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My Name On Your Arm

I was listening to talk radio this morning because radio stations refuse to play music in the morning for an extended period of time.  The show I tuned in to had a woman as a guest who wanted to share a horror story about a tattoo she’d gotten about a year ago.  After dating for a few months, she and her girlfriend had decided that they were going to be together for the rest of their lives.  To add to that permanence, they both got each other’s names tattooed on their bodies; the woman on the show got her girlfriend’s name on her hand.  A few months after that, the relationship ended.  Unfortunately for them, their lease had another four months to go and at a New Year’s party, the ex shot the woman in her other hand during an argument.  Her ex went to jail for a month and she’s has plastic surgery and physical/emotional therapy to move past it, but her ex’s name is still on her hand for her to see every day.

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After getting the woman with a doctor who would provide free tattoo removal services, the discussion turned to the idea of getting your significant other’s name tattooed on yourself.  They called it the kiss of death to any relationship.  Once that name is inked on your body, the relationship is doomed to fail.  You see it happen with celebrities (Depp, Jolie, etc.) and you see it with friends or family members.  Saying you want to be together forever is one thing, but inking it only your body is an entirely different thing.  The relationship can end, but that name sure as hell isn’t going anywhere unless you can find an artist to provide a proper and GOOD cover-up or unless you want to endure the painful removal process.

Last year, I got my husband’s initials on my arm in Kryptonian lettering, along with a cherry skull male and female, so I think it’s safe to say that I don’t buy into the idea that the tattoo is a curse to the relationship.  I feel like I did mine the right way though; it’s obscure enough to where one wouldn’t know what it was upon first glance, but significant enough to where it still has meaning (my husband is big into Superman).  We know what it means and I’m vocal about what it means to everyone who asks, and even to some who don’t.  I had absolutely no hesitation in getting it either.  I know we’re in it for the long haul and I know that our relationship won’t crumble over some ink on my arm.

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The tattoo itself is hardly a curse to any relationship and it’s silly to think of it as one.  It’s the decision to get it that brings upon the so-called curse.  A tattoo is a very permanent thing and definitely not something that should be decided on at the spur of the moment.  For every one of my tattoos except my third, a year or more of serious thinking was behind them.  My third tattoo was done on a whim and I’m just lucky it isn’t in a very visible area.  Just because you’re in love and feeling as though nothing can touch the two of you does not mean it’s a fantastic idea to ink your love’s name on your body.  I was with my husband for four years before I was ready for his initials to be on my body.  Time is important here.  If you’re going to be with someone forever, the tattoo does not need to happen right at this moment.  It can wait.

I am totally in support of inking names, wedding or anniversary dates, or any other type of tribute to the person you adore.  It’s a great way to show your love and affection for somebody and to be able to carry them with you always.  That said, it’s not a necessary step in any relationship.  Just because the two or you are into ink doesn’t mean you need to get your names on each other to prove your love to yourselves or anyone else.  It is your body, no one else’s, and the decision to get the ink must be one that is not only your idea, but is something that is fully in your control.  If you let anyone influence you, chances are that things are going to end badly.  I suspect that is the reason for so many failed relationships after the ink dries.

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Get the tattoo, but think long and hard before getting it.  Don’t think that you’re limited to a name in a heart or some other typical and common design.  Don’t do it just because your significant other has already gotten your name on them.  Don’t rush into it and speed over to the nearest shop to have work done.  Don’t do it simply because it would be “cute” to do.  If you feel the urge, start with brainstorming ideas and designs.  Think long and hard about placement.  Research shops to find the perfect artist.  Take your damn time and do it right, otherwise you’ll find yourself single and alone with an awful “I Heart Brian” tattoo above your ass crack.  No one wants that.

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Dying To Escape

Like many of you, I have been following the Jodi Arias trial fairly closely, getting updates via Twitter and through various news sites.  Her defense that she committed the crime of murder because she was abused, threatened, and afraid is one that can definitely be justifiable.  Anyone who is in fear for their own life has the right to defend themselves against whatever is threatening it.  Unfortunately for Arias, her defense is full of more holes than anyone can count and her excuses surely won’t fly; I predict a guilty verdict in her near future.  That said, what are we to think in a situation where the only way out of a terrible place is to harm another human being, possibly to the point where that person’s life is lost?

