violence agains women

On Violence Against Women

violence agains womenThere has been a lot of talk about sexual assault against women lately and how to stop this violence. I am not talking about politics,  this topic is much bigger than that.

Weeks ago I read Sex Object from Jessica Valenti. The book is a memoir that explores sexism and the times the author has been mistreated or violated because of her gender. It includes subtle and not very subtle experiences. From her constant fear to be flashed in the metro, to her more personal experiences with boyfriends and older males.

While reading it, something clicked. I started writing on the back page of the book all the times that I have been objectified or assaulted. I never thought to be angry about this. I saw it as a normal part of life and moved on from there.

Since then, I have brought up the subject at many dinner parties only to find out that most of my female friends have been assaulted in some way or another, too. Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? The good news is that, in these conversations, we also agreed that violence against women is going down. At least in this part of the world. We feel safer.

Jessica Valenti agrees. We have it better than our mothers, and our daughters will have it better than us. Awareness is growing. We have better tools to defend ourselves. Women are more empowered not only in the US, but also where I come from, Latin America.

Lately, there has been a beautiful movement in my country, Chile, and other Latin American countries. It started in Argentina, triggered by a violent case of rape and murder in Mar del Plata, an Argentinian city. People, males and females, decided to take a stand to try and stop violence against women.

Thousands and thousands marched for this cause this past Wednesday. My social media feeds have been inundated with images of the #niunamenos (not one less) hashtag. It is beautiful to see.

As sad as these violent events are, we are taking a stand. We are making a difference. There is no better time to be a woman than the present, and it will only get better thanks to movements like this.

Let’s take my life for example, and the huge differences between what I consider my entitlements and those my mother had. My husband and I, for example, have an equal share of household chores, this includes caring for the children; he thrives when I thrive and wants me to succeed; people and men around me take me seriously; I walk down the street without fear; people are respectful. That is a wonderful way to live, but that is not the way most women live in this world. Let’s not forget.

Violence can come in a lot of shapes and forms. Rape and homicide are horrible extremes, but there are other minor actions that are also hurtful and need to stop.

Growing up, I was assaulted, too. I was groped on the street, metro, and bus. I had men making inappropriate advances against my will, and I was (sometimes) disrespected and mistreated because of being a women. That is not right.

But I don’t want to be angry, because there is hope. I see change happening quickly. In less than 50 years we have come so far .

Talking about violence against women is not easy, but important. Only after sharing my experiences with friends I realized I had the right to feel upset. That these advances and situations should not be considered normal and that we need to do something to stop them. In my opinion, silence is interpreted as guilt. By not sharing our experiences, women carry the burden of actions they are not responsible for. This is wrong and needs to change.

Why don’t we start here? If you care to share your experiences and opinions, I would really like to hear.

Have a great and thoughtful weekend! 🙂

Image Source The Guardian


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Working Women: Elise Xavier, The Life Of A Young And Successful Blogger


I met Elise Xavier through blogging some time ago. She and her husband, Thomas, have a very successful blog called “More than just surviving.” They also have a personal blog called “Elise and Thomas”, which is the one I follow and read often. They have other projects on the Internet and a big social media presence, with thousand of followers in different platforms.

Elise is a very thoughtful writer. Her answers are practical and poetic. They are a window into the views of a younger generation about work, relationships, women, and today’s world. Her opinions on feminism are really interesting to me. They represent exactly what I read about Millennials and their opinions on women’s right.

This interview is about the life of a young blogger and her views about her generation and women.

Could you give us a brief intro about who you are and what you do?
Yup! My name is Elise Xavier. I’m a Canadian from Toronto who’s this year made a cross-continental move to Bournemouth in the UK with my husband, Thomas, and my cat, Avery. My husband and I both work as bloggers, which is why I why we were able to make this move relatively easily.

