Will You Accept This Rant? February 24

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Hello hello hello and welcome to all our readers, people who accidentally stumbled here from Twitter or Reddit, and a special hello to all the animals in Australia.  You’ve had a rough time lately…first rampaging wildfires and then Peter’s rampaging hormones?  We’re so sorry.


You deserve ALL the hugs.  And lots of legislation fighting climate change.

If you’re new here:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Last night’s episode was Fantasy Suites and things got turbulent!


Peter seems really LOST this season.

For anyone who is new to Bachelor Nation, Fantasy Suites are famously set-up as the place where contestants have the chance to sleep with the Bachelor or Bachelorette but as many former cast members have reported, it is MUCH more about the chance you have to spend time alone together without cameras. Get your minds out of the gutter.

OKAY.  Quick Recap of the Fantasy Suite Dates in the order we saw them:

  • Hannah Ann:
    Peter steals Hannah Ann for an afternoon of jet-skiing and canoodling on the beach. They proceed to have the most NORMAL date, accept a key to the fantasy suite, and spend the night together.
  • Victoria F:
    Peter takes Victoria on a helicopter ride (HE’S A PILOT REMEMBER?!), they land by a waterfall and Peter tells Victoria there is nothing she needs to fix in their relationship. Its 99% fine. Over dinner, Victoria blames her ex-boyfriend for her poor communication skills. They spend the night together in the fantasy suite and we’re all so over it.
    Abc Love GIF by The Bachelor
  • Madison:
    On to the main event!  Madi and Peter climb a really tall building because love requires taking risks.
    “If tall heights be the food of love, climb on.”-Shakespeare…ish.
    Madi takes a bigger risk over dinner and asks Peter if he slept with the other women. When he admits that he did, Madi is faced with the decision of if she can accept this and stay or if her journey ends in Australia.

 

The theme of this week’s episode (aside from Pound Town TM) was communication. Communication is SO important in a healthy relationship. We got to see both sides of how communication can make or break a relationship this week from both Madi and Victoria F.

In Madi’s case, we can see that even in healthy or happy relationships, if you can’t communicate, you are going to hit some major road blocks turbulence. When you are such different people or come from such different backgrounds, you have to be able and willing to be have hard conversations and if or how you can sort them out.  I think Madi is finding that she and Peter aren’t on the same page she thought they were and that could spell the end of their relationship.  This MIGHT (not definitely, but MIGHT) have been avoided, if they had communicated sooner and more openly about their differences and how to sort them out.

On Victoria’s side, we can see how unhealthy relationships can be built and maintained through deliberately poor communication. Victoria isn’t a monster.  She isn’t a lost cause. But if she is going to be able to build healthy relationships, she needs some serious introspection and honestly some therapy.  None of that will be accomplished if she keeps gaslighting, manipulating, and running from every deeper conversation.  Even on their Fantasy Suite date, the date where we’ve seen her cry the LEAST, she still turned weepy every time Peter tried to bring up anything that even remotely looked like a conversation on the areas for growth in their relationship.  Victoria keeps deflecting and running every time Peter tries to go deeper.  At best, she’s missing out on a chance to grow.  At worst, she’s deliberately sabotaging Peter’s attempts at building a healthy relationship and manipulating him to the point where he is easier to control.

The last thing we want to touch on today is the difference between Luke P and Madison. Madi has boundaries and choices based on her belief system. Agree or not, believe the same or not, you HAVE to respect her right to make those choices.  And communicating those choices to Peter was absolutely okay.  Their relationship couldn’t have moved anywhere without him having that information. The key was that she laid out her boundaries and stuck to them without shaming him for making different choices.

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Luke P, on the other hand, had a history of gaslighting, manipulating, and shaming Hannah B.  His ultimatum to her set the tone that this would change how he thought of HER as a person.  He wasn’t laying out his boundaries and choices and asking her to respect him. He was trying to make her choices for her. That isn’t a standard or a boundary.  That’s control and shame.  And we don’t have time for that in 2020.

Our thorn of the week goes to Victoria F (this is a new record) for taking WAY TOO MUCH pleasure in Madi’s discomfort and pushing her insecurities.  Again, women and femmes…we’ve got to build each other up, not get ahead by tearing each other down.

Our rose of the week goes to Hannah Ann, our unexpectedly unproblematic queen. Her confidence in herself and her relationship, despite being in the weirdest friggin’ situation speaks volumes.  She was kind, empathetic, and compassionate with Peter AND with the other girls and she didn’t take the process personally.  We’re rooting for you, Hannah Ann.

Until next week, Ranters!  We hope the nosy Kangaroos from Peter and Madi’s date are keeping their eye on you.  If not, we’re still here for you 24/7 at 815-756-5228.

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Will You Accept This Rant? February 17

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Hello hello hello to all our returning readers, our ranters, and to Victoria F’s dog, Buxton!


We had a similar reaction to this week’s episode.

As always, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV) As a fun bonus this week, our video is sideways on Facebook and someone accidentally gets hit in the face with a rose!

This week was all about the drama, so let’s not wait one more second!


Who wants drama?  Nobody.  Us.

We’ll start with a quick recap off all the hometown dates in the order shown by production before we dive into the drama:

  • Knoxville, TN: Hannah Ann
    Hannah Ann takes Peter ax-throwing so he can prove that he’s a “tough guy” to Hannah Ann’s father who works in forestry. Cool.  When meeting Dad later on that evening, he seems wholly unimpressed, so this might not have worked out as planned.
  • Des Moines, IA: Kelsey
    Kelsey and Peter foot-stomp some grapes into a signature wine.  She tells him she loves him and they drink the Toe Pinot. That’s really all there is to report.
  • Auburn, AL: Madi
    Madi takes Peter to explore Auburn University and trounces him in a friendly game of HORSE. Charles Barkley tells him to treat Madi right and Madi’s family obsesses over whether she’s told Peter that she’s a virgin.
  • Virginia Beach, CA: Victoria F
    DRAMA. Victoria meets Peter on a beach and almost loses her dog while making out with Peter. They take some old-timey pictures and dance to a live country-music performance that’s just a little too on-the-nose with lyrics like “I don’t want easy; I want crazy.” Before leaving, Peter is caught by an old ex, Merisa, who warns him that Victoria isn’t a good fit for him.  Merisa tells him Victoria has a reputation for ruining relationships, a negative personality, and just generally not the right fit for a guy like him. Peter brings this up to Victoria before meeting her family and all hell breaks loose. Peter heads back to his hotel room rather than sit through what would have been THE MOST AWKWARD FAMILY DINNER EVER.

