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November 24, 2010

Relationship violence: the Amber factor

Filed under: News, Psychology, issues, media, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:59 am

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Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood has dealt quite a few blows, physical and emotional, to her oafish fiance-ish, Gary Shipley. This we know — cameras were rolling! — and this we cannot excuse. But this example has, like many before it, provoked the question: is female-on-male violence on the rise?

Today at Salon.com, BG’s alter ego tackles the answer. And suggests, in the process, that it’s not the most helpful question to be asking in the first place. In short: females have always been violent, towards men and otherwise. Specific DOJ data points show that when it comes to certain types of intimate partner violence, rates of certain types of aggression can be equal or mutual between men and women. (And neither is to be justified.) But: men are far more likely to put their female partners in the hospital, and men are far more likely to commit the ongoing, deeply damaging form of abuse known as battery, or even domestic terrorism.

That is not to say MEN SUCK; WOMEN WIN THE VICTIM PRIZE. Not at all. It’s to say that false equivalence between male and female violence is unhelpful and un-illuminating, possibly even damaging to all victims. As Lynn writes: “But when it comes to pop culture and public discourse, [female violence] needs to be discussed on its own face and in its own context, with its own set of causes and implications, not as a game of one-upmanship.”

Read the rest here. And if you — female or male — feel at all unsafe in your relationship, please click here.

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November 17, 2010

Unstoppable: Q&A with author Lauren Ruotolo

Filed under: books, issues — posted by Paula @ 11:06 am

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laurenruotolo2Lauren Ruotolo is a gorgeous redhead with a great job–Director of Entertainment Promotions for the Hearst Corporation–a glam wardrobe, a cool boyfriend, and a hot new book about getting a leg up in life, no matter what size your legs happen to be.

The 4’ 2” Long Island native was born with a rare disorder called McCune Albright Syndrome that has caused not just her short stature and the use of crutches but a host of other physical challenges, all of which she details in her new memoir, Unstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl’s Guide to Living Tall in a Small World.

In addition to being a funny (anecdotes about LL Cool J!) and moving autobiography about coping with and triumphing over her condition, Ruotolo’s book is an old-fashioned, Dale Carnegie-esque motivational work organized around themes like “Rejection can be your greatest ally,” “Being different is a gift,” and “Avoid the word ‘no’.” She encourages readers of all abilities to get over self-doubt, self-consciousness–just get over themselves, period–and create happiness on their own terms.

laurenruotoloWe spoke to the vivacious author at her office in the Hearst Tower.

So, the advice—both life- and dating-related—in your book is geared towards a mainstream audience.

Right.

I’m wondering if you have any specific dating advice for people who have physical challenges or physical differences.

I think that the first piece of advice–and it’s not just for people with physical disabilities or mental disabilities–is that you have to love yourself in order for someone to love you. That was something that I had to learn–that I had to love myself the way that I wanted to be loved by somebody, and I had to learn to be comfortable with knowing that I am different from other people, that my body looks different, that when it comes to sex or being intimate with somebody that it’s going to be a little bit different, so I think that I had to understand all those aspects and love every aspect of who I was before I could allow somebody in. I was always so insecure about it.

And I think that you become insecure when you’re dating, anyway–everybody is insecure! But it really becomes difficult when there’s something different about you. I hope that I teach in the book–for people to really love themselves–and, like I said, love themselves like you want to be loved.

Your experiences with online dating were not very positive.

No! (Laughs.) Not at all! Oh my god, it was such a nightmare! I hope to never have to do that again in my life. When it comes to online dating, yes, you want to put yourself out there, and put as much information about yourself up front. But as I wrote in the book, how I have always seen myself is not really as a “handicapped” person. I knew that if I presented myself as a girl walking with crutches, that’s all anyone would see, and I would be labeled as a “Girl With Crutches”…

You mention in the book that you entered therapy, and the key lesson there for you was acceptance. How would you define “acceptance”?

Acceptance, for me, was when I stopped hiding. I said, “I love myself, I have a family who loves me, I have friends that love me, and the next man I meet is gonna love me for me and I’m not gonna hide behind a barstool, and I’m not going to hide behind a photo online. I’m just gonna put myself out there and see what happens.”

And I did–I met [current live-in boyfriend] Nelson on a staircase. So it was that acceptance and getting rid of that insecurity in my head that got me there. I was always so strong in so many other ways—but when it came to relationships–well, like I said, I think everyone has these fears. Because society is like, all right, you get to a certain age, girls, and you gotta find that husband, and you gotta have babies, and that’s your life! When you’re a child, you dream about your wedding–you know, there’s this idea promoted by magazines, especially here at Hearst, and at Seventeen magazine, that they’re like two of the greatest moments in a girls’ life: her prom, that she’ll always remember, and her wedding.

“Who are you gonna take to your prom? Who are you gonna marry?” (Laughs) So it’s just always a constant conversation that makes us all nervous, but we all have to accept who we are, and that was really what I learned in therapy.

The wedding thing–is that something that has been in your mind pressuring you, or have you let that go?

I think as Nelson and I get closer, and as I get older, it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot more often than I ever did in my life–

–but, because you have the relationship–

Right, because I have the relationship–

–not because you’re thinking about the dress.

Exactly! (Laughs) Well, now that I’m in the relationship, I do think about the dress!

Ha! Tell me about Glamour Gals Foundation.

Oh, Glamour Gals is such a great organization. It’s an intergenerational organization that brings teen girls and elderly women together. The teen girls provide complimentary makeovers and facials and, more than anything, companionship to the elderly women.

My great-grandmother was in a home, so I know–when I would come visit, she would want to get dressed and she would want to put lipstick on and make herself presentable. With women, from the time we’re three years old, we want to wear lipstick ‘til the time we’re 93. We want to wear makeup! It just makes you feel good. And I think that it’s such a great opportunity for community service for girls. You know, when else are you really going to teach them that there are these wonderful older women out there, unless they have somebody in their family. And I think it really makes teens feel good about what they’re doing, and obviously the ladies feel great about themselves. So I’m really happy to be part of the organization.

The way that I found out about it was when my article in Marie Claire came out in March of 2009. The president and founder Rachel Doyle read it and contacted somebody here at Hearst called Susan Schultz who was on the advisory board and was like “Do you know this girl? I would like to nominate her for our Glammy, for most glamorous gal of the year.” And they did, and I accepted, and it was such a wonderful honor!

And now I’m on the advisory board, and I’m heading up their first gala in February.

Do you have any plans for a follow-up book?

I really want to do a children’s book. Children—at least from my understanding and the research that I’ve done on the street where children stare at me—don’t see racial differences these days because it’s everywhere. So, they have black friends, they have white friends, they have Puerto Rican friends, they have Chinese friends, and they don’t see the difference anymore, which is wonderful. But they still see the obvious physical differences of people with different abilities. And I think parents get nervous because kids are just outspoken. Not because they’re mean, because they just want to know!

They see somebody who’s different, and say, “Mommy, why is that lady so short?” or “What are those shiny things that she walks with?” And parents get embarrassed. And I see a lot of times where the parents are like “Shh!” or they just pull them away, and they don’t wanna notice it.

And that’s not the way. I really want to help children understand those differences.

(To read more about people living with short stature, click here.)


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November 16, 2010

Griffin & Sabine 2.0!

Filed under: Treats, blogs, pop culture — posted by Rose @ 6:56 am

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This has gotta be one of the best examples of art imitating life we’ve ever seen: Ships That Pass is, to use the site’s own verbiage, “a collection of fake, imaginary and literary missed connections posted to Craigslist and then re-posted here [at Ships That Pass' Tumblr page] with real responses.” The brainchild of Brooklyn-based poet Brett Fletcher Lauer (who’s written an awesome guest post about the endeavor here), it’s what an online performance-art installation commissioned by Margaret Mead might look like. Or a post-millennial, dot-com remake of those Griffin & Sabine pop-up-ish epistolary epics of my romantically angst-addled adolescence. (Anybody else remember those?) [YES!!!! Sob! -- BG]

Here’s how it works: Myriad poets, writers and artists craft ersatz missed-connection posts, complete with the fictitious posters’ ages and the appropriate tag (m4w, w4m, m4m, w4w). These are uploaded to Craigslist as any real missed-connection missive would be; simultaneously, they appear on Ships That Pass. Should any unsuspecting Craigslist readers reply to the post, those emails are readable on Ships That Pass as follow-ups to the original. On the flip side, should a suspicious Craigslister flag a post for removal — as has happened a handful already — news of that post’s untimely demise is likewise reported. A missed connection that receives no action at all (overwhelmingly the case) is earmarked with a little sad face like the Zoloft mascot, informing Ships That Pass readers of “Another Missed Connection Missed.”

As anyone who’s read missed connections for sport knows, it’s the unknowable of “But did Girl with Nose Ring Wearing Military Jacket ever hear from Guy Reading The Tender Bar on the Uptown 2 Train?” that feeds their addictiveness. That, and the messages’ unbridled sentimentality. Whereas Craigslist’s other alt-personals, Casual Encounters and Misc. Romance, can depress the hell out of anyone hoping for a shred of flirtation, intrigue, chivalry or grammar to hang onto, Missed Connections is a bastion of well-intentioned, intelligently penned, old-fashioned courtship. One’s for nutjobs; the other’s for l’amour fou.

Enjoying the newly-habit-forming element of “Is it live or is it Ships That Pass?” probably won’t bode well for anyone’s to-do list. And then there’s the question of whether Missed Connectioning under false pretenses is ultimately setting up a stranger for disappointment. Judging by the responses so far, though, it seems that what drives people to reply isn’t the expectation that they’ve been identified/fancied/remembered. It’s their complicit understanding that the heart wants what it wants, and their immutable belief in art for art’s sake.

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November 4, 2010

Still ranking on Internet dating? Really?

Filed under: issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:28 pm

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Folks, this is getting as old as the people who allegedly lie about their age on the Internet. Are we really still slamming internet dating? It’s kind of like saying cell phones are bad, or “technology.” In the latest crabby smackdown, Rhodri Marsden, writing in The Independent, “reveals” the “truth” about Internet dating: things don’t work out more often than they do. Stop the presses? Because um, that is also true of bricks-and-mortar dating as well — it’s probability, not cynicism — not to mention, well, life. Saying that he has — aha! — found people who’ve been bruised by Internet dating! is like saying he’s found people who have been bruised by…dating. Duh. Everyone said it was handy. No one said it was magic.

To be sure, there are differences, concrete and ineffable, between dating online and IRL. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The fact that you can likely “meet” more people online than off does translate into more rejection: again, that’s math. And the Internet probably makes for more colorful before/after bait/switch experiences, but that’s because of the built-in online -> real-life progression; that’s story structure, folks. (Said it before: you mean all the people you meet on singles hikes tell the truth from day 1?) So to throw the Internet babes out with the bathwater is, to put a fine point on it, just dumb. So, too, is — if you’re single and would like to change that — not making Internet dating part of a diversified meeting-people portfolio.

So, enough. I’m outta here. Because BG spends some of her time online, and some of her time “getting out there.” See?

(h/t The Awl)

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November 2, 2010

Vote!

Filed under: News, Superheroes, issues — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:14 am

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According to this analysis, Superman is a moderate Republican, Wonder Woman a socialist, and Hulk “just want to be left alone” (libertarian). Whatever your leaning, please get out and vote. In a way, it’s your civilian superpower: please wield it (ideally, for good). If you haven’t already, learn about candidates, find your polling place, and remember, voting is a Breakup Girl issue. These folks may have a direct say in:

• how you learn about sex

• how you protect yourself if you have it

• education and law enforcement behind healthy relationships

• what you do with and how you’re able to take care of your body

• how much money you have to spend on dates (or “spa days” with numero uno)

• and, of course, whom you can marry

Please vote for candidates who make choices as sound as you do!

Bonus: Breakup Girl in … Red vs. The Blues!

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October 27, 2010

I’m not gay, but

Filed under: News, Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:09 am

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A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.

Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.

Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (”Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.

Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:

Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.

Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.

“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.

Homework:

1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.

2. Let kids know we accept them as they are and that they are loved matter what.

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October 26, 2010

Alarming press release of the week

Filed under: Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:43 am

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[Pasted without comment. (I'll leave that to you.) --BG]

Unique Ways to Ask Someone Out on a Date
Dating Expert Shares Some Fun Ways to Make a Move

Asking someone to go out on a date is easier said than done. When nervous symptoms such as sweaty palms, a knot in the throat, and butterflies in the stomach accompany an awkward “Will you go out with me?” stutter, things can get ugly. While it’s never a comfortable situation, XXXXXX, Director of XXXXXXX, a dating service for busy business professionals has some ideas for fun ways to make taking the first step a little easier.

