A Dilemma Only Jell-O Can Solve

I know I’ve been quiet for the last week or so, but life has once again gotten in the way of my more enjoyable activities, as it often does… too often, if you ask me.  But hey, I’m back!  And I have a very important topic to discuss.  Lucky you!

Yes, I thought it was high time I addressed something increasingly pervasive throughout our culture. Many have turned a blind eye, allowing the behavior to go unchecked and spread like wildfire over cubicles across America. Perhaps you yourself have participated in this questionable behavior.

Office supply theft, an apparently growing threat to offices in the contiguous 48 states (Hey! Don’t question my stats!). What draws people to this life of crime? What inspires once upstanding citizens to don sticky fingers (probably using glue they stole from the paper room) and swipe those pencils and pads of “while you were out” paper? What is so enticing about having one’s own stapler at home that leads a person to shed dignity and morals?

If you’re still with me, nodding your head emphatically with the warm rush of vindication washing up your cheeks, you’re probably an office manager, owner, or someone in the higher echelon of office politics. You probably have keys to the oft-revered Office Supply Cabinet.

I get it. As a culture, we have decided that stealing is wrong, even if it is just a sharpie for your son’s science fair presentation. Employees will take anything from generic #2 pencils to fancy pink highlighters, staples (for that stapler they already made off with), to paper products like notebooks and steno pads. Employers have struggled to find ways to eradicate this pestilence, this plague of thievery from their buildings.

Many offices have taken to literally locking the supplies away. Close those cabinets. Bar the doors with adamantium. Sleep well at night knowing that the only way the pencils are leaving the safety of those office corridors is stuffed secretly in someone’s bag, one breakable graphite stick at a time. Whatever you do, keep those tape dispensers and sharpies safe!

Some offices have tried giving out pencils one at a time, like little reward nuggets one would give a pet rat. What happens if you’re taking notes in the middle of a very important meeting (assuming you haven’t upgraded to taking notes on your computer, I know a few of you are still out there) and your pencil breaks? Do you then raise your hand to stop the meeting and ask permission to retrieve another pencil from the cabinet?

I once heard of an office where people were required to trade in their old, used items before getting a new one. Workers would have to run that pencil down to the bitter nub, then find the keeper of the office supplies and graciously ask them to accept the offering. What was that moment of silence like just before they received their new item? Was it heavy with the possibility of a refusal? What then?

Some offices like to implement tier distribution, an arbitrary and political division of funds that relates directly to the quality of supplies. (C-suites get the best chairs, mailroom can have the metal stools). Who determines that budget? More important, how do I get on that committee?

These measures can lead to ridiculous situations like trading and bartering between employees (I’ll give you one half-used roll of tape for that box of mini paper clips). Feeling the forced scarcity of resources, other employees tend to hoard things like colored pens (why does everyone want the red pens!) and star-shaped post-it notes. Labels emblazon everything from calculators to staplers to tape dispensers to “the one good pen” as everyone marks their territory lest the item walk, never to be seen again.

Where does that leave us then? Sneaking around each other’s cubicles, trying to catch a glimpse of what someone is hiding behind their daughter’s framed cheerleading picture? Passing private notes back and forth looking for information on who’s got the line on the white-out?

Is office supply theft truly such a scar on the face of our office culture that supplies need to be held hostage and doled out like runny soup to prisoners (all hail Les Mis)? Or are the measures to protect the supplies really just a power game? Are all offices forced to contend with some variation of a misguided, ridiculously informed, over-committed Dwight Schrute? Should office workers, in retaliation of metered supplies, break those cabinet locks and liberate every stapler and tape dispenser, finding them a new home in a mold of Jell-O? I’m not sure it would be as humorous off-screen, but perhaps it’s worth a try. Oh, who am I kidding? It would be hilarious. Now wait a minute, I know I saw a coupon for Jell-O at the local Piggly Wiggly. Gotta go, I feel a nefarious project coming on!

Blast from the Past

In my old neck of the woods, they have some classic, high-minded, quality journalists on Facebook that keep the community informed and offer helpful tips on how to stay safe. You know, the kind of journalism straight out of the 1950s. Headlines that drag one’s memory back to a time when wives met husbands at the door with a cocktail and doe-eyed kisses, all while balancing delicately on heels and happy pills.

If you can’t feel the sarcasm dripping from these statements, let me share with you their recent report that inspired it. See if you can spot the informational gem in question.

aa first alert redacted

Yes, ladies, close those blinds! Be sure to spend your sun-filled days and early evening hours in a dark hole of false safety. While you’re at it, strap down those boobs, keep your skirts floor-length, and never (but never!) go out at night! Men just can’t help themselves, apparently, and it is your responsibility to not be their next victim! 

What is perhaps most disappointing is that this band of merry journalists are themselves, women.

I was not alone in taking offense at this headline. Several readers, all women, of course, complained. Unfortunately, most of our comments were deleted or hidden. Silencing the voices of the dissenters, the bedrock of quality journalism.

Admittedly, my first comment, made directly to the post, may have been a little snarky:  “Men, here is your reminder to not be a perv and exploit women!” There, fixed your headline for you. Do better, Anne Arundel First Alert.” 

Yeah, perhaps I could have gone a little easier on them, but I am just so sick and tired of seeing these passive headlines.

Turns out, quite a few others made similar remarks.

Someone mentioned how wrong it was to victim blame, and AA First Alert came back with: “We’re not victim blaming at all, and the article does not infer that. But the fact remains, if the blinds or shades were drawn, there would be nothing for the Peeping Tom to peep at.”

Hmm… sounds a little like victim-blaming to me. How dare that woman open her blinds to the beauty of the world outside? Doesn’t she know there are creepy, uncontrollable men lurking in the bushes? Could she not think about them for once!?

wont-somebody-please-think-of-the-children-think-of-the-children

I crafted a more intelligent response to that particular comment and posted this: “As journalists, you should understand that words matter, words have power. Your headline calling out the victim is disappointing. Victim blaming and putting the onus on women to control men’s behavior is misguided and wrong, to say the least. Women should be able to simply exist, especially in their own homes, and men should be able to control themselves.”

Welp. That didn’t go over well. After deleting mine and other comments, they edited their above comment to exclude the But… statement. Talk about journalistic integrity, right?

A male reader commented, “The ‘woke’ women on this page (insert eye roll emoji in place of a period) Taking someone’s wording with good intentions and twisting them to some delusional opinions.” Guess who loved this comment (and others like it)… yep, you guessed it. AA First Alert.

first alert another screen shot

It’s extremely disheartening to see a group of women who are unwilling to grow beyond their own ingrained biases, even more so when they put themselves out there as a voice for the community. It is not unreasonable to expect better from people who are reporting the news. Yeah, I know, I know, I’ve given up on expecting anything better from the likes of FOX News, but still. 

Instead of addressing their own internal misogyny and striving to grow as journalists (which would’ve been an excellent take on their part), they simply deleted the naysayers. I had hoped this group of local aspiring journalists would take misogyny, bigotry, and hate in hand and do better for the community they claim to represent.

Instead, it appears they can’t think past the cliché, pandering clickbait headline. Until they do, they have no hope of becoming credible journalists. 

Lucky Charms or Magically Malicious?

People will try ridiculous things to get rid of their old junk. Craigslist ads are prime examples of this. Some people employ humor to flag down the attention of potential buyers. Others appeal to our psyche’s darker, inquisitive sides and rely on the macabre factor to garnish views. Sometimes, the difference between the two can be blurry and questionable.

Recently, someone posted a piano for sale, clarifying that it is “Not possessed or haunted in any way.” Well, that’s an eye-catcher. Okay, I’ll bite. What else about this perfectly mundane, non-haunted piano? The lister continues, mentioning that it has only been played by “human” hands roughly six minutes since its last tuning which was 24 months prior. So human hands haven’t overly touched it, but have ghost hands had a go? I assumed this was a joke, playing to people’s love of the mysterious. They end the ad with a simple but slightly enticing plea, “Please take this out of my home.” I couldn’t help but notice some desperation in that request. Whether it was from simply wanting the piano gone for lack of use, aesthetic reasons, or because there really are ghostly hands that dance along the keys in the dark hours of the night, I’ll never know. Sadly, I don’t have room for a piano.

haunted piano main

This ad was not the first Craigslist ad to appeal to the all things creepy-loving side of our desires. Haunted dolls have graced numerous listings. These ads don’t quite have the humor of the “not possessed” piano and seem quite real (at least to the sellers). One lister offered to pay someone to take a doll out of their home, lock it in a chest, and keep it far away. Apparently, the doll talked and laughed and, though they kept trying to throw it away, it always came back. Sounds like a horror movie trope, but I saw the picture. The doll did have some wild demonic-looking eyes. I have enough issues with the “ne-er-do-well” trying to kill me in the dark, I certainly don’t need to give her a like-minded partner in crime.

holly

the ne’er-do-well plotting my demise

Another listing, aptly named “Satan’s Marionette Puppet,” claimed their haunted doll ran around the house while they slept. The doll also winked at people, though apparently no one would believe the receiver of said winks. They tried to add a touch of humor (at least, I hope that was their intention) by claiming it would make an excellent mobile for a baby’s crib. The price they asked for this gem of a nightmare… 10,000 souls.  I barely have one soul, and it’s spoken for already, so I passed on this one too.

