The Desolation of Smaug. Also, I have to pee.

Sunday afternoon, I went to see The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug.

So, um…. well, it was long. And parts of it made me dizzy. And Thranduil’s eyebrows are stunning. They jump right off the screen at you in 3D. 

But I had some issues.

BE WARNED: THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE.

SERIOUSLY – IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP READING NOW.

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

DON’T YELL AT ME IF THIS RUINS A MAJOR PLOT POINT FOR YOU.

Okay, I think I have warned you as best as I can. So here we go.

1) Too much CG. The CG was beautiful at times, but the pace of the movie actually made it easier to spot the sloppy bits and lose the feel of it. Also, there was just too damn much. Some of the practical effects were gorgeous. Peter Jackson really needs to leave out some of the CG in the future and let the creature builders, make up artists and effects specialists do their jobs. Because it’s so much better when it’s real.

2) Tauriel. While I applaud Jackson for adding not only a female character to the film, but a strong powerful female character, (which The Hobbit was sorely lacking) the whole Kili/Tauriel thing bugs me. Okay, let’s see how this plays out. Legolas likes Tauriel, but his overly eyebrowed father won’t let him pursue her. Thranduil tells her this. Her feelings towards Legolas are confused until the moment when she meets the Hottie Dwarf. And gets all moony-eyed over him. Was that actually necessary? No. Could we PLEASE have a strong, capable, awesome female character who isn’t automatically someone’s love interest? Please stop adding extraneous love stories to otherwise awesome action movies. (And yes, I am a girl who is writing this.) The Hobbit is no place for love stories. Except of course mine. Towards Richard Armitage (Thorin, if you’re not aware), but the non-dwarf version.

3) IT WAS TOO DAMN LONG. I get that Jackson seems to think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit movies are a sweet sweet love letter to his homeland of New Zealand. And no one is denying that New Zealand is beautiful, but the outdoor sweeping scenery sequences are unnecessary. New Zealand is beautiful. We Know. We Know. We all want to visit. Can you get back to the story? Cause I have to pee.

4) Stupid Over the Top Action. Some of the action sequences were so damned ridiculous you just had to cringe. The charm of the original story of The Hobbit was that it was mostly about a character who was totally inept. Bilbo Baggins was not a superhero. He didn’t do amazing things. He stumbled through his journey and most of the action in that book happened by accident. When you take the fact that Bilbo is an accidental hero out of the story and create these elaborate choreographed action sequences that show like The Nutcracker Ballet of CG, it just feels forced. And inauthentic. And um, when did Legolas become the Elven Superman? Because seriously, that guy apparently is incapable of missing anything. And I’m pretty sure Jackson almost made him fly.

When a group of people go to a movie on a Sunday afternoon, the result you want as a filmmaker is them walking out of the theatre chattering excitedly about “and when that happened? And then when that happened?” You want them reliving all the best moments of a film. But after The Desolation of Smaug my friends and I stood outside discussing nothing more than how Lee Pace did most of his acting with his thick and lush eyebrows.

*PS – Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Hobbit, part deux. And I still think it’s worth seeing this movie…

BECAUSE SMAUG IS PRETTY FRAKKING AWESOME.

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The Problem with Wonder Woman

Earlier this week, the announcement was made that in Zach Snyder’s upcoming film Batman vs Superman, we get yet another important character introduction – in the form of everyone’s favorite Amazon – Wonder Woman. She is to be portrayed by an Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot. In the time since the announcement was made, the internet has blown up with reactions. Some were positive, some were questioning… but most, that I saw, were very negative. But the question I pose to you is this – WHY?

Once again, as it was with the Ben Affleck/Batman announcement – the general consensus is that the actor picked for the role is totally wrong for it. And most of the comments I saw were based on no more than a quick trip to the actress’s Wikipedia page, IMDB page and an extensive array of images of her as an actress, model and most notably – a Miss Universe contestant. While I agree with the fact that I’m not sure that she fits MY vision of what Wonder Woman should look like, I don’t know anything about this woman. And I would venture a guess that most of the more vocal haters don’t either.

