Traditional Gender Roles and Recovering From Rape

I wrote this for a class in Spring 2012. I’ve posted it here in support of #WhyWomenDontReport and #WhyMenDontReport.


Rape is a traumatic incident that has a great negative impact on the victim. After being assaulted, the recovery process begins with the victim’s decision to either avoid thinking about what just happened to him or her, or by seeking help. Recovering from rape is not something that is simply attained after a series of steps; instead, it is a process of coming to terms with the assault and how it impacts his or her life. Meanwhile, gender roles have played a large part in societies for thousands of years. Stemming from both the physical differences between men and women, as well as the mental constructs imposed by society and religion, gender roles have shaped what it means to be a man or a woman, masculine or feminine. Gender roles can vary with ethnicity, race, religion, and socio-economic status. Traditional gender roles are typically marked by an inequality between what is allowed and expected of men and women; the greater the divide, the more “traditional” the gender role. As some societies have progressed towards allowing fewer differences between men and women, traditional gender roles have generally subsided and become less pronounced. Since recovering from rape is such an arduous and difficult process, the victim’s environment has a large impact on how he or she copes with the sexual assault. In particular, how peers react and perceive a rape victim has a large impact on his or her ability to recover from the sexual assault. In general, traditional gender roles have a negative impact on how men and women recover from rape.

An Overview of Rape and Recovery

Rape has a surprisingly large number of definitions, so for the purposes of this article, the term “rape” will be used with the definition of Non-Volitional Sex (NVS) in mind: “sexual behaviour that violates a person’s right to choose when and with whom to have sex and what sexual behaviours to engage in” (Kalmuss, 2004, p. 197). Rape comes in numerous different forms, depending on whether the assailant and victim knew each other (stranger versus acquaintance rape), to the context of their relationship (e.g. prison rape), to Intimate Partner Violence, or the “physical, psychological, or sexual harm committed by a current or former partner, spouse, boy/girlfriend” (Sormanti, & Smith, 2010, p. 22). A rape victim can be any age, from being a child (Child Sexual Abuse, or CSA), to a grown adult, to an elderly person.

Rape has an incredibly negative impact on the victim and is rarely something that a victim can absolutely recover from. While every victim generally copes and recovers in their own way, rape victims frequently use either approach coping and avoidance coping (Littleton & Breitkopf, 2006, p. 106). Approach coping is marked by the victim reaching out to others in hope to deal with their situation, while victims that “choose” avoidance coping tend to avoid both thinking about the incident and seeking any help.

Regardless of how a rape victim copes, they often suffer from “posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, relationship problems, and sexual problems” (Polusney & Follette, 1995, p. 143). Similar to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) “is the acute phase and long-term reorganization process that occurs as the result of forcible rape or attempted forcible rape” (Burgess & Holmstrom, 1974, p. 981). Researchers did not recognize RTS until 1974 when Burgess & Holmstrom realized that many rape victims suffer from similar stress patterns at PTSD patients.

For victims that use approach coping and decide to reach out to others, the reactions that others have can have a negative impact on their recovery process; this “secondary victimization” occurs when authorities or members of the victim’s social group holds negative attitudes towards the victim (Nagel, Matsuo, McIntyre, & Morrison, 2005, p. 726). These negative attitudes range from “those that blame the victim, question the victim’s credibility, imply that the victim deserved being raped, denigrate the victim, and trivialize the rape experience” (Nagel et al, 2005, p. 726). The negative attitudes are harmful to the recovery process, often making the victim question whether they were at fault for what happened to him or her.

The framework of “reaching out, reframing the rape, and redefining self” provides a fairly strong basis for analyzing the victim’s recovery process (Smith & Kelly, 2011, p. 343). While the study was specifically about American women, the findings and first-hand accounts in the study are consistent with what has been found in other groups around the world.

The beginning of the recovery process begins with reaching out, or “getting back to normal routines, talking without crying, being in control of obsessive thoughts, and gaining the ability to move about freely in her environment” (Smith & Kelly, 2011, p. 344). Once a victim is able to recognize what has happened, he or she can start to get back to the “regular” life they once had (or in some cases, start to build a new life). This stage is largely affected by the people the victim is willing to share information about the rape with. Supportive reactions to the victim allow the victim to feel safer and as if they are going to be able to recover from the incident.

