Rape Culture: Folks to Avoid

A part of me is dreading writing what I am about to write about, but it has been on my mind so much lately! I feel like a frequently bring it up in conversation with friends because it is witnessed far too often–rape and rape culture are not properly addressed. I know that I mentioned it in another post but first and foremost, a person does not warrant sexual advances and aggression due to what they are wearing. No one “asks” for anything unless they actually ask for it. Consent is consent and you either have it or you do not.

You should avoid someone who:

  • Has a large sense of entitlement. If you receive a compliment from someone, this does not mean that you owe them anything. Same if they buy you dinner or do anything of value to you. This seems like a no-brainer, but some people are skilled manipulators.
  • Uses manipulative tactics. For example, a person may make you feel bad about yourself and that what you should be doing is pleasing them.
  • Sends you anything electronically or says anything to you that makes you feel uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in the way that a new novel may challenge your beliefs, but uncomfortable in the way that you are creeped out or feel threatened.
  • Says rape jokes. Yes, this is a thing. No, they are not just jokes. They perpetuate the thought that rape is something to be laughed at and that is not to be taken lightly.

I feel like there are many more archetypes that fit this bill and every individual experiences rape culture differently than another. Please share your thoughts and tell your friends to just say NO to these kinds of people!

For additional examples of rape culture, I found this great article.

My Birthday Week: Get Out and Volunteer! Here’s How.

This past week was my 25th birthday and as much as I love my job, I felt like I wanted to do something that I would remember forever. Giving back to the community has been something I have always supported, and participated in. This past year, I became more engaged by mentoring a young, single mom in a shelter with her finances (I did this in a 6 month program after work). After the program ended and with my birthday coming up, I decided to take off a whole day of work to commit to community building.

After reaching out to a number of local organizations, it came down to Habitat for Humanity which was planning to work on building a house and was happy to have me on board! I did not hesitate to join there crew. On my birthday, I spent the day drilling dry wall onto the first floor walls of the house and despite recovering from a cold and being chilly in the morning, it was a great experience!

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I know it sounds like a big time commitment or too much work to find a place to volunteer, but once you actually do go through with a small commitment like this, not only does it help others, but it is so rewarding on a personal level! I think this is because you can actually SEE the difference you are making.

If you are interested in volunteering this is what I suggest:

  1. Ask around. Word of mouth travels fast and you might know someone connected to a great organization which needs help! If not on person, social media is a wonderful tool to find out what’s going on in your area.
  2. Decide what you care about most. There are so many causes that are important to me so it is hard to pick just one! However, you will need to. Love animals? Check out your nearest Humane Society. Crazy for environmental preservation? Join a clean-up crew!
  3. Also consider what you are good at. Act accordingly. For example, if you are a money person, spearheading or joining a fundraiser is an excellent choice.
  4. If you are not finding what you are looking for, I strongly suggest Volunteer Match or other websites that can connect you to organizations that fit what you want to do.

With helping out being so easy, what are you waiting for?!


There are many women who do not report rapes and there are many reasons why. These include: fear of social stigma, confusion, and self-blame. However, one reason why they may be fearful is that justice is not always served to those who report their rape. Many people who read or watched the news this week saw how justice let slip through the cracks with this week’s widely publicized Kesha case.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer–Kesha exiting the court house in NY.

I remember months ago reading that the singer Kesha was suing her producer of many years for allegedly violating her. Though one does not know all of the facts, what we do know is that women do not tend to make up stories about being sexually violated, or at least, the amount of women falsely creating allegations cannot be quantified, according to Bloomberg News.

As a whole, when a woman reports her rape, the media tends to focus on what the woman could have been doing to provoke the attack. How was she dressed? Was she alone? Was she being sexually suggestive? The media time and again does not ask: Why are people raping? What makes rapists want to rape and how do we stop it?

I loved how model and fashion designer Amber Rose shut down a few TV hosts this week who were confused with the concept of consent.”If I want to wear a short skirt or a tank top, and I’m at the club and I’m having fun with my friends and I feel sexy, I’m not DTF,” she says. “I didn’t come here to have sex. I didn’t come here to hook up with nobody. I came out here with my girls and I just feel pretty. I’m not ‘asking for’ nothing.” This idea still seems to perplex many but it is SO IMPORTANT for people to understand!

