October 31, 2014

The Scariest Thing About Traveling Alone

I love to travel. The truth is, I also enjoy traveling alone. It may sound sad and anti-social, but the loneliest I've ever felt was at a crowded party while the DJ played another Lady Gaga song. If you're thinking maybe that was the problem, I must say my feeling had nothing to do with the music, or the space. Sometimes "the scene" just gets old- every push at the bar and scream over the music to your friend feels like an automated simulation. This is when I unplug. 

Solo travel is not for everybody. It requires a lot of research. I don't usually say "never," but when I do, it's a matter of life and death. So I will say it here that I have never spun a globe, picked a place on a map, and bought a ticket in one fell swoop. That my friends, is a suicide mission wrapped in insanity.* Picking a country, or even a new state, takes time. (If a decision seems "all of a sudden" to people it's because you're not a talker, you're a do-er, congratulations.) 

My most recent trip was inspired by a blog post about budget traveling. After doing some exploratory clicks, I bought my tickets, set my budget, and connected with a travel agency (shout-out to Sodha Travel). Then we came up with an itinerary. After tying up a few loose ends, (I would recommend looking into travel insurance), I packed, and took off for Kathmandu, Nepal. I was nervous, but full of resolve. Creating a situation that you cannot back out of, is the key to doing the impossible. 

I heard "brave" and "courage" a lot after announcing my travel plans. My ego appreciated the compliments, but every time I wondered if those adjectives really applied. I would think, "What if I'm making a huge mistake?" "What if my trip is just an excuse to run away from dealing with difficult people?" I kept thinking, and thinking, and thinking. "What if the airline looses my luggage?" "What if my ride to the airport doesn't show up?" Eventually, I ran out of "What ifs."

When I got off the plane at Abu Dhabi for a lay-over, it hit me. The scariest thing about traveling alone is letting go and taking it all in. After you've run through and prepared for some of the "What ifs," everything outside of your control comes into play. How do you react to foreign sounds and smells? Do you judge the way other people live? Can you handle hard stares and language barriers?* What do you think about when you are not taking Buzzfeed quizzes?

When you travel with your significant other or friends, you see them, then the sites. There are always long conversations about where to first, then where to go next, then when to leave. You have conversations with them about people you know, or other places you've been. It's a lovely time...
But when you're alone, you see everything else first for what it really is- you feel your heart and search your mind.

So if you ever feel like facing yourself and falling in love with what is buried, take a trip.

*Before booking tickets, Google the country and hit "News," and go to that country on Twitter. Ladies if you see "riots," "corrupt," or "rape" in the top three links, you may want to pick a new country. Generally, tourist areas anywhere are pretty safe, but if a country is going through a revolution your flight may be cancelled and there you are cancelling your trip.

*I can tell you right now, there was no one else in Nepal who looked like me and I am on some random 16 year old's Instagram because she wanted a picture.


September 26, 2014

How to Know If Your Date is a Feminist

So the truth is, I've dated... A LOT. When I moved to New York I wanted to make up for all those dorm room, jello shot filled hangouts. Not knocking the dorm room hangout, but that is not a date. Let me repeat a "hangout" is not a date. My experience has shown me that grown ass men will say the word date, invite you somewhere, and make a real effort to get to know you. I think it's called a conversation. Yep. That's it. Also, a lot of sites will focus on "how to date a feminist." I'm not a unicorn, so yeah, that's silly.

Now!!! Once I got over the initial shock and excitement of being on dates: "Girl he asked me out," "What do I wear?" "I should tell him about that time I went to Ghana, so I look grown up and worldly..." I realized that even more important than what comes out of my mouth was what comes out of his. Yes ladies, the old adage is true, you should let your guy date do most of the talking. This is not because you want to appear polite and demure, it's because you can quickly find out if you're dealing with a bona fide crazy by listening to this fool your date talk. There are key words and phrases I have identified as a no go.

Disclaimer: If you do not believe in women's empowerment or equality and all that jazz, and don't care if your date does either, this post blog is not for you.

Now on to the good stuff:

6) He lives in a bubble and likes it: It is OK if a person has never left his state. To be fair, travel can be expensive. However, that is not an excuse to only know what he knows and that's it because, The Internet. Dating someone who is not open is problematic. Dating someone who does not want to be, is a done deal. He will have expectations of what women should/shouldn't do, dress, talk, etc. and that will be the end of discussion. Needless to say if you don't find a problem with this guy, he'll probably find a problem with you because you don't "measure up." Then! You'll really be mad because you were really too good for him and he has some nerve...