Reframing the rape requires the victim to “see the positives of recovering from the trauma, gain a new perspective on life, and no longer need people to believe what she says regarding her rape experience” (Smith & Kelly, 2011, p. 344). This stage is helpful in having the victim make sense of the rape (in as much as one can make sense of rape). Many victims find a purpose for the rape, such as how it has improved their ability to cope with trauma or how it might bring them closer with their family and/or friends. This part of the recovery process helps the victim start to feel peace and work towards the next step.

Women in the study talked about redefining self as “self-love, forgiveness of self and the rapist, and inner peace” (Smith & Kelly, 2011, p. 344). This part of the recovery process involves the victim getting back the self-identity they once had, hopefully with an improved self-image and the ability to grow as a person again (in addition to recovering from the rape). This stage is marked with the victim beginning to move on to bigger and better achievements in their life, without the weight of the rape dragging them down and bringing self-doubt to their decisions and actions.

Overall, the victim’s progress in the coping and recovering process can be determined by how well the victim is able to function, both in terms of their day-to-day actions and how they are progressing towards a life where the rape has as little of a negative impact as possible.

A Quick Look at Gender Roles

Gender roles (sometimes referred to as gender norms) are “the attitudes and behaviours that are deemed appropriate for women and men’s social and sexual interactions” (Nguyen, Clark, Hood, Corneille, Fitzgerald, & Belgrave, 2010, p. 603). Gender roles help define society’s expectations of men and women. Gender roles can be detected in a society by examining the separation between what is acceptable for men and women.

Gender roles are not necessarily negative, but do sometimes unnecessarily segregate men and women.

People learn how their gender is supposed to behave through their parents, teachers, peers, and the media. Attributes and behaviors are assigned either masculine or feminine roles in society. Gender schema, or the “cognitive structures that organize an individual’s gender- related knowledge, preferences, beliefs and attitudes” (Cherney, 2005, p. 12), plays into how people learn what is expected of them. Gender roles are often created based on gender stereotypes. The effect that these stereotypes have can be harmful. Society typically starts off with more traditional gender role ideas (boys want to be doctors while girls want to be nurses); over time, as kids learn that violations of typical gender role norms are okay, these tend to fade away.

Stereotyped gender roles include the need for men to be responsible for the well-being of their family by providing for their needs. For example, “traditional Asian values… typically place the male higher in the family hierarchy and emphasize among men and women his position as economic provider” (Chang & Subramaniam, 2008, p. 125). Men might be thought of as instrumental characters that should not express their feelings. Men are generally required to be more aggressive and in charge of situations. It is stereotypical to think of men as always wanting sex. Men also have a slightly harder time deviating from their masculine gender role; it is more frowned upon for men to take up female roles than for women to take on male roles.

Women, on the other hand, are thought of as nurturers who are responsible for raising children. Women are thought of as expressive creatures, except when it comes to sex; it is considered that sex is something that a woman should provide to men but not something they should seek out on their own.

Traditional Gender Roles

Gender roles can be seen on a continuum of less to more traditional, with no precise or distinct grouping of traditional gender roles versus non-traditional gender roles. Traditional gender roles are typically marked by a great inequality between what is allowed and expected of men and women; the greater the divide, the more “traditional” the gender role.

Traditional gender roles include some of the roles listed above, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is not the actual roles themselves that are of importance, but instead the presence of the great divide in what constitutes a male role versus a female role. This distinction is important because gender roles vary with ethnicity, race, religion, and socio-economic status. In looking at how traditional gender roles can vary from ethnicity to ethnicity, Nguyen et al. found that “traditional conceptualisations of gender roles would be inappropriate for an African-American sample” (2010, p. 612), in as much as the gender role of “caretaker” is much more associated with a masculine gender role in African-American societies (whereas caretaker is often prescribed as a feminine gender role in other ethnicities).

The Positive Impacts of Traditional Gender Roles

Before examining how traditional gender roles have a negative impact on the recovery process of rape victims, the positive aspects of traditional gender roles should be mentioned. While the helpfulness of traditional gender roles on the recovery process for a male rape victim is not something that can be easily argued, there are opportunities for making the case that traditional gender roles have a positive impact on female rape victims.

It could be argued that the traditional gender stereotype of women being the weaker sex has a positive impact on women who are raped. Since rape blame has a large impact on the rape recovery process, alleviating blame by pinning the rape on the woman’s inability to defend herself (since she is weaker) could helpful.

Likewise, one may argue that, in societies that value a woman’s subservient sexual position to men, female rape victims might benefit from the existence of traditional gender roles. This “sexually subservient” position could be used to explain that it is a woman’s job to please men, and thus the “rape” was simply a function of their role in society.

