There are only so many words-None of them pleasant.

TRIGGER WARNING: Rape/Sexual Assault. (For those of you who are new here-this is what I report about. I bring tough situations to light, becuase knowledge is power. I know it’s not pleasant, but sometimes that’s life-and it’s got to change.)

What seems like a very long time ago, I brought up a story which made me sick to my stomach in ways that I knew all too well. It was the story of a young African American football player with a mental handicap who was brutally attacked and raped with a coat hanger. Race came into play, as many slurs were used, his handicap status came into play. And the part that frustrated me (back when this story was new) was that it was a MALE football player and still people were brushing it off.

Now, not to derail from this story, becuase there are new pieces of information, but surely it is worth pointing out. When a woman is raped or assaulted, the blame is placed on her. Almost no jail time is placed on the perp (see: Rapist Brocker Turner) and on the whole, the victims are not held in high regards. With this being not only a male, but a jock-an athletic male, surely rape culture would pause for a moment and take note, right? But no-there was some outrage, but it was the same voices who have been yelling for years: women. And no one took note but the few.

So now, let me bring up some of the “new” details. The victim was pulled into a hug, his pants were pulled and a coat hanger was inserted and then kicked into his rectum. There were three individuals at fault here. The ring leader, whom I will solely refer to as Rapist John RK Howard, will “not receive any jail time or be classified as a sex offender” (read the full article Here). His plea was to one felony account of injury to a child, with probation and 300 hours of community service. He is allowed to maintain his innocence, and he will probably get his conviction dismissed.

So why was this the ruling?

Well, according to the article I linked above, it’s because of Rapist John RK Howard’s “athletic ability and community connections”. Once again, we find that just as in the case of Rapist Brock Turner and the ruling in the Steubenville Rape Case that if you have the ability to play a sport with some decency, you are exempt from the law. Which is the biggest pile of unequivocally ignorant bullshit I may ever hear in my life.

I lettered in Marching Band in high school. I was the field commander/drum major/director (I led them). I was exceptionally good at it. Does that mean I can rob a bank to pay off my student loans and not get sentenced to jail? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Does it mean that I can murder someone and get off with a warning? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It means that I was in an athletic and leadership position and I was good at it.

Being good at something does not give you the right to be a monster. It’s one of the reasons I got into law in the first place. Because I can’t stand around waiting for the world to change. If I want to see change, I have to be there helping it happen.

If you want to be somebody.

If you want to go somewhere.

You gotta wake up and pay attention.

My Gal Kesha

My life started down the SJW (social justice warrior) path nearly 9 months ago. I came across an article about Kesha (the pop star), watched her video (on Instagram I think) and became outraged at the way she was forced to do something she so clearly should not have been. And a follow up article came up in my life today.

I was listening to the radio on my morning commute (like the old person I am) and I heard the report that Kesha was panicked that her medical records were going to be released. Naturally, I did a little digging.

Kesha’s Concerns This is the link to the Rolling Stones article. In it, the point was made that Dr. Luke’s lawyers requested (and were granted) 10 years of gynecological, psychological and rehab records for Kesha. The lawyer representing Dr. Luke requested that the court (Not Kesha’s lawyer) decide if they could release the records to the public.

I know, my blood was boiling by that point as well. Because this is the Kesha I know. I am familiar with the easy-going, wicked smart woman who stood out and embraced diversity.

And then you have people like Donald Trump. (Did you think I’d forgotten?)

I saw the video, I watch all of the debates. And let me tell you something. One of the best things I heard in response came from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And I have to agree with one part in particular.

People are conflating sex talk with sexual assault talk.

And that’s a REALLY big problem.

I’m not saying that sex talk is “to be expected” or “just what guys do”. Because I find that offensive and belittling to the men I know and trust. I’m also not saying that I am willing to wipe clean my ideas about sex and gender.

What I’m saying is that sex talk I can disagree or agree with. Sexual assault talk is something I CANNOT and WILL NOT accept or let slide.

And I know, as well as you, that I’ve tried to keep my blog a pretty anti-political zone unless it directly affects the issues I’m bringing up.

But in this particular moment, I honestly cannot accept that there are still people who would vote for Donald Trump. I won’t change paths and devote the rest of the election season worth of blogs to anti-Donald campaigning, but just know that it will come up as it has. Because a vote for Donald is a vote against everything I am. And probably a fair amount of who you are as well.

So what do these two have in common?

Men in power who think they can get away with whatever they want simply because they’re rich.

And that’s what I’m trying to stop. We are all equal-regardless of ethnicity, orientation, categories we use to define ourselves. Vote. Please vote. Learn from Brexit-don’t be apathetic, don’t give in to “it could never happen”.

This is how freedom dies. With little bits of loss and unacceptable actions made acceptable.

Thoughts, News and Stuff

Alrighty folks, welcome to the weekend!
Thank you to all the people who have stumbled across my thoughts. I try to mention it as often as I can, because I really am grateful and completely humbled.
In the news this week:

Kesha deposits 28 tracks to her producer, drops her sexual assault case and keeps pursuing the emotional/physical assault/abuse charges.

Stanford Rapist Brock Turner has successfully petitioned his way back to his home state. Which just so happens to be my state.

Today is the last day of GISHWHES.

 

I wanted to do a big piece on the realities of Kesha, since she was the catalyst for my own self-revelations and then Rapist Brock Turner is returning to my state-to Greene County more specifically. And while I completely understand 1000000000% about the victim’s statement of Rapist Brock Turner making her nervous, I am still completely appalled at his only serving 3 months. He will be released to probation in less than a month. And then he will be coming here, to my state.

Now, I’m not here to make this about me. At all. In fact, the only thing that can be said is how I am struggling for words to describe the amount of injustice I feel about this case. You can read the news article if you’d like, here. I’ve been awake almost a full 24 hours and it’s been on my mind almost the entire time. I’m not okay with this situation, and I can only imagine how the victim must feel.

I mentioned up top that today is the last day of the scavenger hunt I’m participating in. At 2:00 AM my time (Eastern: UTC-5) the hunt will be over for the year. That means a couple things. First, my sleep schedule will be returning to normal-ish. Second, I can share my adventure with ya’ll-with pictures and links to videos. Third, and ultimately most importantly, I will be returning to my regular work. News and opinions, facts and summations. I just wanted to pop in, say hello, wish you all a lovely, safe day and hope to catch you on the flip side!

What We’re Telling Victims

I really wish that my career choice was obsolete-that there was no need for it anymore, that there was no position open because no one needed it. I wish that this blog was the space for poetry, for stories with happy endings and for laughter.

But that’s not how life works.

I’ve been saying for months now that the statistics are wrong, that they’re too low. I’ve preached at ya’ll about the unfairness of the courts, the struggle that women (and men) face each day because of hypersexualization. And while I have tried to be educational, this blog hurts.

I did a response letter to the Stanford victim (Read it here: My Letter to the Stanford Victim), back when Rapist Brock Allen Turner was all over the news. I did a response letter to the Kesha case (Read it here: Why the Kesha Ruling Matters), when she was told that her safety didn’t matter because of a contract, as well as a piece over an Oklahoma case about what “isn’t” rape (Read if here: Too Many). And here I am-once again-to write about the frustration I feel at a court system that isn’t quite just.

You might not have heard about this case, but I came across it today. It was just reported yesterday, and I don’t think there was as much stink in the press about it. But there should be. Here’s the link to the story: Indiana University (Note: This one is an actual news story, not one of mine.) The following picture is from Google. I don’t own it.

Imprisoned in DNA cage

Here’s what we’re telling victims these days:

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the person who did it is athletic.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you are more drunk than the person attacking you.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you and your attacker are at a frat party (or frat house).

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you wake up during sex you didn’t agree to.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you wake up during sex you didn’t know you were having.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if someone doesn’t see it. Or if they do.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the attacker was also drinking that night.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you were dancing/wearing a skirt/wearing pants/wearing undergarments/not wearing undergarments/doing anything but staying at home under constant supervision.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if the person who attacked you was a college student-even if they were on break.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence if you’re on a college campus.

You’re not a victim of sexual violence. Period.

 

I know that there are plenty of things to also say in regards to this article, these stories, and I understand. I understand that I don’t have the full picture. I understand that I wasn’t there-and therefore don’t know exactly what happened. I get it. But I also understand what it’s like to have no one believe the words that come out of my mouth. I understand the feeling of fear when I walk by myself-even in broad daylight. I get it.

If you want to look at some of the other pieces I’ve done in regards to this topic, or perhaps you’re new to my blog (thank you for reading!!) and haven’t seen them yet, I invite you to check out the following:

My Experience with Sexual Violence: Unsteady

A List of Resources for Information, Support and Justice: This One’s For You

Return of the Well, Me.

Alrighty. I’ve been hard at work determining my life and reevaluating my choices. I’ve been working on a project proposal which might blow people’s minds and I’m so close. I’m so close to living the life I couldn’t have imagine when I was in high school. I’m so close to living the life that I doubted I’d ever lead when I entered college. And I have something to say. (But when don’t I?)

Ahem.Here goes.

“So. I am enough. And you are enough. And I wanted to really stress that. Sometimes even though I, I know I can keep fighting and I know I’m trying to love myself, it’s sometimes the feeling that you feel like you’re not enough, right? And so this message is helping me kind of understand that I am enough-just the way I was made. I’m trying to be the best person I can be. And you’re enough too. So I know sometimes you feel like you can’t fight, and I know sometimes you feel like you just can’t love yourself and when that happens I want you to remember that you’re enough. You’re enough as you are. And I’ll try to remember that I’m enough as I am.”

-Jared Padalecki, 20 June 2016

I am enough

(This is the shirt for his campaign-the proceeds go to OneOrlando and Equality Florida’s Pulse Victim Fund–straight to the people who need it most right now. Buy here: I Am Enough Campaign) I listened to that man speak those words probably fifteen times as I watched the video, trying to make sure I got every word right. (And then I watch it because I love it.) Because the message is more important than I think nearly anything else is. It doesn’t matter what religion (if any!) you partake in, your status in life, your geography, anything. These words are just right. (If you wanna watch the clip, I posted it on my tumblr: I Am Enough Mantra)

I’m a huge fan of Supernatural for more reasons than just the great writing and acting. Mr. Collins, Mr. Ackles and Mr. Padalecki are such fantastic role models (as well as many of the female costars) and they each have ties to the mental health struggles (social anxiety, depression and self-harm amongst them). This speech was given as part of a live stream on Facebook  and before I get away with myself, let me just say it is one of my aspirations to work with someone like him (and them) in the future.

I am enough.

Those words don’t get passed around enough. Especially to ourselves. I told my husband last night that I think two things each and every day.

  1. How am I possibly good enough to live the life I have planned?
  2. I got this. Let’s kick some ass.

And you know what? That’s not because of self-esteem. The second thought is a lifestyle choice. I have to tell it to myself because I sometimes forget. I don’t have to be the one who changes the world each day. I just have to try. I am enough.

I made a difference to that one.

And so, even though I haven’t started it *yet*, I wanted to let you all know that I’m going to start a YouTube channel about body positivity, body safety and empowerment. It’s going to be like a companion to this blog. This is where all my personal articles of news will occur, but if you want to see my sparkly teeth and sassy attitude in “person”, then look no further!

May the Fourth…Be With You

Even with the current political climate, I will continue to blog about women’s issues, human rights and mental health. (I may do an expose about political climates, but at a later time.)

I recently commented (on Facebook) on a local news station’s announcement of the discussion of banning non-essential traffic from Ohio to North Carolina, because of the “bathroom bill”. Me being me, I had to comment-I love human rights issues (because they are opportunities to expand my awareness and activism). Here’s what I expected going in, and what I hoped for:

trans equal

Expect: People to disagree, challenge my views.

Hope: I could change someone’s mind.

What I didn’t expect was the vicious content that would ensue. I will retype here what I typed there, and then tell you about the responses.

The thing is, rapists and sexual predators have been coming after women and children for years, decades and no one has bothered to put up this amount of riotous behavior. It isn’t about bathrooms, just as it has never been. It is about the average person not understanding that which they fear. If it was their children, their siblings, who were transgender or transsexual, then perhaps the tides would change towards equality. However, with all this being said, I am incredibly proud to call Ohio my home, and Columbus my city. It is incredibly easy to cry foul play when you feel like your rights are being infringed upon, but the reality of the situation is that the rights of the cis- have always been safe. It is now up to the minorities, those who have not had access to the same rights, to rise up and cry out as loudly as they can. Freedom isn’t free, and equality isn’t universal. Yet. But with a little understanding, a little empathy and some patience, perhaps we, as the American people (and Ohioans!) can usher in a new era of acceptance, love and humility-putting aside the fear mongering, the hatred and the ignorance. Thank you, Columbus City Council. May love prevail!

Now, yes. It does sound like a naive college student with liberal ideas wrote that. You’d be reading that same view point in all of my blogs. However, what I said was (in my mind) respectful, and reflected my true feelings. I didn’t name call, I didn’t stoop to low levels, I tried to remain calm in a conversation topic where tempers run rampant.

Some of the responses included (I copied and pasted-so any misspellings or poor grammar are as they were written by the original posters):

“What love? U certainly show none”

“Jared fogel and friends loves and thanks u”

“Pedophiles or rapist to pretend their transgender to exploit it. If you don’t think they will do that you need to take off your love cures all blinders right now. They are liars, manipulates and they will do anything to fulfill their sexual desires.”

“Where does this end, at what point do pedophiles get granted their rights.”

“Seriously, I think it’s just another card to pull, I have a male friend who is gay, he always says, if they talk to me like that, I’ll pull the gay card, if I get fired I’ll pull the gay card, that’s all I hear… Where the hell is the straight card? It’s all about control and money…”

“Play every last PC Card like a typical liberal. Call common sense “fear mongering” to try’n get your way. Grow a pair while your at it.”

Now, at this point I have to mention that my comment to the last one was (It’s my favorite comment):

And if I did, in fact, “grow a pair”, NAME DELETED, would that allow me to use the rest room in peace? My career is in human rights, so you’ll forgive me if I continue promoting equality instead of pulling America backwards.

I have been called a murderer because of my stance on abortions, I have been called all the usual things that men call women who are strong and opinionated. I have struggled with my identity and ideas in light of these things, and I have to say, I believe I have come out of this ordeal (and others) a stronger, more sure person.

equal

I was asked if I believed that someone would willingly submit themselves to a future if they weren’t even part of the group. I had, at that point, answered that although I consider myself bisexual, I had played the part of “lesbian girlfriend” for several of my friends who were in a situation that merited my actions. So when I think of that question now, and try to apply it to this topic, I can only be reaffirmed by my ideas before.

I know I’m a very passionate, outspoken, opinionated individual. I know that I do my best to listen to other people’s ideas, and that I try to be respectful at all times. I also know that I have to stand up for what I believe is right. That’s what it means to truly live. And so I will not be hurt by the people calling me names, or making suggestions about the way I live my life. I will continue to fight for justice, as long as I live.

I don’t think that all Americans believe this way. I don’t even think it’s a majority of them. But what I do think, is that there are a large portion of people who have opinions about this and other issues who choose to remain silent. I can’t remain silent while my friends, old acquaintances, family members, find themselves fearing for their basic rights. I have plans, I have hopes and dreams, and because I ally myself this way, because I belong to several minorities (which will be a blog post on its own), I may be forced into some tight spots. But I choose to believe that justice and love with shine through, and I will not remain silent.

The Start to a Great Day

This past week was a brutal week for human beings. Earthquakes, bigotry, hatred, fear and on my own campus there was a display of some very xenophobic graffiti. But there were also some wonderful things which happened. The grafiti was covered over by messages of acceptance and love. The bigotry and hatred was combatted with hope and kindness. Aid was given to those who needed it.

Yesterday was one of those weird days when I missed something from my old life: routine. Not the kind that I’d expected, but I missed having songs to sing to my deity. I had seen a video of someone singing “It Is Well With My Soul” and vividly recalled all the times I spent in church singing that song (and playing it on the piano) and then all the times I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to go to church, I didn’t even want to sing the song. I wanted to revisit a time when there was a routine in my life that made everything seem simple. That is the way it is because is is that way. You know?

It was a weird feeling, but I think the point of it wasn’t that I found a hole in my belief system, it was that in those days, everything was simple (for me at least). I lived in a small town of people I knew and who knew me. I could walk all over the county by myself without fear. I could stop by people’s houses if I needed to call my parents or get a drink or hang out with people roughly my age. I missed the simplicity.

And yet, there are things I would not change about today. I braided my hair for the first time successfully all by myself. I got up on time, I dressed up today (I’m channeling my inner Snow White-red lips, blue top, yellow skirt) and I even managed to get rid a bunch of homework done. I didn’t panic when my husband drove us in this morning, even though I’ve grown accustomed to driving by myself. I got in to work early and successfully set up for the day. I’m a stronger, more independent person than I was six months ago. And what’s more, I accept myself for who I am more so than I did when I moved here. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to be a little different, but it means that I am not ashamed of who I am now.

  We are all products of our pasts. For me, that past means walking barefoot through grassy fields on the way to a raspberry patch to get my fingers completely covered in red dye. It means traveling downs dirt roads covered in arching trees and watching baby rabbits run across your yard right before a huge buck comes sniffing for roots and tulips. It’s picking apples off the trees while waiting for the bus to take me to school and bonfires with burnt marshmallows (which my parents had to eat). It’s dressing up on Sunday’s because that’s what respectable people did and then going home to pick garden produce.

  And we choose what becomes our future. Coffee dates with friends, and making time for people. It’s proving to yourself over and over again that you’re not the mistake you thought you were. It means taking the time to capture life’s little moments, watching a sunrise even when you’d rather be sleeping, making the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten and then being surprised that it tasted that good.  

  It means choosing to feel good about yourself and “I’ll be damned if I let other people shame me out of my own life”. It means giving up every reason you have for not being happy and just taking chances anyway-because you’ve finally decided that it’s in your best interest to believe in yourself.

  At the end of the day, we’re not always going to listen to the naysayers. And doing so will only hold us back. We’ve got to start living with love and passion, or else we don’t stand a chance of living at all.

(All photos today were taken by me and as you can see, are on my Instagram. Ya’ll can hop on over and browse about if you feel so inclined, but this is basically what I take pictures of. Only now it’s my dog and campus, but hey.)