Me Too

How the fuck does one write a Me Too story? Or maybe more so, relive the memory in order to share it with others? I say relive because is there really any way to recount what’s possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to you without reliving it? I’ve been watching the Me Too Movement grow in momentum over the last few weeks and it’s truly astonishing to see how many women and men have shared their very personal stories of abuse and sexual assault in all it’s varied, horrifying forms. I’m well aware of the statistics; and of the large number of women who never report, and therefore never become a part of the statistical bigger picture. Facts are: the statistics are much lower than the actual number.

I’m one of those numbers, both the reported and the unreported. How do I tell that story? No one wants the gory details and I don’t have the stomach to put them all on the Internet. But it deserves to be said, doesn’t it? Everyone who’s truly close to me, and even some who aren’t, know my story. I just happen to be one of those people who endured more than their fair share of shit. I fall into a couple different “statistical categories”:

•Child abuse under the age of 12

•Child abuse over the age of 12



•Intimate partner sexual assault/rape

•Sexual assault perpetrated by a stranger

•Child Victim of Physical Abuse

• Victim of Stalking

Grotesque, isn’t it? It seems crazy to me that one person, that I, have endured all of those things. I’m a walking statistic. And part of me, probably the damaged part, wonders how I attracted all of these sick individuals; but really, I didn’t attract most of them. My biological mother did…

I guess this “Me Too Story” starts with when I survived a year of sexual abuse at the hands of my mother’s boyfriend, who is also my little sister’s father. I successfully testified and was cross examined at the tender age of 8, and had that man rightfully convicted of Sexual Battery of a Child Under 12 and Lewd, Lascivious Acts on a Child Under 16. He received two life sentences, without the possibility of parole, and two 30 year sentences, to be served consecutively. That was the only one I reported; but only the first of many. I was 5-6 years old when the crimes were actually being committed, but by the time I testified against him I was already getting the shit kicked out of me by my mother’s new husband. That occurred periodically from the time I was 7-8 until I was 12. I have the scars to prove it. Then on to the next boyfriend, Chris. He was a father type figure on and off for a couple of years until one night, when I was 16, he decided to stick his hands down my pajama pants when he thought I was sleeping. I wasn’t. I blacked out for 30 minutes or so until I came back. I pretended to wake up, asked him for a cigarette to act normal while pretending I didn’t know what had just happened, then walked downstairs and puked my brains out. I remember staring in the bathroom mirror after throwing up and feeling like nothing was real. I had no way out. He had the only phone and it was after 3am. So I just shut down. I was stuck at his house until the next morning when my mom was supposed to be picking myself and my little sister up from “visiting him” after he got home from jail. It was just a bad set up from square one. But I didn’t see it coming. I had no choice but to go back upstairs and crawl back into the bed that myself, him, and my sister were sharing. I couldn’t sleep though, so he asked why. I fed him some bullshit about my “back hurting”. So of course, the sick fuck starts to rub it, but mostly my ass cheeks, while I shut down and completely disassociated from my own body…just like I learned to, at 5 years old. I don’t remember anything else between then and the next day once I was home again. I told my mom what had happened after getting really high and she called him and cussed him out. He proceeded to send me flowers, cards, money, and opiate painkillers “for my back” for the next year. Who sends a 16 year old girl money and flowers and drugs to say sorry? I wasn’t his girlfriend? And the drugs? Yeah, totally normal. A year and a half later my mother started fucking and dating him again. She hid it from me (like that made it any better) until I finally just told her I knew; at which point she said “Is it okay? If it’s not I’ll stop.” That ship sailed when she crawled into bed with him again knowing what he had done. So I plastered on a fake smile and said I didn’t care as long as I was never alone in a room with him again. He was the last one of her boyfriend’s I ever let near me.

But now we have to go a year or two back in time. I was walking to a friend’s house one night when I noticed a guy following me. I thought maybe I was being paranoid, he was just walking the same way as me, right? But I felt it. That gut feeling that tells you something horrible is about to happen. I tried every trick those worthless self defense coaches teach you: “Pretend to be on the phone. Hold your keys in your hand. Make multiple turns to shake them off.” None of it helped. At one point he disappeared. I almost took a breath but I could still feel that something was very wrong. Just then, he popped out of a small alleyway between stores and grabbed me. He was significantly bigger than me. We struggled until he got me on my knees with my hair wrapped up in one of his hands while I tried to wiggle away. As he was undoing his pants and saying some things I’d rather not repeat, I remembered the butterfly knife I always kept in my back pocket. Before I could think about it I grabbed it, opened in, jammed it into the inner thigh of his left leg, twisted, and pulled. He screamed and dropped. I ran. I showed up some unknown amount of time later on a since deceased friend’s doorstep covered in blood and shaking with the knife still in my hand. I don’t know what happened to that man. And I don’t fucking care. I never told a soul other than that dear friend of mine.

