Stanford Rapist Case Highlights Rape Culture

You would think I would have learned by now to stay out of  flame wars on Facebook.  But this idea that somehow rape is ok, or that at least the woman is partially responsible for it, because she’s drunk, is just disgusting to me.

I was recently in a Facebook debate with a person kept insisting that it’s just like having something stolen, if you leave it unattended you’re partially responsible. That if women didn’t get drunk, they won’t get raped. Here was my response:

You keep talking about personal responsibility. So let’s talk about it. Let’s use your own scenario of your friend that left the laptop unattended and it was stolen. Your opinion is that she was somewhat responsible for leaving it unattended. I would say she was guilty of being a bit naïve and too trusting, but the person who is responsible for the theft is the thief. I teach my children that stealing is wrong. Stop, period, end. Not that stealing is wrong unless someone leaves their stuff unattended, then they are only 50% responsible for their own actions. Even if someone is naïve enough to leave valuables unattended, I am a good enough human being not to steal it from them. If I did steal it, I could not use “it was left unattended” as a defense in my trail. Because that’s not a defense.  That’s the thief trying to shift blame.

And that’s what’s going on here with the “she was drunk” defense. You keep harping on the fact that women shouldn’t put themselves into a bad position. Certainly they shouldn’t. Do you think that I, as a woman, don’t know that? That I don’t spend more time that I ought to have to thinking up ways to protect myself and my daughters from men? Of course I do, of course you do, of course all women do.

But what you are missing with that argument are these two things:

1. That we shouldn’t have to. That argument right there is what we mean by “rape culture”. The notion that women, by failure to protect themselves from men, as at least equally responsible for their own brutalization. Rather than holding MEN accountable to be a decent human being and not rape, attack and brutalize a woman, even a drunk, defenseless one.

2. That even if you do all you can to protect yourself most of the time and you slip, you let yourself be human, even once, even one time you let your guard down, you forgot to be ever vigilante, and are attacked, then suddenly it’s your fault. Yes, even the most vigilant of us can slip, can forget for a moment that we must be ever vigilant. Relax, drink too much and enjoy a night with our friends, walk down that deserted street at night because my apartment is really close and I really need to get home, etc. No one can be 100% vigilante 100% of the time. A woman shouldn’t be blamed for not being superhuman and able to keep up the vigilance 100% of the time. Why? See #1.

The truth is that there are men out there who are predators.  You can be the most vigilant and “good” person in the world and this can still happen to you. I believe that maybe it makes some women feel better when they can put some blame on the victim, for being in the wrong place, participating in parties, being drunk etc. because then they have the illusion that it can’t happen to them. But it can. It can happen in your own home. By shifting the blame to the victim it allows them to feel safer.

But shifting the blame to the victim also alleviates the personal responsibility of the man. Rape is wrong, period, end, stop. Even if a woman has been promiscuous and even if she’s passed out drunk, when a man rapes a woman, he is 100% at fault. He is the one we should be yelling about personal responsibility to. Not letting them off with a pass because the victim was drunk.

Gorilla shot to save child, internet loses it’s mind

It’s a tragedy that the gorilla was shot and killed when zoo employees had to rescue the boy who fell in. I’ve seen the media rush to judge this mom and even the four year old child. But every eye witness account says she was RIGHT there and that it happened so fast no one could stop him though several people tried. One day I was walking through a parking lot with a baby carrier holding two small childrens hands. Specifically terrified of the traffic in this busy parking lot. The wind blew the blanket off the baby. His brother YANKED his hand free and darted back to get it before I had time to react. Had a car been coming, he would have been dead and I would have been labeled a bad parent. It made me realize that most people don’t realize what can happen in a single instant even when you’re right there and paying attention! I hate that this happened too but maybe we should be asking why a child was able to get through these “barriers” so quickly that a crowd of people standing right there couldn’t stop him. It was a terrible, awful tragedy but stop attacking this mother, just stop.

Bye Felipe!