The episode ended with a rose ceremony.  Peter sent Kelsey back home to Des Moines.  Next week is the fantasy suites and the previews show we’re not done with the drama yet!


We’ll miss you, Kelsey!

Of course, we have to talk about the Victoria F situation and we’ll get to that, but we want to take a minute to address a few other more subtle things that happened this episode.

First, the idea that Peter has to be some kind of “tough guy” to impress Hannah Ann’s dad. We see this time and time again that just as girls are expected to look and behave a certain way to be accepted, guys get forced into their own box too. Tony Porter calls this the “Man Box” (Watch his Ted Talk!) and Jackson Katz calls it the “Tough Guise”. Men are expected to be unemotional, providers, physically intimidating, and even violent.  Men aren’t often told that it is okay to have feelings and to be empathetic and kind. Peter doesn’t strike us as the ax-throwing type and that is completely fine.  Everyone should be free to be who they are, not feel forced to live out a stereotype based on their gender.

The other subtle attitude that popped up was the idea that the highest ideal a woman can strive for is a relationship with a man.  You might be able to guess it from our ranting last week, but this came up in Madi’s family.  We talked last week about purity culture, so I won’t rehash that except to say that staying a virgin until marriage is a CHOICE.  It is a totally great choice to make if it feels empowering or important to you, but it is not an inherently better or safer choice than choosing to have sex with another adult who is enthusiastically consenting.  “Saving yourself for marriage” is totally cool; you do you! But choosing to have sex (or being a victim of sexual assault or abuse) does not make you any less valuable.  You are not broken.  You matter.

Click this link and watch this video right now.  

OKAY.

Getting off our soapbox there and climbing onto another soapbox…

Madi’s dad, Chad, mentions that he and Madi’s mom have been praying for Madi’s husband since Madi was an infant.  Do I think that this makes Chad and his wife bad people?  Do I think they had bad intentions or wanted to hurt their daughter?  Absolutely not.  Do I think this attitude props up our patriarchal system that harms women, even if unintentionally?  Absolutely yes. 

What if Madi realized growing up that she was bisexual or a lesbian?  What if she fell in love with a woman or someone who was nonbinary? Would she feel safe to come out to her family, knowing that they’d been praying for her husband since she’d been born?
OR
What if Madi met a man, fell in love, got married, and then started getting abused?  Would she feel confident and safe to leave that relationship, knowing that her family would always support her?  Or would she worry that she had “failed” in the most important aspect of her life, her relationship?

If you are the praying type, pray for your daughter to be kind.  Pray for your daughter to be brave.  Pray for your daughter to be smart, to be empathetic, to be a leader, to be a world-changing woman.  Pray for her to be so much more than “just” a wife. Make sure your daughters know that the most important thing isn’t if or who they marry.  They are so much more than that.


Thank you Hasan Minaj.

Okay…onto the main event. VICTORIA F!

In our ABC book of Abusive Behaviors, G stands for GASLIGHTING! And underneath G for Gaslighting?  A big ol’ picture of Victoria F. Funny enough, she’s pictured under M for Manipulation as well.

When things are going her way, Victoria is happy as a clam.
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Sorry not sorry

But as soon as things aren’t going her way, Victoria pulls out all the stops to manipulate Peter until she gets what she wants. Last night, Peter had some concerning information brought to him by an ex-girlfriend.  He very reasonably wanted to sit down with Victoria and discuss what he heard.  He wasn’t accusing her of anything or calling her names, but just looking to have a much-needed conversation. But just like all the other “tough conversations” they had, as soon as Victoria felt the power shift away from her, she went into defensive mode.

  • Victoria said that it was “unfair” that Peter brought this up.  (Wouldn’t it be more unfair for him to continue to blindly pursue this relationship without giving her a chance to air her side of the story?)
  • Victoria made herself seem like the victim, flipping the narrative that this was Peter’s fault for bringing this up at a bad time. (“You decided that what Merissa told you is more important than meeting my entire family.”-Victoria making it seem like PETER is at fault for bringing this up. When were you supposed to talk about this?  Should he just ignore all the problems and red flags so that it doesn’t inconvenience you?)
  • “I’m trying really  hard.  I’ve never tried this hard in a relationship.” (Again rough quote from last night, but Victoria claiming that she is putting in the work without showing any of the receipts.  What have we seen that shows she is trying?  You can’t just say that you are doing things.  You have to actually do them.)
  • Peter tries to talk things out and make sense of the situation.  Victoria’s response: “You just came in here to act like that…are you kidding me?” “I like adore you. I was going to tell you tonight that I’m falling in love with you.  How am I supposed to do that now?” “I had high hopes for you to meet my family and I’m just so disappointed.” (She’s blaming him and hoping to make him feel guilty, so he ignores his gut feeling about her being the wrong person.)

And Peter ends up apologizing to her. He apologizes if she felt like he was attacking or accusing her.  He apologizes for ruining the evening.

He had a TOTALLY normal reaction to getting some disturbing news about a love interest he is really just starting to get to know.  His reaction was reasonable and rational.  He tried to get to the bottom of things.  But Victoria F’s manipulation and turning-the-tables confused him until he couldn’t trust his gut or his heart and he ends up keeping her around for another week.

Our Rose for this week goes to Merisa for being the friend who would reach out and let someone know that they might not be seeing all sides of the situation.  This wasn’t just messy gossip or sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.  This was a chance to be a positive bystander, check-in on a friend, and let them know they may be stuck in a relationship that is hurting them.  Be there for your friends.  Reach out.  Let them know they aren’t alone and that they deserve a love that doesn’t gaslight or manipulate.  They deserve a relationship that doesn’t hurt all the time.

If you’re that friend and you need advice on how to get through, give us a call.  We’re always here.  815-756-5228.

Will You Accept This Rant? February 11

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Hello again to all our readers and fellow ranters!  And a special hello to everyone who knows the difference between alpacas and llamas!

Image outlining the differences between llamas and alpacasWe’re Team Llama over here and we hope you are too.

Per usual, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Love is really starting to take flight, folks!  Here we go!

Lima, Peru:

  • Madi’s Second 1-on-1
    Madi and Peter went fishing and caught some feelings! Over dinner, Madi shared how important faith is to her and Peter told her he was falling in love.

    Madi hit a slam dunk with this relationship! (Did we do sports right?)

  • Natasha’s First 1-on-1
    Peter and Natasha explore the city and Peter sends Natasha home at dinner.  Raise your hand if you were surprised?  Anyone?
  • Kelsey’s Second 1-on-1
    Kelsey and Peter explore the countryside on ATV (as if Peter isn’t the biggest accident-prone goofball who just healed from cutting his head open in a golf cart accident), do some cardio up a mountainside, and talk about their futures.
  • 3-on-1 date with Kelley, Victoria F, Hannah Ann (and Peter)
    The three women head to a park to talk with Peter. We are tricked for a few minutes into thinking Peter might do the right thing and send notoriously messy Victoria home, but no.  Hannah Ann and Victoria F get roses and Kelley heads home after enjoying a few weeks of all-inclusive vacationing.

    Gone but not forgotten: our chill queen Kelley

 

We don’t even have time to unpack everything that went on this week.  Oh wait…that is the entire point of us doing this?  Okay.  Barstool Trent, roll that suitcase back on in here.  We’ve got some unpacking to do!

We feel like we FINALLY got to see some genuine connection-building this episode instead of just drama on drama on drama.  We really got to see the relationships that are forming.  Since next week is hometown dates, we can only say, it’s about darn time!

Peter and Madison’s date showed that they continue to have one of the strongest connections here. Peter talked about the close friendship he feels with Madi and potential for that friendship to turn into love. It is easy to see when watching them that this relationship has some legs to it.

Peter gets WAY too into looking for a relationship that is hard or emotional or challenging.  He chases Victoria F because he thinks that the problems they are having signal a deep relationship, rather than an unhealthy one. He thought that Hannah Ann crying meant that she was invested in the relationship. He sent home the two most level-headed women left (RIP Natasha and Kelley) because they used words like “fun and easy” to describe their connection. Peter is too obsessed with the romcom trope that relationships have to be hard to be real; that you have to fight for the one you love.

The only exception to this seems to be his relationship with Madi.  We get to see them having fun, being goofy, AND building their connection. It is an important reminder to not just look for a partner who isn’t abusive, but actively look for a relationship (and BE a partner) that makes you better. You deserve more than to just not be hurt.  You deserve to be loved, challenged, encouraged, and supported. Look for the green flags, not just the red ones.

We also saw Peter and Madi tackle some tougher conversation topics over dinner. We’ve gotten past the standard Bachelor sob stories and now they are finally getting to talk about the things that help you know if you really can build a life with someone outside the Bachelor Bubble.

Peter and Madi discuss their religious beliefs and how important it is to Madi to have a partner who values faith the way she does. We’re not sure yet if Peter is on the same page with her or not (our guess is not), but it was good that they had that conversation instead of just assuming. You know what happens when you assume.

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Kelsey and Peter continued this trend by having a conversation about kids and family.  And not just the standard “do you want kids?” conversation, but Kelsey opened up what a work/life balance would look like for her as a future mom. Again, you can’t assume that you and your partner are on the same page or that you will be able to change their mind about something so important. And if you can’t have those kinds of important conversations with a partner, it might be worth asking if this relationship is worth investing in. That is a pretty big red flag.

As we look forward to next week, we’ll be heading to hometown dates. This might be my favorite week of the season as you really get a chance to see where someone came from and how that might be shaping who they are as a person.  From the preview it looks like we’ll see more drama with Victoria F and a peak into how Madi’s faith (and her virginity) might cause some turbulence on her journey.

We also have to give our reminder, because we’re sure the producers are going to lean HARD into this tired Bachelor trope, but being a Christian is not synonymous with being a virgin.  We saw SO MUCH of the shaming, manipulative, abusive, toxic purity culture with Luke P and we’re over it.  You can have sex or not have sex.  It is your body and your choice.  The choice that you make cannot and will not impact who you are as a person or your value.  Virginity is a social construct, not a moral or religious imperative. This idea has been used for millenia to police women and shame and silence survivors of sexual assault.  We’re fed up with it and we’re not going to tolerate it.  So get ready for more ranting.

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When one llama gif isn’t enough to fully express our frustration at toxic purity culture

Our thorn for this week goes to *drumroll* Victoria F!  Congratulations Victoria on being a multi-thorn winner this season!  Her gaslighting and manipulation of Peter are getting a BIG THUMBS DOWN from us.

Our rose this week goes, of course, to our confident queens: Natasha and Kelley.  You know your worth and you didn’t let Peter get you down. We’ll miss you next week but we’re glad your out of this mess.

See you next week, Ranters!

Will You Accept This Rant? February 3 and 5

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Welcome welcome welcome to all our loyal readers, Chris Harrison, and Chris Harrison in a mustache!

If you haven’t been following along yet, we’re working to examine and call out the culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation. You can follow along with our weekly Facebook Live videos and our Twitter feed! We love to hear your thoughts, so get in touch!

Just a side note…we’re using a new form of technology to write this blog and we’re about as good with technology as Madi is (raise your hand if you get this joke), so we’ll update this post early next week with links to our social media and gifs. Thank you for your patience along this journey. We promise, the process is working.

So this week was FIVE HOURS OF BACHELOR CONTENT. It could have been one. Y’all. It should have been one. But we all suffered though together, we’ve developed a bond out of this trauma, and we’re going to do some learnin’.

Kicking things off in Costa Rica:

  • Alayah is sent home (this was technically in Cleveland…so sorry girl.)
  • Peter is attacked by a puma…oh wait. He tripped getting out of a golf cart and cut his head on his beer glass. Is this the most fratty injury you’ve ever seen or is this the most fratty injury you’ve ever seen?
  • Sydney has a one-on-one.
  • Kelsey drunk cries and Tammy starts to start drama about her being “emotionally unstable”.
  • There is a modeling group-date in the jungle. Yawn.
  • Peter sends Victoria P home from the group date!
  • Kelley has a one-on-one date and is REFRESHINGLY normal.
  • Kelsey goes to see Peter to clear up the “emotionally unstable” drama. Peter gives her a rose.
  • They have a rose ceremony. Lexi and Shiann are sent home.

Heading off to Chile!

  • Hannah Ann has a one-on-one. Is she ready for marriage?!
  • They have a telenovela-themed group date. Kelley makes a grandma-incest joke.

    Insert Yikes gif here
  • Victoria F gets a second one-on-one.
  • Tammy v. Mykenna showdown; Peter sends Tammy home.
  • We have a second rose ceremony in as many episodes (PTL): Mykenna and Sydney are headed home.

We’ve got 5 hours worth of drama and 5 minutes worth of patience for this cr*p. Let’s dive in!

The first thing that really stuck out to us was just how incredibly normal Kelley was. The bar is SO LOW in Bachelor Nation that someone with realistic expectations for a relationship is so noteworthy but here we are. Kelley has a job. She is independent. Kelley doesn’t need a relationship with Peter to feel complete. She is my hero.

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Kelley’s independence and self-sufficiency allows her to feel more free in her relationship and it shows. She speaks up to Peter and tells him how she feels about his role in the house drama. She calls him out and their relationship is better for it. Everyone deserves that in a relationship. If you’re too afraid to speak your mind with your partner or offer constructive criticism, that might not be a healthy relationship.

Before we leave Costa Rica, we HAVE to address the Kelsey drama. Iowa can’t have Bachelor contestants OR caucuses without drama, I guess!

Kelsey is clearly having a hard time with this process and a relationship that makes you cry all the time is clearly a problem but also, if you are a sensitive person who responds by crying…that is totally okay. The world is literally on fire, kids die of preventable diseases, puppies don’t always have loving families…it is okay to cry about it. If you can’t live your life because you are so upset or emotional all the time, please see a therapist. If you feel like you are drinking instead of addressing your feelings, please see a therapist that specializes is substance use disorder. If you feel like you just don’t like how much you’re crying, try journaling or running or any other self-care tip you like. But if you’re just a crier, cry on bebes.

And to all the other girls who felt a need to take this up with Peter and accuse Kelsey of popping pills because she takes Adderall? Please take several seats! There is too much stigma around mental health and taking care of your mental health. If you need Adderall for your ADD or ADHD, if you need Xanax for your anxiety, if you need any medicine to keep your brain healthy, that is just as fine as needing medicine for your blood pressure. Let’s normalize caring for our mental health, folks.

As we flew to Chile, we flew ever closer to the eternal Bachelor question: is the young girl ready for marriage?!

*Insert pearl-clutching here*

Hannah Ann is young. There is no question about it. Plenty of young people aren’t ready for marriage. They just haven’t learned enough about life and love. But let’s be honest…plenty of older people aren’t ready for marriage either for the Exact. Same. Reasons. Age is no guarantee that you are ready for a healthy, committed relationship. A much better guide is how well you’ve learned to know yourself, your personality, your needs, and your quirks. Do you know your insecurities and have you worked on them yourself? Do you feel fulfilled and independent without a relationship? Have you invested in your own therapy, self-care, and growth enough to know that you won’t try to control or exert power over a partner? I don’t care how old you are. I want to know how in touch you are with your own feelings, needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

Along those same lines, we saw a good example of that “being-in-touch with your own weaknesses” thing from Victoria F (shocking, I know). She was freaking out on her date with Peter (not shocking, I know) and she told her producer that she was taking her insecurities out on him and it wasn’t fair. We’re all human (except Chris Harrison. I’m not 100% sure) and we’ll all make mistakes. You can’t expect your partner to be perfect. But you CAN expect them to own up to their mistakes, take accountability for those mistakes, and change. Being self-aware enough recognize when you’re making a mistake and making it right is healthy. We love to see it.

Finally, we’ve got to address an ongoing issue this season: girl-on-girl crime. Cattiness has been a MAJOR issue this season. I’m not sure if we’re just not seeing the deep friendships develop that we’ve seen in other seasons or if they just aren’t there, but either option is bad. Either producers think it’s more exciting to show cat-fights which says some pretty awful things about our society or those friendships genuinely aren’t developing. Either way, I’d hate to think of my nieces or other young women watching this and thinking that this is how women should act or this is what female friendships look like. I’d hate for young girls to grow-up thinking that it’s okay or even expected to throw other women under the bus if you’re in competition for a man. We don’t win by tearing each other down. We win by lifting each other up and rising together. We’re tired of the Mean Girls script. We’d like to return this for a full refund, please.


Raise your hand if youre feeling attacked by the Patriarchy this season?

Our dead rose this week went to Mykenna for her Pinterest-inspired self-love speeches. We’re all for self-confidence and empowerment, but empowerment runs so much deeper than posting a deep quote on Instagram. Mykenna deserves more, all femmes deserve more. We want to see real feminism and this 30-seconds of flowery feminism doesn’t make up for 5 hours of girls falling under the misogynistic heel of the patriarchy.

Our face reading seeing Feminism used to uphold, not overthrow a patriarchal misogynist system.

Our rose of this week goes to Madi. It’s pretty clear Peter likes this woman. She stays above the fray and finds time to develop her relationship with a man she clearly cares for without throwing anyone else under the bus. We stan. #SoGenuineAndReal


Still our favorite Bachelorette

Let’s all commit to lifting up a woman or femme this week to make up for the Patriarchy we sat through and we’ll see you next week for a blessed 2-hours only of the Bachelor! (Who are we kidding…we loved every dramatic minute!)