How did you become a blogger? and, why do you do it?
Short answer is: I wanted to become a blogger, so I started blogging, and from there it’s just the same as any other business, really. Lots of effort, energy, hard work, experimentation, etc.
I wanted to become a blogger because I love both photography and writing, and blogging combines the two in a way that’s always been appealing to me. I also really like web design, enjoy analyzing stats, and find social media sites to be hella fun to use, so it’s worked out quite well to say the least.
If you’re interested in my take on online success, you can read about that here, and if you’d like to learn about my opinion on generating enough income to be a full time blogger, read about it here.

elise-xavier-cat-avery-life-blogWhat is your opinion about having a strong social media presence.
It’s important. Really important.
Social media’s excellent for:
• Leverage. Need to get something done? Have a lot of social media followers? Chances are someone’s going to jump to help you, whether it’s a corporation or an individual you need help from.
• The more engaged followers you have on social media, the more influence you have, and that usually translates into two very powerful things: the ability to get a message out, then from that, the ability to create change. What more could you want from a tool at your fingertips?
• Communicating with your fans, companies, and other influencers used to be a lot harder than it now is. The more you have a presence on social media, the easier this becomes.
• Diversifying traffic to any site is easier with social media. It’s terrible to put all your eggs in one basket – even for where you get your traffic from. You can direct people’s attention to anything from your site whenever you want when you’ve got them following you on social media.
Blogging, social media, and other online platforms are creating not only influencers and experts, but also celebrities right before our eyes. Because what’s the difference between an online celebrity and a tabloid celebrity? Not much in my opinion.
Remember, though, it takes one hell of a lot of time to grow social media outreach. Not only that, but I don’t think it’s the type of thing you can ever really feel you have “enough” of. I’m sure even Kim Kardashian and Kanye West would prefer to have more followers than they do. Once you reach one goal, you start pushing for another because social media is a tool that only grows in value the more you are followed.

Walk me through a normal day in your life.
Oh god, it’s way more boring than you might think. Being a full time blogger I can sum up like this: some days you spend entirely in your pajamas troubleshooting and pounding out new content, other days you get an evening off, many days you wonder whether you spent your day working or just wasting time on your computer – basically your life and your job are both online, so what the difference is between the two becomes hard to say.
Pretty much my day: wake up, turn on computer. Type some articles, check some stats, check in on social media, read some articles, watch some YouTube videos, watch some TV/movies, refresh email multiple times, pay bills, agonize over future decisions, tweak web design a bit, fix that one page I keep forgetting to fix up, worry about what to write about tomorrow, wonder where the time went – all in no particular order – then I turn off my computer and head to bed for the night only to do the same again tomorrow. I can’t even keep track of days anymore, because let’s be real, without a regular work week, what’s the difference?

You are a millennial, what do you think about being a part of this generation that is creating some much buzz?
I’m not 100% sure I’m a millennial. I’ve seen so many different definitions that have different start and end years for this “generation” that I’m not sure which to go by, but I’ll give you a birth year so you can make your mind up for yourself – was born in ’89.
But whether or not I’m a millennial makes no real difference to me: all “youngsters” these days are facing the same problems; we all share similar traits thanks to these generational issues that are just going to get enhanced for the next wave of young people, in my opinion. I’ll get into this more later.
What do I think about being a part/grouped in with a generation creating so much buzz? I’ll answer that question with a question: Isn’t every new generation of youth a buzz-generating one? If we weren’t being discussed at all I might be a little worried.

In which ways you identify with other millennials? In which way you don’t identify with other millennials?
Those problems I was talking about before, for my generation and the ones that will come after it (which is why whether or not you choose to group me into the “millennial” generation, I still feel I understand millennials): they actually stem from an economic problem – from jobs.
I know it may sound strange to hear for those of you who are already minted in the workforce, but I do believe the entire job world has completely changed from the time period of my parents’ generation to now. The issues that these changes formed have molded my entire generation, and will continue to mold those to come, in such a fundamental way that it’s impossible for us to really be understood without a little insight into it.
We were told since we were kids that if we just studied hard, got good grades, went to university where we would do the same, got our degrees and then applied, we’d get a good job, a well paying one, and we’d be perfectly fine. I don’t blame our parents: in their generation this recipe would have worked out 100%, but this is no longer even close to true today.
There are less jobs in our time. There are more individuals retiring later, leaving even less jobs for us because there are hardly any spots emptying for us to fill. There are many more of us with degrees out there, not a surprise since all our parents encouraged us to do the same thing, meaning our degrees have become practically useless to have attained. The vast majority of us want to be fulfilled when we have a job – and can you blame us? We were told since we were young that if we went after what we wanted and just got enough degrees in it, we’d be able to get a high-paying job that we actually liked. Less of us are happy to settle for minimum wage jobs, especially considering we’ve done one or more degrees before getting those jobs, meaning our time spent in school after high school would’ve essentially been useless (except from a personal development perspective). When we do get jobs, they’re low-paying, and it’s not the economy’s fault: it’s just what happens when technology replaces the need for so many people in the workforce. We’re taking forever to get the jobs we do get, and by comparison to our parents, even when we do get them we’re getting paid substantially less than they were?
What does all this mean? It means our generations are finding it a lot harder to move out. To get our own cars. To buy our own homes. Let alone get married, start up families, and do whatever else we might like with our lives. With what money are we supposed to be doing this? This economic problem is only going to get worse in the upcoming generations because, let’s be real, there are going to be a lot less jobs once computers take over nearly everything (self-driving cars, for example, 3.5 million truck driving jobs in the United States alone).
You might call us a selfish, narcissistic generation of youngsters, but in my opinion, that’s just because we’re all more selfish when we’re young. You might call us lazy and say we don’t have as great work ethics as your generation, but really, it’s not ultimately our fault that we can’t get jobs as easily as our parents once did. There’s not even close to as much of a demand for employees. You may call us delusional, but our parents told us all our lives that if we went through lots of schooling we’d end up with better, higher paying jobs that we actually enjoyed. They all told us the same thing, so now we all have degrees and our degrees have become nearly worthless. You might call us unprepared and completely clueless when it comes to the way of the world, but can you blame us when we have little to no life experience because we’ve spent the vast majority of our time in the bubble that is academic life? We were just listening to our parents’ recommendations, for the most part.
So yes, that’s where our generation is at. That’s where the millennial generation stands, and that’s where the generations after look like they’re going to be headed (unless by some miracle we implement basic income, but that’s a story for another day). In my opinion, “millennial behaviour” is all predictable, obvious behaviour. Your generation probably wouldn’t have acted any differently.

elise-and-thomas-xavierDo you see women’s role changing in the world with this new generation? What is your opinion on millennial women.
I’m sorry to say that I’m not a feminist. I love the first wave feminism, but feminism itself has taken on a new meaning in my generation, one that’s not true to the original definition or actions of the first feminists, and one which I’m really not liking.
Feminists in universities of today perpetuate myths, distort facts, base their ideology on lies never questioned in feminism classes – and yet they’re practically rewarded for doing all these things. Do I see a woman’s role in the world changing? No. Why? It’s already changed. Women have kickass jobs, an astonishing amount of influence in the world, and are equal to men. We are not the same as men. Yes, some industries we are paid less than them, and others we are paid more, but that’s due to experience, contribution, and not down to sexism. That’s truly what I believe. The whole “women get paid 70 cents for every dollar a man does” thing is a complete fabrication – not true in the least (Thomas likes to point out, if this myth was true, you’d have the perfect business model: just hire all women, pay them 70 cents on the dollar, and you’ll beat our your competition in no time!). We don’t have to prove we’re men’s equals anymore, it’s not up for debate. We just need to take the place in the world that we want, which we can take and we’ve been able to take for a long time – and that’s that.
There are so many things that disturb me about the overtone of the current feminist movement, but I won’t get into them here. What I will say about millennial women is that they need to stop playing victim. They need to stop fighting against men and need to work with them. Playing the victim and trying to make up for past offences against women does not make women more equal to men. What does? Realizing we’ve won the war against women’s rights in developed countries but that there’s plenty else to be done overseas. You want to help free women and make them more equal to men, do so in cases where women are obviously not equal to men.
Do I think feminism still has a role in developed countries? No. Because feminism is a story about inequality – about fighting for women’s rights. We are equal to men, and I do believe society sees that. Women should be fighting for humanism and not feminism at this point – both men’s and women’s rights should be pushed for. That’s the way forward.
Why is it that fathers don’t often get a paternal leave when they have a kid? What if they want to be stay at home dads? Why is it that fathers have little to no rights to their children in comparison to women, that judges automatically assume the child should be in the hands of the mother? If feminists really wanted equality, they would be fighting, not just for additional rights for themselves that will “level the playing field” (in most cases these additional rights actually give them more rights than their counterparts, which I feel is unfair), they instead would be fighting for men’s and women’s rights until there was equality.
In my opinion, we need to scrap both feminism and menism altogether and just embrace humanism. Though unfortunately, I don’t see this happening, and instead I see just a lot more victim playing on the side of feminists – who seem to want to stack the deck in their favour to make up for past offences against women instead of leveling the playing field in a quest for real equality.