I’ve never seen her act. At least not in any English-speaking roles – I do remember (only because it was on TV yesterday) she played the Israeli girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg’s security operative in Date Night. But most of her screen time was 1) spoken in Hebrew and 2) pretty much focused on the fact that she wasn’t wearing much. That was her role – the hot non-English speaking girl in the room. And she was cute in that role, if not very memorable. But then again, that was meant to be a throw-away role set as a bookend to accentuate Mark Wahlberg’s awesomeness compared to Steve Carrell’s NOT awesomeness so in fairness, I really can’t base an opinion on that.

Having no information on Gal Gadot’s acting history aside from that one small role, I looked her up. Apparently she’s been in a Fast & Furious movie or two. I can’t speak to that, having not seen the films from that franchise that she’s in. Again, I’m pretty sure most people who are hating on the choice haven’t seen her act much either. So let’s not talk about whether or not she’s a good actress. What I really want to get into here is the commentary that she is “too skinny” or not the right look for the role.

Let’s see how she stacks up against the description of the Amazon tribe Wonder Woman comes from:

1. Amazon women are meant to be tall. She’s 5’9″ according to her IMDB page – so throw her in a pair of stack heeled boots and BAM – SHE IS TALL.

2. Amazon women are meant to be strong and athletic – well – this girl is a former member of the Israeli military – arguably one of the most well-trained and most capable military forces on the planet. Having lived in Israel – I have known more than a few Israeli soldiers. You do not want to fuck with them. Trust me. So I’m pretty sure she will be doing most of her own stunts. Or at least she’ll be able to, even if they don’t let her.

3. Amazon women are meant to be beautiful. Check. No one is disagreeing with that. The girl is beautiful.

Now let’s look at the character more specifically.

1. Wonder Woman should have ultra dark hair and blue eyes. Okay. So, no one in Hollywood has ever dyed their hair or worn colored contact lenses to portray a particular character, right? I’m pretty sure if they can turn Christopher Eccleston into an evil white elf with glowing crystal blue eyes and seamless super pointy ears, they can handle a box of L’Oreal blue-black hair dye and some Acuvue tinted lenses.

2. Wonder Woman should be voluptuous. Okay, I’ll give you that – Ms Gadot is not particularly voluptuous. However, we have seen more dramatic body transformations in Hollywood than on the Jenny Craig website, so let’s again, give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s not only men who can bulk up, build muscles and gain or loose weight as needed. So there is no reason to assume that just because she’s thin now, she won’t be bulked up for the role. There is no reason you can’t be curvy AND athletic. And with the wealth of nutritionists and trainers available to her, I’m confident, that she can alter herself physically to fit the more curvy and buff look of Wonder Woman.

3. Wonder Woman’s accent won’t be right. No, not kidding. Not a huge concern I’ll grant you, but I saw one hater post that said “She talks funny.” Um, have you ever heard a woman from the long-lost Amazonian colony speak? Yeah, neither have I – so who’s to say what she should sound like. As long as they don’t give her a misplaced psuedo-British accent, which as we all know, is the go-to “you’re not from American, but we shouldn’t know where you are from exactly” accent, then it really doesn’t matter. Also, dialect coaches. Hollywood has them. Bet hers has already been hired.

Not one of the arguments I saw about this announcement had anything to do with Ms. Gadot’s ability as an actress. They all had to do with what she looked like. So, based on the lists given here, all of your shallow and pointless arguments are now invalid. Could we all agreed to let it be until we actually see how GOOD Ms. Gadot is or isn’t in the role?

My concern with this role, isn’t the look of the actress, but with the way that Zach Snyder seems to treat female characters the way an adolescent boy envisions them. Even his most empowered and strong-willed women tend to give up their power to a man at some point in the narrative. That is something that Wonder Woman would never do and I cringe to think at what may be going through Snyder’s head in planning her portrayal.