The Negative Impacts of Traditional Gender Roles

Despite the potential positive benefits mentioned above, traditional gender roles are much more harmful to the rape recovery process than they are positive. Traditional gender roles have a negative affect on the entire rape coping and recovery process.

As discussed above, victims almost always have the choice to avoid dealing with what happened to them or to seek help, either from an actual rape recovery clinic or from their close confidants (avoidance versus approach coping). Increased avoidance coping is more evident in societies with more traditional gender roles. Chang and Subramaniam found that men who accept masculine gender roles (such as white men or Asian and Pacific Islander Americans) are “less likely to seek mental health services because doing so could be viewed as a sign of femininity” (2008, p. 125). Dumond and Dumond found that “traditional gender role stereotypes contribute to lack of responsiveness toward male rape victims, and gaps in services often prevent men from getting the services they need” (2002, p. 73). As shown above, increased avoidance coping has a detrimental effect on the coping and recovery process

The reactions of others have a sizable impact on the rape recovery process. It has been found that disclosing sexual assault can be a harmful “when victims receive negative responses from others” (Ullman, 2011, p. 148). The victim is usually concerned with whether or not others will believe what happened to them—believe that the situation happened, and believe that it was unwanted and against his or her will. Societies with more traditional gender roles are less likely to believe that the situation occurred in the manner that the victim describes because, in general, it is perceived that women are “inferior” and less trustworthy. Kanekar found that, when looking at Indian versus Western blame assignment, the more traditional Indian society had “a much stronger bias against female victims of male sexual aggression” (2007, p. 126).

If society does accept a woman’s story about the sexual encounter, then there is another lingering question: was it a wanted encounter or undesired? Societies with more traditional gender roles are more likely to believe that a woman did want the encounter because it would be fulfilling their role as a woman to have sex with men at the man’s desire. This has a negative impact because it reinforces (in the victim’s mind) the idea that they should not perceive the sexual assault as rape, making it more difficult for them to accept what happened to them and move on from the situation.

For men, the situation is a bit different. If it is assumed that society will believe that the rape occurred, they then question the man’s ability to fit within the masculine gender role. Rape can be emasculating to men and harm their self-esteem, thus hurting the rape recovery process.

Homosexuality also comes into play. Male victims of rape who identify themselves as heterosexual are worried that their admittance of being raped will make others perceive them as homosexual. With regard to rape blame, recent experimental studies have suggested that “male victims of rape are often blamed significantly more than female victims” (Sleath & Bull, 2010, p. 970).

Rape blame responsibility has a huge impact on the recovery process. Blame responsibility is how much it is believed that the victim was to blame for the rape, versus how much of the responsibility lies with the perpetrator. More conservative societies tend to place more blame on the victim than places in which traditional gender roles are less accepted and prevalent (Kanekar, 2007, p. 126).

Continual self-blame hinders the recovery process, and can be more difficult to get over in a society with more traditional gender roles. Self-blame is almost always a factor in a rape victim’s mind: whether there was something he or she could have done to escape, and perhaps even whether or not telling someone could have saved another future victim. This is exacerbated by the blame that society puts on the victim; essentially, they might start to believe that they were to blame for the rape, and thus are more responsible.

Rape myths “are stereotyped, prejudicial, or faulty beliefs about the rape itself, the victim, or the perpetrator of the rape” (Rusinko, Bradley, & Miller, 2010, p. 360) and usually “are biased against victims [and] favor… perpetrators” (Süssenbach & Bohner, 2011, p. 374) Rape myths are more widely accepted in countries with more traditional gender roles, and thus has a negative impact on rape survivors.

Conclusions

It can thus be concluded that traditional gender roles generally have a negative impact on male and female rape victims. Men and women alike have a very hard time recovering from rape. The rape recovery process requires the victim to first acknowledge what happened to him or her, and then decide to seek help and not avoid facing the ugly truth of his or her new reality. Women are less likely to seek help because of the shameful stigma attached to being a rape victim. Men are much more likely to avoid talking to anyone about the incident for fear of being labeled homosexual and bringing the shame upon them that, in the eyes of a more society with more traditional gender roles, they are on equal inferiority with women. Furthermore, because societies in which traditional gender roles are more present tend to place more blame on the victim than other societies, a rape victim may get a negative reaction from whomever they speak with about their rape, whether they speak with someone with authority or a close confidant; the higher amount of blame in those societies make it more likely for the rape victim to continue to blame themselves. Recovering from rape is a difficult process regardless of environmental influences, and traditional gender roles make the coping and recovery process even more strenuous.