That one almost made what happened with Chris worse. With him, I reacted. I defended myself. “Fight or Flight” right? Wrong. There’s a third one: “Freeze”. With that man in the alleyway, I fought. But a bit later, with Chris, I froze. I separated from my body and I just survived. Just like when I was a kid. It took years to not hate myself for freezing. I couldn’t stop the thoughts that said “Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you hit him? Why did you go back upstairs? Why didn’t you get yourself and your sister and run? Why? Why? Why?”

See, I knew it wasn’t my fault. People spent my entire life saying that one sentence: “It isn’t your fault.” But, as it turned out, I wasn’t blaming myself for any of these things happening. I blamed myself for not stopping them.

But this story doesn’t end there. At 18 I met a tattoo artist and we started to date. He told me he was 28. I later found out he was 32. I stupidly stayed anyway. He lied to me, manipulated me, isolated me from every single person I knew and loved, even the ones I lived with. He was a new kind of monster, one I wasn’t as familiar with; and so his games worked better because I didn’t recognize them until it was way too late. It all started innocently enough. He had trust problems. He was insecure about me being around men. He wanted to be involved in everything I did. But it ended in him stalking me relentlessly. I remember trying to break up with him over the phone one night. I did it, hung up, and got in the shower. When I got out and went back to my room every hair on my body was standing on end. I knew he was somewhere near. And then he called me. I answered the phone and he said “Boo”. But I heard it through the phone and… my closet? I crept to the door and opened it. He was standing in my bedroom closet. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed like that in my life. Not before then, and not since. There were two locked doors and a deadbolt between the street he came in off of and my bedroom door. He said how he got in was “his little secret”. He said he wouldn’t leave until I told him I loved him and took him back. I already hadn’t slept in weeks because he would show up and call me and make me talk to him constantly. He was embedded in and in control of every aspect of my life. Thus why I was trying to leave him. That night ended with him on top of me, having sex with me, while I cried. He didn’t care, and all I can remember him saying is “You’re going to tell them I’m your man, right? You’re going to tell them you love me, right? That I’m the only one?” The “them” he spoke of was a group of teenage girls whose belly buttons I was driving to the next town over to pierce the next day. He was absolutely convinced there was going to be guys there and that I was lying to him. So all of this, because I needed to make some money and agreed to pierce a couple of 18 year old girl’s belly buttons. That was one of 4-5 times that he had sex with me after I said no, while I cried the entire time, while I physically shook because my body was so against everything that was happening to it, yet couldn’t make it stop. It took me finally losing my sanity and packing two bags of clothes and a $439 paycheck into my Acura Integra at 4 in the morning, and driving 100mph to Wichita, KS., 1,365 miles from home at 19 years old to get away from him. I eventually came back for the holidays but got stuck when my car started having problems. I had gotten a 3 month break, but he started stalking me again. One morning I found him sleeping in his car out front of my then boyfriend’s house. I lost it. I grabbed a baseball bat, beat the shit out of his car while screaming that he was a rapist at the top of my lungs. Stupid son of a bitch got out of the car. That bat and his body became very close friends. He didn’t stalk me anymore after that.

After him I was pretty fucking damaged. It took me two years to stop having panic attacks every time I heard a car like his or saw someone parked outside of my house. It took even longer to stop sleeping with bats and knives and guns stashed under my pillow and throughout my house. It took me a long time to be able to feel like I could thank the male cashier for ringing me up, or to feel like I was allowed to have any friends, especially male ones. It took me months to speak when in a group of people because I was so used to spending hours fighting after an outing because I told someone I liked their shirt or stood with my hip cocked out to one side. And somehow, in that time after him, I still ended up dating two different people who treated me like property. Men who took “No” and “Not right now” to mean “Try harder” or “Guilt trip me until I give in”. Men who felt it was my duty and responsibility to stop everything I was doing to send them pictures of my body or to talk to them or sleep with them. Men who spoke to me like shit and treated me worse.

I always knew they were wrong.

Yet I kept finding them and making excuses for them because they “just need to see that I’m actually a good woman” or they “have trust issues” or “have potential”. Eventually I learned that it is not my job to pay for the misdeeds of other women and that you can not have a relationship with potential. There were some good people I met, ran away from, or fucked up because I was so fucked up at that time. But it didn’t matter. I was convinced that all men were like that once you really got to know them. That they all wanted something from me and it was up to me to decide whether or not the cost met the benefit. Saying I had trust issues is a gross understatement. I still do. But today I do trust people and some of them are men. One of them in particular is my man and he is a good man. I don’t have to make excuses for him or hide his behavior from the people who love me. There are good people out there.

So, as I read these Me Too stories, I think about all of my own stories, I think about trying to write them down, and I get overwhelmed. I started this piece with no idea of what it was going to turn into and as I type this sentence I wonder if I’m going to post it. There’s things in here that people who love me, people who read this blog, don’t know about. And there’s more than I’ve put in here and more than I will probably ever say out loud. Some things have scarred over, I can talk about them almost like they happened to someone else; but others….well, they still live in my nightmares and crawl up the back of my throat in the form of bile some days. Everything falls into the past eventually, but I’m not sure it all heals. I don’t think I can truly say I’ve “healed” from any of these wounds yet, but I’ve learned to live with them; and on most days they don’t control my thoughts and actions or reactions. I’ll take that. I talk to other people who’ve been there. They tell me how they cope and I tell them what I’ve learned. There’s something powerful about telling someone what is possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to you, and them looking at you and saying “Me too.”

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Rape Culture Internalized

If we ask for trigger warnings, we’re too sensitive. If we don’t laugh at rape jokes, we’re too serious. If we get raped we’re either “asking for it”,  lying about it, or “lucky to get the attention”. And if we, as women, rape someone then it’s invalidated because we’re just too weak to ever rape anyone. Right?

Welcome to rape culture. The world of sick one liners and serial predators doing 6 months for violating a woman in a way that she’ll remember forever. We live in a day in age where a man can rape you behind a dumpster while you’re unconscious and instead of being described as a rapist, the media will call him “a promising athlete with a bright future”; and of course they’ll mention how that future “is ruined now”. You know whose future they didn’t mention? The fucking victim’s!

American facts are this: If you’re rich, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a celebrity, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a promising athlete, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a woman, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a husband or wife, you “can’t” be a rapist. If you’re a politician, a television star, a police officer, a judge, there’s no way you’re a rapist. If her skirt was short it wasn’t rape, if she was drunk it wasn’t rape, if she cried the whole time but didn’t say no, it wasn’t rape. If she said no halfway through, it wasn’t rape. If she comes forward after other victims have, she wasn’t raped. If she sleeps around, she can’t be raped. If he’s a boy, he can’t be raped. If you go to a prestigious school, you can’t be raped and you definitely aren’t a rapist. And as mentioned above, if she was unconscious but you’re white and privileged, it wasn’t rape. But if you’re black? Definitely rape. And no, I’m not being satirical or funny. I can show you case after case where judges, the media, and juries of our peers, treated the aforementioned statements as truth. Disgusting isn’t it?

We see it everyday and the sick part is that most of us are either numb to it or have heard it so much that we believe it. Have you ever wondered what a rape victim was wearing or how much she’d had to drink? Have you ever seen a survivor and thought she looked like “the type who would lie about it“? Do you agree that female students should be banned from wearing spaghetti straps while the quarterback is allowed to go shirtless? Do you believe that if women act in a certain way they can stop themselves from being raped? Do you think “it’s pointless” to make affirmative consent a part of our sexual education courses? Have you ever taken part in “slut shaming”?  If so then you are a part of rape culture. They fed you bullshit and you swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. If that offends you then maybe you should ask yourself why, instead of getting offended about what a stranger said on the internet.

Why am I writing this? Let’s be honest, I’m all over the place, this isn’t my most polished piece, and the words aren’t intertwined in a powerful way that has the maximum amount of impact. But it’s important anyway. And it’s close to my heart. It is my heart because it is my story. I’ve been slut shamed and victim blamed. I’ve been cross examined in court by a man who didn’t believe me, despite the fact that I was 8 with damn near perfect recall. I’ve given depositions and I’ve had a rapist blame it on me. I’ve been objectified, sexualized, and silenced my whole fucking life. I’ve sat next to my male friends as they told rape jokes and made fun of women who require trigger warnings. I’ve had terrible things happen to me and thought “But what if no one believes me?” I’ve had my birth mother look at me and say “Well you know he only did it because of what you did”. “What I did” was nothing more than an excuse my mom’s boyfriend fed her for why he put his hands down my pants while I was sleeping. And for the record, I didn’t do “it”; a fact which I’d told her a year earlier when he’d said I had blown him and that’s what made him think it was okay. But I guess it was easier to continue to date and fuck the man if she chose not to believe me.

