Why I stopped blogging for a while

Once upon a time, like two years ago, I had this really original idea. I would start a blog where I would write withering prose and scathing criticism about all the things that I hate.  I scoured the interwebz for a first post idea, and I found it in a local news paper article:

5 months of fun in EuropeStudent enjoys dancing, food, wine and fashion during 10-country tour

TOWN — From the moment she landed in Switzerland as part of a 10 country, five-month tour across Europe, 21-year-old Person began living the glamorous life.
“We were suppose to fly from Switzerland to Hungary but the airport was closed in Budapest,” said GIRL, a TOWN resident who is a student at the University of STATE, on Tuesday.Reeling from jetlag after a long plane ride across continents, GIRL said she and four other college students who traveled abroad with her started to fret, but that was before the airline offered to put them up in a hotel in Zurich for the night.

“We were put up in a five star hotel in Switzerland and had a great night in Zurich,” said GIRL, who joined PROGRAM so that she could tour 10 European countries, while earning college credits at University of Budapest.According to GIRL, her European adventure began on Jan. 30, when she left AIRPORT in NEARBY CITY, and ended when she returned home on June 1.

“I had a harder time adjusting to coming back home,” said GIRL. “There was no transition going there. I jumped right into it.”

In the five months that GIRLl spent studying abroad, she visited Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Holland, Italy, Romania, Transylvania, and Vienna.
It was hard for GIRL to decide which place she enjoyed most, so she focused on the places she had the most fun.

“One of the coolest nights we had was in Rome,” said GIRL, “We went to a nice night club. It was a girl’s night out.”

While waiting in line with her girlfriends to go into the nightclub, GIRL said a bouncer told them that a Roman soccer team was inside but none of the girls believed him.

“”We thought it was a draw [into the nightclub],” said GIRL, but she was wrong.

“They were inside. They invited us inside to the VIP.” said GIRL, “and they bought us expensive champagne.”

GIRL said that while all people from all across Europe treated them wonderfully, the Italians —especially the soccer team — treated them the best.“They like American women,” she said. “Italian women tend to be glamorous but they don’t dance. The Americans go in and party and have fun. We’re social, too.”

The college students also had a chance to hangout at beaches in Greece.

“Athens was gorgeous,” she said, but not entirely safe – at least during the time GIRL visited in May.“We were there when the Athens riots were going on,” said GIRL, referring to the rioting that took place in Greece in which three people lost their lives.

“They were tipping over cars and stuff”GIRL also visited a beach in Croatia.“The whole coast is just stunning,” she said. “It rivals the Greek Islands.”

The color of the ocean was almost turquoise, but not quite, said GIRL.

“They haven’t even invented a color for that water yet.”

Sampling food from across Europe was also lots of fun for GIRL — at least at first.

“The Greek food and Italian food was to die for,” she said. “It ruined me for life.”

The Hungarian food, though, after a while, began to bore her.“I was really excited about the food at first, but there’s not a lot of variety.”

The Hungarian wine was another story.

“Hungary is a wine region,” said GIRL. “You can get a great bottle of Egri wine for $1.30. Champagne was $4. We really celebrated.”

The college that GIRL attended abroad also helped to ensure the American college students enjoyed the European nightlife.

Our school had a legitimate night club in it,” she said. “They threw raves for us. Instead of playing ld hockey, they’d have club events. The international student parties are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

So is the European fashion.

Animal prints are insanely popular,” said GIRL. So are pants that are very tight at the bottom of the leg, but balloon out at the top.

“I thought they were hideous,” she said, “but I thought about bringing a pair back.”

Perfect!” I thought. This is basically the most ridiculous thing, I’ve ever read. So I chugged a gallon of haterade. Posted the text of the article, names and places unredacted, and let my venom flow forth like lava over Pompeii. My response read like this:

I didn’t realize Snooki lived in X! The alcohol-fueled antics detailed in “5 Months of Fun in Europe” sound more like an episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore than an academic study abroad. Apparently drunkenly cavorting with strange men qualifies as an educational experience these days. One thing we do know is that a geography lesson probably wasn’t on the syllabus that semester: “she visited Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Holland, Italy, Romania, Transylvania, and Vienna” – Vienna is in Austria and Transylvania is in Romania. That’s okay though, because there isn’t a test to be on Girls Gone Wild.

I’d hate to believe that after spending five months in Europe, her most memorable experience was that time she ran off with the men’s soccer team. Upon finishing this article, the reader is left to wonder, “Did she learn anything at all?” This trip had everything: the five-star hotels, alcohol, VIP lounges, professional athletes, more alcohol – the only missing from this study abroad was studying. Unless, of course, that was the studying, which means Paris Hilton must have been assigning the homework.

Mean, right? Not even that funny. Mostly just really cheap shots at a totally unfamous girl that I don’t know. But I posted it nonetheless. I mean how much harm could I do? I was just posting to my own totally unfamous blog that was basically private (Yes, this is the part where you go “this asshole is also an idiot”).

The worst part, and thinking about it still sort of makes me sick to my stomach, is how easily I went right to slut shaming. Granted that article is absurd. This was a local newspaper, and subject of the article isn’t even like a Lohan cousin or anything. She is completely anonymous to the world at large. Is it a joke? It has to be a joke, right? But who am I to publicly and smugly shame this girl about whatever antics and shenanigans she’s decided to get up to? You don’t know this yet, but I ain’t no saint either. Now I’ve never run off to the Champagne Room with a European soccer (football? IDK) team, but that has more to do with the fact that I’ve never been invited. 

