Imagine you go to a party. You put on a cute low cut top that is completely appropriate for this party. You feel great, you like your look. You wear a coat because it’s cold. You enjoy the party, you are having fun with your friends. You step outside for some air, or a smoke, whichever it happens to be in your case. You’re enjoying a quiet conversation with a friend. Suddenly, a man comes up to you, a man who you’ve never met, and buttons up your coat.

A man comes up to you, puts his hands on your clothes, and adjusts them to his liking.

This is commonly referred to as the infantilization of women in the patriarchal society. Women are seen as over grown children, and like children, they need to be shown what is right and what is wrong, they don’t have the cognitive capacity to make their own decisions. This attitude is disgusting and still very pervasive. This is the thought processes behind horrific laws that have recently passed, such as making a woman get permission (!!!) from the father to have an abortion, even if the father was her rapist! This is the thought process behind men attacking our reproductive freedom, because what could women possibly know about what’s right for them? If women have no agency, of course there’s nothing wrong with a man coming to a woman and adjusting her clothing as he sees fit.

This happened to my friend, Sarah, in what is considered to be a very progressive country, Norway. Here is a conversation she and I had about it:

Alex:How did you feel when that happened?

Sarah:Dumbfounded and offended, but moments later EMPOWERED because I finally had a good argument for why he shouldn’t do it.

You know how you often feel like something is wrong but you can’t articulate it until way later? But I was like, you can offer me your scarf if I look cold, but don’t touch me or pull my clothes, because you wouldn’t do that to a man hahahahahh. Not today, Satan!!!

But initially humiliated, that’s the feeling I was looking for

I was wearing a reaaaally low cut top and slut shaming myself pretty hard. So for someone to even insinuate that I should be more covered up, even if it was because of the weather, was so embarrassing

A:Yeah like you’re somehow wrong and he’s gonna set you straight. Like a parent to a child.

S:Like I can’t decide how much clothing I need . Because ground breaking concept: you can dress like a baby if you want, that’s a fashion statement, not a signal that you need a man to help you cover your basic needs.



Privilege Etiquette

Everyone holds privilege over someone: men over women, whites over POC, able over disabled, neurotypical vs aneurotypical, traditionally educated over non traditionally educated, rich over poor, the list goes on. How to properly handle the privilege you have in a constructive way? In a manner that doesn’t further burden the person over whom you hold privilege? Welcome to Privilege Etiquette!

When you say something like “I hate all men” as a man, to a woman who has just shared a negative experience with men, you are placing the burden on her. How? Because you are implying that you either A) aren’t like all men and therefore she should acknowledge that and/or B) you hate yourself, and therefore she needs to comfort you. This is not a theory, this is a fact. You may not be consciously doing it, in which case I urge introspection. What is a better reaction in the same scenario? “I’m sorry you went through that” will suffice, as it doesn’t place any burden on the person sharing and doesn’t press them for any reaction to *you* and *your* privilege. If they want to share more, simply listen. If you feel a surge of compassion and want to help, simply ask “What can I do to help?” It is imperative you refrain from going into your own experience unless the experience mirrors the other persons, ie. a trauma survivor shares her trauma and you share your experience, NOT a poc shares their experience with discrimination and you, a non poc, share your experience with “reverse racism”. It’s just rude and speaks to your massive lack of education, please refrain.

What about as a white person? Perhaps a white person who has a disability? You may hold privilege over a poc but be discriminated against because of your disability. How do you react to a poc who is abled when they are talking about their experience of discrimination? What if your poc friend says “I hate white people”? Please, do not chime in with “me too” because you will encounter the same problem as outlined above, placing the burned on your friend. Do you speak about your experience as a disabled person in reply? No! While your experience IS VALID, it is not comparable. How do I know? because you haven’t had your friends lived experience. Now if your poc friend was to go on about disability discrimination and liken it to their own experience, that’s a different story.

All of this requires conscious effort, but I promise, once you get into a habit of  being mindful about these things, you will have a much better time of it.

Dealing with Disappointment in Friendships

Life can be full of disappointments. Here are some techniques for softening the blow and dealing with inevitable fallout. Self soothing techniques are coping strategies that ideally are learned when we are children. When little Jackie doesn’t want to play with little Mollie, little Mollie is soothed by a teacher or parent and told that it’s ok to be disappointed, and that there are lots of other friends little Mollie can make. Many of us may not have been taught healthy coping mechanisms. We may be very hurt when our attempts at friendships as adults are not embraced with open arms, we may shut down and think there is something terribly wrong with us.

One of the many benefits of figuring out your own boundaries, and demanding they are respected, is that you start to better understand the boundaries of others. No one owes you anything, that includes your platonic friends, and acquaintances. Once you become more aware of your own boundaries, it will be easier to understand why someone may not be replying, or may be flaky. The most common reason is, they just don’t want to. They are not on the same page as you for whatever reason and THAT’S OK. Remind yourself that those are boundaries you will respect just like you’d like your own boundaries respected.

This is a skill that you will get at with practice, and I promise it will lead to you giving yourself a chance to try and reach out to more people, which will inevitably lead to establishing great friendships.