Sorry for remaining MIA. Hubby and I are dealing with multiple fires on the home front – and making only minimal progress in quelling the flames. However, one daughter may be starting to ‘get it’.
Grace, our college freshman daughter has struggled with fitting into the college experience all year long. I try to impart red pill wisdom and give her Godly counsel whenever possible. It often seems she doesn’t hear anything I am saying. However last week she mentioned she had finally found (I didn’t realize she was even looking) some red pill dating blogs that gave her insight into Hook-Up lies; a good first step. Yesterday she sent me the following essay (emphasis added by me), written by a friend of hers at school. It is encouraging that she is befriending and finding common ground with students willing to stand up against the ‘zero responsibility’ culture and also that she shared it with me, which was poignant since she has gone out of her way to ‘fit in’ and although she has never blamed others for her decisions, I know they go against what she knows is acceptable.
The Endless Attempt to Fit In
The dream was over and in reality I was lying in my small cot in my dark dorm room. The screen of my phone blinded me with a burning white light. I could barely make out the time through my adjusting eyes: 1:47 AM. It was only the third day of freshman orientation week, so I was still pretty uncomfortable with my new living conditions. I noticed the incoming call and after a few muttered curse words, I answered with a breathless and bewildered hello. Apparently, the voice on the other end was telling me that my roommate was so intoxicated that he couldn’t walk and was turning an ashy purple. My initial reaction was “Why should I care?” He was being an idiot and needs to be responsible for his own poor choices. The scene from “Drumline” pops into my head when Nick Cannon is asked why his roommate is late and Cannon replies, “I ain’t his mama.” It’s the same case. I can’t hold his hand through all of his decisions and take him everywhere he needs to go. But I can’t just leave him; I care too much. “Shit” I muttered under my breath as I ran down the stairs in my pajama bottoms, fumbling with a t-shirt as I went. I found him leaned up against the back wall of my dorm, standing in a puddle of his own vomit.
The stench of cheap vodka, stale beer, dried vomit and sweat stopped me right in my tracks. He looked as bad as he smelled, with his eyes bloodshot, his normal tan hue resembling the pale hue of a corpse. I was so scared; I had never been in any situation remotely close to this. My breaths started to get short and shallow, I tried to rack my brain for any sort of tip as to what to do in this situation. I came across the oh-so familiar blue exclamation point on my new wristband. Of course! They warned us that this might happen during the presentations throughout freshman orientation week. So, I did what the bracelet told me to do: call 911. His drunken stupor suddenly snapped as he heard the sirens approaching us. “Why the FOCK would yew call? I’m do . . . I’m . . . I’m fine,” he so eloquently protested to me as he fell on top of me while stifling a belch. As the four firefighters, two R.A.’s, and police officer came down the slope towards us, I felt like a hero. I used what I learned in a high pressure situation and triumphed. With this in mind, I extended a hand out to the firefighter approaching me, expecting a proper congratulations or even key to the city for my heroic actions. As he got closer, I saw the scowl on his face. The firefighter stepped up close to me, looked me up and down, and snarled, “Why the f**k would you call us? We have way more important stuff to do than this.” I was stunned. My mouth was still wide open as he walked away. I looked around to see if anyone was going to say something to me, maybe offer some sort of apology, something that could explain what had just happened. But as I looked around, the firefighters all packed up their stuff and glared at me as they walked by, the R.A.’s went back inside, and my roommate was sitting on the curb with his head between his knees puking. The police officer, seeing the look of sheer shock on my face, said, “Listen kid, you did alright, but we don’t care about alcohol and weed. There is so much worse out there and if this guy isn’t dead or dying, it’s almost a waste of time.” I watched him get in his squad car and drive off.
As I heaved my 6’2″, 190 pound roommate up the stairs to our second floor dorm, I started to think about what had just happened. All the craziness and fear embodied in five words: “Why would you call us?” Why would I call you, I thought to myself, because the freaking bracelet told me to. The bracelet, a grim reminder of the tragedy that struck campus two years earlier in the form of freshman, Jeff Blake. It taught us that death is a harsh reality that can be realized in seconds, anywhere, to anyone — whether that be from a terrible accident or alcohol poisoning on a mattress in a frat house. This bracelet was given to students in an effort to make them aware of how to handle a situation like Jeff’s and how they can avoid it ever happening again. The creators of freshman orientation week have good intentions, but this solution ignores a crucial component to the problem.
Jeff not only died from lack of attention and fear of the students around him, he died from acute alcohol poisoning. He was eighteen years old when he passed away on that frat house mattress, four years under the legal drinking age. The fraternity provided alcohol and Jeff decided to drink it. If they had not peer pressured him to drink for some hazing purpose and if Jeff had decided to not give into that pressure, he would be in his senior year at college and looking towards graduating this summer. If he wasn’t put in the situation in the first place, the frat brothers would have never even been in the moral and ethical dilemma of taking him to a hospital and then accepting their legal and university punishments. But, if Jeff didn’t want to “fit in” so badly that he would make poor decisions, he would be wearing his suit under his cap and gown instead of in his coffin.
The issue on our campus isn’t the fact that students are unaware of how to handle alcohol induced situations, but the fact that students feel pressured to pick up the can of beer or shot glass and make the decision to drink it in the first place. I slammed opened our door, and laid my roommate in his bed. As I walked over to move the trash can close to his head, I caught a glimpse at the clock. It was now 4:08 AM. I shook the sleep from my head and positioned it next to his bed. Again, my eyes were directed to that blue exclamation point on my wrist. I couldn’t help but think of how flawed the wristband was. It is the proper steps needed to handle an alcohol poising situation, but wouldn’t it be better to eliminate the source of the problem? What has made us, as a society confuse settling for a short term solution more acceptable than solving a problem at its source? We don’t only apply this idea of giving into peer pressure and accepting poor decisions as the norm exclusively to alcohol. We use it to solve other serious risks that occur on college campuses. Giving into peer pressure has become standard practice in our culture; when societal practices become so normal that everyone has hopped on the metaphorical bandwagon, everyone on that float peer pressures the rest of the world to give into peer pressure too, and accept their opinion as normal. Our world has given us a lot of these lose-lose situations and we have come to accept the uncommon practice as normal. For example, on campus and in society, we have struggled with sexual assault and date rape for decades. As time goes on, the problem seems to be getting worse.
The National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention states that one out of six women have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their college years. Even more startling, 73% of rapes and sexual assaults were committed by a non-stranger (U.S. Dept. of Justice), someone the victim knew for a few minutes or even a few years prior to the attack! I know my, as well as my classmates, view of date rape has changed drastically in our few years on campus. “Are You DTF?: The Glorification of Sex in the Media and its Effect on College Hook Up Culture” written by a student last year details a friend’s experience of being raped by an acquaintance and how media has been a driving force in glorifying promiscuous and dangerous behavior in society. Her friend never reports the date rape, which isn’t uncommon: 60% of sexual assaults and date rapes are not reported to the police (National Institute of Justice). These stories are all too frequent as it turns out.
As we discussed this article in my Lit class, almost every girl said that they had heard of or been a part of similar situations. And while it is fair to say the media does glorify this awful behavior by encouraging drunken one-night stands, we must also see that these are personal, conscious decisions and we must accept responsibility for our own actions. We put ourselves in these situations. But instead of the author questioning her own behavior, she — along with a majority of our English class — just blows it off. She says at the end of her essay, “It’s a corrupt and emotionally damaging way of life, but hey, you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.” (5). She sees the danger and apparent flaws in her lifestyle choices, but is so caught up with wanting to fit in that she will accept these poor decisions as the norm and will give into the peer pressure around her. She, like most people in society, is willing to put herself in harm’s way every single weekend just to get on the bandwagon. It will all be worth it to be accepted as a cool person like every other partier in college. She will finally be exactly like what she sees on TV. She will have given into the peer pressure of being like everyone else. You can always get a new liver and recover from the internal injuries of a rape, but apparently, we think the wounds of being out casted will never heal. Although it may seem like common knowledge that date rape is illegal, disgusting, and harmful, it still occurs.
By going into schools and teaching children about the horrors of rape and sexual assault? Nope. By using science to figure out what triggers the brain to rape? Nah. We instead teach women to not dress or act in ways that makes them more “rape-able”. We teach women how to not be raped as opposed to teaching men to not rape. We don’t address the real source of the issue; instead we find easier and more palatable targets on which to blame these crimes. As a society, we find ways to escape taking responsibility for our own actions, and instead, validate our poor decisions so that we aren’t seen as wrong or different. These people are so caught up with being accepted that they will do whatever it takes, no matter how dangerous or even stupid, just to fit in. But, at the same time, they don’t want anyone else to think poorly of them for giving into peer pressure, so society glorifies the poor behavior, making it seem cool to be on the band wagon. They are finding other places to put the blame so they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.
God rest Jeff’s soul, but it is a hell of a lot easier for his parents to blame their son’s death on three strangers who elected to not call 911 to avoid getting arrested, than it is to blame their own son for choosing to break the law and put himself in a dire situation. What happened to DARE programs and telling people not to drink or do drugs? What happened to virginity pledges and staying abstinent? I guess they went into that same box in the attic where all the old DARE shirts went when we grew out of them.
It was a fad. And just like all those DARE shirts and red wristbands; we grew out of it. In my middle school it was cool to be against drugs and alcohol! We all just wanted to fit and be accepted. It was what everyone else was doing and believed was right, so it was easy to give into the peer pressure to be accepted. That was what made it okay, everyone was doing it — it was the popular opinion. But, just because something is popular opinion, that doesn’t make it acceptable. Just because a behavior or idea is believed to be right, doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. But, as long as we are accepted by the people on this bandwagon, giving into their peer pressure and doing something that isn’t right is almost worth it. We tend to justify our wrong doings because they are popular opinions–everyone else is doing it, so we should to. But that doesn’t make it okay; ultimately we are making personal decisions and need to take responsibility for that, good or bad. We can’t waste our time ignoring problems in society just because that is the popular opinion at the time.
