jump to navigation

Misplaced Priorities March 9, 2011

Posted by jeneypeney in femme writes, i'm just sayin', the 'f' word, what the hell.

I know it may seem like I am beating a dead horse when I bring up how much the University of Notre Dame has completely an utterly disappointed me in the worst way possible. But I cannot be silent about this…

Not once, but twice the University has failed to protect and bring justice to my Saint Mary’s sisters.

Not once, but twice they pushed their sexual assault cases to the side and brushed their sloppy investigations under the rug as if this all was an episode of the Chicago Code.

Not once, but twice the University that had become such an integral part of my life broke my heart.

Yesterday I came across an article about the football program installing remote video cameras in the football practice complex as a result of the death of Declan Sullivan. The article goes on to say that the family is very pleased that these steps are being taken to avoid another tragic accident like the one that killed their son.

News coverage of Declan’s death have continued to report that the University is “researching what caused the lift to fall” and “how this can be avoided in the future.” I guess the fact that winds gushed at over 50mph and the lift wasn’t supposed to be used if winds exceeded 35mph isn’t enough evidence for them. The University has been in contact with Sullivan’s family to assure that Declan is memorialized and remembered.

I do not want to belittle Declan’s death at all. I was once a member of the Notre Dame Football family, and his death hit me hard. He was far too young and had too promising a future to have his life taken away so suddenly and I doubt I will be forgetting this tragedy any time soon.

However, being a woman, a feminist, a survivor a sexual assault, and an alum of Saint Mary’s College – I cannot help but be outraged at the disparities between the actions the University has taken to handle the deaths of Declan Sullivan and Lizzy Seeburg as well as the second assault allegation revealed to have been poorly handled by Notre Dame.

The University has done everything in their power to investigate Declan’s death; rightly so. But their investigations of the two sexual assaults were minimal – and that’s a generous statement.

The administration has been in constant contact with the Sullivan family while the Seeburgs have all but got down on their knees and begged for Rev. Jenkins to return their phone calls.

Now, they are spending thousands of dollars on fiber-optic remote cameras to be installed on the practice fields to avoid another death like Declan’s. What are they doing to help avoid more sexual assaults of the women of both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame? Nothing but trying to cover their asses for ignoring them in the first place.

While I do  understand that these three cases are all very different for the simple fact that Declan’s life literally ended, I simply do NOT understand why the sexual assault cases were handled with a completely disregard for decency, justice, and tact?

Is it because these girls were “SMC Chiks” and not “Domers”? Is it because the girls were drunk and “asked for it”? Is it because the administration is so blinded by their Catholic values and the need to keep their precious campus to absurdly guarded from the outside world? Is it because they think there is absolutely, positively no way in hell that the upstanding, intelligent, impressive men of Notre Dame could ever commit such a crime?

Whatever the reason is, I am disgusted by you, Notre Dame. I have no idea how you can live with yourselves and claim you are “good Christians” when you ignore the cries of your daughters and their families. The lives of those two girls have forever been changed by this and you’re  indifference to their pleas of help will not make their road to recovery any easier.

You should be ashamed of your ignorance and disregard for the lives of the women on your campus and the one across the street – I know I am.


Femme Writes: A victim. A survivor. A sufferer. August 5, 2010

Posted by jeneypeney in femme writes, life, the 'f' word, women's writes.

On the 5th of every month, bloggers from around the world are open to write about rights and issues concerning women. First started by Shine and Marie, we’re hoping to bring a variety of women’s issues to the forefront to make people aware of what’s going on. For the month of July, we’ve chosen to write about Physical and Mental Abuse. Please join us in telling us your stories, thoughts, and ideas on a monthly basis. To read previous installments, click here.

***WARNING*** This post will probably shock 99.9% of you who read it. I have decided to be brutally honest in this post and I am holding nothing back. I haven’t spoken of these things very often or very recently to anyone  – some of them I have never mentioned until now – so read ahead at your own risk.


I would bet that most of those who know me would never guess that I was a victim of sexual abuse from the time I was a small child through my years as an undergraduate. Upon first impressions, I probably come by as a well-adjusted, happy, and relatively normal twenty something girl trying to make her way in the world.

You’d never guess that inside I am constantly fighting feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, pain… the list goes on.