And what worries me more, is that I just don’t think that Snyder is a very good director. I mean, look at Man of Steel. He took several talented and proven actors and turned them into walking cardboard. Granted, they’re pretty walking cardboard but still cardboard. Man of Steel would have been a more engaging movie if it’d just been Henry Cavill standing shirtless in front of the broken landscape of Krypton for 2 hours. At least I would have enjoyed it more.

Who knows if Gadot will be a good choice for Wonder Woman or not? There is no way to know if the role is something that she (and Snyder) can handle with the respect it deserves. But let’s also remember, no one thought that Heath Ledger was going to be a good Joker. And a lot of people hated the idea of Christian Bale as Batman too.

Okay, so now that we’ve got that all out of the way – let’s talk about what the uproar is really about.

After months of speculation, discussions and and teasing on the part of any number of entertainment and comic book “insiders” – the problem you’re all having with the new Wonder Woman is simply this:

She’s not Jaimie Alexander.

Never Forget

Today is September 11th. Seeing posts and pictures and remembrances from friends on social media has gotten me thinking about my experience on that day. This post is not going to have any big moral platitudes, or thoughts of hope and prayer to offer. It’s just my story of that day. It may interest you, it may not. I just felt like writing it down.

I was living in Santa Monica, California in a small one room studio apartment. My engagement had ended just a few months before. Sometime before 7 am, my ex-fiancee called. He is a construction worker and usually had very early work days, so though it was not weird that he was up that early, it was very odd that he was calling me. I remember in that half awake state, looking at the caller ID and thinking I should just ignore it. But I also remember thinking that it was weird he should be calling me as we hadn’t spoken in months. Something must be wrong. So I answered. I don’t remember what I said, I just remember his response was “Does your Dad still work at the Pentagon?” Without explanation, he told me to turn on my television. I did. Just in time to watch the south tower fall.

I got off the phone and frantically started calling home. My Dad’s cell phone, my stepmother’s cell phone, my brothers, my mother – anyone back in DC who would know what was happening and if my father had been in the building. Or if my stepmother had. The lines were jammed and I couldn’t get through to anyone. I had no idea what to do. So I got up, got dressed and went to work. The office was silent when I arrived. A number of employees hadn’t come in, those that did spent most of the day sitting in front of the televisions that had been set up in the main lobby.

My immediate coworkers knew my father and stepmother worked for the Air Force and the Department of Defense, they knew my dad worked at the Pentagon. The only thing keeping me from a full-on meltdown at that point was the fact that my father had officially retired the year before. But he was still actively working for his former employers as an outside contractor and in that building several times a week. There was no way to know whether he’d been there or not. Or if my stepmother had been. At some point, I got through to my mother, but she didn’t know anything. My bosses were letting anyone go who wanted to, so I left. I went home. I kept calling.

About 1 pm here in LA, I got through to my sister-in-law. She told me that my father was actually out of town, on a business trip – he’d left the night before. But my stepmother had been at the Pentagon. Thankfully, she was on the other side of the building. If you’ve ever been to, or even seen an aerial photograph of the Pentagon, you know it is a fortress. It is layers deep and built of solid stone. Still, when I finally spoke to my stepmother later that day, she told me it’d felt like a strong earthquake.

Once I found out that my family were all okay and accounted for, the thing I remember most about that day was feeling helpless. Wishing I was there, that I could do something to actively help. A friend and I went to the Red Cross later that afternoon to try to donate blood – as that was all we could think to do that could possibly be helpful. We were turned away – the line was 3 blocks long – and they couldn’t handle the amount of donations coming in.

But mostly I remember the silence. Everywhere I went that day, it was quiet. Just quiet. No one spoke unless there was a need, there was no laughter; just stunned silence everywhere. It’s the memory of that silence that sticks with me.

Mercury Retrograde?

This is not a blog post. This is a rant. This morning, while searching the Twitterverse, a post popped up. It was by a friend – a smart and funny and generally level-headed person who I have known for over 12 years. The post started with “Dear Mercury Retrograde” and went on to rant for a little less than 14o characters about how things are all going sideways just now.

WOULD EVERYONE STOP BLAMING THEIR MOMENTS OF BAD LUCK ON A COMPLETELY ARBITRARY PLANETARY MOVEMENT?

