instaUPDATE – real life & Rosebud

back to reality and back in the office – miles of files, this is my lifestyle..

… and back home to my own bed, finally after so many weeks away!

this city, this city is haunted.. by ghosts from broken homes – alexisonfire boiled frogs lyrics

city and color “two coins” lyrics

don’t let anyone dull your sparkle – click image for the full post if you missed it!

pre-shower post-midnight selfie’s.. its how I roll #socool

these are a few of my favourite things; band tees, full skirts, converse, sunnies and the sound of music ūüôā

36 crazy fists concert tee, monikee skirt (DK) CO-LAB cross body bag

out for lunch with the boss – found out I get to go on the company trip to Spain in November!!

brunch at The Ladybug and Cafe with my BFF & breakfast guru. She always shows me the best places!

waiting for my nails to dry with tea and snuggles in my favourite hoodie.

these two girls have my heart – misty & lina lookin all majestic like on the hillside.

now y’all know where I got my style, daddy rockin’ the fringe, the original hipster circa 1990

we planted trees for father’s day in my grandpa’s park. i come from a family of tree huggers – click photo for my mom’s blog

thinking over the weekend of another man I learned a lot from – missing this little pony, my BFF’s noble steed

This week was one of coming down. ¬†Coming down and landing back in reality (how unpleasant). ¬† Down from the cloud 9 of a European vacation – relaxing by the beach and stuffing my face with delicious Danish cuisine. while visiting family and shopping. ¬†It was an amazing experience. ¬†I really feel like the Europeans just have their ducks in a row when it comes to social programs and food… OMG the food you guys, go to Europe and just eat!!! ¬†They believe in quality not quantity, that’s why they are famous for being slim and Americans are famous for being fat. I ate so many delicious things there! ¬†Eat like a European – that’s my motto. ¬†Mostly for one reason: seriously do you understand how much better their desserts and chocolates are?? I mean for reals.

¬†While we were in Denmark my grandfather took me to his childhood home and showed me oak trees he planted as a boy. ¬†They tower up now, it was so beautiful to see how much they had grown – he told me there were three times more trees in Denmark now than there were when he left. ¬†This fathers day we had an amazing family brunch with my dad ¬†(the handsome fellow pictured above sporting the fringe jacket) and with his father who is basically a second father to me. (We call him Farfar, Danish for father’s father.) ¬†He has been working on the land all his life, he was our farm every day of my life, and the changes over the years are unbelievable. ¬†Looking at old photos of our farm, seeing him standing at 89 years old in his childhood home with the trees he planted towering over him- I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about how grateful I am for my family and how simple acts of ordinary people are what make all the difference in the world.

I think the history my family has given me such a strong sense of who I am and what I want. ¬†When I spend time on the farm with my family, with my horses, with the animals and the trees and the wind in my hair; I feel free, I feel happy. ¬†When I look around and see well sites dotting up like pockmarks on the once perfect prairie I am afraid; afraid of what is yet to come and that our collective greed will destroy all the earth has to give. ¬†I apologize for being a bit behind schedule with my posts here, but sometimes I have to focus on the country-smile side of myself, you can find me in the meantime helping my somewhat technologically challenged mother with her blog. Click HERE¬†or,¬†add your voice to the conversation on ALBERTA VOICES. ¬†I urge any Canadian citizens, or any concerned individual from any corner of the world to educate yourselves on the dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing . ¬†We all talk about the weather every day, make jokes about how mundane our lives are. ¬†Well, the weather lately has been so weird… its almost like there is some sort of global climate change happening. Perhaps from the massive amounts of fuel we have burned in the last 100 years? ¬†Perhaps we need to pause more often, leave the concrete jungles where everyone is perfect and we never speak to strangers and go back to country roots, where we aren’t afraid to get dirty, do hard work, create a home and a FUTURE. ¬†In the “now” generation we have very much lost sight of the “and then”. ¬†We are failing to plan for ¬†future, which is looking pretty bleak if we, collectively as humans, don’t turn things around a bit. ¬†Stat. ¬†The latest assault on the Rosebud River valley that I grew up in is some rich person’s idea of fun ¬†“a European style country club with luxury condo’s and a paved race track” smack dab in the middle of ¬†Absolutely No Where, Alberta. Also known as the the most damn important place in the world to me because I happened to be born in the center of it. ¬†Read the Calgary Herald article HERE.

The most unforgivable lie we humans tell ourselves is that we, alone, will make no difference.

