Us VS. Them VS. the US (a.k.a Feminism is not the Enemy)

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This. I hate that “feminism” has a acquired a taint because of a few militant feminists. When people make the argument “why is it called ‘feminism’ and not ‘equalism'” (or whatever name they think is more appropriate) if it isn’t skewed towards women, it’s  because HISTORICALLY, all the rights women have now are relatively new (DUH!). We never started on equal footing, so the movement to give us the same rights men have always had probably did seem female-centric. The beginning of feminism is basically when we started sticking up for ourselves.   And a lot of rights we now enjoy, we take them for granted because we have lost touch with the women (and in some cases, probably a few men)  in our history who had to fight for us to get those rights.

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It bugs me that even today, some WOMEN refuse to identify as feminist. It’s sorta sad, because it shows not only a gross misunderstanding of what feminism is, but also that in some ways, that the old social patriarchal programming is still in some ways in tact. They actually DISDAIN “feminists.” To me that’s like a mother of many, who hates kids.

And speaking of kids, what if you’re a woman who doesn’t want children, and especially not before you’ve had the chance to finish school…or go to college.53110672_814366642249280_3509339789545439232_n

or marry the person you love instead of someone who is chosen for you by family or religion or politics…

 

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Thanks to feminists, you have access to birth control.  You also have the right to divorce and leave a marriage that isn’t healthy or is not working out.

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If you are assaulted, you have the right to accuse your attacker.  If you have been impregnated by a rape, you have the choice to terminate your pregnancy.

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You even have this option under normal circumstances, if you are just not ready or willing to have a child…you get to make decisions about what you put your body through.  And there are people who want to take away that right, in the name of “religion” and their morality.  Personally, I don’t see anything moral about taking rights away from a living, breathing, autonomous woman, and giving them to an nonviable fetus.

The point is, as woman in America, we have access to tons of things we haven’t always historically been “allowed,” all because of feminism, and yet, sadly, in this country as of late, we are seeing a push to deliberately regress in social progress.  And not just for women, but for minority peoples, people of color, non-Christian people, immigrant people, and queer people (who are STILL fighting for all their rights.)  But all people are people, and they deserve the basic amount of respect and freedom to live their lives if they see fit.  We can NOT afford to be silent or apathetic to what is going on now.  Not to us, not to our other marginalized brothers and sisters, and not to our planet (because Mother Earth is suffering at the hands of the plutocrats too.)

I know I sound wacky, (and that’s what the people in power want you to think, because that narrative makes me the bad guy) but let’s be real… We all want comfortable lives, but more than that, we want comfort and happiness for future generations, specifically our kids.  OUR children, and America’s children.  But before we can get back to that, we have to reconcile our own fears and insecurities.  I know you’ve probably heard it before; Equality is not a pie.  There is not less for you if you share it with others.  We have to get over this competitive adversarial attitude towards our fellow Americans.  We can care about our own interests without feeling like other people need to suffer for it, but we need to start asking the right questions.

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There are a handful of very powerful and rich people in the US who only want MORE.  They want to have obscene amounts of money and power- to acquire it and to grip it in a death spiral, only the death isn’t theirs…it’s ours, it’s our future’s, it’s our planet’s.   I am sure I could expound upon this all day, but I will wrap up by suggesting you watch this short non-partisan video on corruption in America.  This video not only details some of the failings in our system, but ways we can start to address them I say “non-partisan,” but my guess is the people in power see it as very partisan; Us VS Them, and they use fear and insecurity to bait us into blaming each other instead of them so they can stay in power.  But it doesn’t have to be Us VS Each Other.  It is so hard, so,so hard, when we’re surrounded by bad news and hate and strife every day. I am just as guilty as anyone of feeling angry and adversarial at times.  But I want to try to do better too.   Let’s do better together.  Blessed be.

 

Edit: 3/16  I mention American a few times in here, us needing to be unified, etc.  I’m not trying to push any sense of overblown nationalism or “America First” BS here.  It’s just that this is where I live and I feel like under this administration, we’re actively imploding as a nation.  I don’t feel like we should be at odds or ‘comparing’ and competing with hardships of anyone, including refugees, immigrants, people of other faiths, etc.  All suffering matters and I just wish the people most likely to trot out the ‘all lives matter” phrase would start SHOWING it in their actions and their voting choices.

