Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women. Show all posts

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Brock Turner Rape Case


The outrage this week over the sentencing of Brock Turner for the three counts of sexual assault he was convicted of in the recent Stanford rape case highlights the disconnect between what the public views as appropriate punishment for various crimes and how the legal system sentences. I will admit to sharing that outrage.

I don’t enjoy an online lynching, but I don’t feel sorry for this kid. At all. No matter what hook-up culture exists on college campuses today, no matter how much alcohol flows at parties or how sex is viewed by young people these days, choosing to rape an unconscious women behind a dumpster is the action of a predator. Brock Turner saw someone vulnerable and instead of choosing to help or even just pass on by, like the proverbial priest and Levite, he stripped her, took photographs of her breasts and texted them to his friends, then sexually assaulted her until he was stopped by two Swedish men who happened upon them.

I’ve previously written about the importance of girls staying safe and sober in order to avoid sexual assault. I stand by that opinion. Some people are dangerous. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. No one else will be responsible for your safety, girls, so you have to be. It’s fine to have a designated driver or a responsible friend, but the only person who will prioritize your safety in these situations is yourself or people who genuinely care about your welfare like your family.

This isn’t, by the way, advice solely directed at women. I would also tell my son not to get blackout drunk at parties or put himself in close proximity to people who might hurt him. People do stupid things when they’re drunk that get them into trouble. They gamble large sums of money, they drive and have accidents, and they get into fights. Rape is not the only negative outcome of binge drinking. There are any number of them, and they can seriously derail your life.

In this case, I went further and I talked to my son about predatory behavior. I wanted to use Brock Turner as an example of someone I do not want him to ever emulate - not because Brock’s life has taken a sharp turn for the worse, not because he was caught and found guilty and will go to jail, but because it’s his responsibility, no matter how drunk, how sexually frustrated he is, or what is going on around him, to be a decent human being.

It’s harder these days, I know. We’ve got a real Lord of the Flies society thing going on. It’s not impossible, though. Brock is not an isolated case. He’s not representative of all or even the majority of people, men, or college students, but he’s not a token. He’s one of many predators who will hurt people when they get a chance and will fight being held accountable for it until the people who care about him go bankrupt. In other words, he’s a waste of oxygen. The world is not a better place because he exists.

I didn’t change all of those diapers and cook all of those meals so that my son can do the same. I expect him to earn his oxygen and not do stupid, selfish things when he’s a man, just as I would any daughter of mine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Piece of Advice #115: Teach your girls not to rape

Originally, I was going to talk about hitting and physical violence among women since new evidence has shown that frequently, in roughly 40% of cases, men are the target of domestic violence. We are so programmed by our duplicitous media to regard women as victims, that younger generations cannot imagine such a high rate of abuse victims are men - except for young people who grew up in the households of abusive women. They can imagine all too well.

I've known a number of men personally who were perhaps not physically beaten by their wives or partners, but were subjected to endless psychological abuse, crazy, jealous, or controlling behavior. At least three of these men's wives took a blowtorch to their lives, and they barely survived. They were normal men whose lives were ruined when vicious women used the system against them for fun and profit.

Teach your girls not to be like that.

Start with the idea that they need to keep their hands them themselves. That just because they're cute and small, they don't get a free pass on hitting. It's not okay to hit a boy just because he's bigger or male. Then move up to the idea that "Want, take, have" is a philosophy suited to psychopaths not women, and certainly not ladies.

It's distressing to read all of the recent stories about adult women who have taken sexual advantage of the boys entrusted to them socially or professionally, like local teacher Jamila Williams who sexually molested two of her students. This is not an isolated incident. Women pedophiles are becoming more common. I'll forgive you if you haven't read more of the hundreds of these cases (h/t SOBL1). The media doesn't seem to think they are as interesting as priest pedophile cases. We are still getting thorough coverage of archived Catholic scandals in the national press, although female pedophile cases are much more of a trend now. Where there is little oversight, predators will roam, and schools apparently are great hunting grounds these days.

Some may say boys who are sexually molested by women must consent or sex cannot occur, but the fact remains that these boys are still minors. Their brains have not fully formed, and they cannot conceptualize the legal responsibilities they will have for their predators' children should these women become pregnant or what life with herpes (or antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea) will be like. We shelter them from the responsibilities of voting and drinking because our society thinks they are unready. If it's wrong for a 30-year-old man to have consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl because one is adult and has adult understanding and the other is a child with inadequate experience, it's wrong for women to have sex with boys as well. Personally, I don't think we have the punishments right for these "consensual" sex cases, but I do agree that this isn't trivial stuff. I'm not raising my son to believe sex is like a handshake and matters just as little.