So who buys these items off Craigslist? Well, people like my ex-MIL.

I won’t say that she is crazy, but she is unique. She once ordered a brass teapot from Craigslist that supposedly had a fairy trapped in it. The genie motif was strong with this particular haunted object, though it did end up taking a slightly Celtic turn.  I mean, I’ve heard of genies trapped in lanterns. But a fairy in a teapot? I didn’t know that was a thing. My MIL believed it, though, and she bought it.

Now, I’m not going to mock anyone who believes in fairies. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science],” as Shakespeare once opined. But let’s just say I’m doubtful that this teapot held a fairy. More likely, the seller thought to use humor to catch the attention of a fellow humorist who appreciated a not-so-creative joke. Perhaps they hadn’t expected to be believed. Or maybe they just lied. You know, to appeal to a certain demographic.

For argument’s sake, let’s say it DID contain a fairy. As I said, my ex-MIL certainly believed it did. Let’s just unpack that for a moment. That means my ex-MIL willfully and with forethought bought a sentient being that was trapped against its will with the sole purpose of keeping it on her mantle. She actually expected this bring to bring her luck. Luck. WTF kind of luck can a kidnapped fairy bring you!? I can’t imagine it would be anything good.

From the mythology I’ve read over the years, fairies are fierce (definitely not of the Tinkerbell variety) and become downright enraged when mistreated. You know, like being trapped in a teapot. Oh yeah, pissing off a strong, supernatural being will bring you luck for sure.

So, say you do believe fairies exist in the world (which my MIL did), wouldn’t that be an awful thing to do? I mean, what does it say about her as a person that she would willfully keep one trapped against its will?  In a teapot. On her mantle. To force it to bless her home with luck.

The fact that she has also purchased “haunted” items should not surprise anyone. Fairies trapped in teapots, Satan’s Marionette Puppet, dolls that keep coming back no matter how often you discard them… there just might be a buyer for anything out there, if you know how to advertise successfully.

Have a Glass of Wine with Your Whine

Motherhood is hard. I don’t think anyone would argue that fact. It is a demanding, multi-faceted, over-worked, and under-appreciated, sometimes soul-crushing job. Of course, I know it also brings with it the most profound joy, connection, and love – blah blah blah – so save your comments. I’ll repeat it for those in the back, motherhood is hard.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Apparently, this was an unexpected consequence for one woman who decided to write a post for the blog called “Love What Matters.”  It’s not a long read, so please, hop on over and give it a gander. It will also help the below make a lot more sense.

Now, I have a few issues with what Ashley has shared with us, not least of which is the fact that she wrote this under her own name, using photos of herself and her child, so clearly no anonymity was intended. She’s just putting it all out there for the subject of her diatribe, her “very good friend,” to see. But let’s start with the classic debate between stay-at-home moms and working moms. Why do we still argue over who is more deserving of sainthood? Here’s a hint. It’s none of us.

She insults working mothers by claiming, “My job literally never ends. It is 24/7. No hopping in the car, driving to work, clocking in, doing my 8 hours, clocking out.” Oh yeah, cause that’s the fantasy we’re all chasing. She continues with her vision of a working mom, “…driving home to my kids and being with them for 2 to 3 hours for the night routine and then putting them to bed.” As if bedtime is ever that easy. Please.

Does she think a working mom’s job does end? *insert maniacal laughter here* For those who may be wondering, no. No, it doesn’t. And frankly, it’s disheartening to see a mother using this tripe to belittle other mothers. I’ve been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom at various times in my life, and they are equally fucking hard. Let’s end that tireless debate and put it to rest. Something we all wish our kids would do at a decent hour every evening.  

Then there is the focus of her essay, her “very good friend” going to a bachelorette party. I mean, how dare she!?  I understand the feelings of jealousy, especially coming off such a tough week.  “…near the end of what seemed to be one of the hardest, most tiring weeks of my life as a mother and wife.”  I also get the feelings of hurt that this friend didn’t make it to the writer’s wedding. Although I feel like we are missing a lot of context with that one.

First off, if you choose to have a destination wedding, you don’t have the right to get mad at anyone for not coming. It’s a big commitment, a big ask. People have to take time off work, use their vacation days, spend untold amounts of money to come to a celebration centered around you. Not everyone has that luxury. Maybe this friend wanted to be at her wedding but couldn’t afford the price tag or the time off work. Perhaps now she is in a better financial position to take time off, and it just happened to be for another friend’s bachelorette party (arguably way more fun than a wedding) that was closer to home.

The writer says her friend deserved this trip. Then be happy for her. Don’t write a blog post complaining about how selfish she is to share her deserved adventure with a good friend. It sounds to me as though her friend thought she’d be interested in the photos and what was going on, not lording it over her. Obviously, the writer did not appreciate it.

Ashley questions her friend’s loyalty and commitment to their friendship, but that sure seems like a stretch. On the other hand, Ashley seems almost hateful when talking about her “very good friend,” telling all and sundry “Don’t be that friend. Don’t be rude, don’t be selfish and only think about you.” The lack of self-awareness is strong here, don’t you think?

I get it. The writer had a rough week with her kids. I get it, I do. Unfortunately, that happens in parenting. A lot.

One of the valuable lessons I have learned in life is that if you need something, you have to ask for it (or demand it in some cases). Few people are going to step in and offer help where they don’t think it is needed. People aren’t mind readers. If you need a break from your kids, don’t wait for a friend to offer. Ask directly, plead your case of needing a night away, offer to order them all pizza, and give up your Netflix password for the night. In that case, you’d probably find a willing friend.

Instead of proudly proclaiming that your kids never stay with Grandma, thereby solidifying your martyrdom, ask Grandma if she’s up for some time with the kids. Assuming Grandma isn’t a freak or otherwise unable to care for children, both kids and Grandma might just have a blast enjoying each other’s company. 

Tell your husband that you are on the verge of committing yourself, and it’s time for him to step up and keep the kids for a night. They’re his kids too, after all.  Grab a box of wine and crash on a friend’s couch.

Hire a babysitter for a two-hour dinner with your husband. Or work out a babysitting swap with a friend so you can get some couple time on a regular basis. As a mother, I can attest to the healing power of something as simple as a meal without young children. Even if the dinner is at Denny’s or someplace designed for a smaller budget, it can do wonders for the soul.

Lastly, why the hell is this in a blog called “Love What Matters”? This post is not about love. It is about resentment and blaming others for one’s own lot in life. It is a complaint about the life choices this writer made. She is transferring her frustration and contempt for these choices onto her friend, who was probably just trying to share the joy of her own life. I’d be willing to bet the writer has sent numerous happy pictures of her family to this friend. Hopefully, the friend received those photos with more grace than hers were met with.

 

Hack This

Life hacks. Those simple tricks and strategies that help us move through life just a little bit easier and more efficiently. It’s hard to avoid the sea of life hacks as we wade through Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube videos.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these life hacks are pretty impressive and simple, and if neither of those, at least entertaining. I’ve learned that one can use a dustpan to help fill a bucket too big for the sink (although I don’t know about the state of your dustpan) or put pancake mix in a cleaned-out ketchup bottle to make for easier dispensing. There’s the “hack” of determining the doneness of spaghetti by throwing it against the ceiling. If it sticks, it’s done. Although, to be fair, that one’s been around for quite some time now. I’d love to know the life hack for getting stuck spaghetti off your walls, but there’s been no follow up on that to date.

There’s the classic “hack” of fixing a split flipflop with a bread tag (I learned that one on a beach years ago), using ice to remove gum (would’ve been useful info back in junior high), adding lime in boiling egg water to make shells easier to remove, or a hair tie to expand the waistline of your jeans. I’m telling you, the hacks are endless.

Did you all know that Doritos make good kindling? That one is decidedly disturbing, especially considering how many Doritos are ingested by us as a country.  Coca Cola is great for cleaning mucked up showers. WTF? Oh, hey! Maybe it will work on spaghetti walls. Did you know that ramen makes a great DIY filler for most projects? Who needs wood paste or spackle when you have a handy dandy packet of ramen lying around.

It seems everyone has a life hack for something. But do they?  Do they really?  Sometimes I think what people call a life hack is more like “that’s just how it’s done.”  Since when is folding clothes a life hack? In a long list of these tips, I saw one that explained how to more easily mulch a garden. The hack was simply using a bucket to transfer the mulch from the wheelbarrow to the plants. Seriously?