Watching “You”

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***Trigger warning: description of stalking.

“And there you were, every account set to public.
You want to be seen, heard, known. Of course, I obliged.”
– Joe Goldberg

Joe Goldberg is a fictional character in Netflix’s thriller series You, which released its second season in December. Joe, played by actor Penn Badgley, starts the first season off as a bookstore manager in New York. He meets Guinevere Beck, an MFA student juggling between her master’s program, a low-paying teaching assistant job, a co-dependent friendship and writing. The viewer gets a first-hand look into Joe’s mind as they meet for the first time.

This brief interaction represents a specific type of encounter that women are all too familiar with: girl meets boy, girl is nice to boy, boy misinterprets her niceness for love. I use the term ‘misinterpret’ loosely in Joe’s case, because Joe actively and aggressively interprets each of Beck’s action (and inaction) as an invitation for him to stalk her. In one scene, you hear Joe think: “oh, are you not wearing a bra? And you want me to notice!” What was Beck doing in this moment? She was reaching for a book.

Within hours of meeting her, Joe goes through her social media and sees if she posted their encounter. She didn’t. But, leave it to a stalker to twist this absence as validation. “If anything, the fact that you didn’t share me with your followers only confirms we really connected,” Joe says, as he searches her address and ends up standing across her apartment.

Joe interprets Beck’s uncovered windows as another invitation for him to stalk her as he thinks “but you want people to watch, don’t you?” He follows her to the restaurant where her friends meet her, he follows her to the subway, he follows her to her morning workout, he follows her to class, and he manages to get into her apartment by calling the gas company and reporting a leak. Did I mention that all of this happens the day after they meet? 

It’s normal to look through someone’s social media accounts to learn more about them. Joe, however, crossed the line of infatuation into pure stalking. He stalks Beck and gaslights her when she holds him accountable of stalking. There’s nothing that Beck could have done differently to change her fate, because none of this was her fault. Her social media accounts being public doesn’t mean she was calling for attention or asking to be followed. Women should be able to live their lives without fear of being followed.

The second season begins with Joe’s new love interest, Love (yes, Love is her name). Joe’s stalking tendencies continue on a dangerous path, much like what we saw in the first season – don’t worry, no spoilers here.

While the show You is not based on a true story, it reflects a reality that many women experience.

Stalking affects 1 in 6 women, with American Indian/Alaska Native and Multiracial women having 60% great national stalking estimates compared to white, black and Hispanic women.

The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.”

According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center (SPARC), stalkers use a variety of tactics, including (but not limited to): unwanted contact including phone calls, texts, and contact via social media, unwanted gifts, showing up/approaching an individual or their family/friends, monitoring, surveillance, property damage and threats.

If you suspect that you’re being stalked, or have been stalked in the past, Safe Passage provides free and confidential legal support and counseling for stalking victims. Please call our 24-7 hotline to learn more: 815.756.5228.

If you’re a teen fan of You, consider coming to our event on February 26. Learn more here.

 

Will You Accept This Rant? January 27

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Welcome back to all of you who love Bachelor Nation, hate Bachelor Nation, or love to hate Bachelor Nation!  All are welcome in our tiny corner of this vast and complicated universe of tears, roses, and prematurely popped Champagne bottles.

If you haven’t been following along yet, we’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Strap in, folx!

This week’s drama:

  • Peter’s first one-on-one date with Victoria F: a flight (because Peter is a pilot, remember?!), Cedar Point Amusement Park all to themselves, a private country-music concert, and a romantic dinner.
  • THE PRIVATE COUNTRY MUSIC CONCERT WAS BY VICTORIA F’S EX-BOYFRIEND!

    Or maybe just her one-time hookup but still…well done, producers!
  • Full-tackle football group date: yellow versus pink teams, everybody tied.  I cared almost as much as I do about regular football. Go team.
  • Group date cocktail party: the return of Alayah!  Alayah comes back much to the frustration of literally everyone else but Peter and the ABC execs. (insert dollar eyes emoji here)
  • Post-group date drama: Alayah isn’t happy with having a beef with just ONE Victoria.  She spills the tea (from the internet–Hi Reddit!) on Chase Rice and Victoria F and starts a two-Victoria feud.
  • Second one-on-one date: Peter has a romantic and refreshingly drama-free date with Kelsey in romantic Cleveland, OH.
  • Pre-rose ceremony cocktail party: everyone but Alayah is pissed at Peter and they do not hold back.
  • To be continued: the episode ends with Peter and Victoria P having a conversation about Alayah and it looks like this drama will follow us into next week’s rose ceremony.

We’ve got a whole suitcase to unpack with all this drama but the major revelation for one of our WYATR hosts is that ABC likes to leave you on a cliff-hanger instead of getting down to the rose ceremony each episode. Get used to it, Kendal!

Our main takeaways from this week were:

  • Relationships end and we’re shaped by  our history.
  • Women and femmes are defined by so much more than our appearance.
  • Emotional manipulation is very serious and far too common.
  • Roller-coasters are for amusement parks, not relationships.

Victoria F was SHOOK to see her ex, Chase Rice, was the surprise performer at her date with Peter. TBF, Chase Rice seemed to be pretty surprised to see her as well. She went into a pretty full meltdown over how she would tell Peter that they were just serenaded by her ex. If we are honest about the nature of relationships, the vast vast majority of us will have an ex in our history. Very few of us meet one person and stay with them for the rest of our lives and very few healthy relationships are built that way.  It is completely normal to date someone, enjoy your time together, and eventually move on from that relationship. We all have relationships (romantic, platonic, physical, familial, or otherwise) that have shaped us into who we are today.  For better or for worse, we’re impacted by the people we’ve known and especially by the people we’ve loved. If your partner is too jealous to acknowledge your past or is threatened by your past to the point where they would be angry at a reminder of your previous relationships, that romantic connection is headed nowhere good. We were so happy to see Peter’s healthy and silly reaction to Victoria’s news showing none of the possessiveness or control a jealous partner might have.


He wasn’t mad, just a little slow to figure it out.

Staying on the same date, we were floored to hear Victoria’s toast to their future kids who would have “hot moms and successful dads.”  This throwaway moment in the episode highlights how often women are told, in obvious and in subtle ways, that the most important thing they offer to the world, to their families, to their communities is their beauty. Women can be conventionally attractive and that’s fine.  Wear make-up, wear heels, dress up, go high-femme by ALL means. But just know that this doesn’t make you a better or worse person; it doesn’t define you at all.  I hope Victoria knows that she can be so much more to her partner and her children than just a MILF. I also hope young boys watching know that their worth isn’t measured by their career success.  Just like women are put in a box of being judged by our appearance, men are often taught that their value lies solely in being a “provider”. None of us should be raised in a box and all of us should use all our strength to break down those binaries and stereotypes at every opportunity!


My face every time someone reinforces gender stereotypes.

From one Victoria to the next, a main theme of this episode was whether or not Peter could or should trust Victoria P.  Her conflict with Alayah from last week continued (helped by the producers manufacturing Alayah’s return, kudos on that drama guys!) and Peter was forced to decide if he trusted Alayah’s story or Victoria P’s. While I’m no hardcore #TeamAlayah stan, I have to say that she laid out her case to Peter with facts and receipts.  Victoria P’s ongoing conversations with Peter seemed to rely wholly on her telling him to trust her because of their connection and trust her because she’s been vulnerable with him.  She’s not telling him to trust her because she’s been honest or trust her because she cares for him.  She’s almost threatening to punish him for not trusting her, with or without evidence. She’s almost saying that him even questioning her is hurting their connection. This is subtle gaslighting but it is definitely gaslighting or if we’re being generous, gaslighting-adjacent.  Trust is important in relationships but trust should never be weaponized. Your partner should never bully you or punish you for being concerned by the facts that are in front of you.  “You should trust me no matter what.” “I can’t believe you would question me even though I’ve done X, Y, and Z for you.” “If you really loved me, you would believe me, not her.”  Those are the calling cards of a gaslighter. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, your partner should want you to get to the bottom of that, not punish you for being concerned.  We saw a lot of emotional manipulation out of Victoria P tonight and that is often overlooked or ignored in relationships.  This can be one of the early signs that something is really wrong.  Trust your gut and reach out for support. Sometimes we need someone else on the outside looking in (or an entire country watching on our TVs) to help us confirm that, yah, something pretty messed up is going on.

Finally, we just wanted to reiterate that relationships shouldn’t be a roller coaster.  We’ve talked in our videos about the cycle of violence and thinking of that cycle as a roller coaster is another way to recognize that you might be ignoring the lows because the highs have been so good. Abuse isn’t often constant.  It’s not usually a 24/7 battle with the person who is hurting you.  Most abusive relationships will have high highs and low lows. It is easy from the outside to focus on the lows you see in a friend’s relationship and wonder why they won’t “just leave”.  It is easy from the inside to focus on the highs and think that maybe if you just try harder you can make the highs last. We want you to know that you deserve better than that. Healthy relationships are not always honeymoons and Valentine’s day, but there shouldn’t be abuse. You deserve better and better is out there.  If you notice you’re caught in a roller coaster relationship, you’re not alone.  There is help.

Finally our roses for the week:

Our rose this week goes to all the girls in the house for sticking up for themselves.  We heard some real emotions this week being shared not just with each other but with Peter.  We’ve never gotten to see something like this before where contestants told the lead that they felt disrespected or hurt by his decisions and we’re so happy to see that play out on our screens. We need more examples of women speaking up for themselves and putting the emotional labor back on the person who really should be handling it. We can be kind and compassionate without being doormats and we were thrilled to see the women live that out this week.

Our dead rose this week goes to Alayah for some sneaky internet bullying.  We’re not here to say Alayah is awful or should go home, but she clearly brought up gossip about Victoria F and Chase to try to hurt Victoria’s relationship with Peter or with the other girls.  Two thumbs way way down to that type of bullying.

Maybe we should end next week with our good rose to go out on a high note; let us know what you think!  Check us out on Facebook and Twitter, share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s keep this conversation going!

Got Consent?

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Content Warning:  Discussion of sexual abuse, sexual predators, and consent.

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As Harvey Weinstein’s case continues in New York, the main argument from his legal team is that every encounter brought up in the trial was actually consensual. He says that he can’t be charged with rape because in each and every case, the other party agreed to have sex or wanted to. How was HE to know that she didn’t actually want to have sex? This is the argument you hear in most rape cases that make it to trial.

As this trial was beginning, I was also finishing up the novel Horns by Joe Hill. This fictional story surrounds the case of a young woman who was sexually assaulted and murdered. Throughout the novel, you get to hear the exact thoughts of the abuser leading up to the moment of the young woman’s murder. Very dark stuff. As I read the story, however, I couldn’t help but notice a similarity between the thoughts of the murderer and the excuses we’ve heard throughout the investigation and prosecution of Harvey Weinstein and countless others.

As I thought about this fictional account and this very real criminal case, I started to wonder, do these abusers actually believe it? Do they genuinely think that they had consent in those encounters? It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it does help us understand where we need to put more effort in our prevention work with young people. Too often we hear excuses from abusers like “it seemed like they were enjoying it,” “they didn’t say no,” or “they didn’t try to stop me.” If we aren’t teaching young people (and old people too) that consent MUST be a verbal, enthusiastic, and informed “yes”, then we’re opening the door for abusers to use these excuses in their lives and in court.

Again, this is no excuse for their behavior, but it does open a window into our culture and what we need to do better. Part of overcoming our current rape culture is making it crystal clear to abusers, to communities, and to juries and judges that any sexual activity without explicit, informed, and enthusiastic consent is sexual abuse.