I wrote about one of the instances of the abuse I suffered as a child before for Violence Unsilenced* – and at the time it was the most difficult thing I had ever done.

I was wrong.

Writing about it a second time, now, for Femme Writes is the hardest thing I have ever done. Why? Because for some reason memories I had suppressed and completely forgotten about are coming back and I’m not sure how to handle it all.

I suddenly remembered it all started in the first grade when the boy I was assigned to sit next to in class would expose himself to me on the playground. Because he thought it was funny.

Then in third grade another boy talked me into taking all my clothes off for him. Because “that’s what boyfriends and girlfriends do together.”

Then when I was 12, the mailman molested me right outside my home – along with several other young girls on our route. Because he was sick in the head.

Exactly a year later, a very close family friend molested and penetrated me with his fingers while he thought I was sleeping. Because he was drunk.

When I was a junior in college, I was forced to go down on a guy at a house party. Because he was pissed that I wouldn’t sleep with him.

The one that finally broke me? When I “blacked in” after a long night of drinking and the boy I had been flirting with all night was on top of me… and inside of me. Because I wasn’t coherent enough to stop him.

After all of this, I went though a long, awful phase where I would get absurdly drunk and sleep with inappropriate people. I didn’t know how to handle all the pain and unwanted guilt I had in my heart and mind. I felt so worthless, unwanted, and broken. Acting out as I did was the only way I could just not feel… even if it was for only a few hours.

It didn’t help that by best friend only judged me for my behavior. She wrote me off as a reckless slut and turned against me. I know I probably deserved it, but I think deep down I wanted her to ask me what was wrong and why I was being so stupid. I just wanted someone to care about me.

I am still learning to get over my feelings of guilt and broken-ness. It’s a process though, and I’m not sure if I ever will truly be fixed.

I was a victim. I am a survivor. But I am still suffering… and I fear I may always be.

* My post has not yet been published as the waiting list is about eleventy billion months long… but as soon as it is posted I well let you all know.

Photoshop my ass! (…please?) July 5, 2010

Posted by jeneypeney in all growed up, femme writes, girl problems, life, piss and moan, pop culture, the 'f' word.

On the 5th of every month, bloggers from around the world are open to write about rights and issues concerning women. First started by Shine and Marie, we’re hoping to bring a variety of women’s issues to the forefront to make people aware of what’s going on. For the month of July, we’ve chosen to write about Body Image. Please join us in telling us your stories, thoughts, and ideas on a monthly basis. To read previous installments, click here.


I am not going to lie, I have struggled with my own body image for as long as I can remember. But at the same time, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the theory of it. I even spent the majority of my junior and senior year of college researching  the effects of alcohol and liquor advertising on women’s self-body image for my undergraduate thesis.*

I took a class called Theory of Female Beauty my senior year where we had one assignment in which we all had to select a picture of ourselves and manipulate it to make ourselves “ideal” and “ugly”.

This is the photo I started with:

Not too shabby, if I say so myself…

This is what happened when I gave myself more make-up, bigger boobs, more blonde hair, and smoother skin:

I didn’t even think the original picture was bad until I did this assignment…

And for a good laugh, this is what I did to make myself “ugly”:

What Shrek looks like on acid.

Pretty ridiculous, huh?

To be completely frank, there is absolutely no reason for me to have issues with how my body looks. I am 5’2″, about  130 lbs, with 35, 31, 39 measurements. But when I look in the mirror every morning? I see a less than perfect woman staring back at me who could use a chin reduction and a couple hundred more sit-ups at the gym.

And the most frustrating and infuriating part about this? I hold a minor in Women’s Studies from a prestigious all women’s college. I know this “perfect figure” we are all chasing after is as realistic as sparkly vampires and horcruxes.  I know all those magazine covers are photoshopped to high hell and back. I know this.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all know this.

I really wish I had some sort of earth-shattering and mind-blowing way to end to this post – but there is nothing I can say that has not been said before…

Just take a close look at the images I posted – and remember them the next time you see Charlize Theron or Matthew McConaughey looking all sexy and perfect on a magazine cover. It didn’t take millions of hours at the gym and a diet of Fiji water and carrots to look like that – it took a couple clicks and a few brush strokes.

*If anyone wants to read all the mumbo-jumbo I wrote, presented, and defended – shoot me and e-mail and I can send it to you.