So how long did my post last? Two days. The subject of the article found my “private” (like no duh, right?) post and put me on notice. The comments below appeared:

Finding this blog post was a bit disappointing to me because I was hoping this “article” had disappeared from the face of the earth. There are so many inaccuracies and misquotations in this piece that I felt I should have written a letter to the editor to clarify what was said during my “interview”. I’m embarrassed that I was portrayed like bimbo but let me assure you, the writer of the article asked so many questions on the “fun” aspects of my study abroad experience, it was hard to get a word in edgewise about the wonderful and fulfilling academic experiences I had while abroad. The interview was quite long and the writer asked me questions such as “What do people wear over there?”, “Where did you like to party?”, and “What was the wine like?” Of course I answered these questions but as I tried to steer the conversation away from the party aspect and move to the actual substance of the experience (such learning about the rich Hungarian history from a professor who was also a member Parliament and taking every opportunity to visit museums, monuments, churches, castles, and any other cultural attraction of historical significance) the writer seemed uninterested and quickly turned back to gossipy questions. As for the inaccuracies and misquotations:

1. I did not sign up for study abroad so I could tour ten European countries. I knew going into the program that school (as it always has been) was my first priority. I chose my program because it had an extensive business curriculum and all of my credits were completely transferrable. The traveling I did was a bonus earned after completing schoolwork. The way the program was portrayed in the beginning of the article misrepresents the entire academic basis of the program and why I chose to go abroad.

2. This was the sentence that made me think maybe the writer wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying :“In the five months that GIRL spent studying abroad, she visited Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Holland, Italy, Romania, Transylvania, and Vienna”

I lived in Hungary and became acutely aware of European geography (especially Eastern and Central) – I was IN Transylvania, Romania, and Vienna, Austria, I realize they are regions/cities within countries. Already disappointed with the article, this sentence made me nervous to see what else the writer had remembered or took notes on incorrectly. 

3. This was a quotation purely of the writer’s imagination. “One of the coolest nights we had was in Rome,” said GIRL, “We went to a nice night club. It was a girl’s night out.”

I do not speak like an 8th grader with a limited vocabulary. “Coolest nights out”, “Nice night club”… really? 

4. The article continues with the description of the night at the Roman club. I remember this part of the interview well as the interviewer was beyond fascinated by the mere mention of semi famous people following the question “Did you meet anyone famous?”Guess the part where I talked about my Hungarian Parliament member professor wasn’t exciting enough to mention….

5. Another completely untrue sentence:

“We were there when the Athens riots were going on,” said GIRL, referring to the rioting that took place in Greece in which three people lost their lives. “They were tipping over cars and stuff”

I told the writer that I was in Athens after the violence in Athens had subsided. Athens is a hectic city but I definitely didn’t see anyone tipping over cars…and stuff.

To be honest, I could go on dissecting the article and telling you what really happened but the more I reread this trash, the angrier I get. There is no flow or style to the article and the gross misrepresentation of my experiences abroad is offensive. You’d think after reading this that I could only speak in fragmented sentences and my best adjective was “cool”. It almost seems like the writer was creating a shallow fantasy Euro-land based on what she wanted to hear, instead of what I was actually saying.

Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to criticize something when you don’t know both sides of the story. I’d appreciate it if you’d remove this posting as it is offensive and hurtful to me and my family.

I would make a joke about how often she must Google herself to have found this post so quickly, but I think God would strike me where I type for that kind of hypocrisy. But there you have it, her response to my post was more articulate and more respectful of me than I deserved. She point-by-point defended herself against that article and my response.

The real problem in this who situation is that she even felt the need to defend her honor/reputation in the first place. At this point, not one, but two strangers used her implied sexual activity to vilify a fictional version of herself, AND WHO THE FUCK NEEDS THAT? 

I’m not really articulate enough to explain this because I’m not like a scholar of gender studies or anything, but there’s a two-pronged issued here: she could either (1) Tell us to mind our own business, which will be taken as an admission of the story’s truth, and suffer ridicule at the hands of strangers, or (2) she can deny it on its face, which is an admission that their is something wrong with what she was accused of. BOTH RESPONSES GIVE US AGENCY OVER THE DECISIONS SHE MAKES WITH HER OWN BODY. It’s Hester Prynne all over again! Two roads diverge in a sexist wood, and whichever one you pick you’re screwed.   

I feel like a monster. I could say something about how I’m a product of a sexist culture, but that’s some serious bullshit. That’s like when people defend slave owners in the 1860s because slavery was apart of that culture. Thaddeus Stevens knew slavery was a load of crap in 1860; so did the Quakers. The Qin Dynasty said did away with it like 2000 years before the Civil War. Even the Vikings abolished slavery in the year 1117. And may I remind you that their entire claim to medieval fame was how awesome they were at raping and pillaging. People know bad shit is bad right away, just because it continues to exist in a culture is not an excuse.The real question is “Why, even though I know this kind of language is incredibly sexist, did I do it anyway?” The answer is that sometimes small people do mean things to make themselves feel big. By writing what I wrote I didn’t expose her weakness, I exposed my own.

and I’m just really sorry.

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