Reality Check

So while watching a television program about the incarceration rates of black males and the cycles of incarceration and I had a reality check about my own privilege and wow, does that make you think.

This program discussed how 1 in 12 black men are incarcerated and with the family cycles that perpetuate the rates of incarceration (not to mention the rampant racism that is inherent in the prison industrial complex) that statistic is slated to reach a preposterous 1 in 3 black men with the next generations. There were interviews with a man who was being released from prison and his partner, as well as a man who had recently been released and was seeking employment and his step-father, along with the rest of his family. What struck me was how the partner of the man who was in prison stated that every man in her life had been or currently was incarcerated. Because of this, she was concerned about her own children's trajectories and was adamant about the cycle stopping with her children.

This led me to think about my own family structure. Every older male on my father's side, save for one uncle and my brother, has spent a night in prison at least, though many have served much longer prison sentences, including my father. Granted, I did not spend much time with my father's side of the family but I DID spend a lot of time with my father prior to his own incarceration. Watching that program, I couldn't help but wonder, what if I hadn't been white? What if my father and his family weren't white? It is nearly certain that I wouldn't be on the same path and in the same place I am currently.

Granted, I did not grow up in a neighborhood where violence and drug-use were the norm. My mother was a strong figure who very much influenced my path. My grandparents had a strong influence and my siblings, though not the brightest in the bunch all the time, were fairly law abiding. While my mother was a single mom raising two kids and I often subsided on Ramen noodles, I never felt impoverished, nor did I ever go to sleep hungry that I can recall. Clearly these are all factors that influence rates of imprisonment but yet, it still begs the question, why do these issues disproportionately affect African Americans? (Hint: the answer isn't that they simply commit more crimes.) On NPR, there was a statistic that stated that while 5x more white folks are abusing drugs, 13x more black men are serving time. That's serious.

So again, my whiteness. and how today, I'm feeling particularly thankful for how the cards have fallen. I have an awareness about a lot of things, like exactly how many prison doors one must go through to see their father, or what eating three meals out of a vending machine is like because that's the only food available in a prison visiting room. I also sometimes remember that this is my reality, even though it is in my past. It is my reality and not very many other people in my immediate world share that reality. Which is isolating. And frustrating. But I'm also grateful because I know that there are parts of the world, parts of my world, where my reality is the norm and that's sad. And it's all because of that cycle that I was never meant to be a part of...because I'm white. And I'm owning that tonight and being grateful for my blessings.



So some of the readers of this blog may know that before I started my work in Diversity and Social Justice education, I worked predominantly in Sexual Assault Education. It was in Sexual Assault Education that I honed my skills as a facilitator because, as one may imagine, facilitating about sexual assault and rape at a Big Ten university where more than 1 in 5 undergrads* were part of the Greek system is not the easiest feat. 

While I no longer work in sexual assault, I am always drawn to critical pieces about sexual assault and rape culture and the efforts that are being made to address those issues. I am SO SO SO HAPPY to be able to share one of those pieces with you. You should count yourself lucky because this piece is about to get leaked to Feministing and Ms. blogs but you'll be able to say that you saw it here first before it was huge - and I know how you hipsters like to say shit like that.

About the author: JS is a fabulous woman who I not only worked with in Undergrad but also who I consider one of my greatest friends and mentors. She is sarcastic, funny, but also one of the most genuine and sincere women that I have ever met. She has one of the fiercest personalities and she uses it almost daily, which is why I love her so. 

*I should say that Greek Life doesn't inherently mean Sexual Assault and I'm in no way trying to taint Greek Life with Sexual Assault. However, there is certainly a fraternity culture that provides resistance to teaching about rape culture and sexual assault. Some of the most active male allies I've ever met are upstanding Greek men who have also encountered resistance from their frat brother. justsayin'.

So without further ado, JS and her Thoughts on SlutWalk:

As a sexual violence prevention educator, I find hope in the grassroots activism and passion that radiates from Slutwalk.  Anything that gets people talking, that breaks down the myths and reduces victim shaming is a step in the right direction. This activism is so badly needed in a society that still justifies violent victimization by what women are wearing or how they choose to spend their Friday nights.  The photos of women clad in sneakers, jeans and comfy t-shirts carrying signs that read “this is what I was wearing when I was raped” make my heart ache.  But after reading all of the discussion, I’m left wondering if there’s a place for me in Slutwalk.
Much has been written about Slutwalk, and the problematic nature of the word “slut.”  Many women of color, in particular, have made it clear that they don’t want to reclaim the word slut because of the way their sexuality has been constructed throughout America’s racist history.  As a woman in a wheelchair, I have a very different problem: the word slut has never been mine to reclaim.

