Sunday, October 9, 2016


I was 16-years-old when a man first made an inappropriate sexual advance toward me. I was working at Fuddruckers and had just finished taking the order of a fifty-something-year-old-man. I handed him a buzzer that would let him know when his order was ready, and he said, “Oooh, I’ll stick it in my pocket and think of you.” I was sixteen. I was a child. Yet I was older than most girls are when something like this first happens to them.

Some variation of that joke would be told to me by dozens of adult men over the two years I worked there.

 I was twenty-one when I was sexually assaulted for the first, and, I pray, only, time. I was on a Metro platform in Paris waiting in a crush of people for a long overdue train. When the train finally arrived, I was literally swept onto the train by the mass of people. When the doors closed, I was trapped, pushed in on all sides by bodies. A man stood in front of me, his body pressed against my own. I tried to minimize how much we were touching and avoided eye contact.

Then his hands began to move.

At first I thought he was just trying to get out of the way, but then one hand grazed my breast and the other moved toward my crotch. Realizing what was happening, but completely unable to get even inches away, I shifted my torso away from him and tried to position my purse between us. For the rest of that interminable train ride, he thrust his pelvis against the side of my stomach.

They say that in moments of terror you have a fight or flight response, but there is a third innate reaction: to freeze. In those horrible moments, I froze. I was surrounded by people but utterly alone, in a foreign country where I spoke the language only a little. I certainly didn’t have the words to describe what was happening. They don’t teach you words like that in French 201.

Even more than that, though, I felt ashamed. I had done nothing wrong, and yet I felt humiliated. I was too scared and embarrassed to try to ask for help in a foreign language. My face burned and I looked around the crowded train car, searching for someone who would help me, someone who would see what was happening and tell the man to stop. I made eye contact with several people, including one man who I am absolutely certain knew what was happening. He looked me in the eyes, saw my terror and tears, looked at what my assailant was doing, widened his eyes in shock, looked me in the eyes again, and then looked away. He did nothing. He said nothing.

Finally, finally the train stopped and I escaped. I searched the station for at least half an hour for the friends I had become separated from. During that time, my attacker casually walked past me again and again.

I was 25 when I read an article in the New York Times about efforts to prevent sexual assault on subways and to arrest the assailants. I was 25 when I realized that what happened to me wasn’t just an awful but inevitable part of living in a big city. I was 25 when I was given a name for what happened to me. I was 25 when I learned it was a serious crime that deserved a police report. I was 25 when I realized I had been sexually assaulted.

 What happened to me is hardly unique, and in a gruesome twist of truth, I am one of the “lucky” ones. I was not raped. Many women who I love have been raped. Many. Not just a few. They have been raped by strangers, by dates, by friends, by boyfriends, by husbands, by brothers, by uncles, by fathers.

Many more of the women I know have been sexually assaulted in some way. They have had strangers pinch their backsides on trains or sidewalks. They have had genitals exposed to them in parks. They have had their breasts or crotch grabbed. They have been picked up and carried away until someone else intervened. They have faced the threat of rape.

I would guess that every woman I know has been catcalled at least once. Catcalling may seem insignificant, but it is demeaning and threatening. You never know when a catcaller will follow you. Even if they don’t, they have tried to shame and hurt you.

Just last week, as I was eating in my car while hurrying from one job to another, a teenage boy called out his window at me, “Keep shoving that Taco Bell in your mouth, you fat cunt.” He couldn’t have been more than seventeen, and he already sees women as objects. To him, I was not a human being with thoughts and feelings and worth, but a sexual object that failed to appeal to him. To him, I was a vagina in a fat body.

You might want to say that rape culture isn’t real. That it’s a made up term that unfairly blames innocent men for the actions of a few. It’s true that most of the men I know would never, ever rape a woman. They would never sexually assault a woman. I sincerely hope they would never catcall a woman. I sincerely hope they would never make light of sexual violence or objectification.

But, based on statistics and my own personal experience, too many men do these things. Typically, rapists are not strangers, but individuals the victim knows personally. Rape, sexual assault, and even catcalling are acts of intimidation and coercion. Objectification is not an innocent act.

Rape culture isn’t just rape. Rape culture is making sexual comments or overtures to someone under the age of consent. It’s making sexual comments to anyone who doesn’t invite them or who asks you to stop. Rape culture is touching a woman’s body without her consent. Rape culture is spewing sexual or objectifying comments at a woman passing by, whether those words are “flattering” or not.

 Rape culture is often more subtle. It is objectification in all its forms. It’s a massive, deeply ingrained part of our society. It tells us from our earliest moments that a woman’s most significant value comes from her appearance, from her body, from her sexual appeal for men. It teaches us that a woman’s body is an object to be lusted after and possessed. It trains us to believe a woman is an object.

Please don’t give me any bullcrap about how “boys will be boys” and sexual aggression is natural in men. NO. Attraction is natural. Objectification, obsession, and aggression are not. Saying they are devalues men and women alike.

 As you have undoubtedly heard, a video leaked recently of Donald Trump in 2005 saying how he tried to “move on” a woman named Nancy “very heavily.” I won’t repeat the worst of what he said, but he talks about how he “couldn’t get there.” Then he degrades and dismisses her by saying she got plastic surgery and “totally changed her look.” She rebuffed him, and he feels compelled to devalue her.

Then the seriously troubling comments begin. Trump goes on to describe how he can kiss, grope, or grab the genitals of beautiful women without waiting. He doesn’t seem concerned about consent. He assumes they’ll like it because he’s famous. What he is describing is sexual assault.

 Billy Bush, though not responsible for the worst comments of the day, is guilty for participating in the conversation, ogling a woman, and egging Trump on. He has apologized with the claim that he was “younger” and “immature.” The man was in his thirties for crying out loud.

Every person in that bus participated in rape culture for not speaking up against what Trump was saying. Everyone who says it’s not a big deal is participating in rape culture. They are making it harder for women to speak out after being assaulted or raped. Trump remains the most at fault, however. He initially “apologized” for the incident in this way:

“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

In case anyone is confused, this is not an apology. It does not admit guilt. It does not admit the severity of what he said. It implies that bragging about sexual assault is normal male behavior, something that all men do behind closed doors. As Brené Brown has recently stated, this is an insult to all of the good men and boys out there. It normalizes objectification and sexual assault.

This is not an apology. He is not sorry for being offensive. He is sorry that other people are offended. This subtle wording shifts responsibility for the offense away from himself and onto those who are reacting to it. It re-victimizes those hurt by his words.

Does this kind of objectification happen every day? Absolutely. My own experiences and the experiences of most women I know are evidence. Does something happening every day make it okay? Absolutely not. Especially when the offender is supposed to be a public servant.

As the controversy kept going, Trump issued a more “sincere” apology. He has said the statement doesn’t reflect who he is. This would be easier to believe if he didn’t have a long-running track record of demeaning women. I’ve seen people posting that we should forgive and not judge. In response to that, I’d say that first, I’m not making a judgment on the state of his soul or his final salvation. I am, however, fully entitled to assess whether or not his character is fit for the presidency. If this were a one-time comment, I would be horrified, but might excuse it if it seemed out of character (maybe. The men I respect would never make a comment like that even once). Unfortunately, it’s part of a decades-long pattern of behavior. I’ll offer a few examples of his sexist words here. I don’t have time right at the moment, but eventually I would like to add links to the original sources. These are crude and often upsetting, and for that I’m sorry.

* He has said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Women are objects to him.

* He infamously said Megyn Kelly was a bimbo and had “blood coming out of her wherever” after she challenged him in a debate.

* He repeatedly talked about how much he wanted to sleep with Princess Diana, saying, “She had the height, she had the beauty, she had the skin,” before adding, “she was crazy, but these are minor details.”

* He purchased the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe pageants with the goal of making the heels higher and the suits smaller. He berated a Venezuelan winner for gaining weight and called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” Of the pageant, he said, “If you’re looking for rocket scientists, don’t tune in tonight, but if you’re looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch.”

* He has called a woman disgusting for breastfeeding.

* He expected his third wife to care for their children without his help: “I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them. I’ll supply the funds and she’ll take care of the kids.”

* He has called Hillary Clinton disgusting for using the bathroom.

* He has repeatedly mocked Hillary Clinton for her husband’s infidelities, including tweeting “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

* In regards to the Pulp Fiction line “Bitch, be cool,” he has said, “ I love those lines.”

* He has called women fat, ugly, dogs, and slobs.

* He repeatedly went on air with Howard Stern to assess the appearance of female celebrities in the crudest of terms.

* This included an assessment of Paris Hilton, someone he has known since she was a child. He admitted to watching her sex tape, in spite of the fact that he knows her personally and is friends with her family.

* He engaged in a conversation with Howard Stern about daughter Ivanka’s breasts. When Stern asked if he could call Ivanka “a piece of ass,” Trump said yes.

 * As recently as last year, after his presidential race had begun, he was publicly assessing women’s physical appearance. In the New York Times he said, “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a ten.”

* He blamed sexual assault in the military on cohabitation, as if men are biologically incapable of living with women without assaulting or raping them. In saying that, he’s offering an excuse to assailants. He’s demeaning men who would never assault or rape a woman.

* In one of his books, he wrote, “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” It seems like in his mind, interactions between him and women are inevitably sexual.

* He said to one Apprentice contestant, “It must be a pretty picture. You dropping to your knees.”

* When Carly Fiorina was running for president, he said no one would vote for her because of her face. When asked for an apology, he said she was a beautiful woman. He missed the point. Calling her beautiful isn’t the solution. Her appearance was not relevant, and he should never have brought it up at all.

* He sexualized even his own baby daughter. When asked what traits he thought toddler Tiffany had inherited from her mother or himself, Trump didn’t refer to her smile or personality. No, he said she had her mother’s legs, but they’d have to wait and see if she inherited her breasts.

Some might argue that Trump isn’t a sexist because he has employed women at the highest levels of leadership. That’s great, but it doesn’t erase the many objectifying statements he has made about women. My list is hardly comprehensive. After posting what I could remember, I searched several reputable news sources to see if I had forgotten anything. I found so many crude, sickening discussions that Trump has had about women and sex that I had to stop. My stomach was churning.

I have my own strong political preferences, which I normally only share in person. I love to respectfully discuss politics with my friends, but the great respect I feel for many politicians on both sides of the aisle and for the differing views of my friends keeps me from posting about politics on Facebook. It turns ugly too often. I can’t stay silent on this, though. It matters too much.

Vote for whomever else you want to. Vote for Hillary Clinton. Vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Jill Stein. Vote for Gary Johnson. Write in Donald Duck (the better Donald). Write in Jesus and pray the second coming is around the bend. I really don’t care.

But please, please, don’t vote for Donald Trump. Don’t vote for a man who has consistently demeaned women throughout his public life. Don’t vote for a man who has shown that he sees women first and foremost as objects. Don’t vote for a man who would ever joke about sexually assaulting women. Sexual assault is a violent crime. Joking about it endangers women.

The fact that thousands of comments like Trump’s are made every day doesn’t make it insignificant or irrelevant that he said them. In fact, it makes it more important. Trump’s statements were evil. They objectified women, they made light of sexual assault, and they were dangerous. This is more serious than cheating or lying or just being crass. In his words, Trump is assuming that all women welcome his sexual advances. He is saying that, without waiting, he can kiss, grope, or molest a woman, and she’ll be happy about it because he’s famous. He is claiming a right to women’s bodies without their explicit consent. He is describing sexual assault.

In saying that, Trump is giving tacit approval to men all over the country to do those very things. He blurs the line of consent. He is feeding a culture that kept me from realizing for four years that I had been sexually assaulted. A culture that led me to feel ashamed when a crime was committed against me. A culture that keeps women from asking for help or reporting their abusers. In saying what he did, Trump is implying that the countless experiences like mine and experiences worse than mine aren’t all that important, that they are a joke.

After all, you can brag about sexually assaulting a woman and still become president.

If you think that there isn’t a problem in the way we view and treat women in Western culture, you’re part of the problem. If you vote for Donald Trump, you’re part of the problem.

And I won’t apologize for saying it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Thoughts

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 35, 37-39).

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Guys, I have a confession to make:  I'm a little bored with my life.  Nothing's wrong or anything - I'm just a feeling kind of blah.  Does that happen to other people?

It reminds me of that scene in Gilmore Girls when Michel has ennui and Suki "catches it," hypochondriac-style.

Yup, that's it - I'm experiencing metaphysical angst.

The other day I fortuitously saw a bumper stickers that said, "Be Less Boring" right as Carrie Underwood's "Wasted" came on the radio.  That song is my get-your-crap-together jam of choice, so, clearly, THE UNIVERSE WAS SPEAKING TO ME!

"Stop wasting your time," it said. "Do something interesting and meaningful," it said.  "Be more awesome," it said.

So what's my response?

I've decided to blog more.

That's probably not quite what the universe had in mind, but, as Amy Adams/Julie Powell once said, "I could write a blog.  I have thoughts."

Monday, June 17, 2013


My dad’s name was Bob, and he was great.  He once caught a live canary mid-flight just by reaching his hand into the air and grabbing it, so you know he had to be pretty awesome.

Father’s Day can be kind of hard for me because my dad passed away seven years ago.  Today I was thinking about all the things, little and big, that I miss about him.  At first I thought I’d keep it to myself, and then I decided to share because I want other people to remember him too.  I want my littlest nieces and nephews who never got to really know him and even my own someday children to know the funny and wonderful little details of who he was in life.  I also want to make sure I don’t forget.  I miss him a lot.

I miss seeing him.  I miss his glasses and his Putnam Investments polos and his khakis.  I miss his potbelly.  I miss his ugly feet and the ridges in his fingernails.  I miss his bald head and the weird, zig-zaggy veins at his temples.  I miss the bump in his nose.  I miss his blue, blue eyes that always managed to look simultaneously sleepy and friendly.  I miss his little sideways half grin and his full, happy smile.

I miss hearing him.  I can’t remember his voice, and it breaks my heart.  I wish someone had warned me that I might forget, because then I would have made sure to remember.

I miss going to church with him.  I’d sit next to him in Sacrament Meeting and play with his watch.  He’d sometimes steal something from me – like my keys or chapstick – and he’d only give it back if I’d scratch his back.  He couldn’t sing the hymns very well, but he was so good at being friendly.  He’d make friends with the toddlers in benches near ours.  Between meetings he’d smile and talk to his many friends in the ward

I miss learning the gospel from him.  Often the lessons were silently given.  I can’t count how many times I saw him at the living room table reading the scriptures or the Ensign.  He showed me what it means to be a dedicated, loving home teacher.  He also showed me what courage, patience, and faith in the face of suffering look like.  Other times the lessons were more direct.  When we had FHE, he’d always pepper us with question after question about the gospel.  When, as a terrified 12 year old, I was called as a Beehive president, he taught me that we can always count on inspiration when we want to love and help someone.

I miss our walks.  He went on a long walk several times a week, and sometimes I’d go with him.  When I was a little kid, he’d take me on walks after it rained so that I could collect fishing worms for him.  When I was older, he’d take me up on the Rims for hikes.  I walk a few times a week now, and I always think of him when I do.  I also love rainstorms more than any kind of weather.

I miss trying to get his help on homework.  Like a lot of dads, he’d try to teach me “shortcuts” that only confused and frustrated me.  He’d get grumpy and I’d get upset.  Sometimes I’d cry.  Then I’d go ask my brother for help.

I miss listening to him read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve.  Hearing it now makes me miss him, but it also has new meaning.  Because Christ was born, because He died, because He rose, I’ll see my father again someday.

I miss my dad’s sense of humor.  I miss his belly laugh and the way he’d tease my mom, sometimes mercilessly.  I miss his jokes and his stories.  I miss the way he’d tickle me with so much force it hurt a little.  I hate being tickled.  Maybe it would be more honest to say miss him tickling my brothers as a form of revenge when they picked on me.

I miss traveling with him.  He’d get stressed and MEAN on road trips, and we were allowed very, very few bathroom breaks.  He'd curse.  Once we got going, though, he’d calm down.  We’d listen to the Beach Boys and golden oldies stations.  He’d speed like crazy. He expected us to point out any wildlife we saw along the way, and the binoculars would come out if we saw something unusual.  He was always so curious when we visited new places, and he and Mom travelled all over the world together.  They created my love for museums, which I’m turning into a career.  I’m also going to blame them for my dangerously expensive travel habit.

I miss the way he’d comfort me.  When I was in fourth grade, I had a six-month bout of insomnia.  Sometimes when I was crying because I couldn’t sleep, he’d come in and sit with me.  He’d pray with me and read me comforting scriptures.  He’d give me hugs.

I miss father’s blessings, although brother’s blessings are pretty great too.

I miss seeing him take care of his parents.  He made sure we visited Grandma and Grandpa at least a couple of times a year.  He’d have us talk to them on the phone every month or so, which I hated since I always feel awkward on the phone.  He loved his parents so much, and I can’t remember him speaking badly of them.

I miss doing yard work with him.  I remember him going around every spring with his little fertilizer dispenser, turning its crank handle.  Before we had a sprinkler system, and sometimes even after, he’d put a hose on a part of the lawn, set a timer, and move it every fifteen minutes.  When my brothers had left for college and missions, he started mowing the lawn again.  He was so good about not letting the grass get long.  When he was really sick and weak, I’d have to pull the start cord for him, but he still insisted on mowing the lawn himself.  Eventually I took over the mowing (more grudgingly than I’m proud to admit), and I missed seeing him out in the yard.

I miss watching TV with him.  He’d sit in his La-Z-Boy with a blue, fuzzy blanket.  My cat would curl up on his lap and purr.  We could never convince Dad not to channel surf during commercials.

I miss being outside with him.  He loved the outdoors more than almost anything, and he taught his children to love nature too.  He looked forward to hunting season every year.  I can’t say I miss the dead deer hanging in our garage, but I do miss having fresh wild game whenever I want it.  I miss fishing with him, and I miss how excited he’d get about it.  I’m certain my family has fewer baby pictures of any of us than they do of freshly caught fish.  

I miss his naps.  He took a nap almost every day on his lunch break, and his eyes never seemed to close all the way.  If you walked into the room, they’d follow you across, but he wouldn’t wake up.  It was creepy, but also funny and wonderful.

I miss going to the cabin with him.  It was my favorite place in the whole world as a kid (I have enough drawings and get-to-know you school assignments to prove it), and I think it was his favorite place too.  It’s a little bittersweet now because that’s where he told us he had cancer, but all the memories of family fish fries, pinochle games, squirrel feeding, and trips to the Playmill and Yellowstone outweigh that one sad memory.  After Grandma and Grandpa left the cabin to Dad, we spent every other summer weekend trekking to Idaho to take care of the place.  We’d cut down trees and have giant bonfires.  We'd eat Rice-a-Roni.  We’d also go fishing, of course.

I miss his dedication to his work.  I miss calling him at his office and having his receptionist, co-worker, and friend Joan say, “Let me get your daddy for you.”  I miss seeing him behind his desk.  I miss going to his office to call siblings on their missions.  I miss decorating his office for Christmas.  I miss the ridiculous, dancing, singing snowman-Christmas tree hybrid he had there.

I miss his hugs.  I may not remember his voice, but I distinctly remember what it felt like to hug him.  He gave the best hugs.

