Seals Will Be Seals

Trust me, you don’t want to be a penguin on Marion Island. The seals there seem to have lost their moral compass. And now that they’ve tasted the forbidden fruit, it seems, there’s no turning back.

According to this BBC article (which, I must warn you, includes several very disturbing videos), the first time scientists spotted a fur seal attempting to copulate with a king penguin was back in 2006. Needless to say, that raised a few eyebrows, but they assumed it was an anomaly.

But no.

Since then, these penguin rapes have been on the rise. And it is more than one seal that’s in on this act. Fur seals are capable of learning from one another. Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen a pretty twisted mentor.

What they’ve been doing is chasing these penguins down, throwing themselves on top of them, and having their way with them for up to 5 minutes at a time, all while the penguin screams in agony. In one really creepy incident, the seal then killed the penguin and ate it. What a horrible way to go.

The perpetrators of these moral outrages are all adolescent males. It figures. The victims, on the other hand, seem to be random penguins of either gender who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’m sure that there are seal apologists out there who will chalk this up to the fact that there’s really nothing much to do for fun in the sub-Antarctic. Or they’ll say this has something to do with how the penguins are dressing. As enthusiastic penguin-shamers, they’ll say those birds just lead them on. They’ll say they wanted to be crushed by an animal that’s at least three times their size. Because size matters. Seals will be seals.

I, on the other hand, feel that this is a sign of the coming apocalypse. Someone has to speak for the penguins. They cannot speak for themselves.

(Shame on me for making light of this situation. It really is disturbing and disgusting on so many levels. I just wanted to make it blatantly clear how absurd and wrong it is to blame victims.)

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The Blame Game

I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that stuff happens. People make mistakes. Sometimes things go wrong.

What I can’t abide is what often happens next. Like flies to a rotting corpse, it seems like people swarm around, in search of someone to blame. I didn’t do it. You did it.

I don’t know if that instinct springs from a desperate need to save your own behind, or if humans are more into Schadenfreude (the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others) than we’d care to admit. I hope it isn’t the latter. I’d hate to think we as a species get off on seeing others thrown under the bus. But I have to admit that I’ve witnessed such behavior more than once.

I implore all authority figures the world over to stop asking whose fault things are, and instead, focus on how something happened, and how that thing can be prevented from happening in the future. Then the situation will improve.

If you focus on blame, people will naturally put more emphasis on covering things up. Serious problems will be swept under the rug. It’s only natural that the average person wants to be self-protective. In that atmosphere, things worsen.

Encourage new ideas. Allow people to think outside the box. Make the atmosphere safe to do this, and people become problem solvers.

Unless you are infallible, it’s really absurd to criticize those of us who commit human errors. Learn from these things and move on, rather than create an atmosphere of hostility and tension.

The only time blame is appropriate is when destruction is intentional.

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Support vs. Supremacy

Do you feel like an outcast? Do you feel abnormal? Do you have social anxiety? Are you lonely? Misunderstood? Having trouble fitting in? Do you have a health issue, or a fetish or an addiction? Can’t get a job? In a toxic relationship? Do you want help?

Odds are quite good that there’s a support group out there for you. Thank God for support groups. I highly recommend them. Having the camaraderie of like-minded people, who are working together toward self-improvement, is priceless.

A good support group will discuss the issue at hand. It will help individuals talk about their struggles with said issue, and also allow them to brainstorm possible solutions. It will celebrate triumphs and parse failures to redirect people toward a more positive path. The ultimate goal is to get you into a better headspace, and help you build a better life for yourself.

Self-improvement isn’t easy. It takes work. It requires commitment. There are no shortcuts.

Unfortunately, in this era of social media, it’s easy to think that there are shortcuts. For every support group out there, there’s an online forum for people who want to stay right in their toxic place. Want to remain an anorexic? There are plenty of people just like you who will be more than willing to encourage your march toward death. Don’t want to face your fear? You can simply hide in your house and interact with a wide network of people who are doing the exact same thing. Do you prefer to blame others rather than make changes yourself? You will always be able to find people who will join you in casting blame, spewing hatred, and inciting violence.

But how’s that working for you? Being allowed to vent your bile with people who agree with you might feel good at first, but has it solved your issue? Are you happier, healthier, more functional now than you were before? Or are you simply more angry?

Let’s take, for example, your basic Incel group. There are many reasons why one might be involuntarily celibate. If your self-esteem is poor, if you feel ugly or awkward or socially-inept, if you’re isolated or depressed, you could benefit from a group of others who are going through the same thing. You could learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. You could learn that you’re maybe a lot more normal than you first realized, and that would do wonders for your self-image. A group like that, with the goal of helping you find ways to form a healthy romantic relationship, would be ideal. Unfortunately that’s not what on-line Incel groups do.

Incel groups place the blame on others. It’s the fault of women that you’re not getting laid. Yeah. You’re just fine the way you are. Its them. They are shallow and only go for muscular, gorgeous men. Because of that, you are not getting the sex you’re entitled to. That attitude rapidly devolves into misogyny, and then you get people encouraging violence. They celebrate mass killers. They encourage rape and spousal abuse. They say they’d feel soooo much better if someone threw acid into women’s faces.

But the thing is, how does that solve your problem? Do you think that attitude or behavior is going to bring you love? Because I’m here to tell you that you could be the most gorgeous man on the planet, but I’m not going to find you attractive if you want to throw acid in my face. And I’m fairly certain I’m in the majority, there.

Incel groups are also based on a lot of false premises. Most women aren’t looking specifically for muscular men. In fact, a lot of us find extreme muscles kinda gross. We all have different tastes. The fact that many men, who are fat or not well endowed or deformed or have scars, still manage to find love, will tell you that most women aren’t as shallow as these Incel groups would like you to believe. We are looking for love, too. (In fact, the way these groups insult the physical attributes of women, and only prize the “gorgeous”,  “unattainable” ones, show that the members are the shallow ones, not the women.)

And, uh, by the way, no one is “entitled” to sex. Healthy sex is a mutually given gift that is shared between people who respect, admire, and love one another. Love. Not hate. Equality. Not superiority or entitlement.

Incel groups are not about support. They’re about male supremacy. That gets you nowhere. Believing others are inferior isn’t going to render you more popular with them.

If you really want to improve your life, look at the people you associate with. Are they trying to help you improve? Are they a positive force, or are they toxic? Are they encouraging anger or violence? That isn’t going to do you any good.

To be clear: groups that marinate in negativity become extremists, gangs, and/or terrorists. You can do better than that. Everyone has felt like an outcast at some point. I guarantee it. But I know there’s awesomeness within you. You just have to nurture it to make it grow.

Hate is the wrong path. Take the high road. It may take some effort to get up there, but in the end, you’ll be all the better for it. Onward and upward!

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The right group for you is out there. I promise.

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Take Your Marbles and Go Home

Dear President Trump:

Are you having fun yet? Are you getting tired of winning? Because you seem to be spending a lot of time in a rage or attempting to defend yourself.

And not a day goes by when someone isn’t either criticizing you or making fun of you in some way or another. Whether that’s “fake news” or not, it can’t be pleasant. I certainly wouldn’t bear up under that much character assassination, and I’m not even a classic narcissist.

I would think (because I’ll never know) that the whole reason for being rich is to be able to enjoy oneself. Otherwise, what’s the point? You should be able to golf on the weekdays as well as the weekends! Why haven’t you built a putting green on the White House lawn, at least?

Have you figured out what all of us already know? You’re being used. You’re the goat. The republicans can do their absolute worst without fear of retribution, because you will be there to take the blame. They’re laughing at you, Donald. And if you do get impeached in the end, they won’t care, because they’ll still be there. Nothing will have changed for them.

Why don’t you do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor: take your marbles and go home. (But wait. You lost them long ago, didn’t you?)

Surely this game has lost its appeal for you. Aren’t you bored? I suspect so.

But hey, if you do stick around, I’m looking forward to watching you defeat ISIS. Okay, I know you promised you’d do that in the first 30 days, but you’ve been busy, right? So anytime in the next month will do nicely. Seriously. Have at it.

Sincerely,

The Voice of Reason

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Satisfying Your Man

Recently a very distant young relative posted this meme on her Facebook page.

Hillary

It made me very sad. Not because I’m pro-Hillary Clinton (which I am), but because of the whole mindset behind this meme. So I asked my relative, “Why was it her responsibility to satisfy him?” All I heard back were some very defensive crickets.

And I really would like an actual answer to that question. Her husband cheated on her. How is that her fault? I loved Bill Clinton as president, but he’s a man that has demonstrated that he cannot seem to keep it in his pocket. There are a few of those floating around. But they’re adults and they make their own choices.

Even if there were problems in the marriage, or the intimacy had completely disappeared, there are plenty of steps to take before hopping into bed with someone else. Open communication, perhaps. Counseling. Even, dare I say it? Divorce.

The idea that men have these needs and it’s the women’s responsibility to fulfill them or else is antiquated and absurd. And it’s actually insulting to men. It’s rude to reduce them to animals that have no ability to maintain self-control.  If you want to play the field that badly, then don’t make a commitment to one person. Simple.

I hate that there’s even one young woman out there who thinks that this meme makes sense. I hope that she’s never cheated on, because she’ll think she’s to blame. I want to shake her and tell her to just be herself, and if her partner doesn’t appreciate that, if that’s not enough for him, then she is the one who should be dissatisfied.

