50 Shades of Shit, Part One: Ana Wrecks Your Life

I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve decided I can’t not write about 50 Shades of Grey. I feel like everything that needs to be said has been discussed, yet this book is now a record setting film. So I guess I’m wrong, which is unfortunate since this is one of the few books I’ve read that causes me to hate every single character and the author. If you haven’t read the books, here’s a very brief rundown: Shy, virginal Ana meets hunky BDSM-loving billionaire Christian Grey. He takes her V-card, shows her his torture chamber of love, beats her, gets dumped, gets back together, wacky hi jinx ensue. They get married and go on a miserable sounding honeymoon where he leaves bruises over her body because she was topless tanning in the south of France.  Meanwhile, he used to be raped by his mom’s friend and now owns a hair salon with her, his old Sub tries to kill Ana, and Christian’s brother dates Ana’s best friend, Kate. Sound stupid? Yes, because it is. There is no real plot.

Actual book quote: "Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow."
Actual book quote: “Oh my. My whole body tightens at the thought. Piano. Wow.”

There are many problems with the 50 Shades series: shitty writing, an abusive hero (Christian Grey), a heroine (Ana Steele Grey) that seems like a huge bitch, characters named after eating disorders, closeted racism and homophobia, and not so closeted classism. I’m going to focus on the abuse. Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: my argument is not that consensual BDSM is abusive. My argument is that Christian Grey is a temperamental, emotional, and manipulative asshole with a violent past. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not the virginal Ana is able to make a free of mind choice to participate in something she repeatedly says she doesn’t like.


Ana wrecks your life!

I feel like most people know a guy that’s like Christian Grey. You can sometimes identify a Christian by the crying girl that is often with him — the girl you probably call crazy, the one who seems to not have any friends (since she isn’t allowed).  Guys like Christian do their damnedest to be the best and worst thing to ever happen to a girl, creating an emotional roller coaster (if roller coasters are portals to hell). Throughout all 3 books, Christian repeatedly pushes Ana to her limits, then gives her a peek of the “nice guy” within, or his tortured soul, making her feel like she’s responsible for his outbursts. Over and over she expresses sentiments like, “I didn’t ask him to come get me. Somehow I’ve been made to feel the villain in this piece,” and “Why am I feeling guilty? Why is he so mad?” If you often find yourself wondering these things in your relationship, please seek help. You might feel crazy, but you aren’t — he is.

Ah, not creepy at all
Ah, not creepy at all

Not only does Christian fuck with Ana’s mind and make her feel responsible for anything in the world  that could irritate Christian, he also makes sure to drive giant wedges between her and her friends and family. She’s not allowed to be around boys, because obviously she cannot be trusted. Her best friend, Kate,  is a bad influence because she has the audacity to question Christian’s intentions (even though in the first book, almost every time Kate sees Ana after Ana has been around Christian, she is crying). When Ana doesn’t want Christian to come to her graduation, he shows up and meets her stepdad. And, most disturbingly (to me), when Ana tells Christian she needs some space and flies to Georgia to visit her mother…Christian flies out and stays at the same hotel and gives her exactly zero space or time to spend alone with her mother. In the second book, Christian flies back from halfway around the world because Ana and her best female friend go out for a drink together and he forbid her from leaving the house. By book three (the book the champions of the series claim show Ana as “taking the power back”), Christian is selecting Ana’s friends (spoiler alert: no boys) by surprising her with group vacations and picking the guest list himself. Hey, guess what! If you have a friend you used to be close with, but now she dates this guy and she cries a lot and never hangs out with you because of him, she’s probably in an abusive relationship.

This is going on longer than I thought, so I’m going to break it up into parts. Maybe for Part 2 I can include a mix of quotes from serial killers  and Christian Grey, and we can play a game where you guess who said what!

Let me know if you saw the movie and if you think I should see it too! Also, please check out my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can subscribe to my blog here

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Drive a Camel, Evade a Rapist. Drive a Car, Rape Free For All.

