Reading Recommendations and Updates

December 28, 2009

Roman Polanski sent heartfelt thanks to his supporters.  What a hard time he must be having in his chalet.  Anyone else disgusted by the amount of sympathy a man who raped and sodomized a 13 year old girl is receiving? (Oh, but he’s an artist, and rich, so it’s okay.)

Melissa McEwin on the progress of same-sex marriage rights

El Cerrito School On Edge After Alleged Rape  A principal continues to defend her school. In the past she has claimed there was no rape (in which a boy trapped a girl in a stairwell and assaulted her), and other administrators have spoken against the victim.  Many defend the school, but this isn’t about an attack on the school. It’s about protecting children, so however “good” the school is it needs to be better, and in no case should school officials be engaging in victim blaming like this, thus inviting the rest of the community to do so.

Why is it that alleged sexual assaults are always spoken about with such speculation? He couldn’t have done that.  If you knew the sort of girl she was… I don’t think it was “rape-rape” and so on…

It’s your duty to respond well to your friend’s sexual assault disclosure (From feministing community)


Living with Sexual Assault

December 27, 2009

Trigger Warning *

When I write about living with sexual assault, I mean living with it every day.  While my personal experiences have greatly influenced my writing here, I have not openly discussed them. After years of going over and over everything that happened, explanations remain difficult.  Is there really any explanation for what happened? Bad luck?

I was 16.  He was nice to me at first. I made the “mistake” of trusting him and the boy who was my first kiss would also be the one to touch and grope me without my consent, to ignore me when I said no, to make excuses for “just one thing”.  He would be the one to rate me numerically, valuing my looks and “sex appeal” over personality, to make me cringe anytime I heard “sexy” or “beautiful,” to insist that he had something to “teach” me.  He would be the one to star in numerous flashbacks and nightmares.

After that it was hard to feel comfortable with myself, let alone another person. 

For a year I tried to pretend nothing happened.  Even when I did process these things, labelling myself as the victim of an assault was difficult. Over the years I have talked and talked and written, too.  That doesn’t stop it from feeling like a secret I have to carry, a burden not to be shared with everyone.

On any day I can be triggered.  The panic/anxiety attacks I used to experience have faded in frequency, but unpleasant memories continue to surface.  My coping skills have improved, but the facts of the matter have not.

Living with the aftermath means never knowing when you’ll be okay or what okay is or if it’s really fair for people to expect you to be fine. 

It means being “sensitive” when people joke about assault and rape, belonging to a group of people who have seen the realities of this kind of victimization.  Sometimes it means feeling like I’m in another realm.  Sometimes it means I’m angry or sad or hurt or incapable of accepting the cruel things people can say to one another.

Am I easily offended? Yes. So is everyone.  In fact, it’s easy to hurt anyone. That doesn’t make it acceptable to do so, or mean that I should have to apologize for recognizing a problem that blatantly exists.

I have grown in so many ways, stronger in spite of, not because of, what happened to me.  I have been told not to be bitter, but I have to say, that isn’t so easy.

That PTSD and Fibromyalgia are linked? That makes me bitter.  When I consider all the pain I’ve had and all that Im likely to experience, I am angry.

Despite my decision to finally confront the person who hurt me by writing a letter,  I never received an apology. That makes me bitter too.

That I’ve spent so much time blaming myself for things beyond my control? You can see the pattern.

So here I am, in the open, as a “survivor,” hesitant to credit the boy who hurt me for any of my strength, but unable to deny that what happened to me has shaped my life, but not as much as I have through my actions. 

Writing these things, I am not passive.  I do what I can to make my voice heard. I do what I can to make my life better and to help others if I can.


December 20, 2009

To sway Nelson, a hard-won compromise on abortion issue

I am sick and tired of politicians deciding that my rights are something that can be compromised.  I’m tired of it being treated like a victory.  Oh, and of abortions being separated from everything else for special “moral” consideration.  Medical procedures are between patients and doctors.  That this one, so specifically gendered, so important to women’s healthcare can be plucked out at a whim for a compromise is disgusting.  It’s legal. So why do we still have to keep fighting?

In the meantime, Nelson gets a nice payoff for Nebraska.

Read this Blog

December 8, 2009

Well I Guess That’s Us Told

Melissa McEwin responds to Ad Age’s suggestion (after Method pulled an ad which equated soap scum with rape):

While the words in this space are usually directed at marketers, we’d like to take an opportunity to talk to all of those out there who often find themselves so offended by ads that they feel a need to launch a crusade. To you we say: “Take a deep breath. Have some perspective.”

Anyway, McEwin says a lot of things in her reply that just make sense– how refreshing.  Also, I’ve been dealing with the “Why do you look for ways to get offended?” discussion a lot this week when I can’t help but see them. And my complaints? Somehow worse and more upsetting than the problems I complain about, apparently. Here’s an excerpt:

The notion that anti-rape advocates look for things about which to get offended is manifest horseshit: The truth is, if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of rape apologia around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman. Not bitchy or grumpy or short-tempered, but paralyzingly depressed. Women have to train themselves to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of rape-advocating detritus permeating the culture through which we all move, lest they go quite insane. I write about the things I can’t not write about. If I wrote about all the examples of sexual predation I see every day, I’d never sleep.

