Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Importance of #YesAllWomen

In light of the recent UCSB shooting, I'm sure many of you have been seeing the #YesAllWomen hashtag popping up on Facebook and Twitter, as well as other media sites. Basically, this trend's purpose is to promote discussion concerning sexual assault and misogyny in our societyrape culture and why it's a problem. Originally, this all began as backlash from men who became defensive and upset when women started talking about the horror and fear Elliot Rodger created in America. #NotAllMen are rapists, #NotAllMen are bad and mean and hate women; so basically women, please shut up about your problems, because it doesn't concern all of us.

Perhaps not all men assault or disrespect women, but YES, ALL WOMEN have been assaulted or disrespected by men. The best visual explanation I've seen on the internet is this:

"I hand you a bag of M&Ms and I tell you to take as many as you like. But just a warning; about 10% of them are poisoned. Now, are you gonna to touch any of those M&Ms?"

We all love M&Ms (men). But come on dudes, can you really blame us for being hesitant to trust anyone with a penis when so many have done us wrong? I love men as much as the next girl, but like all women, I too have been assaulted and demeaned and disrespected and objectified. It makes it hard for me to believe that the next guy isn't going to be like the last. It's a fear I live with every day, and I shouldn't have to.

A really good friend of mine wrote some thoughts about this whole debacle, and I like his perspective. Sometimes, mansplaining can be really good. Give him a read:

My Opinion On This “Not All Men” Bullshit Going Around

Note: If you’re lazy, just skip to the bottom paragraph.  If you’re not, keep reading.  Nerd.

If you have social media, you've surely seen this raging argument between misogynistic douche bags and basically every female on social media.  In a few words, women have used the recent UCSB tragedy to launch a twitter campaign highlighting some issues they’d like to see addressed in our culture.  Men, on the other hand, have missed the point of the campaign completely and decided to focus on what’s really important.  Men!  Now they’re crying all over the internet, “But not ALL men are rapists!  I’m certainly not a misogynist!  Respect me!  Validate my humanity!”  I find this whole debacle troubling.

Men: What the fuck, bros?  If you’re seriously taking a feminist campaign, applying it solely to yourself, and then attempting to deny that a problem exists, you’re a fucking embarrassment to our shared gender.  The whole point these lovely women are trying to make is that there is a poisonous pattern in our society that breeds these hate crimes.  Rape may be down since the advent of online pornography, but it is still far, far too common.  The mere fact that most young women prep for college by buying pepper spray and rape whistles should clue you in on how systemic this is.  Of course not all men are rapists.  Every person with half a brain realizes this.  You don’t have to explain.  Chances are that every “feminazi” making these wide generalizations knows a man or two.  Heck, they might even be related to one!  I promise you, they know there are good men out there.  The problem is that, though there are many good men, there are still too many terrible men lurking in the shadows. 

Here are some thoughts on how we, as a gender, can distance ourselves from being associated with hate crimes against women:
  • Read up on feminism!  Check out what actual women think about things!  You may not agree with everything, but the vast majority of feminism is just women asking for their fair shake.  Trust me, you’ll like it.
  • Encourage responsibility.  I’m not talking about women being ‘responsible’ for preventing rape.  I’m talking about men being responsible for preventing rape.  Hey man, if a lady doesn't want to do it, that’s her choice.  Don’t coerce her.  Don’t intimidate her.  Don’t stick your penis inside her.  Accept it and move on.  If you hear about some dude doing any of the above, I highly recommend buying a good wooden baseball bat and then using it to beat that rapist piece of shit’s head in.  Take a girl with you and make it a date!
  • Forget the ‘friend-zone.’  I get it.  You think your forming a relationship and it turns out it was a bust.  It sucks.  But that girl doesn't owe you jack shit, just like you don’t owe that girl from 7th grade who followed you around and wrote your name in her notebook a thousand times.  Relationships don’t work that way. Don’t force a relationship. 
  • Watch your thoughts!  Avoid demeaning pornography! Use respectful language regarding women! (Personally, I avoid the ‘b’ word. [Bitch. I’m referring to the word bitch.]) 
  • In doubt, treat a woman the way you’d want a boy to treat your sister or mother.  With love and respect.  Respond to anything else with the same ferocity you’d respond to a mistake made by your sister’s senior prom date.  You know the one.  With the douchey haircut.  Fuck that guy.  

In short, women are pretty cool, guys.  They’re like men, but they generally smell nicer.  Feminism is all about treating them with respect, and certainly not sticking our dicks anywhere they aren't supposed to be.  It’s not that hard.  If I can quote Nick Offerman, “Be cool, man.  Don’t be an asshole.”  Carry on.

TL;DR

Welcome back, illiterate ingrates!  Basically what I said was: if you’re arguing “not all men are rapists,” you’re a fucking moron.  We know.  What we’re saying is there are too many rapists, and society is at least partially to blame.  So shut up, stop being a jackass, and do your part to make the world safe for women.

Special thanks to Samuel Moynihan for his contribution to this week's post.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Make Each Day the Best Day Ever Lived

I remember one morning, I came into work at 8 AM like I did every day. I said hello to my boss, turned on my computer, and sat down to start my paperwork. One of the other employees came in and smiled at me.

"Good morning to you, ma'am!"

"Good morning," I replied back. "How are you?"

"I'm having the best day in the history of the world! How about you?"

For a second, I stared at him a little dumbfounded. I had never had someone respond to such a generic question with such a unique answer. Eventually, I replied that I was doing okay, thanks for asking.
He then looked me straight in the eyes with all the intensity a person could muster and asked me a life-altering question.

"Why not make today the best day you have ever lived?"

All the possible answers I could give him flitted through my mind: I'm tired today. Nothing can top last weekend. Tomorrow will be better.

None of them actually came out of my mouth though because, in all honesty, I didn't know what to say. Why couldn't today be the best day I have ever lived? What was stopping me from making today amazing? If I'm not trying to make today better than yesterday, I am not living to my full potential. And I wouldn't have the promise of something better to look forward to each day.

Our lives are filled with a steady stream of choices that will determine our future. From what you have for lunch, to who you marry--every decision ultimately affects the final outcome of your life. But too often, we forget to consider the importance of these choices and how incredibly easy it actually is to change our fate. All it takes is deciding you are going to make the best of what you have.

I want to acknowledge the fact that it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, it is legitimately impossible to be happy. I don't mean to erase those who struggle on a daily basis with various forms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other medical issues that make happiness nearly unattainable. My heart goes out to you and I validate your experiences. You are not alone.

However, you hear stories in the news constantly of heartbreaking cases that transform into a message of hope for all of us. The transgender woman who hasn't let her condition stand in the way of her dreams. The man with no arms and no legs who became a voice for God. The woman who lost her child and her limbs, but is just thankful she is alive. They all were dealt a hand I will never comprehend. Yet they have chosen to make the most of it. They have chosen to live a life of purpose. They have chosen to make a positive difference in this world. They have chosen to make each day the best they have ever lived.

It is a choice. I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, it'll probably be one of the hardest things you'll ever do. When getting out of bed is nearly inconceivable because life just sucks, why on earth would you want create false hopes when you've only ever known disappointment? Why would you want to keeping living and keep trying when you have felt so much pain?

I'll tell you why. Because you have purpose. You are significant. You have worth. You are strong. And yes; you can do this.

You can make a difference. You can change the world. You can be a hero.

Any person ever that has experienced depression will tell you that choosing to be happy does not always work. But they will also tell you that doing nothing to change your situation will never work. Not ever. Life doesn't magically fix itself. You have to do something. See a psychologist. Start medication (with the consultation of a doctor). Make a self-help plan or list. Take "me" time. Serve others. It doesn't matter. Just please do something. You need to more than you realize.

Make today different. Make it important. Try to forget all the bad stuff and the things you can't change. Focus on the things you can. Some of those things you have control over: Your attitude; your actions; YOU. 
People change every day. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. And if you want something in your life to change, the best place to start is with the person living your life. Oh hey, that's you.

Might I make a suggestion? Start with choosing to be a little more selfless. We all have problems. We all have pain and trials and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes it gets to be too much to handle. Take a break when that happens and focus on someone else's needs, just for a day. See what you can do for them. Make their day a little better. Maybe--just maybe--you'll change their life.

And wouldn't that make it the best day you have ever lived?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why Blogs Are Stupid

So. Hi guys. I have some news. I, uhh, started a blog. And I think my blog name and the title of this post say it all.

I'm the biggest hypocrite you ever will meet because on multiple occasions, I have vocalized just how much I disdain blogs and bloggers in general. It's not that I don't read them now and again or that they can't sometimes be interesting. Mostly, I hate them because I've never really seen the point in blogging if only a few people read it. Also, because 95% of blogs are legitimately stupid and no one cares about your dog, cat, and three kids.

Have I mentioned how rude I am?

So the question then is: Why is Keli Byers writing a blog? What made her change her mind?

Firstly, I'll have you know my opinion has not changed. I still don't like blogs and I still think they're mostly pointless and laughable. This will likely include mine.

However, I also have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting lately on the last year of my life. What I've learned, how much I've changed, the amount of growing up I've done, the people I've met. And I realized I hadn't shared very much of it with anyone. I may have mentioned a few things here and there and I'm sure many of my friends and family have picked up on some of the more monumental happenings from my Facebook; but other than that, I have put very little effort into sharing Keli with the world.

This year has been extremely hard and challenging and exciting and interesting and important. It has resulted in emotional stress, heart-wrenching pain, constructive experience, immeasurable love, and new friendships. It is unfathomable how much has happened since August. It's unfathomable mostly because I haven't taken the time to work through it all so I can deal with everything in a healthy way. Which is probably the main purpose of this blog. I desperately need to channel my feelings and thoughts in a way that will be productive to not only me, but others as well. I have so many things I would like to share with you all--explanations you deserve, discussions to be had, experiences to be told.

This is mostly for me. I'm trying to put myself first again, and that means being aware of my emotional well-being. Writing it all out is very therapeutic for me. Why do you think I write songs?

But it's also for you. If you're reading this, I want you to know how much I love you. You mean something to me. Our relationship is priceless. You deserve all of me, including the parts I don't often share.

At some point, you may decide that the full package is too much to handle. That's okay. I will understand. Know that I still care deeply for you.

But if you're willing to join me on this bumpy ride that is life, I promise you won't regret it.

I guarantee I will say things you don't agree with. I guarantee you will discover things you don't like. I guarantee it's going to be scary. But guess what? Life is scary. Life is hard. Life is not always good. Yet every now and then, it produces something that makes everything worthwhile. And suddenly all the pain, all the regret, all the stress, all the heartache...is worth it. You are one of those things.

So, if you're still with me, thank you. I hope we both get something out of this hypocritical journey. I will be making new posts every week, alternating between universal subjects and more personal topics. I'm actually kind of excited.

It'll definitely be stupid though. After all, I hate blogs.