What about partners. What is the biggest difference in how you see your husband than the way your mom does (or did)?
I think the expectations are a lot higher in my generation to find someone who’s not only agreeable to live with, but also fulfilling in absolutely every way possible (emotionally, sexually, mentally, financially, etc.). It’s mad the expectations we put on our relationships these days, but I’m no different. I’m just lucky I ended up with someone so spot on what I both wanted and needed. There’s absolutely no way in hell I would’ve thought I’d get so lucky in this department.


You recently moved from Canada to England. What has been the best and worst aspects of that move?
Canadian culture just didn’t fit myself or Thomas. We’re much more at home here. The food is better, the weather is better (I say, “I hate the cold” so often it’s practically become synonymous with my name), the politics we actually care about, the only thing I can really say the worst part about living in the UK will be for us (not happened yet but it’ll happen!) is the taxation! 😉 Canada’s a lot better on that front. But I consider the taxes here to be our “happy tax!”
I wrote about my first impressions of the UK when we first moved here (you can find that here) and then again 4 months in (here), if that’s something you’d care to read more about.

What do you expect from the future?
Less jobs. Money becoming harder and harder to come by. Hopefully finally an adoption of basic income in as many countries as possible. And ideally a planet that’s less inclined to talk about racism and sexism – not because they’re swept under the rug but because they don’t need to be talked about as much anymore. That would be nice. But hey, not banking on all social issues going away in a few generations.
Technological advancements in the upcoming years should be amazing. Our lifespans will be extended, I think, much farther than we ever would’ve thought. My guess is my generation will frequently live to be 150. Then hopefully we’ll kick death altogether one day, though I’m sure I’ll miss that boat.
For Thomas and I personally, not sure. More projects, more peace and quiet (had enough adventures for some time, thank you! I feel like a hobbit…), another couple fur babies, maybe yes, maybe no to kids. No idea. Basically keeping all options open, and deciding what feels right to do as the time comes. Just the way I like the future now that we’ve got stability under our belt (paid off our flat in full – no mortgage! / And of course have a steady job that we adore!).

What would you want older people to understand about millennials that they might not get yet.
Honestly, just have a little perspective. Ask yourself what you would’ve done if these kinds of economic problems were happening to you, and you’ll get a good idea quite quickly of why we behave the way we do.
I don’t think older people are very different from us at all. Many did more risky and adventurous things than any of us ever have in their own youth. Want to understand a millennial? Think of one you already know. Chances are they’re not completely different from the narrative media tells about them: they probably are a little narcissistic, delusional about the job market, obsessed with celebrities, and a bit on the selfish side. But it’s not the extreme that it’s made out to be. Again, I’d argue, it’s probably quite the same as it was when you were growing up. Only difference is the technology has evolved, allowing those traits to be on display to the world 24/7.
Think about how much you’d changed from when you were a teenager to when you were in your twenties. Then when you were in your twenties to when you were in your thirties. Millennials have a heck of a lot of growing up to do – and that’s not a bad thing. The only difference is their entire lives, their streams of thought, their photographs, their everything, is online and available for everyone to see.
If anything, you should feel bad for them. Imagine all the stupid things you said when you were in your twenties. Now imagine that online permanently for anyone who wants to be able to discover. Yeah. Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to deal with that?
We do – whether we’ve figured it out yet or not ;).

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What do you find attractive in a guy (or girl)?

jestcafe-com-attractive-menMy friend Paloma was visiting last week and we got to talk about what we found attractive in guys; those traits that transform an average men (or women) into a 9 or 10. She told me that her number one measurement of sexiness is music. If a guy knows how to play an instrument his sex appeal goes up a million points in her world.

I have been thinking about this, trying to figure out what are my preferences. I like big hands, for example. I like big and masculine guys. Tattoo with beard kind of guys. I find that sexy. Another one of my friends likes big noses and deep voices.

But, aside from the obvious physical attraction, there are personality attributes that are important. For me, is important that a guy is smart and knowledgeable about the world. Guys that are intellectual without being BORING because I like to learn things from my partner while laughing and drinking a martini. We have also talked in this blog about how sexy handy men are, don’t you think?

But the one thing I find the most attractive is sense of humor. If a guy knows how to make me laugh and is able to laugh at himself, I am IN. I think that is the sexiest thing a guy can do for me. Be funny. Also, with humor comes self-confidence, another must-have, don’t you think?

