…about those two words

Baili

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I was 11 years old the first time I felt “that”.

I still hadn’t quite grown into my front teeth, weighed a scant 65 lbs, and wore my mom’s oversized cable-knit turtleneck fisherman sweaters that I pulled from a shelf I could hardly reach.

He was in his late 20’s or early 30’s, tall, attractive, and my substitute teacher.

New in town and stuck in a book more often than not, I welcomed his warm demeanor and friendly approach. I thought he paid so much attention to me because we were friends. When he insisted I hug him before I could leave class, I thought it was because he valued me and believed me to be smarter, or somehow better than my classmates.

My best friend’s mom was singing at at a pub the night things went too far. It was early in the evening, and minors were still allowed in. My best friend and I laughed to one another when we told the greeter that we were “with the band.” As we mingled in the packed venue, we spotted him and a friend at a table. He lit up when we walked over, and knocked a glass of water over as he got off his stool to give me one of his classic long hugs that I’d now learned to expect.

“Sorry he smells like Rainier” his friend, another tall, young man joked.

It was then that the bass guitar went to work, followed by light drums, then the singer. Before I knew what was happening, I was pulled out onto the floor in front of the band that was soon filled with drunken adults dancing in their Birkenstocks and Patagonia zip-off pants. He grinned lazily as he spun me around in circles, not so much dancing as he swinging around a girl one-third his size. The music slowed into a sultry blues ballad, and he pulled me toward him. His hand slid from my waist to my lower back, then over what would [much] later develop into an actual ass. I smelled the beer his friend had joked about, and couldn’t even make out the words his gravelly voice purred into my ear.

I was glad when the song ended. I pulled away hurriedly, said goodbye, and found my friend at a table across the room. I never saw him again.

“That.” I can’t even label it correctly. I don’t think there is a word or term that really encompasses the varied emotions and sensations that occur when someone is sexually assaulted. Humiliation, confusion, guilt, and shock are just a few that surface at the moment.

It takes a lot of courage to talk about these things. We hear that 1 in 4 women report being sexually assaulted, but know that the actual rate is significantly higher. What about all the other instances that don’t get reported? We don’t report cat-calls, which many people sadly believe are earnest compliments; we don’t report our teachers or parents’ friends or coaches or friends’ dads when they are just a little too nice; we don’t report the pathetic dudes who brush their hands across your ass in crowded streetcars…

Which is why you’re seeing those two words splashed across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this week.

“Me too.”

The two syllables, seemingly innocuous in any other context, represent a lifetime of struggles for men, women, and everyone in between.

Activist Tarana Burke spoke about the weight of the phrase when she recounted a story in which a young girl reached out to her for help, but ultimately left her speechless and flustered. The young girl, visibly shattered from being denied support so blatantly, silently urged Burke to consider the ways in which we interact with survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. The two words she did not speak are the very instruments she now uses to inspire others to support one another, including actress Alyssa Milano who resurrected the term via Twitter:

“Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

People have reacted in many different ways to this movement. I’m not here to say which response is right: to vocalize one’s experiences and support the movement is honorable and welcomed; to remain silent or unsure is also completely respectable.

You see, when a person is made to feel like they no longer have control in their life (which is, typically, what the end result of a sexual assault looks like) it is so important to restore that control to the survivor. Telling a survivor what they should or shouldn’t do is actually quite damaging, intentional or not. They are likely already feeling so much guilt over the incident. It is wrong to inspire more guilt in them by saying that their silence is detrimental to the cause.

If you truly want to help a survivor, allow them to make their own choices, free of judgment. Having been subjected to a crime or traumatic experience does not in any way make them less able to make their own decisions. Let them have power over their life.

On the other hand, there have been so many wonderful humans who have come forward and shared the phrase. I want everyone who hasn’t knowingly experienced sexual assault to know this one thing, if anything: this is huge. It’s “coming out.” It’s difficult, terrifying, and oftentimes dangerous to do so. When you “out” yourself as a survivor, you are opening up an incredibly private facet of your life that the inherently curious human population wants to dissect. You are putting yourself in a position to be mocked, blamed, accused, and judged.

So when you see a Facebook status with the words, “me too,” PLEASE oh please do not comment these things:

  • “OMG what happened?!”
  • “wtf who assaulted you??”
  • “when did that happen?”

You get the idea.

Nobody wants to have an open forum and relive that traumatic experience, so please don’t make them. A simple “like” will do.

Finally, there are the ones who simply aren’t sure if they can/should post it. You, my dears, are the ones at which the whole campaign is aimed.

Sexual assault, harassment, and abuse are manifested in so many ways that it is impossible to effectively “diagnose” someone as having experienced it. You yourself may have absolutely experienced sexual harassment and not even realized it.

The ways in which this particular type of hatred thrives are typically, like most of the “-isms”, disguised cleverly as compliments, traditions, cultural norms, beliefs, values, etc.

If you’re unsure whether or not you “qualify,” I challenge you to look at your interactions with other people and think critically about your place in the world. But also, don’t feel like you need to have experienced something as damaging as getting felt up by a teacher in a bar. It’s all about how the experience made you feel.

Were you ever made to feel like you were worth less because of your status as a woman? Have you ever walked past a group of men who shouted inappropriate things at you? Did you ever feel like you had to sleep with your boyfriend because it was your anniversary and you “owed it to him”? Did you ever feel like you were being stared at by a strange man on the subway? These count.

Perhaps you’re one of the [very] few lucky ones who really, truly haven’t felt like you’ve been there too. If you’re seeing your friends posting this status, then clearly someone you know/care about has. Be there for them. Thank them for sharing.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you choose not to share, thank you for empowering yourself to make that decision on your own. If you do choose to share, thank you for educating yourself and the ones around you.

I know you want sexual violence to stop. Me too.

 

 

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3 ways to style a baker boy hat

Maddie

If there is one fall trend I am excited for, it’s the Baker Boy hat. This retro style hat can be found on magazine covers, all over Instagram, and on campus! After my sister got one of her own we grabbed a camera and came up with three ways to style this staple fall accessory. From a 70s vibes outfit, a fuzzy sweater, to edgier street style, the possibilities are endless! We hope you feel inspired, xoxo.

 

h&m baker boy hat, forever 21 sweater, h&m jean dress, doc martens

thrifted sweater, h&m jeans, doc martens (how cute is this cat??)

brandy melville band tea, levis jean jacket, h&m black jeans, doc martens

coffee shops you’ll like a latte

Matti

National Coffee Day has arrived! I’ve been so eager to share this post with you all because, let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good coffee shop recommendation? Finally, I get the chance to share some of the photos that have been stock piling in my camera roll of all my favorite places for some good coffee. For all you Oregonians in Portland, Eugene, or Corvallis I guarantee one of these spots will be a new go-to for your next coffee run.

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Good Coffee (Buckman)IMG_2434IMG_2447

Heart Roasters (Westside Cafe)IMG_2427IMG_2436

Glass House CoffeeIMG_2431IMG_2432

The Washburne CafeIMG_2426IMG_2425 2

Never CoffeeIMG_2422IMG_2438

Kainos CoffeeIMG_2424IMG_7349

Happy national coffee day from the ladies of V+V! Get out there and espresso yourself.

Emmy style

Baili

It’s that time of year. Fall has… fallen. Summer’s heat is excusing itself and making way for chunky knits, hot beverages, and comfort. A cold-blooded Washingtonian, I spend all summer looking forward to rainy days like this.

After weeks of wildfire smoke, merciless heat waves, and back-of-the-knee sweat (we all have it, shut up), today was also the kickoff of awards show season. Obviously, I brewed an alarmingly strong pot of coffee, slipped into some fuzzy socks, and got right to sketching my favorite looks from this year’s Emmy Awards. Without further ado, here they are:

 

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Natalia Dyer in Vera Wang

I had no idea who Natalia Dyer was when I saw her photo from the red carpet. A quick Google search told me she was an actress in the Netflix original, Stranger Things. I have yet to watch it. I KNOW I KNOW. Anyway, this generation’s Rory Gilmore (who is only 20 by the way) rolls up in this bright green taffeta ballgown and shuts the place DOWN. Read that again: bright green taffeta ballgown. The girl that my first boyfriend cheated on me with wore a bright green taffeta ballgown to prom. She looked like a piece of shit, as most of us likely would. Natalia, however, wins this round of Emmys fashion.

 

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Rashida Jones in J. Mendel

I studied fashion design in college and spent my whole life trying to perfect the art that is couture dressmaking. I’m not sure everyone out there understands how much effort it takes to make the little pleats that covered Rashida Jones’ dress… but let me just say it takes more patience than I have ever possessed in my entire life, combined. J. Mendel– this is exquisite. Keep doin’ you.

 

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Thandie Newton in Jason Wu

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a slight girl-crush on Thandie Newton, despite the fact that it took me years to figure out that it was pronounced “Tan-dee.” She is so elegant always, even as a robot-prostitute-murderer like her character on HBO’s Westworld. This classic Jason Wu ballgown hits all my favorite notes– a little bit of sparkle, beautiful fit, and my all-time favorite color.

Stay tuned for more fall fashion blurbs and be sure to catch my sketches on November 8th when I decide to go hard on the hard cider [again] and sketch my way through the Country Music Association Awards! Cheers!

uncertainty

Gabrielle

BP Sep3

It’s that thing that we look at down a road, not knowing where it will lead, but we keep going because what else can we do. There is no way to bypass it, it’s something that everyone has in their lives. Yet, why is it so difficult to wrestle with, to try and get some good strikes in and feel like you’re ahead?

I’d like to think that I’m a planner. I look ahead; ready to make a game plan for what comes next. That’s just how I am. Maybe it started in middle school when teachers made us use an actual planner to copy down due dates, quizzes and tests, attempting to mold organized students. It naturally turned into a habit. Now, there are many things that I start to plan that can’t be written down with a due date next to it. Plans like moving to New York or the start date of my dream job can be made, but factors outside of our own control can dictate when that happens, creating a cloud of uncertainty.

That uncertainty makes me want to pull all the bed sheets above my head and blast some Hilary Duff circa 2003. Not even the worlds best planner could plan around what uncertainty brings.

BP Sep2

With summer starting to wrap up and fall fast approaching, I look back and feel as if I’ve been in a state of limbo. I just accomplished one really huge thing, yet I’m ready to start accomplishing something even bigger. I’m on the edge of my seat, ready to start my career in my dream city. I have a plan; I’m ready to make the jump, but that uncertainty creeps back up.

Here’s the thing, some things will always be out of your control, no matter how far in advance you plan. It can be easy to let the unknown and the uncertain hold you back and keep you put. However, you can’t let it stop you. Crawl back up from under those sheets, give Hilary a break and keep going.

Embrace it.

BP Sep

of equality and eradication: thoughts on National Women’s Equality Day

Baili
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The girl who is sick of gender inequality (above). Photo by Kristin Coffman.

Last night I spent an hour curled up in the driver’s seat of my car in the shade of my local Rite Aid, bawling.

I had intended to make a quick trip of it– walk in, pick up my birth control, and get on with the rest of my errands. A young man at the pharmacy counter greeted me pleasantly and asked for my information. He hesitated before sheepishly explaining that my insurance wasn’t going to cover my medication.

“It won’t be covered until September 1st,” he explained nervously.

This was a problem for me. I needed it now if I wanted to skip my period and forgo the excruciating pain, nausea, and headaches that have plagued me for years.

“You can pay out of pocket, but it’s going to be $39 for one month,” he continued.

