A New Year’s Resolution: Time to Speak Up

January 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

As we go into a new year, I have a resolution. I’m going to speak up more when men do things that make me uneasy.

Take the other day, for example.

I really like my neighbor. I also have no interest in dating him. It’s nothing against him, really. But I don’t know him well, and I’m not interested in dating anyone at the moment. (Men don’t believe that when I say it, but it’s true. And that isn’t some female code for “try harder.”)

I ran into my neighbor while coming home, and we stopped to chat. Before we parted, he touched the back of my neck and kind of massaged it for a second.

Not knowing what that meant, or what to do about it, I did nothing. I pretended it didn’t happen. Denial works, right?

A few days later I ran into him again. Again we chatted, and he massaged my neck for a second or two again. What?

Seriously, I would never, ever do that to someone I wasn’t dating. Why is he doing that?

He isn’t being aggressive, exactly. My neck isn’t an erogenous zone. He isn’t doing anything else. And I want to be friends with this guy. He’s a nice guy.

I don’t look forward to the awkward conversation when I tell him to knock it off. I don’t want to harm our friendship. That’s why I’ve said nothing.

But the truth is, this was how it started with the first man who sexually assaulted me back in college. It started out with just some unwanted touching. In that case, he held my hand.

There were more red flags with the guy in college. I’d yank my hand away, he’d take it again. Rinse, repeat.

Ultimately that escalated to an actual assault.

The perpetrator is now a pediatric neurologist. With the #MeToo movement, I’ve considered telling his employer. But is it worth ruining someone’s career because he assaulted me nearly two decades ago? I don’t know.

But I do know I’m going to have to speak up to my neck-rubbing neighbor.

Most men aren’t rapists. But when women don’t tell men that their behavior makes women uncomfortable, the sad truth is that men may think what they’ve done is okay — even though it’s positive consent they should be looking for.

Why don’t we speak up? Often men become defensive. Some think that they’re the arbiters of whether they’ve made us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. That’s ridiculous. If a woman says she feels uncomfortable, then that’s how she feels.

I know I’m not the only woman who will start speaking out more, but men need to listen when we do.

And please, guys, be more conscious of your actions. Don’t call a woman you aren’t dating names like “sweetie.” And don’t assume we want any touch other than a handshake — even when we’re too uncomfortable to say otherwise.

And when we do tell you what we don’t like, listen. If you feel yourself getting defensive, work through your feelings, and then listen. Don’t verbally attack someone for having the courage to tell you the truth.

Stop using your sexual conquest of women as a measure of your manhood. Women are people, not objects. The only “game” you need is to act like a human being and treat us like humans too.

OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Distribute

Turn a New Year’s Resolution to Quit Smoking into a Monday Resolution

January 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Another New Year’s, another list of resolutions, with health-related goals, including quitting smoking topping the list. Despite their strong resolve, many smokers who quit on New Year’s will be puffing away by Groundhog’s Day. According to Every Try Counts initiative from the FDA, approximately two out of three adult smokers, more than 22 million people, say they would like to quit. However, in 2015, of the 55 percent of adult smokers who made a quit attempt, only 7 percent were successful.

How can smokers break the pattern of failure? Experts suggest that rather than relying on a big annual day like New Year’s, smokers can adopt a strategy of recommitting to their quit every week, giving them 52 chances a year to stay on track. Monday is an ideal “recommit day” because people are most open to healthy behavior, including quitting smoking.

Dr. Joanna Cohen, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institute for Global Tobacco Control, says, “Studies show that Mondays are a natural opportunity to engage smokers and reduce their likelihood of relapse. It’s the January of the week, the day that smokers are looking for help.”

A recent Johns Hopkins study of 69,237 visitors to the Truth Initiative’s Become an Ex website showed higher enrollment rates at the beginning of the week. This builds on the findings of a 2013 study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, showing “quit smoking” queries are 25 percent higher on Mondays than other days, amounting to eight million more quit smoking searches per year on Monday across seven different languages.

The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit public health organization that promotes the idea of using Monday as a day to commit to healthy behaviors calls this phenomenon the “Monday Fresh Start” effect. A 2017 survey of 1,000 respondents, conducted by DDG Research for The Monday Campaigns, showed that 35 percent of respondents see Monday as a day for a “fresh start” while 20 percent look to this day to “get their act together.” They are more likely to start diets, exercise regimens and quit smoking on Monday than any other day.

This 2018, New Year’s falls on a Monday so it’s a perfect opportunity to join the Quit and Stay Quit Monday movement. Smokers can follow these simple steps to become a Monday quitter:

  • Quit on Monday.
  • Make a quit plan.
  • Connect with others.
  • Do a Monday check-in.
  • Celebrate progress.
  • Quit again if you relapse.

For shareable digital media assets including videos, infographics and weekly newsletters, go to: http://www.iquitmonday.org/quit-stay-quit-monday-new-years-quit-solutions/





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