“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.

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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.

My Senile Stalker

I’ve had a few stalkers in my time.  I don’t know if this speaks so much to my staggering sex appeal as to my penchant for attracting sad losers.   Some of my stalkers have been pretty harmless, their attentions even a bit of an ego boost.  And some have been kinda scary.   Indulge me if you will and allow me to refer to a popular meme that just won’t die in order to present you with an accurate portrayal of my latest stalker:

Who he thinks he is…

What he really looks like…

Yes, that’s right.  As the title of this blog indicates, I have acquired a geriatric stalker.  Now, I’m not the only young woman he’s been pestering–and he only likes them young, proudly declaring that he prefers women in their 30’s and “doesn’t like fat women,” as if he has all the God-given choice in the world.  He seems to be laboring under the misconception that he is still attractive to women of this (or any) age group… because, people, he is 80 years old and has Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  Part of the reason he can get away with this embarrassing display is because there are a few women around this town and the surrounding areas (many of them from the same family) that have discovered in him a senile and crippled cash cow.  They take his money, they use his car (oh well, he’s lost his license now anyway, though for a while there he was in denial. ) It would be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic.  He knows they’re using him but chooses to delude himself about their true intentions.

He lives in my apartment complex, and I am apparently not the only young woman this old geezer suckered into believing he was a “harmless, lonely” old man.  We made the mistake of talking to him or being nice to him, or even doing him favors (I stopped at the store at 9 o’clock at night on my way home from volleyball to pick up two bags of potato chips for this fucker, mostly because I couldn’t think of a nice way to decline!)   I now get a clear impression that perhaps at one time in his life he was very used to having women do things for him.  Well, I decided that night, not ME, never again.

His pestering got so bad that some of the women were complaining to the maintenance man (who incidentally shares a relatively uncommon first name with said old geezer, a fact which has almost lost him his job…twice.)

Now you might ask yourself why a woman would not just tell this old bird to bugger off… Let me tell you.   Because I did it.  Probably about four different times.  One day, while I attempted in vain to go about my day, he came over and knocked on my door a total of nine timesfor various reasons, ranging from bringing me food to just “seeing what’s up.” At first I attempted to be nice, telling him I had a little one to look after and stuff I had to get done.   And that worked for about…a day.  He came and knocked the next day or so and I politely “reminded” him.  On one such occasion his distractions resulted in my kid locking me outside.

Finally, when it kept happening and I tried to ignore him, I got pissed.  Why should I have to hide behind closed shades and pretend not to hear him?  I had to get “firm.”  I told him that I had repeatedly asked him to stop knocking on my door when my husband was not at home (yes, he definitely knows I’m married!) and the fact that he was ignoring me was starting to piss me off.  That is pretty much verbatim what I said.  Still if I saw him outside, I’d wave to be polite.  Wrong move again.  A day or two later, he came up when me and the baby were playing outside and proceeded to say “You really know how to hurt a guy…” and then said to my two year old “Mommy is mean.”   Bad move on his part, talking shit to my kid!  I told him him needed to cut that shit right out.

The maintenance guy finally got fed up with the complaints and problems with his job (aside from the trouble the mix-up with their names caused, old man would follow him around and try to “help” him with his work) and Maintenance Man told him if he didn’t stop bothering the female folk, he’d “call the law.”

See, not only does Old Man pester me, trying to get me to do him favors and keep him company, making not-subtle passes at me repeatedly, regardless of me never having expressed interest, but every time I would go outside, he’d pop into his doorway like jack from his box and just stare.  He does the same thing if he happens to pass by my window, unabashedly staring into my front window as he walks by.

I have another neighbor in her fifties who the old man has taken to bothering for company.  She’s a friend of mine, and so I hear a lot of what he says when I am not around.  He’s taken to planting his wobbly old ass on her couch (he has a terrible time getting up again,) and actually waiting for me to go next door to visit her, just so he can gawk at me.  He still swears that if I didn’t have my child, he could “get me over” his place, though by now I barely even look at him  when he’s around if I can help it.  He still makes lascivious remarks about me to my neighbor, calling me “cutie pie” and looking at my ass every chance he gets. We’ve had a few exchanges where he attempts to gain pity from me by shaming me with that tired old passive-aggressive bullshit about how he’s “like a red-headed, freckle-faced” step-child around here.  I told him point blank that he brought it on himself.

And I just found out he takes Viagra, daily, just to “be ready,” should he perchance find some hapless, legally blind, mentally deficient woman actually willing to have sex with him.

You may be tempted to feel pity for him, or say I am callous and not understanding of his infirmities or his loneliness.  I assure you, the time for that is over.  I’m not even certain I want him around my kid anymore.  How long would he be content to just “watch” from afar? I even looked for him on our county’s sex offender registry.  Even my neighbor has reason to believe now that he may not be as harmless as he seems.  The stress he caused me by his unwanted attentions, his constant intrusions into my day, was just stupid.  No one rents space in my head that way if I have anything to say about it.  And I realize as I type this that even though it may seem funny at times (and this post actually was meant to be at least semi-amusing), this could possibly be a real problem.  Frankly, the sight of his stupid sheep’s face actually pisses me off most times now.  (Sheep actually aren’t stupid at all, by the way.)  And yet, there is still a small (tiny, minuscule  growing smaller by the day) part of me that can’t be rude enough or mean enough to tell him “Just don’t ever talk to me again, at all…ever.  Never.”  Would it work if I did?

I can’t avoid him totally, although for the nonce, my neighbor has elected to ignore his knocking, wary of him and tired of watching him sit and pick his nose, I suppose.  And I doubt the cops could do much with him, his age and infirmity being on his side.  My husband is getting pissed, not because he feels threatened, but because of the irritation that Old Man causes me and the fact that he just won’t take “no” for an answer.  But I don’t need hubs going to jail for kicking an old man’s ass.  Hell, I could take him on my own, but why should I have to?  And more importantly, what about potential “targets” for his attentions not as able to defend themselves?

Old Man himself said the other day, in regards to his attempts to elicit a favorable response from me, “I keep trying but I get no response,”

to which my neighbor replied, “That’s when you’re supposed to stop!”