Here’s the thing: I already paid for this medication when my insurance payment was deducted from my paycheck. It is legally mine. Yet here I was, listening to some male stranger tell me that another complete stranger had decided that I was due for my period, that I didn’t get to skip the placebo pills this month. Some unknown person was sitting at a desk somewhere out there, saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to have more than one month’s supply at a time. Heaven forbid that I, a woman, would want to go more than one month without getting pregnant. The notion that a 25-year-old woman wants to have a career and her own life is so absurd to my insurance company that they can’t justify the cost to provide me with more than one month at a time.

In college, our university pharmacy let us take home an entire years’ worth at a time. Plan B was as accessible as ibuprofen, and paid for with our tuition. It made sense– we were in college to learn and to become functioning members of society and tax-paying citizens. Childbearing and homemaking were not on the university’s agenda. Everyone, male and female, was on the same spectrum for the first time, if only for a moment. We had everything we needed.

Exit college, and we are once again introduced to the “play like a boy” mindset. Women are asked to dress like men if they want to be taken seriously. We are paid less for the same work. We are hired less because we may someday require maternity leave. We are encouraged to flirt our way into success. We are largely pressured by the male population to deny these things, because agreeing with our oppressors yields more rewards than ruffling feathers.

What consistently baffles me is the amount of pushback I get on these topics from people whom I believe to be quite intelligent otherwise. These outspoken woman-haters don’t seem to realize that they are arguing against equal rights for their female loved ones.

The very fact that National Women’s Equality Day exists necessitates change.

It is very seldom when I experience a single day without having to modify my life in a way men will never have to.

Men will never know how uncomfortable and frightened I felt last month when I was gassing up my car, the attendant leaning inside my car, violating my space. These days, I crack the window only enough to slide my card through it.

Men will never have to feel like they cannot go on a hike alone, or even on a walk around their block alone at night, without putting theirselves in harm’s way. Should I do something like that and danger befalls me, they would say that “I asked for it,” or that “I should have known better than to do it.” If a man is harmed, the blame is on the perpetrator. If a woman is harmed, she lacked common sense.

Men will never have to know what it is like to lose ownership of their own body simply by existing. My body has been used for another man’s pleasure without my consent more times than I can count–both physically and mentally. Women–if you’ve ever been catcalled, groped, or even stared at, this applies to you too. It is my belief that every woman has, at least once in her life, been utilized without consent in a sexual nature.

Cisgender men will never feel victimized by the government or by people who hold power, simply because they host certain body parts. They will never feel the burning humiliation of being objectified by an authority figure or law enforcer.

Men will never need to create a national holiday recognizing their systematic oppression.

I want to say “happy National Women’s Equality Day” but the fact is that, because it exists, it is not a happy day at all.

I encourage women and men who support the happiness and well-being of women to do one thing today. It’s easy. If you want to participate in this day, all I ask is that you recognize the lack of equality we live with. It sounds easy, but most men that I know will instinctually contradict me.

If you want a woman to hate, go ahead. Hate the living shit out of me. I can hold my own.

But take this time to think about your mother, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, or female friend who is being hurt by the perpetual aggression towards women. Think about how they’re living in my world too. Someday, a man may grab her or cat-call her or turn her down for a job or rape her or tell her she doesn’t matter. I guarantee you, it has already happened. Acknowledgment is the first step.

 

 

 

 

‘i hope you don’t mind me writing’ album review

Kristin

While basking in the ocean air on the Oregon coast last week, a song caught my ear from a nearby seafood restaurant. SoundHound retrieved the song as Lucy Spraggan’s ‘Fight for It”. Nothing gets me going like finding new artists, so I was excited to have a new name to scout out. I was enchanted instantly with her ethereal vocals and almost Ingrid Michaelson-like sound.

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Before I knew it, I was cruising through her Spotify listening to her most recent album “I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing” and I was blown away by the thoughtful words, and unique sound. My big thing with musicians is difference; how are you setting yourself apart from other musicians? Lucy has this airy feel that is so delightful but also so entirely her.

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If you need a calming album to get you through your week, I’ve got just the link for you. Check out the album below and follow her on her social accounts to stay up to date with what she has going on!

LISTEN HERE.

Instagram stalk HERE

Hit the official website HERE