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

Role Models and Hope For A Messed Up World

I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say right away, so this post is coming almost a week after the incident, but the concept has been stuck in my head for quite some time. As an individual, I love being a singular version of myself. But I look often for someone else who is also a trailblazer. I wanted to write about why I look for and who I select as a role model for my life. I think it’s important for people, women especially, to have someone who is an upstanding, respectable example of the lives we want to lead. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people from older stories who could be role models (I frequently look to Joan of Arc, personally). The problem with using people from the past is that things were different. The world was not the same then as it is now, and we need people who are more like us than sword bearing warriors or queens from afar. 
  There is the social media factor, I suppose, which lends itself to a certain realm of role models, some good, some not. But it seems that the news represents best those who are not good role models for the young (and young-ish) people of today. I am of course talking about the celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan and to some extent even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. They all represent the pandemonium of fame and the pit falls thereof. We could also examine outlets like Disney or Matel, who have presented the world with prestigious Barbie, Cinderella, and Ariel (just to name a few). It is these three which are both a great help and a hindrance to young women of today. I want to explore them and then propose my list of four individuals who are better role models for our generation. 

  Barbie: In almost every household you might find her, or a cousin or a friend. She is blonde, brunette, red headed, light skinned, dark skinned. She has had a plethora of jobs, donned an impressive collection of costumes and even manages quite a large variety of accessories. Over the years, people have yelled at her for being too skinny, too unrealistically proportioned and too shallow. I mean, there was even a brief moment in Toy Story 3 where she was introduced to public audiences as a complete and utter bimbo, followed by a weak attempt to reclaim her dignity. But the thing is, she’s too uniform. She has no individualized flaws. No scars, stretch marks, beauty marks, wrinkles, pimples, or really flaws of any kind. Her makeup is always done, she’s always smiling and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

  Cinderella: She’s Disney’s star princess. I mean, who didn’t want to be a princess because of her? She came from rags to riches, found a guy, married Royal and viola. She even had a set of killer shoes. But what does she have as far as personality? She’s got wishes, desire. But she lacks motivation and drive. She “asked for a dress, shoes and a night off”. I get it. But that’s not real life at all. And why do you need a man to provide you with everything? I mean, independence goes a long way. I know in the original story she was a teenager, but isn’t that kind of the point? In her time period, that made her basically an adult, and I know she would have been in need of a man, but this is the 21st century and we don’t need that anymore. Say it with me: I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man, but can have one if I so desire.

  Ariel: With a golden voice and perfect hair, who cares about anything else, right? Wrong. Again, you don’t need a man to be the best woman you can be. The thing is, Sebastian was right. Giving up everything, your soul and life included, just to get a man (or attempt to) is not the way to go. And by this point, wouldn’t you also need to make exceptions for finding the right partner-be it woman or man or just a good friend? As with Cindy, sorry Ariel, but there’s nothing that warrants me looking up to you if you’re going to change everything about yourself for someone else.

So I’ve given you a basic run down of my issues with the above, but I do want to mention that I know these characters are fake, but they are widely distributed and influential. I do not want to come across as impossible to reason with so the last person (it’s actually two people) are fictitious as well. And I also realize that the women I am looking at have flaws. But that’s exactly why I chose them. And I will go over them as well. These are, of course, my own personal opinions and you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments, as always. So,without further adieu.

Michelle’s List of Role Models for Women of 2015.

  Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo: You might not have heard of this woman, but she is the reason I’m doing this post. Seven days ago, she was sworn in as a judge in New York. She wore a headscarf, because she is Muslim and she was sworn in on the Qur’an. Now, none of this even really seems like anything out of the ordinary. But the amount of hate mail she received for being sworn in on the Qur’an is astounding. This woman vowed to uphold the law, as she has done her entire career. She is an upstanding citizen who was voted into office. I came across this story in my FaceBook news feed because of how many ignorant people are accessing social media to tear her down. You are permitted to swear into office on any holy book and even the constitution of the United States. She has done nothing above and beyond the average expectations I have for a law abiding citizen, but she is my candidate for a role model for the simple fact that she stuck by her faith, even when people threatened her and heckled her about it. She stayed true to herself, even though that path offered great resistance.

  Adele: Let me say that I am a huge fan of Adele. Her voice is so beautiful, and she’s gorgeous. She’s not stick thin, and I love her for it. She says what’s on her mind and once again, stays true to herself. She took time from her career to take care of her baby. We’re almost the same age and that means a great deal to me. Why, you ask? Because she’s proving that not all 20 year olds and 20-somethings are wild and crazy and awful. She’s a credit to our age group. She even works at a record shop. Her flaws? She’ so soulful in her music that she really only sings sad songs. Which isn’t like a huge flaw, but I don’t associate anything other than sad love songs and break up songs with her. 

  Angelina Jolie-Pitt: Did this one take you by surprise? I really thought that this spot would be occupied by many other people, and indeed it could have been, but there are lots of women who could have taken this spot who simply aren’t as well known. And while you are all entitled to have your own individual role modes, for the purposes of this blog, I needed someone visible. She adopts underprivileged kids, she works with charities and organizations, speaks on behalf of underprivileged people to the UN. And on top of that, she preventatively had a mastectomy so that she didn’t have to worry about breast cancer. I mean, that sounds like a very personal thing and she’s known for her body. I remember a lot of people were upset at her for taking charge of her own body, and that is why I commend her for doing it. She did what she had to do so that she could live her life to the fullest. Also in this spot, Emma Watson for similar reasons. 

  

  Molly Hooper/Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I told you I would bring in some fictitious characters. I chose one from my younger adult life and one from my current adult life. So I will start with Buffy. She was a kick-ass teenager who saved the world a lot. And the thing is, that was badk when TV series were filmed with people who looked like teenagers playing teenagers, and incorporated flaws and diversity of character types. Buffy had an attitude, she was impatient and made mistakes. She needed help and asked for it, she complained about life and then grew up and made sacrifices. She represented real teenage life, apart from vampire hunting. And her friends were just as painfully realistic. But they all had a moral code and they represent a lovely era of beautiful story telling.

   Molly Hooper. I have great aspirations to be Molly Hooper. For those of you who do not know who Molly Hooper is, allow me to tell you. The BBC produces a show called Sherlock, based off of Sherlock Homesfrom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the BBC version, there is a medical examiner by the name of Molly Hooper.  She has an enormous crush on Sherlock, does everything dignified she can to get him to notice her including buy him a present at Christmas. He’s rude about it and she calls him out on his bad behavior. Later in the series, she also tells him he’s throwing away his gifts and that he should apologize for various actions. Sherlock comes to respect her. And she didn’t change herself. She stayed true to her personality and persona, all while being a valuable asset to a team. Honestly, I know that this is all fiction, but really, if I were ever to model myself after someone who never existed in real life, it would be Molly Hooper. If you haven’t watched Sherlock, I HIGHLY recommend it. I can discuss all manner of theories with you. I’m a true and devoted CumberCookie and Sherlockian.

Anyway, this has been my short list about female role models in modern society. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. 

The Song with The Beatles (War is Over)

I haven’t blogged in a couple days partially because this is the end of the semester and I’ve hardly had time and the other part is that I’ve been watching too much news and just feeling more emotive than responsive. But today, I have everything collected, I have coffee on its way to being perked and I have things to say. You are never required to, but my oerspective cries out to be heard.

I read an article (which is how all of my conversations seem to go these days) about the curent generation of teenagers being entitled and whiny. (https://theoxytocinchronicle.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/generation-cry-baby-why-millennials-are-a-fking-joke/) How they feel that they are special snowflakes, with no flaws and a sense of deserving things which they did nothing for. I would like to expand on this and say that there are many of the current population, regardless of age who feel that way. As someone with student loan debt, I would love if university were free, but it isn’t and therefore I have to plan for that. If it’s what you want, you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find excuses. And so I’m dragging myself across the metaphorical coals to pay for my education because I want to help people and that’s what it costs. I’m not entitled to free college, I’m entitled to working hard. And it bothers me that there are so many people who would rather just sit back and let other people worry about the chaose they cause in their laziness than there are people who want everyone to do their share. We are all special, but that doesnt’t mean that some specials are privileged or more valuable than others. It means that our uniqueness is the key to making the world better. SO I’m vehemently against entitlement. And as I will discuss later, I am against children* having children.

