Trump

That time I got Trump’d

Dubai.

When Teacher realized he would be unable to attend the festival, he told the organizer that one of his students was coming alone, and asked her to look after me. Which she did; not her fault I have a gift of finding myself in awkward situations. I told Teacher: he was happy that I was making friends and having a good time but, “Be careful, Vanilla. These guys can be trouble.” Which guys – there are two dozen instructors & DJs here? Trouble? What kind of trouble? Am I at risk of being drugged and date-raped? Finding myself arrested at the border for unwittingly smuggling cocaine? Having my identity stolen? Please elaborate. “Just trouble. Stay alert. Be careful around them.”


Last day of the festival.

At the end of the night, the festival photographer wanted a group pic. I clambered on stage so that I could be seen above the crowd. A few ppl climbed up with me, including a dancer called GLTW (*). As the photographer snapped away, GLTW came and stood behind me, pressed himself up against me and grabbed my ass – two solid handfulls, with a big squeeze for good measure. Not an accident. I tried elbowing him, discreetly, not wishing to cause a scene or disrupt the happy group picture. As soon as I could, I shoved him off of me, and gave him an withering look. GLTW laughed and smirked, before sauntering off.

Now. Butts are kinda public property – they get brushed accidentally, or not so accidentally, in public transportation, crowds, clubs… it happens. GLTW’s behaviour was inappropriate, definitely, but I did not feel violated. Merely irritated by his presumptious behaviour, especially since I’d had almost no contact with the dude: I had not danced with or talked to GLTW all festival.

After-party later that (very early) morning.

Energizer and I flirted away, outrageously. I was leaning against a table, and Energizer stood between my legs and the banter was lewd and hilarious. Soon after Energizer left, GLTW walked up to me, right between my legs, in the spot Energizer had just vacated. “Hi” and grabbed my crotch. Palm up, I could feel his fingers on my vagina, separated only by the material of my panties and the jumpsuit I was wearing.

In silence, I knocked his hand away. “No, but really?!” Once again, he smirked, “what?!” and walked away.

Just like that my enjoyment of the night evaporated. I sought out FroMan, and stayed close to him for the rest of the party, trying to absorb his safe, calming energy. I pretended to watch the beautiful sunrise over Dubai, smiling to cover my mild nausea. I took a shower when I got back to the hotel.

The next day, I quietly told Energizer, Sunshiney and FroMan what had happened, so they could warn any of their female students attending any future festivals where GLTW was present. Energizer was disgusted, FroMan looked grave and silent, and Sunshiney was outraged, “Why didn’t you punch him? If I had been you I would have yelled his ears off, that cocky bastard!” Yes, but you see, I am Vanilla, a nameless beginner dancer. Had I caused a scene, he would have denied it, and with his reputation as a rising star in the dance world, this would be a tiny blip in his career, forgotten immediately, whereas I would be branded a drama queen, forever held at arm’s length in any future dance festival. Should I, could I, have punched him? Maybe, but what purpose would that have served? I just would put myself at risk of being punched back since he clearly does not abide by the gentleman’s code of conduct. No. The only alternative for a nameless female nobody, alone in a foreign country, is to be quiet. Suck it up, because the costs of speaking up are not born equally between the alleged aggressor and victim: the costs would be mine alone.

It took me days to forget the feel of his strange fingers against that most private part of my body: the part I’ve shared only with a select few people that I’ve trusted to handle that intimacy with care. It took me weeks to stop feeling guilty, wondering if I somehow demonstrated cowardice by not publicly shaming him. For the endless dialogue to stop: what was it about me that made him feel that was ok – I wasn’t drunk, I hadn’t displayed lewd behaviour on or off the dance floor. Oh wait, that’s silly, that’s the same argument as “she deserved to get raped, she was wearing a mini-skirt”. This isn’t about me, its about him. But really tho, I do wonder why me?! Am I being dramatic? Maybe this wasn’t a big deal, maybe I shouldn’t care so much. Maybe it’s me. It took me months to accept the proper term: sexual assault.


While the world reacted to Trump’s twitter fight against Mika Brzezinski, actual real news was happening. The Supreme Court upheld part of the Muslim Ban. I get it. I get that we need to prioritize and fight the most pressing issues.

But.

I live in a world where pussy-grabbers like GLTW feel vindicated: afterall, the most powerful man in the world boasts of the same behaviour – and the WORLD REWARDS HIM. It is no wonder that, instinctively, I know there is no point in speaking up when I get assaulted. The evidence of that pointlessness has been in office for 5 months.

I feel defeated. I write this to remind myself I have a voice. Just that: a voice. When the world implies I should be silent, having a voice is a tiny act of courage.

I wrote this post about sexual assault back in October 2016. All that rage. Its burned out now, replaced by hopelessness. That is his legacy.

(*) GLTW = Good-looking Trump Wannabe

Disclaimer:

That Dubai festival remains one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I will always encourage anyone to visit the city and attend that festival. Furthermore, to his credit (?) GLTW’s actions occurred after the end of the festival, and must not in any way be associated with what was a wonderful event filled with lovely, kind, generous ppl, talented instructors & DJs, and many many new friends. One bad apple does not make the whole thing rotten. Isn’t that so, America?

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Lessons from my Baba: daily bread

I’ve been remembering my grandparents a lot lately (all of them born and raised in Europe/Russia during the revolution and WWII). They too lived through days where a democratically elected government issued executive orders that forever changed history and resulted in a lot of hatred. The fallout of those days was so horrific that most of it was never spoken of again, and the bits and pieces we do know are such that we are ok with keeping those demons of the past dormant.

But here is the thing. My grandparents never believed WWII was a one time thing. They witnessed up close what mankind could do, and always knew that mankind is apt to repeat its mistakes. They believed in the simplest of interpretations of “give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. That was all they could aim for, always. In doing so, they managed to build lives that included moments of happiness, despite the horrors they lived through. Because of my grandparents, here I am. Blessed with opportunities and a life they never could have dreamed of.

These opportunities seem at risk. The events of this past week (Muslim Ban and mass shooting in a Qc mosque), lead me to believe that my future will have strong parallels to my grandparents’ experiences.

Therefore, all I ask for is my daily bread, and the ability to forgive and be forgiven. Any more or less than that is inadequate. That is all each one of us can do right now.

#whoknewtrumpcouldreignitemyfaith


Growing up, my mother’s poor health and ludicrous levels of medication messed with her appetite. Rather than skip supper, she would read to my father and I at the kitchen table. One of my favorite books she shared with us was C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. It is a satiric novel: a collection of letters written by a Senior demon (Screwtape) to his nephew Wormwood, a junior temptor. Screwtape attempts to mentor Wormwood in his first mandate to secure the damnation of a nameless British man (“the patient”). Set during WWII, its lessons about morals, temptation, resistance to sin and self-awareness have shaped my entire life. It is also very funny. A revelation that religion and faith are not mutually exclusive with humor and laughter.

Although this novel has always provided me with useful guidance, it has been rather at the forefront of my mind recently. It could have been written now, instead of 1942 – that alone confirms my belief that we are headed to terrible times. Nevertheless, I am rereading it, so as to try be aware of the traps that await us, in these times of hatred and fear.

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Real talk #cslewis

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I strongly urge y’all to listen to this particular chapter from the Screwtape Letters – narrated by John Cleese! It is rather pertinent for current day events.

 

The Scream Room. I feel like screaming.

I can’t find the words to say how upsetting I find the American election.


I’ve yet to read anything that explains better the cognitive dissonance about this election. What appears to be the absence of reason. An explanation for how we got here, when a reality-TV Emmy-loser can calmly state in a presidential debate that he might not accept the results of the election (side note – why then is he running?!). The article below, written after the RNC, is possibly the most powerful indictment of how a cultural shift made this possible.

In the humid dark of the plaza outside the event, a dozen young activists covered in sweat and glitter have got together an impromptu protest. Shell-shocked members of the press stumble out into the street. One journalist from a major mainstream outlet breaks down in tears.

“It’s just — there’s so much hate,” she says, as a couple of glitterpunks move in to comfort her. “What is happening to this country?”

What’s happening to this country has happened before, in other nations, in other anxious, violent times when all the old certainties peeled away and maniacs took the wheel. It’s what happens when weaponised insincerity is applied to structured ignorance. Donald Trump is the Gordon Gekko of the attention economy, but even he is no longer in control. This culture war is being run in bad faith by bad actors who are running way off-script, and it’s barely begun, and there are going to be a lot of refugees.  – Laurie Penny, I’m With the Banned


This video unpacking why the “lockeroom talk” spin is deeply upsetting. Silver lining: Trevor Noah is finally coming into his own on the Daily Show.


Can we take a second to remember what sexual assault really is? Let’s revisit Brock Turner’s victim’s impact statement.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

(…)

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused.

(…)

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

Yes. Yes, sexual assault and lockeroom talk.


I was at a 5a7 recently with a bunch of my girlfriends, most of whom have been practicing combat sports (kickboxing, muay thai, boxing) for years. All beautiful, professional, fierce women. The eldest surprised us by recounting how she had been assaulted by a male stranger the night before, on her way home from the gym. She’d sprained her thumb when he tackled her to the ground, lost her shoe during the struggle, and was banged up and bruised. She talked him out of his stated wish to rape and kill her. This triggered a group discussion amongst my friends, where one by one, we each traded our stories of the time we were assaulted by men. 5 of us. We all had stories. We all knew of other stories that the women in our lives, friends and family, had experienced.


I want to weep. As a woman, it is my burden that I instinctively recognize hatred directed towards my gender. My white privilege allowed me to be comfortably outraged until now, try laugh about the Wall, shaking my head at all those Mexican rapists and terrorizing Muslims. I was uncomfortably outraged when the Khan fiasco happened. But now? I feel personally attacked by Trump and all he represents.

And I am Canadian.

I’m a bimbo except Jon Stewart is my Bae

I realized recently that I have a bimbo streak. Sure, I want a guy who values my mind, and loves my personality, who respects my intelligence and ambition. A partner in life. But I also want him to find me sexy-as-fuck and a total babe.

Similarly, I have often told myself that what really mattered in a partner was his values. I look at the men in my family, my father, my god-father and my uncles. None of them would ever have been eligible for a cover of GQ magazine, but boy oh boy are they stand-up men, good fathers and husbands. In my family, there have only been 2 divorces, and both times, my uncles learned from their mistakes, and their second marriages have been happy, stable and long-term (>15-20 years). The men in my family are great examples of the kind of partner that I want. Except… I’ve recently realized that I really really want a partner that I find sexy-as-fuck and a total babe.

I’m a bimbo.

Even before owning my bimbo-ness, I had a few inflexible dating rules:

  • I cannot date a guy shorter than me
  • I cannot date a guy that wears tighter pants than me
  • I cannot date a guy who has a man-bun
  • I cannot date a guy who weighs less than me

I think these are all very reasonable rules: I am a hefty woman, and to feel sexy and feminine, I need a man that does not make me feel like a towering lumberjack. I can’t help how many vagina works. Its evolution.

Well.

There is one exception to prove the above rules.

And that exception is Jon Stewart.

He is short. He is very short. I can benchpress him. But my god, that man, with his brain, his intelligence, his clarity of thought, his values and his decision to use his influence for good… take me now. Let me have his babies that I may spread his genes throughout the world and make it a better place.

Also?

America, you scare me. While part of me hopes that common sense will prevail in November, I am still stunned and frightened that people support and endorse Trump. I don’t think he is a joke. I think he is a scary man, and a large portion of Americans have abdicated their reason in favor of emotion. The emotions that have been revealed are very ugly. To the Americans that are not Trump supporters, the Democrats that are faced with a nominee that does not represent their values, I beseech you: wtv issues your party faces, however strong your (extremely valid) disappointment that Sanders did not make it and has endorsed Clinton… please. PLEASE. Do not let Trump win.

In the mean time, I am going to pray to the gods that Jon Stewart comes out of retirement until the election. America needs him. I need him.

#pleasebemyspermdaddy

 

A Canadian in Denver: that time my black Uber driver explained why he’d vote for Trump

Disclaimer: I am Canadian. Our political spectrum is much more leftist than the states (even our Conservative politicians are more liberal than most Democrats in the USA). Furthermore, I hail from Quebec, which of all of the provinces in Canada, is the closest to a socialist society. All my political views have been shaped by my upbringing here. I happen to think that Canada, for all its numerous problems, is one of the best countries to live in. No, I am not utopic, and nor do I believe that Canada has achieved tolerance, fairness and peace; it just is considerably MORE tolerant, fair and peaceful that 99% other countries in the world. I’m not alone in that belief: we are ranked the 2nd best country to live in, world wide.

It will therefore come as no surprise that I am horrified by Trump’s rise to prominence as the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.  To quote Trevor Noah, from the Daily Show:

When I first started “The Daily Show”, a lot of people asked me the same question: “Are you ready, Trevor? Are you ready for American politics? Are you ready for this election cycle?” But now, seeing all of this shit happen, I think I should’ve asked if YOU were ready, because I’m from a third-world country – It looks like you’re headed to one.”

As a Canadian, looking in, yeah, I agree. I assumed most people would agree. Especially people who come from third world countries.

False assumption #1.

I’m currently spending the week in Denver, for work. Yesterday, my Uber driver was a black immigrant from Kinshasa, Congo. We chatted away in French, both of us relieved to take a break from speaking in English. I learned he’d been in the States for 7 years, and liked it well enough here. I asked him for his take on the election. Imagine my astonishment when he told me that he was, and had been from the start, a Trump supporter, and was 75% confident that Trump would beat Clinton in the general election.

I’d assumed that most black people, having seen how Trump and his supporters act and speak about blacks in America (assuming they weren’t already disgusted by his other comments about Hispanics and Muslims) would not be drawn to him.

False assumption #2.

Behold my Uber driver’s comments. I live texted our convo to one of my friends back home, so the French quotes below are close to verbatim. I’m pretty confident my translation is fair, and conveys his meaning without excessive projection of my own biases.

Trump dit les vraies choses. Le monde n’aiment juste pas entendre la vérité. Prenez par exemple ses propos sur les noirs. Trump n’est pas raciste! Les noirs, ici, vont aux mêmes écoles que les blancs, mais ensuite ne font rien de leur vie, et se plaignent de l’injustice sociale. Ils vivent génération après génération dans la pauvreté et la criminalité et se sentent victimes. Trump, lorsqu’il dit que les noirs n’aiment que la bouffe, les femmes et la paresse, qu’ils sont des fainéants, il n’est pas raciste! Il ne fait qu’observer les vraies choses. Mais les gens s’emportent.

And now – in English:

Trump says things as they are. People just dont like hearing the truth. Take for example his comments about Blacks. Trump isn’t racist! Blacks, here, they go to the same schools as the white folks, but they don’t do anything with their lives, except complain about social injustice. They live generation after generation in poverty, criminality and feel victimized. Trump, when he says that Blacks only like food, women and laziness, that they are slackers, he isn’t being racist! He is just saying what he observes. But people can’t handle what they hear.

Even making allowances for the Immigrant Mentality (my grandparents, and every immigrant I’ve ever known, have it: immigrants work SO HARD to carve a living for themselves in a new country, they often feel slight/moderate contempt for the locals who haven’t succeeded in their home country), WTF, bro. You are black. Have you not seen the news lately? Do you feel NO sympathy for the pervasive, consistent biases against other blacks? White priviledge doesn’t particularly distinguish between African Americans and Immigrant Blacks.

Et pour ceux qui pensent que Trump a un problème avec les femmes, pourquoi? Eh! C’est évident que les hommes peuvent mieux faire certaines jobs que les femmes. Ils sont plus forts, ils sont mieux adaptés pour certains travaux. Eh! C’est normal que cela se traduisent dans des taux salariales différents. Trump, qui juge que l’inéquité salariale n’est pas une priorité, il n’a pas de problème avec les femmes. C’est un businessman! Il comprend l’économie de la chose. Il dit la vérité. Il sait comment faire de l’argent.

Just typing that out makes me so mad, I’m having trouble translating:

As for the people who think that Trump has a problem with women – why? Pffft. It is self-evident that men can better deliver in certain jobs than women. They are stronger, and better adapted for some work. Eh! Obviously, that is going to translate into different wage rates. When Trump says wage inequality isn’t a priority, it isn’t because he has a problem with women… He is a businessman! He understands the underlying economy. He says the truth. He knows how to make money.

Ok, there buddy. I can tell that you have your own issues when it comes to gender roles. But leaving that aside, because clearly a lot of people still have similar issues, or else we wouldn’t still have discussions about the relevance of feminism in our society, TRUMP DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO MAKE MONEY. HOW DOES THIS MYTH STILL PERSIST?!?! Even BEFORE John Oliver’s brilliant piece on Trump, it was a running gag that Trump is a serial bankruptee. PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE EVEN IN CANADA.

You guys, I don’t understand. I don’t get it. Even if you don’t mind his racist comments. Even if you aren’t scared shitless by his approach to international diplomacy (aka, bomb the shit out of anyone who doesn’t let America do whatever the fuck it wants, use nuclear weapons, who cares how many ppl die). Even if you live under a rock, and haven’t noticed that he LIES and CHANGES his opinions ALL THE FUCKING time. Even if you aren’t disgusted by his vulgar, rude, absence of manners – really, America, THAT is who you want to represent you on the international scene? Someone who proudly disregards any concept of etiquette. EVEN IF WE DISREGARD ALL OF THAT…

HE MAKES NO SENSE. He is NOT logical. Basic common sense. The wall? Economically unfeasible.

Now here is the kicker. Here is where I stop breathing, and lose all hope.

All over Facebook, I see people despair about Trump vs Clinton. And I agree – Clinton is not an ideal candidate. She’s slimy and so political. I don’t trust her either. But people then proudly announce they will NOT vote. I even had an acquaintance, who proudly shares all over Fbk his intention to RUN FOR OFFICE, state that if he was living in the USA, he would abstain from voting.

I give up.

If people can’t be bothered to VOTE, to try shape the future of their country and the world, just because they aren’t enamored of their candidates. If people don’t understand that by abstaining, they are giving their CONSENT to the outcome. THEY ARE AN ACCESSORY TO THE FACT.

If the country that is the “biggest defender of democracy” in the world can’t even get its citizens to understand the basics of democracy… it deserves Trump.

We are all gonna die.

FML.