So. This one is going to be really hard to read.

It will also be really hard to write.  In light of recent developments at Baylor University (which I mostly learned about by following Jessica Luther @scATX on Twitter – here’s her latest article, co-authored by Dan Solomon – http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/end-art-briles-era/ ), I’ve been thinking a lot about rape on college campuses.  Whether it’s reported, who is to blame, what happens when it is reported.

So I went to Cosmo’s website to see what they have on the topic, since this is, after all, a (usually) funny blog about my random subscription to Cosmo.  They have a lot.  But I picked this one to talk about.

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/college/a55654/what-no-one-understands-about-campus-rape/

Read both of those, and come back.  Or don’t if you suspect what’s coming and would rather not know.  It’s your choice, and I understand completely if you don’t want to keep reading.  I wasn’t sure I was even going to talk about this, but I’m tired of remaining silent.  I wish I’d spoken up a bit over 21 years ago when I was 18 years old, but I didn’t.  For many of the reasons you see in the Cosmo article.  And because as you see in the article about Baylor, nothing lasting may come of it so why expose yourself, no pun intended.  So I remained silent.  A few friends know.  Most have no idea.  My parents didn’t even know until I called to tell them I was writing about this before I published it.  I owed that to them, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell them sooner. I might be a different person today if I’d told someone who would have fought for me.  But nobody should tell me they’re sorry.  Remember that, fam.  You didn’t do it.  You have no reason to be sorry.  Just like I have no reason to feel ashamed.

In 1994, I went to Michigan State University for college.  I was a 17 year old freshman, and I didn’t know many people there.  I had been accepted into the Color Guard for the Michigan State University Marching Band (they only march percussion and brass – flute wasn’t an option, though I would have rocked it if they marched woodwinds as well), so I kind of had an automatic group of “friends” who I felt comfortable with.  Band nerds like me.  There was actually another girl from my high school in the Color Guard, but we weren’t close friends.  I regret that now.  I got to school a week early to start practices (which were brutal and long – people talk about the freshman 15 meaning they gain weight, but I’m pretty sure I lost at least that much), and I quickly forgot that I didn’t really know anyone.  I turned 18 at some point during those early days, and I kept making more friends.

There were occasional parties after practices, often with members of the drum line, and because the internet wasn’t really a thing back then, I didn’t know why there were always groups of guys at these parties that I never saw at practices.  You’ve heard of groupies, but groupies for marching band?  That were dudes?

If you google Michigan State University Marching Band hazing, you’ll understand why I’d never seen them before.  They’d been kicked out of the band.  I’ll wait if you want to google.

At one of these parties shortly after our first game (we probably lost, that team was terrible), I was offered a beer, and I declined because I didn’t like beer (oh young me, beer is good!  But it was probably shitty cheap keg beer, so who knows).  So one of the guys I didn’t recognize offered me a drink that what I now realize was probably a vodka with fruit punch.  Pretty gross, but I was 18, what did I know?  My friend Megan* (name changed) ran over and told me to stay away from him and dragged me away.   “Stay away from Matt*.  He’s bad news.”

I listened, and we went on our merry way, drinking wine coolers and dancing around the party.  A couple of hours and a few wine coolers later, I was talking to this guy Brad*, and he asked me if I wanted to go talk somewhere a little more quiet.  I knew him from the drum line and figured, sure why not, he’s cute, I know him, it’ll be totally fine.  Megan actually gave me a thumbs up as we went back to his room.

Here’s your last chance to quit reading.  I figure you’re all in at this point, but I’m giving you an out just in case.

We were making out, as the kids call it, and he asked if I was a virgin. I said it wasn’t his business, and he laughed and we kept kissing.  I laughed a little, and I should have left then, but I knew him.  He wasn’t a bad guy.  He asked again if I was a virgin, and I thought about telling him I was, but I just said “I don’t want to do that.”  I will never forget that moment.  I will also never forget what happened next.  I tried to run out of the room, but he grabbed me, pulled my short skirt up around my waist, and pinned me to the bed.  I yelled at him to stop it more than a few times, but the music from the party was loud, and I was yelling through tears by this point.

