Friday, September 28, 2018

It's Fiction People

Unless you swap "boys" and "girls" and substitute "sexual assault" for "Ankling."

But I suspect you've already figured that out.

Imagine Girls

by Maria Mainero
Part 1: A New Fad

A new fad is sweeping the nation that has become popular with some teen girls and young women. They call it Ankling and refer to it as a “game.” It’s based on the old concept of putting a notch in a bedpost for sexual conquests, but in this case, the “notch” is in the Achilles tendon of the boy they’ve “conquered.”

Initially, the fad starts as a form of vigilante justice targeting the type of guys most people agree deserve some kind of punishment. Horny guys who catcall girls, guys who text obscene pictures to girls. Boys who won’t take no for an answer or try to play games of their own to “score” sex. Notching or Ankling is low-key cheered on by other girls and women and parents who know “those boys” were no good. Because the victims are all “bad guys” for one reason or another, no one minds that they get what’s coming to them.

When these so-called low-life boys complain of their injury, the general community looks upon them with suspicion and scorn. They are asked why they didn’t treat girls better so they wouldn’t have been targeted like this. They are asked if they are too weak to defend themselves against one girl with a knife. They are told they should’ve kept their pants on. They are told they’re lucky she didn’t use that knife “somewhere else.” They are told they probably started it, and that girls are entitled to defend themselves.

Eventually it escalates. Psychologists suggest that girls may get a thrill from dominating boys in this way. To satisfy their need for a hormonal rush, they find more and more reasons that men and boys deserve to be punished. Any boy who wants to have any kind of sexual contact might have to pay the price. Of course, not ALL girls are like this, and so boys begin to devise ways to figure out which girls they can trust. Sometimes they get it wrong. When they do, people are quick to point out the ways they demonstrated bad judgment in dating that particular girl.

Meanwhile, the more aggressive girls have developed a set of “rules” that boys need to live by if they expect to remain safe. Boys need to always be deferential to girls, treating them as if they are royalty. Boys should slouch, and try to appear shorter than girls, so that girls know the boy is not a threat. Boys should always keep their hands exposed and visible, so girls can see they aren’t hiding drugs or weapons that might harm a girl. Wearing gloves, hoodies, loose clothing, or having any pockets are all deemed to be indications of a man’s bad intentions, and justification for a girl to Ankle him, even if he has not approached her sexually in any way.

Not ALL girls are like this. Some girls care about boys and don’t want to see them hurt. They advise their male friends to just go along with the rules. Sure, it’s silly and annoying, but it’s not THAT hard to wear clothes without pockets, and who cares, it’s just clothing. Schools determine that boys wearing pockets and baggy clothing have become too much of a distraction to girls, and so they change the dress codes accordingly.

Most boys, and their parents, and  some of the more enlightened girls, are very upset that boys are getting hurt and that law enforcement doesn’t seem to be taking these cases seriously. Technically, Ankling is Assault and Battery and it’s illegal. However, it’s very hard to catch these girls, and prove they did it. The girls tend to run in packs and look out for each other and give each other alibis. There’s often not any physical evidence, beyond the severed tendon. Girls will lurk under stairwells, or in bushes, and so many school bus attacks have occurred, that boys are now made to sit in the back of the bus, so girls can’t get behind them to cut them from under the seat.

The fact is, it doesn’t take long to slash a leg, and it’s often a case of he said/she said. Many of these cases don’t even make it to the courtroom. When they do, the victim often finds himself in the uncomfortable position of explaining, why he thinks he has a right to make accusations that could “ruin someone’s life,” for a mere cut that should heal fully in 4 to 6 months. The 4 to 6 month timeframe becomes a popular defense battle cry, so that even when a ironclad case comes through, the girl generally gets a 4 to 6 month sentence, usually probation, or community service.

The victims argue that healing isn’t complete in 4 to 6 months. There may be lifelong weakness, limping, and post-traumatic stress (judges tend to roll their eyes at this one). Many people dismiss the injured boys as whiners, but for the victims and their families the pain is real. They launch various support groups and organizations that aim to educate the general public about the real life-long effects of an Ankling attack.

In addition, these groups provide helpful information about how boys can avoid Ankling. One group, Victims of Ankling Speaking Together (VAST) speaks out about the topic at High Schools all over the country in special sessions just for the boys. The speakers bravely share their experiences and share tips for boys. They explain how men need to walk carefully in the center of sidewalks and parking aisles, far from the reach of knife-wielding girls who might be lurking there. They should always look under their vehicles from a distance, as they approach, and also, check the back seat of the car before driving off. And always lock the doors. They should avoid stairwells with open stairsteps, as well as bleachers (girls can hide underneath).  When they go on a date with a girl, they should use a buddy system and signal a friend if they get a “bad vibe.”