A look is not consent.
“…she turned and gave Lee a frowning look, one eyebrow raised in a way that seemed to ask a question–or offer an invitation. Follow me.” (Horns, p 349)

How someone is dressed is not consent.
“She had thought about what to put on before she came here, had thought about how she wanted to be seen.” (Lee’s perspective, Horns, p 296)

Your interpretation of what someone means when things are unclear is not consent.
“Lee…wondered for a moment if she could mean what he thought she meant by that. But of course she did, of course she knew exactly how he’d take it. A lot of what Merrin said had double meanings, one for public consumption and the other just for him. She’d been sending him messages for years.” (Horns, p 301)

Your imagination is not consent.
“She had lured him down to Boston, led him to imagine they would be alone together, and then answered the door in her sweatpants, looking like warmed-over shit, her roommate wandering around…He was sick of being jerked around…” (Horns, p 314)

Nothing is consent aside from a clear, sober yes, free from manipulation, coercion, or force. The sooner we make that clear, the sooner we’ll live in a world where abusers are held accountable for their actions instead of a world where we make excuses for the violence done to others.

Will You Accept This Rant? January 20

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Welcome back to Will You Accept This Rant? for week 3 of this journey to find love (and a culture of healthy relationships in media!)

If you haven’t been following along yet, we’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

What happened this week?

  • ChampagneGate resolves: Kelsey doesn’t even like champagne. So glad we spent two episodes on this.


(Couldn’t resist, sorry.)

  • Peter’s one-on-one date with Victoria P: line-dancing and vulnerable conversations.
  • Demi-Date: group date, pillow-fighting in lingerie. Ugh.
  • Group-date continued: Sydney v. Alayah
  • Pool party: not much pool, even less party.  Just the Alayah drama continues
  • Rose ceremony: Alexa, Sarah C, Jasmine, and Alayah go home. Maybe other people too, but honestly we can’t keep track yet.
  • Tune in next week:  Peter seems unsure about sending Alayah home. Maybe she’s back?!

There is a lot to unpack in this episode, but the biggest takeaways we had this week were:

  • Verbal abuse and bullying is serious.
  • Boys should be allowed to show their emotions.
  • Bi-women are unfairly sexualized in our society and it is harmful.
  • Girls need to stick together and fight the things that are really hurting us (the patriarchy) and not each other.

Kelsey started off this episode (yes, Champagne Gate gets one more mention) saying that unkind words aren’t bullying and we’re going to pull a lesson from Middle School Social Emotional Learning to say…sort of. You can be rude, you can be mean, and you can be a bully. Bully requires a use of unequal power over a period of time. That absolutely COULD BE what is going on.  More likely, Kelsey was really just being pretty mean. But just because it was only words does not mean that it isn’t bullying.  Too often verbal abuse is written off as “not that serious” because no one was physically injured but it is the verbal and mental abuse that can cause some of the deepest wounds for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We need to make sure we take words seriously.

We know two things about Peter FOR SURE this early in the season: he is a touchy-feely fellow and he’s in his feelings. And we’re so glad for the chance to see an emotionally in-tune guy on our TV screens every Monday night. People of all genders feel their feelings, but it really seems like women are the only ones given permission to show it. Guys and mascs, you don’t have to be John McClane 24/7.  Peter is demonstrating some deep compassion and empathy and real openness about his own emotions and we are here for it!

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Alright…

We’ve got to start with some statistics: 75% of bi women experience sexual violence in their lifetimes (LINK with stats).  Part of that is due to the way bi women are hypersexualized in our society and treated as existing solely for the viewing pleasure of straight men. The group date with Demi played right into that.  A pillow fight in lingerie sounds like something a freshman fratboy might have dreamed up and ABC execs threw that right to the only Bachelor Nation alum to have had a queer relationship on one of their shows.  Not a great look and plays right into the stereotypes about bi-folx that end up hurting us and excusing the abuse we experience. In a show that has highlighted the experience of SO FEW LGBTQIA+ folks, this was not a great way to show that they understand helpful representation.

And finally, if there was one thing that summed up this episode it was girls taking each other down instead of teaming up to take down the patriarchy.  Whether it was Kelsey v. Hannah Ann or Sydney v. Alayah or Victoria P v. Alayah or Mykenna v. her own anxiety, this was not a good night for girl power.  TPTB have gotten better at showing the supportive sisterhood of the house over the last few seasons.  We’ve seen strong friendships developing and girls supporting each other in this weird, messy journey to find Instagram sponsorships love. We’ve hardly seen that at all so far this season.  I’m sure that isn’t because those friendships aren’t forming, but because the editors don’t think that footage is as valuable as the drama. It is such a disservice to all the young women and girls (and everyone) watching out there to see girls being treated as competition and winners/losers, rather than supporters and lifelong partners. We need each other and we always will.  A romantic relationship isn’t enough to get you through life.  You need your friendships, your family (chosen, bio, or otherwise) and your community. I think the show is really missing out on a part of what was making it better when we miss out on that female empowerment and support.


She’s referring to feminism and equality.

Our dead rose of this week goes to the producers.  Y’all are messy and we wouldn’t have a TV show without you but please…you’re creating a season of drama for all the wrong reasons.

Our real rose (let’s end on a high note) goes to Victoria P for her vulnerability, openness, and strength. As an agency working each and every day with survivors of trauma, you all are some of the strongest, bravest, and most amazing people in this world. You should never have experienced the pain you did, but you are using that pain to build a brighter future and a safer world.  We’re honored to do the work we do alongside you. Victoria P, you are a survivor.

 

Will You Accept This Rant? January 13

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Welcome welcome welcome to week 2 of Will You Accept This Rant!

We started this week in our WYATR studio, so head over to our Facebook (Click This Link!) to check out our live video and share your thoughts!  You can also hit up our Twitter (@Safe_PassageDV) to follow along with our live tweets.

I started to type out a recap of this episode and 12-hours later I realized, you didn’t need to read EVERY DETAIL that happened last night.  Check out our FB video and save your reading time for a good novel or a newspaper article (#SupportLocalNews). Here’s a few highlights that we noticed, loved, or hated:

  • Hannah B and Peter’s conversation: Bless her heart; Hannah is a girl who is embarrassed about all the weirdos she dated for way too long and doesn’t know what she wants anymore. I’ve never felt so seen. Despite all the efforts of the producers to convince us that it was a real possibility, we all had to know there was no way Hannah and Peter were walking away from this as a couple.
  • Sydney and Peter actually have a real conversation about what it is like for her as a biracial woman growing up in the South.  Good try, Mike Fleiss, but I’m not letting you off the hook until you stop casting all these white-bread bachelors.
  • Champagnegate: Kelsey brings a bottle of champagne that she’s been saving for a year and she wants to drink it with Peter. Girl.  I’m from Iowa, just like you. There is no champagne in Iowa that is worth saving. Drink it yourself and MOVE ON. 
  • Champagnegate, Part 2: Hannah Ann comes on strong to prove that gaslighting is not just a move for the fellas! A fake apology (“I acknowledge your feelings.” aka, I’m sorry you feel that way.  I’m sorry if YOU were offended.) is not a real apology. Also, a classic shift of responsibility by making herself the victim! Now, Kelsey was obviously over-the-top. She was WAY too upset with Hannah Ann for something that clearly was not really Hannah Ann’s fault.  However, Hannah Ann using that moment to faux-pologize then cry to Peter that she’d been bullied?  That is a classic tactic for avoiding accountability.  Nothing would have smoothed that situation over quicker than a genuine apology and show of empathy.
  • The Revolve date revolved [badumsshh] around the idea that all girls love fashion and shopping.  We’re ready for this stereotype to die. Peter is doing a great job of showing his emotional journey and I think that is so important for people of all genders to see! Let’s all commit to moving beyond this gender binary stereotype in 2020.
  • Victoria F is either playing a VERY successful game to get ahead in Peter’s heart or is suffering from some SEVERE self-confidence issues. The world (and Bachelor Nation) are built to tear women and femmes down and that environment can be VERY difficult, so you’ve got to have a strong hold on who you are and what you’re about. Invest in yourself, not just in your relationships with others.  It is hard to have a healthy, successful relationship with someone else until you build up your partnership with YOU.
  • Blink and you’ll miss it moment: Peter gave Madi a framed photo of her with his family from their first one-on-one date. These super sweet moments are calculated to make you fall in love. Maybe pretty innocuous in Bachelor Nation but a HUGE SHINY RED FLAG in a real-world relationship. Love-bombing is the first stage in the cycle of violence, getting you hooked before you have a chance to realize what a dangerous relationship this really is.
  • Physical touch: Peter is CLEARLY a physical-touch kind of guy.  If this is your love language, get it! More power to you! Just don’t forget to get consent. Totally okay to kiss, make-out, hook-up on a first date or whatever date you want, as long as you both feel comfortable with that timeline. Peter is kissing A LOT OF LADIES, and that is a-okay but we hope he is getting explicit consent and if he is, we’re wishing that TPTB would value it enough to include that instead of leaving it on the editing room floor.

We could talk for hours about this episode, but we’ll hold back for now. Check in later and we might expand on some of these thoughts in future blogs, don’t forget to check out our Facebook video, and follow us on Twitter! As always, we’ll end with giving out our roses:

  • Tonight’s Rose goes to: Ashley P.  Okay, we just still can’t get over an emotional support cow.  Let Ashley P inspire you to invest in your mental and emotional health today!  Call Safe Passage to connect with a counselor, play with your pet cow, write in your journal, take your medication.  Whatever you do to stay healthy, do it and be proud!
  • Tonight’s Dead Rose goes to: Victoria F.  Girl needs to spend some time watering her own garden, investing in her sense of self-worth, and figuring out who she really is before she can blossom.

 

Will You Accept This Rant?

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Hey y’all! We’ll be livetweeting this season of ABC’s The Bachelor, sharing live-video discussions on Facebook (@safepassagedvsa), and blogging our conversations here. If you’re not familiar with the premise of Bachelor Nation, here’s a quick rundown:

One guy (or woman, if we’re watching The Bachelorette) meets 25-30 single (or allegedly single *coughJedcough*) contestants, dates them in exciting and adventurous locations and eliminates them one by one until they propose to their forever life-partner.

Spoiler alert: these relationships almost NEVER work out and the franchise is plagued with enormous issues dealing with sexism, racism, homophobia, and more. It is hard to imagine a show whose creator/producer has been accused of domestic battery could be problematic, right? Oh wait. The Bachelor has dealt with toxic masculinity, slut-shaming, gaslighting and so much more, all without every actually calling out those behaviors. We’re here to set the record straight. Join us each week for a new live video and blog of Will You Accept This Rant where we’ll dive into the seedy underbelly and expose our culture’s obsession with unhealthy relationships.

Our major rant this week? CONSENT.

There isn’t much on the relationship front to report this week, as the first episode tends to be filled with cringe-worthy limo entrances (except Ashley P…you’re perfect and we’d do anything for you. Team Ashley P). The thing that stuck out the most was the utter lack of respect for Peter’s boundaries.

One contestant (Savannah, if you’re the kind of genius who can match names to faces after one episode) used her entrance to put a blindfold on Peter, feel him up, and kiss him. Which would be totally fine IF SHE HAD ASKED HIM FIRST. I’m not here to shame your blindfold-makeout sesh. You do you, boo. But you can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t do that without asking.

Another contestant (Tammy) puts Peter in handcuffs and pats him down, like the weird TSA-Hallmark Rom-Com crossover NO ONE asked for. Again, we weren’t shown any level of consent for that level of intimacy. In fact, Peter seemed hella uncomfortable.

1. TSA patdowns aren’t sexy. In fact, they can be pretty damn terrifying for people who don’t have the protection of White Privilege (you’re covered, Peter.).

2. DON’T TOUCH SOMEONE WITHOUT ASKING. Do we really need to say this?

There are only 2 possible scenarios here. Peter’s boundaries were crossed without his permission. Just because he’s a guy and just because he’s a guy who is known for having had sex does not mean that he can’t be violated. OR consent was asked for and given but not deemed important or sexy enough to be given airtime. Until we start making consent a CRITICAL and VISIBLE part of our romantic media, we won’t send the message that consent is necessary for nonabusive relationships. Get a yes, for everything, every time.

Our “Will You Accept This Rant” roses of the week go to:

Dead Rose–Everyone who has ever kissed someone without permission.
Rose–Ashley P the Cow