So I ran across this article by Annalee Newitz that poists the terrifying possibility that the current level of equality enjoyed by, or at least theoretically afforded to, women today, is an anomaly. Why? Well, as she states in her article,

“I grew up in a pretty conservative area, and yet as a teenager I was taught that abortion was every woman’s right, and that “blaming the victim” in rape cases was something that only those terrible people back in the 1950s had done. Now that I’m an adult, the 1950s don’t seem so very long ago to me — especially when women who say they’ve been raped are pilloried and psychologically brutalized on the internet. And abortion rights are eroding in many U.S. states.”

You can read it here

She’s absolutely right! Ourfuture.org just posted this list of five ways the U.S. is failing to protect women’s rights in the workplace. And that’s just in the workplace.

The problem, as I see it, is a lack of respect for women. It’s no secret that regimes and cultures that cruelly oppress women have no respect for them. It’s more troubling to realize how little respect many American men have for them. I mean, we think we are more evolved than that.  American men are more enlightened, right?  Apparently, wrong.

Alexandra Tweten set up an instagram account where women can upload screen shots of verbal abuse flung at them by random men on the internet. The responses men give to even a polite rejection are frightening. Sometimes all it seems to take is not receiving a quick enough response to prompt threats of violence or name calling. You can check out all the horrifying responses here.

I also stumbled across this article about a woman’s response to man on OK Cupid who messaged her out of the blue to call her a liar about her typing speed, which she disproved. The guy was being a jerk, but not on the level of the bye felipe guys. What bothered me most about this article were the comments posted by people who thought the guys behavior was absolutely fine and the woman was just being “too uptight”.

Is this really where we, as a society, are at? Both the men whose responses to women are on display on the Bye Felipe instagram account and the commenter’s on the typing article seem to see women as totally unworthy of respect and self determination. If a man wants her attention, she is somehow obligated to give it to him and to be grateful he wants it. Simply not being interested pegs her as a “stuck up bitch” or generates threats of violence and rape.

Is this a result of “conservative values”?  After all, Phyllis Schlafly, conservative poster girl, recently opined that sexual assault on college campuses is caused by letting in too many women (see more about that here). Typical conservative dribble that men’s desire and bad behavior is someone the woman’s fault, for being, you know, a woman.

Frightening, is what it is.

Social Media and the Mommy Wars

I use to think that the “mommy wars” were either something made up by the media or something that had long since been laid to rest. After all, I had never encountered it.

I was 22 years old when I had my first baby and judging by the reactions of friends, family and the cashier at the grocery store, I was doing it all wrong. (When did it become socially acceptable for total strangers to get a vote on how you raise your child anyway?). I picked him up when he cried, so obviously he would be spoiled rotten with inadequate lung development. I didn’t spank him, so obviously he was heading for prison. He slept in the bed with us, so obviously we were heading for a divorce. Well, we did end up divorced, but that certainly wasn’t a causal factor! My current husband and I have raised and co-slept with four children, all healthy and well adjusted and our nearly 13 year old marriage is doing just fine thankyouverymuch!

There have always been and will always be difference of opinions on how to raise children, differences in backgrounds, culture and experiences that play into these decisions.  And parenting trends cycle around, by the way. I raise my children more like my grandmother did than my mother did. Part of that is the natural tendency to rebel and do things differently from our parents I’m sure. But just try telling someone hell bent on converting you and showing you the error of your parenting ways that they are involved in a “parenting trend”. That should get some heads to explode.

Look, I have very good reasons for the decisions that I make and I’m sure you do too. Maybe we match up on some ideas, maybe not so much on others. Here’s the thing, are you ready for this? THAT’S OK!!  Yes, it is! People are different, children are different. Even children with the exact same parents growing up in the exact same environment are different. And that’s OK too. It’s why what I do at my house might not look like what you do at your house. It doesn’t make one of us right and one of us wrong, it just makes us different.