Alone, we can make all the difference in the world. ¬†A single act can be everything to someone.¬†¬†¬†It takes ONE person with passion, one catalyst for change to happen. ¬†¬†Why are so many afraid to use their voice?¬†¬†Afraid to be passionately involved in their convictions for fear of offending someone, somewhere. ¬†As Eleanor Roosevelt put it – “Do what you know in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized for it anyways.” ¬† Its why things like the Steubenville Rape make me so sick to the core – because if ONE person at that party had pro-actively intervened, had stepped in and said, ” THIS IS WRONG AND YOU NEED TO STOP BECAUSE I WILL MAKE YOU STOP.” ¬†If just one person had had the courage to use that inner voice that must have been screaming at them, then that girl’s life could have been so different. ¬†And those “poor boys” would never have had their “bright futures ruined” by this “misunderstanding” had someone acted (perhaps by knocking some sense into them).¬†I’m so tired of victim blaming.¬†¬†In other words, EVERYONE WINS WHEN SOMEONE ACTS FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. ¬†Do we see where I am going with this? ¬†You have a voice, use it for the truth, use it to ask critical questions, use it to stand up for what you know in your heart to be right. ¬†Do not be silent. ¬†Do not sell yourself short to think you make no difference, the only difference is between the choices you make every single day.

” there will come a time when you must choose between what is right and what is easy “

-j.k.rowling

It will not be easy, but it is our generation that must be the change.  I like to complain that I am back to reality because in some ways, I am terrified of the reality we live in.  Other days I think to myself, how lucky am I to have a steady job to complain about coming back to? Then I remember that luck had nothing to do with it, I worked my ass off to get it.  I am ecstatic to go to Amsterdam and then Barcelona in November, to see Europe again and have to come crashing back to reality in Calgary.  You make your own luck, you get what you give.  You plant a seed and one day it will grow into a forest but first you have to get your hands dirty and dig a hole for it, cover it in water and hope it grows to something beautiful.   Find your passion and let it grow.  Thanks for reading! xo, aiyana

follow on instagram @aiyanajanee

Steubenville + Social Media- we are all victims

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for the latest social outrage.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – big red football players sentenced as juveniles for RAPE of West Virginia minor.

IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE CASE READ THIS NY TIMES ARTICLE, OR FOR MORE  DETAILED COVERAGE SEE PRINNEFIED РTHE BLOGGER WHO USED HER SOCIAL MEDIA SLEUTHING SKILLS TO PIECE TOGETHER (TWEET BY TWEET) THE EVENTS OF THAT NIGHT. MORE HERE.

Defendant remarks to the presiding Judge:

‚ÄúI would truly like to apologize to [her], her family, my family, and the community.¬† Those pictures shouldn‚Äôt have been sent around, let alone even taken. That‚Äôs all sir, thank you.‚Ä̬†– Trent Mays

‚ÄúI would like to apologize to you‚Ķ ¬†I had no intention to do anything like that and I‚Äôm sorry to put you guys through this and I just… [crying].. I just want you to realize that I‚Äôm sorry. I‚Äôm sorry, I know I ruined her life‚Ä̬†– Ma‚ÄôLik Richmond

The boys, who will get credit for time served, were sentenced on Sunday, March 17, 2013 – Mays to a minimum of two years in juvenile jail, one year for rape, and one year for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Ma’Lik Richmond was sentenced to a minimum one year for rape. ¬†

  What really shocked the world about this case, beyond their abhorrent and disgusting actions, was the brazen way they flaunted their crime. That combined with the fact that a great deal of witnesses failed to ever intervene or help the girl. In this case, the bystander effect is being digitally amplified through social media; re-tweets if you will, not an original action.  With the amount of social media kids are using these days, and the tendency to over-share without thinking of the long consequences, naturally the first thing they did when they saw something so shocking was to instantly share that with their friends through text and social media. Likely not realizing that any electronic record can never be  deleted with certainty.

while she lay unconscious, PARTY GOERS FLOCKED TO TWITTER:

Souce: http://prinniefied.com

Bystanders took videos and uploaded them to YouTube, the most famous of which, features Micheal Nodianos (below) joking about the assault & has over a million views.  

The victim was so intoxicated the defendants had to hold her up on the way to the car as they transported her from venue to venue. ¬† Mark Cole, a friend of Mays, testified that he took a video of an assault which¬†occurred¬†during the drive to his home, then later deleted it…¬†more¬†The young victim¬†was assaulted by multiple attackers in at least two locations over the course of the evening, though a great deal of what truly happened remains unclear. Barely¬†coherent¬†for the walk to the car, the West Virginia girl passes out¬†unconscious¬†in the back of a car while being transported to a another house party, where she is brutally¬†assaulted by football star quarterback, Trent Mays.