I have more memories, but I should probably stop there.  I have lots of things that I wish.  I wish that my father and I could know each other as adults.  I wish I had asked him more questions about growing up, his mission, meeting my mom, and so many other things.  I wish I had spent more time with him.  I wish I had helped him more, especially when he was sick.

More than that, though, I’m glad that I get to be his daughter.  He was far from perfect – he had a strong temper, he hated change, and he watched too much TV.  He got better as he got older, though – kinder, gentler, more patient with other people and with God’s will.  He may not have been perfect, but he was just the right dad for me and for my six brothers and sisters.

I’m going to spend a long time, almost a lifetime, missing him, but then I get to have him forever.  Forever’s a much longer time than a lifetime, and I truly thank God for that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things Mormon Girls Say

I feel like I'm practically famous because one of these lovely ladies is my friend Chelsea Wilson.  Enjoy this little taste of insane Mormon culture!

If you aren't familiar with the Sh** Girls Say trend,  watch these first.  Sorry for the language in the title, but the videos are clean

These sparked a bunch of other videos, including this one

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sometimes I wonder about my life...

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void. " - Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Life List

Have you ever taken the time to think about what you want out of life?  Not just a bucket list of crazy things you’d like to do, but a real life goal list.  I mean the things you REALLY want, the ones that would let you become who you want to be.  Have you really thought about it?
I’ve spent the last couple of months doing that sort of sit-down-and-write-it-out soul searching for the first time in my life.  If you had asked me a year ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have said, “I want to be a college history professor.”  I was going to publish and lecture and inspire.  I guess God has other things in mind for me.
This year I got sick.  I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a disease where my immune system periodically attacks my thyroid, but I was fine for a while.  Then I had an attack.  My thyroid basically stopped functioning, and my metabolism slowed to a crawl.  I was cold all the time.  I gained weight, and a lot of it.  I felt moody and depressed.  I couldn’t remember simple things.  My brain was in a fog.  I couldn’t handle interacting with people, so I hid out in my apartment all the time.  I was so, so tired, a kind of tiredness I can’t even describe.
From an outsider’s perspective, I probably seemed mostly fine.  I even convinced myself that I was okay and didn’t go to my endocrinologist until I had spent months feeling awful.  I was just terrified that the doctor would say I was fine and my symptoms were all in my head.  It turned out that I really did need medication, and now, months later, I can say that I feel worlds better.  Only now that I feel normal can I understand how terrible I felt then.
What’s the point of all this?  Getting sick, along with coming to grad school, forced me to figure out what I really want out of life.
Hashimoto’s disease, my little Japanese friend, will never go away for me.  I will experience other attacks.  Eventually my thyroid will be completely destroyed and I’ll just take medication.  I will always be more tired than someone my age should be. 
I certainly don’t want to be too dramatic here, because I understand that this is a very livable disease and that many people experience much, much worse.  I don’t want to trivialize their troubles by overemphasizing my little ones.  Last year one of my roommates had half her thyroid removed, so clearly I'm not the only one with health issues.  All I’m saying is that my experience has helped me realize that I can’t have (and honestly don’t want) everything I’ve ever dreamed of.  I have to focus on the most important things because I’m never going to have enough energy to do everything I might want to.  Here’s what I want – really, REALLY want:
1) A strong relationship with my Heavenly Father
2) The best health I can have
3) A happy, lasting temple marriage
4) To be a mother, and a really good one at that
5) To build and live in my dream house (nothing fancy, but I’ve been planning it for years – it will have lots of books in it)
6) To live as sustainably as possible/To grow my dream garden and produce most of the food my family needs
7) To get an M.A. and have the skills I need for a satisfying career
8) To speak French fluently
9) To publish a YA novel
10) To travel the world
Obviously, some of these things are more important than others, and they aren’t necessarily in order.  Of course I have other things I’d like to accomplish, but I’ve been making this list again and again, and these are the things that keep showing up.  I'm definitely still ambitious, and some of these things will take A LOT of work.  These are the things I really want, though, and knowing that helps me prioritize.
So, what do you want?