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I am one of many people who have been stuck in an abusive relationship.  I was battered, beaten, and very fearful.  It was a low point in my life and I felt that there was no escape from it; I was afraid to run because I did not know what the consequences would be.  Unlike Arias, I enlisted the help of family, friends, and the police to make my escape.  The only casualty in my run for freedom was a cheap toaster from Walmart that he smashed and possibly a couch that he was throwing around the room as I drove away with my belongings.  I had thought many times about fighting back, and did get a few swings in here and there, but killing the guy was not a thought that ever crossed my mind.  Making murder an option seems insane to me.

The issue of domestic violence is cheapened by Arias’s defense.  At this moment, there are women, men, children, and animals being abused or killed at the hands of a thoughtless lunatic who cannot control their anger or urges.  These innocents need to be recognized and need to be helped.  It’s disgusting for a person who is nothing but a cold-blooded killer to jump into the battered woman role simply because it may help a jury sympathize with her and possibly see her as not guilty of her crimes.  A frightened woman trying to defend herself does not stab a man almost 30 times, shoot him, and nearly decapitate him out of fear.  A frightened woman maybe gets one or two in before fleeing the scene in search of help.  A frightened woman does not invent a masked intruder to cover her tracks either, she spills her guts afterward and pleads for understanding.

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I can’t count how many females I’ve come across in my life who have sex with someone when they know they shouldn’t, maybe get pregnant or contract an STD, and then cry rape in order to make themselves seem innocent.  The result is that women who have actually been raped are looked at as liars because of all the women who lie about it.  I fear that the same thing will happen with domestic violence and women who choose to fight back if people like Arias continue throwing it out there as a cover for their terrible behavior and poor choices.  Taking it to a simpler form, for example, when you get one person who lies about a missed call and says the voicemail just didn’t go through, you begin to doubt every person who uses the same excuse.  It makes it much harder for the honest people to be seen as truthful when we have so many reasons to doubt.

Assuming for a moment that every claim Arias made about Travis Alexander is completely true and that he was a terrible abusive piece of dirt who didn’t deserve to live, what was stopping her from escaping the situation in a non-violence way?  Why didn’t she stop the “self-defense” at incapacitation rather than taking it to murder?  Why didn’t she seek support from family, friends, or law enforcement if she was truly afraid?  Why not seek counseling in order to gain the strength to leave him behind?  If all claims were true and Alexander was this horrendous person, is that enough to justify the brutal and senseless way he died?

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Homicide can be considered justified if it’s a matter of only one person getting out of the situation alive and having no other choice.  It is surely an impossible call to make and leaves you living with the fact that you took another person’s life.  It should only be considered as a last resort and isn’t something to be celebrated or enjoyed.  Arias not only wasn’t put in a situation where physically harming Alexander was the only escape, but she seems to have enjoyed killing him and doesn’t seem to have much remorse.  There should not be an excuse for this brutal crime, especially not the battered woman excuse.  Being abused is terrible, but it doesn’t give you the right to act equally as bad and then to use the abuse excuse as a way out.

The problem of domestic violence needs to be taken seriously and must not become a go-to excuse for people looking for a justification for their own bad decisions.  There is almost always a way out that does not involve any bloodshed, so long as the abused person is willing and able to seek out that escape route.  Women who were in the same situation that Arias alleges she was in should not turn to murder as a means of escape, they should simply escape.  When nothing is holding you back except for your own insecurities, there is no excuse for remaining in a bad situation and definitely no excuse for killing your abuser.  I honestly thought I was going to die a few times when trapped in my own abusive relationship.  But then I realized that “trapped” was the wrong word.  I chose to stay, and I could choose to leave.  Cutting those ties are hard and the pain is severe, but it sure as hell beats becoming a murderer and sitting in court at the mercy of my peers.  You don’t defeat evil by becoming evil yourself, and you sure as hell don’t pretend someone was evil in order to justify your own evil behavior.

Some Guys Never Learn

Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna in 2009, causing physical damage and leaving her battered and weak; the photos of the aftermath were horrible.  He pled guilty to the assault and proceeded to go on to fix his life and make countless improvements.  Wait… no, he went on to have a hissy fit on Good Morning America and throw a chair into a window, fight with fellow musician Drake at a nightclub, and continuously act inappropriate on Twitter by posting horrible comments and starting feuds with people ranging from the girl with 10 followers to the guy with a million.  His most recent offense took place a few days ago between him and comedian/writer Jenny Johnson.

