Reminders from the Universe

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in life, in the way it makes you feel or overwhelms you. And I’ll be honest, I have those pestering thoughts about where I’m taking my life. I worry that I burn so brightly that I’ll burn out and be of no help to anybody. And I thought about what I might do if I walked away from everything-from justice, from law, from my home and just started over some way. I think that you think about that a lot when you have depression or anxiety or whatever. Just starting over. Taking the knowledge you had and using it to make better choices. But to that effect, I offer a quote:

“But then I wondered how I’d feel… Would I feel relieved or would I feel sad? And then I realized how many stupid times a day I use the word “I”. And Probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s like seven billion other people out there on the planet…But then I thought, if I cared about the other seven billion out there, instead of just me, that’s probably a much better use of my time.” -Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

And in the grogg of all that, a news story came across my FB feed. Now, before you roll your eyes, let me just say that I don’t take things at face (lol pun!) value-I investigate. So when I saw the article, I left Facebook and began my search. It was like getting punched in the face. 

If you search “16 year old received no jail time”, there comes a list of stories that aren’t for the faint hearted. They range from racial bias to toddlers to every manner of monster available. And that was when I stopped thinking about myself for a minute. I detached as much as I could and just thought. No amount of me feeling sorry for myself or scared of what the future holds makes any difference. I know that what I want is difficult and scary and it means that I need to be able to hold my own at all times-even in the worst of my bad days. Why?

Because if I don’t keep burning brightly, how will these problems be illuminated? If I don’t keep speaking up, who will speak for the children who can’t, for the people who are scared? They deserve their justice, their safety-just as much as I do. And if no one will help them, I will.

I force myself to read each news story that comes across my feeds. I read them and I burn a little brighter, a little stronger. I don’t know if that’s good or bad-but as far as I can tell, it’s how it has to be. Why? Because this cannot be. There are judges across the country who aren’t holding up the law. They’re letting criminals of the worst kind fall between the cracks. I can’t sit by, in my fear and worry while the last stronghold of justice fails.

And that’s why no matter how scared I am, no matter how frustrated and tired I will become, I have to keep fighting. If not for me, for the people who need me and for the future. So stay tuned for a blog in the future where I tell you which law school I will be attending.

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.

IMADTTO: The Conclusion

Hi folks.

Last night I received word on the President’s Prize, the project I’ve poured my heart and soul into for these past few months. I set out to combat rape culture on college campuses and in the end, it was decided that my project (for whatever reason) was not up to the level that my university wanted and therefore was rejected. I spent last night at somewhat of a loss. I believed in my project, it was the very first thing I put my whole self into and I received a very short “There were so many wonderful applicants, but unfortunately you will not be continuing on.” email and I debated what to do as my next step.

I decided that I wanted to share what I’d done with you all, so that you might know what I’d spent so much time working on, but also to use as a way to put some accountability on my university. I hope they do incorporate some of my ideas-because my pride is far less important than the safety of women everywhere. But if these ideas come into use, I hope they put them to action with as much devotion as I would have-because for them it’s just policy, for me it’s an entire life’s worth of passion. I’m only going to put the second round project proposal, because it is the most complete-but there were many other drafts, and additional pieces of work that needed to be included in the process of review.

I invite critiques and thoughts-because, as I said, this is something I’m devoting my whole life to-and am applying to law school for- so making this project better and better can only help me enact it in the courtroom.

I have to deal with losses as a lawyer, with grace and humility. I don’t want to lose, nor do I like it, but I am human and it very well may happen. I’m doing the best I can to plug forward, shake it off and carry on. My pride is wounded, but my compassion and drive are not. (Oh, and I changed the logo colors to Sexual Assault Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness colors-a change I am very happy with.)

tl;dr: I’m placing my project proposal on my blog so that I can use it as a platform to save the world in a different route: my own self.

Michelle Brewer-Bunnell President’s Prize Project Statement

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Project Title: IMADTTO (I Made A Difference To That One)

Problem Statement:

          Rape culture on college campuses is a social pandemic which needs to be addressed and eradicated. There are three target areas that I seek to focus on as key elements in the fight against rape culture: prevention, prosecution of crime and response to survivors. These elements are broken into sections of action that IMADTTO addresses as research, outreach, education and advocacy.

I maintain a blog on WordPress which, to the best of my abilities, I use to further stories of perceived injustices-focusing on rape culture. I use the critical thinking skills I have cultivated to seek out the legislation, proposed bills and the stories themselves so that I may present the facts. I also use that blog to discuss ideas for the improvement of society in respect to rape culture. I have opened the conversation to my readers and subscribers to tell me their ideas and stories. Since I have done so, it has been made abundantly clear to me that survivors of sexual assault desire to have their stories heard by someone who shows them respect and believes them at face value.

I have been approached by friends I have known for years, by family members and by complete strangers alike and asked if I could just listen to them. Among their stories, a vein of similarity popped up repeatedly: the need for gender inclusive education (whereby the message of body safety and awareness was given to all young adults), the need for a safe space to talk about their experiences and the need to be believed. It is these three suggestions from which IMADTTO came into existence, and will excel. The stark need for a program like IMADTTO is highlighted by the cases of Brock Allen Turner (Stanford University) and the Steubenville rape in 2012.

This project will positively affect everyone. The students are the target audience-both at a collegiate and high school level. By increasing body positivity and safety, young adults will be prepared to enter a world where they understand their rights, are fully capable of protecting themselves and are aware of what resources are available to them should they encounter an unsafe situation. On a slightly larger scale, this project will be beneficial to the parents of college-aged children by giving them the peace of mind that their children will be attending a college which is prepared to protect its students.

Ohio State will benefit from admissions increases, emerging as a leader in student safety and body positivity. Ohio State will serve as the role model for how rape culture on college campuses can be combatted. This commitment ripples through the national and global level, because Ohio State is rich in diversity and what student learn while attending will provide them the opportunity to be ambassadors to their home states and countries.

Project Outline and Timeline:

IMADTTO operates at four specific sections: research, outreach, education and advocacy. For each of these sections, individual tasks have been allocated. The research section will initiate the project. A survey will be created to assess potential problem areas on campus, the individual’s knowledge of available resources for the issue of sexual assault, responses to stigma and pop culture rape culture, as well as gauge their interest in a support group for survivors of sexual assault. This survey will serve as the basis for my own research (in accordance with IRB). This section will also include creating a compendium of resources available across the state to be used as part of the education and outreach sections. The research conducted in this section will be used to present at the latter two conferences I will attend.
Education will focus on the themes of body safety and body positivity. Under this category, a website and mobile application will be created in order to disseminate the information gathered in the “Research”. This will include a map of the areas deemed “issue” (that is to say, where students felt needed extra precaution when using) areas, the compendium of resources, links to news articles and legislation about sexual assault and rape culture, as well as important information such as basic self-defense tips. This information will be dispersed at twenty-five (25) high schools, as well as talks at each of the five (5) branch campuses, plus main campus. How to duplicate this project at other universities will be made available on the website as well.
The capstone for this section is the introduction of a sexual assault learning module in the Freshman Survey course, and a discussion for the parents at Freshman Orientation. The learning module will be a condensed, statistical exploration of rape culture and sexual assault that will be inserted into the pre-existing Freshman Survey course. The Freshman Orientation discussion with parents will be an introduction to the ways in which Ohio State is looking out for its students, including how a perpetrator will be dealt with. This creates accountability between Ohio State and the parents to ensure that all students are protected and informed.
Outreach focuses on publications. A newsletter featuring words of hope, self-care, the stories of survivors, and thoughts from professionals (such as nurses, social workers and police officers) will be created and distributed in both print and virtual format. This newsletter will also include progress reports for IMADTTO, as a way of holding the project accountable and also informing the general public about the successes of the project. Three books will be created, as conversation starters: one children’s picture book, one middle grade book and one young adult book. These books will focus on the theme of body positivity and inclusiveness at age appropriate levels.
Advocacy will take on a sustainable entity of its own. Small groups (of about 4-6 people) of survivors will come together to create support systems and lasting friendships during their time at Ohio State. These groups will serve as a type of “first line of defense” for survivors including-but-not-limited-to encouragement, providing escorts for the other members of their group to and from activities, get well cards, providing meals or support on “trigger” days (days in which the individual may suffer from the memory of a traumatic event). These groups will be for morale boosting purposes, but also provide a basic level of support by other people who understand the necessity of the group. There will also be collaboration with local law enforcement and politicians to promote an Ohio Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, modeled after the National Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which was passed just this year.
Apart from the support group, this project will be, essentially, a networking and structural one. In order for IMADTTO to become functional, I must prepare the foundations of each section (the survey, the website, the newsletter, educational materials) and use those to further the project. As the foundations are completed, the project will require assistance and guidance from both curriculum advisors and orientation organizers (for the survey course and orientation discussion) as well as the cooperation and coordination efforts between myself and the leadership of the schools which I will be presenting at. Once this is accomplished, the project becomes more self-sufficient. The course work and discussion materials will be available, as will the publications, finalizing the third tier. The research presentations head off the final leg of the project, support groups will form and be self-managing.
Achievements to date include the information gathered from my blog, in which the basis of this project has come into formation. The compendium of resources has been started, but is at a national level, compiled into an alphabetized list. This is a fantastic starting point, and will be made available on the website. I would like to make an Ohio-specific list for IMADTTO. I am also currently working to complete general IRB (Institutional Review Board) modules so that I can begin the project immediately.
There are several project goals over the course of the year. Within the first three months (July through September) the survey will be created and dispersed, data compiled, presentation materials created, website and newsletter created, and branch campus visits scheduled. In months four to six (October through December) will focus on the publications as well as drafting the Freshman Survey module and the Freshman Orientation discussion. The support groups will also be organized and commence in this time frame. The third quarter (January through March) goals are completing and publishing the children and middle grade books, speaking at the high schools and working with law enforcement and legislators to draft and propose the survivor bill. The final three months (April through June) will be centered on enacting the learning module, the orientation discussion and ensuring that IMADTTO has impacted the university in a positive way. Instructions will be created for those wishing to continue the support groups, newsletter and website (or final arrangements made). A research paper will be produced (and presented), and the young adult chapter book will be made available for purchase.
There is nothing about this project which will take more than 12 months to achieve, however, there are some items which will require ongoing effort. The Freshman Survey learning module, the Freshman Orientation parental discussion and the support groups will be the lasting sectors of IMADTTO, in the event that no one continues the newsletter and regular website upkeep. For the learning module, this will be in the hands of the faculty and staff who teach the survey course, as well as the curriculum advisors. The parent discussion will be in the control of the directors of orientation. The support groups will either end at the discretion of the individual groups, or will be in the control of Sexuality and Civility Empowerment.
I will measure the success of IMADTTO based on both quantifiable markers and abstract ones. The successful creation of educational materials, the website and the completion of the goals listed above will serve as indicators for the overall success. I will also view success based on the level of reach which the project will have. The introduction of the survivor bill and the implementation of discussions about changing rape culture and making sexual assault survivors less stigmatized, while a little more abstract, are no less important.

Budget Description:

In total, this project will require $48,469. This money will be utilized for marketing, data collection, producing educational materials and dispersing information. No external funding is required. Marketing will involve “swag”, or promotional materials to be distributed to the schools I visit, as well as at various times throughout the academic year. These items will include the link to the website, resource compendium and other valuable information. Data collection will include the cost of running the survey through Survey Monkey. This will also include the price of maintaining the website and domain name (if not included in the university’s page) and mobile application costs. Producing the educational materials includes printing handouts, producing the newsletter in print form and also startup costs for the books. Funds to sustain the project, as well as scholarships for the creation of artwork for the children’s book and mobile application design. A budget for travel is included not only to ensure transportation to the schools I intend to visit, but also to three conferences given by professionals for the sole purpose of combatting rape culture in their various professions. It is at these conferences that this project’s findings will be presented.
These financial resources directly affect achieving the project goals by ensuring the conception and implementation of the project itself. Without the research aspect, this project cannot fully address the concerns of the Ohio State population. Without the education aspect, IMADTTO cannot affect prevention of sexual assaults (or knowledge of availability of resources). Without the outreach aspect, no one will know what IMADTTO’s purpose is, what is being done and how to start the discussion about sexual assault. Without the advocacy aspect, no actual change will occur. Students will have to navigate the justice system alone, Ohio might not have a survivor bill of rights, law enforcement will not know which areas students feel unsafe in. By attending the conferences I have selected, I will be able to bring the knowledge of other professionals from a variety of backgrounds to Ohio State to continually make the information I have gathered both useful, timely and culturally relevant.

Additional Information:

Although I am not the only one to think of addressing the issue of sexual assault and rape culture, I do not believe there is a program which mirrors IMADTTO in its breadth and the way it is broken down. Of the programs which exist in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio and Sexuality and Civility Empowerment will be the resources I utilize most as I take on this project. Along with this, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network will be paramount to the successful accumulation of knowledge.
The marketing sector of this project will be taken care of both in person and through social media. I have a decent following on various social media platforms, and by utilizing the power and prestige of the university, I can access a vast database of networking moments through other students and faculty and staff. The in person marketing will come from meeting with students at their schools and at Ohio State’s Welcome Week.
In order for this project to be successful, each and every one of my interactions will be a form of partnership. Because I will have access to an entire university of staff and faculty who have insights into things I may not, such as research they’ve done over a specific facet of my project, the scope of my ideals will be far less limited. My faculty mentor will be the discerning rod for any questions I may have. From procedural decisions to research methods and write-up questions, I will use my mentor not as a crutch to lean on, but as a net to capture the things I might miss because of inexperience.
Apart from financial and networking assistance, all I require is a place to set up my work and internet access. This ideally takes the form of an office, so that I may organize my work in such a manner that causes maximum efficiency. I would also require a place (such as Sexuality and Civility Empowerment) for the support groups to meet if they so choose to do so on campus.
As with any project, there will be challenges. I anticipate that my own limitations in technology will be an issue, as will recruitment in the early stages of the project. As for the technological issues, I have designed a scholarship for the mobile application so that I can both give back to the university, but also so that I can devote my time to the website. Should there be problems beyond that, I am not too proud to ask for assistance and get my hands dirty! As for recruitment, I have set aside money in the budget for a reward for participants. There will be a raffle (for those who choose to enter) of 20-$50 gift cards. Any unforeseen problems will be handled with care and patience, and with the help of my faculty advisor.
I started down this path because of my own personal outrage at court cases like those involving Ke$ha, rapist Brock Turner and the Steubenville rape. In those stories I saw human beings who, like me, had had their bodily autonomy fractured and I saw the incredible strength of the survivors. It is with all of this in mind that I submit this project statement, in hopes that I might be the leader that my time at Ohio State has prepared me to be.
This project is more than just an opportunity to be the change I want to see in the world. It is the springboard I will use to further my career goals and ambitions. With graduation pending, I am applying to law schools around the country. It is a degree in criminal law which will afford me the honor of upholding justice and running for District Attorney. As District Attorney, I will continue the work I humbly began with my blog: fostering awareness and open dialogue between peoples of different backgrounds. I carry this one piece of truth with me each day, as both the inspiration for my passions, and also as the compass with which I make my decisions:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971.)

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.

Wake Me Up (When September Ends)

I have news.

I submitted my second round proposal for the President’s Prize this week. I will find out next Monday (the 11th, I believe) how it fared and then may jump right into planning for stage three. There are now more steps and I’ve upped the anty a bit.

So the stages (in order):

1. Turn in round one (done) 2. Round one review (done) 3. Turn in round two (done) 4. Review round two 5. Notify those who are moving on 6. Presentations 7. Review of presentations 8. Notify those who are moving on 9. Interviews 10. Review of interviews 11. Notify winners

Now, I am only *directly* able to affect numbers 1, 3, 6 and 9. So for me, I am half way there! But this is something which will not be finished until the end of November. And that’s okay. It teaches me patience. I added in working with the legislative system to get an Ohio Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill passes (or at least introduced), I’ll be presenting at two conferences and more! I don’t want to give too much away just yet, becuase I’m still refining it. Rest assured that as soon as I am finished with this process, I will tell you all about it!
But the thing is, I know I am just one person. I will try my best, because this is something I am very passionate about and I believe that I can absolutely make a difference. One raindrop raises the sea, after all.

And it is that message, that belief that makes me want to fight each day. But it still hurts my heart when I see articles like This One. Now BEFORE YOU CLICK-this is an article which is both very sad and possibly triggering. It’s a rape news story-about a high school boy.

I’m bringing this up because it is stories like this which explain the need for my project, but also ways in which I can help beyond what I originally thought.

The victim is male. He is African American. He is disabled (mentally). He is a “jock”-he played football. He is a high school student. He was bullied. This case details that the high school AND coaches hid the bullying and tried to cover up the attack. The victim was raped with a coat hanger (which was kicked several times).
The facts of this case are such that I may not have thought to cover. I know I fight to be gender inclusive-and that’s how I structured my project. But I didn’t think to include “hazing” events (such as this is alleged to be). I didn’t think to include disabilities (although I certainly want to focus on inclusive body positivity and awareness).

Perhaps the biggest thing I didn’t think about was the fact that this information (that is, my project), might actually be more necessary for the older people-the ones in charge of the students, than the students themselves. Now, I’m totally focused on students-because that is my target audience. But this is not the first case of an incident being covered up by administration at the high school level. I mean, my own state stood front and center back in 2012 becuase of the Steubenville rape-in which an unconscious girl was raped by several people-and the incident was posted to social media sites. The hacker who uncovered the high school’s involvement is scheduled for trial-because even though he was the one who cracked this wide open, hacking is illegal-but a different story for a different day.

