Let me spin you a yarn.
It was a few years ago, 2014, early summer. I was meeting a large group of friends in Pittsburgh for our annual gathering where we all get together and let loose for the night. It’s fun.
First we met at a restaurant called Gus’s. We all had dinner out on the patio and had a couple drinks with dinner. We were there for a few hours.
The next portion of the night, we moved to a night club down the street. The club is called Belvedere’s Ultra Dive. We were going to see some DJs.
When I walked into the bar, I had had a couple of drinks already. I did not feel very intoxicated, and I planned to have some more. My friend had driven, so drinking and driving was not a concern.
As time passed and the show began, I had a rum and Coke and mingled with friends. Nothing seemed out of place; there were no creepy guys hitting on me or anything that made me feel uncomfortable.
I went to the front bar at the establishment and ordered another rum and Coke. I was by myself at the bar. After I got my drink, I remember setting it on the bar and turning the barstool to people watch. The place was packed, and the bar was full.
I decided to rejoin my friends. I picked up my drink and went to the back part of the club where the music was happening.
I began to drink as I talked to a friend of mine in a section with chairs. I was about halfway through my drink and I started to feel a little odd. I figured the alcohol must be hitting me suddenly. My consciousness began to feel blinky, for lack of a better word. My awareness did not feel constant, but it seemed to be coming in in fragments.
I told my friend I wasn’t feeling well and excused myself to the restroom, not far from where we were sitting. As I walked, there seemed to be a tunnel around me and I started to feel sick.
I entered the bathroom and walked past the attendant and into a stall. I barely felt like I was going to make it when I was walking. My legs felt weak and I was beginning to sweat. I entered the stall, locked the door and proceeded to get sick for several minutes. I felt embarrassed and confused. How did I go from fine to this drunk in one drink? It didn’t make sense.
When I finished and left the stall, I tried to walk to the sinks, but I collapsed on the bathroom floor. My memory from this point on is in pieces. I remember the bathroom attendant hovering over me, then this pretty red haired woman. A few minutes later, the friend I rode there with, Emily, appeared. She put her arm around me and ushered me to a couch behind the man doing the sound or the lights, I can’t remember which.
Everything seemed strange. It felt as if I was having a dream, voices were disembodied and I just was able to lay there. I felt very far away from everything.
The rest of the night, I can’t really remember. I know Emily’s boyfriend had to carry me out of the bar. I woke up in her spare room with a bowl of pho next to me on the night stand and crackers in my bed.
I felt more hung over than I had ever been. I also felt really embarrassed. I must have gotten too drunk and blacked out, I figured. I knew I couldn’t remember much of what happened.
When Emily and I began discussing the events of the night, I realized that I had blacked out basically all of the night after I got sick. It didn’t make sense. I had drunk that much before and been fine. I had eaten before I drank. We began to put it all together.
I had been drugged.
I was still so sick, I ended up staying in Emily’s spare room in Pittsburgh for the next two days. I opted to not go to the hospital or the police. Instead I contacted Belvedere’s and told my story on Facebook Messenger.
“We have a great staff that actually cares about our customers … Lawrenceville has changed a lot over the past couple years and we are dealing with a lot more [expletive] like that than we ever had before,” Belvedere’s replied. “We try to look out for everyone and security empties all abandoned drinks to avoid drugging. Even with top diligence it is sad that it will still happen sometimes. We will have a meeting soon and we will discuss it and keep extra sharp eyes …”
So after this happened, I got on with my life and moved on. I realized I was one of the lucky ones. I knew others who were also drugged and experienced some pretty traumatic outcomes afterwards. I had been safe. I learned to be more careful when I went out and I shared my story with others as a precautionary matter.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend on Facebook shared a post from the bar that got my attention. It was a flier.
“There has been an increase in the past couple months of community members feeling that they have been drugged, and it’s happened at several bars on the east end. We can all combat this [expletive] if we keep an eye out for each other, and continue to empower their friends to share their stories,” their flier read.
It went on to describe the way it feels to be drugged and what to do if a person suspects it happened to them.
Curious about this increase in drugging, I contacted the bar, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the organization with a phone number listed at the bottom, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
The bar never answered me. The police did.
“We have not seen an increase in drink drugging,” they messaged me back.
A woman named Ashley from PAAR also replied.
I’d asked for data about the increase in drink drugging. “I contacted our prevention and victim services department and unfortunately they do not have any data surrounding this. We are working with the liquor control board and a safe bars consortium but they also couldn’t provide much help,” Ashley said.
I find it strange that the police and research agencies didn’t have any data to support the claim of increased drink drugging, and a bit disheartening. After my own experience in the area, I know how easy it is to end up in this situation.
However, I applaud the bar for making it known that it is watching out for customers. If it hadn’t been for the intervening restroom attendant that night, I’m not sure what would have happened.
People need to be aware that drink drugging happens. I posted on Facebook asking how many of my friends had been “roofied” and the response was slightly overwhelming. Both males and females replied with about 20 stories from all over the country. This is out of my friends’ list of about 700 people.