Johnson’s comment on his tweet about looking old started a war.  As a celebrity, one should be prepared for criticism, and Brown should be more prepared than most.  Considering his laundry list of negative actions and his total lack of remorse, he is quite the easy target.  Rather than ignore her or at least come up with a clever quip in response, he resorted to grotesque and childish retorts that Johnson easily countered and make him look even more foolish than before:

I’m not a Jenny Johnson fan.  Nothing against her, I’m simply not into her tweets and I gave up on following her after only a couple weeks, back when Twitter was still new to me.  That said, I have to commend her for not only coming out on top with these exchanges, but for shaking Brown up so badly that he either took it upon himself to delete his Twitter account or was advised to by his manager or another person on the management staff.  The majority of men who beat women are cowards at heart, and Brown definitely fits into that category by fleeing Twitter.

What annoys me about Brown, other than what he did to Rihanna, is his “I don’t give a damn” attitude about that incident and about life in general.  His fan base has remained loyal, resulting in his music career to continue to flourish, and I have to wonder if he interprets that as being completely forgiven for his actions and now able to do or say whatever he wants.  Not once has Brown acted as though he knows he did something inappropriate and unacceptable, he simply continues down this dark road, doing and saying things we can’t help but cringe at.

The aforementioned fan base who keeps Brown on a pedestal is also very telling.  Negativity attracts negativity, low class people tend to migrate towards other low class people, and ignorant people look up to other ignorant people.  Brown’s fans made themselves look just as classy as the singer himself, which is to say they acted with no class at all.  After the heated Twitter debate (massacre, really) between Johnson and Brown, many of the fans took to Twitter and began attacking Johnson:

After Brown deleted his Twitter account, the comments from his fans became much worse:

Johnson is a big girl and can take care of herself.  She, like Brown, must expect a bit of negativity to come her way since she is a public figure.  Although nowhere near Brown’s status, she puts herself out there on a daily basis and willingly engages in these type of exchanges with people.  She knew full well that Brown and his fans would react the way they did and while she probably didn’t expect to have so many people want to kill her, she had to expect the rage.  I don’t feel pity for her, as these threats are likely empty and said only in the heat of the moment, and I would expect she won’t be looking for pity herself.

What worries me with this incident is not the safety of Johnson or anyone else who chooses to speak ill of Brown publicly.  What worries me is the amount of people defending a man that said he will shit and fart on a female because she insulted him.  Brown sounded like a rejected script from Beavis and Butthead and as a result, dozens upon dozens of people rush to his defense by saying they will stab and murder those who don’t love him like they do.  This mentality frightens me.  Even if we forgive Brown for his actions in the past, how can anyone justify defending his grotesque insults and put all of the fault on the woman who actually has a strong grasp on the English language?  Why are all of these people coming to his defense?

Someone who behaves and speaks like Chris Brown should not be idolized and should not be rewarded for bad behavior.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened.  Rihanna has seemingly forgiven him for the attack and his fans rally behind him, showing Brown that only the “haters” continue to fault him for the assault.  Those “haters” are the same ones who find his actions foolish (bar fights, social media wars, etc) and those “haters” are all wrong.  This strange mentality has allowed this Twitter incident to happen and has bred these death threats.  This mentality has put us in a place where we fault the strong and outspoken female rather than the woman beating, immature man-child with tendencies to have random violent outbursts.

If it was my husband who battered my face, threw a chair into a window because of the rage he felt over being judged because of it, started fights at bars, and told a stranger to suck his dick while he shit on her, how many people out there would declare themselves to be Team Baker?  Who would rally behind him?  His friends would likely take my side as the beaten woman, faulting him for his actions and possibly writing him off altogether.  No one would be tolerant of the way he spoke to people, combining bathroom activities with sexual ones and using that as an insult.  He would be shamed for his actions and forced to either change or to be alone.

Achieving fame shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card.  Fans shouldn’t be so forgiving of a person simply because they enjoy that person’s art, be it musical or otherwise.  It bothers me that Brown gets a pass simply because he’s made some catchy music, but it bothers me more that nobodies like me are jumping to his defense after the lewd things he said.  It frightens me that people can be so ignorant and so incredibly stupid in their thoughts and actions.  It saddens me that the focus is on Johnson when it should be on the sheep who attacked her and on the man who was the catalyst.  It angers me that someone can say “I should fart while ur giving me top” and have people applaud it.

Celebrities are no better or worse than the rest of us normal people wandering the world.  They aren’t changing the world the way certain doctors and scientists are, they aren’t giving their entire lives over to someone else the way nuns give their lives to God, and they aren’t above us in any way other than with their pay grade.  With the exception of very few, celebrities are simply regular people who happen to have a skill that the masses enjoy or they happen to be interesting enough to warrant cameras following them around.  We need to view celebrities the way we view any other person on the street or in the office, and we need to begin doing it now.  If this incident with Brown and Johnson is an indicator of the new normal, where we applaud a person’s bad behavior and fling threats against those who disagree with our love of  their smut, then society truly has failed.

What Is Love? Baby.. Don’t Hurt Me!

Every time the general public seems to forget about Chris Brown, he does something idiotic and gets his name back on everyone’s mind.  He told the world to fuck off via Twitter after winning a Grammy (a tweet he later deleted) and he collaborated with Rihanna on a couple new songs.  Now he’s all I hear about; is he back with Rihanna, has the public forgiven him, how dare he be honored after what he did, and so on.

What Rihanna chooses to do at this point is her business and hers alone.  She doesn’t exactly present herself in such a way that she would ever be mistaken for some sort of role model; with her in-your-face sexuality and often inappropriate comments and behavior, she is hardly a woman that a young girl should want to model themselves after.  I don’t say that to slam Rihanna for the person she is, I’m just trying to make it clear that she obviously is not trying to be a role model for anyone.  If she wishes to forgive Chris Brown for beating her, so be it.  If she can overlook the violent behavior he’s exhibited since beating her, so be it.  And if she’s wrong and he ends up hitting her again, she has only herself to blame.

I have a zero tolerance policy for violence against women.  I’ve been that girl who’s made excuses to explain the bruises on her arms, the marks on her neck, the black eye.  I understand how difficult it can be to walk away and realize that love isn’t that type of pain.  I know the insecurities that a woman feels while in an abusive relationship and the reasons she’ll come up with for why she was beaten.  It’s a sad and sorry situation and while I was in it, I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong.  I thought it was normal, that I deserved it for being difficult, that it was an accident and wouldn’t happen again, and that I could fix it.  I was a pathetic shell of a person and sadly, it’s a common place for women to find themselves in.

I refused to open my eyes to see the situation as it truly was until I had my son.  At that point, something clicked inside my head and I realized that I was placing my child and myself in a dangerous situation with an unstable violent man who could kill us both if he came at us hard enough.  Prior to that, I remained in a daze.  I ignored horror stories from formerly abused women who tried to help.  I ignored those who extended their hand and offered assistance.  I have no doubt that people in Rihanna’s life are trying to help her as well, attempting to get her to open her eyes and realize that she’s putting herself back in harm’s way and sending the message that she isn’t good enough, that she’s worth so little that it’s acceptable to hit her.  I also suspect that it’s a waste of everyone’s time to try to get her to see something she just isn’t ready to face.

People like Chris Brown who lash out at women don’t change overnight, if at all.  They are cowardly selfish people who use their brute strength and the fear others have of them in order to keep control of certain situations and people in their lives.  They are amazing actors and have the ability to fool most everyone around them, giving off the impression of a sweet man who really loves the woman he’s with.  Lying is a vital and central part of their life and no one is better at creating a tall tale on a moment’s notice than they are.  Often they come from homes where they were abused or witnessed abuse, but that fact should in no way excuse their behavior.  There is no excuse for a man striking a woman and to make any is just shameful.

Should Chris Brown be forgiven?  Sure; it’s not healthy to hold a grudge forever and eventually you have to move on, especially those of us who aren’t ever going to interact with the guy and who just want to enjoy his music.  While it’s good to forgive, what he did is something that shouldn’t be forgotten.  If I had my way, he would never be allowed to be alone with a woman again as I have no doubt that eventually he will snap once again and some unfortunately woman will find themselves on the wrong end of his fist.  I would hope that females would be intelligent enough to avoid this guy like the plague, but if Rihanna’s behavior and the tweets from fans stating they would love Brown to beat them, chicks these days are as dumb as ever.

Ladies, I don’t care how wonderful you think a guy is, how worried you are about being single if you don’t stay with him, or what reasons you can come up with to blame yourself for being struck.  There has never been and will never be an acceptable reason for a man to strike a woman outside of you violently attacking him and the male fearing for his life or fearing severe bodily damage.  Most men are bigger than us, stronger than us, and able to fight at a higher skill level than us.  It’s not a sexist remark, it’s just fact.  It is foolish of any woman to go back to a man who hits her, especially if you have children involved.  Yes, accidents happen (I literally walked into a guy’s fist once) but it’s foolish and ignorant to call being struck out of anger an accident.  Call it like it is and decide what’s more important, your heart being broken or your bones.

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