Recommendations

The above evidence presents unusual opportunities for improvement within a society. While the prevalence of traditional gender roles are not something that can be easily removed from a society, there is an opportunity for education and rape recovery centers to use this information to better assist rape victims. First, rape recovery centers should be prepared to help both men and women alike. Second, mindful educators can take into account the more traditional gender roles that are present within a society and encourage students to not pass judgment and blame on a rape victim. Third, rape recovery centers can use the above information to encourage rape victims to be conscious of the blame and judgment they place on themselves. If rape victims are encouraged to not look at themselves through society’s eyes, they might be more capable of avoiding the guilt and shame that comes with being raped, and thus have an easier time coping and recovering from the sexual assault.

References

Burgess, A.W., & Holmstrom, L.L. (1974). Rape Trauma Syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131(9), 981-986.

Chang, T., & Subramaniam, P. (2008). Asian and Pacific Islander American men’s help-seeking: cultural values and beliefs, gender roles, and racial stereotypes. International Journal Of Men’s Health, 7(2), 121-136.

Cherney, I. (2005). Children’s and adults’ recall of sex-stereotyped toy pictures: effects of presentation and memory task. Infant & Child Development, 14(1), 11-27.

Dumond, R.W. & Dumond, D.A. (2002). The Treatment of Sexual Assault Victims. In C. Hensley (Ed.), Prison sex: Practice and policy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

Kalmuss, D. (2004). Non-volitional sex and sexual health. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 33(3), 197–209.

Kanekar, S. (2007). An attributional perspective on sexual aggression in India. Journal Of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 15(1), 113-129.

Littleton, H., & Breitkopf, C. (2006). Coping with the experience of rape. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 30(1), 106-116.

Nagel, B., Matsuo, H., McIntyre, K., & Morrison, N. (2005). Attitudes toward victims of rape: effects of gender, race, religion, and social class. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 20(6), 725-737.

Nguyen, A., Clark, T., Hood, K., Corneille, M., Fitzgerald, A., & Belgrave, F. (2010). Beyond traditional gender roles and identity: does reconceptualisation better predict condom-related outcomes for African-American women?. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 12(6), 603-617. doi:10.1080/13691051003658127

Polusney, M. A., & Follette, V. M. (1995). Long-term correlates of child sexual abuse: Theory and review of empirical literature. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 4(3), 143–166.

Rusinko, H., Bradley, A., & Miller, J. (2010). Assertiveness and attributions of blame toward victims of sexual assault. Journal Of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19(4), 357-371. doi:10.1080/10926771003788961

Sleath, E., & Bull, R. (2010). Male rape victim and perpetrator blaming. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 25(6), 969-988. doi:10.1177/0886260509340534

Smith, M., & Kelly, L. (2001). The journey of recovery after a rape experience. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 22(4), 337-352.

Sormanti, M., & Smith, E. (2010). Intimate partner violence screening in the emergency department: U.S. medical residents’ perspectives. International Quarterly Of Community Health Education, 30(1), 21-40. doi:10.2190/IQ.30.1.c

Süssenbach, P., & Bohner, G. (2011), Acceptance of sexual aggression myths in a representative sample of German residents. Aggressive Behavior, 37: 374–385. doi: 10.1002/ab.20390

Ullman, S. E. (2011). Is Disclosure of Sexual Traumas Helpful? Comparing Experimental Laboratory Versus Field Study Results. Journal Of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 20(2), 148-162. doi:10.1080/10926771.2011.546751

Text Expansion

I’ve been using a text-expansion utility almost every single day for the past couple of months. If you frequently repeat yourself while you type (i.e. you type similar things over and over), you could probably make use of an application that can expand shortcut text for you.

There are lots of utilities that provide this sort of functionality. This post does not compare utilities or offer advice on which one(s) to use; there are lots of reviews of different applications and you’ll want to choose one that meets your personal needs.

What is a text-expansion utility?

A text-expansion utility expands a shortcut into a larger snippet of text (or other media; here, I’m going to focus on text).

Let’s get into an example: say I want to type this text in quotes: “Are you there?” Normally, that’s 14 characters with two modifiers (shift for the capital letter and shift for the question mark).

Instead, I type just 3: ;yt. I use a semi-colon to prefix all of my snippets, then the characters after them are something that’s easy for me to remember. In this case, yt stands for “you there” and nicely expands to a full sentence.

