Friday, August 30, 2013

College Roommate Nerves

Being a college freshman, going back to school is more than simply "going back to school." Not only are you moving on to a much larger University, but you might even be moving out on your own; whether that be ten minutes away, to a new city, new state or another side of the country. Hell, even to another continent!

As a college "freshman to be," there's nothing I am more excited for than moving out on my own! I've always imagined living in a tiny room, perfectly decorated by me and my best friend, who happened to be my roommate. We would take on college together. However, as time went on and this dream did not become my reality; I realized that my best friend of eighteen years wouldn't be there to experience college with me - she would be at my rival school.

I was to be paired up with a random roommate after filling out a short survey with questions like: "Do you smoke?" "Would you like a roommate who smokes?" "What time do you go to sleep?" and "What time do you wake up?" I expected to be matched up with someone based on our interests or intended major at the very least! What if we have absolutely nothing in common? What if she hates me? You could say I was a bit nervous about who my possible roommate could be and I won't say I didn't freak out a bit after hearing the horror story of my Mom's college roommate experience (she moved back home after her first quarter at school).

With the worst case scenarios running through my mind, for weeks I waited in anticipation to hear back from the housing office. Finally, I was sent an email regarding where I would be living, along with the first name of my roommate. How was I supposed to Facebook stalk this girl if I was only given her first name?! Luckily, my roommate and I were able to contact each other via email. Speaking to my roommate, I came to realize that we did have a few things in common and we might even become great friends. I realized why the housing office didn't include her last name... it was so that I'd be unable to look her up on social networking sites to judge whether we'd be a good match.

The unknown can be scary, but the more I think about it, there's excitement that comes along with not knowing what to expect. The thought of homework and community bathrooms aside, I'm excited to meet my roommate and start my life as a college student.

Monday, August 26, 2013

No more "Slut"

          I’ve seen more than enough people being shamed and discriminated against by being called “slut,” “whore,” or “easy.” This is slut shaming, which is intended to make someone feel bad about themselves for being sexually active and doing something enjoyable to them. But why should someone be insulted for being comfortable with their own body or for having sex?

          In a study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, women rated a women with 20 partners as less “competent, emotionally stable, warm, and dominant” than someone who has been with two partners. Being comfortable with your own body is a good thing and people can choose to use their bodies however they want. Why does someone’s sexual history matter when it comes to intelligence? It’s like saying that someone isn’t good at art because they’re skilled in math; there’s no connection to the subject of intelligence and sexual activity. 
          The culture of slut shaming even goes beyond someone’s sex life, with people commenting on the way someone acts, dresses, or carries themselves by calling them a slut without any knowledge of their sex life. Yet neither clothing nor attitude tells how many partners someone’s had. Often, someone calls a person a slut because of revealing clothing, a flirtatious personality, or a tight shirt. It’s terrible to judge someone so harshly just because of their appearance. So what if they have tight clothes? It’s their body and they have the right to dress how they want. Why does it matter what their personality is if they aren’t hurting anyone? The same goes for having many partners—if they’re both consenting, then it shouldn’t matter how many partners a person has had.

          Sometimes, the media and people blame “slutty behavior” for rape or sexual harassment. The argument often used is, “They were asking for it by dressing/acting that way, they led them on!” Yet, that doesn’t make any unwanted sexual advance OKAY. Victim blaming is tied into rape culture, where people try to justify rape with slut shaming by saying it was the victim’s fault. But consent is consent, and it can’t be given by clothing, attitude, or past sexual activity. People shouldn’t shame the victim for something they didn’t cause. Would you blame a murder victim for being killed because “their clothes egged the murderer on?” That line of thinking is dangerous and it seeks to hurt those who haven’t done anything wrong. Yet that’s how some people try to justify rape. It needs to stop. 
      An important thing to recognize, is that it is usually female bodied, female identified, or feminine presenting people who are subjected to this kind of judgment, objectification, and violence. We do not determine a man's IQ by the amount of partners he has had or how much skin he shows. Instead, most male bodied people are rewarded for sexual promiscuity, whether it is consensual or not. It is female presenting people who are being the socially policed and punished for their appearance and behavior. Another sad fact is that it is often women and girls who are doing this policing and punishing. Having internalized these negative messages about their bodies and sexuality, many girls fall prey to shaming, bullying and socially ostracizing other girls based on their dress, sexual activity, and social reputation. Women are fighting against each other in an attempt to compete for male attention and societal approval. I know that I have definitely been guilty of this--calling other girls a "slut" or thinking of them as "slutty" because of what they are wearing or how they were acting. It makes me really sad to realize how much I have been participating in this horrible cycle of violence and oppression. Ladies we should be fighting with each other not against each other! 