What about you? Is there any of the traits I mentioned above attractive for you? Or any other qualities come to mind? I am so curious.

(Images by Andy Gotts, because George Clooney is the ultimate sexy man, don’ you agree?)


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Broadly – A Window Into Women Experiences


Do you like to get snippets into other women’s lives and cultures?

Maybe a 10-minute video that helps you understand what other females like and do around the world?

I find that videos are a perfect tool to get some insight into what others are doing. They are able to give you a picture into reality that no other medium can. It is almost like being there (but not really), that is why I like watching Broadly once in a while.

Broadly is a website and digital video channel that explores the women experience, whatever it may be- pretty non-specific, don’t you think? Almost all subjects could fall in the “women experience” category, don’t you think? I guess that is why they are called Broadly.

There are a lot of videos up on their You Tube channel with decent content. I do wish they were a little bit more objective and serious when researching certain subjects, but it is still a nice tool to have to feed my curiosity. It reminds me of my days as a producer of non-fiction. They were fun and educational, although they didn’t pay a lot of my bills (Thank you, George! – says the feminist).

My favorite video so far is this one about women in Kenya that have created their own villages where they rule. They are in charge of providing everything and have pushed men away from decision-making positions. This all sounds a little extreme, I know, but after watching this video you get to understand why.  Just listen to the men giving explanations about why women should be circumcised and kept away from power. It is sad and discouraging. These are real men that live in todays world! We have a long way to go, people, a long way to go, but this women are making a difference and they need our help.

Here is another one that I liked. It gives us a glimpse into one of the last matriarchies that exist in the world – the Mosuo. They live in China, close to the Himalayas. Here, women make decisions about the city and household. They make a living and take care of the family. Some of the scenes are funny and touching. In this culture, they have “walking marriages,” where men are not allowed to live in the same household as their partners. Children are raised by women, and come the morning, men need to leave and go to their own home. I am sure a lot of western men would love to have this kind of arrangement, don’t you think?

Other videos talk about topics like beauty, fertility, or sexism, subjects closer to home; like this one about maternity leave, which is eye opening.

Is there any media outlet that you like and touches on women’s issues? I would love to find out more of what there is out there. I would also LOVE to start making my own videos again… maybe something to consider for the future.


Also, a post about excellent non-profits that help women, and the importance of having a handy partner.

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Thoughts On Makeup And The #Nomakeup Movement

My thoughts on makeup are simple: I don’t use it.

I am a natural member of the #nomakeup movement, which excuses, and justifies, my laziness. I am too indolent to spend more than 10 minutes grooming every morning.

On the other hand, I have plenty of friends that are experts at beautifying themselves and looking great while at it. I respect that. The thing is, I respect both ways. Each woman is capable of deciding what suits her best. There is no need to demonize anybody for whatever decision they make regarding the use of makeup.

This has been the problem of supporters and detractors of the #nomakeup movement. If you haven’t heard about it, here is Alicia Keyes’s manifesto. It explains the ideas behind it.

When I first read about it, I was all over it. This was my calling! Not using makeup was my feminist expression. An opportunity to explain at a wedding why I am not using mascara or lipstick, instead of admitting that I had miscalculated the start of the ceremony and was still watching TV 15 minutes before it started. I felt there was a new higher power that protected me. A social-allowance.

I do have makeup though. It is in a drawer that rarely gets opened unless Max is researching the bathroom area. What I have I bought 12 years ago, while editing a “how to apply makeup” tutorial for a makeup brand. Editing those videos enlighten me. I realized the power of decorating myself. I liked it and used it. I looked great, too.

That experiment lasted 5 days. After that, I realized that I didn’t care enough to spend 20 minutes everyday in a complex makeup session. Maybe I could simplify it? I tried. That simplification ended up nullifying and now I can proudly say that I tried to ride the makeup wagon to not avail. But I tried.

For me, not using makeup is a matter of time and priorities (I would rather use those minutes to read a book instead), not about feminism. On the other hand, I don’t consider makeup a synonym of femininity. You can be plenty girly without having to use it. At least that was my rationalization. And still is… but, honestly, I am not the most feminine of women to begin with.

What are your thoughts on makeup? What about the makeup movement? Do you think feminists should embrace it? Or, should we let women decide for themselves? Would love to hear.


Images via Lenny

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