A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Archive for October, 2012

Sometimes, if you’re persistent, you get through.

Confessions of a Latte Liberal

I have a classmate who has a tendency to say stuff that is really offensive.  Once he told the story of when he came to the United States, he expected brilliant professors, gold roads, and beautiful women.  According to him, these things only exist in movies about the USA.  (He then ended up sandwiched between the author and her roommate, for the rest of the car ride.  My roommate asked slyly, “Shame about that lack of beautiful women, eh?”  His face got ashen and we just laughed to ourselves, as he quickly backpedaled.  Needless to say, he isn’t known for his deft cultural sensitivity.  I had long since figured that he would never understand feminism.

Fast forward to a year later, and I have been telling him off every time that he used the word “rape” to describe exams, schedules, video-games and non-legitimate rape.  After the third time I called…

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Fuck You, Daily Currant

granny-flipping-the-bird

It’s not bad enough that I wake up nearly every day to some white, male member of the GOP making idiotic statements about rape, apparently, because now I have to watch as all my outraged friends react the way I did when I saw the Daily Currant story being shared all over social media today:

Mourdock: Rape Victims Should Have ‘Prayed Harder’*

Yesterday, when Mourdock made his now-infamous claim that God wants women to give birth to their rapists’ children, I had the feeling Erin Gloria Ryan described in her Jezebel article Rape Fatigue and You: When There’s Just No Anger Left. This article appeared in August, and these assholes still haven’t let up in their assault on logic, reason, and our psyches. As soon as one of them gets slapped down, another one pops up–its like Whack-a-Mole, except not nearly as much fun because this shit they’re spewing isn’t just stupid, ignorant, and wrong–it’s also hurtful. It attempts to minimize rape, the experience of surviving rape, and most certainly the psychological damage that results from rape and the ensuing shitshow that comes with reporting the crime and pressing charges. And when this shit is coming at you day after day, you begin to wonder if it will ever end. You start to count the days in between like days since the last on-the-job injury. In fact, this exists:

Today, however, instead of some GOP asshole getting my blood-pressure up by saying something so ridiculous it ought to be a joke except it’s not funny, The Daily Currant (*the self-described “Global Satirical Newspaper of Record”)  ran a story that is so close to the true state of things as to be completely useless as satire. I’ve long felt that the Currant plays their satire too straight; the reason the Onion works is because it’s over-the-top and almost always funny. And I suspect that unlike the Onion, which strives to entertain, TDC enjoys seeing their stories taken as truth and spread all over the Internet. I know they’re digging the traffic spikes. But in a climate like this one, where women and women’s issues are under attack, any attempt to satirize these attacks–especially where rape is involved–had damned well better be a) fucking hilarious, or b) ridiculous enough that no one is going to take it seriously. Sure, lots of people “got it” right off–they were familiar with the publication or thought the claim strained the bounds of believability. But for many it just didn’t seem that far-fetched–because frankly, it’s not, when you compare it to some of the claims actually made by GOP politicians recently.

It didn’t take me long to catch on, but by then I felt the same way I do when I see one of these stories and it’s true. As a friend of mine said, “It’s too close to home.” And every single time someone shares this story, expressing outrage over yet another bullshit statement by an ignorant Republican, I get angry and overwhelmed and depressed all over again.

How about I do both?

So, Fuck You, Daily Currant, for making my day–a day when white male GOP assholes were apparently not planning to make any hurtful comments about rape–feel just like any other day.


“It’s Not My Body”

Marc Chagall - God and Eve - 1960
Marc Chagall - God and Eve - 1960

God and Eve, by Marc Chagall

I admit I’m late to the party. I haven’t read The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti or seen any relevant documentaries. But sometimes you see something out there in the world and you realize that there isn’t time to know everything–you just have to speak out. So, yeah. Here I go.

Someone recently pointed me to this article at Focus on the Family’s super-crappy website claiming to explain to anyone who is wondering why chastity is so important in the eyes of the Lord. It doesn’t actually quote any scripture to back it up–just makes a number of statements about Christian* life meant to be accepted as fact. Most of this I can politely disagree with and move on. But one item…well, it seriously pissed me off.

It’s Not My Body

Chastity is important because it involves how we comport our bodies — and through faith, our bodies are no longer our own. In faith, you have become part of Christ’s body, and it is Christ through the Church, who must give you permission to join His body to another body.

In the Christian worldview, we have no right to sex. The place where the Church confers that privilege on you is the wedding; weddings are specific acts that grant us permission to have sex with one person.

As you can imagine, I have some issues with that worldview and the way it sets girls and young women up to believe that from square one their bodies are out of their control. When I was a child, the idea of God was terrifying anyway. A gigantic white man who, in my mind, wore all black (even a black turtle-neck–I was born in the sixties!) and lived in the sky looking down on us seeing everything we did even when we hid? How terrifying. But if my parents had told me that my body was not my own, but belonged to that man in the sky? Honestly, I can’t even imagine how that might have felt as a little girl. Would it have made more sense to me, or less, when adult males in my life sexually abused me? Hard to say, but how on earth can a worldview like that raise young women with any real sense of themselves as human beings?

(Note: I realize that the page referenced above is ostensibly aimed at both sexes. But let’s be honest, shall we? In this worldview–and unfortunately, in our culture–the responsibility for remaining pure lies with the girl and then the woman she becomes. Boys play offense; girls play defense.)

The worldview illustrated by the Focus on the Family article is responsible for the fact that little girls all over the country attend “Purity Balls” and pledge their virginity to their fathers in some kind of sick mockery of a mass wedding. Seriously? I pledge my VIRGINITY to my FATHER? “Dear Daddy, my virginity is yours to have and hold in Jesus’ name until such time you and he decide I can have sex.” Holy shit, people, there’s something really wrong about that, isn’t there? It can’t just be me.

It terrifies me that a generation of girls is growing up in this subculture that–in the 21st century!–teaches them they have no say in their lives. It baffles me that anyone thinks these Purity Balls are anything but a way to manipulate little girls by letting them dress up like princesses and marry their daddies. Calling Doctor Sigmund Fucking Freud. It makes me sick that these girls will grow into women who believe that God and the men in their lives know what’s best for them while they do not, and that their bodies do not belong to them–that they have no real choice when it comes to sex, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood…except to do what their churches tell them Jesus wants them to do.

Jada, Will, and Willow Smith

Jada, Will, and Willow Smith

Will Smith, in a recent Parade interview, had this to say on the subject:

We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.

*I’m not a Christian, but my boyfriend is. He’s read the bible. Studied it. And when he read the Focus on the Family page I linked above his first words were, “Yeah, this is just evil.” I asked him to tell us more in his own words:


Jesus never said a single word about sex. Not one word. Jesus’ core teachings were about legalism, injustice, and hypocrisy.

In the Bible, there are four accounts of Jesus’ teachings that are directly *related* to sexuality, and one of those (unfortunately) is a later addition, but does demonstrate how his early followers understood his thinking. Those four passages are:

(Matt 5:31-32, Matt 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18) If a man divorce a woman and marry another, it is adultery. — This is admittedly a challenging claim, one that almost no Christians in any era have taken as the last word on remarriage. It should be noted that this passage is pointedly in the context of old testament law and is being directed at the hypocrisy of legalist teachings about that law.

(Matt 5:27-28) If a man look on a woman with lust, he has committed adultery with her in his heart. — Another challenging claim, but one that is generally taken as a koan, not an instruction. The koan is intended to point to the intent of the heart as the essence of the morality, not adherence to the letter of the law.

(John 4:16-18) Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman: Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. Some things to note about this: in the first place, Jesus is passing absolutely no judgement on this woman. He is not denouncing her as an adulteress or rebuking her in any other way. It is additionally important to note that Samaritans were not Jews, and many Jews would not even speak to Samaritans. They were like an untouchable class of Israel. Secondly, in the conversation that follows, Jesus and this woman discuss the nature of prayer. This is widely thought to be a true account of Jesus, and it shows that despite what sound like very hard lessons about adultery, he really doesn’t give a shit. Sexual ethics are not interesting to him.

(John 8:1-11) The woman caught in adultery. A famous passage that turns out to have been added fifty years or so after Jesus died. It demonstrates what some of his closest followers thought of him: a woman is about to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery. Jesus intervenes, asking “you without sin to cast the first stone.” There are a number of reasons why this is known to be a later addition, but again, it demonstrates that the people of Jesus time understood his primary teaching to be one of compassion and honoring the heart and the connection to God over any form of legalistic prescription for behavior.