Hello, ladies. Do you drive? Well, you better trade that Buick in for a camel!! According to Saudi historian Saleh al-Saadoon, while women used to ride camels, women can’t drive cars because the cars break down and then the women are raped. If you live outside of Saudi Arabia, you don’t care about being raped — the only thing that getting raped does to you is bring down your morale a bit. You know, like when you expect it to be sunny and it rains? Or when you want that special edition Red Bull in the yellow can, but 7-11 only has the regular kind? And your day just kind of sucks for a little bit.

Are you confused? Don’t worry, he goes on to tell us to listen to him “and get used to what society thinks, if [you] are really so out of touch with it.”

“But Manda,” you say, “what if the women are raped by the men who drive them around?!” Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, but obviously there is a solution for this: importing women drivers. “But wouldn’t this be a rapist’s dream?! Two women stuck in a broken down car, AKA a rape machine on useless wheels?!” Look, shut up — their rapists probably don’t do that. Also, sign me up. Sounds like a dream job.

This sums it up
This sums it up

“Marriage: The Best Way to Solve Your Relationship Problems” – GOD, According to Columnist Mike Adams

Do you want to save yourself from being beaten by your boyfriend? Do you want to increase your chances of being beaten by your girlfriend? Just get married! At least, that’s what I learned today from the Town Hall article, The Ring Makes All the Difference by one Mike Adams. 

I know I’m just a radical feminist who wants to destroy the idea of marriage and family (because God definitely thinks it is important you register your commitment with the state, y’all!), so my opinion probably doesn’t matter…but what a bunch of idiotic bullshit. Adams doesn’t really making any of his own points (outside of labeling feminists as life destroyers), but highlights some of his favorite facts from a book called (wait for it!) The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage.

Obviously, there is a lot of wrong going on here, but I’d like to start with the very last paragraph: “God is the author of the rules of the game of life. He is also the creator of science. When properly applied, His methods always reveal the truth.” I don’t really know what that has to do with anything, other than maybe saying if bitches get beat by their live in man sinner sluts, it’s because they didn’t listen to God’s rules of the game of life. But maybe we should talk about these rules for the game of life (henceforth abbreviated as GRGOL, because typing it out one more time might make me throw up. How does this guy have a regular column somewhere and I don’t?).

The Bible is full of contradictory information when it comes to marriage. In the book of GRGOL, Paul tells us in Corinthians to not bother getting married, and to only get married if we can’t stop ourselves from having sex (which we also shouldn’t do). On the other hand, plenty of people had multiple wives and that was considered awesome. Something GRGOL doesn’t address? What marriage actually is. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that marriage is a trip to the county courthouse, sharing your bank accounts, and dragging down your SO’s chances for credit approval with your shitty score and student debt.

But let’s say that the American idea of marriage is what GRGOL had in mind. What other evidence do we have to support the idea that marriage is the best?

– In marriages, male-female ratios of violence are roughly equal – with women and men just as likely to initiate violence against their spouses. However, in cohabiting relationships, men are far more likely to initiate violence.

Is your man beating you? Get engaged, it’ll end as soon as you’re legal! Though…maybe that’s not really what’s going on. Turns out, married immigrant women are about 10% more likely to report being abused than unmarried immigrant women living with a partner. Also turns out, women who are married generally don’t like to report their husband as an abuser.  But hey. You want to pretend that marriage stop violence, let’s take a look at the DOJ’s Intimate Partner Violence study:

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 10.50.21 PM

Looks like the safest thing you can do is get married and not have kids, since bearing kids is obviously what makes women become victims of violence.

– Married people typically earn more and save more than their unmarried counterparts – whether cohabiting or single.
– The poverty rate for children living in married households is 6%. It is 31% for children living with a cohabiting father and mother.

Lots of studies have been done to figure out why unmarried people make more than married people. Some theorize that those who are married are looked at by their employer as more responsible, and given raises or promotions that are influenced by that (think: you’re a prick boss that only believes in your version of GRGOL. John is married with kids, Greg lives with his whore girlfriend in sin. Who do you layoff first?). Another idea is that just like more attractive people are better off in the work place, they are also more likely to find a partner. Or, if you come from money and are set up to be in a higher income bracket yourself, your family might be more traditional. Or…tax deductions (because if getting married to end abuse isn’t enough, tax deductions should be). But in the vein of the second point up there, if you’re in a lower income bracket…it often makes sense to not get married as your combined income may cause you to lose benefits. That doesn’t mean that you’re poor because you’re unmarried; it means you’re unmarried because you’re poor. I’m presumably in the minority of people who are looking to permanently cohabit without getting married, but this guy is pretending there is some magic going on. Living together in sin? $12k a year for you! Signed that legal document? Bam!! $65k!

– A married man will spend about eight more hours a week doing household chores than his shacking-up peer.

Assuming that is even true outside of the one study he referenced/that I could find, you’d think it’d be true all of the time. Because marriage = man cleaning, nothing else should matter. Except this study, covering 5 European countries, which found “that cohabiting couples have a more egalitarian division of labour but that there are important country differences.” Maybe there are other things at play here than marriage?

I hate to write about a guy writing about a book I haven’t read, but over and over it’s clearly the same mistakes: thinking marriage is the problem solver. Do you want the real solution to save family life? Find your person, move in together, get married if you want. Make sure they’re the right person, that you’re compatible in your goals and way of life (kids, no kids, city, country, whatever). Enjoy your time together, work hard to make it work, don’t cheat, don’t hit each other, and don’t give a shit who has what jewel on what finger.

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Last Words: I Can’t Breathe / Why Did You Shoot Me / It’s Not Real / Mom, I’m Going to College

For as long as I can remember, I’ve campaigned to end the war on drugs. It’s caused increased violence, a loss of rights, and increased addiction. I’ve kept up on the “isolated incidents” resulting in the death of people and/or their pets, of the ruined lives. But yesterday both my heart and my faith in the American justice system shattered. It isn’t often I feel completely helpless. I’m so sorry for the family of Eric Garner; for all the families of those who have been killed by police. It’s obviously sad when anyone has their life come to an end, but to be killed by those we have chosen to protect is a tragic betrayal. If we’re supposed to trust the police to not harm us, why isn’t there the same level of accountability for them as there is for us?

At this point, whether or not Michael Brown’s hands were up has become irrelevant. The death of Brown has sparked a movement that is larger than one single action. So many people who are content with the status quo of militarized police operations are quick to point out that he was a thug, a criminal — and strong armed robbery means you deserve to be killed. If you believe that, nothing I can say or do can change your mind. That is part of who you fundamentally are. What I can teach you is that the issue is much larger than one incident. It is an American problem, and given racial and social prejudices, it is a problem that manifests itself in the black community.

If you’re uncomfortable talking about how this is a race problem, let’s start by talking about how this is a militarized police problem. This is nothing new.  Michelle Alexander wrote in The New Jim Crow:

According to the Cato Institute, in 1997 alone, the Pentagon handed over more than 1.2 million pieces of military equipment to local police departments. Similarly, the National Journal reported that between January 1997 and October 1999, the agency handled 3.4 million orders of Pentagon equipment from over eleven thousand domestic police agencies in all fifty states. Included in the bounty were “253 aircraft (including six- and seven-passenger airplanes, UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-1 Huey helicopters, 7,856 M-16 rifles, 181 grenade launchers, 8,131 bulletproof helmets, and 1,161 pairs of night-vision goggles.” A retired police chief in New Haven, Connecticut, told the New York Times, “I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted.”

Now let’s pretend for a moment that every non-indicted officer that killed a black civilian actually was within his or her rights. If officers are using their discretion and aiming to injure whites when they are also within their right to shoot to kill, then they are doing something wrong.