One video explained the “hack” of measuring for a bra. It’s labeled as a new and improved trick for finding the perfect fit when the person just describes how you’re supposed to measure for a bra.

It’s easy to find the humor in these videos, and sometimes I do find it funny that things are called a hack when they’re not really a hack. But when I really think about it, it’s also sad that whole generations don’t know it isn’t a hack. We’ve taken away life skills from our young people and then accuse them of laziness and ignorance. For so many years now, we’ve put so much emphasis on becoming specialized professionals that we’ve forgotten to teach the simple skills that can help everyone be more successful in life, not just a career.

So, when someone sees it done for the first time or they figure it out on their own, they think they’ve discovered something new.  Oh, I’m not criticizing these young people. It’s not their fault. We can’t blame them for not knowing something they don’t know. No one is teaching them these things to begin with. They’re left to figure it out on their own.

At one time, we had home economics in school. All kids had to take it, and it taught things like sewing a button, cooking a meal, washing laundry, and balancing a checkbook. Life skills, not life hacks.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to the good old days. They weren’t all that good for a whole bunch of people. But maybe we should go back to offering life skills classes in school. Something.

In the meantime, YouTube and TikTok are a veritable feast of how-to’s, and I’m glad that young people can Google to figure things out, because the adults of the world certainly aren’t helping them out.

Give a Man a Fish…

I must say that eating sushi was never something I equated with my grocery shopping experience. I guess my concerns center round the whole aesthetics and hygiene thing, and you know, the raw fish. Admittedly, sushi is not something I would eat in general, let alone at the grocery store. But…

I recently saw a man eating sushi in the grocery store. Umm… eww?

Yeah, so I was at the local grocery store yesterday (not the fancy kind either, just your run-of-the-mill chain store), wandering the rows and trying to make my way through my list when I noticed a man looking at the sushi they have pre-prepared in the case. I noticed him because he made a big deal about hemming and hawing over the case as he took off his baseball cap, scratched his head, and eyed up the display.  In a loud manner, he pulled the seafood clerk aside to ask if it was fresh. Now, I can’t speak to the honesty of the clerk, but he told the man that ‘yes, it’s made fresh every day.’ He failed to mention what time of day. It could have been made first thing that morning, for all we knew, and here it was, 8:30pm. But the guy seemed satisfied enough with that answer, and that’s what matters, I suppose. I mean, he was purchasing sushi at the local grocery store, after all. Anyway, the guy made his selection and moved on. I didn’t see what he chose (I’m not that nosy.)

I returned to my shopping, and a few minutes later, I saw this guy again. Now he was down at the other end of the seafood counter (where they have cheese and pasta in a refrigerated section, which is where I was headed), and I kid you not, he was eating the sushi! With his fingers. Right there in the store. Eating. The. Sushi. He couldn’t even wait to get home or at the least to the semi-privacy of his car.  Eating sushi in the middle of the grocery store. Who does that? It’s not like he was trying to hide it either. You know, have your sushi but not pay for it. He was just sort of there, for everyone to see. Can you imagine taking up an empty sushi container to the check out? Do you even try to explain that or just stare silently at the questioning cashier?

I’ve seen some quirky behavior in the grocery store. Some of it is a bit more common than others, some of it not very sanitary. But… a sushi dinner? How badly must you need a sushi fix to pop open the container and just start shoveling it in while loitering in aisle 5?  

Most people love a good sushi dinner now and then. Well, maybe not most people. But a substantial portion of the population appreciates the delicacies of raw fish and their pairings with rice, veggies, and seaweed. Part of the reason some people like sushi is the pleasure of going to a nice restaurant where the sushi is freshly made moments before being served. Then, of course, there’s the ambiance of the sushi bar itself. 

For this guy, however, the assurance of “made fresh everyday” was more than enough… regardless of what time of day that might be.  And ambiance?  Who the hell needs ambiance when you’re downing grocery store sushi next to the pasta and cheese display at the Piggly Wiggly? If that’s where you are in your life, ambiance is probably the last thing on your mind. 

Home Sweet…Well, You Know.

I may have mentioned before that I would be moving. Well, that plan finally came to fruition this week and if nothing else, I’ve learned that I’m getting too old for this crap. Next time I move, it will be after having won the MegaMillions lottery and a team of movers will swoosh in to sort, pack, and move my stuff as I observe from the sidelines. Oh, who am I kidding? If I win the MegaMillions lottery, the only thing I’ll be packing is a suitcase as I plan my getaway across the ocean.

