You’re going to fight, so do it right.
Author: Traci Underwood
Today, let’s remember all who are fighting to make this country safe for everyone.
Domestic violence should not be a pre-existing condition
Obamacare has done a lot for domestic violence survivors.
We need good jobs with living wages
Without good jobs, survivors are faced with the choice of ‘staying’ or ‘having nowhere to go’.
Money has a lot to do with domestic violence
Not having the money they need to take care of themselves and their children was one of the top reasons survivors gave for staying in or returning to an abusive relationship.
Everybody needs a little knipple
Recently, while sharing stories about her family, a coworker mentioned that she kept finding knipples in her mother’s house. After an awkward silence, she explained that “knipple” (pronounce the “k”) was a Yiddish word that meant a woman’s secret stash of money. That got me thinking—this sounds like a pretty good idea.
When a woman has money, it gives her more options and more power to make her own decisions. This makes her life more stable and gives her flexibility to respond if things go south (like in her relationship). Sure, it’s important to have community resources like affordable housing, food banks, and so on. But nothing gives you freedom, and that includes freedom from abuse, like cold hard cash.
It would be great if we all had a rich uncle who could overnight us a boatload of Benjamins, but we’re not all so lucky. We need to find ways for women to access cash when they need it, promote financial education, and protect and expand welfare programs that already exist. Because, at some point, everybody needs a little knipple.
Light it up
Like many of you I am worried about our country’s future. It’s all-consuming. In an attempt to be informed and not retreat to the places where my privilege protects me, I’m digesting as much as I can about the coming changes. IT’S SO HARD. I realize that I have to give myself some space to feel sad and scared as well as mad and ready to fight for all the people that are being threatened by the new proposed federal policies.
We often encourage advocates who are working with survivors to remember to take care of themselves. To do the things they need to do to come back the next day with renewed energy and focus to help others. I am realizing that I must do the same now if I’m to be any use at all to the work ahead. And there is quite a lot of work ahead.
I’m not a religious person, but I confess to LOVE the Christmas holidays. I love houses covered with twinkling lights, puffy fake snow in store windows, and giant trees filled with glittery ornaments. I’ve decided one way I can stay energized to pay attention and act for justice is to dive into the holiday season early. Christmas carols are going to fill the house and head’s up neighbors―my yard is about to get lit. And I’ve found the perfect thing.
This. Holiday. Dragon.
Isn’t she amazing? So if you are feeling like I am, take care of yourselves so that you have the energy to stay tuned in and to show up. Holiday Dragon, bring us joy and light our path.
My kids are at that age where they are starting to have playdates, so I’ve had to figure out how to ask about guns in their friends’ homes. Ohmahgah, it’s so hard! I mean, I’m socially awkward anyway. And an avid conflict avoider. (I’ve had decades of practice with my very conservative family). So when it came time to ask, I was terrified. But I had to do it. My experiences growing up in a house with guns and the constant news stories about kids being killed gave me the courage I needed.
This is how I do it. “So, do you keep your guns unloaded and locked away?”
Yikes! It’s hard every time. Responses so far have ranged from a calm and understanding “Nope, we don’t have any.” to “What!? We don’t have guns in our house. Do YOU?” to “Actually, we have one that is dismantled and unloaded and locked in a storage unit that the kids don’t have access to.” So far I haven’t gotten a response that would make me feel like my kids couldn’t play at a friend’s house, but I’m sure that will happen at some point, because I’m going to keep asking. My kids’ lives depend on it.
So now I’m inspired by my new found bravery to dive into other tough conversations, like talking about relationships with my kids. Not just the birds and the bees, but age-appropriate ways to talk about love, consent, and bullying.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Action Month, I’ve decided to have at least one conversation a week with my kids about this stuff. Here are some things I will be asking them:
“What does it mean to be a good friend?”
“What do you do when you don’t like what a friend is doing?”
“Who do you play with on the playground? What do you like about playing with them?”
Hopefully it will become a habit that lasts. One more thing I’m going to do—talk to my parent-friends about talking to their kids. Hmmm, that sounds hard too. Maybe I’ll just show them this blog post and say, hey—wanna join me? That’s doable. Because the more the merrier when it comes to helping kids learn how to be respectful, kind, and loving adults.
Say no to public proposals
I loved the Olympics as a kid, and they are still a big deal in my house. My husband is Greek so there’s a lot of “we invented this” pride happening (insert loving eye roll here). But these Olympics have left me deflated. It’s not that there weren’t many AH-MAZE-ING performances and stories. I mean, the US gymnastics team, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, the women’s 4X400 relay team, and so many more.
So why am I feeling a bit jaded? (That’s a rhetorical question, the answer is sexism). US women were huge winners at the Rio games, and it seemed like no one knew how to properly react. The media were atrocious in their commentary on women athletes—reducing the US women’s gymnastics team to giggly teens at the mall or focusing on athletes’ husbands or marriage proposals instead of their accomplishments.
Seriously, what’s the deal with public proposals? I mean, this one, where a Chinese diver had her Olympic metal moment upstaged by someone who supposedly loves and respects her? And then the media gushed about how getting a ring and this dude was a waaaaaay bigger prize than the silver was? What a disaster. Even she states in an interview that her feelings about it are “complicated.” Gymnast Ali Raisman got a public proposal for a date while live on a talk show and people thought it was romantic (nope). And there was also a Brazilian rugby player who received a public marriage proposal that even gave me, your local feminist killjoy, some warm fuzzies. But then I promptly had to reevaluate my feelings because public proposals are not good.
We’ve been told over and over (mostly by cheesy movies and TV) that proclaiming your love from the mountaintop is romantic. But the thing about public proposals is that they don’t give the person a real chance to say no. And those who do say no are questioned and criticized. This is coercive behavior and an all too familiar technique used by those who abuse their partners.
I’m not saying that everyone who makes public proposals is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But I am asking that we shift how we think about this. If you are thinking about making a grand public gesture of love, think twice. Do you know how this person feels about public displays of affection? Have you previously talked about the thing you are asking? I love seeing the love, really. I want more love. Love for all! But that means having relationships that are built on respect and space to speak your truth.
See something, say something
You’ve probably seen the “See something, say something” signs on the bus or at the airport. It’s about preventing terrorism, of course, but the sad reality for women in this country is that their biggest risk doesn’t look like an oddly placed backpack at a bus stop.
Thankfully, some women hitting happy hour in Santa Monica recently did see something and said something. They witnessed a man slip something into a woman’s drink when she was in the bathroom. One of the witnesses promptly went to warn her. She was stunned but glad to know. When they asked how well she knew the guy (expecting a ‘we-just-met’ scenario), the woman said, “He’s one of my best friends.”
HE’S ONE OF HER BEST FRIENDS.
This, my friends, is where we need to open our eyes. With so much fearmongering out there about strangers in the bathroom, this story brings us back to the actual problem. Who’s committing rape? People we know.
This guy broke several of these rape prevention tips, but the quick thinking ladies-who-happy-hour and the wait staff acted swiftly and decisively and the guy was arrested before he left the restaurant. Kudos to everyone who chose not to ignore or second guess what was happening. Thank you for believing that this was possible and that you could and should do something about it!
I want a world where it wouldn’t even cross someone’s mind to drug their friend. But until that happens, let’s do what the fine folks in Santa Monica did: See something, say something.