“When we don’t speak up, we tacitly affirm the ‘whistle’ as a display of manhood. Thus we affirm misogyny and toxic masculinity” ~ Imran Siddiquee

Content warning.

                   

practice violence against women but live with the threat of male violence. Every. Single. Day. All over the world.” ~ Soraya Chemaly, Twitter post

Thursday afternoon. Cloudy and much cooler, 65 degrees.

I know that I’m on a bit of a tear lately, but I make no apologies.

I read a post yesterday about a young woman who was being harassed in school because of the size of her breasts. When she confronted the group of boys, she was groped. When she lashed out verbally, the boys escalated in their behavior. Ultimately, the school officials told here that “boys will be boys” and that she should just not pay attention . . . School officials took no action against the boys, told the girl she was lucky she wasn’t being suspended, and made no report. Only once the student confided in a teacher who then went to security and didn’t back down was something done.

And this really made me pause. Why should females bear the brunt of not paying attention, of ignoring unwanted advances and/or catcalls? Why is the excuse “boys will be boys” such an ingrained part of our culture? I don’t know exactly when it entered my brain that I would not rise to any catcalls, that I would simply keep walking, but at some point it did, and that is how I have always reacted. It’s a socialized female response. But you know what? It pisses me off that this has to be our response. But the truly frightening part is how ignoring such unwanted verbal attention can now morph into acts of violence. I find this horrendous.

Want to know something else I find horrendous, the incredible male backlash regarding women speaking out. Here’s an example: “: I’d like to see more women walking around with cigarette burns on their faces.”

I didn’t just make that up.

 

This, right here, is exactly why we need to continue to have this discussion.

“Women are people and you can’t own ANY people. Also, she owes you nothing. And you are not bigger for demeaning her.” ~ Imram Siddiquee, Twitter post

The clipped image above from a Twitter feed is a prime example of everything that is wrong in this discussion. I made the mistake of tracking down this guy’s feed, mostly to try to determine if his assholiness is isolated to the #yesallwomen feed, but it’s not. His feed is just filled with deliberate baiting, like his pondering of whether or not rapeable has an e, or his discussions of all of the things he wants to do to someone’s *hole. He even jokes (using the term way too loosely) that you can send him rape stories so that he can jerk off, and declares that he’ll “rip through this like some vagina.”

Look, this guy would probably rely on that age-old fallback justification—that he’s just joking, just being irreverent, that women should loosen up and not take everything so seriously. But I would bet my house that if a woman he knew were ever raped, he would go ballistic. But that incense wouldn’t come from her pain; it would come from his sense of power being taken. What men like this don’t understand is that some subjects aren’t joke-worthy. All of his male posturing is just so much bullshit.

Consider this: When was the last time you heard of a man being told to text his friends to make sure he made it home without being raped and/or abducted? How many men do you know who carry pepper spray with them just in case some strange woman tries to drag them behind a dumpster? Do any of the men in your family walk with their keys between their fingers because they were told that keys could be used as weapons?

Will we ever reach a point at which men no longer feel that they can call out sexual advances to total strangers? Will we ever reach a point at which these men realize that unwanted catcalls are not flattering, and that ignoring them is not an excuse to escalate behavior? I doubt we’ll ever reach a point at which subhumans such as the poorexcuse guy will not find it hilarious to make fun of subjects that aren’t even remotely funny.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.” ~Maya Angelou

I don’t know that I will see the end of this behavior any time soon, not in my lifetime, and perhaps not in my children’s lifetimes, mostly because so much of this behavior is ingrained in our society—it’s in our faces 24/7, in movies, television, magazines, advertising, billboards, songs, even on our clothing. The female body is an object, and even though that object happens to belong to a person, that person is secondary to her sex.

Her breasts are there for people to ogle. Her derriere is there for people to rub against. God forbid she might be clad in something form-fitting, something short, something tight. Doesn’t she know that by doing so, she’s putting herself out there to be objectified. You know, like a pork chop? Doesn’t she know it’s her responsibility not to cause sexual arousal in total strangers?

Think about this: Maybe she lost 50 pounds and wants to show off her new form. Maybe spaghetti straps are cooler in the summer. Maybe yoga pants are easy to throw on for errands. Just because a woman is wearing a thong, and you can see that thong line, it doesn’t mean that she wants you to comment on her underwear. It doesn’t mean that she wants you to come up and rub her butt. ‘Tis no matter. It’s her responsibility to make sure the males out there don’t get any hard ons. It certainly not the responsibility of those red-blooded males. I mean, no one ever told them that their penises weren’t the end all and be all of their identity.

Please.

We have to do better. All of us. We need to educate our children and our grandchildren, and our nieces and our nephews: it’s not okay to place another person—male or female—in a context that reduces that person to their sex.

We all have to do better.

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“Dear , you deserve zero praise for not being a rapist. Aim higher. The best thing you can do is listen and support ” ~ Jay Wood, Twitter post

Consider this story by Soroya Chemaly, which appeared in the Huffington Post last September:

A man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him. Some people would say that’s a compliment. It’s part of being out in society, learning to deal with people, navigating relationships between men and women. Or, at least that what many commenters on articles I write about street harassment think. That or maybe they’re thinking, ‘She must have looked like a prostitute,’ and well, you know.

The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times . . . What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the charge I wonder? Given our normatively male understanding interpretation of what is threatening, does a man pulling up to a girl like this and talking to her in this way constitute imminent harm?

This was an incident of street harassment taken to extremes.

You’re thinking,  “He’s crazy! You can’t possibly put what he did in the same category as street harassment!”  Yes, I can.

He stopped and talked to a girl he did not know and he told her what he thought and what he wanted her to do.  Clearly, he felt this was okay, or he wouldn’t have done it. This isn’t insanity, it’s entitlement. This is, in principle, the same as men who say, “Smile,” “Want a ride?” “Suck on this” and on and on and on.  And, that’s all before the public groping that might ensue.

OK. No big deal I’ve been told.  But, he went further, as is often the case.  When she said no, he just took her.  He crossed a red line that seriously needs to be moved.  “Taking someone” should not be the “red line” for public incivility and safe access to public space.

twitter pic

When you ask why I’m angry . . .

We hear about cases like this with dulling regularity and, undoubtedly, we don’t hear about even more. Just a smattering of examples:

  • In San Francisco last year, a man stabbed a woman in the face and arm after she didn’t respond positively to his sexually harassing her on the street.
  • In Bradenton, Fla., a man shot a high school senior to death after she and her friends refused to perform oral sex at his request. I
  • In Chicago, a scared 15-year-old was hit by a car and died after she tried escaping from harassers on a bus.
  • Again, in Chicago, a man grabbed a 19-year-old walking on a public thoroughfare, pulled her onto a gangway and assaulted her.
  • Last week, a runner in California — a woman — was stopped and asked, by a strange man in a car, if she wanted a ride. When she declined he ran her over twice.

are violent against women, but if we are just passive bystanders then we’re still part of the problem. ” ~ Kenny Miracle, Twitter post

I just started following a new tumblr called When Women Refuse, in which contributors share stories of women who have been murdered, raped, beaten, run over, and brutalized in countless other ways simply because they said no, because they said they didn’t want to get in the car, because they didn’t outwardly respond to some lewd comment, because they didn’t want to have sex, because they didn’t want to continue the relationship.

Each of these stories is mind-numbing individually, but collectively, they make a statement that is hard to turn away from: Women/girls who have the audacity to say no, are continually punished for doing so, and in many cases, their reactions/actions are dismissed by authorities.

Here are some of the stories that have been posted on When Women Refuse just in the past few days:

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I think I have to stop now. I have a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Look, I have no answers, only suggestions. I only know that in a world in which so very many things are wrong, in which so very many things are heinous, that indifference to the very real problem of how women are treated is preventable in so many ways. No, we cannot cure rapists, but we can work on the essence of rape culture. No, we cannot eradicate misogyny, but we can do better in educating our sons and daughters.

We have to try, don’t we?

I mean, we just have to.

More later. Peace.

Music by Arctic Monkeys, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”

                   

Rape Poem

There is no difference between being raped
and being pushed down a flight of cement steps
except that the wounds also bleed inside.

There is no difference between being raped
and being run over by a truck
except that afterward men ask if you enjoyed it.

There is no difference between being raped
and being bit on the ankle by a rattlesnake
except that people ask if your skirt was short
and why you were out alone anyhow.

There is no difference between being raped
and going head first through a windshield
except that afterward you are afraid
not of cars
but half the human race.

The rapist is your boyfriend’s brother.
He sits beside you in the movies eating popcorn.
Rape fattens on the fantasies of the normal male
like a maggot in garbage.

Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing
all of the time on a woman’s hunched back.
Never to stroll alone on a sand road through pine woods,
never to climb a trail across a bald
without that aluminum in the mouth
when I see a man climbing toward me.

Never to open the door to a knock
without that razor just grazing the throat.
The fear of the dark side of hedges
the back seat of the car, the empty house
rattling keys like a snake’s warning.
The fear of the smiling man
in whose pocket is a knife.
The fear of the serious man
in whose fist is locked hatred.

All it takes to cast a rapist to be able to see your body
as jackhammer, as blowtorch, as adding-machine-gun.
All it takes is hating that body
your own, your self, your muscle that softens to flab.

All it takes is to push what you hate,
what you fear onto the soft alien flesh.
To bucket out invincible as a tank
armored with treads without senses
to possess and punish in one act,
to rip up pleasure, to murder those who dare
live in the leafy flesh open to love.