That’s like blaming my the crack in my car windshield on the vegetables in my fridge going moldy.

I find this tendency to blame negative occurrences in our lives on totally unrelated celestial movements not only utterly ridiculous, but also hilarious. Especially things like this description: “All machinery and things with moving parts–such as computers, VCRs, camera equipment, garbage disposals, and so forth, will reveal any weak links now. It is critical that you back up your data system and be more careful and vigilant than ever. Projects will demand more time and money than anticipated this month.”

Because of course when some people a really long time ago had the idea to come up with a random way of describing our lives based on the positions of the stars, they made sure to find out the effects of the cosmos on machinery – and they specifically took into consideration your iPad.

You know what, shit happens. It happens all year-long – and more often than not, it happens when Mercury is NOT in retrograde. Mercury’s retrograde is only twice a year for two weeks. So what about the rest of the year? Nothing bad happens during any of the other non-retrograde days of the year, does it? OF COURSE IT DOES. But why is it, in recent years, has everyone jumped on this “mercury retrograde” bandwagon bullshit. The number of comments I hear during this celestial menstrual cycle is staggering. And it’s from everyone.

Let’s be real here. The chances of planetary alignment being responsible for your car breaking down, you not getting that job you wanted, your basement flooding or your computer freezing are about the same as there being an actual Sharknado this afternoon. I find it harder and harder not to just slap friends and family as the words come out of their mouths. Because they’re ALL doing it. Hell, it has even been on THE NEWS. I mean, it’s not like there are other actual things to talk about that are going on in the world.

But the general idea seems to be that Mercury is in Retrograde so the world must stop until it passes, otherwise everything WILL END. Mercury Retrograde has become our generation’s Chicken Little.

Side Note: Do some research on Mercury Retrograde if you’re so into the idea, by the way – it is not meant to be an across the board coverage of everyone everywhere and everything. If you read the fine print, it really is meant to only affect one or two astrological signs through which the planet travels during that particular retrograde path, so only those signs are supposedly affected. Is it your sign this time around? No? Then shut the fuck up.

I ask you, for the good of all of us, please stop the madness. Let’s stop blaming the bad crap that happens to us on the planets. They’re just hanging out up there, doing their thing. They are completely innocent in all this and yet we insist on blaming our tiny little bits of bad luck on them. I feel bad for them, it’s not their fault.

If I randomly slap you for saying something stupid, remember, it’s not my fault or yours – you can blame it on Mercury – it’s in Retrograde this week.

 

My Tattoos Are NOT An Invitation to Grab Me

This morning, while running errands, I decided to stop off at a Starbucks for a lovely much needed caffeine infusion of the iced variety. It is after all Southern California and it is summer. And it’s hot. As I was waiting in line for the opportunity to order my sugary frosty treat, I noticed that a man in line ahead of me was staring at me. Now, I am not a vain person, however, I am aware that I am somewhat cute and pretty physically fit – and sometimes men look. That’s fine. Whatever. I gave the dude a half-smile and went back to scrolling through email inbox on my phone. The line moved. I looked up and took a step forward and there was the dude. Still staring. This time he asked me, “May I see your tattoo?” referring to the somewhat large piece of ink I have on my upper arm. It was dim in the Starbucks, and I was standing with my arm turned away from him, so I said sure and turned it towards him so he could see it more clearly. I am used to this. I have a number of tattoos. Sometimes you can see them. Sometimes you can’t. And today, in a tank top (I said it was hot), there they are – in all their colorful glory for all the world to see. But then….

He took a step forward to look at the ink in question and grabbed my arm. Just below the elbow and twisted it towards him. Like I was made of rubber. Not only did it hurt a little to have my arm shockingly turned sideways in an unnatural position, but my offer of letting him look at my tattoo more closely DID NOT give him permission to grab me. Or to touch me at all. As one of my friends said when I told them the story “Look with your eyes, not with your hands! Didn’t we learn that in kindergarten?” My point exactly. I asked him to let go of my arm. I did not make a snarky comment about his having had grabbed me in a rather agressive manner without my consent – which would have been easy to do (and honestly, is usually my first instinct). I, also, did not punch him in the nose (which is usually my second instinct). I did, however, pull my arm back a little to let him know it was NOT OKAY TO TOUCH ME and said “Sorry, but do you mind letting go of me?” His response was to let go of my arm while muttering under his breath, “You don’t have to be bitchy about it.”