Then there are the truly crazy cases, like the one in Chicago where the nurse had sex with a medicated patient without his consent. It's fair to say that if on college campuses consensual sex must contractual, having sex with your drugged up patient is rape. You can't broker any kind of business if you can't count to 10.

For those confused about how women (and girls) should respect men's boundaries physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, and legally, remember: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.





Thursday, August 8, 2013

Opting in, opting out

The New York Times Magazine has a story this week entitled, "The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In."  It's about the high profile, highly educated women of Generation X who, after working in high powered jobs, made the specific choice to stay home with their children - and are now regretting it.  Or not.  Or something.  I'm not sure what the point of it is other than to express, again, that women aren't happy, even when they have choices or have had full agency to make choices because they can't have it all. 

Well, duh.

Life is hard.  Life isn't fair.  Life doesn't come with a guarantee.  We make choices.  No one ever promised you a rose garden.  Pick your cliché, they're all true.


The first woman they profile, Sheilah O'Donnel got divorced after about a decade at home - in the custom home her husband had built for them.  She decided being a stay-at-home mother was disempowering and disenfranchising and skewed the balance in her marriage and caused all kinds of problems in her relationship with her husband:
At her peak, O’Donnel was earning $500,000 a year. But after her first two children were born, O’Donnel’s travel for work became more difficult. She gave up a quarter of her earnings in exchange for working three days a week, but felt marginalized, her best accounts given to others, meetings often scheduled on her days out of the office. “I felt like a second-class citizen,” she said. Even with the reduced schedule, the stresses of life in a two-career household put an overwhelming strain on her marriage. There were ugly fights with her husband about laundry and over who would step in when the nanny was out sick.
So O'Donnel - a la Mary Chapin Carpenter - got the heck out of Dodge and now has a small apartment and a midlevel sales job.  And no husband.  Whee!

The Times profiles two other women, whose stories I was more sympathetic to because they didn't actually break up their families for seemingly frivolous reasons.  The tone of the article seems to be, "You'd better work, honey, because men are unreliable.  It's just safer to support yourself."  Which harkens back to that 2nd Wave feminist idea that women should - must! - all work outside the home because then we are all equal, equal workers, indistinguishable. 

I'm not saying that women shouldn't work or that girls shouldn't be trained for a vocation or learn valuable skills.  I went back to work last year, and it turned out to be a very good thing because my husband is getting laid off in a few weeks, and we will have at least some income to live on until he finds another job.  And, of course, life does sometimes intervene.  Accidents happen, work peters out,  people die or become incapacitated, spouses sometimes leave.  Skills are good to have. 

My point is, Sheilah's husband wasn't the one who stopped being cooperative, who stopped supporting his family.  But somehow, the Times puts Sheilah in the victim role here.  It also really bothers me that feminists frame the working/staying home dilemma entirely in terms of how it affects women.  What about the children?  Sheilah was home for over a decade; did her children not benefit from the time they spent with their mother?  Did Sheilah not benefit from spending time with her kids?  That, to me, is far more important than what the pillows in her new apartment are like. 

I stayed home with my son because I wanted to be with him.  I wanted to know him.  I wanted to be the one from whom he learned his numbers, his letters, his morals, his values.  Not everyone can or even wants to stay home, but I went through a huge effort to have him in my life, and I wanted to be with him.  Now, it's true, he won't remember those years.  Already he doesn't remember how things were when he was a baby.  But I remember, and it's a blessing to me.  Yeah, I had to sacrifice my career as a librarian, such as it was, and, yeah, I had to become financially dependent on my husband and it did change the dynamic between us somewhat and sometimes I felt, I suppose, lesser, being a non-working person in a society that values everything in monetary terms.  But I had time with my son.  I invested my energy in him.  Will it pay off?  I hope so.  There are no guarantees in life.  He's happy, he's secure.  I gave him that, and I feel proud of it.

