Rage Might Be What This Is

(First-thank you ! I looked and I’m over 100 followers! It is truly an honor to reach your eyes and have our interactions. I am blessed.)

Today’s the day. The day that Rapist Brock Turner is set to depart his joke of a sentence and return to my home state. I’ve never met him-and I hope I never do. But nonetheless I woke up this morning sick to my stomach with the understanding that a human being I have grown to hate (is that strong enough?) is about to live just an hour away from me. I’ve been looking at news articles and I have a few thoughts and links. This is the most informal thing I may do on the subject.

So first, a video from sexual assault survivors about what think think of Rapist Brock Turner. It’s sad, but the second half is really what I’m talking about.

Four Women Speak Out on Bustle.
And I’m going to highlight this article that I found this morning simply because I think it hits on a really important point.

Rapist Brock Turner Comes to Ohio
Okay, so I know these articles are so hard to get through. Especially for people who have lived through these scenarios. I understand. And you don’t have to read these if you can’t. I’m going to pull a quote from this article though (no triggers).

Still, despite the publicity dogging the case, some of the Turners’ neighbors in their leafy, upper-middle-class neighborhood were not familiar with the case nor knew that the family lived in the area. Others who knew about the case were hesitant to talk publicly about it. Several people in the neighborhood said they didn’t want to comment.

One more quote, becasue it emphasizes my frustration.

While the woman who spoke to The Daily Beast believed Turner should be serving more time, she also said he did not deserve to be vilified in the media.

EXCUSE ME?

First off, I know that the news can be brutal-but this rapist needs to be public knowledge. In fact, all rapists need to be public knowledge-that’s why we have a sex offender list. And if you think for one moment that he will refrain from doing something like this again, you’re not using the sense you were born with. You’re not protecting your children and you are teaching them that they have a safe place to return to in the event that they become criminals. You are no different than those who harbor fugitives. Ignorance is not a fortress with which you can protect yourself from unpleasant-at-best information. And I’ve met people EVEN TODAY who don’t know who Rapist Brock Turner is. And that infuriates me. I don’t even have a television and I’ve been following this story the ENTIRE time. (Now I know, this is my “hot button” but this is important stuff!!!)

So why am I furious? Well, because he’s not the only one. My news feeds are littered with rapists and domestic abusers who have garbage sentences because they want to “go to college” or “are star athletes”.  That mindset starts in high school. My high school was very football centric. Do you think I didn’t see athletes use that to their advantage? Use their coaches to talk to teachers about changing grades so that they could play? Use their “star status” to get out of trouble? And it worked. Why? 

Because our society respects athletes more than it does the rights of other human beings. We attribute super-human respect to people who are faster, stronger, more muscled than the rest and we let them go about and do as they please because why? Becasue physical aggression is a “sign” of masculinity. It has to stop. 

As a college student, it is not safe to be on campus without some form of protection.

As a woman, it is not safe to be anywhere without some form of protection (and maybe even then).

As a human being, it is not safe to be so opinionated against societal norms.

As someone who has seen human depravity and been at the receiving end of it-I cannot accept this as being okay.

It’s gonna be a hard day for a lot of people. For the Stanford rape survivor. For everyone who has gotten a similar verdict for their suffering. For people like the four women in the video. For people who just want to believe in but cannot see jusctice. May your fears take it easy on you today and may you find some peace.

If you make it through all of that, the other news stories of the day include a 23 year old man receiving a garbage sentence for molesting a child and a gang-raping group of athletes whose lawyers have claimed that by the victim being anonymous, her claims of being raped aren’t real. My rage knows no limits here and I am at a loss for words as to the depths of disdain I have at this today.

23 Year Old
Athletes’ Lawyer Is An Equal Monster
Have a safe and beautiful weekend everyone. May happiness follow you wherever you go.

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!

When Logic Fails (A reaction to Ohio v Mole, Slip Opinion)

I enjoyed my “vacation” aka moving, but as I woke up this morning and booted up the laptop, some very disturbing news came across my screen.

