise pop-up artwork and the teeming cross-streets from 30th Street down to Gansevoort, which is where the new Whitney Museum of American Art is located.

First we had brunch at Bubby’s, which was worth the extended wait (but, you see, we don’t MIND waiting on line, because it’s just a different locale for our never-ending conversations). We shared giant pancakes and scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, bacon and hashbrowns; I sipped a Concord grape mimosa and Sue had a bloody Mary. (We also ended our day with decadent dessert from the Gansevoort Market, where we finally sat down for a spell and realized how tired we were from all the walking we’d done.)

During an earlier version of our nonstop discourses – I think it was the 2014 Sue birthday celebration, during which we had meandered through Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and Park Slope (where we both used to live), visited friends and caught a Nick Cave concert in Prospect Park – we were talking about art and how some of it just is incomprehensible to me, even though it clearly has some value to SOMEONE. I said something along the lines of (admittedly while a little pleasantly buzzed), “I consider myself a sophisticated art looker . . . “ and the two of us cracked up at the simultaneous ignorance and accuracy that statement represented, in that I wasn’t even able to come up with a more literate way to describe someone who appreciates the visual arts than “art looker”! (I am proud to say that, while I am perhaps a better music listener than art looker, I have great love and appreciation for both art forms!)

Some of the pieces at the Whitney were prime examples of this. For instance, as soon as you get off the elevator on the 6th floor, there it is – a 5-x-5 foot solid black painted square, probably called “Untitled”. [It’s actually called “Abstract Painting”, by Ad Reinhardt. Evidently the significance is in the nuance and subtlety of the solid black, because if you look closely and deeply and long enough, there are supposedly modulations of the solid black, but hey – this is from a guy who painted ONLY black-on-black pieces for over a decade, until he finally died. And how do we know that the modulations aren’t just due to one’s eyes bugging out after staring at it so closely and deeply and long?] My first thoughts upon seeing this painting aren’t, “What does this evoke?” or “Where does it fit into the pantheon of American Art?” No, my first thoughts are “Why would someone paint this?” and “Why the hell is this even here?” To me it is just a waste of valuable wall space. Over by the windows, there was a clear glass box on a plexiglass platform. But why? I pointed out that there was dust on top of the box and the security lady told me in no uncertain terms to “step away from the art”. Otherwise I wondered, why is there a see-through empty box taking up space in a prestigious museum? I’m sure it’s significant – the meaning of emptiness, perhaps, or stripping “art” down to its most basic elements, or some such philoso-babble – who knows? It could have just been an empty display case, except that the security lady probably wouldn’t have gotten her knickers in a knot about my getting too close to that. (This particular piece, by Larry Bell, actually IS called “Untitled”.) I will never understand some art. The pretentiousness of it all (and of the people who trumpet its genius) – really!! It’s absolutely beyond me.

On the other hand, there was a multitude of intriguing and awe-inspiring pieces of art at the Whitney that I don’t need to “get” so much as they just touch something in me, and the talent of the artists is on full display. For example, there was the series of richly colored prints of scenes of Yosemite and the western U.S. by Japanese artist Chiura Obata, who had painstakingly recreated his own watercolor paintings using woodblock printing. The entire 8th floor was devoted to a retrospective of the work of artist Archibald Motley, whose vividly bright paintings appeared outwardly gleeful but had serious historical and social commentary depths. On the lower floors, we saw a triptych by Grant Wood called “Study for Breaking the Prairie” and I knew in some recess of my brain that Grant Wood had also painted “American Gothic”, and then Sue piped in, “I think it’s in a museum in Chicago.” According to the interwebs, we were right on both scores, which impressed even us.

My favorite floor was the 6th, which featured representative post-war work from the 1950s through the ‘70s. Some of it was powerful; some of it was whimsical and yet also thought-provoking. There was colorful and disturbing anti-war propaganda; Andy Warhol’s “Before & After, 4” depicting in bold graphic lines a rather necessary nose job; a short silent film (with tinkly piano soundtrack) by Helen Levitt called “In the Street” set in Spanish Harlem in the mid-1940’s on what looked like Halloween, featuring dirty, adorable children, many in costume, presumably belonging to the moms and grandmas who watched them while hanging out the brownstone windows and the grandpas who admonished them when they got too rambunctious but otherwise for the most part left alone to dance and run and tease and smack each other with what looked like nylon stockings filled with flour or construction dust.

There was a cool sculpture by someone named Marisol called “Women and Dog”, constructed from wood, plaster, acrylic, found objects and, notably, a taxidermic dog head and showing something different and unexpected from every angle, sharing gallery floor space with giant stuffed cigarette butts overflowing a platform standing in for an ashtray by Claes Oldenburg. And in a place of prominence on the 7th floor, amid paintings and photographs from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s that were those decades’ depictions of the “celebrity culture” that manifests itself today as “reality TV” and paparazzi-fueled gossip magazines, was Alexander Calder’s “Circus” tableau, carefully constructed from found objects and sewn-together creatures, which almost looked like it should be played with rather than statically viewed in the round.

So, while I may not be able to refer intelligently to abstraction and expressionism and modernism and all that “sophisticated art looker” jargon, I at least have a basic “Art History 101” knowledge and a deep appreciation for the visual arts, in all its forms. Even if I can’t tell you what school the artist was part of or what genre the work represented, I know what sticks with me and I know what I like. But what I like even more than looking at art is talking endlessly about EVERYTHING – even overflowing into our thoughts on our respective train rides home, to be immediately texted or emailed sometimes for days afterward – to my friend Sue.

Me and Sue in NYC

Procrastination Station

What is the root cause of procrastination? According to Wikipedia, procrastination is “the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones”. I think of it as avoiding something I don’t want to do, and I’ve been known to do ANYTHING other than the thing I should be doing (regardless of its pleasurableness), but I even procrastinate when it comes to activities I enjoy, like writing my blog posts.

I make lists, I plan, I do research – all to keep from actually performing the designated task. It’s frustrating, infuriating and embarrassing. Even my horoscope today is on my case: “You may have to make up for lost time later in the evening if your laziness gets the best of you early on.”

[For a brilliant, hilariously illustrated analysis of procrastination, check out the three-part series written by Tim Urban on the website Wait But Why (http://waitbutwhy.com):  Part 1 (“Why Procrastinators Procrastinate”, October 2013, http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html); Part 2 (“How to Beat Procrastination”, November 2013, http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/how-to-beat-procrastination.html); and Part 3 (“The Procrastination Matrix”, March 2015, http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/03/procrastination-matrix.html).  Urban’s serious and yet uproarious (and accurate!) articles feature a primary cast of characters called the Rational Decision-Maker, the Instant Gratification Monkey and the Panic Monster. Reading all three pieces would be an ideal excuse for procrastinating!]

Every once in a while, it strikes me that I am an extremely lazy and entitled person, someone who believes she shouldn’t have to “work” for a living.  Ah, if that were only the case!  Sadly, I was not born independently wealthy. Even though I have managed to trim a lot of my expenses since cutting back on my workload, I am still awash in bills. I’m not interested in making money for the sake of having money; I just need to make ENOUGH. I’ve complained at length elsewhere in my blog posts about this disconnect in my life, starting way back in the early days (“Some Thoughts about Money and Music,” 3/10/15).

My greatest wish is that I could figure out what kind of job (or career) would pay me what I need to keep up with my bills while not making me miserable. At its core, this wish does not seem unreasonable. There’s just one problem: You may have noticed a distinct lack of specificity in the prior statement. This is because I have no idea what job (or career) that might be. It’s definitely not being a finance attorney, even though the income is substantial (too substantial to give up, frankly). In fact, I can identify a lot of jobs that it ISN’T. I just don’t know what it IS.

I’m afraid to try anything new because I don’t have the requisite experience – even as a lawyer – so I would need hands-on training, which would mean starting back at square one. Working for 10-plus years in my narrow specialty has created a situation where being an aviation finance attorney is all I know how to do in the legal world (and even at that, my knowledge is limited by my lack of background – and interest – in finance). I’m too far removed from my law school days to call upon the more generalized experience one gets while immersed in ongoing education.

I need to focus on job-seeking again and actually make some use of those books (What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press, 2013) and The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher (Workman Publishing, 2013)) I bought and subsequently abandoned when it came time to complete the extensive self-assessment exercises they pose to help the reader get focused and figure out next steps to fulfillment in his or her career (and, by extension, life, since we spend so much of our lives at work). Fulfillment is sorely lacking in my current situation, even though it pays well and gives me extreme flexibility. It’s just missing that third vital component, which is being able to experience personal satisfaction from the work. (Although I might be somewhat more accepting of my current position if I could legitimately turn it off at 7 p.m. or so, guilt-free, and not have to check emails vigilantly in order to be maximally responsive to our clients.)  And don’t even get me started on my dread of networking and interviewing.  Just thinking about those things makes me feel a little nauseous.

I’m 56 years old, for goodness sake! I should have found myself by now. And while I’ve earned some money over the past dozen years at the law firm while being miserable, I haven’t managed to squirrel enough away to have made the loss of my time worthwhile. Waa-waa-waa. I’m such a sorry-ass whiner. It’s got to stop. I can’t be so quick to fall into these doldrums. I need to FORCE myself to feel okay with my life. (It’s not even “good” – I’m willing to settle for just okay!)

I read a pithy quote today from the actor Hugh Laurie posted on the Facebook page of the blog Intellectual Takeout (intellectualtakeout.org):

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

Of course, if I won the lottery, all my problems would be solved. I could help out more often at the animal shelter, and volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and God’s Love We Deliver, and wherever else I could be useful, doing work that satisfies me without having to worry about where the next paycheck was coming from. In fact, I’d be able to actually GIVE money to causes I care about. I wouldn’t be selfish or greedy or piggish; that’s just not in my nature. I would be a deserving recipient of the millions and would pay it all forward. And I could finally be happy – now, not at some future time when I’m “ready”. I’m ready NOW!

Some Heartfelt Advice for Young Women

I like to keep my blog posts light but there are times when I just can’t stay silent. I know that I only have a few regular readers, which is okay because my promise when I started this blog was to write to please myself, but I think a lot of my more recent followers have been drawn in by my less controversial pieces. However, there are things I “consider” (the blog is called “Life Considered”, after all) on a daily basis in my life – while I’m watching the news, or spending (wasting?) hours reading interesting items on the Internet, or even driving in my car (I have so many “deep thoughts” while driving that I actually bought a little tape recorder to dictate my thoughts for those times when I’m not able to write them; now, if I could just find the time to transcribe the tapes . . . ) – and I have very few people with whom to discuss this stuff other than Facebook friends and my enlightened daughter. (Seriously – at 20, she’s already one of the most enlightened people I know: Her first political statement came in the year 2000 when, at the age of five, she defaced a portrait of the newly “elected” (or should I say “selected”?) president George W. Bush on the front cover of a Time for Kids magazine, because his face made her angry and cried out for a Van Dyke beard, evil pointy eyebrows and devil’s horns. I saved it for years and displayed it proudly.)

I’ve read quite a few articles lately about date rape – mostly on college campuses, but there was also an incident this summer involving a popular hockey player, Patrick Kane of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, that was covered quite a bit in the hockey and general sports media – and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to post this blog.

Rape is an abomination in all circumstances. Rapists are predators, but in certain situations – I’m talking about date or acquaintance rape – women have a certain culpability. Women who have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted by someone they knew (or thought they knew) are always told, “It’s not your fault,” but ultimately she needs to take some responsibility. Why was she in that place with that person? Unless she was physically dragged there against her will (which is a whole different ball of wax), she likely went voluntarily. What were HER intentions in putting herself into what could turn out to be a dangerous situation? And then why was she so intimidated by her assailant? Was she too frightened to fight back, or scream, or escape? Short of death, I can’t imagine what could be worse than being forced into a sex act against my will.

The young lady in the Patrick Kane situation – what did she THINK would happen if she went back to his house in the wee hours after a night of partying? He’s a good-looking, rich professional athlete. Lots of girls offer themselves to him; why would he feel the need to force himself on a woman who didn’t want him and yet went willingly to his home? I don’t know the details and we may never know, because it appears that the whole ugly episode is just going to disappear into the ether.  While I don’t put it past Patrick Kane to be a pig, I also can’t shake the feeling that the woman was either having post-coital regrets after Kane inevitably treated her dismissively when he was “done” or, at worst, extorting money from a wealthy person who would pay to keep her quiet.

Then there was the discredited Rolling Stone piece on rampant date rape at the University of Virginia. The woman at the center of that story may very well have been sexually assaulted by multiple creeps, but the mess she made of her story disrespected the genuine help and attention she received from classmates, university personnel and the reporter doing the investigating and served to cast a pall over a subject that vitally needs to be discussed and taken seriously. I just don’t think the discussions are focused on the right things.

My aim is not to victim blame or exonerate assholes but to point out that it’s not always cut and dried, or even he-said/she-said. Date rape is almost always somewhere in the middle. Girls seeing themselves (and being seen) as victims, the damsel in distress who needs rescuing and protecting, is a problem for me. The bottom line, as I see it, is that women should not put themselves in compromising situations. Unfortunately, it falls to women to take control of the circumstances to prevent idiot boys from “misinterpreting” their words and actions.

Certainly, children – especially boys – should be taught persistently from a very early age that consent is always required for touching, and no always means no. It’s pretty simple, and parents should start early and say it often: “Don’t touch anyone without first asking if you can. And no means no.” [As an aside, I recently read a great story on the Internet (sadly, I didn’t note the source when I first read it and couldn’t find the article when I went back to search for it) about a kindergartener who tried to hug a classmate but his classmate clearly did not reciprocate his desires. So his dad explained to him that people don’t like to be touched, or hugged, or kissed without permission. The dad knew his lesson had made an impression when he saw the lad seeking consent to hug the cat – from the cat! Adorable story and smart parenting.]

High school and college boys are, let’s face it, pretty dumb, as a whole. Their brains are not fully developed, and they’re especially susceptible to peer pressure if they think it will make them look weak in the eyes of their friends. Girls need to take the reins, but flirting, playing “hard to get” and being a “cock-teaser” isn’t the way to do it. Each of those things can lead to trouble if the girl is not careful and self-aware.

True confessions: I was a sexually aggressive young person. I did not shy away from intimate encounters and in fact actively pursued them, usually in ways that forced the boy to be the one who approached me in order to keep up appearances. It was bad enough that I was a horny girl circa 1980; it would be ten times worse if I was seen as a desperate one. The boy had to come to ME.

Anyway, the punchline here is, even though it was widely known that I was sexually available to certain types of males (i.e., handsome young athletes), I too was sexually assaulted – “raped” would not be entirely inaccurate – in college, by two guys I knew pretty well and who were aware that I was ordinarily willing, but who I would have liked to believe also knew that I was not in the mood at that moment, especially as one of them had just poured numerous cups of beer over my head at a frat party, forcing me to walk out into the wintry night, wet and cold and humiliated. The beer chucker and a friend (both of whom were on the hockey team, and neither of whom I entirely trusted) chased me down, ostensibly to bring me my coat, which they then proceeded to tenderly button up around me, not bothering me to let me put my arms in the sleeves, and protectively walked me back to my dorm.

When I returned from a much-needed shower, despite my telling them thanks for the escort but they were free to go, they were waiting for me in my single room. They did what they wanted and I just lay there – not fighting back, not saying anything, feeling kind of dead inside. Bizarrely, when they were done, they literally tucked me into bed, took turns kissing me goodnight, and left.

Was I angry at them? Yes, but I was mostly angry at myself. I was mad that I hadn’t fought back (although there was no physical force involved), even just a little, and that I hadn’t told them more adamantly that I didn’t have the time or desire to do this right now. I may have even told them that, at any other time, I might have considered it fun, JUST NOT NOW. But they were stupid boys and didn’t listen, and I guess, somewhere deep inside, I felt like I deserved it.

The incident stayed with me for years (it’s STILL with me), but otherwise it didn’t affect my behavior in any way – at least not outwardly. I even had a voluntary encounter with one of the players a year or so later. The lesson I took from it, though, was that I should never have put myself in that position, and I should have been more forceful in my protestations, because I think they probably would have left, eventually, if they hadn’t convinced themselves that I was just playing hard-to-get. The dopey boys couldn’t figure out why I might want to have sex with SOME guys but just not THEM, and just not THEN. It didn’t teach me to avoid athletes as sex partners, or even to avoid sex in general, but it did make me more wary and suspicious. From that moment on, if I didn’t feel right about a situation, I got out early. I never had another unwanted sexual encounter.

So this is what high school and college girls (and twenty-somethings and, really, women of all ages) need to do: First and foremost, look out for each other. My daughter told me about an incident at her first WVU football game, where she was sitting in front of a bunch of inebriated girls. One was so drunk she clearly needed looking after, but none of her friends seemed up to the task. So it fell to Darian – a complete stranger – to protect the passed-out girl from other drunk people throwing things at her and showering her with verbal abuse. Darian didn’t know that girl at all, and yet she was more concerned about her welfare than her so-called friends. This is NOT the way to do it, ladies.

Don’t go anywhere you don’t have an “out”. Don’t drink anything you haven’t opened or poured yourself. Say what you mean – teasing is so dangerous. How difficult is it, really, to tell the guy as you’re walking to his room (having first checked for all available exits), “Listen, I like kissing you, and I may even want to cuddle, but if you try anything more than that tonight, I am leaving.” And then, of course, follow through with that or clearly let him know , in no uncertain terms, that you have changed your mind. And for goodness sake, stop slut-shaming each other, which is just another version of victim blaming. A female should feel entitled to have sex if and when she wants, and there’s no reason she should make excuses for it, or be ashamed, the morning after if the boy doesn’t like her as much as she maybe wanted him to. This denial of female sexuality is a big part of the problem but another blog post for another day.

Stop behaving like victims who need to be protected. Protect yourselves. Ideally, women should have the strength to tell a goon who forces himself on her, “I said ‘NO’, jerkwad,” and give him a shot to the chops so she can make her getaway. Report true abusers to the authorities and be clear in your accusations. Yes, people will try to discredit you (such is the nature of our legal system), but if your cause is righteous, you’ll know you did the right thing. Put a label on the rapist at least equal to the label that gets put on you.

Most importantly, listen to that little voice in your head, even if it might be unfortunately dulled by alcohol. When that voice tells you, “Don’t go there,” DON’T GO. Nothing good can come of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Male entitlement is assuredly a reality and must be defeated, even though it seems like a doomed proposition. So it is clearly the more realistic endeavor for women to collectively abandon their victimhood and take control of their own lives and bodies. In fact, I just saw today a short video from an initiative out of New Zealand called #MyBodyMyTerms. It couldn’t be much clearer.