        Fortunately there are some brave and informed people who have begun step up and advocate to change these backward messages. One event that is organized around this is the SlutWalk. This is an event that started in Canada and is now held across the U.S. to help raise awareness to this issue of emotional, sexual and physical violence and victim shaming.  Teen Link was fortunate enough to have a booth at the Seattle Slutwalk this year, which happened this last Sunday, August 25th.  We were able to hear all of the incredible speakers and watches the marchers rally. It was inspiring to see all of the people who showed up to help protest against the oppression faced by female presenting people, transgender women, queer people, and men who have encounter sexual violence. Together they created a united front, marching through Seattle in the hopes that others will see the importance of putting a stop to hatred against certain bodies, gender presentations, and female sexuality.   

We, at Teen Link, recognize that many people have been affected by slut shaming and may be facing bullying or sexual assault as a result of all of this messed up stuff. We want you to know that you are not alone and that people do care. If you ever want someone to talk to  Teen Link is open every night from 6-10pm. Teen Link is anonymous and confidential so you don't have to give us your name and can tell the phone workers only what you feel comfortable sharing. Also, it is answered by teenagers, so you will get to talk to someone who is close to your age and knows what it is like. Teen Link's number is 866TeenLink or 866-833-6546. We also have chat on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays which can be accessed on our website at You can find the chat icon in the bottom right hand corner. If our chat line is busy please give us a call. We do want to talk to you. You should never have to go through all of this alone. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taking a look at my culture and family

     Like a fish in a bowl, I hadn't realized that the world was so big. I had such a distorted view from inside my bowl, and someone had to lift me out for me to see the world as it really was.

     It had been 7 years since I had visited my mother country. While I was somewhat melancholy about leaving my friends and Western comforts, I was somewhat excited; I thought it would be just like America, but as a "developing" country it would have primitive bathrooms, etc. What I found was something completely different.

   In America, the primary personal unit is the individual; in many cultures, it is the family. While I originally thought it was annoying to have family constantly around you, I realize that I never quite understood the meaning of the word. Family sticks together through thick and thin even when friends leave; this cohesiveness allowed Pakistanians and Indians to recover from devastating earthquakes. By stepping out of the fishbowl, I have learned that while independence has its benefits, family is definitely beneficial as well, in its own way.

   I also feel 'out of the fishbowl' on arranged marriages. Now, I know what you're probably thinking. "This is the 21st century! Haven't we moved past these old customs?" Well, part of "developing" means that my country has held on to some older traditions. This is definitely not a bad thing. Imagine someone just out of college, looking to find their identity and place in the world. It's tough to suddenly be living on your own, while also looking for a job, and while also worrying about dating.. .Now imagine the same person, with a spouse in the same situation. As they find their place in the world together and support each other, both their loads are lessened greatly. Additionally, two separate families are united in helping them. My parents had an arranged marriage, and their love for each other has only grown as I have.
       I could go on and on about things I love about my culture and others, but here's the bottom line. I am still in my mother country, and I love how much different so many things are: it opens my mind up to both sides of other situations. I will bring my culture back with me, such that I will never truly leave.
Which culture can you learn from?
If you would like to talk about your culture or anything else, call 1-866-TEENLINK any day from 6-10pm. Additionally, you can chat Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.