Supreme Court of Ohio: Judges uphold decision striking down law barring officers from sex with minors.

EXCUSE ME-WHAT? MY STATE COURTS SAID WHAT?!

I honestly thought I was having a weird eye moment where I was reading things while still not awake and my brain was filling in the wrong words. So I immediately grabbed my coffee and began to pour through the court documents.

OH YES-IT’S A REAL CASE.

Now, a small disclaimer before we get into the reaction bit. I’m not in law school yet. Court documents are still kinda hard for me to digest. But just as I faithfully read through the Kesha case, the Stanford Case and others, I have tried my best here. My reaction is going to be limited to what I fully understand, as always.

And another disclaimer: I have friends who are law enforcement and they are decent, hard working people. It is not the moral, upstanding officers to whom I am referring here. I have tried to keep my sentences very specific so that there will be no confusion of message. But just in case, let me say, before we begin, that not all officers are corrupt or terrible, or anything other that the people sworn to keep citizens safe. I am talking about the ones who ARE corrupt, who are terrible, who are to blame for their heinous actions. And because of the recent tension between civilians and law enforcement, I understand that this is a touchy subject.

So if you want to read the slip opinion that I read, you can find that here.

The very first section of this slip opinion says the following (I’m copying-and-pasting):

Criminal law―Sexual battery―R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional―Statute violates equal protection by irrationally imposing strict liability on peace officers―Government cannot punish class of professionals without making connection between classification and prohibited act―Creating separate class for peace officers in order to subject their off-duty behavior to criminal sanctions on basis of strict liability is not rationally related to governmental interest in maintaining public confidence in law enforcement, ensuring integrity of its members, or protecting minors from sexual exploitation.

So let’s break this down, shall we? I’m going to do it the old fashioned way: “translate it” word by word.

Michelle’s version: 

Criminal law-Sexual battery-R.C. 2907.03(A)(13) unconstitutional-The in place statute has been interpreted to violate equal protection (The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”.—-took that straight from the Google page). by “irrationally” imposing strict liability on peace officers (law enforcement)-Government cannot punish a specific group of people without making the line between job title and crime well known-creating more categories of crime based on whether or not the law enforcement was committing the crime on the clock or off it on the basis that what they do off the clock isn’t really the business of the government (or in the government’s best interest to look at) because people have to maintain confidence that the law enforcement is actually maintaining high levels of integrity even if they aren’t and that applies to minors in vulnerable situations as well (except for this slip opinion, which just blew that idea out of the water).

So I know I made that paragraph a little longer. Allow me to summarize.

This case argues that, as a blanket statement, police officers cannot be held to the same standards as say mental health workers, child care providers and compulsory education professionals in the realm of sexual assault. Why is this even a case, you ask? Let me tell you.

The problem I have with this case (well, one of them anyway) is that the wording says: Irrationally imposing strict liability. Now, I highly doubt I am in the minority here-but expecting (demanding) law enforcement to refrain from sexually assaulting a child is not irrational, nor is it strict liability. It is a basic moral requirement. If we place these expectations on other professionals who look after the well being of minors, that list most assuredly should include law enforcement and peace officers. No exemptions. It isn’t unreasonable to expect law enforcement to not commit statutory rape whenever they want to. It isn’t irrational to place that expectation on them (or anyone else for that matter!). It isn’t strict to demand safety for children. It isn’t a liability to hold a human being accountable for their actions.

Here’s the first paragraph to the Cleveland 19 News article over this issue (read the full article here.):

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned the 2012 conviction of Waite Hill police officer Matthew Mole, jailed for sexual battery for having sex with a 14-year-old boy, in a tight 4-3 decision on Thursday. The ruling upholds a prior decision by the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals stating that police officers cannot be held to a higher standard than the rest of the public when it comes to having sex with minors.

The Ohio Supreme Court (the one who rules over the very state I live in) has put their official opinion out as: “We want children to be safe, but if they’re with a police officer or other law enforcement, it would be too much hassle to keep those officers from sexually assaulting the children, so we might as well just make it legal for them to do so.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM HERE.

We have decent, self-respecting police officers working beside rapists (yes-that word IS appropriately used here) and then everyone gets a bad rep. We have lawyers (and future lawyers) working to convict pedophiles, rapists and sexual assault perps. We have judges who rule in favor of victims (except in this case, where the jury was hung and led to a mistrial). AND THEN THIS HAPPENS.

Let me be very clear about this. I do not care if both parties “claim” that it was consensual: IF YOU ENGAGE IN SEX WITH A MINOR-YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE AND A RAPIST, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PROFESSION.

This is Ohio’s Statutory Rape Law: Ohio statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16 whom they are not married to. A close in age exemption exists allowing minors aged 13 and older to consent to a partner under age 18.

I am so vehemently angry with the justice system today. This isn’t justice.

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.

Too Many

This blog is one that I wish I did not have to write. Honestly. And it hurts me that there even has to be a discussion about it. I came across this article, which I have linked for you below, only a few hours after it was posted. I spent the moments immedately after reading it pacing and trying to make sure I didn’t vomit all over the carpet. Tears stung my eyes, frustration clawed at my heart and I reached out to a friend. I vented and raved about how I was devoting my entire life to a system so broken that I might as well have been born 80 years ago and asked to go to college.

The Guardian Article
She responded with compassion and understanding, having often mirrored my own horror and concern with the climate of our nation. And then I placed the most startlingly real truth I ever could on a screen.

The statistic for college aged (my aged) women and sexual assault is 1 in 5. Keep that in mind.

I said: If I look at the four women I come in contact with most-who are also college aged, whom I know well enough to know their stories- statistically speaking, there should be one of us who has been assaulted. But of this group of five, three have been assaulted. The cursor blinked angrily at me as I stopped and read over those words again and again. Even after I had already sent the message to my friend, I stared at it.


We believe the statistics because they make us feel confident that we know what’s going on in the world. We choose to believe that if we surround ourselves with enough people, the one in danger won’t be us. And yet, what we believe is a lie. The most terrifying lie I think we could believe. Because we want it to be true. We want to believe that we are safe, that human beings don’t have the capacity to be awful people and that awful people would never come in contact with us-because we make good choices. But that’s not quite true at all. 

I look back at that article and my heart weeps. I’ve located some agencies who train people as volunteers for sexual assault cases and I’m looking at which ones might be the right fit for me. I know that I am one person. But so was that girl in the article. And she went to the system which has sworn to serve and protect her, she did everything that she was supposed to and her lawyer did their job as well. But in the end, the system failed her. And as a future lawyer, who one day will be in the same position as her lawyer, I can only hope that I am met with someone who understands that a beverage is not something which is beyond the realistic interpretation of the law. Because at the end of the day, no one asks to be assaulted. No one.

Three of five is far too many. One of five is far too many. No one deserves that fate.

The Race is On

It is Monday, April 11th. That means that there are exactly 22 days left of my semester. And it is typically known as the time of the semester when literally everything happens at once. Homework, term papers, finals, Camp NaNoWriMo, and not to mention, the weather is, well, let’s just say it’s definitely showing it’s Ohio roots. It’s the last month for things to be done as far as academically before summer and I think that there needs to be a certain degree of haste made. As much as I am looking forward to summer, I feel that if there were just a little more time to be had, I could accomplish something great.

In just one month, I will have exactly a year left of my undergrad life. I have said that same sentence I think three times now. And that’s okay, but this time it’s quite serious. I’ve made the appointment with my advisor and we’ve worked it out so that that deadline will occur. That means that as of May 2, 2017 I will no longer be a student of The Ohio State University (technically May 7, but who’s counting?). That means that I have one year to get everything done that I haven’t yet. And as big as that list might have been before, I think it’s gotten considerably smaller-which is a good thing. But the last few things on the list are more important than ever.

As you might recall (and I know she certainly does), last week I said I had a friend date. That friend date set in motion my blog about resources for sexual violence victims/allies/bystanders which you can find here. But we also discussed what could be done to help educate people about these issues before they need to use those resources-to prevent incidents. And we came up with some really great ideas. But I want to implement those before I graduate (if possible) and that means that on top of school and work, I have to become an intense project planner yesterday. Which can be done. I just hope I’m worthy enough to do so.

I wrote the children’s book, about body safety and image, and it is currently awaiting judgment at an agent’s table, I assume between cups of coffee and other things. The typical wait time is anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, and that’s supposing I get any response at all. However, I knew that was the risk with traditional publishing and I would like to try that avenue before I try self-pubbing. Here’s how it goes down in my head. I get notice of acceptance from an agent, I then do some rewriting (because that’s what authors do). After the final draft gets accepted, I will then wait for the illustrator to finish their work and off it will go to be published. IF that happens before I graduate, I would like to start work on what I lovingly have termed: Operation Educate Everybody.  Using my book as a platform, I want to go around speaking to schools about safety and about how to love yourself. I would like to do so with elementary schools, but I would also like to give boys positivity messages to middle and high school students. Then with all that accomplished, I would like to make some presentation material available to colleges-starting with my own. 

I know, this all sounds a little vague. BUT. I also happen to know that all great plans start somewhere. I don’t think I necessarily want to be a public speaker for the rest of my life, but I would definitely like to get some things rolling in that direction. I think that the greatest thing that could happen personally would be for me to go and do a Ted Talk. The greatest thing that could happen period, would be to have more people love themselves and respect themselves.

Anyway,I know that there are any miles to go before I can sleep, but I have a great desire to change the world for the better and I want it to start right now.

A Letter

Dear Senator Sanders,

         You do not know me, but I am a young Democratic voter from a very small town in Ohio. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it was named after a Polish officer who fought in our revolution. In that tiny little spot, there are no stop lights, and plenty of dirt roads. It is a place where children can play freely, cut off from the rest of the word, or so it can seem. I grew up there, and it will always be home to me, full of the love and support that I am thankful to have had.

         I’ve been privileged to have had some wonderful friends, all of whom helped me grow into the outspoken, passionate woman I am today. And part of that stems from having a deep love of people who are different from myself. I deeply enjoy looking into other cultures, ensuring that I have the best, most thorough information available, so that I can make that small town proud of the ways in which I impact my world. As an anthropology student, research into cultures and attitudes are kind of a requirement. So I took the time to do a little research on you, Mr. Sanders, and here is what I found out.

         You are a man of many skills: carpentry, film and legislation among them. You are devoted to your family, and all that you see morally astute. But do you know what I did not see, or at least, not on your website? I did not see a medical degree. And so it troubles me deeply that you went out of your way to say the following at the debate in Flint, Michigan:

“We are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to address the mental health.”

         You see, the media may have found that sound bite worthy of a chuckle, Secretary Clinton did as well, but for someone who works so hard at promoting equality amongst peoples, you have let down a very large, very important community. You may have made an offhanded comment about the opposing party, but you neglected to consider that the members of the mentally ill community may not have appreciated you including the Republican candidates into that group simply because some of the outrageous things which have come out of their mouths.

         I have been a proud advocate of mental health awareness, of mental illness equality and of breaking down stigmas associated with mental illnesses. But more than that, I am a member of that community that you so brazenly mocked. Some of the phrases you used last night were “lunatic”, “crazy person” and of course, the quote which I have mentioned above. You see, while it may be easy to openly criticize actions such as those of Mr. Trump mocking a physically disabled person, it is not as socially acceptable to openly discuss ways in which mental illnesses need to be treated with the same respect. 

         So here I am, Senator Sanders, a young woman from Ohio, asking you to consider the fact that while the words you speak may be coming from a well-intended place, you are furthering the stigmas and stereotypes which have plagued a branch of health and wellness for far too long. Instead of using the actions of the opposing party to get a few laughs, why don’t you focus on ways in which you will help the mental health community facilitate our own well-being in the face of misunderstanding and under-education. Perhaps then, you would be able to see why making jokes about mental health isn’t funny-it’s just plain rude.

         Thank you for your time.

Best,

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell

A Concerned Citizen