A problem is a problem, no matter how many people believe it to be right or acceptable. I know that I don’t even remember what DARE stood for anyways, and I had about 15 shirts that I gladly wore to school everyday. I just wanted to be like everyone else. I didn’t want people to think I was different, or even worse, that they were better than me. When did we, as a society, adopt this, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join’em” attitude? We are so caught up in wanting to appear superior, better than just average people, that we will do whatever society peer pressures us to do — whether that be drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol or putting yourself in a situation with a lot of risk. We just want to fit in. It’s what made Jeff take his first sip, it’s what let that girl bring that guy up to her room, and what drove her to put on shorter and shorter dresses every Friday evening. They would be a part of the “in crowd” and finally be accepted.
As long as they were on the band wagon, nothing was their fault. We are college now, training to be the next wave of critical thinkers and leaders of the world. It should be clear that just because an idea is popular, doesn’t mean that it’s right. It does not make a poor choice justifiable. As I laid in my bed listening to the sultry sounds of my roommate emptying his entire stomach into the trash can next to his bed, I recollected everything that happened that night: The way that I had been conditioned to feel responsible for my friends actions, the way I was treated by the emergency personnel, and the way our thinking has been skewed. In the end, we found out that my roommates BAC was .37%, .03% lower than Jeff Blake He was two shots away from being dead. If he had died that night, I would have never let it go, feeling forever responsible. But in hindsight, it wouldn’t be my fault. I believe that we are responsible for our own actions.
We need to stop this act of blaming others for our own mistakes. Just because an action, idea or behavior is believed to be a popular opinion, doesn’t mean that it’s right. At a school like ours, one that breeds critical and individual thinkers, we shouldn’t give into this idea of letting popular opinion control our programs. We should encourage students to be individuals, not to crave conformity. We shouldn’t give our students the tools to be accepted by society, we should give them what they need to be steadfast in their own beliefs. We can’t keep blaming others for our own mistakes. If we make the effort to try and give into societies peer pressure and jump on it’s bandwagon, we can’t pressure others into blaming the pavement for when we fall on our face and get hurt. It’s just like the steps to recover, the first step is admitting that you have a problem.
When I first heard Katie Makkai’s slam poetry piece ‘Pretty’ (I am not posting it here – you can easily google it) I was conflicted. But then … no I’m actually not.
I can agree that Katie Makkai’s piece succeeds in showing her passion about a topic. I’ll give her points for soliciting an emotional response from her audience, which is what slam poetry is supposed to do. But I disagree with her premise and here is why.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with teaching my daughters how to apply makeup and style their hair, nor do I think there is anything wrong in helping them choose clothing that is flattering to their bodies. I don’t think there is anything wrong with encouraging them to maintain their bodies. I do the same for myself, because as a woman I like to feel pretty. There, I said it. I like to feel pretty and I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting (encouraging!) my daughters to feel pretty. Isn’t feeling pretty one of the perks of our sex?
Is there more to it? Of course! And it’s my job to make sure they understand that while it may be the outward that first attracts a man’s attention, it will be what she has to share on the inside that will hold his attention.
A mother’s job is to show our daughters how to be a beautifullydecorated gift that is filled with smiles, laughter and happiness inside. And coincidentally, my daughters have never asked “when I grow up, will I be pretty?” because they’ve been called pretty since birth.
Growing up I never once heard my mom mention her weight or try out a new diet. We ate a variety of food and had a typically stocked pantry that often included Twinkies or a bag of chips. I remember the day distinctly when I first compared myself to a magazine photo. I was a senior in high school. My bestie at the time made the comment “what I wouldn’t give to have her flat stomach” or some similar version in reference to the model. Huh? I tell you the truth, it had never occurred to me to compare myself to the advertisement. My mom, who was comfortable with her own body, was a stronger influence on my own self image than the borage of messages that Katie Makkai’s poem’s hurls at the listener. Let me repeat, my body image was largely shaped by my mother.
I wonder how Katie Makkai’s daughter is going to feel someday
when all the other little girls are allowed to experience pretty pretty princess parties
but she is not allowed to attend. Will her mother’s poem actually solicit
a reverse affect for her daughter? Instead of saying
“you are more than this one word” will her daughter instead believe “she must really think
I am ugly since she won’t even let me attempt to be pretty”.
And just to be clear, I believe the most probable path to happiness and true fulfillment is for my daughters to be wives and mothers. To accomplish that task they will need to do the following:
Sorry Miss Makkai- it’s an old saying,
but you have to get your foot in the door before you can seal the deal!
And while I too hope my daughters will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, and pretty amazing…
they will also go on to be pretty fulfilled as a wives and mothers…with pretty kids, by the way.