Marie Talks: The Power of No: Elementary Edition

Warning: talks about sexual assault

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” –Stephanie Lahart

As a child I was taught to never be afraid of saying ‘no’, that the person will respect you and that word.  I was told that at any point I had the right to say no if for any reason I was against something, and I should say no and stick to that answer.  To me that seems like a straight forward word, and a pretty easy set of boundaries to follow when using the word. Personally, I never expected the rules and boundaries to change as I got older; however the older I got the more rules and fears began to accompany the word no. As the years went by more rules were placed on the word, and little by little the apprehension I had towards it grew.

Starting in elementary school the realization came that saying no was not quite as easy as it seemed. To begin with how do you tell someone ‘no’ without coming off rude or hurt the persons feelings? It was as though there was a science behind how to politely say no. Then came the disappointment, persuasion, and sometimes harsh words. That no matter why I said ‘no’ it was endlessly questioned or it wasn’t always taken so nicely. That taught that ‘no’ wasn’t a nice thing to say or that it could hurt people. What this taught me about the word no was to weigh the pros and cons of saying no and choose which path would hurt both parties the least.

I also learnt that even if something seemed wrong to me I could not always say ‘no’, particularly when a teacher or other authority figure asked something of me. Things such as dissections, sitting next to the person who bullied me, or doing those trust exercises when I didn’t want to be touched. It taught me that although something is against my morals/beliefs or I’m not ok with it I don’t always have a choice and have to do it because it’s expected of me. To be honest as a child this confused me, I questioned why [for instance] my teacher had the ‘right’ to disregard my wishes and my ‘comfort level’. What this taught me was that I had to pick and choose my ‘battles’ and that there were certain people (those with authority) who I could not refuse to do what they asked of me. However if the authority figure said no we had to comply with their wishes.

Around the age of seven I went camping in the summer right after my birthday with my daycare.  It was there that I learnt probably the hardest lesson about saying no I ever would: when saying no people don’t always listen. I was forced into an empty room in the cabin against my wishes by a much older boy. He tried kissing me and despite saying no repeatedly I still ended up in this room with him. While I was saying no and trying to get around him he managed to pin me to one of the bunk beds. He did end up getting the kiss he tried for, as well as my bathing suit top off. I managed to get him off me as he went for my bottoms and escaped the room. I was shaken, parts of my body had been touched and seen against my will and my words and actions had been ignored. I never told anyone as I thought it would put me in trouble with my daycare and with him, I was in the wrong, and I would be seen as overreacting or lying. The lesson I learnt was not only that people don’t always listen to you when you say no, they can also ignore the non-verbal display of noncompliance.

Things I had learnt about the word no by the time I was thirteen:
1. To weigh the pros and cons of saying no and choose which path would hurt both parties the least.
2. To pick and choose my ‘battles’ and that there were certain people (those with authority) who I could not refuse to do what they asked of me.
3. However if the authority figure said no we had to comply with their wishes.
4. That people don’t always listen to you when you say no, they can also ignore the non-verbal display of noncompliance.

Do you have any rules or boundaries you have learnt or been taught about using the word no? I would love to hear them.

Stay Loud, Stay Proud, Stay You,
Marie Olsson xx

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Marie Talks: The use of Gay or Lesbian as an insult

It’s been approximately five years since I have been in public school. I don’t know how much things have changed over the years, however using ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ as an insult is still very much present (at least in the cyber world) I have noticed. This idea that being told you are doing something that labels you as ‘gay’ and it being used to hurt you is ten steps backward from everything society has been working towards for years.  When I was going to school I had this bully, lets call him Smith, and he would try to do or say anything that would get under my skin. One of Smith’s ‘go-to insults’ was calling me a lesbian. I didn’t understand why he thought this would hurt me, as I didn’t see what was wrong about a female liking another female. Plus, I am bisexual, I do like women and I am not ashamed of liking women. However I saw the hurt in some of my friends eyes when he would make the same comment about them.

Eventually I asked one of my friends, lets call her Beth, why being called a lesbian bothered her, and her answer made me understand why this term could hurt someone. See when someone called me a lesbian it didn’t phase me because it was true, I like women. Albeit not just women, I liked men too which made me bisexual, it didn’t have the same impact on me as it could on a straight female. Beth explained to me that the term lesbian hurt her because she felt that the term implied she was unattractive to male’s, something she’s struggled with feeling like for years. That it meant she was a person only another female could love. Being called a lesbian to her also implied that she was not feminine, and that she should be ashamed of these things.

Using the word lesbian as a way to offend a female can hurt, just like how using the term gay can hurt a male. It’s too easy to label a man as gay if he has a more feminine side, he’s a bit ‘off’ in your eyes, he’s ‘weak’, or he’s easily putt off/scared. What people seem to not care about is when using the term it doesn’t just affect the person you’re calling it, it affects the people around you too. Im not saying any form of bullying is alright but why cant you say what you mean instead of morphing a word to mean everything that is an insult, when the word does not mean any of that.