While women all over the world are waiting for people to stop seeing them as sex objects, women with disabilities are still waiting to be seen at all.  We are less than a woman, somehow-- less than “slut”. Too often we are viewed as pitiable, pathetic, and devoid of desire.   We could never be “sluts.”  If we are “lucky enough” to have partners, they get congratulations and pats on the back from strangers when they “take us out” in public.  People applaud their generosity and selflessness for taking care of us, assuming they get nothing in return (certainly not sex or satisfying intimate connections).  People imagine we are loved “in spite of” our disabilities rather than for all the other things we are.  We struggle to find doctors who will monitor our pregnancies and help deliver our babies because it’s “dangerous” for us to be mothers.
But that doesn’t mean we’re any safer.  Women with disabilities face extremely high rates of sexual assault.  More than half of us will be raped and studies estimate that the figure is closer to 70 to 80 percent for women with developmental disabilities. We’re also more likely than women without disabilities to face multiple perpetrators.  Sometimes, these perpetrators even tell us we should be grateful, that they have done us a favor.  After all, no one else is going to want us.  Despite these astronomical rape figures we have almost no credibility in the criminal justice system.  No one could imagine why anybody would do that to “someone like us”.  They tell us that we can’t be trusted to tell our own stories of terror.  They speculate about our ability to even understand what has been done to us. 

This is why it’s absolutely crucial for women with disabilities to have a voice in SlutWalk.  While “reclaiming slut” isn’t for me, I think SlutWalk should be about more than that.  It’s about demanding that all women be allowed to embrace their sexuality, voice our outrage when someone violates us, and be heard loud and clear when we do it.    

Thanks, JS, for these powerful words that give me something to think about. 

Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have the people I have in my life?


A Few Observations

I've been working on my response to the Charlie Sheen Roast (so long ago) and it's difficult for me to frame my thoughts around it just wanting to type AHHHHHHHHHH for approximately four paragraphs. So in the meantime, I'm going to let you in on a few of my observations from the last few days!

1. Why would anyone want just chocolate chip ice cream? You are already eating ice cream, you might as well spring for the dough. It is far superior to just the chips.

2. I LOVE office supplies/school supplies/organizational tools (think shelving, binders, paper clips, etc.). That being said, if anyone ever tries to tell you that you can never have too many (insert office supply here) - THEY ARE WRONG. We just spent the day at the NCCJSTL office cleaning which meant organizing a surplus of office supplies and I've never hated post-it notes so much.

3. Some people are meant to be grown ups. I've met a few of those people. I am not one of them. This doesn't mean I don't have the capability to be mature or to act like an adult. I just can't ever imagine myself saying that adulthood is fun. Also, I have a mental picture of myself as a 16 year old. Perhaps it is because I'm still with the partner I was with when I was 16. Perhaps it's because at 16, I had the maturity of a 25 year-old - either way, being an adult does nothin' for me.

4. There is a right and a wrong way to eat string cheese.

5. Genius manifests itself in a variety of ways. We have a lot of words for how to describe Genius: visionary, revolutionary, pioneer, and sometimes comedian. "Weird Al" Yankovich's work is Genius. Seriously. It may seem silly and it may not add any sort of applicable value to society, but damn, he is witty. Also, Steve Jobs had some Genius. But we knew that.

6. A requirement for politics should be a test in critical thinking. At least that way, if I get frustrated with the opinions of the people running the country, it's not because I think that my 7 year old nephew could have formed the same opinions in his grand total of 1 year of school.

7. When I get all bummed out because I think I was born in the wrong decade (ideally I would have been born in the late 40's/early 50's to be a part of the Free Love 70's OR in the late 1920's/early 1930's to be able to enjoy Frank and Dean in the 40's and 50's) - I remember Harry Potter. The late 80's were a good time to be born.

8. As much as Disney movies are patriarchal and anti-feminist, I will ALWAYS love the Lion King. Always. Even when I really don't want to.

9. Being a part of something that is so much bigger than just you is one of the most amazing experiences ever. Luckily I've had a lot of opportunities to do that. And I'm currently participating in one - the Sketchbook Project - and it's neat.

10. Even though I forget to blog, I really DO enjoy it. For me. Because I get to write in sentence fragments and use inappropriate capitalization and make jokes that maybe only I get and no one is going to grade it. Yes!


More in depth

So I posted some pictures yesterday but now I'll go more in depth (and include some more pictures) about our wedding day and what it means to me.

Our wedding was purely ceremonial, meaning that no papers were actually signed that day (due to an insurance debacle that has since been cleared up and papers were officially signed on August 21st). We knew we weren't signing any papers and we didn't know how long it would be until we were actually able to be "officially" married.
We decided to go ahead and have the ceremony because of my grandmother's precarious memory and Ben's grandpa's age, and the fact that our best friends were heading off on new journeys of their own. It was the singular moment in time in which everyone was loved and cared about were all simultaneously available. Surprisingly (or maybe not), that didn't make the day any less special. In fact, it made it seem more true to who we are.