“Do you recommend that boys wear the steel-lined boots,” a parent asks at one recent event, while boys groan because the boots are heavy and uncomfortable. The experts are divided on this answer. While it does prevent the Achilles tendon injury, in some cases, the presence of the steel boot just angers the attacker, and they will cut higher, which may involve knee injury, or severe blood loss and even death if they hit an artery. “You could always go with the full-length chain mail pants,” some experts suggest.

For most young men, wearing chain mail pants or even steel boots is seen as a cowardly move and overkill, since MOST girls aren’t slashers, and MOST guys don’t get attacked. In fact, on average, less than ten guys per high-school report an Ankling injury. Advocacy groups like VAST argue that the number is much higher, claiming that boys with near misses don’t report, for fear of being targeted again. And sometimes a boy may pass off the injury as sports related, which is more socially acceptable than admitting he’s a victim of Ankling and being labeled a “jerk.”

And what about these rowdy, reckless girls who are preying on guys like this? There are some opposition groups, like Ban Ankling Bullies (BAB), but these are considered fringe movements, whose violent protests label all young women as lost causes. The more general attitude is that girls are “just letting off some steam,” or engaging in youthful hijinks. The impression that boys deserve it is widespread. “Girls that age are very hormonal,” says Dr. Jane Bordon, who has studied the phenomenon for several years. “If they can find a less destructive way to release their energy, it’s helpful. Play a video game or get out on the shooting range.” But for people like Samantha Jackson, a mom in a small town in Michigan, Ankling isn’t that big of a deal. “Girls will be girls,” she says. “They’re young, and they’re going to make some bad decisions. It’s not even that bad.”

And science seems to show, she’s right. In an unexpected side-effect, due to the recent increase in these incidents, doctors have now perfected the Achilles Tendon repair surgery, with groundbreaking new techniques. Recovery rates and times are better than ever, and this is great news for all the guys who have legitimate sports injuries. In a way, it’s a blessing.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Lost Week

I was actually doing a fabulous job of starting off the school year right, and not wasting time while the kids were gone. I had my multi-page, appropriately titled, "Tedious Chore List." I had actually completed more than 50% of the tedious chores (calculating by line item, not by time it would take to complete said chores.) Things were looking cleaner around the house. A pile of discards was growing for Purple Heart pickup.

Then the Fall Colds hit, leaving me with multiple days of feeling in a fog, sleeping excessively, and attending to kids who were also sick, and not in school. Slight gratitude here that it happened in week two of September, hopefully giving me time to recover and get back on track, before the inevitable late October Halloween derailment.

At the library tonight, where I'm supposed to spend an hour and a half every Monday between Ballet class drop off and pickup, working on my writing. I did this last year on Wednesdays. Mondays are a lot more annoying at the library. Many more people coming and going, getting dropped off in shuttle buses, etc. Difficulty finding a quiet nook to work. I spent my time this night as follows:

Closing all open windows on computer.
Figuring out how to log on to library Wi-Fi, yet again.
Sending email to writing critique partner.
Getting distracted by emails from Music Class, re: Trip I must sign my child up for ASAP so she doesn't end up on the wait list, Dance Class, re: Convoluted Schedule change which might save me 15 minutes of tuition fees, could I be so lucky?
Sign Child up for Music Class Trip.
Email Dance Teacher to inquire about fee refund?
Search for my manuscript and realize the most recent chapters I was revising have not made the transfer over to the Annoying New Computer.
Email OTHER writing critique partner, (the one I'm actually supposed to WRITE for, not just READ) and inform her of my goals to complete transition to Annoying New Computer and revise a chapter by next Monday.
Log on to Writing Chat Group.
Write this.
It is now time to go pick up the girls from dance.

I'm supposed to present a topic for 10 minutes at FCL Writers group tomorrow. Perhaps will research time management for writers.

Edit) Informed by dance school that 15 minute fee refund of $1.40 will be applied in the event that class indeed goes 15 minutes short. My optimism at the extent to which my thousands annually would be affected was obviously misplaced.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Sugar I Said I Was Going To Stop Eating

Sitting at the kitchen table, shoveling leftover-from-my birthday coconut pecan frosting straight from the tub into my mouth with a knife, reading an article in a soggy scattered newspaper, about all these people who got food poisoning from Kellogg's Sugar Smacks, and thinking deep thoughts like, What kind of person is still eating Sugar Smacks at age 95? Probably the kind of person who eats leftover-from-her-birthday-in-May frosting out of the tub at age 40-um because it's back to school week, and not Friday yet. Who even knows how many times the power went out since May, we were gone for three weeks this summer. This probably wasn't the best idea. Dang, I just dropped a glob on my leg. Oh, look, there's none left. At least I can recycle this container now, and stop moving it out of the way while looking for snacks in the fridge. 

Anyway, maybe I'll have oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow. That sounds healthy.