When I read stories like Sheilah's, I can't help thinking of my grandmother, a teacher and farmer's wife, who kept on keeping on when her husband was struck by lightning and rendered bedbound for the better part of a year.  She kept making dinner, running the farm, raising her boys.  She went back to work to keep money coming in, and you know who never complained that she wasn't fulfilled?  My grandmother.  She went and read to her mother-in-law who had had a stroke and needed the company.  She taught Sunday School.  She was grateful to have enough to eat and a warm place to sleep and a family who loved her.  Great woman, my grandmother.  God rest you, Amy Coleson Pettigrove.  He cracked the mold the day you were born.

Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage

Today is my 15th anniversary.  I've kept the house clean, made healthy meals, repaired things that broke, shuffled my kid to school and basketball and scouts.  I've taken the dogs to the vet and taught myself to cook and garden and make medicines, prayed for my husband when he was away and traveling unsafe roads, and listened to him when he was tired and discouraged and scared. 

And all I have to show for it is: a clean house, a healthy family, rambunctious dogs, a happy and secure kid, a pretty little garden, shelves full of canned goods and herbs, and a loving and appreciative husband.  Poor me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Piece of Advice #103: Don't expect others to make everything all nice for you.

I know that months have passed since the incident with Adria Richards at PyCon happened.  But it's kind of stuck with me, and it's a good excuse to give my fingers some exercise on the keyboard again.  When someone on Twitter mentioned the other day that the guy who lost his job due to Richards's public and photographic outing of him as an egregious harasser [cough, cough] had found another one, I went and looked to see whether Adria Richards had also found another position - and came up empty. 

Now since she's been lying low for the past several months and has shunned all attention, it's possible she has and it's not public knowledge.  And, for her sake, I hope she's found a way to keep the Devil from the door.  But somehow it's not surprising to me that someone who can do something tangible and valuable found a job and someone who revealed herself to be difficult and controlling seemingly has not. 

I mean, would you hire Richards?  She had a good job and lots of opportunities, but apparently things were not enough to her liking because she had to eavesdrop on people talking privately among themselves and tweet a photograph of them to the world so that she could drive home the point that women are slaves to - what? - the male libido in the form of a dongle joke

I looked up what a dongle was.  Let's just say it didn't give me the vapours.  I didn't break my pearls clutching them.  Compared to the cascade of obscenity I spend significant energy trying to keep out of my life by cordoning off TV, radio, most of the internet and the news, a "dongle" just hasn't got what it takes to shock me into outrage.

Now, the backlash against Richards wasn't pretty: the DDOS attack, the online harassment, the photo of a decapitated woman sent to Richards - that's ugly.  She unfortunately got the backlogged rage of men who are sick and tired of being controlled by legislation, by speech codes, by training seminars and Human Resources, by every petty control freak who doesn't mind chipping a nail to make someone else subject to her whims.  The sluices filled and Richards was washed away.  And this is where we have our teachable moment.

Life just isn't about making things all pleasant for everybody.  Mostly it's hard and unfair.  We used to know that.  We used to say things like, "If you can't stand the heat..." without it ending in "...have the remodelers rework the kitchen to your exact specifications."   Maybe tech isn't a friendly place for women.  Maybe it is full of sexists and jerk guys who leer lone females all day long.  If that is so, it's too bad.  I'm sorry to hear it.  But why is the solution to reprogram every guy in tech against his wishes or inclinations?  And how can anyone believe that's even possible?  Why don't women in tech create their own companies and their own amazing tech contributions and use the profits and power to mentor other women in tech?  Did Bill Gates expect his employers to roll out the red carpet for him when he was still wet behind the ears?  Did Steve Jobs?  It's probably easier for a woman now to get a small business loan or grant for a tech start-up these days.  Or they could do it the old fashioned way and code like the wind in the comfort of their parents' basements, harassment free.

Maybe, just maybe, if you aren't the head honcho, if you aren't the goose that's laying the golden eggs, if you are not the pivotal player upon with the success of your employer's business balances, you should learn your place and stay in it.  Be nice to people, blow off the slights and offenses, give people the benefit of the doubt, and don't assume that you have the authority to correct everyone around you.  Does no one think they have to put in their time anymore and make a little coffee? 

Honestly, if you can't handle a little blue language, maybe a nearly all male workplace isn't for you.  Or, heck, any workplace now.  The world has become a crass place.  But this incident wasn't about fighting crassness or inappropriateness; it was about control and demonstrating who has it and who doesn't and who is supposed to bend his neck.  There's a risk in playing that game, though, if you haven't quite got those numbers crunched correctly.  Adria Richards learned that the hard way. 


*This post was made possible with support from AEC and readers like you.