It’s really been with the advent of Facebook and other social media that I’ve noticed, not just an increase, but an escalation in the so called mommy wars. Sitting behind a keyboard anonymously attacking and judging strangers is much easier than looking a friend, neighbor or sister in the eye and telling her that her kids are stupid and going to grow up to flip burgers, that’s she’s a horrible parent who should have her children taken away from her or that people like her should just die. Seem extreme? Yes, I agree and yet I’ve witnessed every one of these attacks online. No one would say that to someone in real life, no one. Especially not to someone they know and love, or at least like and respect.

It’s much harder to paint that mom that breastfeeds past the age of two, home-schools or doesn’t vaccinate her children as a ignorant, slobbering, red neck, sociopath when you’ve sat next to her in PTA meetings, had play dates with her perfectly well behaved and socialized children and watched her bring casseroles to a sick neighbor, take in that stray dog and run to the aid of other people’s children on the neighborhood playground. You might not understand why she makes some of the choices she does, but you accept that you are different and move on because you like her. Much easier to assume the stranger online who does those same things (and that you know nothing else about) is some kind of selfish monster who lives her life just to piss you off.

I guess the hardest part for me is understanding the seething hatred that seems to emanate so easily and quickly from other people over the simplest differences. Why does it matter if your sister in laws children attend public, private or home-school? How does that affect you in any way? I have a theory. I’ve come to the conclusion, based on my experiences and people I’ve interacted with, that those who are most angry and hostile over other peoples choices are the ones who are least secure in their own. Deep down they question their choices and instead of admitting that, they lash out. They have a pathological need to make anyone who makes different choices “wrong” in order to prove themselves “right” by comparison. The reality is, there is not right or wrong (as long as abuse isn’t involved). There’s just different.

I’m perfectly secure in my choices and it does not anger me nor threaten me in anyway for my friends and family members to make choices that are different than my own. I have friends who home school and friends who public school, they all love their children. I have friends who co-sleep and those who don’t, none of them are monsters who don’t care about their children. We need to not focus on the things that divide us, but the things that unite us and we need to support each other. If we can’t agree, it’s OK to disagree and failing that, it’s OK to delete negative people from your Facebook feed!

My Facebook Sabbatical

So what exactly did I learn from my week without Facebook? More than you would expect as it turns out.

First of all I went into this believing  that facebook was a huge time waster,  keeping me from doing more productive things. Turns out Facebook really isn’t that big of a culprit, most of the time if I’m playing on Facebook it’s because I’m tied down and I can’t do anything else anyway. I still have a nursing child and at times when I’m nursing, there  is nothing much else to do. I used to watch TV while she nursed but now more often than not cartoons are on the TV or we are in a room without a TV. Reading is always nice but  for some reason she’s going through a phase where she likes to slap the book out of my hands every time I pick one up while she’s nursing! So while I do get some reading done and some TV watching done, by and large I’m left with my phone for entertainment. With facebook not being an option what I found myself doing was playing games, talk about time wasters! I went from checking in with dragon city and Moshi village once a day to being on there, well, kind of a lot and also downloaded some new games! 

Tell you something else about Facebook, the games are truly a time waster but Facebook isn’t. Facebook is a connection with the rest of the world. Now I imagine it could be a huge time waster if I just spent all my time on there, but what I realized is, I really don’t spend undue amounts of time facebooking per se. I check in multiple times a day but it’s usually just a couple of minutes here and there. I enjoy seeing what my friends are up to and I enjoy posting what we’re up to. If I’m on there an undue amount of time it’s because I’m reading articles that come across my feed.

Here’s what happened during the week that I was not on Facebook: we got a new puppy, my oldest daughter reunited with her best friend who wanted to tag me in things and put it on facebook, we went to a charity event called gingerbread for Humanity where you buy and decorate a gingerbread house and the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. My kids were really cute eating as much as they put on the house and getting frosting all over themselves and I really wanted to post those things and share them with the people on Facebook. Honestly, it takes me less time to post a quick status or quick picture in the moment then it did at the end of that week to go back and upload things and try to remember things and put everything out there that I wanted to share. So in conclusion, Facebook might take a little bit of time but for what I get out of it it’s completely worth it and it’s not a huge time suck. When I have a good book to read or something I want to watch on TV, I put the phone down anyway so I don’t think I needed forced sabbatical other than to help me realize the facebook is not my problem, procrastination is.