The door opened, and I thought I was going to be okay.  That someone was coming to save me.  They weren’t.  It was the guy I didn’t recognize, but I remembered his name.  “Matt, help me please,” I screamed.  I won’t go into details, other than to say that he did not save me as I lay there sobbing and trying to get away.

I had been drinking.  I was flirting.  I went into Brad’s room willingly.  I kissed him.  I was wearing a short skirt and a halter top.  I still own the halter top.  Every time I clean out my dresser, I think about throwing it away, but I keep it.  As a reminder that what I was wearing wasn’t the problem.  I said no, many times, but by the time Matt came into the room, it was a moot point.  My life was forever changed.

I went into the bathroom and washed my face, doing my best to fix my makeup and my hair, trying to stop crying, adjusting my skirt, trying to pull my shirt to cover more of me.  I was ashamed.  I was embarrassed.  But I couldn’t admit what happened to anyone.  I didn’t want to be that girl.

I went back into the party, and Matt gave Brad a high five as I walked into the room.  I went and found Megan and told her I needed to go home.  She asked me what happened – had I been crying?  I just want to go home, okay?

Life went on, classes and practices, and a few days later, Sarah* asked me what happened at the party because Megan told her that something had happened but she wasn’t sure what.  So I told her and said I didn’t know who to tell.

“Nobody.  You’re not telling anyone.  You were drinking.  You were dressed like that?  What did you expect?”

I was shocked.  Someone I trusted and considered to be a friend didn’t believe me.  She believed that I’d gotten drunk and laid back and let two men have sex with me when I didn’t want to have sex.  I was 18 years old and suddenly I didn’t know who to trust.  If I choose to willingly have sex with two men in one night, I’ll own up to it.  I might not tell you about it, but if you find out and ask?  I’ll own up to it, but I’m now 39 years old and pretty much have no shame.  When I was 18?  Having sex with anyone I’d just met at a party wasn’t going to happen and rape was something that happened to other people.  I didn’t even call what happened to me “rape.”  I’m not sure I called it anything, but I knew it didn’t feel right.

I told her I was scared of Brad and seeing him again at practice, and she said she’d take care of it.  “I mean, really, dressed like that and you were drunk?  What did you expect?”  I sure as shit didn’t expect what happened, or I would have stayed home.  I came from a high school relationship of respect and taking care of each other as best a couple of high school kids can.  I came from having sex with someone who was respectful of me and who was so gentle and kind, although our relationship fizzled out because long distance phone calls were expensive and he didn’t live in East Lansing.  But my sexual history didn’t matter in that situation.  I didn’t tell her any of this and asked what I should do.  She said she’d take care of it.

I didn’t believe her and went to an assistant band director.

“You know what’s happened here the last couple of years, right?  We don’t need this publicity.  Were you drunk?”

Does that matter?

 

Were. You. Drinking.  Answer me.  I told him that I had been, and he asked if I’d told anyone.  I was horrified and embarrassed and ashamed.  I was a whore.  A slut.  Someone who deserved  exactly what I’d gotten and who was terrified of being kicked out of the band because I reported something.  Because I admitted I was drinking.  “If you were drinking, you’re subject to expulsion from the band and even the school.”

So I let it go.  I couldn’t get kicked out of school for underage drinking.  I stayed in the band and finished the season.  I didn’t go to any more band parties.  I wasn’t popular anymore.  Maybe because I was used.  Maybe because they were warned by a guy on the drum line who I told what happened and who told them to leave me alone.

Shortly thereafter, I met a guy who became my boyfriend.  He turned out to be a terrible person in the long run, and one night at a party at his house, who walks in but Matt.  Yeah, that guy.  I left and went home to my dorm and cried.  I didn’t join the band again and instead joined a sorority my sophomore year of college.  I met some great people.  I’m not friends with any of them because for a long time I just wanted to forget that time in my life, and well, because I push people away.  I don’t trust people.  I’m sure you’re all lovely.  But I don’t trust you as far as I could throw you, and I don’t even have a bad knee.

And now I’m 39 going on 40 in a few months.  I still don’t trust people, but I’m trying.  I’m coming out with this because I have friends who have daughters and sons who are getting close to college age.  If she says no?  She means it.  If he says no?  He means it.  I’m not sure how you talk to your kid about this because it’s awkward.  But most importantly for everyone?  If it isn’t yours and someone says no?  Just fucking stop.

 

How long does it take for a burn?

I could make a “that’s what she said,” joke about needing some lube or whether you need to be seen by a doctor, but I won’t.  Except I think I just did.  So there you go.

Sorry, but I’m stuck on this Cosmo article about skin.  I’ll make a real apology when you start really wearing your sunscreen. Not gonna do it?  I’m gonna keep talking about this insanely boring article/subject.  So here we go.

Freckles are cute, right?  Sure.  But more freckles mean you’re more pasty, mean you wear more sunscreen (except some of you don’t), mean let’s talk about moles.  Cosmo says people with melanoma tend to have few moles.  Hold on.  I’ve got to catch my breath.  People with melanoma have few moles.  OH GOD this is great.  Wait.  These aren’t moles.  THEY’RE ALL CANCER BECAUSE IF COSMO SAYS . . .

I need to take a deep fucking breath here.  This might be true in some cases.  Maybe I’m an anomaly (lucky me!). I have a lot of moles.  Not the annoying ones to dig a sprinkler system in your yard, minus the sprinklers.  If you’re one of the lucky few to have seen me naked (I promise it’s a treat, but if you’re not interested, I’ll put on clothes and make dinner or something – I’m a pretty good cook), you know that I’m kind of spotty.  And if you’ve been with me naked and haven’t noticed, well, I wasn’t exactly looking at your skin that closely either.  You know those pictures of models you see with flawless skin on their backs all the way down to their, well, I’m sure they’re lovely, but I’m not that girl.

As I said, I’m spotty.  From head to toe.  I generally see my dermatologist twice a year, more often when she finds something weird, so I see her kind of a lot.  Yep, a lady sees me naked a lot and it’s not even a little bit sexy.  Especially when she asks if she can bring students in to see the removal. I usually don’t mind but I’ll never forget the time I was laying half naked on a table while a chunk of skin was being taken off of my ass.  One of them said, “it’s a big one, did you get it all?”

“I hope she did because I’m sure you you aren’t going to get to watch again if she didn’t,”

Laughter all around, but I wanted to die.  I wasn’t being funny, and the doctor assured me later that she talked to him about things that you do NOT say in the room.  I asked her to tell him that there are some things you don’t do or say and to have a little fucking compassion, and she promised me that she’d bring it up with him.  Note – when I went back to have the stitches out, there was a group of medical students around, some of who (I feel like whom is the correct word here, but I don’t have an editor, and I don’t know) I recognized.  He wasn’t there.

ANYWAY. Enough about me.  ON TO THE REST OF THE ARTICLE!

Does getting a base tan help?

There’s a long answer in the magazine – buy it if you want to know what they have to say.  Short answer?  NO.

Is it okay if I only tan once or twice a year?

NO.  Don’t fucking do it.  If we’re friends, I may unfriend you for this.  I’ve had very angry conversations with my parents about this.  They quit doing it.  Or they lie to me.  One of those.

Which is worse – going to a tanning bed or laying out in the sun?

Bottom line?  Both are bad, but tanning beds are worse, IMO.  People who go to tanning beds aren’t putting on sunscreen before they go in (though NGL, I went to a tanning bed when I was in high school and college – I KNOW – and a few times, I wore sunscreen), and if they’re out in the sun, they might.Either way?  I just told you to not go to a tanner.  Don’t make me tell you twice. Or a fourth time, or however many times I’ve told you now.

If I have one type of skin cancer, can I get another?

Yep.  And if you’ve had one, you’re more likely to get another.Also at an increased risk for other cancers.  :buzzkill:

Does water resistant sunscreen work?

