Enough With The Bull
Ways to Use This Journal
Well, in all reality, you could use it however you want, but I figured at least a layout would be helpful.
This book contains six sections, and they are meant to go in order because each builds on the work done in the previous section. In each one, you’ll find an introduction, at least one short story with discussion questions, and a journal for you to sort through your own thoughts. That being said, if you skip around, no one will come to yell at you.
This journal has a companion parent journal as well, but it can absolutely be used alone, so if that’s you, no worries.
If you currently have a partner, significant other, friend with benefits… anyone you consider yourself having a relationship with, it would be really beneficial for you to work through the journal at the same time and have some really in-depth discussions. If you’re currently thinking “I could never do that and talk about these types of thoughts with him/her/them,” then I say to you, challenge accepted. The whole point of this book is to lessen the general awkwardness of having these conversations. So, I hope by the end, you feel differently if that was your initial reaction.
Also, please write in the journal. Not necessarily to share with anyone, but to hold yourself accountable to your own thoughts. It’s a lot harder to backtrack when it’s in writing.
Other than that, welcome, thank you for picking up this journal, even if your parents or guardians made you do it. I think you’ll learn something about yourself by the end.
Foreword and Dedication
At the beginnings of the #MeToo movement, and really well before that, I knew I needed to write this collection. Beyond these stories, I also knew that I needed to do what I do best, which is teach, and that is where the journal part of this collection fits in.
I cannot claim to have all of the answers or to possess the ability to “fix” the very serious problems we have in our society surrounding the issues of consent. I also cannot single-handedly address the absence of comprehensive sex education that should include how to build, participate in, and demand healthy relationships. There are some things, however, that I’ve learned along the way that I know can change individual experiences—and that matters.
If you’ve picked up this book, whether it be for yourself, your child, or even to make sense out of your own experiences, know that it is dedicated to you. I wrote it for myself, I wrote it for the students I have spent my career worrying about and learning from, and for everyone who is with me in wanting to make a change in the statistics that tell us things are definitely not all right.
The title for this collection came about because I got so tired of hearing these old clichés about how girls or boys are supposed to act. I realized that expectations for young people are really set so low, and that’s a problem. I’ve worked with teenagers for most of my career, and this idea that you all can’t figure things out or make good decisions is just false. When given sound information and room to think it through, I’ve seen exactly the opposite.
So yes, I will spend the rest of my time here in the next hundred pages or so dispelling the myth that anything in the human experience of relationships is black and white or able to fit into a neat little box. This book is not here to warn you or judge you or scare you. It is here to make you think about your own life and boundaries and to make decisions based on what’s best for you.
Figuring It Out
“Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
— American Idiom
This old saying is problematic for several reasons. One, it compares people to cows, and is therefore off to a poor start. Two, it assumes that this cow-buying person is only interested in milk and nothing else. I would keep this metaphor going, but it’s disturbing, really. I’ve found that people like simplistic ideas that cover a wide variety of scenarios, and this is one of them. Except it doesn’t even begin to dive into the complexity of human emotions and relationships. So, forget the cow, and worry about the farm as a whole. Yeah, no, that analogy still isn’t working for me.
There is no shortage of YA (Young Adult) stories out there that deal with young people “figuring out” relationships. My issue with this is that I don’t see enough of real life reflected in mainstream YA contemporary literature, especially when the truth is uncomfortable. That being said, I absolutely applaud and support authors who are making a point to change things.
This section, to me, means dealing with the sort of stories that almost everyone can relate to. The stories that show us the general awkwardness and sometimes very real fear of figuring out how to tell people how we feel, risk rejection, decide how we feel versus how we’re supposed to feel, and more. There’s no roadmap for this, because everyone has different boundaries, different life experiences, different fears, and different desires. There’s no one way to approach communicating with someone you have (or want to have) a relationship with.
There are some pretty clear lines, however, on how not to communicate—rage, manipulation, verbal or physical abuse. Unfortunately, these reactions seem almost commonplace when some people face rejection. Really, what that looks like to an outside observer is the lack of a coping strategy for dealing with hurt and rejection, along with a lack of resilience.
I hope that you’ll consider the motivations behind each of these characters’ actions and envision yourself in similar situations. Here’s to all of us who are figuring it out.