We are both LGBT allies that struggled with the idea of participating in the institution of marriage (as I've written about here and here) so this seemed like a logical compromise until we were able to get married and keep Ben's insurance and it would still give me piece of mind that we hadn't completely given in. We were also able to add all of the pieces of our ceremony that we wanted (including The Lovely Love Story and I Like You) without feeling too much pressure to conform to a wedding "as it should be." We are a fun, chill couple and the best compliment we received on the wedding was that it was "so Kaytlin and Ben."

Of course, planning a wedding, no matter how relaxed, is never easy. We had a lot of handmade things, like pinwheels and origami flowers that added to the beauty and simplicity of the wedding, but those are difficult to make, especially because we didn't really know what we were doing. And you can never control for how your family is going to be. I talked about some of my wedding woes which were eventually all cleared up and it meant the world to me to know that my WHOLE family was together in one room, whether they were necessarily happy or comfortable with it. They even talked to each other a bit, something I never expected in my wildest dreams.

 Our wedding was perfect for us. There isn't a single thing I would change. My face hurt from smiling, my eyes were wet with tears of joy, and my heart swelled with the love I had for my new husband and for my beautiful family and friends. I try to recall every moment of that day, from my uncle singing Billy Joel's "You're My Home" to the cupcakes, to the rosebud and picture frame of Ben's father who passed away a few years ago. From the iPod playlist that Ben put together, to the wedding that we designed ourselves, we ensured that we were present in every detail.

Perhaps some of my favorite memories are those of the smiles of my family and friends as they really enjoyed themselves (which could have a lot to do with the beer and wine), showing me that we throw a damn good party.And they WERE happy. for us. Because they know that we make each other want to be better people and we make each other happy. And that's what really matters.

So now, you should probably enjoy this video that Ben put together with the pictures from our homemade photobooth. It's pretty awesome and includes most of my favorite people.


PS you'll need to turn the sound on because it's got a song that goes along with it and might give you goosebumps.


Blogging is Hard

Clearly it's been awhile. And clearly lots of things have happened. 

For example, this... 
Followed by this:
And then this:
with these:

After doin' a little bit of this:
Some of this happened:
But mostly it was this:
I looked like this throughout the day (Plus or minus a little sweat):
And I got to marry this man:

And we finally, officially, became this:

Mr. Benjamin and Mrs. Kaytlin!

One of the happiest days of my life thus far. And so many more to go!

Pictures were taken by Candice Ivie of Ivie Photography.


A feminist wedding

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about this and what it means. I realize that this blog has crept away from that and has turned into a space where I get pissed about injustice and then briefly update you about the facts of what is happening wedding-wise. Rarely have I been thinking critically (in this space) about the decisions we've been making because, in all honestly, the big decisions were made with what resources we have available to us within our budget and the other decisions we made (not to have my father give me away, not using fresh cut flowers) seemed like No Duh decisions.

That being said, I still maintain that we are having a feminist wedding. And we are..I'm not just sayin' it because it sounds right. All of those No Duh things are still conscious decisions that we made. We are also using my grandmother's vintage ring that she had re-made out of her original wedding set (sentiment galore). My grandmother is a feisty/snarky woman who has been with my grandpa for 57 years. Very little about our wedding is traditional. I mean, we're having a reading about dinosaurs, for goodness sake. But I also understand that just because something isn't traditional doesn't necessarily make it feminist and there are plenty of things that are verging on traditional. We are having a wedding party (albeit small) and my brother, though clearly not my father, is walking me down the aisle (and he will NOT be giving me away).

I'm also not suggesting that if you have an entirely traditional wedding, you can not be a feminist. Forcing people to subscribe to certain ideals that put people into boxes is the opposite of feminism. But it's important to me that we think really critically about the traditions and not participate in the ones that don't suit us (which is a lot, especially for this super formal event). Striking the balance between maintaining the solemnity and sacredness of a wedding while still injecting our personalities in the wedding has been a challenge. There have been many temptations to turn the whole ordeal into a shit show because it would be funny and we like to laugh - and my go-to when I'm nervous is to make a joke but then we remember that this day is not ALL about us...it's about our family and friends that are choosing to spend that time with us.

So to recap:
Feminist decisions:
  • Dad not walking me down the aisle
  • Making pinwheels and origami flowers as opposed to pollution prone cut flowers
  • using vintage jewelry (both my grandmother's pearls and wedding ring)
  • Having readings that reflect egalitarian values
  • Choosing vows that also reflect egalitarian values
  • Not going into debt for a day that will be undoubtedly awesome, but hopefully not the best day of my life (I'm far too young for that)
  • Choosing a dress that is necessarily comfortable and "me" as opposed to what someone else thinks I should be wearing
  • Instead of gifts at the bridal shower (which was actually an origami folding party), my maid of honor collected a donation from the attendees that she donated to Access Africa, a women's empowerment organization*
  • Giving a student of photography the opportunity to build her portfolio (win-win situation)
  • No strip clubs or topless bars for either bachelor or bachelorette parties
  • having friends or local businesses provide a majority of the services
Not particularly feminist decisions:
  • Having my brother walk me down the aisle
  • Getting married in a church
  • Following traditional guidelines (bridal shower, wedding party)
  • Growing my hair out for the wedding
  • ...And I'm sure some other things
Now again, I'm not saying that those things are inherently NOT feminist - I'm just saying that they do represent some concessions on my part that I felt were necessary to honor really important people in my life.

So when people ask me how the wedding is going or if I'm looking forward to getting married or any permutation of those questions - this is the dilemma that goes through my head. It's difficult for me to reconcile my privilege in getting married, even now that I'm less that 40 days out. And I still have some guilt around it, even though I'm super happy to be making this public commitment to Ben. But I'll deal with it. and it will be a happy, joyous occasion.

Eh. Long post. Unexpected. Sorry.

love, kayt

*not my idea, but done because she is my best friend and knows my ideals


A Mild Rant...and some other updates

So today hasn't been the greatest day for my opinion of the Brown School.
First, the WRC at U of I posted some pictures from a few of the amazing events from last year which made me miss all those good times. Plus I had long hair. Which is just weird.
Then I found out that some of the faculty at Brown School are debbie-downers and like to rain on my social justice parade. Which is likely to have not happened at U of I..and if it had, I at least would have known who had my back. Here...not so much. which makes me miss U of I that much more.

I don't understand why rocking the boat and asking difficult questions is so frowned upon here. For instance, WHY exactly doesn't the school of social work at a supposedly liberal school (granted, we are in Missouri so it probably is about as liberal as it gets here) not have gender neutral bathrooms? And why am I being discouraged (oh so subtly) from advocating for them. Isn't that in our NASW code of ethics? yes. in fact it is. I should know because I've had to read them approximately 873,203 times. And that was just first semester. Apparently we like status quo here...so I probably should have specified in my essays coming into this program that that's just not how I roll. Oops.
Perhaps if that was my only let-down, it wouldn't be so bad. Oh, misfortune!

Hopefully some of the meetings I have coming up will assuage my disappointment. But alas.

So you want so good news now? HOW ABOUT  PHOTO BOOTH PROPS?!

Instead of paying some money (what Ben may call too much) for a proper photo booth, we are going to put photo booth props on the tables and potentially put together a makeshift photobooth. We aren't the proper type anyway.

I'm pretty excited about it, because I mean, who doesn't love a mustache on a stick? I certainly do and if you don't, you are no friend of mine. (well, you might be, I'm not trying to make that generalization). And we're starting on the pinwheels and all that good stuff, so work will actually be getting done.

And this weekend I have the first of my training for the Anytown camp, which is really exciting to me because I want to flex my diversity brain muscles again. Also because I came up with a really awesome idea and I want to flesh it out. More on that later.

It's summertime, which I'm using to get my foot in the door with some admin here and to get my activist agenda moving plus it's wedding crunch time - well, as crunchy as crunch time gets for me and Ben. Things are happening. I just hope they keep moving in the direction I want and that these "setbacks" are few and far between.



odd mood

lots of people asked me today and the day before if I was okay. which I found to be odd. I mean, I'm not particularly NOT okay...i just feel....odd.

The way I described it was that my head and body felt all buzzy. I don't know how else to describe it. I imagine it's sort of what restless leg syndrome feels like only in your brain and your whole body.

I imagine that this has a heck of a lot to do with classes finishing up and me not quite being ready for that. But there's probably a little bit of that that has to do with wedding-ness and all of the stuff that goes along with that.

Sometimes I get all existential and think about my reality versus what I imagine other people imagine is my reality. You know...like I think about what people must think about my life versus how my life has played out. And I wonder if there is a disconnect. In some ways, with some people, I KNOW there is a disconnect. And I wish there were an easier way to bridge that gap. but sometimes that feels selfish.

Like today, I know I was in a weird mood from my conversation with ma last night. Again, not particularly bad but also not particularly good. And people continue to ask if I'm okay. which leads to a couple of things for me.
1. If this is what I'm like in a weird mood and people notice...what am I like in an un-weird mood that people identify with more? In other words, what makes me seem normal?
and 2. How and am I able to truly convey the meaning of the oddness without seeming like I'm digging for something in particular? Can I say that it's because of this seemingly random happenstance of my family discussing my father/my mother's life story without me there and I'm still struggling with it? (I know I CAN say that...) but can I say it in a way that doesn't sound purposefully vague or like I'm fishing for questions? Because that's what it sounds like to me..and I don't want to sound like that. I'm also not opposed to answering questions. It's a strange predicament.

but yeah. so that's the strange mood I'm in. compounded with school work, it seems stressful. And yet, I blog. Oh life.


Fair Warning: This will be a political blog

So the government is approximately 4 and a half hours away from a shut down. That says something about the place we're in. When we've become too stubborn and ideological to see logical compromises. While my heart hurts because of the repercussions this shut down will have for minority and underprivileged populations, I think that this could be the reality check that 'Merica needs.

I think this could be the opportunity to show that, as a matter of fact, we aren't "hot shit," if you know what I mean. We aren't World Saviors, we aren't Better Than Everyone, we aren't Democracy Leaders because, you know what, our current leaders don't know what democracy means. A bold statement, I know, but in some ways it's true. There's this ethnocentric assumption that because we are born in the supposed "Land of the Free" that we automatically operate under democratic assumptions and ideals but that's really not true. These are things that we have to be taught and we have to learn how to execute. And with textbook reforms and muddled lessons in civics because of necessary budget cuts to education - we might never have the opportunity to learn how to do that.

We also assume that because we live in a "democratic society" that we are the world leaders and the teachers of democracy. But let's be honest, how many people in this country are well-versed and have experience in starting a democratic society? None. Because WE didn't start this democratic society. It was started 250ish years ago by people who WEREN'T politicians and who WERE humble. They probably wouldn't have accepted $100,000 (or the equivalent at that time) while their military and the rest of the country couldn't pay rent and buy groceries because their pay has been frozen.

They probably also wouldn't have placed the federal budget into an ideological stalemate. Because you know what the founders of this country were good at? (Hint: it's not Christianity) - They were really good at compromise. And real compromise...not that one party folds. Remember when we had people like the "Great Compromiser" - Henry Clay who fought hard to ensure that everyone got a little bit of what they wanted? Who is that guy now? Oh right. He doesn't exist.

So perhaps we need to understand that we fail stuff, too. Let's lay off the gays for supposedly ruining marriage and the Muslims for practicing religion freely in a country where freedom of/from religion/religious persecution was the founding principle and acknowledge that, oh hey, sometimes the white straight male folks (and some white straight females) ain't so great, huh? Because the white. straight, male/female folks are giving themselves a pay check while preventing those women from protecting themselves, preventing clean air from even having a chance to exist in our beloved country, and preventing free thought from being thunk, and if that's democracy...it sucks. A lot.

I'm grateful for the freedoms I have. I'm grateful that I can say these things without fear of persecution. I'm grateful I'm a woman who has had the opportunity to go to school (heavily relying on Federal loans, yes). But just because I'm grateful for my state of being, that doesn't mean I'm happy and complacent with the state of being for others. Because that's what being a social worker means: acknowledging the privilege that you possess but not being content with that privilege because SOMEONE ELSE didn't have that opportunity. AND THAT'S NOT FAIR. THAT'S NOT JUSTICE. THAT'S NOT FREEDOM. It is my responsibility to create fairness, justice, and freedom  in every way I can...even if that is just words on an infrequently read blog.


Getting Closer...

So we're closing in quickly on the 3 month mark til the day. And yet, nothing much in my demeanor has changed. I don't feel any more or less antsy (I'm letting Ma handle all of those nervous feelings). We've had a couple more conversations about how we want it to actually look but eh, not really. We're both so busy that we hardly have time to decide what to do for dinner (at 9pm, mind you) much less what our wedding 3 months from now is going to look like.

That being said - HOLY CRAP THE WEDDING IS 3(ish) MONTHS FROM NOW. where did all that time go? oh right. to the abyss that is professional school. eff.

and that's a little insight to how I deal with all of this. I am goooooooooooood and then I'M NOT. that's how I handle life, though, I mean, if we're being honest. (which I am).

I appreciate my friends (new and old) more and more though - because in some ways they force me to think about these things (which I should be thinking about if I really want it to happen with any particular flair) but they also allow me to poopoo the wedding and shake it off like it's no big deal.

because it's not a big deal. and then sometimes it is.
conflict is my middle name, by the way.

and then sometimes, really funny or awesome things pop up places and make me real happy and make me forget things like school, practicum, wedding, and family drama. Things like:

**[thank goodness for autosave because in order to look for this link, I accidentally click exit on this window...ugh]**

or things like a good friend's birthday. Which, speaking of, you should go visit my good friend Jillian's page (which I know I've linked before) and enter her fabulous birthday giveaway - I mean because really? Who else gives stuff away on their birthday? She does. Because that's how awesome she is. Oh and while you are there, you should probably vote for her blog in the top baby blog contest (which is at the bottom of her page) - because her son, Cash, is the most darling baby boy. Darling!
Jillian Pye on Blogspot

you can also click there. because that will be awesome, too.

anyway, it's the small things in life that make you happy. and it's important to be grateful for all things - including that really bad, gonna make the wedding awkward but unique, sort of stuff.


For the one that I love

Today marks the 6th year that I've been with the love of my life and the 1st year of our engagement.

Sometimes I think back at all we've been through and its been a lifetime of things...already.

Together, we've survived:
  1. The tragic and sudden deaths of not one, but 2 classmates in high school.
  2. Graduating high school and embarking on an exciting new journey together to college.
  3. A devastating 1st semester of college, complete with clinical depression and medication.
  4. Becoming an aunt and uncle 3 times over.
  5. The death of his wonderful grandmother followed by...
  6. The death of his wonderful father. (RIP Chuck)
  7. Establishing our first "home" on our college campus.
  8. Establishing our family away family at U of I.
  9. The end of therapy and medication
  10. Political Activism complete with being FOIA'd
  11. A road trip that spanned 22 days and only 5 showers
  12. Getting accepted into our first choice graduate and professional schools.
  13. Graduating from college.
  14. Moving 160 miles back home to our next home together.
  15. A 600+ beer bottle collection
  16. Getting engaged.
  17. Family madness because we're engaged (and they realize what that means come wedding day)
  18. Planning a wedding
  19. Cold feet (in the literal sense, not the figurative one)
  20. Dental School and Social Work school
And actually, this doesn't even begin to cover it. Sometimes I try to think of my life without Ben and well, it's really hard. It's not impossible...because it shouldn't be impossible, but it also really sucks when I think about it. He's my rock, he's my comfort, he's my laughter, and he's my home.

I love you, Benjamin Ian, with all my heart.


I know I just blogged but...

no news is better than the news of the day.

Today has been an awful day for women and those sympathetic to people in general. Feministing does a pretty good job of explaining the articles and expressing the outrage...but yet I still feel the need to put in my two cents...because, well, that's what I do.

Let's start with the child who was gang-raped by so-called "men." Who could possibly think that an 11 year old girl ever deserves this?  Who could think that an 11 year old girl would even know that this would be a possibility? Who could have sympathy for the 18 (EIGHTEEN) men who did this? The New York Times and the citizens of Cleveland, Texas (Oh Texas, how little faith I continue to have in you). The victim-blame that is abound throughout this article is disgusting. It's disgusting EVERY TIME there is victim blame for something as horrendous and unforgivable as rape - however, there's a certain level of pathology that is reached when this blame is targeted at a child who can't even get into a pg-13 movie. There should be mass amounts of shame placed upon those citizens..or better yet, how about some education about what it means for an 11 year old girl to be gang-raped and it's her mother's fault that she was there in the first place. Maybe we should all share a bit of that shame, too. Because after all, we all live in this place called America where, in all honesty, we can expect those statements from individuals. Perhaps if we own that, we can begin to fix it. [perhaps not] We might not like to take that blame, but similar to privilege, if we other the perpetrators in a way that places ALL of the onus on the individual than we do nothing to affect change within the larger culture...

...the larger culture that says it's still okay to kill a person because they seem different/wrong. Granted, this takes place in Arkansas and well, things work a little different there. For instance, hate crimes  apparently don't exist/don't matter there. It would be nice if they didn't exist and that is why there is no need for legislation/protection - but this woman is a perfect example of how, in fact, Arkansas, a place where a town is proudly named after a former KKK member, breeds hate for difference. And then continue to rub it in the face of the trans community by ignoring the proper pronouns through police reporting and then, subsequently, new reporting. (Because in no way does news reporting or journalism include checking the facts on your own - wait...that doesn't seem right..ugh) What is it that makes it so hard to respect PEOPLE? Just people, regardless of their state of being...whether that aligns with how we think it "should" be...should respect be the basis of ALL interactions? But then again..that might be too simple. and what is respect? I mean, I certainly don't have any respect for those folks down there who have committed huge injustices to this woman (and then fixed it..because of advocacy pressures)...

...speaking of injustices to women...Kappa Sigs at USC have illustrated what is perhaps one of the greatest insults to anyone who has a vagina. I don't even have words for this except that it makes me want to punch puppies in the face. Including this puppy:
...and trust me, that's saying a lot..because I LOVE this puppy. So much.

(also, this is a cute puppy so maybe this whole blog won't be such a downer)...

this all comes in the aftermath of what has been the most low-key and fraught over International Women's Day since IWD came into my knowledge (approx. 4 years ago). I don't know if it the current political state of our State (yes) or if it is simply that I'm on a campus that seems apathetic, at best (yes) but it is sort of disturbing. It's times like these that I crave my old stomping ground so I can rant and rage with several people in one setting (WRC/SJED) and walk out not feeling better but rather feeling validated. Instead - I rage with friends via FB and Blahg...and hope that typing it out will release some rage..

we need help, people. this whole place...needs help. i wanna help..who's with me?


Revelations (or How Crying In Class Makes Me Think)

So I had a breakdown. In a class. Of eight people.

And then I continued to cry throughout the day and even some this morning. All because we were talking about prisons.

I'm not the type to get upset easily about this sort of stuff. I've dealt with a lot of my past through exposure (talking about it) and therapy (expensive talking about it). At school, I generally try to be a chill person because the environment at school is already to high strung for my liking. People get way too...(*&(*^)(*&! about stuff. I'm not saying that passion isn't great..but constructive passion is better than explosive passion (in my opinion).

So anyway...the fact that I got SO frustrated/upset/I don't even know about some comments made about prisons (which, by the way, is not my "thing" precisely because I know it's too close) makes me feel embarrassed. I would have rather I had done anything BUT cry. But that's what I do, I suppose.

So what I consequently thought about after the fact were a few things:
1. I'm angry that I got upset about that and that I get upset about what people think/say but I'm MORE upset over the fact that I have a reason to know that what they are saying is wrong. I'm angry that this is part of my personal history. And I'm sort of angry I don't get to just don't talk about it that much. [maybe]...

2. Perhaps I'm more stressed about Dad coming subconsciously than I think. And maybe that's only a part of it. maybe it's also that I'm angry that I have to be worried about Dad coming to my wedding. Because people think he hasn't changed (which is what [I felt] the chunk of that discussion in class was saying: criminals can't change and prisons are shit [which they are a little bit]) so that could have been the nerve hit.

3. and finally, I have some really fabulous people in my life. I mean, seriously. There are a lot of people who care about me and not everyone can say that. I have a wonderful partner who knows that when I cry, it's not the end of the world. I have a mother who will talk to me for an entire car ride home about the same stuff we've been talking about for the past 15 years. I have glorious friends who know exactly what to say when I need them to say it. and I have teacher and mentors who care about me every step of the way - even when I'm out of their immediate surroundings or when I've just recently entered them. That's pretty awesome, if I do say so.

But even after these thoughts and even thinking about that class now...I get teary eyed. and it just reminds me that I have anger and I have frustration. and it needs to go somewhere. and I SHOULDN'T be embarrassed. and this is part of ME and who I am.  and I should deal with it. somehow.

so here I sit, thinking about this and many other things (international women's day, gender neutral bathrooms, class, spring break, etc.) and i am simultaneously feeling grateful and sad. and that's odd. but I'm sitting with it and handling it. and I'm proud of that.



and no, I'm not talking about the show (though I really love that show...a lot..check it out on NBC Thursdays).

I'm talking about what "community" means. I think it is a term (like many others) that gets thrown around a lot. At school, we call ourselves the Brown Community. We have communities of faith, communities of color, and the one that is sitting on my heart in particular tonight, is the LGBT community.

Community suggests some sort of commonality - commonality in language, heritage, geography, or some other shared experience. However, I wonder what happens when communities form around hardship. What happens when that commonality is simply common marginalization? I mean, obviously we've seen where marginalization leads to revolution leads to (a sort of) unity. But what are the dysfunctions when people outside of the community begin identifying a community (know what I mean?) What happens when a bunch of straight folks identify those who (for whatever reason) aren't accepted in the straight "community" (and doesn't that sound strange to place an agent identity in a community) and label them as another community despite their differences - specifically the radically different situations presented to gay men vs. lesbian women vs. gay women vs. bi-affectional folks vs. bisexual folks vs. transgender folks vs. transsexual folks vs. every other possible label you can attach to an individual. Is it different if those folks identify themselves as a community - ignoring those vast differences themselves? HOW DOES THAT WORK?

And the to further complicate things - what about people who fall into shades of even murkier gray (as if they haven't already been discussed)? But now, I'm thinking about myself personally. This blog was started to discuss some issues that I think about in my head. I've been pretty bad at actually working those things out here because (un)fortunately I have tons of people who are great at mediating some of that work for me or it simply becomes irrelevant.

In some circles I identify as heteroqueer.
"Kaytlin, what the hell does that mean?"
I have no f*cking clue (sometimes). But actually I've been evolving the definition more and more to reflect what it means for me. which is honestly both the beauty and the bane of labels.
Here's what I used to say:
Heteroqueer means that I'm in a long-term relationship that is heterosexual (hence the hetero) however, I don't want to negate that I may/may not find other genders attractive.

that seemed like a pretty good definition for the year I was first trying on that label. but now. it doesn't fit. Because, while I think all of that is true...my relationship (that heterosexual one) is pretty solid. actually, like, rock/diamond solid. So expressing other attractions that I may/may not have seems petty because it's likely that they won't mean much. That being said...identifying as just straight doesn't feel right either. and I still (for some reason) feel like heteroqueer defines me.
Here's why:
I present as sorta genderqueer meaning I have some stereotypically masculine features. I'm not petite, I'm (certainly) not effeminate, I have short "butch-like" hair, and other typical (and admittedly problematic) "features" - if you will - i.e. I can be extremely crass and un-ladylike (whatever that means).
Further, while I am in a long term straight relationship and Ben identifies as straight (though when I presented the idea of heteroqueer as a label, he didn't disagree), not identifying with the queer "commmunity" -- what does that mean -- seems odd. Especially because so many of my best friends and those that have inspired me to do well have identified with that space/label.

So here's the dilemma:
If I, someone who COULD, in fact, place myself in the AGENT "straight community", choose not to and instead identify with the "LGBTQIA/Queer/Non-straight" community - does that cheapen a sense of community. What if people are already doing that? What if people are being placed in that community that don't want to be there? What if people are being placed in a community that don't belong there? What does community mean? What does it mean, as a social worker or as ANYONE, to be a community builder? What are you building? Is is a superficial space in which identifying individuals is simply made easier for outsiders? Will people naturally form their own small niches which could be construed as communities? Is that the same sort of community?

And what about co-opting an identity (which is sometime what I feel like with my own made up identity)? If that is something that I truly do identify with and yet I'm rejected by the culture/community that I feel that best fits in because I am choosing that label...whose fault* is that? Should I have known that I didn't belong there? Is being heteroqueer still too straight? Is there a line?

Basically what I'm saying is that I question (clearly, because of the amount of ? in this blahg) the notion of community. I question whether there are things that outside people (read: social workers) can do to improve quality of a community that is in distress/need - because while clearly we can help individuals and those individuals will go back to their self-designated niches  - truly helping a "community" (other than simply a geographic location) seems unattainable to me. and perhaps futile.

I should state that I am a macro person - so the sense of community building is along the line I want to go down, however, I think these are important questions to ponder. Also, there may be a simple solution to this - or you may say, "duh Kaytlin, of course we help...we do X, Y, & Z and it's great" - and perhaps it is that simple...but I just needed to think about it.

*I'm not stating implicit "fault" - I'm just saying that in terms of who needs to deal with it...which side accepts the burden?

ponderous moments by kaytlin



I'm back for now...

I had to take a little hiatus. it was quite unplanned but also quite necessary.

a lot of things have been happening in that past couple of months. Namely, it's the year we're getting married, which adds a lot more urgency to all things wedding - which is really not my jam.  but we've been managing to cope. we have a few of the much larger things out of the way which is what's really important - people will be able to eat and there will be pictures. I mean, that's pretty much all there is to it, right?

Outside of that, my life has become consumed with school and practicum. which explains most of my absence. It's not that i've been absent from the interwebs, it's just that most of my time/energy is spent either a) researching random shit or b) on facebook because it doesn't require as much of a commitment as you do, blahg.

Other than that, I can't complain too much. I've met some great (GREAT) new people, Ben and I have been together for almost 6 years (in less than a month - woah), and it's getting closer and closer to when Joshua gets back from China (I'm anxious to start a countdown)...

Also, I've been contemplating the use of this blog. Since my life has become rather mundane and drama-free (not that I'm complaining) I feel like I could use this for more academic-y stuff...but then I wonder if I have it in me. I also admire more crafty, trendy blogs like my friend Jillian's but that's not me (at all)...so i may try experimenting with more academic/critical blogs here soon. We'll see what happens. I wish I had more to tell you about my life...but alas, I'm no good at telling personal anecdotes on line.

We'll see what happens with that but for now I just wanted to acknowledge that you still exist as part of my reality. Also, if you haven't checked it out yet..which you probably haven't - you should look up bloglovin' (i linked it in the post right before this one) and find other interesting blogs (more interesting than mine - they usually fall into that crafty/trendy genre). Be inspired.

Also, have a good week.



bloglovin' ~

Just a quick note to say:

Follow my blog with bloglovin

this *hopefully* means I'll be posting more often - (when I find the time as opposed to not posting at all ever)