~ Marge Piercy

                   

Two other related poems, both worthy of reading but long: “Rape Poem To End All Rape Poems” by the Rutgers University slam team, and “Rape Joke,” by Patricia Lockwood

 

“All artists dream of a silence which they must enter, as some creatures return to the sea to spawn.” ~ Iris Murdoch

Fred Williams Charred Wooded Hillside, watercolour and gouache nd

“Charred Wooded Hillside” (nd, watercolor and gouache)
by Fred Williams

                   

“The heartless dark begins calling: this is the word.
You have heard me once before and shall again.” ~ Michael Burkard,from “The Parallel”

In my dream, the poet says, “Come to Pueblo, Colorado. Make me a believer.” My mother tries on a bright green dress and looks for a glass to match. She asks me if I like Fiesta ware. I hide all of the things I have bought behind the driver’s seat in my old, orange VW bug, and lock the door, while Paul tells me not to buy him any biking clothes because he doesn’t ride his bike any more. I tell my mother that I want to attend the poetry reading, and she agrees, but stands in the back with her friend Alice. I sit on the floor in the front but then realize that it’s an interpretive dance presentation, and I know that my mother will hate it, and I think that i should leave, but the poet comes and sits next to me and shows me the label from a ramen package. I ask him how it can taste like shrimp but contain no seafood. He points to a long word and tells me that it’s a chemical name for shrimp. The dance routine is better than I had hoped, but when I go to the back of the room to find my mother, she isn’t there. I think to myself that my mother would never wear a bright green dress.

Music by Cocorosie, “Gallows”

                   

I used to love winter

In the past, I was inclined to love winter,
and I listen to my body.
Rain,rain, like a love letter pours licentiously
from the imprudent heavens.
Winter. A cry. An echo
hungry for the embrace of women.
In the distance, the steamy breath
of a horse carrying clouds…white, white.
I used to love winter, to walk joyfully to my
rendezvous in space drenched in water.
My love used to dry my short hair with
Long hair luxuriant with wheat and chestnuts.
She was not content with singing
I and winter love you,
so stay with us!
She would warm my heart
on two hot gazelle fawns.
I used to love winter,
and I would listen to it,
drop by drop.
Rain, rain like an appeal to a lover,
Pour down my body!
Winter was not lament pointing
to the end of life. It was the beginning. It was hope.
So what shall I do, as life falls like hair?
What will I do this winter?

~ Mahmoud Darwish

“I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end.” ~ Richard Brautigan, from Trout Fishing In America

“the tea smoke
and the willow
together trembling” ~ Kobayashi Issa

Internet was out until late today. I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning and did not sleep well, awaking with a headache and heavy sinuses. Spent most of today dealing with customer service representatives. I am completely spent.

I can only offer you this . . .

My love affair with coffee is only surpassed by my much longer love affair with tea, which I began to drink when I was but a child. England, you know. Milky tea and hot bread and butter. Good times . . .

A cup of tea by tee-magazin.de

                   

A Sweetening All Around Me As It Falls

Even generous August
only a child’s scribblings
on thick black paper, in smudgeable chalk –
even the ripening tomatoes, even the roses,
blowsy, losing their fragrance of black tea.
A winter light held this morning’s apples
as they fell, sweet, streaked by one touch
of the careless brush, appling to earth.
The seeds so deep inside they carry that cold.
Is this why some choose solitude, to rise
that small bit further, unencumbered by love of earth,
as the branches, lighter, kite now a little higher
on gold air? But the apples love the earth and falling,
lose themselves in it as much as they can at first touch
and then, with time and rain, at last completely:
to be that bone-like One that shines unleafed in
winter rain,
all black and glazed with not the pendant gold of
necklaced summer but the ice-color mirroring
starlight
when the earth is lonely and dark and knows nothing
of apples.
Seed-black of the paper, seed-black of the waiting
heart—
December’s shine, austere and fragile, carves the
visible tree.
But today, cut deep in last plums, in yellow pears,
in second flush of roses, in the warmth of an hour,
now late,
as drunk on heat as the girl who long ago vanished
into green trees,
fold that loneliness, one moment, two, love, back into
your arms.

~ Jane Hirshfield

                   

Music by Maggie Siff, “Lullaby for a Soldier”

“I spoke to a girl today who had cancer and we were talking about how this is such a hard thing for her, but it taught her a big lesson on who her friends are and so much about life. She’s 18. And I was like, that’s how I feel.” ~ Kim Kardashian

We can always count on celebrities to say stupid things for posterity, like the time when Christina Aguilera asked, “So where’s the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?” Or this little sadly said but true: David Letterman was teasing the pop star [Justin Bieber] about his latest tattoo, urging him to draw the line at creating a mural like “the Sistine Chapel,” when the Biebs responded, “I’m not going for the Sixteenth Chapel.”

So I thought this particular post from Curious History was fitting, mostly because of the top one and the No Kardashians sign:

Amazing Street Art from Plastic Jesus

From the crowded urban streets of Los Angeles, California comes a street artist known as Plastic Jesus. He creates incredible and controversial art installations, such as a giant mouse-trap with credit cards as bait, a fake grave with flowers and a mock rifle positioned as a headstone for the 11,458 people killed during 2011 and 2012 with automatic weapons or a giant spilled can of Mountain Dew cordoned off as if it were toxic waste. He consistently creates public mixed-media pieces that point out the negative aspects of our culture into something thought provoking. The installations above are titled as followed:

  • Stop Making Stupid People Famous
  • Credit Trap
  • Toxic Hazard
  • No Kardashians
  • American Excess
  • RIP 11,458

source 1, 2, 3