One more thing, without Facebook I managed to find substitutions anyway. I put status updates on Twitter and I put pictures on Instagram and yes I did blog a little more. But I don’t really like Instagram and Twitter that much and I prefer having my pictures and updates in one place and I have a lot more followers on Facebook and I feel like Facebook is more interactive than those other mediums. So all in all I definitely didn’t save any time since I found other ways to post anyway.

I think what I really learned is what I’ve known all along, and that is, I will get my productive time back when my baby is weaned. Until then I will continue to scroll through Facebook and click through on articles because that’s where most of my facebook time is going when I’m there, not facebooking per se, but clicking through and reading articles. And considering I read a lot of scientific articles and child development articles and things from Psychology Today, I don’t know if you’d  call it wasted time or not. Beats staring at the wall!

One last thing I did learn is that with the WordPress app and voice to text I’m actually able to blog while nursing, which I didn’t see it as an option before, so maybe it was worth the week off after all!

All Lives Matter

Can we all agree that BOTH black lives and blue lives matter?  How about ALL lives matter? Whatever happened to that?  I condemn police brutality by individual officers while still supporting police officers as a whole. I am grateful for the service of those who choose to put themselves in harms way to serve and protect while also finding it deplorable that anyone would abuse their power. I can  acknowledge that it is a dangerous job fraught with dangerous situations and sometimes you have to make split second life and death decisions. I also acknowledge that being human, mistakes can be made especially in split second life and death situations. I can understand all this and still think every person is accountable for their actions and that there will always be some who step over the line. This is not either/or in my book. The people calling for justice in the Eric Garner  case did not cause that psycho to shoot two police officers, he was a disturbed individual who had shot his girlfriend prior to shooting the officers and then killed himself. What he did was deplorable and when I see people posting that it was caused by those who question what happen in the Eric garner case it makes me ill. You can question whether justice was served or not without wishing more innocent people to be murdered. It’s not either/or. Both things are tragedies.

A week without facebook

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve gone and accepted a challenge to go facebook free for an entire week! My first thought was that moving the icon and disabling notifications may not be enough. I may have to uninstall the app from my smartphone entirely.  My very next thought was that I should post status update about my progress! It took a moment to realize the folly there, I can’t do that because I can’t post to Facebook! Then I remembered that the entire point of my original assertation that I could indeed forgo my social media addiction was to open up time for other pursuits. I used to be a pretty productive person, I’ve been known to work a 40 hour week, attend school full time and raise a house full of children, all while maintaining a small farm, keeping a blog and still managing to have some semblance of a social life. What happened to that woman? The sheer ease and convenience of technology combining social media and my smartphone is what happened. It’s insidious in how gradually it takes over your life. For me, it was a nursing baby that did me in! Being tied down in a position that makes it most uncomfortable to try to type or write,  having a child who won’t let me read because she prefers to grab and throw my book, combined with the lack of quality programming on TV these days, pretty much left me my smartphone for entertainment during those long nursing sessions. Well you can only play so much Dragon City and Mafia Wars, eventually I was forced to amuse myself on social media. Don’t judge me, it beats staring at the wall! Point is, it occurred to me that reviving my poor neglected blog would be a pretty productive use of the time regained by staying off of Facebook. Which pretty much explains what I’m doing blogging at 1 a.m. I’ve been meaning for a while to get back in the habit of writing again. No time like the present! I think everyone should take a week off Facebook and keep track of how much more stuff you get done without it then you do with it. Seriously, there should be a national stay off of Facebook week! My sister bet me a German chocolate cake that I couldn’t do it! Luckily she didn’t bet me that I couldn’t stay off of technology altogether, therefore I get to blog and tweet about my progress! Maybe we can make it a hashtag. #stayoffoffacebookweek. Why not?

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