All in all, I think this case shows that cumulatively, justice does not get served for survivors of sexual violence. I hope that this case is a wake-up call that is is time for people to stick together to understand how sexual violence is not ok and the way we should talk about survivors of a crime should change.

Summer’s Eve: Not Giving Me the Cleanest Feeling

Watching TV one night, a Summer’s Eve commercial came on that stunned me. If you do not know what Summer’s Eve is, it is a brand that creates feminine hygiene products. In the commercial, you see a woman getting ready in a bathroom while her husband is showering. She quips that instead of bathing with a typical cleansing wash, he is actually showering with a product “perfectly formulated for a woman’s ‘v.'” This in turn causes the man to freak out because what is worse than showering with PH balanced soap that is meant for a woman’s vagina (hence the “v” because no one would ever dare say vagina on television)?

The freak out caused by using this gentle wash forces the man to take on macho pursuits, from chopping up wood with his bare hands to mowing the lawn, to even pulling a car rigged by a rope with his own teeth. Nothing is apparently more emasculating than using a vaginal wash. When he is done with these macho tasks, he crushes a beer can on his head and his partner tells him “that was close.” Yes, so close to crushing his manly self!

The commercial’s slogan. There is supposed to be “girl power” vibe but it misses the mark.

What bothered me about this commercial was, firstly, that she mentions a vagina as a woman’s “v.” Reading other peoples comments on how they wish they could use the correct anatomical word instead, I think that what I did not like the most is that it sounded plain stupid. What woman calls their vagina their “v?” Not me, at least. Why not lady parts instead?

The other thing I did not like, and probably the most outrageous part of the ad, was that so much focus was placed on the man and not the woman! This is an advertisement that tries to appeal to women by…telling them that men are “sissies” if they use a vaginal wash? We already live in a culture that tells men that they are “pussies” AKA people with vaginas AKA women AKA weak people if they are feminine, and yet we have an advertisement for a product directed at women pointing this out.

I truly believe this advertisement was thought up by a group of men that thought it was funny. Playing it over for my dad to watch, he chuckled. The male actor in the commercial had some silly parts to be sure, but as a whole, I am not sure if Summer’s Eves’ marketing team understands their buyers. To watch the video, click here!

Congratulations, Women of Saudi Arabia

Seventeen women in Saudia Arabia were elected to public office this week. This is amazing accomplishment in a country in which a woman’s ability to work, marry, and drive (among other things), is regulated by the man in the household. I frequently complain that there is not enough female representation in U.S. politics, when there are countries such as Finland and Sweden where women make up about half or more of the government. Saudi Arabia’s need for women in politics was greater because there were NO elected female officials prior. With the right for woman to vote and to be elected, this is a step in the right direction to open the doors for more women’s rights. I will note that women in Saudi Arabia are only allowed to vote in municipal elections and that there is a cap to the amount of women allowed in these elected positions but still…there progress made.

With women in politics in Saudia Arabia, it changes politics on a global scale. Women are known to be communicators and great with peace negotiations, not to mention have an entirely different perspective because of the way they are treated in society. They are finally given a voice that can be heard at a governmental level and potentially lead to huge changes for female advancement.

This post makes me think of all of the things that the United States could be doing to help our woman but for now, I think the spotlight should stay on the women of Saudi Arabia for this enormous feat.

Twitter user @salma_alrashid. “Here’s to all #Saudi women who went to the polls, made their voices heard and paved the way to generations to come!”


How to Identify a Terrorist

This title tricked you because there is no way that you can truly identify a terrorist. In recent weeks, there have been talks by Republican candidate Donald Trump proposing the creation of a database of all the Muslims in the United States. However, as we have seen, a multitude of deaths brought on by terrorists in this country are at the hands of white, non-Muslim people.

An analysis by the New America think tank earlier found that since September 11, nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by non-Muslim extremists as by Islamist radicals. Go figure! In these past few weeks alone, there was a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood and in San Bernardino, CA. At the clinic shooting, Robert Dear, a so-called Christian evangelist, shot innocent people. The California shooting which happened today was perpetrated possibly by white shooters (information is pending). One thing you can notice, as with the Planned Parenthood shooting, is that when white people starts shooting others, the media is quick to say that the person is “mentally ill” rather than a terrorist. No matter what spin the media wants to take, the fact of the matter that all of these murderers are terrorists.

Robert Lewis Dear, a terrorist. (El Paso County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

What has really bothered me is that this country is known as being the land of the free when the actual message given is “Your freedoms are secure unless you are black, disabled, or Muslim.” There should not be these exclusions. Unless there is a better way to figure out who would be most likely to commit an act of terror, the U.S. might be in some trouble. There is the domino effect that if one shooting takes place, another will likely occur. I am looking forward to seeing the precautions that the government (hopefully!) takes after this recent shooting today in California.

Side note: I think more will be done after the California shooting because as we know it, a lot of people are probably happy that the shooting happened at Planned Parenthood happened because they view it as a murder clinic. We won’t get into why PP is not that…

How do you think the U.S. is going to crack down on gun violence? Will the media begin to view white terrorists as they view Muslim terrorists?

In Memory of my Nona

This Thursday, November 19, 2015, my grandmother passed away following a downhill battle with Alzheimer’s. In the wake of her passing, I have decided to use her life as a way to all model or modify our lives for the better. Here are some of the best tips I can glean from my grandmother’s life.

Be resourceful: During WWII, my Nona (as we called her) and her siblings (8 in total), barely had any food to eat. There were days that all they had was a single orange and they had to split it amongst one another! This is an extreme example of being resourceful but we can be resourceful by remembering to use and cherish the “things” that we already have.12250013_10207990853988022_2578307721244392510_n

Put time into your appearance: I am not saying we should care completely about what others think or that we need to spend a ton of time in front of the mirror, but take pride in yourself. During my Nona’s life she only were a dress or a skirt with stockings and loafer shoes. She NEVER wore a pair of pants in her entire life until she entered a nursing home. She may have had her own style of dress influenced by her life growing up in the early 1930’s, but I think it is important to put your best foot forward. From my personal experience, looking good helps you  feel good.

Learn a skill you love: During her younger years, my Nona was a seamstress and learned sewing skills as a young child. In addition to that she made the best pasta fagioli in the world.Her domestic skills were her greatest pride and growing up, I found my own love in reading and piano. I think everyone has the ability to be great with at least one thing in their lives.

In addition to these lessons, I will note that my Nona was not only intelligent and gained wisdom during her 91 years on the Earth, but she loved her family the most. If we all learned to love each other regardless of race and regions–the way that my Nona loved her family–there is no doubt that this world would be a better place.

If you have lost someone special in your life, what are the greatest things that you learned from them?

Refugee Crisis at a Breaking Point

It seems that almost every Facebook post this week has been about the refugee crisis and debate. Refugee migration issues have been an ongoing issue but especially after the attack on Paris this past Friday, there has been a surge of Westerners who have vocalized their thoughts via social media. So far, I haven’t seen a person who has a neutral position; they are extremely supportive of efforts to help refugees or are extremely against all of those efforts.

I can understand the sentiments of wanting to keep potential terrorists out of our country. I just do not understand the sentiment of keeping every refugee out of the country. However, the problem is that there are so many refugees and not enough resources to house and care for displaced groups of people. It is also hard to filter out those who are associated with terrorist groups. However, because of a select group of psychopaths with guns, the Western part of the world is in a bit of a panic over Muslim people as a whole.

A Syrian refugee child who fled the violence from the Syrian town of Flita, near Yabroud, poses for a photograph at the border town of Arsal
Photo courtesy of Newsweek.A Syrian refugee child who fled the violence in his Syrian town.

Take the article I read last night. A few Muslim passengers were booted off of a Spirit Airlines plane after one of the men in the group was looking at news on his phone–which apparently seemed suspicious to one of the female passengers. No one had any weapons or plans to terrorize anything. It was a case of racial profiling prompted by the events in Paris. Yet, the airline can play it off as a safety protocol. Honestly, it looks like everyone is just losing their cool and taking out their anger on Muslims. Let us remember that a bunch of Christians that once called themselves the Klu Klux Klan mass murdered dark-skinned folks but we don’t tend to look at Christians as terrorists.