In all of this we see one consistent theme: Jesus doesn’t like a casual divorce, and Jesus is not bothered by what people of his day considered sexual sin.

More important than what he did say is what he didn’t. These are four short passages across four pretty long texts. Jesus had an *enormous* amount to say about the failings of his society. In order to find a mature, Christian understanding of sexuality we need to look to other teachings of Jesus that we can apply to our sexual lives. Every generation of Christians has come to understand that Jesus was bringing a new understanding of God to the world: the understanding that God is love. Jesus had exactly and only two commandments to his followers:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

“All the Law and the Prophets” — this means everything in what we call the Old Testament. All of the old testament and all of the new testament can be seen as elaborations on these two commandments. For someone who follows Jesus, this is the only law. Everything else is interpretation, explanation, elaboration. A point of conflict between Christians and Jews is that Christians believe this *supplants* all other law. That all other efforts of law, particularly in the Old Testament, are flawed attempts to codify these simple commandments.

Paul made this abundantly clear to the Corinthians: All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. (1 Cor 10:23)

In short: there is nothing prohibited to a Christian. Legalistic efforts to limit action always fail to capture Jesus’ simple commandments. There is no law that restricts Christian action. Whether an action is the right thing to do in the moment is between you and God. It comes down to the intention of your heart. It comes down to the embodiment of Jesus’ commandment to love.

Must Christians be “chaste”? All things are lawful. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Do we have a “right” to sex? All things are lawful. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Is any sex before, outside of, or after marriage an “embodied apostasy”? All things are lawful. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Perhaps the most egregious and anti-Christian thought expressed in the Focus on the Family piece is this sentence: “The place where the Church confers that privilege on you is the wedding.” This is so anti-Christian in any and every sense as to be mind boggling. In every view of Jesus from the very conservative to the very liberal, Jesus came to break down the barriers between humans and God. Jesus taught, over and over, that every human is in direct relationship to God. There is no intermediary. There is no role for anything that calls itself a Church to confer anything on anyone. Each of us may pray directly to God — not through a priest, not through a temple, not through a church. Each of us is baptized directly by God with the baptism of the Spirit which connects our heart to God. I don’t care whether it’s about sex or anything else: each individual is guided in his or her responsibilities to God only by that first commandment: to love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.

Any person who teaches anything else must beware of another, darker point that Jesus made:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Talk to the hand

“Talk to the hand.”


So there.

Love ya!

~Rosie


The United States of Misogyny

usam

Designed by AzureGhost (click for more).

This will be a rant. You have been warned.

When I saw this flag, I had one of those YES moments. It sums up so much using so little real estate, and yet, it reminds us that it represents the tip of the iceberg because it stands for a nation that still accepts sexism as normal. That is not to say we like it, or that we support extremist efforts to roll back women’s rights. But in a society that treats women as less in so many subtle ways, it’s difficult to avoid becoming a participant in the abuse.

Some well-meaning folks who believe they are feminist allies unfortunately aren’t self-aware enough to learn from criticism that tells them their behavior is part of the problem, so they perpetuate that behavior amongst their well-meaning, feminist-ally circles and make things worse. (Poster-child for Progressive Sexism: Bill Maher.) And even the best of us (and I’m far from that) find–when we’re honest–that we contribute now and then. In a climate like that, how much easier must it be for the true misogynists, the powerful men who fear powerful women, to propagate their ideologies?

It’s just a few wingnuts, some people say. Well, I call bullshit. When you’ve got Pat Robertson on national tv telling husbands to move to Saudi Arabia so they can beat their wives, when judges set rapists free and blame victims or claim that silence=consent, when advertising LITERALLY reduces women to their parts, when women can’t walk the streets and feel safe, when girls and women experience multiple assaults throughout their lifetimes and it’s not even uncommon…well, I just don’t see how anyone can deny that there is a deeper problem than a few extreme right-wing politicians and religious fanatics (not to be redundant).

What are we going to do about it? Here’s one suggestion:

Teach Your Son to Respect Women

And as long as we’re solving the country’s (and the world’s!) problems using only viral Internet images, here’s another:

We need to teach our daughtersI’d love to hear yours.

~Rosie

 


When I Don’t Shave My Legs, I Have Nightmares

We are a hirsute people.

We are a hirsute people.

Not even joking: When I leave my legs unshaven I have dreams about the fact that my legs are unshaven in contexts where it is embarrassing or even horrifying. What the hell is going on in my psyche? Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of it, or at least unpack it a bit. (If you’re still with me after the headline and opening pic, the rest should be cake!)

In real life, if I haven’t shaved and I suddenly need to go somewhere I’ll give myself a quick shave in the bathroom sink, or if the weather’s cool, throw on a pair of black tights. Fixed! In dreamlife I don’t have the luxury of preparing for a situation–I just AM. In my very favorite of these dreams (I’ll let you decide whether this qualifies as a nightmare) I’m sitting in a posh bar in a hotel during the Oscars. It’s like at a convention, where everyone is there for the event, but you hang out in the hotel bar and BS when there’s nothing better to do. In my circles, we call it BarCon, and it’s a treasured part of any convention experience. So, here I am at BarCon surrounded by dark wood and fancy dress, sitting next to Julia Roberts who is speaking earnestly to me about I truly wish I could remember what, and I look down at myself, and I’m sitting there in a tank-top and ratty shorts and my legs are bare and So. Hairy. I mean, not impossibly hairy, but what they look like when I go a good, long time between shaves. And I’m just…mortified.

“I really couldn’t be arsed.”

(The better Oscars dream was the one where I found myself in my hotel room with no idea how I’d come to be there, and called my mom to tell her “I’m at the Oscars!” Then I walked out into the hallway wrapped in my maroon hotel towel and ran into Sarah Jessica Parker who was also wrapped in her towel and we joked that it was embarrassing that we were wearing the same dress. Later I ran into Jennifer Jason Leigh, but she was in character for Dorothy Parker and couldn’t be arsed.)

Anyway, I had another unshaven legs dream not long after I quit my last job. In it, I was at work in a baggy t-shirt, shorts, and unshaven legs. (At this point I’ll note that I work at home and while I often wear pajamas or other loose, comfortable clothing at home, I really don’t wear shorts.) I was talking to one of our VPs and he didn’t seem to notice anything, but I felt so gross.

When I think about my life during the times I had these dreams, there are some similarities. I was without a full-time job, spending a lot of time at home, and not always bothering to get dressed or shave my legs or even shower some days. Was I missing the act of making myself presentable for the world? Did I feel guilty about not keeping myself “well-groomed”? Is this reaction something that is built-in or did media and culture rewire my circuitry?

Mo'Nique

Mo’Nique is clearly not having my issues.

There was a time as a young woman when I would never go out with bare legs–it was nylons or tights or nothing. I was ashamed of my fat, ugly legs and I wanted to hide them. I never, EVER, wore shorts (like even less often than I do now, which is almost never) because of that shame. When I was a little girl with scabby knees a teenager remarked within my hearing how remarkable it was that our legs were so ugly as children and got “nice” or something when we got older. I was pretty fucking hurt at the time and obviously I never forgot it, but I assumed that when I grew up I’d have pretty legs like the ladies on tv. But mine were fat and dimpled and spotty and just not. At some point I matured enough that it was ok to let people see my legs as long as they were clean-shaven from top to bottom. Nowadays if the weather’s warm I check and if it’s under a quarter inch, I’m good to go. But then, I’m nearly 48 and I’ve come to a point where I accept the hand I’ve been dealt in a way that never seemed possible before. I credit a lot of that to age and wisdom, but a good deal also to the love of a partner who sees *me* when he looks in my direction.

And something else has changed. Very recently, I had an unshaven legs dream, but in it I was still in the house, though dressed up and ready to go out. I remembered that my legs were unshaven and looked down and the hair was long enough to be visible. I was perturbed because I’d have to do something about it. That was it. That was all.

Maybe after nearly 50 years I’m finally growing up. At this point, I won’t fight it. Much.


First They Came for the Communists…

Leah-Lynn Plante
Anarchy

The Scarlet Letter?

As I wrote last night, I participated in Occupy Seattle, and I continue to occupy in my own ways (this blog among them). I met a lot of different kinds of people, and some of them had extreme ideas that I understood but wasn’t really ready to buy into. Among these were the Anarchists. Now, to start with, I want to clarify that when I say “the Anarchists” I am not lumping anyone together with anyone else, I’m just saying that I met people who self-identified as Anarchists. And I want to make sure you understand that the people who dressed in black and broke windows were almost certainly different “Anarchists” from the ones I’m going to talk about (if the vandals self-identified as Anarchists at all). Like Feminism or any other group, Anarchism doesn’t operate as a unit. There are many shades and definitions. And all that said, I’d have to say that I’m not an Anarchist. Yet.

Leah-Lynn Plante

Leah-Lynn Plante

But that doesn’t matter at all, because people are being imprisoned for the crime of not speaking. In Leah-Lynn Plante’s case, the official charge is “civil contempt,” meaning she didn’t cooperate with the Grand Jury convened to get to the bottom of all her Anarchist literature, artwork, clothing, and beliefs.

Natasha Lennard writes in Salon:

“Writing for Truth-Out in August about the Northwest grand juries and those resisting cooperation, I noted that grand juries “are among the blackest boxes in the federal judiciary system.” The closed-door procedures are rare instances in which an individual loses the right to remain silent. As was the case with the Northwest grand juries resistors, the grand jury can grant a subpoenaed individual personal immunity; Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination are therefore protected, but silence is not. In these instances, refusal to speak can be considered civil contempt. Non-cooperators can be jailed for the 18-month length of the grand jury.”

Watch Leah’s video explaining her position and her readiness to go to prison:

Statement From A Resister – Leah-Lynn Plante from Because We Must on Vimeo.

You might not agree with her ideals or her lifestyle, but Leah-Lynn Plante’s only crime is refusal to cooperate with an investigation into those ideals by government she doesn’t recognize as operating in the her best interests or those of her fellow citizens–i.e., Leah is currently imprisoned for remaining silent and will very likely remain incarcerated for the next 18 months. Commenters on various websites miss the point when they ask, “Why not cooperate if you have nothing to hide?” Perhaps it will crystallize when a Grand Jury convenes to investigate their DVD collection.

I’m not an Anarchist, but I believe a person should be charged with a crime before an army of police invades their house and takes their stuff. I believe that a person should be found guilty of a crime before the government imprisons them. And I believe that Leah-Lynne Plante has the right to remain silent.

I’ll leave you with this famous quote from Martin Niemöller (1892–1984):

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.


One Year, Three Things, and a Homecoming

MIC CHECK

Occupy Seattle, Day 1

A year ago this month (October 4, 2011) I was among about 300 people who showed up to occupy Westlake Center in Seattle. That night I was among the 40 or so who resolved to consummate our occupation by camping overnight there on the concrete, some of us with only a thin blanket dropped off by a local mission. I had my tent and sleeping bag and a sense that I was about to become a part of something big. For the next several days I spent every waking hour and several largely sleepless nights at Westlake doing my part, and after about a week I came home and collapsed for the next two. I had learned a lot about myself and about how and where I fit into the solution. And part of that was learning how hard it can be for a woman’s voice to be heard among men.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the second among three ways I would learn this lesson in a single year. Strange when you think that I’d lived 46 years previously without really giving it much thought.

“Women speak less when outnumbered.”

The setting for my first classroom that year–last year, 2011–was my job. After fifteen-or-so years I’d made my way back into management and was fairly happy leading a team of writers who seemed to like having me for their boss. One of the reasons for that was that I fought for them (in conference rooms where I was usually the only woman), which meant that I sometimes showed emotion. This is not to say that I yelled or cried or anything like that–only that if you were in the room, it was apparent that I felt passionately about my team and our work and how it was presented…and if I disagreed, I said so, and if I didn’t like something, I said so, and no, I’m not shy and demure, and yes, my boss did make me a little weepy one time  when we were alone, I admit, BUT! When it became a “thing” that people didn’t want to “upset” me or felt they’d had “run ins” with me or whatever and I got put on official “emotion” notice, well then I realized that my problem was not (entirely) the level of emotion people were seeing from me. I looked at how these men reacted to me (vs. one another)–listened to the words they used to describe me or to explain to me why my personal style challenged them and it became clear that my biggest issue was that I was a woman in a company full of men who don’t know how to deal with a woman who hasn’t learned to “get along” in a male-dominated corporate environment. For that reason, among others, I gave up my job, and though I like and respect my former co-workers for the most part, I believe that I left behind a culture that is not particularly welcoming to women in leadership positions.

Lastly: Early this year I attended a writing conference as a professional. The panel seemed well-balanced, at first, which is sometimes a problem at this particular con (and many others), with two men and two women. Then it emerged that the other woman–the moderator–had to cancel, and at the behest of one of my co-panelists, I took over as mod. Now, I have been attending conventions as a professional for many years, and I have seen panelists take over the show and trample everyone else into the ground. This wasn’t like that. The same guy who nominated me for moderator proceeded to moderate the panel, talking over me, calling on members of the audience, encouraging participation from the other male at the table. He had decided at some point that I didn’t have anything to add, and he figured he’d man up and give the audience what they paid for, I suppose. He wasn’t a total asshole about it. He was just louder than I was. More aggressive. More forceful. And I wasn’t willing to be rude in front of an audience.

If you’ve ever been in a situation at all like this one, you know how long it takes for an hour to pass. I’m pretty sure I bit my tongue until it bled, and when I walked out I told my boyfriend, “I think I just became an Angry Feminist.”

It’s not that I think this guy was an outright misogynist. I don’t. I’d have to paint nearly everyone in that room with the same brush, because not one of them seemed to have a clue what I was going through. This guy probably thinks of himself as progressive. And that’s the problem. It’s the everyday misogyny that has become so ingrained in our culture that we don’t even notice it. Until we do, and then it’s like pregnant women or VW Beetles*: You can’t stop seeing it.

I don’t regret any of these experiences, and I’m grateful for them as a whole, because they helped bring me to the place I am today where I’ve decided that I really do have things to say and want people to hear my voice. I know that no one set out to silence me in any of the situations I described above. At my job, they just didn’t expect me to care about things that to them seemed trivial. On the panel, a guy asserted his dominance the way we’ve taught him he ought to. At Occupy, I stood surrounded by men and boys who had no concerns about whether their voices would be heard, and many talked over me while calling themselves progressive, but to their credit, some did listen when I said, “Hey, we don’t all speak so loudly or walk so tall, so listen for the quieter voices among you.”

MIC CHECK!

My homecoming was finding a voice I wasn’t afraid to use. That meant creating a persona and removing the personal and professional from the philosophical to some degree. But it also meant becoming more real than I have ever been before. And each of you have been a part of that process. You who read and comment and help me make sense of all the BS. I won’t always get it right, but damn, I’m enjoying the education.

Thank you.

Rosie

*I am not comparing pregnant women to VW Beetles. Not that it wouldn’t be apt in some cases. Like when I was pregnant.


Like Me!

do_u_like_me_answer_1_xlarge

Yes, it’s true: I am in seek of external validation. I need you to like me! So I went and got a Facebook page, and now you can with very little effort on your part. You’ll find the Facebook-likey-widget-thing just to the right, there. If you’re on Facebook, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d click the button–when you do, I get a little pellet of ego-boo! (Seriously, it pops right out of a little hatch in my monitor. It’s delicious and it makes me happy. You want me to be happy, don’t you? DON’T YOU??) Also, we’ll be together on Facebook where All The Things happen! (Things happen on the Twitter, too, and I will make a Twitter account very soon.)

What are you waiting for? Come on, click the button. You know you want to…

Love,

Rosie


So, THIS Happened, and it Was AWESOME (with Boobies!)

FEMEN activists occupied the Venus De Milo at the Louvre in Paris yesterday in defense of a rape victim.


Rape Culture Sammich 1.0

Judge Jacqueline Hatch (via ThinkProgress)
Nobody asked what my rapist wore.

(Photo credit: Kristen Althoff)

This is one of those sammiches I feel like I have to make for all the people out there who either a) don’t understand what rape culture is or (especially) b) don’t believe rape culture exists. Let’s start with a mini-lesson from a post called Rape Culture 101 over at lifelovelauren:

As children we are told not to talk to strange men who offer us sweets. As teenagers, girls are told ‘you’re not going out looking like that’. As adults, women are told to keep their doors and windows locked, not to walk anywhere alone after dark, not to look at men ‘in the wrong way’, not to open the door to strange men, not to wear short skirts or low cut tops, not to give a guy their number, not to take public transport or a taxi alone, not to sleep with multiple people, not to drink too much, not to live alone, not to be weak, not to get raped. Because if we do any of these things, well, it was our fault wasn’t it? We led him on, we asked for it, we wanted to get raped. That’s rape culture.

I’ll add that “we” above refers to girls and that we as a society do relatively little (when compared to how much time we spend preparing girls not to get raped) to prepare boys not to rape. Something is terribly wrong with this equation.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen stories (related to the one I shared from Mandaray this week) that lit a fire of rage inside me which has smoldered and sparked and grown hotter with each passing day as more and more stories come to light. These are stories of institutionalized rape culture in the United States of America. Stories about how our system makes victims responsible for the crimes committed against them, but only if those crimes are sexual and the victims are women. As someone said recently of racism (which must be considered in any discussion of inequality), this is not something laws will change. WE have to change.

We have to change how we think about rape as it relates to how we think about women. Yes, I know, rape happens to men, too, but everyone agrees that’s a Bad Thing. Men who get raped are not generally subjected to criticisms of their wardrobe choices because no one believes that what a man wears has any bearing on whether he gets raped. Think about that for a moment. Why are women imagined to be responsible for how men react to their state of dress? Do we really think that all men are born rapists with no control over their actions? I know I’m not the first to ask this question. Hell, I’m probably not the first to ask this question today. But it must be asked because it is the very definition of a double standard and this is one that hurts us as a society possibly more than any other.

Judge Jacqueline Hatch (via ThinkProgress)

So, stories. Here’s one you’ve probably heard, because it happened a couple of weeks ago. A judge in Arizona (I know, shocking) let a cop go free after a jury convicted him of sexual assault. Read that sentence again–I’ll wait. Here’s what Judge Jaqueline Hatch had to say to the victim of the (no longer alleged) assault (via ThinkProgress):

Bad things can happen in bars, Hatch told the victim, adding that other people might be more intoxicated than she was.

“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.

“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”

Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

The fact that this victim-blaming-shaming bullshit came from the mouth of a woman makes it seem all the more evil to me. Oh, and by the way? While officer Robb Gary Evans was fired due to his conviction, he is not required to register as a sex offender. Neat, huh?

Yeah, that story made me want to punch things. This next one makes me want to punch people.

Richard-Fourtin-Jr.

Richard Fourtin, Jr. (via ThinkProgress)

Today the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned this man’s sexual assault conviction. No one questions that sex took place, but see, this man had sex with a woman who was physically and mentally disabled. She has cerebral palsy, and while this is not always or even usually the case with CP, she is severely mentally retarded. Sinking to a new low in victim-blaming, the court ruled that the victim was capable of communicating her lack of consent, so you know, consent was a given.

The Court held that, because Connecticut statutes define physical incapacity for the purpose of sexual assault as “unconscious or for any other reason. . . physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act,” the defendant could not be convicted if there was any chance that the victim could have communicated her lack of consent. Since the victim in this case was capable of “biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing,” the Court ruled that [the] victim could have communicated lack of consent despite her serious mental deficiencies:

When we consider this evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict, and in a manner that is consistent with the state’s theory of guilt at trial,we, like the Appellate Court, ‘are not persuaded that the state produced any credible evidence that the [victim] was either unconscious or so uncommunicative that she was physically incapable of manifesting to the defendant her lack of consent to sexual intercourse at the time of the alleged sexual assault.’

So, pay attention, ladies: If you don’t say “No,” whether it’s because you’ve got a sock stuffed in your mouth or you’re just paralyzed with fear, your lack of non-consent equals consent. Got it?

Remember the girl in Texas who was told she had to cheer for her rapist at sporting events? What about the one who was court-ordered to write a letter of apology to the man who raped her because the court didn’t convict? The eleven-year-old child who news commentators accused of dressing older than her age? Does no one remember The Accused?

When are we going to put our collective feet down in thunderous unison and say ENOUGH?

Sigh. That’s all I’ve got energy for today. Over to you, readers.

Love ya,
Rosie