According to research published by the American Psychological Association, there has been scant research into drink drugging. These researchers looked at a sample of 6,064 students at three universities.
“What the researchers found was 462 students (7.8 percent) reported 539 incidents in which they said they had been drugged, and 83 (1.4 percent) said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person,” the study said. “These data indicate that drugging is more than simply an urban legend.”
While the hard data is not quite there yet, the anecdotal evidence is abundant. What this probably means is that, like me, many people don’t report when this happens, but they do tell their friends.
People need to know to watch out for drink drugging. Bars need to educate their employees and have people in place to prevent the worst-case scenario, like that restroom attendant that night. Like Belvedere’s and other bars in the area, they need to let it be known this behavior will not fly.
Drink drugging can happen to anyone and until the root of the problem is addressed, only vigilance and awareness on everyone’s part can stop these sick people from hurting others.
When roughly a million people marched in Washington D.C. in January for women’s equality, there was some backlash. One woman’s Facebook post went viral as she declared she did not need anyone to march for her; that she was quite content with her level of equality as an American woman. The hashtag #NotMyMarch went viral. The sentiment was that women in the United States are equal enough, and many people pointed to the lives of women around the rest of the world, saying that, in comparison, American women have it great and should be happy and stop complaining already.
However, just because women in the U.S. do enjoy some benefits of living in this country, it by no means indicates that the story of the struggle for women’s rights is anywhere near over or that we have reached some kind of happy ending. Yes, women can now own land and vote, but even that took a lot of protesting and effort for us to get to that point.
And furthermore, who says that wanting to protect women’s rights here in the U.S. means that a person doesn’t care about the plight of women in other countries? Wanting to stand up for women’s equality in the U.S. and wanting to stand up for women’s rights worldwide are not mutually exclusive aims. The world unfortunately still needs feminism, and America is no exception.
In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap report, the U.S. has actually been falling behind in the last year. Out of 144 countries considered, the U.S. came in 45th place, falling from 28th place in 2015. So, to those who say that American women had no good reason to march, I beg to differ. There is no better time to march than right now, as we are watching women’s hard-won equality slipping away, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
There are 44 other countries in the world that placed higher than the U.S. based on these criteria: health and survival, educational attainment, political empowerment and economic opportunity. According to the report, economic opportunity was the area that hurt the U.S.’s rating the most. Women’s participation in the workforce is declining in the past year and less women are in senior positions. Furthermore, women are still not making as much as their male counterparts in the workplace.
However, workplace inequality is definitely not limited to the U.S. The progress towards economic equality worldwide has stalled globally, as economic participation and opportunity drop to 59 percent. This is the lowest level that rating has been at since 2008.
Despite the fact that women attend universities in equal or higher numbers than men in 95 countries, there is the drop in women’s workforce participation. And women around the world are on average making half of what men make despite working longer hours. Only four out of the countries surveyed have equal numbers of males and females in the position of senior officials, managers and legislators.
The report found that the top five countries for women’s equality were Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Rwanda. The next five top countries are Ireland, the Philippines, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Nicaragua. Since the 2015 report, 68 countries have increased in ranking, and 74 have decreased.
The U.S. has been a leading force in shaping human rights policies for the rest of the world, but we are leaving our women behind, and many people refuse to see it. We have a moral responsibility to continue to be a trendsetter when it comes to human rights, and this includes basic human rights for our women.
At the rate things are now going, the global gender gap is not forecast to be closed until 2196. Now, tell me once again why there is no need for feminism, either here in the U.S., or worldwide. Tell me why a march was not needed.
By setting a higher standard for women’s equality domestically, the U.S. can help shape standards for the rest of the world. How can American women help empower the rest of the world if they are themselves being disempowered?
Women are roughly half of the world’s population, and they embody half of the human experience. As long as women’s rights are not proportionate to men’s, it is a humanitarian crisis that must be addressed. It starts here in the U.S. and reaches to the rest of the globe.
Thirty-teen: Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend
“Teenage angst has paid off well/ now I’m bored and old.” – Nirvana, “Serve the Servants”
Sleeping too much or not at all… same with eating. I’ll go all day without eating then binge on ice cream when I should be in bed. I feel sad for no reason and the things that brought me joy typically don’t even begin to scratch the surface of my emotions lately. I am trying my best, but I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. What do I want to be when I grow up anyway?
I’m 36 but it’s like I’ve been revisited by teen angst. Time to cue the Nirvana playlist and pull my Chuck Taylor’s back out of the closet. At least the grunge flannel look is back in vogue.
In a less-than-enjoyable experience of deja vu from my teen years, I have found my depression and anxiety issues have come roaring back with a vengeance in my thirties. Different decade of my life; same emotionally excruciating experience, lack of direction and social awkwardness. Some things never change, apparently.
I was first diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety when I was about 13 years old. Most of my teen years I was in some type of therapy and/or trying some different type of medications to try to get to the root of the problem and curb the symptoms. I had a brief reprieve in my 20’s but it came back with a fury after having my two kids. After some time in a hospital and some time in therapy and on meds, I got it under control.
