Spiritual Abuse

This Week, In One Article

Hey everyone, can we have a family meeting?

It’s been a really rough week, and it’s only Thursday.  I’m full of rage.  If I were still a church-going gal, I’d call it a righteous rage, but since I’m not, I’m going with “channeling my anger.”  I have some things I’d like to talk about.

TAMPONS

Yeah, I’m going to talk about menstrual blood, y’all.  I think you should read this.  ESPECIALLY if you are male identifying.  Those who have vaginas generally bleed every cycle for 3-7 days.  We need a certain amount of pads/tampons/liners to remain sanitary, clean, comfortable.

Over the years, I’ve become aware that people who are underhoused or who live outside often go without because people do not donate these items to banks.  I’ve done several successful drives to raise these items for those who bleed.

It has come to my attention that within the prison system hygiene products are NOT freely given to those who need them in several states, most notably in Arizona where inmates are only given 12 products to start and up to 24 more, causing inmates to cut them, or use them far beyond the safe time potentially leading to infections and toxic shock syndrome.  If they need more than the 36 free products, they must purchase them.

When we think of the less than… the “undesirables” in our populations, the people we “look away from”, when it comes to women, it’s homeless, and the incarcerated.  We have to take care of those who bleed.  This is a natural function, and dignity is a basic human right, whether people live outside, or on the “inside.”  We have to do better.

FOOD BOXES 

45 has a new found passion for moving SNAP to food boxes to save money. (And reduce the ALARMING 1.5% fraud rate.)  This would move the ability to pay for groceries from a debit card system to pre-made boxes.  I didn’t know this before, but Indian reservations (the original owners of the land we usurped and then we shoved them onto small parcels after some wicked genocide, while we were illegal immigrants, but that’s something we can ignore forever) already employ food boxes.

Food boxes take choices away from families and force them to eat exactly what the government decides is proper (shelf stable and processed/canned foods.)  Choice = dignity.  There is also an idea that the poor are ducktale-style swimming in gold coins and eating lobster tails on the government dime while we sit over here living it up in our luxuries, like HEAT, FOOD, and TAMPONS.

This is also coming from people who look down their noses as the “poor” purchase food that the rich don’t feel they should.  “How dare people in section 8 purchase a Snickers bar? THE OUTRAGE! When they swiped their SNAP Card, I SAW THEIR MANICURED HANDS!!!  ZOMG.”

As someone who grew up in poverty, I’d like to address several points.
1.  Once in a while, we needed to feel like we were human.  We already dealt with feeling “less than” in so many sectors.  To be able to provide your kids with a treat now and again helps them to feel like (for once) they are “just a kid” like all the others.
2.  adults work jobs.  They need to feel that they are presentable.  This may include a manicure.  They may have scrimped and saved for that.  They MAY NOT HAVE.  They may have done that for their own ever-loving self-care.  They may work three jobs and this is the one thing that makes them feel human when they go home and burn their furniture to stay warm.  (Taken from an actual experience.)
3.  Food Boxes will reduce access to fresh produce. There’s not much more I need to say on this topic. By not giving families access to money to purchase goods at their local markets, they will be unable to purchase fresh goods. It’s not rocket science.

Guys.  No.

FLORIDA (ET ALL)

Florida. I burst into tears today. Guns need to go. Like every other civilized country who doesn’t have mass shootings. I watched a video with children sitting on the ground of their classroom SCREAMING as shots rang out from a gun that was so loud it hurt MY ears across the country. WHEN WILL ENOUGH BE ENOUGH? WHEN WILL CHILDREN BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN GUNS?? We need to talk about this. They just need to go. I have a kid in school and I’ll be damned if he dies because some kid who was expelled has access to his parent’s AK-15. Nobody needs an AK-15. This isn’t the time to politicize this? Yes. Yes it is. Because there is a mass shooting almost every day. There isn’t a day NOT to politicize this, BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ENOUGH DAYS.