Yep.  It does. Read what the tube says and reapply before the low end of the time that it’s resistant for.  If you’re alone at a beach or pool, find a Mom with kids and ask her if she can put some on your back.  Have spray sunscreen or ask if she can spray you with hers.  If you’re a dude?  Just don’t be a creeper – explain that you know about sun damage and want to reduce your risk.  I’m not a Mom, but I’ve actually put sunscreen on strangers in three states – Illinois, Florida, and Hawaii.

How often do I need a skin check?

You?  Get looked at if you haven’t already.  Me?  At least once a year if not twice, and probably more than that.

Where am I most likely to get skin cancer?

Cosmo says on your legs because you’re (you being lady- type people) not good about putting sunscreen on there.  My melanoma was on my ass and my back.  Places that have never seen the sun.  When I’m planning on being in the sun, I put on sunscreen while I’m naked.  About and ounce and a half covers me.

And should I wear sunglasses?

YES YOU SHOULD.  Protect your eyeballs, friends.  Cancer of the eyes and eyelids are real things.  And not just in the summer.  Wear them in the winter.  Wear them anytime you might need them.

Wear your sunscreen.  Or don’t.

I’m not going to lie, I still love being out in the sun, which is why I wear so much sunscreen – I’ve already had (been diagnosed with?) melanoma, so I’ll get it again, it’s just a matter of when and where.  It’s kind of the irony (or not at all ironic, depending on your definition, thanks Alanis) of hating the cold and loving the heat.

How much do you know about the skin you’re in?

Presumably your skin is right there on your body, but Cosmo isn’t sure you know much about your skin, so they want to talk to you about it.  It’s an article about not getting skin cancer.  I cannot wait to read this.  I know I’ve delivered a whole lot of hate on this magazine, but here is their chance to redeem themselves.

Why do I care so much, you ask?  If you know me outside of this blog, you probably already know.  But I’ll tell you anyway in case you don’t know the history.

Sometimes your doctor calls and rather than saying hello she says, “I have good news, and bad news, which do you want first?”  Literally she didn’t say hello.  I mean, I know she knows my voice (she’s been my dermatologist for about 15 years now, and we see each other kind of a lot), but holy shit, lady, you’re scaring me.  We’ve talked on the phone a lot after appointments, and she’s always just said “pre-cancerous” or “good that we got it before it got bad!”  This time I had to choose.

I chose the bad news first.

You had a melanoma this time.

I quit listening.  I quit hearing anything she was saying, and I know she knew that, but she kept talking.  At some point, I tuned back in and asked for the good news because this news is fucking terrible and I don’t want to talk about it.

“I dug a little deeper and got it all (that explains the ugly scar, but I have a lot of ugly scars).  Clean boundaries. So, yes, cancer, but you’re fine. So you won’t need to follow up before the next three month appointment, but you will need to be extra diligent, Elizabeth.  You will need to wear your sunscreen.  Technically?  You had cancer.  And I’m sorry about that, but we got it, so you will be fine because you will be diligent.”

I feel like I shouldn’t use quotes here, but that is almost exactly what she said.  I am my only advocate at my doctor’s appointments and on the phone so when I talk to her, so I have to pay attention.  I take notes.  And well, this was serious shit.  Bad but not terrible news.  I should, in theory, have an advocate, but that’s a post for another day.

ANYWAY, enough about me, on to Cosmo.  That’s why you’re here, right?

“If I use SPF 15 primer and moisturizer with spf 30, is that like wearing spf 45?”

Oh for fuck’s sake.  NO.  I didn’t even read to see how they answered it.  It’s not.  At best you’ve got 15 on your face, and probably not even that because people don’t use enough sunscreen/lotion when they’re putting it on.

So this article is about sunscreen.  Is it safe to use this that and the other thing?

Spray ~ yes, but avoid your face (never your face says Cosmo), and don’t inhale it.  Duh. And make sure you glisten before you rub it in.  See that thing?  RUB IT IN.  Just spraying isn’t enough.  That’s why it’s my backup.

What sunscreen doesn’t make me break out?  Would you rather have a zit or cancer?  But seriously, Cosmo says to look for products with octisalate. Oil-free, wash your face when you get home, all that nonsense.

Beach umbrellas.  They’re fantastic.  When I vacation somewhere I’ll be at a beach, I tend to buy one and then have to leave it, and I’m totally okay with that. But I don’t expect that it’s actually protecting me from the sun.  I have no idea what Cosmo says on this because I quit reading it.  Wear your goddamn sunscreen.

“My skin is dark, so I don’t wear SPF every day”

Really.  You’ve heard of Bob Marley, right?  The father of reggae?  The guy who died because of skin cancer.  Not lying right now, google it.  People with dark skin die from melanoma.  Put on your goddamn sunscreen, no matter your color or skin tone.

Sunscreen on my head?  HUGE KUDOS to Cosmo for mentioning this.  They talk about sunscreen and gel and keeping your hair from looking greasy.  They also mention wearing a hat.  I suggest the hat.  We look cute in hats.  All of us.  Wear a hat.  It’s good for you.

Holy shit.  A somewhat useful article.  In the sun.  While wearing a hat and sunscreen.

I stand corrected.

~xoxo, elmy

The no-diet beach body

The bit on the cover tells you to eat the pizza, and I love anything that tells me how to get a “beach body” without having to diet.  You can detect the sarcasm, right?  You can’t eat whatever the hell you want and expect that exercise will keep you thin and taut and beautiful like society thinks you should be.  It’s science.  I’ll leave the explanations to the science people, but I will say that without a healthy diet, you’re not going to lose weight, at least not in my experience.  I’ve been incredibly thin, and I’ve been rather fat.  I’m not even sure how I got fat the first time.  I was running marathons.  I was exercising.  Oh wait, it was eating too much.  Anyway, I digress.  I’m in the process of getting thinner, not to get thinner, but to get healthier.  When your doctor tells you that if you keep this up you’re going to have a heart attack and die, you get to it and start eating healthier.

So the article.  I double checked the page number.  Then I checked again.  And again.  Because it doesn’t say a damn thing about getting a beach body or about eating pizza or whatever else you want.  In fact, the title of the article is “The Busy Woman’s Workout.”  They mention how being healthy can help keep you sane and how exercising  can fall by the wayside.  I get that.  I do.  But then they go here: “Your inspo; the very busy, very fit founders of the fashion line and fitness site Carbon38.”  (Cosmo, June 2016 issue, p.94)  My inspo?  WTF is that?  Inspo?  Is inspiration really so hard to spell out?

This is literally just a workout they put together from the people who run a website that is allegedly about fitness and fashion (I didn’t actually seek it out – I’m sure you can google it if you’re really interested).  There are also links to various websites for the clothes the exercise models are wearing.  Not one single mention of diet.  Not even a comment about how to get that beach body and eat all the pizza.

What the fuck, Cosmo?  Sure, exercise is great, and this looks like a great way to get in a quick workout, but not one thing about how many times a week to do it, how to combine it with diet to get better results, nothing actually useful other than that exercise can help keep you sane.  This really isn’t helpful; it’s just a way to use up a couple of pages and promote some rando website that may or may not have paid you to promote them.

Wait.  They’re on to something.  I need to contact companies to see if they want to pay me to promote them on my blog.  So all three of you can visit their website and then not buy anything.  Title 9 is totally going for this, right?  They might even give me some free clothes.  That I might be able to fit into if I continue to eat healthier (the gyro I had for lunch today was delicious, btw) and maybe even start exercising again.

Sorry to those of you who came here looking for helpful sex tips.  Those are in the other posts.  Some of them.  Maybe.  There might also be some things about baseball.  You never know what you’re gonna get here, kids.  You might not be my target audience, but I hope I make you laugh if you land here.  And if you know anyone from Title 9?  Let me know.  I’d love some free yoga pants.

Where to start

My god, the June 2016 issue is a fucking treasure trove of crap.  Summer sex?  How to have more money?  Discover your O-Zone: #ClimaxChangeIsReal!  The No-Diet Beach Body – eat the pizza (though it’s an emoji of pizza, so who knows if you actually get to eat anything).  And some chick I’ve never heard of (Shay Mitchell – her boobs are all in the middle of the page though) is going to give me social tricks that I MUST try ASAP.

Now, I haven’t even opened the front page, so I could be entirely wrong, but it’s Cosmo, so I’m guessing I can skip those social tips.  I’m not much for being social.  When the headline “Find the One” is covered up by the mailing label, and you have to just laugh at the “‘I Took My Boyfriend to a Swingers’ Resort'” SO. MANY. BUTTS.” lede, there’s probably a fair amount of crap in here.  So let’s see what we have here.

 

I’m not gonna lie, the orgasm thing is interesting.  Parents?  Stop reading.  Now.

 

Seriously.  Stop.  If you don’t?  You’ve been warned.

 

Alright, you’ve been warned twice.  Quit reading because here we go.

I was fairly young when I figured out what an orgasm was, and well, my boyfriend in my later years of high school was willing to oblige if I returned the favor.  Thankfully, he was good with a little bit of groping around (or maybe he wasn’t, who knows, I was selfish and made sure I got off first; some things don’t change), so those were a good few months.  He’s since become some kind of religious leader (no, really, he has, though I think he calls it a Reverend where I made it sound like a cult), and I can’t laugh enough when I think back to him saying, “OH MY GOD” and trying to finish when one of my parents was about to come downstairs.

ANYWAY, enough about my teenage sex life, let’s talk about yours.  Oh, you’re just here for the magazine critique.

Well, “Make Vanilla Sex Hotter” is on the first page.  The lede is that some of the hottest is the simplest.  Is simplest a word?  I seriously spent about five minutes looking into this while hoping that the Boston Red Sox would just obliterate the White Sox.  I mean come ON.

Anyway, on to the article.

God, this is so misleading.The writer admits to being a little freaky and up for anything.  This is NOT the average person, in my experience.  But I’ll keep reading.  This person talks about movies that get you hot (Blue Is the Warmest Color or Cruel Intentions for her/him – Wild Orchid or baseball for me, but I’m the weird one?) but also talks about respecting sexual boundaries.  So, yeah.  Of course respect those.  NO means no.  I’m not sure means no.  If you’re not sure?  Stop.

Is there a point to all of this?  Is this an article I should care about?  Let’s see:

  1. get so turned on that you need to do it right .  . . wait a fucking minute.  Who are you with?  Oh, right.  You’re with your partner.  Do it now, do it passionate, just do it.  Wait.  I’m not advertising.  Wear Adidas while you do it.  Whatever.
  2. Oh jesus christ.  Focus on your feelings. I’m feeling like I’m looking for that big O, amirite?  Sometimes you couldn’t give even one fuck about feelings, you just want to, well, fuck, and have an o.  This tells you to focus on each other and not toys.  Focus on what you’re doing and get into it.  The article says something about focusing on your boo, but I’m not down with ghosts, so . . .(I know, I’ll show myself out of my own blog)
  3. Hot sex doesn’t have to be kinky – “I love it when you touch me like that” – uh, okay?Doesn’t have to be, but how fun if it is!
  4. Basically?  Go basic and just fuck.  The freaky stuff is expensive and sometimes you just want to do it.

And?  Yeah. there are a couple of other things: think about times you’ve had mind- blowing sex. and why it was awesome, some shit about a roommate (I’m too  goddamn old to have a roommate) and turning off your cell phone and focus, and wear those cheekie undies.  Now, I don’t know about you, but cheekie underpants make me feel like I’ve got a monster wedgie and need to get it out of my ass RIGHT NOW, so that’s really not sexy unless the goal is to get them off as fast as possible, in which case wearing old ugly undies is gonna have the same result.  I don’t want you to see them, so I’ma get them gone as fast as possible.

So, I guess there are some kind of sort of helpful things in here, but really, still not things I haven’t already figured out without buying a magazine.  Thanks again to whoever bought this for me so that I can be reassured that I’m right.

Oh, and parents?  If you read this?  YOU WERE WARNED.