Outing Your Abuser

What I’m about to say is probably going to make a lot of people angry or upset, but as a sexual abuse survivor myself, I think I’ve earned the right to form strong opinions on this subject. Believe me, having this particular opinion makes even me uncomfortable. Nevertheless, here it is.

I have known many people in my life who have been abused in one way or another. The first thing I try to tell these people is that the abuse was not their fault. I point that out because no one bothered to tell me that. I had to figure it out on my own, and it was a good decade before I reached that point. A decade of thinking I had done something wrong, something to deserve such horrible treatment. That’s way too long. Even one day is way too long to have that kind of thought in your head. No one deserves that.

If you have been, or are being abused, you don’t deserve it. You didn’t ask for it, you don’t want it, and you shouldn’t have to experience it. But here’s where it gets controversial. Here’s my upsetting opinion. Even though you never wanted this role, even though it was thrust upon you completely against your will, you now, unfortunately, have a huge responsibility. You have to speak up. You have to out your abuser.

The reason I say this is that I know several people who experienced abuse and kept relatively quiet about it. It’s painful. It’s humiliating. It’s awkward. Speaking up can break apart families or even cause jail time. Speaking up means being publicly outed yourself, for something you didn’t do. You will be judged harshly by many.

But here’s the thing. Abusers aren’t going to stop abusing just because you’ve “aged out” of their emotional prison. They’ll most likely move on to someone else. And whether you like it or not, your silence enables them to do just that.

From an adult perspective, putting several puzzle pieces together, I am fairly certain that my stepfather must have abused his own daughter before he abused me. If she had spoken up, my life would be much different. I wouldn’t bear the scars that I bear.

Fortunately, that man has long since slithered off to hell where he can no longer hurt anyone, but when he was alive, I spoke up. I spoke loud and I spoke clear. Because one day I saw my two year old niece toddling over to his outstretched arms, and I wanted to make sure he would never, ever touch her. Ever. Unfortunately the adults in my life never stepped up once I spoke out, so he never got all the justice he deserved, but he also never got the anonymity on which he thrived.

So if you have survived that sort of evil, whether it was sexual, physical or emotional, I’m profoundly and truly sorry. But you have to speak up. For all the victims that are in line behind you. You are a survivor. Now it’s time to also be a savior.

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Another Rant About Alcoholism

One of my most popular blog entries is Why I Hate Alcohol, and I genuinely thought I’d gotten all my anger about the subject off my chest when I wrote it. It turns out that that is not the case. Far from it.

The other day, someone who calls himself “Dad” commented on another one of my blog entries, Do You Know This Child? Help Solve a Mystery. In that one, I mentioned that my father told some outlandish stories about the war, and that because he was an alcoholic, I never knew him. “Dad”, without knowing me at all, implied in the comment section that my disbelief of my father’s stories is probably “what drove him over the edge.”

Okay. Hoooo. Wow. That still pisses me off to an unbelievable degree. And when I have such a strong reaction to something, my first instinct is to take a closer look and ask myself what about the situation is pushing my buttons.

First of all, I hate being misunderstood, but in this case that was probably my fault for not clarifying my relationship. When I said I did not know my father because of his alcoholism, I didn’t mean he was present in my life but always “in his cups.” I meant that because he was such a mean drunk and a worthless fraction of a man, he left my family when I was three months old. I never met him, never got child support from him, never received so much as a phone call or a Christmas card my entire life. So yeah, I suppose I didn’t make myself quite clear in that entry. I literally didn’t know my father.

But what really makes my head explode is the implication that, had I known him, I could have in some way “driven him over the edge.” The man came home a drunk from a war that had ended 20 years before I was born. I’m sure he had PTSD, and that was a contributing factor, and that’s tragic, but making the assumption that the blame for one’s alcohol abuse lies somewhere outside oneself is the worst of all alcoholic excuses.

No one forces someone to start drinking. Not once did anyone hold a gun to the man’s head and pour the gin down his throat. Millions of people have experienced horrors and not tried to pour alcohol over those memories.

I’m sorry. I know this probably won’t be a popular sentiment, but dammit, the bedrock of being an alcoholic is selfishness and irresponsibility. Without those two things, you don’t destroy your life and the lives of every person within your sphere of influence. Full stop.

Alcoholics are very adept at blaming the rest of the world for their problems. The whole “poor me” thing may as well be tattooed on their foreheads. But I refuse to feel sorry for an alcoholic. I don’t care how often people try to call it a disease. It’s an addiction, which is a mental health issue, and yes, more often than not one will need help to conquer it. But unless and until you admit to yourself that you have made the bed that you so frequently pass out in, no healing can take place for you or anyone who has the misfortune to love you. You can’t clean up your mess until you first take ownership of it. Grow up!

“Pushed him over the edge,” my ass. Sheesh.

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[Image by Somadjinn on deviantart.com]