Text message transcripts were used as damning evidence.

A photo of the two boys, carrying an unconscious¬†girl by the arms and legs, and grinning as if they had just shot the trophy buck, also surfaced. The defendants claim this photo is a joke, that the girl was pretending to be¬†unconscious for the picture and it was all in good fun. The victim testified that she had almost no memory of the night other than leaving a party holding Mays hand and vomiting, but woke up the next morning in a strange house missing her personal effects, including underwear and cell phone. ¬†In the messages, video and tweets from that night, the victim is¬†consistently¬†referred¬†to by the perpetrators and their friends as “dead” or “dead body”. ¬†Step one in victim blaming complete-¬†dehumanization.

 Both defendants were charged with rape by digital penetration, Mays was also charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The defendants maintain their innocence,  but the Judge deemed them both juvenile delinquents (an apparently important distinction from guilty) thanks to testimony from the other boys involved that night Рthree of their team mates were granted immunity for their part in the events of that August night.

(Text message transcripts can be found here, I would caution that they are upsetting.) 

Cody Saltsman to Trent Mays:

u better check jane doe. SHE’S TELLIN PEOPLE SHE GOT DRUGGED

Trent Mays to Evan Westlake:

Deleate that off You-tube. Coach Sac knows about it. Seriously delete it.

Evan Westlake:
Deny to the grave.
Trent Mays:

Her dad knows, and if our names get brought up,

if asked, SHE WAS JUST REALLY DRUNK.

Trent Mays:
They knew she stayed at Mark’s. You just gotta say she was asleep by the time you got there.
Trent Mays to Cody Saltsman:
Nodi’s running his mouth saying how dead she was. If anyone asks, we just took her to Mark’s, and she fell asleep.
Trent Mays to Mark Cole:
Just say she passed out at your house if anyone asks.
Mark Cole:

” IDK SHE WAS FUCKED UP. ¬†¬†

IT WAS HER FAULT SHE WAS FUCKED UP.”

While both Richmond and Mays have been charged with rape by digital penetration (finger banging as the kids these days call it) the recovered text messages and tweets imply it was a great deal more than just a hand up the skirt – penetration, urination and sodomy. Their sentences, handed down to the delinquent¬†juveniles (not guilty men) are remarkably lax; one year, including time served, and out by 21. Basically 5 years at the very most. Good¬†behavior¬†and they’ll be out before they turn 18. A hand up the skirt and a slap on the wrist; boys will be boys after all! Ah, the sweet smell of justice in the morning!¬†

Yet CNN spends its entire 6 minute report discussing how HORRIBLE it is that for the rest of their lives, these boys will be convicted sex offenders, after an¬†ALCOHOL fueled night. Please CNN, do you really believe that, is that the America you know and love? Note how Mays only apologized for the photographs, barely even managing to sound sincere, undoubtedly¬†his lawyer has¬†counseled¬†him to admit nothing. Mays seemed to know, from reading the transcripts of texts he sent to his friends, that what he had done was wrong; he instructs friends on what to say, tells them to delete the evidence. ¬†Mays knows he’s caught and tries to save himself using very technology that ends up being the final nail in his coffin. ¬†Clearly that will not stop him from hiring the best lawyer possible to argue that the photo was staged, the girl had given prior consent, she was¬†conscious¬†and consenting and those good old boys had just tried to help that poor slutty drunk girl out. Honest.

Already the gears of justice are turning as the¬†defense¬†for May’s tries to¬†subpoena “friends” of the¬†victim¬†to¬†testify about her “lies” and “excessive drinking”. ¬†Slowed a little by the fact that she lives just across state lines in West Virginia, surely the Ohio lawyers will find a way to get their clients out post-haste. Out, as if their maximum sentence of just UNDER FIVE YEARS (until they turn 21) is some unbearably long time for these poor boys to suffer. Imagine watching the CNN news report if the victim was your daughter, or sister, or mother. Or god forbid that it was you. Would a maximum of five years seem like justice? ¬†If you are a rapist sympathizer, take a minute to think about the way that girl will be forever effected by this, then step into traffic.

The primary and key distinguishing factor in this clear case of RAPE CULTURE is  SOCIAL MEDIA

This is hardly the first time a superstar¬†athlete¬†has assaulted someone, Kobe Bryant anyone? Settled in civil court before the criminal trial. ¬† In other words, money and a “sincere” apology are typically enough to get away with rape. ¬†Athlete’s are absolutely idolized, and it has become a recurring theme that the football player can rape a drunk cheerleader and we can all just have a big laugh about it. Umpteen reasons can be found to explain why those victims deserved what they got or brought it upon themselves. When we try to explain why these boys did it the primary¬†defense¬†is they didn’t know they had done anything wrong.

THEY DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD DONE ANYTHING WRONG. Whether this is true or not, how is it possibly considered a reasonable defense? ¬†The fact is rape culture permeates to a level that these boys are surely convinced of their own innocence. ¬†In the text message they tell themselves “it was her fault, it didn’t happen”. ¬†Its is my personal belief that they knew, and possibly even relished the fact that what they were doing was wrong in the moment.

Historically¬†athletes¬†have been given special treatment by the justice system, there is¬†undoubtedly¬†a social bias, so many millions of people LOVE sports. It doesn’t matter where you go in the universe, men are discussing sporting events. ¬†We give young men these superstar¬†athletes¬†to look up to, then we give them the message that they are above the law. I asked my boyfriend what he could tell me about Kobe Bryant-¬†apparently¬†out with a rolled ankle at the moment but having a good season. I’m certain anything to do with rape was the farthest thing from his mind as he rattled off the stats to me. Its a good thing Kobe, and the rest of the world, managed to put the trouble of those rape accusations behind him, you know it really could have ruined his life forever…

In the past, convictions have been very rare, even coverage of¬†similar¬†incidents has been¬†comparatively¬†minimal. ¬† Initially¬†the boys football coach (Coach Sac, referenced above) was the one intended to “discipline” the boys. ¬†Throughout the case police were accused of not taking the investigation seriously enough, it wasn’t until a social media expert and crime blogger, plus the rest of the¬†twitter-sphere, took to their keyboards to sound off on the sickening miscarriage of justice that the charges were laid. ¬†Without the damning tweets, photos and texts, its likely that what happened to the 16 year old girl would have never even been reported – let alone tried and¬†convicted – and the boys would have carried on their marry way, just like generations of date-rape athletes before them.

Are sports to blame?

In a word, NO. Sports are enjoyed across the globe, you know what isn’t? Rape. ¬†The problem isn’t with sports, its with the failure of the justice system to remain impartial when it comes to prosecuting rapists. It doesn’t matter if he was a quarterback, wide receiver, a point guard, power forward or a fucking fencer. ¬†First and foremost, what we need to accept and verbally acknowledge, is that their identity goes beyond the sport they play right down into that place called individuality, where you are accountable for you’re own actions and expected to conduct yourself within a moral code. Failure to abide by the laws of society should result in equal punishment for all. ¬†Regardless of their fantasy league stats.

Can we entirely blame these young men for not knowing where to toe the line? ¬†At 16 these boys already are hopped up on a cocktail of¬†hormones, give them the home town football hero status, add some alcohol and they believe they can do anything. ¬† Next mix in a bunch of teenage girls, all wanting to be popular and pretty and jacked up on so many hormones that even repellent 16 year old boys like Trent Mays or Ma’Lik Richmond seem nice. ¬† These boys KNOW all the girls want them, they know that any girl who gets to be with them should count herself as lucky. ¬† These girls KNOW the boys could choose whichever girl they would like to date, but are they pretty enough? Skinny enough? Funny enough? Could they be GOOD ENOUGH to have the honor of dating the quarterback? There is stiff competition, so maybe if they drink a little they will be interesting and cool enough. ¬†At that age, hormones do not allow you to always act rationally, particularly once¬†alcohol enters into the mix. ¬†It is a¬†tragedy that things this¬†despicable can happen (and it happens every single day) but when we see extreme cases like this, one can’t help but ask themselves, why? How could this possibly have happened?

the boys are victims too, of a  far greater crime РRAPE CULTURE

It hurts everyone, it effects everyone.  Male or female, victim or perpetrator, lives are forever changed when rape is committed.  What most people are asking themselves is where the blame really lies?  A small town is divided between home team loyalty, and an assault so senseless it almost seems unimaginable.

When taken literally, the answer is obvious- the blame lies with the boys for committing such atrocities against an unconscious victim.  Regardless of how much victim-blaming, dehumanizing spin you put on it,  they performed sexual acts on minor unable to consent.  Unquestionably wrong, and ruled as such by a Judge.