5) He is surprised/impressed that you know anything: I am not talking about Jeopardy champion type stuff. I mean he thinks you're awesome because you can conjugate verbs and know that the Earth is round. Men who think women are inherently dumb or "bad at math" are a no go. They will constantly question anything you say as fact, unless you got it from a man source. They may also try to mansplain things to you. Girl. Just no. If this happens, ask for the check your damn self.

4) He thinks Women "Got it good": Piggybacking off the above, this is the person who doesn't understand why women are "always angry," "complaining," or some combination of the two. This person may say something like, "You're not like most girls" when you make intelligent, rational responses. He may also joke about how you should be paying for the date, he asked you on. If he brings this up more than once it's probably not a joke and he may be unemployed.

3) His sense of humor is off: I have found the best date to get to know someone on is a comedy show and drinks. What someone laughs at will tell you everything, especially when they're drunk. Comedy is always rooted in some bit of truth, that's why people can identify, see the humor, and laugh. Jokes about a woman getting raped = not funny. That may be obvious, but if your dude is laughing about roofies in your drink you should probably run, oh and get your own drinks.

2) He brings up sex really fast AND only talks about what he likes: Lookit, if he thinks vaginas are "gross" or going "down there" is "nasty," but wants you to be a porn star in the bedroom, chances are he's watched waaaay too much porn and thinks that's real life. Now I'm not knocking porn, but making the beast with two backs should be pleasing to both persons and should come up naturally in conversation. Men who think it is a woman's job to please in spite of herself are special and probably don't see women as people, which brings me to number 1.

1) He cannot use the word women: This is the granddady of them all. A man who cannot use the word women to describe a group of women has all the issues, and probably hates women. I'll never forget a FB discussion where one woman was describing a guy who kept saying "females." At the time I was like "Why would that be a problem?" Then I experienced it for myself. "Female" or "females" tend to be used with same tone as bitch.

Allow me to use in a sentence:
"You females are all crazy."
My face: -____-

What did I leave out? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @herdiamondback!

September 16, 2014

What Janay Rice and Jill Scott Have in Common

If you are thinking, Erin isn't this a blog for feminists about women's issues? What in the world took you so long to write about what a monster Ray Rice is? The truth is, I didn't want to write about Ray Rice or the NFL. I did not want to write about how a man who was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated assault, was only punished after a video of him knocking out his now-wife emerged- 6 months later. The story makes me furious. However, the conversations have been even worse.

Oh, so we only need protection from police?

Comments blaming the victim, jokes about taking the stairs, arguments of who hit who first are maddening. I am also sick of hearing what a scandal this is for the NFL! They will be alright. I assure you. What is not right and what is not fair, is that over and over again women of color are left to fend for ourselves when the pot gets hot.

Two weeks ago I cannot explain how excited I was to see Jill Scott trending on Twitter. After having a really rough morning at work, I thought I would get to see a trailer or hear a new song that would help me hit reset on the morning. Instead I saw breasts. I saw a lightly robed Jilly from Philly in her bathroom. Thinking it was a Photoshop joke I scrolled down to see the constant RTs and jokes about "Jill Scott built like." Why?! I was angry and I was shocked.

How is it that one of the founders of Twitter can stand for Mike Brown, but miss a nude celebrity? What is it that gives the world permission to mock us and kick us when we're down? It's baffling and tiresome. Of course Jill Scott responded with the Grace of thousand queens because that is who she is. However, that does not excuse the fact that she was left vulnerable and exposed in a way Jennifer Lawrence was not. (To this day, the breasts of J. Law are hardly anywhere to be found.)


I write this to simply say that I hope this is a wake up call. You don't get to be an ally when it's convenient; when you get to defend Nicki's butt or Beyonce's wigs. Show up when it really matters, show up when we need you. No one should get to pick and choose who deserves empathy in a clear case of abuse. I want to see the concern for Mrs. Rice and her child. I want every domestic abuse prevention and recovery organization to get shine. Who cares if Roger Goodell is fired? Our priorities need a realignment. If we're firing him, we need to fire congressmen, pastors, coaches, and anyone who is, or protects abusers everywhere, because its not OK!

For more information about domestic abuse and organizations, check out the amazing post by Afrobella, interviewing an expert in domestic abuse cases.

See also #whyistayed and the resources list here.

We ALL deserve protection, not to be belittled in the face of adversity. #YesAllWomen

What do you think Diamonds? Do you think it's time to change the conversation? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter.