“Woman Shot, Killed After Saying No To A Man’s Advances, Detroit Police Say” ~ Headline on sexual harassment article

sexual harassment
For the complete long-form comic, click on the image.

80 Percent of Female Restaurant Workers Say They’ve Been Harassed by Customers ~ Headline on sexual harassment article

Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and 81 degrees.

my name is not
From “Stop Telling Women To Smile” by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

I came across this article in The Telegraph the other day and have been holding it, trying to decide how to approach it. I’ve finally decided that the best approach is the direct one: I’m posting the first half of the article with a link to the complete copy instead of just summarizing it.

Look, just from recent conversations with Corey it has been hammered home to me that the whole idea of sexual politics, sexual assault, sexual harassment will always be viewed differently by the sexes. Men can relate, but they cannot understand, not as a woman. And women can understand how precarious it is for men to be out there, walking on proverbial eggshells, but we may not sympathize.

While some men (most?) see catcalls as being flattering, most women (some?) find them anything but. Just because I put on something nice and I’m walking down this sidewalk, it doesn’t mean that I want complete strangers to hoot at me and tell me how they want to bend my body in weird ways. I didn’t get dressed with your approval in mind, and your admonition that I would look so much better if I smiled doesn’t matter one iota to me, and frankly, did I tell you that your polyester striped tie with the egg stain would look so much better in the trash?

Since I was a teenager I have walked to my car with my keys in my hand, parked beneath street lights whenever possible, etc. I know not to park between two vans or in a blind spot. Ask a male if he ever thinks about holding his keys as weapons in his hand. Ask a man if he ever wonders if someone is going to jump out from a dense hedge and attack him. Ask a man if his father ever gave him pepper spray as a gift.

not outside for your entertaiment Fazlalizadeh
From “Stop Telling Women To Smile” by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Conversely, what happens to the guy who is just doing his job, who has a female co-worker come on to him, and that same guy refuses her. What is his recourse when she reports him for harassment? Will the supervisor believe the man or the woman?

It’s all far too complex to whittle it down to a few pat phrases or to tackle in just one post. I could dedicate a blog to this topic, and there are countless ones out there already (take a look at just this one page of the Huffington Post on sexual harassment). I mean, just consider a few key news items from the past few months involving the NFL, American Apparel, the military, Congress, Tinder, Yahoo, and on and on and on . . .

I just know that I can never sleep with my doors unlocked or my windows open, at least not here, and maybe not anywhere. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve known women who have been victims of it, and I’ve been a victim, too—a victim of the groping and the hooting, the unwanted touches and the leers.

We tell our daughters just to ignore it, to be safe, to be aware. But what do we tell our sons?


Woman vows to confront ‘cowards’ after being punched for challenging groper ~ The Telegraph (27 August 2014)

Mary Brandon was left with horrific facial injuries after a man punched her in the face because she told him to stop groping her

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the “coward” get away with it 
Photo: National News and Pictures

By Claire Carter

A woman who needed hospital treatment because a man punched her in the face after she told him to stop groping her has vowed not to let threats of violence stop her challenging sexual assaults.

Mary Brandon was dancing with friends when her bottom was groped by the man at Notting Hill Carnival in west London during the Bank Holiday weekend.

But when she told the man to stop and not repeat what he was doing, he punched her in the face with such force she had to be taken to hospital and was left with a swollen face and painful bruising.

The 22-year-old has shared images of her injuries on Facebook and claimed she would be punched again rather than let the “coward” get away with it. The image has been shared thousands of times.

Ms Brandon has thanked the NHS nurses and carnival officials who helped her on Monday after the attack.

She has also posted a message criticising her attacker and his sexist violence next to the photo. She described him groping her and said when she asked him to stop, he did the same again.

“I pushed him away, exercising my right to tell man to stop touching my body without permission, so he took a swing at me and punched me in the face,” she wrote.

The graphic image showed her right eye bloodied and bulging, with bruising across her face, which needed treatment at the carnival and in hospital.

She added: “Carnival is supposed to be about community and good vibes.

“I wanted to have a good time but instead I spent nine hours in A&E because of this coward.

“A woman should be able to leave the house without fear of being sexually assaulted.

“And she should be able to defend herself without being put in hospital.

“The saddest this about this for me was discussing with my friends afterward whether in future it would be best not to do anything at all.

“Maybe it would be safer to just ignore it when someone invades your space and body.”

Police said there were a number of assaults and sexual assaults reported to have taken place at the carnival.

Ms Brandon added: “I can honestly say I will always stand up to someone who thinks they can get away with this behaviour and I would take a punch again from this loser or any other loser who thinks it is ok to treat women like this.”

Read the rest of the article here.

                   

“Wednesday” by Olivia Cole

In support of Banned Books Week (September 21-27, 2014)

 

Supposedly Thursday afternoon, somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard, a woman stares at her monitor with a furrowed brow caused by pain and confusion . . .

Reblogged from the Huffington Post:

Banned Books Week: How One Person With A Pen Taught Me All About Censorship

by Claire Fallon

When I was a college student, I majored in English literature, which meant that I got to read a lot of novels for class — and my course reading could be purchased for a song. Unlike my STEM classmates, most of my class syllabuses were filled with paperback novels and epic poems I could buy used for five bucks apiece at the campus bookstore.

When I bought a copy of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides for a Contemporary Fiction class one semester, I applied my usual procedure: I grabbed a relatively clean-looking copy from the stack, flipped through the pages to check for excessive scribbling, and dropped it in my basket along with the 20-odd other books I was purchasing. A successful prelude to future learning, or so I thought.

When it came time to dig into the novel several weeks later, however, something went awry. As I read through the first few pages, my vision was suddenly assaulted by several dark, black scribbles covering lines of text. I was as viscerally shocked as if the book had, unaided, leapt out of my hands and whacked me over the head. I read on — and it happened again. More words covered by heavily, thoroughly crosshatched ballpoint pen. Having purchased many used student copies of novels before, no intrusive notes in the margin, underlining or aggressive highlighting would have been new to me — but this, this was new. I strained to see what words lay beneath the pen marks, but in vain; the scribbles were so firm and uniform that the pen had also imprinted bumpy, wide furrows into the page.

There was no getting around it: Someone, perhaps even one of my classmates at college, hadn’t wanted the future owners of this volume to read those few snippets of text.

virginsuicides

Unfortunately for that person, the year was not 1807 — it was 2009, and I had a way to find out those obliterated words right at my fingertips: Google. So it was only a few minutes before I found myself facing the revelation that the words my book’s defacer had objected to were: “‘Fuck the Holy Mother’ […] ‘Fuck God'” and “telling God to fuck Himself all over again.” I couldn’t resist a bit of a chuckle — though I understood not everyone was comfortable with such language, even coming from the mouth of a fictional character, this was apparently the only thing the amateur censor had objected to in a book about the sexual objectification and gruesome suicides of five young girls.

virginsuicides2

In fact, only a few paragraphs before the first pen marks, Eugenides gently tweaks such unthinking primness, characterized in the staidly faithful Mr. Buell, who blames a girl’s suicide attempt on the lack of a picture of Jesus in her home: “Otherwise he persevered, and always gently corrected us when we took the Lord’s name in vain.” Mr. Buell’s faith, Eugenides reveals, hasn’t cured his shoulder injury, and his fixation on faith leads to unthinking cruelty in the form of blaming a family for their suffering. His focus on the town boys not taking the Lord’s name in vain seems to be a superficial effort toward their betterment at best. But only a page later, a reader had mimicked his blanket silencing of curse words, as if the complexities of Eugenides’s narrative hadn’t registered at all. The threads of religious propriety and faith continue to weave through the text, making those words part of a greater tapestry that the previous reader had chosen to partly obscure.

Thanks to the efforts of organizations like the American Library Association, I’d grown up with fairly free access to reading materials — including, yes, sometimes books that were somewhat too old for me or that weren’t worth reading (which, fortunately, never caused any damage, lasting or otherwise). This incident, as minor and absurd as it was, reminded me of how fortunate I had been to learn in such a free environment, but also that censorship, even for a rule-following, straight-laced type like myself, only stokes the desire to read the controversial material.

The ballpoint expurgation of my Virgin Suicides served less to shield me from its obscenities than to highlight them, perversely. I may have skipped lightly over those words had they not been scribbled out, barely noticing them; instead, I dedicated 10 minutes just to finding and reading them, as well as thinking about what could have compelled someone to blot them out, and as a result I can remember them easily years later. The scribbler took those despised words and made them the most visible elements of the book by deeming them unfit to be read.

Though I don’t believe those words should have been the most memorable in such a searing, stunningly crafted novel, which contained so much meant to provoke thought, I do think it’s right that we pay closer attention to those words and ideas people try to hide from view. Though some words may seem dangerous and worthy of hiding, confronting them is the only way of effectively combating them. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Sometimes, the light merely shows us that our fear was always misplaced.

This Banned Books Week, here at HuffPost Books, we’re grateful for all the books that have startled us, unnerved us, and even angered us — and we’re glad that the ALA and others are working to ensure that readers in America will continue to be able to engage with groundbreaking, if sometimes upsetting and even offensive, texts that will keep people engaged with the difficult work of learning and growing.

                   

Music by Paolo Nutini, “Don’t Let Me Down” (Beatles’ Cover)


Related articles:

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” ~ Annie Dillard, from The Living

book chart the atlantic

“Unsurprisingly, several children’s books appear in the top 20 on the list; as Adamic and Patel point out, we tend to read these books at a very impressionable age. Favorite books from those early years are likely to lodge themselves deeply in our memories.” ~ Claire Fallon, from “‘Harry Potter’ Tops Facebook’s ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme And No One Is Surprised” (Huffington Post)

Thursday afternoon. Sunny with climbing temperatures, 87 degrees.

My goal is to clean today . . . but first . . . not.

Ah, to meme or not to meme . . .

The above graphic (click for larger) is taken from an article in The Atlantic based on a recent meme making the rounds on Facebook in which people have been asked to “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way . . . Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

Another article (have forgotten writer, sorry), glibly stated that the addition of Harry Potter to so many lists proves that adults don’t really read books. Um, what? I read all of the Harry Potter books as a bona fide adult. At first, I had wanted to see what all of the commotion was about, the naysayers saying that it was demonic, and the supporters saying that it was a wonderful series. Of course, I agreed with the latter. Reading the series with my kids became a family rite of passage that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and truthfully, I miss the anticipation of the next release date, getting in the car with Brett early on a Saturday morning, hitting Krispy Kreme for hot donuts, and then making our way to the almost pristine cube of books placed immediately in the entrance. Good, good times.

“Indeed, if there is a backlash, I imagine it will be fuelled by accusations of elitism. Weirdly, reading is seen as a middle-class practice . . . This is one meme that has nothing to do with showing off. It’s a place to be honest about what brings you personal delight” ~ Daisy Buchanan, from “Facebook’s ‘Share 10 books’ meme shows that social media doesn’t have to be vicious or bullying” (The Telegraph)

I’ve been reading snarky comments from different people about how people are padding their lists, how most people haven’t read the things they claim to have read. Well . . . maybe. Who knows, but more importantly, who cares?

My point is (and yes, I have one) this: Does it really matter which books have stayed with people? Does it matter if they’ve padded their lists? Does it matter if childrens’ books and YA books appear frequently on peoples’ lists? No. These lists are proof of several key things:

  1. People read. People of all ages read all kinds of things. How can that be perceived in any negative light?
  2. Even if they haven’t read what’s on the list, they are thinking about things they want to read or things they think they should read. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  1. The fact that childrens’ book show up on these lists is wonderful. Study after study show that children who are introduced to reading from very young ages will continue to read on their own. A groundbreaking study found that “having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit” (from The National Literacy Trust).
  2. The people who participated in this meme are proud of their reading, and they should be. So who cares what they read? Bear in mind that unfortunately, access to books, or the lack thereof, directly ties to a person’s success. According to The National Commission on Reading, “The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.”

I could go on and on as I am wont to do, but you get the point. All of those naysayers out there who are making fun of the lists need to shut it. Instead of criticizing, donate some books to a school, or donate some money to First Book, a wonderful organization that helps to connect books with children who don’t have any.

And my final point is this: In this society that places people on pedestals simply for being famous or for having a pretty face or for dunking a basketball or whatever, this meme is a refreshing change. Instead of reading about bullying on Facebook, or hearing about a group of teens who posted directions on how to kill someone (yes, this is true), we are being treated to something real in people’s lives, something that matters, something that adds to the world in which we live: Reading.

“But passionate readers believe books are for all people. Many of us have grown up feeling obscure and alone. Books were our friends when we had no human ones . . . the best literature educates by stealth. Books are there to make us more empathetic and kinder—and in times of emotional turmoil, they can comfort.” ~ Daisy Buchanan, from “Facebook’s ‘Share 10 books’ meme shows that social media doesn’t have to be vicious or bullying” (The Telegraph)

Listen, books saved me—not just once but time and again. Being an only child is lonely. I found friends among the pages. And when I hit my teens and began to suffer from clinical depression, books helped me to understand what was wrong, and they helped to comfort me. And when I lost my beautiful baby girl, books (not self-help books) helped me to escape from the pain.

I can go several weeks without reading a book, and then I can read six books in four days. It doesn’t matter. My to read stack has tripled in size this year, and I know that is mostly as a result of Corey’s new schedule.

Hey, I don’t need to go to bars or hang out with people who aren’t really my friends. I have my one true love, my kids, my dogs, and my books. It may not work for some people, but it works for me.

So even though I don’t do Facebook, I do do bookish memes, so here’s mine, off the top of my head, without any second thoughts, and I know that my list is longer than proposed, and I know that I have two lists, but whatever. So in no particular order, here are the books that have stayed with me, and by that I mean the books I have read over and over, the books from which I can quote, even the books that just thinking about make me pause and smile:

  • The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling (I’m cheating in counting these as one, so sue me)
  • Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien (same here)
  • The Little Prince, byAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
  • Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
  • Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
  • Rich in Love, by Josephine Humphries
  • The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Things they Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  • Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
  • Sherlock Holmes (all the collected works), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
  • The Alchemist, by Paul Coehlo
  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  • Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Richard III/Henry V, by William Shakespeare
  • Hunt is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
  • The Shining, by Stephen King
  • The Weight of Water, by Anita Shreve
  • Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
  • A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
  • Shogun, by James Clavell
  • The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak
  • Children of Men, P. D. James

” . . . reading novels as a child — implying literary engagement with life’s social, cultural and psychological complexities — can have a positive impact on personality development and social skills. A study published last year in Science found that reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or nonfiction, results in keener social perception and increased empathy” ~ Bret Stetka, from “Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter” (Scientific American)

Here are my runners up. I will admit that I cheated for this list; I went to my Goodreads list of books and did a quick scan and was surprised by the titles I had forgotten. So again, in no particular order:

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye, by Carson McCullers
  • Cover her Face, by P. D. James
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
  • The Bone Collector, by Jeffrey Deaver
  • Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
  • Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
  • Dune, by Frank Herbert

  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  • Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
  • The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin
  • Murder Must Advertise (Lord Peter Wimsey), by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Mystic River, by Dennis LeHane
  • A Child Called It, by Dave Peltzer
  • Darkness Visible, by William Styron
  • The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
  • Heart of Darkness, by James Conrad
  • Dubliners, by James Joyce
  • The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
  • The Velvet Room, ZK Snyder (has stayed with me since 7th grade)
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway
  • In the Woods, Tana French
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell (has stayed with me since 6th grade)
  • Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger (wish I could find my copy of this)

And yes, I have read all of these, even James Joyce.

More later. Peace.

Music by Zedd, featuring Foxes, “Clarity”

                   

The Pleasures of Reading

On his deathbed my father is reading
The memoirs of Casanova.
I’m watching the night fall,
A few windows being lit across the street.
In one of them a young woman is reading
Close to the glass.
She hasn’t looked up in a long while,
Even with the darkness coming.

While there’s still a bit of light,
I want her to lift her head,
So I can see her face
Which I have already imagined,
But her book must be full of suspense.
And besides, it’s so quiet,
Every time she turns a page,
I can hear my father turn one too,
As if they are reading the same book.

~ Charles Simic

“. . . the reason all these smart people are chilling their brains is not some new health fad but to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the lethal neurodegenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The original idea was that when the gauntlet was thrown down in the ice bucket challenge, you either need to give $100 to ALS or dump ice water on your head.” ~ Matthew Herper, Forbes (8/19/2014)

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

 

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and cool, 70’s.

Hello folks. Long time, no write.

I know that I’ve been missing for a bit. It’s been very hectic around here, things we’ve been doing and taking care of, and I just haven’t had the time to sit and gather my thoughts. I’m hoping to remedy that this week.

For those of you who have recently begun following this blog, I wish you greetings and thanks.

Here is a little something I’ve been wanting to share ever since I saw my son Eamonn’s video of his own ice bucket challenge. I love how my kids can still amaze me with their kindness and thoughtfulness.

Enjoy.

                   

From the Huffington Post:

There’s been such a deluge of videos made of these ice bucket challenges (some of which have been hilarious, others more serious) that you might be tempted to skip this new video that was uploaded Monday by a man named Anthony Carbajal. But as Upworthy put it, this is one clip that “you really should see.”

The video begins humorously as Carbajal, a photographer, dresses up in a neon bikini top and soaps up a car before being doused with ice water. “OK, that was probably the most embarrassing thing that I’ve ever done in my entire life.”

But the clip, at around the two-minute mark, takes a somber turn as Carbajal explains why he chose to take the challenge. “I’ve been so terrified of ALS my entire life because it runs in my family,” he says, breaking down. “My grandmother had it. She was a second mother to me. My mother was diagnosed when I was in high school and five months ago, I was diagnosed at 26 years old. ALS is so, so f—king scary, you have no idea.”

Carbajal says he’s already started losing movement in his fingers. Eventually, just like other ALS patients, he will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe on his own.

In the video, Carbajal shows footage of him caring for his mother who cannot walk or eat without assistance. “I hate talking about [ALS],” Carbajal says in the clip. “That’s probably why nobody talks about it because… it’s so challenging to see, and to talk about. Nobody wants to see a depressing person that’s dying… they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want their day ruined.”

But we need to keep this discussion alive, says Carbajal, so pharmaceutical companies and others will continue to be pushed to find a cure for this fatal disease. According to the ALS Association, more than $31 million has been raised so far for ALS research and patient care thanks to the ice bucket challenge.

“This is the first successful advocacy [ALS has] ever really… had and I’m so, so, so grateful,” he said. “You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel, lifts my spirits, lifts every single ALS patient’s spirits. You’re really, truly making a difference.”

In Carbajal’s video, there’s a suggestion made that viewers should watch all the way to the end.

Please do.

Anthony Carbajal Ice Bucket video:

For more information:

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blows Up Social Media

What is ALS?

                   

Music by Laura Jansen, “A Call to Arms”

                   

Alone With Everybody

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else
fills.

~ Charles Bukowski

“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.

tweet

“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

 

“Mayor Filner’s continued abuse of power knows no bounds” ~ Kevin Faulconer, San Diego City Council Member

Reblogged from the Huffington Post (click on the link to watch the heartbreaking video) because Filner just won’t go away . . .

Peggy Shannon, a 67-year-old great-grandmother who works at the Senior Citizens Service Desk in San Diego City Hall, allegedly faced "continuous inappropriate sexual advances by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner while trying to do her job," according to the office of her attorney, Gloria Allred. Click through the gallery of other women who have come forward in the case:
Peggy Shannon, one of 16 women accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of inappropriate conduct/sexual harassment

SAN DIEGO — A volunteer city worker who assists senior citizens said Thursday that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner repeatedly asked her to rub his hands, requested dates and made sexually suggestive comments.

Peggy Shannon, 67, said she cried after Filner forcibly kissed her on the lips in January. She said she was offended by his constant requests for dates because she knew he was engaged to another woman at the time.

The 70-year-old mayor once took her hands and told her he could last eight hours at night, according to Shannon and her high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred.

“I was shocked that he would say that to me,” Shannon said at a news conference. “I was working and had to get myself together to continue my job at the senior citizens service desk. I was very bothered by this statement and went home and cried again.”

Since mid-July, more than a dozen women have publicly identified themselves as targets of Filner’s advances, including kisses, touching and lewd comments. Shannon is the second city employee to speak up, after Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, said in a lawsuit that the mayor asked her to work without underwear, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

Filner, a former 10-term congressman and San Diego’s first Democratic leader in 20 years, has resisted widespread calls to resign, insisting that he can be an effective mayor after two weeks of intensive therapy. He is scheduled to return to work next week after a three-week absence.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sharpened her criticism of Filner on Thursday, saying on Twitter, “Mayor Filner is out of rehab, he should be out of the Mayor’s Office – should not subject San Diegans to the pain & expense of a recall.”

Shannon, who lives on Social Security, said she was initially flattered when the mayor lavished attention on her but soon became fearful whenever he approached her desk, which happened several times a day.

When allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced last month, Filner allegedly walked past her and pressed a finger to his lips, which Shannon interpreted as a message to remain silent. Less than a week later, she filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Employment Investigations Office.

A spokeswoman for the mayor, Lena Lewis, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Shannon’s remarks. Filner has avoided addressing specific allegations and has insisted he is innocent of sexual harassment.

 

“He broke the Eww-O-Meter.” ~ John Oliver, “The Daily Show”

Note: I’m not sure why Hulu video isn’t appearing in the text. It was there in the draft but then reverted to the link. Sorry.

"He broke the Eww-O-Meter."

                   

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Nooooooo . . . please . . . not yet . . . 2016 is three years away . . .

From The Huffington Post:

John Oliver tore into Chris Matthews on Thursday’s “The Daily Show” for participating in the what he called the media’s ridiculous speculation over the 2016 presidential election.

Oliver begged the media to hold its premature 2016 speculation till Jon Stewart returned to the show in September. He also ran a clip of Matthews observing the new hairstyle and dark suit Hillary Clinton wore when she lunched with President Obama earlier this week. Matthews said that he knew “he shouldn’t talk about her looks,” but that the former secretary of state looked “ready for primetime” and “presidential as hell.”

“How have you made the word ‘presidential’ sound pervy?” Oliver asked. “Just a little tip to Chris Matthews: when you say you shouldn’t talk about something, why not not actually talk about it? That way, everyone wins!”

And speaking of John Oliver—and I was—here’s a clip from his epic skewering of San Diego’s slimeball mayor Bob Filner. This guy Filner puts Anthony Weiner to shame, and that’s saying something.

From The Raw Story:

Oliver prefaced his attack on Mayor Bob Filner by warning his viewers to apologize to their skin, “because it is not just going to crawl, it is going to spider-walk across the ceiling like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.”

Eight women have accused San Diego’s mayor of sexual harassment. Filner allegedly grabbed and french kissed his female subordinates without their consent, touched his female subordinates on the buttocks without their consent, grabbed his female subordinates’ breasts without their consent, “slobbered” on his female subordinates without their consent, and asked his female subordinates to come to work without underwear on.

“This man is revolting,” Oliver remarked. “He should probably be arrested. He is at the very least unfit for public office. Please tell me that unlike Anthony Weiner, Filner knows when to quit.”

Filner has admitted to sexual harassing women but refused to resign. Instead, he said he would participate in sexual harassment training and change his behavior. Filner also wants the people of San Diego to pay for his legal fees in the sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

“I think he’s better off trying to raise the money on Prickstarter,” Oliver concluded.