The next couple weeks are exceptionally busy for me. I’ve got a lot of school work, I’m performing a wedding and hopefully I’m carrying ahead with the project timeline. Even so, I want to take a moment to thank you.

Thank you to everyone who shared A Call For Help. Thank you for everyone who answered that call. I know that the stories I read through were so moving, so emotional. I tried to answer each email I received-and I thank you here as well. I know these are not easy stories to tell-and I keep my word-I will not share them with others without permission. I did notice a very general theme which applied to every single story I read. And I think that if this theme were applied to more people’s daily lives, a great deal would change. I am, of course, talking about being heard and believed, treated with respect and dignity.

I’ll keep you all informed, of course. Wish me luck!

 

Oh, and before I forget, thank you so much, all my new followers! I’m glad you’ve come along for the journey.

 

Cupcakes, Castaways and Conundrums

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I make jokes about being an old lady because I read the news so much.When we tuned our TV, I got excited at the prospect of watching news reports (even though they’re biased). I scan Facebook news for ideas then go off in search of the actual articles. It’s become both a frustration and a fascination.

I came across this article (which you can read here) about a 16 year old girl who set herself on fire in order to stop herself from further being raped by ISIL. TW: rape. I could hardly make it through this article myself. It is not something I recommend for casual readers.

And while I read it (because I can’t fight my battles if I live in ignorance) I didn’t struggle to understand the girl. I remember there was a class a few semesters ago where we had to read The Joys of Motherhood and the main character attempted suicide (I’m working on an article about suicide-it’s coming soon) because her child died. The woman later fought with a fellow wife about the way she was living. The second wife left the household and became a prostitute so that her daughter would have a better life than she did. Anyway, long story short, I had to “argue” a class full of people who were quick to judge the second wife.

I sat there, red faced and somewhat surprised at myself as I defended her choice to be a prostitute. “She’s doing what she thinks is best”, I said, “I can’t think of a single parent who wouldn’t whatever it took to ensure that their child’s needs were completely met. She knew that her daughter wouldn’t get an education if she stayed, and she wasn’t making enough money pawning wares so she decided that her life would be spent making the most out of the only thing she had to her name: herself. You don’t have to agree with her choices, you just have to understand that she chose unselfishly for the love of her daughter.”

The class looked at me like a was an alien-and trust me, I almost felt like one. My face was red because I was passionate-not because I was embarrassed. And something similar happened when I was reading about this poor girl (and there are others in the article). I certainly felt upset-how could you not? But I wasn’t upset at the girl’s choice. There is one sentence I’d like to highlight-just in case the article is too much for readers.

“So she doused herself in gasoline and lit a match, knowing that if she survived that the militants would no longer find her desirable.”

I look back at the posts I made on Facebook years ago (thanks to the timeline feature) and shake my head sometimes. I was raised in the church, according to the idea that because of the fact that I was born a woman I was to remain silent and completely ashamed of my body-because it was a source of sin just because it was biologically female. Now obviously not all churches are like that, and my parents are much more awesome than that line of thinking. But to have my identity wrapped up in a religious doctrine that shamed me for existing gave me a worldview that was very close minded and very enslaving.

I used to be very pro-life, for example, because a human being is a human being. I used to be under the understanding that I was influenced by the devil for dating other girls. I used to think that there was something wrong with me because I hated myself.

And then I woke up.

I no longer believe that modesty is something that happens because a woman shouldn’t be seen or heard. I believe that modesty is a choice-and empowerment isn’t linked to it.

I no longer believe that one person can force another into decisions without their consent-because each person should have the right to do to their body what they want-and that means having sex, not having sex, tattoos or no, piercings or no, abortions or no. I believe that it’s not my place to take control of someone else’s body-that’s metaphorical and psychological assault-and that’s NEVER okay.

I no longer believe that there’s anything wrong with love, as long as all involved are there because of the same reasons and have respect for the other people-and consent is a vital part of that. Gender isn’t. I believe that love is love-and if you’re lucky enough to find someone you love and who loves you back, you can change the world.

I no longer believe that there’s anything innately wrong with anyone. It is the choices we make that make us who we are-not the choices of our ancestors or progeny. And we were not born as mistakes because of our sexes, our abilities (or disabilities), our skin colors, our orientations, our differences. I believe that life is precious-and that most DEFINITELY includes people who are different than I am, because we are all different, but we are all human.

You don’t have to agree with someone’s decisions. You don’t even have to like them. But before you judge them, you need to understand why they were made in the first place.

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.