On the right is Dan Bilzerian. On the left is NOT Mike Brown. But that picture was used to convince people Brown was a thug. Hmm...
On the left is Dan Bilzerian. On the right is NOT Mike Brown. But that picture was used to convince people Brown was a thug. Hmm…

Michael Brown was not shot over stealing cigarillos,and it’s misrepresentative to say that the robbery led to the shooting (and this includes people on my side, saying life is worth more than cigarillos). Depressingly, I’ve heard many people say that if you don’t engage in strong armed robbery (or whatever crime it is when speaking of other individuals), you won’t have anything to worry about. I’ve read countless tweets, comments, etc from people: “I don’t commit robbery, so I don’t care about this issue.“ These people are most definitely saying that if the people who commit these crimes end up being shot, then whatever. Everyone that posted that stupid picture of Joda Cain holding a glock, with money in his mouth and liquor to his side, saying it was Brown and that he wasn’t really innocent, is guilty of this. People act like prior criminal acts make it a-ok when someone is shot. Hell, I’ve got a nolle prossed assault charge that could easily be found if the cops gunned me down. But one assault charge does not mean I deserve to die. 

I have read every single page of the grand jury documents. I cycled on this: first I was fully on Brown’s side, as evidence came out I was middle of the road, then when the docs were released I thought I might end up on Wilson’s side. Nope. After it was all said and done, thousands of pages later, I have questions. Maybe it was self defense, maybe it wasn’t. We will never know, and that is the problem. Sure, murder is a legal term and cannot be correctly applied without a trial — but in the vernacular, we use the term more loosely than in the court room. And I’m not buying an “accident.” Not for Eric Garner, not for Aiyana Jones, not for Oscar Grant. Careless, reckless endangerment of human life is a better way to say it than accident. You know what is fucking bull shit? Look at Cory Maye, who was home during a no knock raid on the duplex next door to his. Trying to protect his 2 year old daughter, he killed one of the cops that intruded into his home without announcing himself. HE was convicted of murder and sentenced to death row until, years later, the media got ahold of his story and drew attention to it. If the legal standard for murder is shooting an unannounced intruder in your home, then I think we’re safe to apply it pretty liberally when someone is laying face down on the ground without a weapon and gets shot through the lungs (Grant).

Even if it’s just that accidents are happening, it’s important to hold the police to the same letter of the law that we hold civilians. What message does it send to the community when a cop gets 11 months for shooting someone he knows isn’t armed on the BART platform, but a father exercising his 2nd amendment right and protecting his home gets sent to death row? What message is sent when a cop, 6 seconds after announcing his arrival for a raid, fires his gun into the lower level of the duplex he’s supposed to be raiding, and one of his shots lands in a child’s brain — and he’s simply charged with a misdemeanor? When the fucking MAYOR of Berwyn Heights has his dogs shot in front of him during a botched drug raid, and the PG County PD official response is “We’ve apologized for the incident, but we will never apologize for taking drugs off our streets. Quite frankly, we’d do it again. Tonight.” What message does it send when a cop throws a flash grenade into a baby’s playpen and isn’t charged with anything, while the child is forever disfigured?

CheyeCalvo
Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo

At the end of the day, human life is precious. There are certainly instances where force is justified, where it’s necessary. But it’s alarming to me that so many people seem to be okay with the notion that fatally shooting a civilian isn’t a last resort. We work to demonize the dead: you are not defined by your rap sheet, or by the ounce of pot found in your house during a drug raid that results in your own death, or by a photo of you holding stacks of hundreds. Even if you were, cops don’t get to play judge, jury, and executioner.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Share your protest stories in the comments. Title inspired by this video. 

The Most Offensive Thing About the Term Redskins? Everyone Pretending to be Offended

Newsflash: No one actually gives a shit about racism against Native Americans. People are jumping on the anti-Redskins bandwagon and crying about how offensive the term is, and then ignoring all of the other incredibly offensive things Americans do to Native Americans. If you’re actually offended by the term, you need to demonstrate that by doing more than hating an already largely hated sports team. It’s easy to dislike a football franchise from another city, but it’s more difficult to actually want to change things you like or policies that are inherently racist.

Remember when Etsy decided to ban everything Redskins? From their blog:

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist….We understand that fans wish to support their favorite football team, and we do not believe that fans who are attached to the mascot have any racist feeling or intent. We also understand that some fans view the name and mascot as an homage to Native Americans, and we do not doubt their noble intent, but the fact remains that Native Americans themselves find the term unacceptable.