Why you need text expansion in your life

These “snippets” of shortcuts that can expand into longer pieces of text are extremely useful if you type the same thing multiple times throughout your day.

Type your email address frequently? Use a snippet.

Use a common term in some text that you’re writing? Use a snippet.

Work as a programmer and have commands that you use frequently? Use a snippet!

How I use them

As a regular computer user, there are a few things I type pretty frequently:

  • My email (both personal & work)
  • My phone number
  • My address

As a software developer, there are a couple other things that I type regularly:

  • Terminal commands
  • Common/boilerplate code

There are also some less common things that I type but are handy to have:

  • Code for live demos
  • Bug reports

I can type all of these faster with a text expansion utility. For the common commands, I spend less time typing and type more accurately. For the less common things, I don’t have to remember the full text or copy it from somewhere else; instead, I can type the shortcut.

Advanced snippets

Expanding a small amount of text into a larger amount of text is nice, but maybe I haven’t sold you on the idea completely. Well, what if I told you that you could do things like use your clipboard in your commands to make them dynamic?

Does that catch your attention?

Let’s go through another example. Say I need to run this command:

git checkout -b branch origin/branch

branch changes values every time I use it, so sometimes it’ll be git checkout -b abc origin/abc or git checkout -def b origin/def

This is particularly tricky because while the command is simple, it has two parts where I need to have a common thing.

Most text-expansion applications allow you to mix your snippets with other sources. For the command above, I could copy the branch and then invoke a snippet (in my case, ;gco) to take the contents of my clipboard and use it in the expanded snippet.

This is just one example of how you can use a text-expansion utility to speed up tricky typing situations. Different applications have different advanced functionality that covers all sorts of use cases.

Why not use git aliases?

Developers that use git like to ask me why I don’t use git aliases. The answer is simple: I want one text-expansion utility for all of my snippet-expanding needs, no matter what application I’m using.

Alexis

I’m four years old and don’t have a care in the world. I tear through the house on my tricycle to meet her outside. She’s set up my tee-ball in our backyard. I take my little bat and make a big swing before my lab tries to steal the ball. It soars over our little house and she couldn’t be more proud.


I’m eight years old now and we’re waiting in the UCLA medical center’s parking lot. My step-dad walks toward us after having talked to the third doctor. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him cry. “Get her affairs in order,” they say, “she’s only got two or three more weeks.”


I’m double-digits years old now. She wakes me up as the sun is barely rising. The crisp leafs make it challenging to sneak out of the house before anyone else gets up, but we manage. We walk a couple miles in the cold for our reward: a good, albeit cheap, cup of hot cocoa. It wasn’t often that we had quiet time alone together.


It’s my eighteenth birthday. Her kidneys have failed but she’s as determined as ever to live. I’m holding her hand just after she had surgery. Tears start to roll down my face as she faintly grasps my hand. She’s not gonna leave me.


I’m twenty-three and she’s sitting proudly in the crowd. I’m thankful and proud of her too. She did it—she managed to stay long enough to see me graduate from her alma mater.


I’m twenty-six and making dinner for my step-dad and myself. I wish she was here. I wish she could enjoy one more home-cooked meal. I wish she could see us loving each other like she loved us.

Sharon

When I went to the hospital yesterday, the nurse asked me a really simple question:

“What is your relation to Sharon?”

I stumbled to find an answer because I had never, in 26 years, had to define my relationship to her.

I knew what her relationship to me was. It was playing with her and her husband Isaac at their house. It was getting confused for her son when I was out with her and my mom. It was having a home, a family, when mine wasn’t there.

I finally answered the nurse and stuttered “I’m her step-brother.”

The nurse offered to answer any questions I had about the situation. I already knew that two days before, Sharon’s fifteen-year-old son Bryce found her on the bathroom floor. A stroke. She had surgery the same day but her brain swelled. No amount of skull cracking had been able to relieve the pressure.

I had a few questions for the nurse, but she couldn’t really answer what I wanted to know: what was I supposed to say now?

I broke down and cried. I stared at the pale white hospital walls. I contemplated the purpose of each IV. I watched her vitals on the monitor. I sat there frozen with the fear of saying something meaningless. This was a one way conversation without any way to read my audience.

Bryce walked in with a couple family members. He stood in the doorway and I saw how much he had matured since I had last seen him. They were gracious enough to give me a few more minutes to get my act together and talk to her.