I suppose depression is not limited to a certain age. For people with this brain disorder, it can come back whenever. But it feels like the growing pains of my teens being revisited. Living at home with my parents again, trying to have success at school, feeling pressure to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life … these are all factors.
I know I’ll get on top of it. I have kids now, and they help give me a sense of purpose and direction that I didn’t have back then. They give me a will to live that I had lacked at 18 years of age, and for that I’m grateful.
Cycles might occur repeatedly in our lives, but we do have the power to break them, and that’s what is going to get me through this.
Thirty-teen: The Non-Trad Experience
On Tuesday, March 28, feminist icon Gloria Steinem visited Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown. As soon as I heard she was coming, I knew I had to see her. How often do you get a chance to see, in the flesh, someone who is actually living history?
I got an extra ticket and invited my friend and coworker from the Jambar, Samantha, to come with me. Sam is a 20-year old YSU student who, up until recently, had aligned herself with far more conservative and right wing values. Being in college and working with many liberal-minded individuals at the paper seems to have had an influence on her, and she is now a fledgling feminist.
It’s inspiring to watch someone evolve into a new version of themselves, and it reminds me how much I too have grown.
Sam was not familiar with Steinem, but she said after seeing her that it opened her eyes to issues women face. I was honored to be part of her experience.
It interesting being back in school as a “non-trad” and having the opportunity to get to know someone who is much younger and who I wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with. Being around someone who is in a period of mental growth like Sam is and then having the opportunity to share some of my experiences and acquired knowledge as a contribution is a tremendous privilege.
Sam and my other younger cohorts also help to teach me. Being in the position to need to reboot my life in my 30’s after tremendous failures had left me feeling pretty lousy about the whole thing. But having younger friends has made me understand that all my experiences were not for nothing. I have learned, I have evolved, just as Sam is currently, and I continue to grow now. I would not be at this mostly enjoyable point in my life if it hadn’t been for my mistakes.
I’m fortunate to have learned that lesson.
Thirty-teen: Damages at Your Fingertips
Sometime in the last decade or so, online dating has gone from being the stuff of Lifetime television drama-type stories to being a ubiquitous part of popular culture. It’s likely the advent of the smartphone which is to blame for this shift. Nowadays, simply download an app and you can swipe left or right anywhere and anytime during your busy day.
Soon, you won’t even have to have a smartphone to use the popular dating app, Tinder. According to recent news, Tinder is on the verge of releasing a desktop version of their app. This means that people with limited data on their cell phones and people who are not permitted to use cell phones while at work or school will still be able to look for love (or lust) throughout their day, anyway. Restrictions be damned.
Upon hearing of this development, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Finding myself single in my mid-thirties, I admit I have employed Tinder myself. In fact, my last two relationships were both “ignited” on Tinder (ha ha, see what I did there?). Unfortunately, neither of them lasted for the duration.
The thing about dating in your thirties is that it comes down to damages. It’s a veritable Island of Misfit Toys at this point in the game. Everyone is either divorced or never-married, and with either option comes along a nice package of traumas and horrors which has to some extent affected the person adversely. It becomes a game. Which damages can I tolerate, what can I work with?
I realize I can’t blame the medium for this state of affairs. Dating apps just bring people together and it’s not their fault that the pool is generally severely polluted by the time people hit their thirties. However, I’m not sure that I need more easy access to Tinder in my life. In fact, a while back, I had deleted the app from my phone, and I am pretty sure I will not be re-downloading it any time soon.
Thirty-teen: Boomeranging Back Home
According to recent news, Ivanka Trump, age 35, is moving into the White House with her father, President Donald Trump. In my own way, I can relate. I moved back home in my 30’s too.
Sure, I didn’t go back to my parents’ house to help them run the country. Tomato, tomah-toe.
I had to move back home in my 30’s to reboot my life. With Ivanka’s clothing line being dropped from Nordstrom’s in February and now buzz of a lawsuit for unfair competition allegations, I can’t help but wonder if Ivanka is trying to push the reset button too.
After high school, I had attended college shortly, dropped out, met my husband and got married by the tender age of 21. In the next eight years, we went on to start our own hardwood flooring business, refinanced a house (in my name), and had two beautiful children.
Then, as it does sometimes, the bottom dropped out.
The marriage failed due to mutual (and enormous) shortcomings on both of our parts. I went on to file bankruptcy, find a minimum wage job after not working for years, and got my own apartment.
However, I soon learned that keeping an apartment and raising two little ones part time was simply not feasible on minimum wage. It was time to boomerang back home to Mom and Dad. I have spent my time since then rebuilding my life.
Is Ivanka is moving onto something better, what with her new digs being the White House and all, or if she is simply making the best move she can right now after facing some pretty daunting problems recently? It’s hard to tell from the outside.
But I can say that I have learned from my own experience that sometimes, when life throws you a curveball, you are forced to turn to your family. Sometimes, it turns out you have to take a step back before you can take a step forward.
Life can be such a cha-cha sometimes.