Puzzle him/her with Your Charm: Want to really make someone swoon? Even if you’re too shy to ask someone out in person, you can still get crafty and turn the question into a game. Write your sweet proposition on paper, and then cut up the sentence into different pieces and place all the letters into an envelope. On the outside of the envelope, tell him or her to “Piece this together for a surprise” and let your crush do the work.

The Modern Message in a Bottle: A phone call may be the easiest way to contact someone for a date, but is certainly not the most creative. Be original when making that initial contact like in the movie Hitch, messenger her a walkie-talkie and have you waiting on the other end. Or if you or a friend is a lawyer, write up a fake subpoena to invite your crush on a date. Name the “case” something like Amber & Chris vs. the Thought of Foregoing a Great Time Together and indicated the day of the date as the court number. Acting as though she must appear on the date or be in contempt of court adds a playful start to the date.

Rush Hour Rendezvous: Driving in traffic can have its frustrations but instead of blowing your horn in road rage, scope out the road as a dating opportunity. If a fellow driver catches your eye and engages in some bumper to bumper flirting, you can casually hand over your business card. This proactive move will show you are interested and you might just get the green light for follow-up.

Roses Never Go Out of Style: It’s traditional. It’s cliché. And there’s a reason it has been around for decades, it works! Sending roses to a girl is a chivalrous gesture she is sure to appreciate. Accompany the bouquet with a simple note requesting a date or, for a modern twist, write a funny but silly poem. It is a sure-fire way she will get the hint that you would like to spend some time together.

Please contact me to schedule a segment or interview with XXXXX to share these and other unique ways to ask someone out on a date.

Thanks,
XXXXX

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October 25, 2010

Love in focus

Filed under: Treats — posted by Chris @ 9:16 am

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Monday morning treat: cute relationship story that is also a meditation on the photos we leave behind …

Thrush from Gabriel Bisset-Smith on Vimeo.

(I bet Facebook could generate these on these on fly by looking at your relationship status over time, then assembling the properly tagged photos in chronological order. Get on that, Jesse Eisenberg.)

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October 22, 2010

EPIC: BG meets The Guy At The End of The Bar

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:53 am

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This already-epic Predicament of the Week from April 27, 1998 actually includes three responses: One from Breakup Girl, a second from the mysterious “Guy at the End of the Bar” and then a rebuttal from BG…

Dear Breakup Girl,

This gets a little complicated, but bear with me, I’ll try to be succinct. “Ted” and “Carol” move into town, where they meet “Bob” and “Alice,” who are good friends of mine from college. All five of us quickly beome tight and hang out regularly. Inevitably the breakups happen. First Bob and Alice split. It’s long and drawn out. Then Ted and Carol split. It’s long and drawn out.

At this point Bob and Ted are living together as roommates and of course within a few months Carol and Alice become roommates. Then my girlfriend, “Millie,” goes away for several months. Carol and I hang out, a lot, and discover, ka-zaam, this wonderful connection. We don’t act on it, even though we both acknowledge it and talk about it. Finally in a defiant stupid drunken evening we do act on it. I feel like sh*t because I didn’t want to cheat on my girlfriend and we were both worried about all the possible ramifications from Ted, Bob, and Alice. So we agree not to be so stupid and forget about it.

(more…)

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October 21, 2010

It could get even better

Filed under: issues, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:27 am

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I know that not everyone thinks It Gets Better is the best response to anti-LGBT bullying. I understand the criticism — it’s facile, it’s privileged, it misplaces responsibility — and even agree with much of it. But I’m still a fan of IGB, not as the response to anti-queer bullying, but as a response among what needs to be more and more, at individual and societal levels. That’s why I like Hillary Clinton’s contribution (h/t Andrew Sullivan) as an addition to the mix. She (appropriately, for her position) makes it not about you the sufferer versus them the mean kids, but about civil — American — society, how far it has come, and what it demands. Yes, it’s on the bullies to desist and the queer kids to keep it real, but more than that, it’s on all of us.

And it’s on all of us not just to give miserable kids hope for magical “later” land when they get to graduate  and move to Seattle. It’s on us to help them — and continue changing the culture — now. Some less in-the-headines folks who are working to make it better, today:

Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives (more/interesting context here)

Responsive Classroom (h/t Marjorie Ingall)

WeStopHate (h/t I Heart Daily)

This list is the opposite of exhaustive. What other great anti-queer-bullying and pro-tolerant-society work should we all know about?

Oh, and here you go:

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