Okay, cool.  If Native Americans find it offensive then it is offensive and should be removed. So…why can you still buy elaborate handmade headdresses on Etsy? Didn’t we decide that headdresses are offensive over and over and over again?

I find it incredibly hypocritical that the same people crying over the Redskins take the time to celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  Do you know how you feel about going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for? That nice fuzzy feeling of tradition and happiness? That’s what all of those Redskins fans feel 16 days a year. Do you protest Columbus Day as an official holiday on the calendar? If not, get your shit together before you start protesting FedEx and every other brand affiliated with the Skins.

I guess I can go to Redskins games when I’m home in DC, and then assuage my white guilt by gambling at WinStar when I’m home in Dallas.

Totally not offensive
Totally not offensive
Not offensive
Moderately offensive
Mega fucking offensive
Mega fucking offensive

If You Don’t Teach Your Kids About Safe Sex, I Can’t Wait For You to be a Grandfather Before Your Kids Can Drive

Are you waiting until marriage to have sex? Good for you! Unless we’re close enough for you to tell me about you having sex, please don’t tell me about how you aren’t getting laid (I’m an equal opportunist kill joy). But for the love of God, do not tell me that you won’t be teaching your children about safe sex.

Shout out to one of my very astute readers for sending me this gem: I Will Not Teach My Kids About Safe Sex Because There is No Such Thing (also, you kind of suck because I have since wasted hours of my life reading this guy’s blog). The blog author, Matt Walsh, makes two key points: if you are having casual sex, you aren’t having good sex (indeed, only those who have been married for many years have good sex), and teaching your kids about condoms is like telling them to drink and drive, as long as they buckle their seatbelts. Oh. Okay. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Matt can’t be on Facebook during bikini season.

The ‘safe sex’ model, however, tells a sterilized and paranoid story. It says, “this is something so frivolous and so joyless that you can do it with whoever, for whatever reason, even if just to alleviate boredom. By the way, though it is just a recreational activity, like Parcheesi or air hockey, it can also lead to broken hearts, chlamydia, pregnancy, and AIDS. So, in that sense, it’s a little different from a board game. Hey, let’s look at some super-magnified images of genital warts!”
Does it really, though? What shitty fucking parents have you met, Matt? I don’t know anyone who was raised this way. Do you guys?
 
Imagine the college students who have to chug 6 rum cocktails and 8 Natty Lights between them before they can anonymously copulate in someone’s dorm room.
Why do we say that these people enjoy sex? The man who makes love to his wife of 20 years enjoys sex; these people only enjoy certain physical sensations.
Oh. I forgot how often I hear about people being together for 20 years and still humping like rabbits. Isn’t that kind of not the norm? Also, what’s with the extremes here? 20 years of marriage vs. a drunken one night stand? Quite frankly, Matt, just as I’m in no position to comment on what it’s like to be married for 20 years, you clearly aren’t qualified to comment on what it’s like for people to have sex outside of marriage.
 
We tell young people to wear condoms to protect against ailments like hepatitis and AIDS. The obvious insinuation here is that there is a ‘safe’ way to fornicate with a diseased stranger.
I don’t have much to say here other than how awesome is it to refer to sex this way? Men can carry HPV even if they are virgins so I feel like this invalidates the entire argument.
 
Sex itself isn’t safe. On the other hand, committed relationships, fortified by the vows of marriage and reaffirmed daily by both spouses, are safe — and it is only in this context that the inherent vulnerability of sex can be made secure and comfortable.
I don’t plan on ever getting married, because I don’t believe in bringing the government into my relationship. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! Does this mean I’ll never really love someone or be loved the way Matt think it’s supposed to happen? Government contract? Good to go. Loving and committed relationship? DISEASED STRANGER SLUT.
 
Throughout the first part of the article, I was clinging to the hope that this guy meant he was going to teach his children abstinence as a moral goal, but would still teach them how to use birth control. Nope – hope those little rugrats don’t end up like me, never wanting to have children, even when they are married to someone.
 
 

Now, I know you’ll tell me that we have to be realistic. Kids will have sex, so shouldn’t we at least make sure they’re prepared for it?
To answer that question I have a few of my own:
You don’t want your kid to drink and drive, but if he did, you’d prefer he wear a seatbelt, right? Well, would you ever say to him: “junior, I know you’re going to drink and drive. You shouldn’t, but everyone does. So just wear your seatbelt”?

Say what? I’d say it’s actually more like telling your child you don’t want them to drink, but a lot of kids do drink. So if they decide to have alcohol in high school (despite you teaching them about the dangers of alcoholism and binge drinking, legal consequences, etc.), under no circumstances should they drink and drive. It’s dangerous, it’s unforgivable. It can result in loss of life for multiple people, it can result in severe property damage, etc.
If you have sex – despite the physical and emotional dangers I have taught you, children – you need to wear a condom. I don’t know what the sexual equivalent of drinking and driving is for parents talking to teenagers. Maybe bukaki?

Oh wait! A direct contradiction!

And abstinence before marriage has a better way to deal with the bad things — it tells you about gonorrhea and herpes and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but it assures you that you don’t need to live in fear of these things if you simply wait for the right time.

Oh. So you will tell them these things can happen, but you won’t tell them how to prevent them? And any unwanted fetus that I find inside me (ring or not), has gotta go. I guess these kids will have to get married and procreate IMMEDIATELY. Shit like this is how kids develop the idea that putting Sprite in your vagina works as birth control.

I’m not a psychologist, but if you spend so much time telling your children to define their self worth and identity on the state of sticking things up their hoohah, what do you tell you tell them if they’re date raped or when lose their identity when they’re married or if they just “mess up” and have sex? If I was from a family that felt so strongly about abstinence that my dad was writing blog posts about my chastity, I’d probably run away if I had sex and got knocked up.

And odds are pretty fucking good these kids are gonna be having some babies (what’s up, Bristol Palin). Abstinence only education consistently fails. And coming from a religious stand point, the Bible says we shouldn’t have sex AT ALL but if we do we ought to be married. And do you know why, Matt? Paul says that we should be married because we’re gonna bang anyway, so we might as well be married. 

I leave you all with 1 Corinthians 7:1-9. Kinda cheapens the “don’t say they’re gonna do it anyway!” argument.

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time,so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satanwill not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

 

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The Problem With Little White Girls Volunteering for Things They Don’t Know How to Do

Dear Pippa Biddle,

I recently saw your blog post about “voluntourism” and it irritated me enough to want to respond. I promise to talk about myself and my experiences as much as you did, and maybe together we can make some kind of conclusion – a part of writing that you kind of skipped out on.

I remember when I went to Moore, OK and no one hated me.
I remember when I went to Moore, OK and I don’t have any guilt over going.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones.

Ah, okay. This is the obligatory sentence about the evils of whitey that justifies the headline. Well, in high school I worked almost full time at Alexandria Buick Pontiac GMC. I was one of the only white people in the dealership, FWIW.

$3000 bought us a week at an orphanage, a half built library, and a few pickup soccer games, followed by a week long safari.

$3000 would probably have bought my friends and me a shit ton of Grey Goose and maybe a weeklong beach trip. However, my public high school definitely taught me I shouldn’t start sentences with dollar signs. This isn’t a Ke$ha song.

Our mission while at the orphanage was to build a library.

My mission at Buick was to build a better car buying experience.

Turns out that we, a group of highly educated private boarding school students were so bad at the most basic construction work that each night the men had to take down the structurally unsound bricks we had laid and rebuild the structure so that, when we woke up in the morning, we would be unaware of our failure. It is likely that this was a daily ritual. Us mixing cement and laying bricks for 6+ hours, them undoing our work after the sun set, re-laying the bricks, and then acting as if nothing had happened so that the cycle could continue.

Turns out that I, as a high school student who skipped math and psych class regularly, was not qualified to save GM from going bankrupt.
Look, Pippa, I don’t even know where to start here – likely because your sentence was so fucking long I got confused.
Turns out that you, as a group of presumably rich high school students with no background in manual labor, weren’t qualified TO FUCKING BUILD HOUSES???? No. Freaking. Way.
What “men” were doing this?? The men that organized your trip? Local men that worked alongside you? I don’t know, because you never tell us.
And how do you know that this was happening? Your only evidence is that you were unaware and “it [was] likely.” That isn’t exactly the strongest argument I’ve ever heard.

Basically, we failed at the sole purpose of our being there. It would have been more cost effective, stimulative of the local economy, and efficient for the orphanage to take our money and hire locals to do the work, but there we were trying to build straight walls without a level.

Basically, if your sole purpose of volunteer work is to build a structure and not to have a lasting impact on people’s lives, you’re doing it wrong.
Basically, if your sole purpose was to do something you had no experience doing, you’re ridiculously naïve.
Basically, if your budget was such shit that no one bought a level, you should really take this up with the organization that sent you.

That same summer, I started working in the Dominican Republic at a summer camp I helped organize for HIV+ children. Within days, it was obvious that my rudimentary Spanish set me so far apart from the local Dominican staff that I might as well have been an alien.

So you went to Tanzania to build a library, and then you went to the Dominican Republic to help HIV+ children? You don’t speak Spanish, and I assume you don’t speak Swahili (what the hell did your fancy education even get you?). Where is the consistency or your passion? You’ve made it clear that helping people wasn’t your priority in Tanzania…just building a library. You don’t bring skilled work to the table, you don’t have a medical background, you don’t speak another language…why aren’t you picking a region you care about or a task you care about and focusing on that?
My background is in Arabic. I majored in it in college (along with Middle East Studies), and I minored in French. I continue my education now with conferences and independent research on the region. I have many friends from the region, and I’ve traveled extensively. I have an understanding of certain countries and their cultures (Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan) from my studies, my travels, and my friends. If I had the ability, I would go to Lebanon and help out with Syrian refugees, even if just for a week…but I likely wouldn’t do any volunteer work in Tanzania or the Dominican Republic.

However, I have stopped attending having finally accepting that my presence is not the godsend I was coached by non-profits, documentaries, and service programs to believe it would be.

This is the only sentence in your entire post that you place blame in the correct place.

It turns out that I, a little white girl, am good at a lot of things. I am good at raising money, training volunteers, collecting items, coordinating programs, and telling stories. I am flexible, creative, and able to think on my feet. On paper I am, by most people’s standards, highly qualified to do international aid. But I shouldn’t be.

It turns out that you, as a little white girl, aren’t actually listing any qualities that would make you good at volunteering in developing nations. The Peace Corps has its fair share of problems, but I would wager it’s considered the standard for international volunteer work…and what you just named has nothing to do with what they’re looking for. Instead, they list things like “those with specialized skills” and “Spanish or French” speaking abilities. Last I checked honkies can speak French and have specialized skills. Even the little folk. Even the ones with vaginas.

Before you sign up for a volunteer trip anywhere in the world this summer, consider whether you possess the skill set necessary for that trip to be successful. If yes, awesome. If not, it might be a good idea to reconsider your trip. Sadly, taking part in international aid where you aren’t particularly helpful is not benign. It’s detrimental. It slows down positive growth and perpetuates the “white savior” complex that, for hundreds of years, has haunted both the countries we are trying to ‘save’ and our (more recently) own psyches.

Pippa, why is your only blame on the people who just want to help? Why is your knee jerk reaction to talk about white savior complexes, instead of focusing on the crappy organizations that accept these kids into their programs? The organizations that don’t make an effort to match people up with something that they could actually connect to? At NO POINT here have you backed up your claims of white people being the problem. I suppose on your little high school trip the black girl rocked it and was totally effective? If not, how can you call this white savior complex? How do you explain her? What the fuck issues do you have?

I’m sorry you didn’t find whatever you were looking for on your trips, and I’m sorry that your private boarding school didn’t produce a better writer.

 

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