When we look at the big picture, does the CNN style of minimizing their crimes as help anyone? ¬†If we are to believe their Oscar worthy performances in the courtroom these boys are devastated¬†by their actions. While I may doubt their sincerity (and humanity) I do not entirely blame them for those actions. ¬†If you never had a teenage night of drinking that got a bit out of control, you are one of the few. ¬†Men like these are monsters of society’s making. By idolizing them (and for only a game) we put them on a pedestal to be admired, above the rest of us. Is it a wonder that they come to believe they are above the law as well? ¬†Drinking is against the law for minors, text messaging while driving, speeding, rolling through a stop sign – little laws that get broken all the time, especially by rebellious teenagers. ¬†What is one more little law, especially when Marijuana possession is taken more seriously by law enforcement than date rape.

The problem with rape cases is that its often only about he-said/she-said, heard in a man’s world. There is constant victim blaming, perpetuating the idea that the victims choices could have prevented the assault: what she wore, how drunk she was, she has a reputation for lying, she wanted it, she liked it, she gave him prior permission. ¬†Basically if you are raped, ask yourself- what¬†minuscule¬†choice could you have made over the course of the evening (red shoes, what were you thinking you slut?!) that sent the message “please sexually assault me” if you can’t think of anything, just ask someone you know, male or female and they could probably tell you where you went wrong. ¬†Then don’t talk about it ever again, because talking about rape makes people uncomfortable, and we all know you actually just wanted the attention anyways.

In our society, we teach our daughters not to get raped, rather than teaching our sons, do not rape. ¬†Women are expected to be constantly on the look-out, like prey watching for the proverbial hawk waiting to swoop down upon us. ¬†Men are taught boundaries, certainly no one says; “sure son, you go get your rape on, just be back in time for dinner!” We all KNOW that RAPE is WRONG but are then sent confusing messages because of media coverage like CNN’s which minimizes any effect on the actual victim of the crime and instead parades the guilty like some kind of martyr for going to juvie for a year. ¬†Its a joke, and no one finds it funny anymore.

I regularly think about the double edged sword of social media – everything is available instantly, but its also available forever, despite how fleeting it may be in the moment. ¬†Every keystroke of our online lives can be traced by the techno-savvy, the most inadvertent Facebook post these days can cost you a job. Nude photo’s can never be un-leaked. ¬†In this case, despite how sad it is for the victim and her family, the level of exposure through social media may be the only reason she was able to find justice.¬†

As a woman with major involvement in social media, a blogger living in a rape culture dominated world, I worry sometimes about attracting unwanted attention but refuse to live in fear of what might happen. I suppose if someone decides to stalk me and turn me into a skin lamp that this blog will be combed by experts and the fact that sometimes I wore see-through tops just meant I had really nice skin for turning into furnishings. (If you don’t get the Hannibal reference, I give up on you.)

Standing up and speaking out are the most important things we can do to end sexual violence. While I cannot imagine the¬†devastation¬†of having such an assault shared with the world, the good that has come from it is at least it has opened up a global forum on the issue. I woke up this morning all set to edit photos, instead I spent literally the entire morning bawling while reading though every article I could find, and the rest of the day composing this monstrously long post. I started at 9 am, and it is now nearly after 3 am the next morning. I know I get wordy, its my crux to bear, but this post was particularly difficult to keep short and sweet.¬†¬†My absolutely heart breaks for this girl.¬†Initially I wasn’t even going to post anything on the blog, but I felt so upset and hopeless reading this case, comments on articles, and imagining how much worse the assault really was, I felt like I needed to take this¬†poison¬†and anger that filled my stomach and turn it into¬†vitriolic¬†words to be forever immortalized online. After all, what else does our generation know how to do but document the important things in our lives and then share our opinion with the entire internet?

Thank you so much for reading, stay safe for me, and¬†remember to be¬†beautiful on the inside. To every single Jane (or John) Doe out there, know that you are not alone, not defined by and not broken by your experience. You matter, what happened to you matters, and don’t every let anyone tell you otherwise. The can dehumanize you, blame you, take your body, your innocence, your life, but they cannot take everything. Do not let anyone diminish your spirit. Stay strong, I love you.

xo, aiyanajane

Let your voice be heard – check out Project Unbreakable, started back in October of 2011 by Grace Brown, who photographs victims holding quotes from their attackers.

project unbreakable tumblr

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Jane Doe, who’s legal counsel is acting pro bono, asked that any donations be sent to Madden House instead..¬†more