I’ve sat at a table of 10 women and contrary to popular statistics, listened as each one told their own sexual assault stories. Truth be told, I don’t know if I know one woman who hasn’t been sexually mistreated in one way or another; and that’s not even mentioning the countless men. And out of all of the ones I can think of, not one reported their rapist/abuser. Why is that? Mostly, they didn’t believe anyone would do anything about it and it was easier to live with without someone invalidating their trauma. Also, they didn’t want to be blamed or shamed for it. They didn’t want to be put through the judicial process all to have a judge put a 6 month sentence on their lifelong trauma. The world is a twisted place and I could go on for days but I truly don’t think that anything will change it until the people start to. And that can’t happen until we start recognizing all the ways our thinking has been slowly distorted over the years. Say these things to yourself over and over again if you have to: only rapists cause rape, men can and do get raped, a man or woman’s sexual history has nothing to do with their assaults, a rapist can be from any socioeconomic class, race, background, gender, or area; and the act of rape should offend you far more than the word itself. Do some research, educate yourself, and stop perpetuating rape culture. If you aren’t fighting against it or educating yourself about it then you just might be a part of the fucking problem.


by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Victim Blaming

A friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook the other day. She’s a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, an expertly done smokey eye, red lips, and a “fuck you” look on her face. She was wearing black pants, black combat boots, a black and white plaid shirt, unbuttoned and tied at her hips. Underneath her shirt she wore a bright pink bra. That sign, along with her outfit, caused so much debate. Her sign read…


Powerful message right? She posted it along with a little excerpt that can be surmised as saying that what she wears doesn’t dictate what someone is allowed to do to her; just as her level of intoxication doesn’t make it okay for someone to touch her. She said that she isn’t an obect and that people sexualizing women and their bodies is rape culture. She said that it needs to end now and that she feels especially strongly about the topic because she’s a rape survivor herself. I’m a survivor myself and I was moved by her message. So after asking permission, I shared her photo and the accompanying message to my own wall. I thought it could empower other women as it did me. Instead, I spent 124 comments arguing with WOMEN about the photo.

The first woman who commented said “Of course she’s blonde. Idiot.” The woman she was commenting on is a Biology major who’s currently working on her thesis. She’s fucking brilliant and yet, when she posted this empowering message, the first thing that happened was another woman putting her down for her appearance and her intelligence level. This same woman then proceeded to say that my friend shouldn’t be sharing that message while “dressed like that” and that her choosing to do it that way makes her think that she’s just “another dumb blonde looking for attention”. I pointed out how ridiculous it is to say another women is dumb because of her hair color and asked her if she was serious. She was. She continued on by saying that she thinks rape is always wrong but that if “women had handled themselves differently in certain situations then it never would’ve happened“, that “the way a woman dresses can attract the wrong attention and we’re responsible for that“, and that nowadays “a lot of women lie about being assaulted“.

I was disgusted.

It’s my opinion that this woman is rape culture internalized. It didn’t matter that when her little friend jumped in to defend her she said she wasn’t dressed “like a slut” when she was raped. It didn’t matter that none of us were. She was still convinced that the way a women dresses can cause (or stop) rape. Where’d this idea come from? Some time, long ago, some man lied and said “Well look at what she was wearing! That’s what made me do it!” And our culture along with more sick individuals took this rapist’s piss poor excuse for their illness and used it as a reason. We then internalized it, told our little girls that wearing a skirt in the city is like leaving your door unlocked at night; we tried to blame woman for the horrible things that happened to them by saying “Well maybe next time you shouldn’t wear such a short skirt.” Why do we do this? I think it’s because we’re trying to find reason for such depravity. But at what expense? So many woman, an astonishing amount, are assaulted every year and they never come forward. They stay silent, because they don’t want their characters assassinated on the stands, their sex lives picked apart, their choices put under a microscope. They are terrified of not being believed, and they should be.

There’s a term in abuse therapy called “retraumatization”. It refers to when an abuse or rape survivor goes through a stressful event after the initial trauma that causes them more stress, damage, trauma. Oftentimes, the judicial process is just this; along with the initial report, having to tell their stories over and over again, I would know, I did it at 7 years old. And even at that young age the lawyer still tried to twist my words and trip me up. I told that horrible story over and over and over again. BUT, I would never take it back because I know I stopped him from hurting anymore little girls ever again. However, that’s not the point. The point is that there are thousands of women every year who choose not to put themselves through it because we fail them everyday, and they know it. Am I the only person who sees a problem with this?! They choose this because of women like the one who commented on that post. The ones who in trying to find reason for such a terrible thing end up blaming the victim and not the fucking rapist.

As my brave friend said, “The only thing that causes rape, is a rapist.”And she couldn’t be more right.

We need to end the violence. We need to stop blaming victims. We need to break down all the misconceptions about rape. What you wear doesn’t cause rape and it isn’t “asking for it”. Being drunk isn’t an excuse for someone hurting you, being willing and then changing your mind doesn’t give them the right to keep going after you’ve rescinded your consent. All of the responsibility for sexual attacks falls on the people committing them. Period.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Addicts ARE People Too!