As a whole, Americans should remain vigilant, but not lose their cool on every person with dark skin that they see because not everyone is a terrorist. As for the refugee situation, the U.S. should fine-tune their protocols to screen potential immigrants into the country or work with other nations to find designated areas for the refugees. It would seem hypocritical to keep potential immigrants out of the country because all Americans arrived from immigrants (for me, my grandparents came from Italy in the 1940’s). However, it is clear that our system for accepting incoming immigrants should be revised. In any case, this problem is very sticky.

Are you pro-refugee or adhere to more conservative policies regarding immigration?

Being in NYC During a Time of Panic

On Thursday, November 12, my coworker commented “Tomorrow is Friday and November the 13th. Nothing good can come on that day!” She alluded to the Western superstition that “Friday the 13th” is an unlucky day but I told her how in Italian culture, we believe the number 13 is a lucky number. Friday did not turn out to be so fortunate for the world on this particular Friday the 13th, and it seems a little eerie that my coworker was right.

On Friday afternoon, I arrived in New York City on a long weekend trip with my boyfriend. Our bodies crashed to the bed after 5+ hours of travel and a long hike through Central Park. When we flipped on the TV, we saw the news in France about suicide bombers attacking the city. That seemed a little odd, and it was. I love France and I was pretty upset for the rest of the evening. I went all the way to the Big Apple so I didn’t want to let the attacks scare me. However, I did notice a LOT of police officers with big guns patrolling all of the tourist areas (so everywhere I went) such as Rockefeller Center and the next day, outside of the 9/11 Memorial. Even though this could have freaked me out, it made me feel safer knowing that NYPD was on high-alert, reading to protect the city from new kinds of threats.


While those series of attacks were terrible to say the least, they made me wonder why other attacks were not as highly publicized such as the attacks in Nigeria, Kenya, and Lebanon, to name a few. The answer my sound simple: France is our ally. However, I am not sure how satisfied I am with this. The attacks in Paris are an eye-opener for Westerners who view Paris as a fantasy land of sorts (baguettes, wine, free education, oui oui!..). However, when a country turns a blind eye to other world atrocities, this is how how discontent is created.

I am still in the process of forming my ideas on what the best course of action should be for our country with dealing with terrorists. What are your thoughts?

Religion Done Wrong: The Starbucks Red Cup Controversy

If you are like me, you probably saw headlines about controversy over red cups at Starbucks. When you first saw this, did you understand it? I didn’t at first! When I decided to look it up via one of the greatest inventions of all time, AKA Google, I was confused about why it was so controversial. Then, I was annoyed.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.

Controversy synopsis: Christians are angered that Starbucks is not featuring the phrase “Merry Christmas” on their holiday cups. There are a few problems with this anger.

1) Starbucks is a business and businesses can do what they want. It would be bad PR if Starbucks had alternatively decided to write, “NO MORE CHRISTMAS,” instead of leaving the cup with a blank canvas.

2) Christmas is not the only religion in the world. There is not much more to be said. It is true that the vast majority of American citizens follow/identify themselves as following this religion, but Starbucks should not be pressured to single out one religion on their cups.

3) Christianity, like other religions, is a religion that teaches one to help others who need a helping hand, and to do so with love and humility. This is probably the biggest part of the controversy which annoys me. People who could actually use help in this world–like the hungry, the disabled, the poor, etc.– could use more attention than Starbucks (they rake in billions of dollars, after all). Sadly, some Christians have decided that their priorities should be with Starbucks’ Design Department. Just no.

For a multi-billion dollar organization, Starbucks does give back. I don’t even go to there often–maybe once a year–but their charitable efforts are something I support.

This guy gets it. Photo courtesy of Twitter user @billyeichner.
This guy gets it. Photo courtesy of Twitter user @billyeichner.

How did you feel Starbuck’s holiday cup design for 2015?