I’m sorry – BUT WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK????

Dude, you just grabbed a girl without her permission and twisted her arm sideways. You do not know this woman, you have never seen her before, you do not know anything about her. What the fuck makes you think that by asking to see her artwork you now have her permission to grab her? Or for that matter to touch her at all? Not only is it a violation of my personal space and my right not to be touched by random dudes in coffee shops, but let’s put this in another situation – say you see a girl wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it that is printed clearly over her breasts. You say to her “What does that say?” She turns to you so can read the shirt. Does this brief interaction now give you the right to grab her boobs? Yeah, didn’t think so. In fact, you’d get arrested if you did that. So what makes you think that my body art is any different? It is my body. It is my space. You are not invited into it because you may be an admirer of how I present it to the world.

I would just like to put this out there – a tattoo is a piece of artwork. You wouldn’t grab a painting in a museum to get a better look, would you? No. You would not. So what makes you think that just because I carry my artwork around with me all the time, I want your unwashed hands touching it? It’s not scratch and sniff. You’re not going to get anything extra out of it if you get to touch it. It is, as most art, meant to be looked at, not touched. So keep your grubby hands off me.

The next time you see a girl or anyone with a tattoo you admire, and you ask them to see it more clearly, please respect their boundaries. Yes, tattoos can be beautiful artwork, but they are also part of PEOPLE. Do not assume that the art takes away from the fact that it is on someone’s body. Be respectful. Look, don’t touch. Ask questions if you’re interested in it. I, like most people who have tattoos, are happy to answer any questions you have about them. If you want to know if it feels any different, then ask me that. But, if you are, like I suspect this guy was, just interested in touching me – at least have the common decency to ask me out to dinner first.

And then don’t call me a bitch if I say no because you’re a creepy douchebag.

Ten Things You Can Do To Stop Violence Against Women

A year ago, one of my close friends was beaten nearly to death by her boyfriend. Recently, she wrote a post about it. She published this post on Facebook. Facebook took it down, citing that it was “hateful, threatening or obscene.” Or that it was an attack “against an individual” because it named her attacker. (He has been convicted, sentenced and the attack is a matter of public record; therefore, her stating his name is not an attack against him, merely a fact.)

FB Warning

Even if she wasn’t my friend, I would still post this and cross-post it on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else I see fit. Facebook should be ashamed. They refuse to remove misogynistic fan pages, but the thoughts of one woman who went through a brutal attack is deemed “hateful.” 

I am re-posting her article here. In its entirety. I hope you read it. 

“Ten things you can do to stop violence against women”
By Jane

Exactly a year ago, my then-boyfriend put me in a headlock and punched me until his hand shattered.
The only reason I didn’t die on my bedroom floor on the night of May 3, 2012 is that he didn’t know where to put his thumb when he made a fist.

It wasn’t the first time, nor, I’m sad to say, was it the last time, but it was the one he got caught for, and the one I can’t get sued for talking about.

He spent the night in a hospital, having his hand rebuilt with pins. I spent the night strapped to a trolley in a different hospital, having everything x-rayed. I left with stitches in my face and my blood-soaked clothes in a Dunnes Stores bag. He left the hospital five days later, in a cast, and with a diagnosis of “work and home stress”.

I still get concealer in my scar (and it is still sore), and I’m still not totally safe, but I’ve started to rebuild my life, and it’s getting pretty good. But while my life improves, dudes are still beating up women.

As much as I’d like to shut up about this and have people stop identifying me with something that happened to me, it’s not that common for an abuser to be convicted. I’m in a position to do something that many women are not, so I’ll keep talking until dudes stop beating up women.

We all know victims, so we all know perpetrators. It’s always someone you wish it weren’t. Believe me, I know this better than anyone.

Even though you can’t make a relationship with a violent dickhead safe for his girlfriend (or possibly for any woman), we can make the world safer for women by making it harder to get away with cracking our faces open.

Here’s some of what I think we need to do differently.

1. Swap your sympathy for empathy, and get angry: Nothing could get better for me until I got really angry, and empathy helped me get there. Empathising with me means you’ll stop asking me why I stayed, and assume that, like with any violent crime, it could happen to anyone. Empathising with him means you accept that it’s done by seemingly normal human beings, and not by easily identifiable monsters.

I do appreciate the “Sorry for your troubles”, but I’d rather you be angry with me than sad on my behalf. I know the sympathy comes from the right place, but it can feel a little like a pat on the head, and even a bit isolating. We live in a world where you can beat your girlfriend nearly to death and walk out of a criminal court straight into a pub for a burger and a pint. That should piss you right the fuck off, so if you don’t think it’s my fault, then don’t make it all my responsibility.

2. Trust us: Women like me lose the ability to trust ourselves, and we don’t often speak believably about what’s happening until it’s well in the past. Even I sometimes don’t believe me. And yes, we all take them back. It seems to have undermined my credibility with a lot of people, forever. Because hey, if I hadn’t been exaggerating all along, then why would I take someone back after he put me in the hospital?

I managed to gloss over the time I woke up with a pillow being pushed to my face. I didn’t want to believe he was capable of it any more than you did, so you should probably trust that I’m not going to make this shit up.

3. Start calling bullshit: Does your friend, your brother, your colleague insist that his girlfriend or wife is “batshit crazy”? Does she sound like a wild-eyed shrieking harpy who is totally ruining his life? I’ll tell you something: having the shit slapped out of you makes you a little crazy. Five weeks after I contacted his family to ask them to help him, I was in the hospital with a busted face. They hadn’t believed me because they’d been told I was crazy. I’m not, by the way, which I feel the need to say because trauma does all sorts of things to you, whether or not you ever get your face broken. But maybe if someone had started calling his bullshit years ago, he wouldn’t have ended up the way he is, and I would not have to rebuild my life and my sense of self.

Try it. Next time some guy says “She’s crazy”, assume what he really means is, “I’m an enormous dickhead with no respect for women.”

4. Stop looking for the truth: My account is true and real, and verified in a criminal court, but his account also represents a world he truly lived in. The fact is, we were both delusional. He believed I was a monstrous asshole, and I thought if I stopped being such a monstrous asshole, he would stop throwing things at my head and be the loving boyfriend he promised he’d be – if I only changed a few more things about myself.

It’s a Venn diagram, where the overlapping bit was “Jane is an irredeemable piece of shit”. It’s when I started insisting I was a worthy human being, when the punches and the slaps would start. You can rearrange the data points all you like, and get a hundred different versions, but there is no grey area between two overarching perspectives where you’ll find the truth you’re looking for. That crisscrossing of narratives applies to normal human relationships, but these were two competing and incompatible narratives, neither of which were rational.

This was a situation where I was trying to have a normal relationship with someone who once threw a pint of beer over me to prove he wasn’t an alcoholic. OK, so maybe that is a little crazy.

5. Let go of the checklist: You know the one. You Google “emotional abuse” because someone was a dick to you, and there it is. It’s a useful guide, perhaps, but you can’t identify abuse through a Cosmo quiz. Yes, abusers fit a profile, and in some ways, they’re all the damn same. They all try to smash your computer. They all put your phone through a wall. They all search your fucking email. And they all cry and beg for your love right after you’ve cleaned up the glass they smashed at your feet.

But there are times when we all fit the more minor things on those checklists. I’m talking about the name-calling, the voice-raising, the times we manipulate and goad and cajole our partners; it’s not OK, but it doesn’t make your relationship an abusive one. I’ve seen you cringe and turn all confessional when I tell you about things he did -– you’re like me, trying to make absolutely sure the same terrible tendencies aren’t in you. Every one of us probably has the capacity to turn into despots, or become complicit in terrible acts. Being mean doesn’t make us despots, but covering up domestic violence does make us complicit.

Working only from a checklist makes it easy to ignore the enormous difference between acting like a dick in an argument, and wanting absolute power over your partner. I’d hate to add up the amount of money I spent on therapy, desperately trying to understand if I was really the abuser all along. Until one day the penny dropped: sometimes I am a fucking asshole,but that doesn’t make me an abuser. Maybe this is obvious to you, but it was news to me. And yes, I still feel the need to prove it over and over, and I’ll never fully believe it myself.

Even I’m still looking for the truth, and I’m never going to find it.

6. Get over your need to diagnose: We live in a pathology-obsessed world. “He sounds like a psychopath.” “That’s sociopathic!” “How totally psychotic!” “Is he bipolar?” I don’t know, and frankly, unless you’re his doctor, it’s neither your place nor my place to slap a diagnosis on someone based on my description of him, especially given the bias I have since he cracked my face open like an egg.

Diagnosis is also what he used on me, as part of his pattern. I was Google-diagnosed with everything from premenstrual dysphoria to narcissistic sociopathy to -– wait for it -– Munchausen’s By Proxy (I told him I thought he drank too much). I think diagnoses are partly a form of excuse-making, but also, sometimes people are just assholes.

If you want to ask what diagnosis is most likely for him, try to be satisfied with “gigantic piece of shit”.

7. Focus on the perpetrator: Outside of gender-based violence, is there any other crime where the focus is so much on the victim that the criminal becomes practically invisible? Remember his name; forget mine: his name is Mark Patrick Kenneth Jordan and he broke his hand off my face. I get that it comes from a good place when you say I’m the last person you’d think it could happen to, but there’s an uncomfortable implication that it had more to do with me than it did with him.

In fact, he used my outward confidence to his advantage; it made me less believable, and it made people question me. Because rather than seeing me as the sort of person who sends work emails with my neck strapped to an emergency-room trolley, my ability to cope made me look suspicious. I don’t know what’s more humiliating: knowing people think I’m a domineering and irredeemable asshole, or people knowing how easily I caved on just about everything.

But until we shift the discussion from “Why do so many women get abused?” to “Why do so many men beat their partners?” it will continue to be a sympathy-driven discourse that puts the onus on the victim to stop getting her ass kicked.

8. Cut out the platitudes: It’s not that I don’t understand what you mean by “There’s nothing you could have done” or “Nobody deserves it” or “Even if you were batshit crazy” – I get it, but those phrases are meaningless. When I say that I want to find out why I am afraid of spiders but not the guy who smashed a door to splinters with his bare hands, I’m not blaming myself for staying. When I talk about the things I did wrong, I’m not blaming myself, I’m actually kind of revelling in the fact that I’m now safe to be a complicated and flawed human being without getting a smack for it. Just respect my intelligence and my agency, and accept that I am able to grasp the complex dynamics; I still want to understand why I had such terrible risk assessment.

I think that people are pretty good, generally, that most people try to do the right thing, but platitudes are part of an “I don’t want to get involved” attitude. You’re involved, like it or not. You think I wanted to be involved?

Stop spouting clichés and talk for real. As long as what you say isn’t worse than “you fisheyed c*nt”, you can be sure I’ve heard worse.

9. Stop raising awareness and start demanding consequences: The week of Mark’s sentencing, Women’s Aid did a balloon launch. Women’s Aid is an indispensable organization that does great work, but what does PR fluff achieve? How much more aware of violence against women do you need to be before you do something? And are we so afraid of women’s anger that our own organisations are resorting to nice-girl complacency?

Pretty much every one of my calls to the cops – even with a barring order in place – was met with dismissiveness and impatience. They won’t start taking women like me seriously until the community makes it impossible to get away with beating us up.

It’s a crime against the state, which means the victim is only a witness. Violence against women is a crime against you.

10. Don’t hit women: It’s statistically likely that some of you reading this hit your partners, or will eventually. If this is you, then, hey – go fuck yourself.