An open letter to the men of Boston

Dear Men of Boston –
For the most part, I don’ t have a problem with you. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life we pass by each other on the streets, smile, nod our heads in acknowledgment and move on.

That isn’t the case for everyone. I’m lucky. This is my only interaction on the streets. For my female friends, this isn’t the case at all.

At least once a week, a female friend of mine takes to Facebook with a similar situation – being cat called, gawked and/or physically touched by random men on the streets.

Let me run down a list of things to never do when you see a woman walking down the street –

  1. Call her Baby, Sweetie or Doll.
  2. Talk about her body.
  3. Stare at her body.
  4. Call her body hot or phat or anything, actually.
  5. Touch her, grab her or put your arm around her.
  6. Whistle at her.
  7. Mention her clothing.
  8. Ask her where she’s going.
  9. Ask her her name.

It doesn’t matter what they’re wearing, how they’re smiling or how attractive you think they are. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk or sober, just joking or being serious. There is no look, no expression, no eye contact, no mini-skirt from anyone that warrants you harassing them.

If you are so unlucky to be near me when you do this to another person, you can expect all 6’3 of my awkward self is going to come down on you like a ton of awkward, angry bricks. I may not be physically imposing, but you can bet I’m going to be in your face like a ridiculous and angry honey badger.

It’s time we start calling this behavior out. Let men know it’s not okay to demean and harrass women. Tell perpetrators it’s wrong and why it’s wrong.

And if you don’t think this is a problem in our city, I suggest asking your female friends, co-workers and family members if they’ve ever felt victimized while walking down city streets. The stories of street harassment are as disgusting as they are eye-opening.

If you want to know how you can help, I suggest visiting Hollaback!, an organization devoted to stopping street harassment. And when you’re done doing that, I suggest you saying something when you see and hear it on the street.

It’s time to be an active voice. I hope you join me.
Jason

 

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An open letter to the men of Boston

One year later…

I was walking through the Boston Common this morning and found myself gasping for air. I realized I hadn’t taken a breath since getting off of the train.

I took a moment by the pavilion and took a few deep breaths. For the first time in a year, I thought about breathing.

What happened April 15, 2013 took us all by surprise. No one could have known what would happen or what would come next. No one could know how we’d all react in the days, weeks and months to come.

I didn’t know while on vacation to Mackinac Island with my family I would have flashbacks due to a cannon being set off.
I didn’t know the first time I walked by the finish line that I would need to vomit.
I didn’t know six months ago I would finally break down and cry about it… at a bar, of all places.
I didn’t know that opening TimeHop this morning would be as stressful as it was.
I didn’t know when I saw one of the Boston Strong founders this morning I would fight back tears as we hugged.

But, this is what I do know –
Two days after the bombing, I blogged about it and said “People come first.” I still believe this to be true. I believe this to be true with all of my heart.  I closed that blog with a quote that has been near and dear to my heart for almost 15 years –

“See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

-Carl Sagan

I know we’ve come together – friends, family members and strangers.
I know we’ve united and connected in meaningful and beautiful ways.
I know we’ve laughed and we’ve cried.
I know we were there for each other, arms open.
And I know our doors, our arms and our hearts are still open.

And today, I take a breath.

One year later…

Slowing it down

In January 2013, I loudly proclaimed this to be the year of #Slow.

Deciding on my OneWord 2013 wasn’t something I did carelessly. This was a thoughtful, deliberate (and I might I add, SLOW) process. I wanted the right word to guide me, to give me direction and to give me a reason to pause. My OneWord was something I felt I had earned. After years of work to get where I am now, I deserved to move slowly.

#Slow it was, and #slow it wasn’t.

Foolish Jason thought – “OH! I’ve been in Boston long enough to know my job, my city and myself. I should slow down and enjoy it.”

Foolish Jason thought – “OH! Because I’ve decided things are going to be slow and peaceful, that they’ll just be that way.”

Foolish Jason thought – “OH! Since I want to reflect on how I got to this place in my life, everyone else will let me do it.”

These things were categorically false.

Just because you want something to happen doesn’t mean outside forces won’t hamper your efforts. I’m not saying I failed to live up to my OneWord, but I don’t think I fully grasped the reality of what it meant to be #slow. I naively thought others would help me do this. Because I put it out there in the world (and painted on a canvas that has sat on my desk), the world would let this happen with ease.

So, on my last day of work of 2013, I think about how I moved… sometimes slowly, sometimes running so fast I lost my breath. There were times I enjoyed where I was, but there were times I was forced to run faster than anyone else in the same vicinity. It was a year of fast and slow, a year that pushed me beyond my emotional and physical limits.

For the next 11 days, I plan on being very slow, spending time with my friends and family. I’ve got 11 days left to be slow. Let’s be slow together.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013.

Slowing it down

On the return to normalcy

Monday, August 29, 2005 changed my life. As Katrina hit New Orleans, I knew my job at LSU would never be the same but had no idea of the impact it would have on my life.

In the weeks that followed, we volunteered, we changed our work patterns, we helped where we could.  What I wasn’t ready for was how we get back to normal.

Two weeks and several cancelled back to school events later, my supervisor and I were in a heated argument about programming and when it was okay to return to normalcy. It wasn’t an easy conversation and I’m thankful to Steven for the challenging time. It may not have been pleasant at the time, but it has since framed my outlook on student affairs.

That said, today I find myself in a similar situation.

 

 

At 2:50pm yesterday, I found myself a block away from the second detonation site during the Boston Marathon attack. As I heard the first explosion, my fingers furiously typed text messages to my boyfriend and my family, letting them know I was okay (at the time, no one knew anything… my poor parents were so confused). Seconds later, the second explosion left us all in a momentary stunned silence. As the crowd ran in different directions, I slowly moved through the streets, looking for my students running the marathon who I knew were only minutes away on the road. Herded in different directions, we did the best we could, listening to the police (and later the National Guard) as they tried to maintain order in the worst of situations. My ability to text ended soon after, leaving Facebook and Twitter my only means of communication.

I never found my team of runners who I was trying to cheer on, but I knew they were away from the blast. What I didn’t know was who was impacted by the explosions… and which of my students were there. Thank god, all seven injured are physically going to be okay.

But now what? How do you proceed with care and compassion to those who are afraid for their safety? To those who are mourning a loss of innocence? To those who may be triggered by a word and experience post-traumatic stress?

Do you cancel events? How do you modify?

How do we go back to normal?

Today, it remains clear to me – People come first.
Programs and events will alter and evolve but people need to be cared for, people need to know they’re loved.

My brain goes back to the book/movie Contact –

“See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”

-Carl Sagan

Go hug someone today for no reason. Because all we have is each other.

On the return to normalcy