I told Sharon that, regardless of whether or not she could hear me, everything I said felt selfish. I could encourage her to keep fighting, but that was just an attempt to keep my hope alive. I recounted the past because I knew there wasn’t a future. I thanked her for how much love she showed me.

Her blood pressure started to drop. Just as quickly as she had the stroke, my time was cut off from finishing the words I cried out. The nurse told me to get Isaac: it was imminent.

I spent the afternoon with Bryce, Isaac, and the rest of the family. Some family I hadn’t seen in years, some I met just that day. We told stories from the past but our future is together—united, perhaps more now, because of our loss.

I spend almost every Sunday at my mom’s because I know her sickness will eventually catch up with her. Spending time with her has been my insurance against the regret most people have about lost loved ones. I now realize how simplistic that thought is.

Life is ruthless with whom it decides to take out of this world. Its timing is even worse.

Closing All Apps on iOS

Apple explains that multitasking on iOS “doesn't slow down the performance of the foreground app or drain battery life too much”—and they’re right. However, it seems as if it’s entered common “knowledge” among iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users that closing each app after use is required to keep a device operating in its prime. This isn’t true, and here’s a simplified explanation of why it isn’t true.

The App Switcher

The “app switcher,” or the view that appears when you double-click the Home button, shows a list of recently used apps. “Recently used” is a bit of a misnomer—it actually includes any app launched on the device, unless it has been removed from the list.

You can remove a device from the list by swiping up on the app’s preview. Restarting the device does not remove apps from this view.

The app switcher does not show a list of running apps.

An App’s Lifecycle

Tapping an app’s icon launches the app. Unless the app has already been launched, the app goes from not running to being launched and in the foreground. The app is free to run as it pleases, responding to your every touch and swipe.

Now, let’s imagine you hit the home button or the sleep/wake button. The app is put into the “background,” where it’s allowed to run for only five seconds (with a few exceptions listed below). Once it’s done in the background, the app is suspended and is no longer allowed to run. Suspended apps don’t use any battery life.

The Background

Apps are allowed to run in the background for very specific tasks. Below are some of the reasons why an app might run in the background.

If the app needs more time to run for a specific task, it’s allowed to ask for more time—up to ten minutes. The system only gives it ten minutes to finish; after ten minutes, the app is suspended.

If the app is playing audio, it’s allowed to stay in the background until you tell it to stop playing. For example, if you’re listening to music and put your device to sleep, the app will enter the background and continue to play music. If you stop playing music, the app will be suspended. If you start playing music again, the app will move back into the background so it can play music.

Some apps use location in the background. For navigation-like apps that require constant updates of your location, the app is moved into the background and allowed to run for as long as it’s keeping track of your location. A location services arrow will appear in the status bar while an app is tracking your location.

Otherwise, apps that just need general notification updates (e.g. you enter or exit specific regions, or your location has changed significantly) will be moved into the background when a noteworthy location change occurs. The app is not running the entire time—the system intelligently moves the app from being suspended to the background as required. The system will display an outlined location arrow in the status bar when an app is monitoring location changes.

There are a couple of other circumstances in which an app might run in the background, but the pattern is fairly clear: when an app has something to do for you, it’ll be moved into the background to run temporarily. Otherwise, the app will be suspended and won’t be running. In general, unless an app is actively doing something on your behalf, it isn’t running, and thus does not need to be manually closed.

A Perfect World

All of the above requires everything to work as planned. Of course, bugs happen, and things do not work perfectly. If your device is getting unusually warm, or your battery is draining quickly, you might want to manually close the apps you’ve used recently (especially if they use the GPS), or simply restart your device. However, this is a last resort and not something that needs to be done on a regular basis.

Change

Every once in a while, I like to reflect on things that have changed in my life. Last year, I wouldn’t have expected a change in jobs and a move back to Long Beach. At the start of 2013, I would’ve been surprised to hear that I’d own a new car and live somewhere new. A year before that, the details of my previous job would’ve amazed me.

Each year seems to bring something new. This year, that new is a fresh job, fresh apartment, fresh perspective on life. I think we hold onto the past because it’s familiar; even in tough times, we become accustom to the people and feelings closest to us. Our comfort can make us stagnate though; holding onto life as it was sometimes prevents us from discovering what it could be.

For me, this is an uneasy satisfaction with the status quo. I’ve always been solaced by the idea that destiny will forever play its hand, but that attitude disregards the effort required to make a life for yourself. It’s with this fresh approach that I’m finally starting to embrace life not just for what it is, but what I can mold out of it.

It’s this change in perspective that has me most excited about life.