Monthly Archives: March 2013

Power

Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.  –Freda Adler

There is a lot of chit chat today about victimization.  Unfortunately the victim the media SHOULD be discussing it being painted as the villain.

And of course she is.  Because OBVIOUSLY it’s her fault that two boys made a fucked up choice to flaunt their power and abuse someone without power.

(seriously–if you didn’t read the sarcasm in that?  You need to find a different blog to read)

But I’m not going to waste time painting the picture of the obvious that we live in a rape culture–where rape is a joke for many, and a reality for more.  You all know at least one person who has been raped, even if he or she hasn’t told you.  Even if she never went forward with the information knowing what the culture would say about her.  Even if she thought that going forward with her story would only tarnish her as “whore” and him as “victim.”  Because that is invariably what happens in our society.

No–I want to talk about the idea that men cannot help it, that boys are inherently violent and that we need to take that into consideration when they do atrocious things.

Lemme share a story that is not about rape, but rather about power.  Because rape in its purest form isn’t at all about sex, and everything about power.

When I was in high school, our school had a kick ass football team.  Maybe not the powerhouse of surrounding towns, but good enough.  We weren’t a small town, nor insular, but like any other town we had one high school, and our athletes carried a certain power.

And like any other town with a high school, there were parties involving alcohol and teenage stupidity.  And at one of those parties, a few of the football heroes took advantage of someone without power and beat him nearly to death.

There is no question here posed that he “deserved it” or was “asking for it” as I think we can all agree that being beaten that badly is NOT something someone deserves, even if they are being an asshole or said something nasty about your mama.  No one deserves to go to the hospital because they don’t have any power.

(and for any of you harboring any blame toward a rape victim, I want you to think about that example and apply it to her.  I don’t care if she was walking down the street nekkid with a sign that says “rape me”–it is STILL NOT AN EXCUSE)

Anyway, our town felt the brunt of this case because it actually made national news, and our school football team was painted with a broad brush as thugs and bullies.  And it felt unfair–because most of them weren’t.  But let me be clear here–a couple of them were, and deserved to pay the consequences of their actions.

As a result of this horrible beating, our school came out with a “Code of Conduct” that all athletes and anyone in extracurriculars had to follow.  And if you broke it–even at non school events, you could be kicked off your team/whatever.  Even we band geeks had to follow it.  I don’t remember it–prolly because we didn’t go about beating people–but people were up in arms about it.  As an adult looking back on it, I can now say of course!  That makes sense.  If you beat someone to death, you don’t get to play football–even it it was a private party.   ‘Cause here’s the thing.  The code needed to happen, because at least a few guys needed a reminder about how to act.  I’m sure there was a rule, or at least should have been a rule like 1) don’t beat the shit out of people because you can.

Because this is my point–ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.  and if you choose to use power over another person, there will be a consequence.  It may be a punishment. Or maybe you think you’ll get away with it.  but even that will have a consequence.  Because if you abuse power, and get away with it, the world is doing you and the rest of us a disservice.  Because then we will see the abuse as something normal, as a part of human nature, and we will become numb to it.  If someone gets away with abuse of power, it only sets a precedent for others to do it, and then when someone stands up and shouts “ABUSE!” they will be viewed as the abuser instead.

They may have been rising stars, and they may have had a future ahead of them, but their choices–AND THEIR CHOICES ALONE–ruined their lives.  Not the person they abused.  Because their actions already ruined someone else’s life

If we refuse to hold boys up to the same code that we hold women to (don’t dress this way, don’t act this way, don’t get raped) then we are doing them a disservice.  We are saying we do not think they can do better, that they are no better than animals, that they cannot evolve.  and that, gentle readers, is a steaming load of horseshit.  MY son will be taught to NEVER abuse his power–because he is going to be big and strong if genetics are ANY indication.  And he will know–because I will never shut up about it–that abuse of power is a cardinal sin in this house.  End of story.

You know why rape victims seem to deal with the trauma of their rape so well?  BECAUSE as a society WE HAVE NO CHOICE. So many people have been a victim of rape that it has become the norm to “deal” with it.  Because the more noise a victim makes about it, the more abuse she is wont to suffer. We deal with it and survive because no other choice it open to us.

I don’t want to hear another thing about those “poor boys”.  They made choices.  Bad ones.  And now they are paying a slap on the wrist penalty for those choices. And that girl has to continue being victimized through the media and in her hometown as the perpetrator instead of the victim.

THAT is rape culture, people.  And it is why we feminists and others are so “uptight” about this whole “rape thing”.  When words like “legitimate rape” enter our culture, it is no different from the 1950’s idea that she was “asking for it”. Someday we are gonna wake up and see that horror of all this.

Someday.

I hope.

I REALLY REALLY hope.

*not holding my breath*

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Just Stop It.

Today is the annual “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.  It is a subject near and dear, which i blogged about in detail last year.  So i’m not going to go into a long rant this year.  BUT

You are better than using that word. When you use it, you are giving a signal to every bully in the area that you think a group that once carried that label medically is deemed as “other” and “less than” and therefore a target.  Even if you are not referencing them directly, EVERYONE knows what you mean.  And when you use it, or let others around you use it, you are saying it’s ok to treat an entire group of people badly.  You are saying it’s OK to bully, and harass, and even take away their rights.

Yeah–we’re annoying in this.  Yeah, you might consider us the “word police”. And hey if you wanna keep using it, indeed shouting it from the rooftops to exhibit your freedom of speech, then do so.  Just know MY freedom of speech may compel me to call you a douchebag for doing it.

Just STOP IT.

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Dear Mom on the High Horse, Let Me Tell You What YOU Don’t See

I see you over there, givin me the stink eye as I check my mail.  It must feel good to sit there in your righteous judgement, huh?  I mean, you are the example to all the other moms:  you dress well, you shower daily, you make bread from scratch and you are president of the PTA.

But Mutha, lemme tell YOU what you don’t see right now…

That mom over there spent all morning trying to get her kid services he so desperately needs, and all her friends have abandoned her because her child is not like theirs, and it makes them uncomfortable.  And she feels horribly alone and she worries about her child and how he will be treated every minute.

But you can’t see them because all you see are dirty sweat pants and unwashed hair.

That mom over there could really use a friend, because she recently gave birth to her third child and her post-partum depression is off that charts.  Right now she might be thinking about making sure the kids are with their grandma before she takes the pills tonight.  She might be thinking about leaving her husband.  She might be thinking of running away.

You’ve seen her before, but have never offered her more than a cool nod, even when you noticed she looked frazzled and spent.

She sees it, and thinks she must be a horrible person because she can’t seem to make friends.

Now you are talking to one of the moms you do know, but you can’t hear the story beneath her story because all you can focus on is your own parenting, and you can’t hear that her marriage is faltering and she could use a shoulder.  You only think that if there is a problem, your friend must be doing something wrong.  Because marriages, like your own, work well when you do everything right.

Take a minute to LISTEN and HEAR and SEE the men and women around you.  Not the face they show to the world, but the underlying story of hardship with which they might be struggling. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with making adult connections.

Put your eyes back on the prize:  COMPASSION.

Recognize that not everyone has the same views as you do, and not every parent is going to parent the way you do.  EMBRACE it, and them.  I’m not saying accept truly poor and abusive parenting that puts children at risk, but for godsakes, don’t  put someone who wants a few seconds to decompress in the same category as a negligent parent.

Eventually all you will have is your blog and your righteousness and nothing else, because no one wants to know they are being judged all the time by the people around them.

When your children are grown and out of the house, no one will be there to go on grand adventures, or to play card games.  No one will invite you to join their book club because they all know that you hold your opinion to be the most important, and no one feels that you are at all kind.

In fact most of them think you are mean.  And will not be sorry to see the back of you.

You’ve shown them how judgemental you can be, how, when they need a few measly seconds, or minutes or even a freaking hour to hear their own thoughts and grab a little peace in whatever form it can take, you will look down your nose at them and call them bad parents and think yourself better than them because you have tried them in your court of personal opinion and found them guilty of being themselves.

I know you think you are trying to help them.

I know you only want to show them the joys you experience being a parent the way you want to be a parent.

But those other parents can’t hear your joy.  They can’t hear your urge to help.  Because your judgement is screaming way too loudly.

May you never know the loneliness that can sometimes accompany parenthood.  And if you do, may someone far more compassionate and caring than you come to your aid, for heaven help you if you come face to face with a mirror during those times.  Because your kind of noisy, high-horsed judgement and disapproval?  I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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