Now one thing I have always been against is anything that makes another person feel unworthy or inadequate. Whether it is to make them feel unworthy of love, attention, or the credit they are due. Or making a person feel like they don’t try hard enough, are not ‘normal’ or something is wrong with them. Which is exactly what using LGBT terms as insults does to a person, both someone whose being targeted with these labels and someone who identifies with the them, which is not cool at all.

Every time a person uses the word gay or lesbian as an insult you are telling another human that what they are is wrong, bad and something to be ashamed of. You’re promoting someone to hide who they are and to hide their feelings towards another human. You are making people feel unsafe, helping contributing to their fears and insecurities. You are not only hurting the person you are calling gay/lesbian but also a whole community of people who identify with the term.

Now not only are gay/lesbian an insult when used in an demeaning manner but so are all the other slang or identifiers. This includes words like butch, queer, and fag etc. We need to put an end to using terms to describe who you love as a way to demean and belittle others. We need to put an end to looking down on the LGBTQ2IA community and embrace them. We need to end bullying in any capacity. We need to embrace people for their differences and love (and support) each other. We need to help others feel accepted and learn to love themselves.

Gay is not an insult. We need to work together to put an end to this out dated point of view.

To finish this off I’ll add my final thought:

If being called Straight isn’t an insult, why is Gay or Lesbian? They’re all terms to describe what gender the person has romantic feelings towards. Feelings that are natural and we don’t have much control over.

Stay Loud, Stay Proud Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

Lynn’s Views on Tattoos, Piercings, and Hair Colour

It really bewilders me that workplaces, schools, and even society in general would refuse people admittance to something solely based on something they decided to do to their looks. Even something as having a place that isn’t your earlobes pierced or having a small yet visible tattoo can cost people a job, education, or service. A person decided to change something about themselves to feel and/or look nice by their standards and, as long as it’s not offensive or going to actively cause an issue, I really see no problem with it. The story I’m about to tell may not fit in super cleanly with this, but I feel it’s…kind of related.

During the summer of last year, I dyed my hair bright pink. It was a drastic change and honestly I hardly recognized myself when we were finished. I loved it. I felt more confident with myself than I ever had before and all I did was change my hair color. But then I started worrying about getting a job. I didn’t have one at that point and I doubted anyone would take me in with my hair as it was. It left me having panic attacks about even applying for jobs at all. Even so, I still loved my hair and the me that went along with it and I wasn’t willing to change it back for some minimum wage job.

My point here is that I was so afraid of this stigma society’s enforced on anything “out of the ordinary” in the looks department that I literally had mental breakdowns. People get turned away for having nose rings or tongue piercings or visible tattoos. While the stigma seems to be slowly lifting, that doesn’t mean everything’s fixed. People still judge other people based solely on looks and it’s just downright silly.

Marie Talks: Tattoos and Piercings In Society

I remember growing up being told to not get tattoos, they’re ugly, dangerous, and makes you labeled a delinquent.  I remember being told not to get any visible piercings, nothing on my face or body, on my ears only. Even at the age of 12 I was when I saw a tattoo or piercing I thought was awesome I immediately thought of the potential implications and issues that could come with it later on I life.  I was taught from a young age that having tattoos, piercings, and unnaturally dyed hair made you basically unemployable, irresponsible, and ugly.

When I was twelve my parents finally allowed me to get my ears pierced.  They are of the belief that piercing a child’s ears before they are old enough to make the decision themselves isn’t right.  Not for the reason of it “promotes body piercings”; but for the sheer fact that it is altering the child’s body without their consent. They waited until they felt I was mature enough to make a decision to put holes in my body for a pointless reason other than that it’s pretty.  They wanted to make sure I was old enough to make a well thought out decision myself when it came to my body, and take care of them on my own.  No parent is wrong in the decision of when to pierce their child’s ears, if to even do so at all.  However I feel my parents made the right decision for me, they instilled the belief that I should be the only one to decide what is done to my body from a very young age and promoted it with the decision of piercing my ears.

However they also instilled societies stand point on how tattoos and piercings were viewed.  Which as I stated previously meant no piercings anywhere besides my ears and definitely no tattoos. When I was sixteen I went and got my tragus pierced, the cartilage that protrudes out in front of the ear canal. Needless to say my parents had no idea I was going to get this done, and were furious when they found out.  See I went with the loop hole that it was part of my ear, whereas my mother saw it as part of the face. Now I expected this drama, and had also worries of my own.  I was worried about how society would view this piercing and what it may imply about me.  Down the road seven years later I’ve learnt the only troubles having my tragus pierced caused is the pain in the bottom that healing was, trying to not get snagged while getting my hair cut, and children love yanking on it. If I haven’t pointed it out people rarely even realize it is there.

As soon as my tragus was fully healed, which was six months later I decided that I wanted my tongue pierced.  I had always thought it looked pretty and I wanted it for that fact alone. So again off I went and got my tongue pierced.  I had doubts and almost chickened out last minute. I worried that it would tell society that I was promiscuous, or tell men I was easy. I worried what future employers would think and if it would make me unemployable.  What pushed me to actually walk in the room and let the lady covered in beautiful tattoos and piercings stick a needle through my tongue is the knowledge of why I was getting it. I remembered at the end of the day I liked how the piercing looks and I cannot let society dictate what decisions I make for my body. That my opinion the only one that truly mattered, because the piercing, and my body, are for me and me alone to decide what I do with. A week and a half later when my parents finally saw the piercing they were furious,  I disobeyed them,  I ruined my beautiful face,  and I made myself look unemployable.  To me the only one I really held dear to me was the fact that I went against my parents and did something they had strictly forbidden me from doing. I did not feel as though I ruined anything, nor was I unemployable. All that happened is I put a piece of jewelry in my body that I found esthetically pleasing to look at.

When I was eighteen I got my first tattoo, I’ll admit I was terrified.  I was getting my grandpa’s nickname on the back of my neck, three months after he had passed.  As I mentioned in my Grieving a Loved One blog, I hadn’t taken his passing very well. I thought maybe putting his nickname on my body would help me move past my loss and have a piece of his memory visibly with me at all times.  I had thought it out, he was a big part of making me who I am and I loved him dearly. I had wanted to put it somewhere I could see the reminder when I needed, however with not knowing what I wanted in my future and how the tattoo would affect my career I put it in a more hidden place. As I was getting ready to get it done I was worried that it would hurt and how my parents would react. In the end my mother was upset that I got the tattoo as she is not a fan, and that I hid this decision from her; however she was touched that what I had done was in memory of her father.

The next fall I approached my mom, I wanted a tattoo in memory of my grandma who I had lost three years prior.  She was iffy with the idea but agreed to allow me to get it done as it was something that meant a lot to me and I had clearly thought it out.  I got an angel holding three hearts (one for my mom and both her brothers) on my shoulder with her name and the words “first and foremost my heart and soul, forever and always my guardian angel” on my left shoulder blade.  I had chosen those words as much like my grandpa she had a large part of shaping me into the woman I am today and will forever be one of my closest relatives. As well as I used to always call her my guardian angel as she was always there for me and always seemed to know when I needed her.  I now despise the tattoo as some of the detail was horribly done and ruined it for me. I want to get that covered and put something new on my body for my grandmother when I can afford it.

My last tattoo I got just after my twenty-first birthday, is a black and grey tiger lily on my right shoulder blade.  I love it, it holds two different meanings to me and is absolutely beautiful. My original plan for the tattoo was for it to be in full colour and also have forget-me-not flowers and my daughter’s name; however with a lot of thought going into it I decided to leave out the extra details as I knew what the tattoo meant and didn’t feel as all the extra details were necessary. As I mentioned in my teen pregnancy blog I miscarried at sixteen and had kept it fairly secret. Therefore I didn’t want to put this extravagant display on my body for everyone to see. To me a tiger lily represents beauty, strength and resilience, which I thought was fitting to use in her memory.  Over time before I got that tattoo it also gained a second meaning.  It also became a personal reminder to always keep fighting my battle against bipolar type two.  It was a reminder that I can get past even the darkest times, that things get better. A reminder that I didn’t let the Sorrow of my miscarriage drown me, that I shouldn’t let anything else. To me this is my most powerful tattoo that serves as the biggest reminder to me that nothings worth giving up fighting over.

I do believe that tattoos and piercings make it harder to find a job, but as the years pass it is becoming easier to find jobs that allow piercings and tattoos. There is still a stigma attached to tattoos and piercings, although it is slowly losing its wide spread influence on society and more and more people are appreciating the beauty and self-expression, over the belief it makes you ugly or a delinquent.

My personal belief is that every tattoo you put on your body is a piece of artwork, and each one tells a story, holds a meaning.  As long as it means something to the person who put it on their body and/or they like it, that is all that matters. As for piercings as long as the person who has it likes it and it does not pose a health or safety risk to them, go for it.  Your body is your own, tattoo it, dress it, and pierce it as you wish. But remember tattoos are permanent, so think it through before you get it done.

Stay Beautiful. Stay You. Stay Unique Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

Marie Talks: Why She’s Not a Feminist

This week’s topic is feminism, which is a great thing, however I am an equalist. I believe regardless of race, sex, culture, intellect, disabilities, orientation, social status, or beliefs etc, that everyone should have equal rights, privileges and opportunities in social and work environments.

I used to refer to myself as a feminist, as I was huge on equal rights for men and women. However in today’s society equal rights for men and women still leaves a lot of inequality for many others. Where equal rights for men and women is a good start, as a society we also need to work on the rights and our treatment towards those who don’t fit into the ‘standard’ two genders. We need equality for people in the transgendered, gender fluid and Intersex communities just to name a few.

I believe that not only do we need a term that includes more then just females, we need to focus on all humans having equal rights. I find equality better fits my beliefs than feminism does. I have nothing against those who identify as feminists or what they stand for. I respect feminists and what they stand for and applaud what they are working to achieve. It is solely a personal preference that I believe equalism is a better cause to fight towards.

Feminism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Equalism: Any of several forms of egalitarianism (advocacy of equality) concerned with establishing sexual, racial, class or other equality.

 

 

Stay Beautiful Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

Source:
http://i.word.com/idictionary/feminism
https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/equalism