They deserve to die. It’ll teach them a lesson. They have to be held accountable for their actions. They’re all scum bags. They shouldn’t get medications for the withdrawal; let them suffer. Fuck them. Ew. They’re not real people.”

As many of you know, drugs (specifically heroin), are killing more people today than probably ever before. Statistics say that there isn’t one person who isn’t somehow connected to a drug addict, whether by blood or some other relation. The days of thinking drug addicts are dirty junkies living under the bridge with a needle in their arm are over. We (addicts) are your children, your waitress, your accountant, your school bus driver, your lawyer, your tattoo artist, your doctor. We come from amazing homes full of love where we want for nothing. We came from crack houses and lives riddled with abuse and poverty. We went to Ivy League schools. We dropped out in 9th grade. We’re hardened criminals. We’ve never been to jail or gotten so much as a parking ticket. 

We are everyone, everywhere. 

Addiction DOES NOT discriminate. 

Those sentences I wrote at the top are things I’ve heard or read in reference to addicts in the last week. There is still so much stigma attached to addiction that many people think we’re less-than-human and deserve to die. They think Suboxone and Methadone programs are an easy way out. They think that stopping an addict from dying by shooting them full of Narcan is preventing them from “dealing with the consequences of their actions”. I’ve never heard of anyone learning a lesson after they’ve died but hey, certain members of society think it’s possible. 

While this current trend of anger and resentment against the disease of addiction is understandable, it’s also alarming. It’s very easy to forget that that “piece of shit drug addict” is also a human being, someone’s baby, someone’s partner, someone’s parent. They’re another real person who feels pain, happiness, agony, sympathy, fear, and hopelessness. 

It seems to me that the common thread among those who hate addicts is that they also believe addiction is something you choose. I’ve argued this before and I’m sure I will for many posts to come. Does a person make the choice to take that first drug? Yes. Haven’t you? Have you ever smoked a joint in the locker room in middle or high school? Have you ever had a beer with friends? Maybe tried a little coke at a party? See that’s how “that first high” happens 90% of the time. It’s some young person just trying something for the first time. For those of us who have a predisposition to addiction that first high creates a phenomenon in our minds. It’s like we’ve finally found the answer to that hole in our souls. Many addicts report always feeling an emptiness inside them that they just couldn’t find an answer for. Drugs numb that aching hole. Some of us were looking for a reprieve from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or bipolar. Some of us were raised by addicts and saw this as the “normal thing to do”. Some of us were looking for a mental escape from abusive homes, bullying, loneliness, stress. Like I stated before, addiction does not discriminate. It happens to every shape, kind, class, and color of person. 

When we act as if addicts are just a cancer to society we dehumanize them. We turn them into the sick or rabid dog that needs to be dragged out back and shot. We turn them into objects, afflictions, things, “less-than-human”. And when we do this, when we strip away a hurting soul’s humanity, we also give away a piece of ours. 

I saw a police officer openly admit on Facebook that when they report to overdoses they would rather hang out and “tie their boots” than administer the Narcan that could save the addict’s life. Their reasoning was that so long as we use Narcan on addicts they are not truly “paying the consequences of their actions”. But I have to wonder, what has happened to us as people, if we’re okay with sitting back and watching someone die? Do some of us only become police officers to help the ones that we like or deem worthy? Do addicts somehow rate as being “less than” or subhuman? I have to wonder what kind of person would sit back and watch another human being die while that addict’s saving grace is literally in their hands. They may be addicts. They may have overdosed many times before and not learned their lesson BUT, that is not our call to make. 

There is no way of knowing if “this time” will be the “last time they use”. Maybe that last overdose will be the thing to push them to get clean. Maybe it will scare them just a little bit more last one. Maybe getting shot full of Narcan by that police officer who hates them will be the one thing that saves their life. Maybe they’ll catch a charge and be put in a jail or institution that gets them clean. Maybe someone saving them will actually save them. Who are we to take that away? Who are we to decide who gets to live and die?

We are not gods. If we were, addicts wouldn’t exist. 

It’s always been easy to judge those who don’t live the same way that we do; it’s the human condition. We can only ever see things from our own perspective. So for a healthy person or police officer it must be impossible to understand why a heroin addict uses. But, we have to consider the fact that all of us have things about us that other people don’t and maybe can’t understand. And we all have an addiction of some kind whether it’s heroin, sex, work, or cleaning. The difference is, no one is going to let you die because of the bad choices that you’ve made. So why should addicts die for theirs? If they die as a natural result of their addiction then that’s on them but someone sitting back and letting them die? Now that is less than human. 

Being mean and saying “let them all die” is not tough love. It’s not the hard choice. It’s the easy way out. It’s swiping the problem under the rug and pretending it will go away. Many of these people who condemn addiction do absolutely nothing to educate themselves or even better, the public at large. They don’t donate money or time to rehabs. They don’t try to reach out and help the next person. They’re just full of hate. 

I understand what it’s like firsthand to be the victim of someone else’s addiction. I know the darkness that that can breed inside of your heart. I know what it’s like to put your faith in someone who disappoints you time and time again. I however chose to blame the drug. The person is sick. I’ve seen people who truly did not want to use drugs ever again use them because they didn’t know any other way and their brains have been rewired to tell them that it’s the only choice. I’ve seen people who knew that they were going to go to jail or lose their children if they got high again and they used anyway, even in the face of those consequences. This is not some logical thing that you can categorize as good or evil, light or dark. It’s a disease. A disease that effects the best and the worst of us. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and if you’ve read my other work you’ll understand how big of a statement that is for me.

All I’m trying to say here is that we need to stop letting the stigma attached to addiction push us towards being uncompassionate and hateful people. The drunk guy begging for change outside the gas station is no different than your 17 year old popping Percocet to get through the state volleyball championship. The junkie shooting dope under the bridge is no different than the highest powered CEO on Wall Street sneaking away from meetings to hit his crack pipe. We are no different than you. You are surrounded by us, served by us, married to us, parenting us. All we are is a collection of beautifully unique souls put in this place to accomplish something and the addict is just as much a part of that as the priest is. Stop letting the ignorance and fear and pain control you. Don’t let it turn you into a nasty person. Cause I’ll tell you something, I’d let a junkie into my home long before someone who watched another person die when they could’ve stopped it. THAT is in humane. THAT is cruel. And it is outright insane to think that we should have a say in who lives and dies. 

If that addict, any addict, was your child, your sibling, your best friend, or your parent, how differently would you treat them? Would you hope someone said those nasty things about them? Would you be okay with a cop letting them die? Would you view them in the same way you view other addicts? 

WE ARE ALL PEOPLE, so long as we don’t lose sight of that. When we start viewing our fellow human beings as nothing more than wastes of space and sacks of meat we have become savages. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016


Believe it or not, I actually have a spare minute to write as I got off of work a little early today! So what to write about? The only thing on my mind this afternoon involves by dear friend K. She’s a lovely woman who is mature well beyond her years, amazingly open-minded, very kind, loving and supportive. She’s damaged just like the rest of us, but also one of the most beautiful souls I know. Recently K and I went out to eat and were talking about all kinds of things (as we often do) and I brought up the Feminist Movement and how so much of what we see in the media and everyday life trains us to be the docile, obedient sex. How there is objectification and subliminal messaging in almost everything. How we’re valued based off of our physical appearance and society’s views of women are often times archaic and misogynistic. Her being the curious person that she is, she naturally wanted examples. I started off by showing her that “Like A Girl” commercial that aired during the 2015 Superbowl. That got her gears turning as she realized that the young women (10 and younger) when told to “run like a girl” ran as hard as they could. But when women who were around the same age as K and I were told to do the same thing, they ran with their arms out at their sides, flailing wildly, and their feet kicking up like they had no idea what they were doing. It shows that at some point, women start to believe that doing something “like a girl” means doing it in a less successful or much weaker way. It shows that our self worth and self esteem plummets after puberty. And it’s happening because of the different things we say and see on a daily basis that have become accepted as normal. I mentioned this is my post a few days ago, Feminine: The Worst Insult. How many times have you heard “You throw like a girl” or “You run like a girl”? Probably more times than you can count. This is where K and I began our conversation. I’ll include the video below so those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about can check it out.

 After showing her this we started talking about how in the 90’s being “supermodel stick figure skinny” was what was pushing in the media and what women were aiming for. It led to eating disorders skyrocketing across the globe. Now, in the 2000’s the “in thing” is to be “thick”. To have a “fat ass” and “big titties”. To twerk, jerk, and “dance like a stripper”. Yet again, we’re only valued based off of our physical attributes and our bodies are still being cut into marketable pieces and sold. We’re still letting other people tell us what is acceptable and beautiful and good. So now “skinny” women are being persecuted, as well as “fat” women. I then gave her a bunch of examples of commercials and celebrities that further perpetuate this problem. This problem where we push women to look “like” someone or something else; but never to be comfortable in their own skin. To do what society deems as the “right thing” for us. 10 year old girls are making videos of themselves twerking upside down against their bedroom doors and we don’t think there’s a problem?!?! So this got K thinking. When I dropped her off that night she said that she felt like I had opened her eyes to so many things that she was never going to be able to ignore again. That she was always going to recognize it in the media, her friends, her family. Since this conversation it has been truly amazing to watch this young woman become so aware of all these things happening around her. We’ve been together and heard a friend say “God she’s such a girl though” and immediately looked at each other and started laughing because we both instantly recognized it and then explained to our friend the not so funny message that she conveyed without even thinking about it  . K has even called me out on or two things that I let slip without second thought and I’m glad she did. I’m not perfect and these things have been taught to me and bred into me since I was a child. I’m happy to have someone else so close to me who’s just a little more enlightened than she was yesterday and can call me out on these things when I say them without thinking. Why? Because I refuse to remain a part of the problem. I refuse to further perpetuate the shame and shitty self-esteem that our culture has spoon fed us. I refuse to sit down and be quiet out of fear of sounding like “one of those girls” or “some crazy feminist who seems something in anything”. There is something in almost everything and that is why I write these posts, why I talk to my friends about it, why I kindly offer another view when I hear someone say something inherently sexist or misogynistic. Because nothing is going to change us unless we change us. That’s a fact.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Feminine: The Worst Insult

Sexism and misogyny are an ever present force in my life. For those of you who don’t know, I work in the trucking business. No, I am not a trucker. But I wear many hats at my job. I’m an administrative assistant, the (entire) HR department, the secretary, the policy writer, the parts go-getter, and many more things. I spend my days doing everything from writing emails, picking up truck parts, writing 25 page drug and alcohol policies, and coordinating with our lawyer to compile information for the DOT, to running to the grocery store, making coffee, and scheduling maintenance on trucks. I am our filing system. I do everything. And my boss does three times more (a truly incredible feat if you ask me). 

In my dealings with various companies for my job I come across a multitude of men who either 1. Think I’m a “dumb little girl” who doesn’t actually know what parts or services I’m asking for or talking about, 2. Treat and/or speak to me like a piece of meat that just has to accept their advances, leers, or comments or 3. Are outright patronizing and disrespectful. I get pure joy out of proving them wrong. Granted, I absolutely don’t know even a quarter of the things I want to know about this industry; but I do make sure I understand what I’m asking for or am talking about before I ever call or visit these people. 

Last week I went to get some of our compressed air tanks filled. The guy behind the counter literally didn’t even attempt to look me in the eyes. He spent the entire time ignoring every other customer and just staring at my tits. It was gross. The guy just felt like a rapist. I know that sounds ridiculous but I trust my gut. On some animalistic level, he made my skin crawl. I got our tanks filled and left. 20 minutes later my boss tells me I have to go back for something; so I go. I walk back through the door, the guy gives me this creepy smile and says, “You just love being here don’t you?” I don’t know this man, had never met him before that day, and he did not say it in that joking “sucks you had to come back” kind of way. It was just creepy.

That same day I had to go exchange a 20 ton air jack and a 1 inch pistol grip air impact wrench. The air jack was heavy and covered in grease. I take these things into Harbor Freight and set them down on the counter. The guy who “helped me” with the exchange was so fucking patronizing I wanted to punch him in the face. Let me just say, I’m not one of those women who refuses help or thinks a man’s an asshole because he offered help but there is a way to go about offering it. Saying “Let me guess, you’re gonna want someone to help you get the new air jack aren’t you? Just wait a minute”, is not the way to do it. He said it in an incredibly sarcastic tone and was visibly sneering at me. That face got much worse when I walked away, grabbed the new one, and brought it back by myself. Then he messed up and said “This isn’t the right one. You have to get the same jack if you expect me to exchange it.” We then spent five minutes arguing over it before he finally listened to me and realized the part number was the same and I had grabbed the right one. He was practically purple by the time I left the store because he was so angry. Why was he so angry? I didn’t mess anything up. I wasn’t a bitch. I brought in everything necessary to do the exchange. I didn’t even need the help he should have nicely offered to start with. I didn’t ask for anything outside of his job description and he was perfectly nice to the man he rung out before me. His attitude only changed once he saw my 5’2″, blond, female ass walk up with parts to work on trucks and other similar things. He assumed that I was going to demand help when all I had said was that I needed to exchange these things and that they were both under warranty. He saw me, a woman, in a harbor freight, and his entire demeanor changed. When I then proved his assumptions wrong, he got even worse. So much so that the people behind me were staring at us with their jaws dropped the entire time.

These are just two small examples. On a daily basis I get asked things like “What are you doing with these truck parts?”, “Where did you get all this stuff?”, “Why did they send you to get these fixed?” (generally referring to big Mack truck tires). It’s almost always said with a small chuckle. It isn’t that these people are blatantly mean. They may not even realize they’re being sexist. But at the end of the day, to them, a woman and anything involving big trucks do not belong in the same place. It isn’t that the parts were asked for or that the tires need recapping or patching. It’s the fact that I’m a woman and I’m the one asking for it. 

Now I realize women being involved in the trucking business is rare. I realize a lot of these men have probably never seen a female drive a big truck into a yard, back it perfectly into a bay, and then ask for parts that most people don’t even know exist. I’m aware of all of this and if these men simply said “Wow I’ve never seen a woman work for a trucking company before” I would be fine with it. Why? Because neither have I and it’s honest. That’s not what bothers me. It’s the fact that not all, but most of them act as if it’s insane or laughable that I’m even in this business. They treat me like I don’t have the right to be. They assume I have no idea what I’m talking about, try to sell me shit I don’t need, and stare at my tits without even attempting to look at my face. They make “jokes” that are sexist, expect me to laugh, act as if I expect them to do stuff for me when I don’t, and then treat me like a weakling if they do do things for me that I never asked for. It’s ridiculous. 

So my boss and I were talking about this and the fact that there’s not many female truck drivers the other day. There damn sure aren’t any where I work. Not because my boss wouldn’t hire them, but because no female has ever applied here. I asked him why more women don’t drive trucks and he said “I really shouldn’t say this but women tend to be… No I can’t say that because men do dumb shit too. They’re assholes.” He was going to say that not many women drive because they don’t have the brains for it but then he realized some of his male drivers do dumb things too. He does in fact have these inbred, preconceived notions; but he puts the critical thought into them that breaks them as well. So as he was saying this, he corrected himself and I couldn’t help but point it out. I said “See! That right there, that is what I write about all the time. You almost said women don’t drive trucks because they’re dumb but then admitted that some of your drivers are assholes who do dumb shit too. So when a woman does some dumb shit it’s because she’s a women. But when a man does dumb shit it’s because he’s an asshole. Right?” He said “Yeah you’re right. You’re right.” I then proceeded to say, “See that is where sexism is born. Only women are said to do or not do certain things because of their gender. It’s super common to hear ‘It’s because she’s a woman’; but how often do you hear ‘It’s because he’s a man’?” He said “You don’t.”

And that is the fucking point. When a man defends himself, he’s a man. When a woman does, she’s a bitch. When a guy holds off on sleeping with someone, he’s a gentleman. When a woman does, she’s a prude. When a man has sex with a lot of women, he’s a playa, a ladies man, a pimp. When a woman does, she’s a slut. When you want to insult a man deeply, you call him a pussy. A slang word for the vagina, a female body part. We associate “bitch”, “prude”, “pussy”, and “slut” with the feminine. We associate these words with women. And if you call a man these words, well then it’s extra disrespectful because it’s considered worse to call him a word that would normally be used to describe a woman. It’s more demeaning than calling him an asshole or dick. Why? Insulting him is already demeaning. But insulting him in a way you would insult a woman? That is much worse. It implies he’s weak, not strong or masculine, less than a man. All things that our society relates with being… A woman. So essentially the worst thing a man can be is anything that our society defines as being a feminine trait. 

While I don’t agree that women are weak or pussies, obviously, from this line of “logic”, our society does. If that wasn’t true then the feminine based insults wouldn’t be the worst ones. It’s not just the gender reversal that makes it worse. If that were true then calling a woman a dick would be seen as being just as bad as calling a man a bitch. But it’s not, is it? If there is still any doubt left in your mind that I’m simply stating the truth then tell me this, how many times have you heard someone say “You’re such a girl!” in a derogatory way? Now many times have you heard someone say “You’re such a guy!” in the same way?  

It’s not so normal and acceptable when you take away the social norm behind it all and look at it for what it really is, is it? We have made the worst insults ones that refer to women. The bringers of life. The beautiful. The feminine. Our sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. Regardless of whether that insult is being used on a man or woman. 

I mean after all, women aren’t really people, right? We’re only here to be fucked, breed, cook, smile pretty, stare at, and be quiet; right? 

Men: think about that the next time you look at your daughter or your mom. 

Women: think about that the next time you look at your best friend or a woman you’re fighting with. 

Sexism and the results of it are everywhere and men aren’t the only ones perpetuating the problem. We women treat each other like shit. Sure it’s probably because we were taught to, but it’s still our responsibility to end it. And I’m not saying all men are like this; however, for the ones of you who aren’t, don’t just assume or act as if it’s normal and ignore it. Use your capacity for critical thought and really examine what you’re choosing to be a part of. Pretending it’s okay or isn’t wrong is just as bad as doing it in the first place. And women, yet again, let’s support each other. God knows there’s enough working against us in this world without being distrustful of our fellow women. 

Think. It’s the greatest ability we’re given. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016