 

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“Divisive” Politics

I have a lot to say.  Well, I have a lot on my mind, especially with this latest revelation, bringing us one step closer to imminent Trump-ocalypse; a leaked audio of a deeply disturbing variety.
Just as expected, Trumps supporters are falling all over themselves trying to soft-peddle and down play what essentially amounts to Trump caught on a live mic bragging about using his social position to sexually assault women with ease and impunity.
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Frankly it’s astonishing the number of people dumb enough to equate forcible sexual assault with someone’s chosen participation in leisurely kink or porn consumption.  You are making the rest of us more stupid simply by breathing our air. Go away.

It’s like I said to someone earlier today, I don’t even know how to relate to some of these people anymore.   Like, I am not trying to be a dick, but when, in the face of behavior like this, people are still making excuses, still defending this “candidate,” still insisting Hillary is “just as bad,” I just don’t know how their inner logic works.  So instead of going into all of that, trying to lay out arguments and reason with these people and understand them, I’ll just get straight to the point.
People talk about how “divisive” this election is, how divisive bipartisan politics have become, as if it’s some great conspiracy to “distract us from more important things.
First of all, it will always BE divisive, so long as you have a group who feel that their “traditional family values” and religion should dictate legislation for EVERYONE. When you attack people on a fundamental level for who they are and threaten their identity and bodily autonomy  by forcing them to live by your “values”, it makes for “divisive” politics.  When you have a group that uses legislation to attack minorities and queer folk, penalize immigrants, citizens, atheists, Muslims, control  woman’s bodies in regards to reproductive decisions (or any decision), you are creating a very antagonistic and divisive situation.  You are attacking people’s fundamental state of being.
Now, you have a Trump, a man who has taken all of these divisive sentiments and magnified them. He disdains blacks, he disdains Mexicans, he disdains immigrants, he disdains (and abuses) women. And he’s making campaign promised based on these divisive ideas.  He is unashamed to say it! He is actually galvanizing all of the hateful people in this country, making them less afraid to be loud, self-righteous bigots .

What defense will the rest of us have from discrimination and injustice and hate if the person in our nation’s highest office can say these things with impunity?

So, yeah, this election is “divisive.”  It’s divisive as shit, and the more people who try to close their eyes and ears to the hate being heaped on the rest of us, the more divisive it’s gonna be.

We Need to Do Better

I’m sure there are many people writing about the pitiful sentence the Stanford rapist got when the guilty verdict was finally rendered.  I’ll keep this short, because I’m sure there are plenty of writers saying everything that needs to be said, so maybe this is more for me.

His sentence…It was because of his money, his pedegree…  His blue eyes, his “nice smile….” Rape culture…something.  All of those things.  I don’t know.  Without a shadow of a doubt (and without personal bias) I believe that a young black man would be spending his life in prison, were he found guilty of the same crime in the same circumstances.  And that is only right for a crime this serious.   So why should Brock Turner be any different? Why should he deserve any leniency or deference to how the sentence might affect his life?

I also have a friend who was kidnapped, held against her will, and assaulted by her “boyfriend” for several days. That man got a month in jail…

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Even those of you who agree wholeheartedly that Turner deserves to rot in the deepest, darkest cell the state has for 10-20 years may doubt just how often this sort of thing happens, this sentencing disparity…this caring more for the rapist’s future than for his victim.  What message does this send to a victim of assault or rape?  Victims already feel violated, worthless, lost, dead inside…

We have to do better, and the first step is getting more people to acknowledge that these things still happen.  We may like to have faith in the justice system, but it is clearly misplaced.  Judges apparently have more judicial discretion than sense with regards to sentencing, so maybe it’s time to set some very rigid minimum standards…  Not the “minimum sentences” for a crime that we already have, the ones that this judge apparently decided could just patently ignored out of sympathy for the rich kid.

Finally, if you can say “I’m tired of hearing about this rapist,” or “I’m tired of hearing about sexism/racism…etc”
TOO DAMN BAD!  That attitude is part of the problem.

We need to do better.

Why Is This Still A “Discussion?”

Why is this still a discussion? I’m talking about women’s rights; more specifically, a woman’s “right to choose.”  Right to choose.  Let’s think about that for a minute.  It seems almost nonsensical.  “Choice” about our bodies, our families, our lives… that’s a no-brainer right?  We get to decide what we want as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights.  There is no debate or discussion.

Except when it comes to a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.  Then all of a sudden, money and religion and morals all make an appearance in the discussion.  We’re divided into camps, and people who believe inthe right to choose are often labeled as “pro-abortion.”  NO ONE is “pro” abortion, okay?  Abortion is not “good.” It never will be “good”, but the alternative is worse.  Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, which is very much both a physical and emotional experience, for better or worse… Forcing a woman to lose AUTONOMY over her own body…. that’s a nightmare… and if men had a REAL chance of getting pregnant and being forced carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, this conversation “America” is having about women’s rights would be going a LOT differently.

SO here are a few key points to remember, based on “arguments” that are regurgitated over and over again.

1.) “My tax dollars shouldn’t go to-”

*SLAP*

Tax dollars going towards reproductive services and health clinics do not go to abortions except in cases of rape or other sexual abuse. Also, seems to me, people are pretty selective about bitching when it comes to their tax dollars.  We as tax paying individuals will never get to decide where each cent of our taxes go, regardless of how we vote, so we might as well get over that now.

2) “Well, a woman does have a choice…to use protection or not have sex.”

Let’s address this at its most base level.  It’s sanctimonious, hypocritical bullshit.

ONE EITHER HAS FREEDOM OF CHOICE OR NOT.

Firstly, yes, there is a choice. and if she “chooses” to make it after conception, she is still taking responsibility for the decision.  It IS a personal choice, and it may be informed by her family or religion but it is on HER and only her to bear the physical and emotional burden of a pregnancy or an abortion, so it is her decision and hers alone. When we talk about “responsibility” in terms of “keeping one’s pants up” not only is that not realistic, but it’s not anyone else’s place to decide how someone else practices “responsibility.” What if both sexual partners thought they were being responsible but a condom broke or some other unforseen circumstance happened…?  Whatever the reason one might choose to terminate a pregnancy, whether because they do not want children or it’s not the right time in their life, or whatever, is irrelevant. The reason there was an unwanted pregnancy in the first place doesn’t really matter. ONE EITHER HAS FREEDOM OF CHOICE OR NOT and this goes with any life choice.  We do not get to decide the circumstances in which one has freedom to choose.  Then it’s not really freedom is it?

3) To the assertion that women and men ARE equal, and have equal choice to practice safe sex or to abstain completely…

No, the choice beforehand is NOT the same. When the consequences are the same, then the choice is the same.   No offense, because I do respect my male friends and fellow bloggers, but unless a male is willing to go get snipped so he can NEVER EVER concievably contribute to a woman wanting or needing an abortion and not being able to have one, I don’t want to hear his opinion on this issue, because it’s not real for him. There is NO possibility he would ever be able to be forced to carry a pregnancy so he has no idea how the idea of losing autonomy over one’s body is terrifying.   

If you think the government treats men and women the same, you are basically exhibiting your privilige. When was the last time the government told a man what he could or couldn’t do with his dick (aside from the obvious like laws protecting children and animals from abuse, etc?) If men could get pregnant, you could get an abortion at a McDonald’s drive thru because no man would deign to be told what he could or couldn’t do with his own body. To continue this converation with you playing the “whataboutmen” card will get us nowhere. Men’s choices are not at risk here.

To be clear, and before the argument is broached, we’re not talking about the possibility of monetary consequences (usually for the male), like forced child support, as a consequence for an unwanted pregnancy.  We are talking about bodily autonomy.  If we don’t own our bodies, what do we own? 

And finally,

4) “You’re killing an innocent (or various variations of this argument.)

Let me reiterate.  Abortion will never be “good.”  Sometimes there is no “good” choice, just a choice.  I do not know if I could ever have an abortion, but I will fight with every breath my right and other women’s right to CHOOSE for themselves should the need ever arise.  As to the fetus’s “rights,” even if a fetus had rights, where is the justice in taking the rights of one to give to another?  A woman, living, breathing, self-sustaining, outside of the womb, loses her right to make a life-changing decision about her body in deference to a non-viable fetus that is non-cognizant?  I just can’t make that decision for anyone else.

Anyway, I am actually exhausted over this topic. Two posts and I have nothing more to give. I just keep saying the same thing.  So, readers, you are welcomed to comment, but keep it civil, and just know I have no more desire to “discuss” this, because discussion implies a debate or a consesus needing to be reached…  To me, it shouldn’t even be a discussion.  

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“She must have been beautiful…”

She must have been beautiful…  At the beginning of the first episode of the French cop drama, Engrenages (it means gears or cogs, but the title is translated to Spiral for US viewing,) a nude young woman is found in a dumpster, her face savagely beaten and mutilated.   Within the first few minutes of the show, when told by one of the investigators that the victim’s face was smashed, the Prosecutor replies, “She must have been beautiful.”

The first time I read this (the show is subtitled,) it gave me pause.  What?  Was something lost in translation, or was this ham-fisted remark somehow considered a normal observation in the context of a foreign investigation?

A few mere minutes later he offers, “She was killed because she was beautiful.  Hence the ferocity.”

I thought…Oooo-kaaay.  That makes a little more sense.  Maybe this is a serial killer and the Prosecutor is familiar with his MO.

But this turns out not to be the case either… and yet people throughout the show continue to remark on the victim’s beauty.  One cop goes to his prostitute informant (who he apparently also likely beds and occasionally scores coke from) to see if she has heard anything that might help identify the victim.

Prostitute: Are you sure she was a prostitute?

Cop: No, she was a nun.

Prostitute:*laughs* You’re right.  If she wasn’t in the game it’s odd.  Especially the mutilation stuff.

So now it has been inferred not only that her beauty somehow precipitated her murder, but that being the victim of a horrific mutilation makes much more sense if you happen to be a working girl.  Having studied violent crime, I will allow that being a prostitute is considered to be a high risk factor in terms of one’s chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime.  There is a real correlation there.

However, in the general public’s view, (and regrettably, sometimes in law enforcement) there is also an implied and sometimes spoken assertion that a sex worker killed because of or during the course of her work somehow deserves her fate.  The fact that the prostitute/informant in this particular show would consider the mutilation of the victim “odd” if she wasn’t a sex worker seems downright inappropriate.  Again, is it simply that something has been lost in the translation from the original French dialogue?  Or maybe it is a calculated tactic by the script writers to infer how many women in “the game” feel, how they view their own self-worth?  Or maybe it’s exactly what it sounds like; an ignorant and flawed assumption that may be indicative a a larger problem, the way people view female victims of violent crimes?

I seem to remember the coroner in the autopsy scene similarly remarking on the savagery of the victim’s injuries and also linking it to her beauty.  He claims the attack to her face was postmortem and methodical.  He also posits that it was done not to hinder identification of the victim (as her hands and fingertips were left undamaged,) but rather out of some sort of spite for alleged beauty.

Again with the beauty?   

And then again, almost exactly halfway through this first episode, the coke snorting cop tells his colleagues that the neighbor claimed a certain person of interest was a “real beauty”, and that he would “let them know” when he saw her.

What?!  Why does this keep coming up?  I’d understand if they had some specific reason to believe in this situation that the victim’s beauty was an emotional catalyst for suspect, IF they had any information that backed up that theory– previous crimes possibly committed by the same offender, evidence collected from crimes scenes, a criminal profile… A person can be driven to fatal violence by many things.  Their victim may be the actual focus of their rage or they may be no more than a convenient surrogate, chosen for reasons that have nothing to do with aesthetics.  Furthermore, the mutilation of the face, especially done postmortem, could also be indicative of the perpetrator’s desire to “erase” the victim’s identity, not from a literal standpoint, but from an emotional perspective.  A person’s face, specifically their eyes, are often considered to be symbolic of their essence, representative of what makes them a real person in the eyes of the perpetrator.

Alas, the episode ends on a sort of cliff hanger, with the crime not yet solved.  I guess I’ll have to watch a few more episodes to determine whether the attitudes expressed towards the female victim in this episode are indicative of the overall flavor of the show.  I hope not. I found the frequent references to the victim’s appearance distracting and irrelevant.  Not to mention completely inappropriate.  Unless it turns out to be relevant to this particular plot line, I think I’d find those sort of repeated remarks too irritatingly misogynistic to continue to watch the show.

cast of Spiral

cast of Spiral

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Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Women (updated)

Pursuant to the massacre at Newtown and President Obama’s subsequent attempt to institute a stricter gun policy, there has been a tight focus on gun rights and an immense push to make our schools safer for our children.  Needless to say, the result is that the divide between gun rights advocates and gun control advocates is widening.

I have always leaned towards agreeing with the right to own a gun and protect oneself and one’s family.  That said, I believe the words gun control have gotten a bad rap.  Somewhere along the way, the idea of moderation, of common sense, got lost to both sides and the words gun control became synonymous with  “complete firearm ban.”

I do believe control is the issue.  I think people who own firearms need to better secure them against theft and illicit use (even by members of their own families.)  I think gun owners should be held to the strictest responsibility for their firearms.  I do not feel there should be a total ban on firearms.

The aim of this article though is to give some food for thought to both sides by introducing a slightly different perspective on the gun rights issue.  This is merely information…information backed by statistics and scientific inquiry.

I doubt there is anything worse than what happened at Sandy Hook in December, but this information shifts the focus of gun victimization.  To women.

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.(source)

This is women, killed by men who legally own their firearms.  In short, it suggests a link between the availability of household firearms and female victimization rates.  

Of course, the first argument against this concept is that a man who would beat on his wife should not be allowed to own weapons, and there are laws that prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order.  But that is true only of known abusers.  What about the women who have not reported their abuse?

Approximately 20% of the 1.5 million people who experience intimate partner violence annually obtain civil protection
orders. (source)

As I said before, I’m not really trying to push a partisan view of the gun issue, I’m merely hoping to give both gun control advocates and gun rights advocates more information…

And perhaps help them to see we should all be working together towards a solution to end gun violence, rather than fighting against one another.  Maybe if we try to view the problem collectively- and objectively- we can come up with a solution that protects everyone’s rights and safety.

image: HR Giger

image: HR Giger

After yet another mass shooting, by a homegrown (that’s American) Islamic terrorist,  using mostly “legally” purchased firearms…in a club with armed “good guys” (security guards)…

Analysis by the Violence Policy Center has found that at least 29 mass shootings since 2007 were carried out BY perpetrators with concealed carry permits. That’s more than three times the number of concealed permit holders who prevented mass shootings through their swift action. (source)

I am tired of banging my head against a wall arguing with people who let their emotions mold the “facts” to suit them.  To be very clear, it doesn’t matter how you “feel” about it, or how much you support 2nd Amendment rights; it is a documented fact that increased gun ownership in a developed county leads to increased gun deaths in that country.  Not only is it documented, it is common fucking sense

The number of firearms injuries remains high in the United States, compared with most of the rest of the world. Firearm suicide rates are strongly impacted by the rate of gun ownership. (Kaplan and Geling, 1998) There is a positive correlation between firearm fatality rates and number of guns in developed nations.  (Bangalore and Messerli, 2013) (source)

One thing remains certain, despite laws for or against gun control, a lack of care and concern regarding one’s fellow human beings, whether in war or through domestic violence, will continue to promote firearms injuries. (source)

Miss America the Beautiful…and Dumb

When I stepped next door to talk to the neighbor for a moment last night, I happened to catch a few minutes of what I can only assume was the swim suit portion of the Miss America competition.  A few minutes was all I needed.  Aside from frustrating me on a personal level, I was rather disgusted to note that aside from hair color and skin color, every contestant looked the same to me.  Not only is this the standard of “beauty” to which our women are being held, apparently there is only one type of beautiful woman.  Tall, slender, young, with long hair.

There is no room for curvy women, athletic women, women over 30, women with visible tattoos or stretch marks from having children, or women with short hair.

Now before you ardent pageant supporters and perfect tens protest and peg me as another bitter, overweight housewife, or something else you all deem equally unappealing, I know you all want to act like the Miss America is about “tradition” and “integrity” and all those other glorious phrases. The very first line on the Miss America website under “Miss America History” is this:

“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate.”

But let’s call a spade a spade.  This is…a joke.

I mean, let me get this straight.  These young women, whose age and body type represent but a small fraction of the women living in America, are supposed to be my role models?

They could be a quiz on alllooksame.com.

They could be a quiz on alllooksame.com…  except, does Miss America even allow Asians, or is that a little too much diversity? EAT A DAMN SANDWICH!

~sigh~ But let’s get real.  This won’t change anytime soon, because despite their claims to elevated global and intellectual awareness, the Miss America pageants are nothing but beauty pageant masquerading as an American tradition.  I confess myself disappointed.

2013-miss-america-pageant-contestants

As to the claims that this competition is a combination of ideals of “beauty, grace, and intelligence,” I leave you with some of the dumbest things contestants have ever said:

Response to why 1/5 Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a map: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.”

At Miss World American 1992: “We are truly the land of the great. From the rock shores of… Hawaii… to the beautiful sandy beaches of… Hawaii… America is our home.”

Question: Would you rather be more smart, or more beautiful? “Well, I’d rather choose to be beautiful, um because, to be beautiful it’s natural. But being smart you can learn… you can learn, um a lot of things… a lot of things from the experience… you can learn from a lot of things being smart.” *You’ll note on the above quote that even the question is stupid…

Should the U.S. have universal health care as a right of citizenship? “I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I was raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right its an issue of integrity, no matter what your opinion is, and I say that with the utmost conviction.”  *Spoken like a true politician…

Explain the Confucius quote “Learning without thought is labor lost”:“Good evening, Panama. Confucius was one of whom invented confusion and that’s why, uhh… One of the most ancient, he was one of the Chinese…. Japanese who were one of the most ancient. Thank you.” *Oh, sweet bleeding Jesus…I mean, sweet Confuscius!

I rest my case.