If you look at the news at all, really since the big terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe this past month, you aren’t seeing too many happy-faith-in-humanity-restored moments. In fact, here in the states we just completed something like our 29th (or 36th-depending on which definition you use) mass shooting since January 1. (http://truthinmedia.com/fact-check-355-mass-shootings-far-2015/) People get killed because of the worst reasons, and these shootings are one of them. You know what I want to see? Someone bringing a whole truck of flowers to the graves of these people. Seriously. Hearts are broken everywhere. I’m so tired of people being able to do this and have their messed up reasons why it’s okay. Taking someone’s life isn’t okay and it should never be used to get people’s attention.

  Speaking of getting people’s attention, the news companies are not as innocent as they would like to believe. Of course we all know that there are some stations which lean heavily politically but I’m specifically talking racism here. If you look at my above definition, expertly taken from Google, there is no skin color listed. The pigment you have is not a requirement for the terror scale, ranging from disturbed to terrorist. The man who shot up the Planned Parenthood, he was a terrorist based on this definition. The news reported him as, wait for it, a “calm, but crazy”(NBC) “stand-up guy”(USA TODAY). WHAT? This man shot three people so that he could shut down the PP of his neighborhood. That, because of what I will address in one moment, is complete bullshit. The man is a domestic terrorist, treat him as such. Holy smokes!

I have two things I want to role up into one here and they’re both entwined in the same subject matter: Planned Parenthood and the Tampon Tax. I’m not sure how far (if at all) Planned Parenthood goes outside the United States, but it’s basically this huge network of women’s health and sexual health clinics offering anything from STD screenings and birth control to abortions. There are a lot of controversies as you can imagine (or have seen) over the latter. Here’s where I will bring in that little (*) from above. I do not necessarily have a problem with teenage pregnancy on the sole basis that they are teenagers. WhatI am talking about here is maturity age. If you are 45 and you still can’t pay your bills or fix yourself food and you leech off of everyone else, you are a child in this scenario. I have a BIG problem with children (maturity age) having children (age). If you are not ready, DO NOT HAVE KIDS. (That’s why I’m not having any right now. I’m not financially ready.) And the thing is, people make mistakes, but if we remove all manner of health awareness and screening clinics, we’re going to have an excessive rise in not only teen pregnancy, but pregnancies that are unwelcome, unable to be cared for or otherwise unexpected. We already have enough children without homes. We need someone to talk seriously with us about sex-and not just abstinance. We need (as a whole population) someone to explain what sex means, the value of waiting until you are ready (maturationally) and the consequences. 
But the thing is, there are people reading that who will completely blow off what I’ve said because I didn’t say “Until after you’re married”. I did that on purpose and I will leave that conversation for a different day. A small section (or maybe large) of readers may also have stopped and wondered why I didn’t mention the Tampon Tax above. The simple answer: if youlook at how big that paragraph is, we needed to move on.So what is the Tampon Tax? I want you to skip ahead for a moment and look at the picture below. If you live in the U.S. here is a picture of all the places which impose a tax on your bodily function. Which one? Your menstruation. In health, we are taught that having a period for women is a completely biological thing which prepares your body for pregnancy. It also cleans out your uterus if no such pregnancy occurs. And yet, here we are. 

 
You know why I have a problem with this? Because in the last few years, people have had no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to women’s reproductive issues. We had Todd Akins talk about “legitimate rape”, Ken Buck said rape victims had “buyer’s remorse”, and a whole slew of other politicians who felt that they could speak as medical professionals about the likelihood of pregnancy accompanying rape. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking because she said “vagina”, women’s bodies have been under regulatory proposals 468 times (mic.com). We have an ongoing issue trying to shut down the biggest provider of reproductive services because of a doctored video (meaning edited) put out on a smear campaign and women are going to suffer once again. 

In conclusion, people need to stop being bad and learn how to grow up, not kill people, leave women’s bodies as the individual decisions of the individual and respect all people-regardless ofskin color, orientation, religion or any other arbitrary categorization we want to self-impose. Holy crow. People make my heart sad.