PASTORS HARBORING ABUSERS

Churches need to stop shielding abusers. I don’t have much more to say to that. I let fly on a long post about that yesterday. I’d love for you to read it. I’m angry that there are some pastors that seem to have a problem with this idea. 

This is my typical platform, and I will get back to #churchtoo, and #metoo on my next blogs.  Stay tuned.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT- #METOO

Women are not to be harassed if they do not respond how you wish.

They are not marrying material, and if you think they are, and you don’t know them, aren’t in a relationship with them, and don’t have a ring, bringing that up (especially in a catcalling way is outrageous and offensive).  Yelling “Marry me!” and then being offended when we are less than impressed… and yelling “C*UNT” at us, escalates the situations really really quickly to a safety issue.

If you do not like the way she’s getting her chips out of the vending machine, keep it to your damn self. You think she’s being aggressive getting those chips? Maybe give her a wide berth and avoid eye contact. This is NOT THE TIME TO POINT THIS OUT.

SHUT YOUR MOUTHS MEN. WE DO NOT NEED YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT HOW WE BEHAVE.

also: Do NOT put woman in a situation where she does not have an immediate way out. This causes us extreme anxiety.

Do not circle us with all your dudebros.

Do not block us from exits.

Do not push us against walls.

DON’T BE A DOUCHECANOE.

GENDER IS FLUID AND SO ARE COLORS!

BLUE IS FOR GIRLS AND PINK IS FOR BOYS. FUCK IT, ALL COLORS FOR ALL GENDERS EVERYWHERE ON THE SPECTRUM, YOU GET A COLOR, YOU GET A COLOR, EVERY.BODY.GETS.A.COLOR!

 

Sexual Assault

When Vengence Eclipses Justice

Today, while Nassar went through another round of sentencing, a father of three abused daughters (two of which were standing next to him in court with tears in their eyes) Randall Margraves begged for just 5 minutes of time with the offender in a room.  He pled with the judge, and after being obviously refused, Margraves decided to take vengeance into his own hands and bolted towards the disgraced abuser.  He was forcefully taken down by court police and cuffed.

I don’t blame him for having a visceral reaction to Nassar.  I can’t imagine the pain Margraves is having, knowing that Nassar abused his daughters.  The people who were supposed to protect me either shamed or discarded me after my assault, so I don’t have a direct frame of reference, but if someone had hurt my child in this way, I likely would have the same desire to set that person straight.  Perhaps with my fists.

But when I watched this tape for the second time, my focus changed.  I could hear his daughters, who had been standing next to him during his impact statement.  They were distressed, and crying in shock as the person they loved was suddenly overcome with anger and subsequently arrested for his courtroom outburst.  Their sounds were those of scared women, scared of losing their person.  The one who is standing there speaking up against the person who abused them.

The internet is calling him a hero.  Likely because Margraves did what we all wanted to do.  Serve a quick punch to the face of justice.  The build-up of pain was a timebomb waiting to happen in the Nassar case.  With so much restraint and elegance among the women, there had to be a breaking point.

And I hear you.  I really do.

AND.  The cycle of violence MUST be broken.  Power was abused over these girls (now women) as they were sexually molested over and over by Nassar.  POWER is what we are talking about here.  Nassar had it and used it in unfathomable ways.  Margraves also was attempting to use his power to assault.

I still stand with the women.  The women in the Nassar case were exceedingly eloquent and powerful in their strength and testimony. But in this case, the women that Margraves supports were in terror of their father’s behavior, as evidenced by the sounds of anguish as he was taken to the ground.

Part two of “I don’t wish rape on my rapist.”

 

 

Vulnerability

Bypass of the Raw

Perhaps what makes us most vulnerable are the parts of us that we cannot change, but affects the way people see us, treat us… talk to us.. talk about us.

A lengthy conversation started over the comments Matt Damon said about how there is a scale of severity when it comes to sexual assault.  “Why is everyone jumping on Damon?” My male friend asked.  “I mean, it’s true isn’t it, there is a difference between a slap on the ass and rape.”

While not wrong, this guy was still missing the point.  Let’s have a master class about why Damon is missing all the marks.

First, Damon is a man, commenting on the scale of severity in regards to sexual abuse and assault on women.  This has been the state of being for centuries.  Men making decisions on whether a rape occured, whether the assault was serious enough, whether it was “asked for” by the victim in some way.  The rates of conviction (with jail time) for men assaulters are somewhere close to 6/1000.  This demonstrates the patriarchal structure we live in as women.  That is to say, most of the time, men are making the choice about how assaulters will be punished.  Yet another man in power (and even worse so, with a microphone that millions will hear his words from) spoke to trivialize the severity of sexual abuse and assault.

Minnie Driver is quoted saying “I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can’t tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not.”

Second, Damon is speaking to the #metoo movement, where all women who have been assaulted/raped/harrassed are included.  By stating guidelines of severity, he is also saying that some sexual assaults are “lesser.”  A victim of a “lesser assault” may not feel like her experience and story “counts.”  This goes against the very cause we are looking to bring awareness to.  The #metoo movement is for all women who have experienced sexual violence.  This club, however we don’t want to belong to it, includes all.  It is a safe place for women to speak their truth boldly.  By having a male break down categories, he was divisive.

Damon also is quoted as saying “We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is… the preponderance of men I’ve worked with who don’t do this kind of thing.”

*Blink*  Well, let’s stand up and cheer for all the men who are NOT (and haven’t ever) sexually harrassed, abused or assaulted women.  In fact, all of you who haven’t done that, please stand up.  Nobody?  Right.  That’s the point.  Even the most upstanding male friends have at one point made an unwanted sexually charged comment (action) towards a woman.  This is the culture we are in.  In addition, women are supposed to recognize all the men who haven’t committed sexual violence against them?  Really?? Come on, now.

Third, Minnie Driver states Damon’s lack of ability to speak to this issue eloquently by saying men “simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level” and should not, therefore, attempt to differentiate or explain sexual misconduct against women.   Driver continues with this truth bomb: “Gosh it’s so interesting (profoundly unsurprising) how men with all these opinions about women’s differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape reveal themselves to be utterly tone deaf and as a result, systemically part of the problem.” This is yet another case of “mansplaining” to women.  As if we don’t know about the various ways we experience sexual violence.

She added: “There is no hierarchy of abuse – that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if a woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn’t want or ask for … you cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other.

“And it certainly can’t be prescribed by a man. The idea of tone-deafness is the idea there [is] no equivalency. How about it’s all fucking wrong and it’s all bad, and until you start seeing it under one umbrella it’s not your job to compartmentalize or judge what is worse and what is not. Let women do the speaking up right now. The time right now is for men just to listen and not have an opinion about it for once.”

Fourth, at this point,  the only productive thing men can do is to be quiet OR unequivocally support the #metoo movement.  The guy I was talking to stated that this was divisive and limiting of potential allies who wanted to be able to ask questions about the movement.  The issue, though, is black and white.  You are either against all sexual violence, or you aren’t.  In addition, we really aren’t concerned about bringing men on board at this point.  The effort is to get women’s voices out there, survivor’s voices.  We are rallying behind a common story, the abuse of men against women. When we live in a world where men are doing most of the talking, most of the legislating, most of the powerful positions, it is TIME for us to speak and men to listen.

Driver says “In the same stereotypical way that we see women being supportive of men in their endeavors,” she said, “I feel that’s what women need of men in this moment. They need men to lean on and not question.

Fifth, Damon spoke to the idea that because Louis C.K. (who admitted copablity to sexual abuse due to a differential of power).  “I don’t know Louis C.K.. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he…” And he trails off.  What price has he paid?  Public humilation for what he did?  The inability to work in the public eye (which is yet to be seen)?  Why is C.K.’s repercussion somehow the concern?  With the majority of sexual abusers not getting any charges brought up against them, and a large majority of those who are charged not getting any consequences, the public’s view of C.K. (Cosby, Weinstein, Franken, et all.)

Driver goes on to say “Men can rally and they can support, but I don’t think its appropriate, per se, for men to have an opinion about how women should be metabolizing abuse. Ever.”

Sixth, Damon is not the reliable voice on this issue.  In 2004, a reporter started to look into Weinstein’s sexual exploits, Damon allegedly called the reporter to vouch for Weinstein and try to kill the story. He also knew about Weinstein’s sexual harrasment of Gweneth Paltrow and continued to work with him.  Thus, his reliablity is increbily suspect.

Now, it must be said, this guy I was speaking to IS supportive of the #metoo movement and stands on firm moral ground regarding sexual abuse.  He was surprised to hear about the differential of power always leaning towards men.  Women are taught to have their phones out when walking around at night, with their keys in their other hand.  We are taught how to dress, even dress codes in most organizations are written BY men.  Rape culture is everywhere.

Alyssa Milano says this: “I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak. They all hurt. And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted–even welcomed– misogyny… We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.”

I get cat-called frequently, with men looking me up and down when I walk by.  We notice these things, but at a certain point, we even gloss over them because they are so common.  This is our daily framework we operate in. I am in the skin of a woman’s body.  This culture is a given for us.

It’s time for men to get woke and hear what we experience every day.

 

Uncategorized

Dear Anger,

Anger: a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused

by a wrong; wrath; ire.

Hello, Anger. I’ve been told you are useful.  That somehow anger is productive and can be wielded for good.  I see examples of this in the world, where anger is used to create amazing things.  Righteous anger creates change, stirs up people’s emotions to promote action. But right now, I can’t see it.  I am blinded by this feeling, and I dislike it.  I don’t like you.  I don’t like the way you feel.  I don’t like the reason I feel this way.

Hello, Anger. As women, anger isn’t one of the “acceptable emotions.”  We can express love, sadness or be happy, but anger is an emotion we must hide deep in our souls never to be brought out.  Even alone it took being in the shower to get to the point where I cried in anger.  I started to talk with you while doing my hair.  I ruined my makeup twice today as I rage cried.

Hello, Anger. I’m sitting with you today, sharing my coffee.  I’ve cried your tears today for an hour. I’ve yelled your words into the mirror.  I’ve typed your phrases into messages, screaming for support from a friend who understood.  I’m shaking, burning calories by the minute, like shivering, though it’s summer. I put my coffee in a travel mug, as a ruined a shirt already spilling my caffeinated life blood on it.

Hello, Anger.  You make me feel very vulnerable.  I feel off balance.  I spent last night, yesterday and this morning really thinking about the events that led me to you.  I checked my feelings and experiences to make sure I’m not totally off base and realized that I have a right to be really angry.  So, today, I’m going to be really angry.  I woke up to several more reasons to be angry.  I talked about this more and felt angrier. And maybe that’s just what I need to be.

Hello, Anger.  As women, we DO need to feel you.  When people have done us wrong, we need to feel you.  When we have been an emotional punching bag for someone else, we have a right to be angry.  When we have been there for someone for years, and they choose to throw you under the bus because we ask them to be there for you, we have a right to be angry.  This is okay.  This is setting boundaries.  We can be angry.

Hello, Anger.  I became a punching bag yesterday for someone else to let loose on.  It is taking everything in me not to hole up and just not be around anyone ever again.  But I won’t.  I can do this.  I will have hope, despite their actions.  I will feel your feelings deeply, I will rage.  Then I will somehow move through it.

Hello, Anger.  Welcome for now.  I will sit with you at the table for a while.  We will become friends.  Then you will leave when I’ve learned what I need to from you.