Down the Rabbit Hole

It takes me over three hours to watch a two hour movie because of all the Googling. I know I know that actor from something…now what was it? That actor was in that thing with that other actor, you know, the one from that show we watched four years ago? I’m telling you, that guy is married to the woman who was in a movie I saw ten years ago and her mother was a famous classic Hollywood actress from back in the day and you know what, they look amazingly alike. And then I have to prove what the hell I’m talking about so… yep, more Googling. Or, doesn’t that character remind you of that completely different character from that entirely different t.v. show that isn’t on anymore… and here we go down the rabbit hole of Google searches.

Behind the Lens

Some traditional cultures believe that taking a picture of a person can capture their soul. Looking at our culture these days, I couldn’t say they are wrong. But at least we have a say in when and where our picture gets taken. Right? Wrong.

When you go out, do you expect your image to grace the lens of a stranger? Women, do you strap on your bikini and head to the beach knowing that an array of men you don’t know will be taking pictures of you? When you look in the mirror before you leave your house, do you inspect your face and body and wonder how you will be portrayed through a stranger’s camera? If not, you’d better start, because apparently, this is a thing. Now, I’m not talking about situations where people record something for the greater good, I’m speaking here of photo-stalking random women at the beach, at concerts, at the mall for God’s sake.

Some of you might argue that, hey, you’re in a public place… no expectation of privacy. Yeah, I get it.  But I imagine that the thought of a stranger taking our picture without our consent is horrifying for most of us.  Despite the public nature of the location, it’s an invasion of privacy that is just downright creepy.

In this age of camera phones and social media, it can be uncomfortable to be in a crowded public space. One never knows who is recording what. I watched a spectacular young woman on YouTube confront two older men on a beach in Florida. Florida, amirite? She caught the men taking pictures of random women in bikinis, then outed them in front of the crowd. She swiped through his photos, yelling at him to delete the images of women he didn’t know, to which he quickly complied. I think we all owe this brave young woman a round of applause!

Unfortunately, this is not a new experience, creepy men thinking they have the right to take a photo of whomever they choose. In fact, my ex used to do this very thing, especially at concerts. He and his friends would secretly take pictures of the girls there and then pass them around. Now, my ex and his friends weren’t teenagers, someone so riddled with hormones they couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag. I’m talking about grown-ass men in their 40s. Secretly taking photos of attractive young women they did not know.

I once invited my ex’s cousin to a community music festival my ex went to every year. Of course, my ex got angry with me… something he did quite often, but in this case, I couldn’t figure it out at first. I thought he liked this cousin.  Then, I realized, this cousin and his gosh darn ethical ways would inhibit my ex’s photo-stalking of young girls. I will confess that upon finding some of these photos and realizing they had been shared, I spoke with the wife of the guy who was on the other end of that text message thread.  She wasn’t happy.  When word got back to him, my ex, the gaslighter extraordinaire, berated me, telling me that I had embarrassed myself and that the wife thought I was pitiful for being offended. Because everyone takes photos of young girls at concerts, then passes them around to their friends with comments about the young girls’ bodies. Everybody does it. And everybody knows that everyone does it. Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t know. Apparently, I was the only one who would take offense or get angry at such a thing. Hey, if gaslighting were a college major, my ex would have graduated with honors. I mean, he’s my ex for a reason.

Maybe taking pictures of random young girls is common. Perhaps sharing photos with your friends of unsuspecting women out on the town or bikini-clad at the beach, or, you know, simply trying to enjoy a freakin’ neighborhood concert, is something that does occur often. But you know what? It doesn’t change the fact that it’s not okay. IT. IS. NOT. OKAY. The men taking these pictures are not typical men (and if they are, then I’ll swear off the gender for good). They are disgusting, perverted, privacy-invading creeps. There, I said it. And I’m not sorry.

Predatory behavior from men is far too common. Unsolicited catcalls, inappropriate texts, aggressive confrontations and pick-up lines, uncomfortably explicit stories with coworkers; these are the ways that men force their sexual preoccupation into our lives. Many people (primarily men, but I’m sure some women) would argue that it’s not bad behavior. It’s just a case of “boys will be boys.” Newsflash, asshole: boys will be boys is no longer an acceptable excuse for predatory behavior. Period.

I’m telling you men, you’ve gotta get your shit together, and if you want to screech “not all men” then bear the burden of your gender and call out this predatory bullshit.