And the recommendation to “ignore the little stuff,” so often intertwined with accusations of looking for things about which to get offended (as here), is not merely condescending, but counter to the objective of stopping rape. The “little stuff” is the fertile soil in which everything else takes root and from whence everything else springs; it’s the way that the fundamental idea that sexual assault is acceptable is conveyed over and over and over again.

Which, quite frankly, means that if even we did have to look for it, we’d be right to do so.

Elevator Evangelism

December 8, 2009

Today I had the wonderful fortune of finding a religious tract in an elevator.  The title page “God Loves You” seems harmless right, even well-meaning.  (In fact, messages of love, without all the “strings attached” of damnation or conversion are fine in my book.  But don’t be surprised when I don’t join your church.)


Please do not resent us for giving you this tract. We love your soul, and we want to tell you that if you have never been born again, you are on your journey to a place where you will burn forever and ever.

[Emphasis is mine.]

But I do resent your attempts to make me believe in your hell, your “lake of fire.”  These systems mean nothing to me, and I ask that you consider that other religions would gladly preach their words to you to save you from their own versions of some seedy, hellish afterlife.

The rest of the tract talks about how we pay for the sins of Adam, despite the fact that we weren’t around to be complicit in them.  And salvation is as easy as reciting a simple prayer (earnestly) on the back of the tract.  The prayer?  Basically, you say “I believe in Jesus.”  No future acts of kindness are mentioned, just the statement of belief.

Is a statement of belief really all that should make a difference? A saved murderer gets a free pass, while an “unsaved” charity worker, philanthropist, mother, father, child, whatever is going to the lake of fire?  The argument of course is that Jesus paid all the price of this by laying down his life, but you know what?  That’s your belief to have, hold, and enjoy.  Not to threaten me into.

There have been thousands of religions. There will likely be more.  They all have an awful lot in common.

While some virtues appear in many religions, like kindness and charity, honesty too… they are not limited to religion.  No one religion has a monopoly on love or even “salvation” yet each seems to make promises that it is the only way.  (On another note, religion has no monopoly on marriage either, and should stop trying to claim one.)

So take your threats and promises somewhere else.  I’d rather work on improving the world around me and helping people I can.  It seems more worthwhile than spouting off spooky tales about Lake Fire where anyone who doesn’t conform gets roasted.

Some other gems from the Fellowship Tract League:


My Best Friend.


*I dont mean to imply that people with faith can’t “do good.” I’ve met many wonderful people who consider themselves religious and who actually make strides in living by their values of compassion and generosity. Kudos to anyone religious or not who promotes kindness and spreads love.


December 4, 2009

I’ve been short on words and overwhelmed with work the last few weeks, but here are a few more links to share as I’m still doing a lot of reading:

Sainsbury’s shopworker refuses to sell pregnant woman Cheddar cheese

This one is just ridiculous.  Since when are grocers and deli workers health experts?  And since when do they have the right to pry because they have visually detected a woman is pregnant? Especially when they don’t even know what they are talking about…I understand the worker may have had good intentions, but she had no right to go on patronizing the customer and making her vow not to eat the cheese if she was “allowed” to purchase it.

“Ask Amy” Doles Out Some Terrible Rape-Related Advice

This one makes me ill and the “Ask Amy” response is full of the same old victim blaming seen every day, now complete with even more “credibility.”

Brief Observations and Recommended Reading

December 3, 2009

I’m drafting this in a public computer lab and behind me three young males are discussing how they totally “raped them” (the other team). In addition to being loud in a designated “quiet” study space, they are propagating rape culture as they do it. Bravo? I think not.

[TW] More and more people disagree with me about “rape” being unacceptable as a term to describe a test or make a joking threat to a friend. It’s depressing. Worse when they add in their “funny” little specifics. (I’m going to bend you over… I’m going to rape your family… ) And that test “raped” you? Really? I don’t think so, and I don’t think your momentary discomfort fits into any sort of sexual assault model just because you struggled with a math test.

Recommended reading:

If She’s Not Having Fun, You Have to Stop

KY Intense commercials focused on male orgasm?

Hope Witsell: Revictimized Into Suicide

Effective Teachers

November 19, 2009

Awhile back I wrote a post about classroom management and received a comment recommending the work of Harry Wong, in particular.  Today on a “Free Book” table I picked up a copy of How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong.  It looks like it has a lot of good advice in it, plus the natural comic relief of 80s/90s hair.  The technology listed, like carbon paper, might be a bit outdated, but the tips for discipline models and classroom procedures still seem pretty sound.

Thanks, Cosmo

November 18, 2009

The last few weeks I’ve been really angry that Stupak is even a possibility, but hopeful every time that I see another person working against it. Today I want to give a tip of the hat to Cosmo. While I am normally scouting around for all the oh-so-wrong things there, I am glad to see that they are standing up for women’s rights on this occasion. Their website boasts this page:

From this page you can link to the actual petition at

So, while I will continue my practice of not purchasing Cosmopolitan, so long as it reinforces so many other negative standards and messages, I am glad to find this bit of good in it. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier and the mightier as far as this amendment is concerned. Now, let’s crush it.

Thoughts on “Beauty”

November 18, 2009

A friend of mine reminded me about the Dove campaigns for real beauty, and I want to share a couple videos here: