It’s Your Body

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post called Tickling, about how tickling can be a form of aggression, and how it can often be very unwelcome and inappropriate. That blog post resonated with a lot of people. It’s short and to the point, so I hope you’ll read it.

I thought of that post recently. I was really impressed to discover that one of my nieces is teaching her two-year-old daughter that no one should get to touch her in any way, shape, form, or fashion, without her permission. Forget about good touch, bad touch. It’s her body. She gets to say who touches it, good or otherwise. We all have that right, but we often forget that.

Just because Uncle Fred is a touchy-feely guy does not mean that he gets a free pass just so you can avoid ruffling family feathers. If he’s making you uncomfortable, that’s never okay. Not ever. Even if you love Uncle Fred to pieces. And that applies to recipients of those touches of any age, not just children.

Also, just because someone is in a position of authority, such as a doctor or a dentist or a teacher or a boss or a politician, or even an older relative or a spouse, that does not mean they get to decide how you are touched. Absolutely not.

I’m not saying that every person who is touching you inappropriately is automatically a sex offender who is grooming you. Some people are just clueless. But it doesn’t really matter. If you aren’t comfortable in a tactile situation, regardless of your age, orientation, or relationship, it’s your body, not theirs, and you get to dictate what happens to it.

Your body is truly the only thing in life that you will always have all to yourself. That’s why it’s such an extreme violation when someone abuses it. I love knowing that there are children out there who are being taught their own agency practically from birth. That’s how it should be. I wish it had been taught to me.

Always establish your own boundaries and make them crystal clear. That’s not being rude. It’s appropriate. And I think that you’ll find that most people are a lot more comfortable, knowing the rules in any given scenario.

Never forget that your body belongs to you and you alone. Always.

Inappropriate Touch

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Corey Feldman Fouls His Message

I’ve written about Corey Feldman’s starvation sex cult before. The fact that it still exists tells you a lot about this man and his perspective on life. Now he’s trying to rebrand himself as a force for good, which is admirable, I suppose, but he’s doing a horrible job of it.

He claims to want to expose a Hollywood child pedophile ring. To do this, he’s got an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign going on. He’d like to raise 10 million dollars so he can make a documentary about this ring. So far, he has actually gotten 230,000 dollars’ worth of stupid people to participate.

Evidence of Corey’s lack of sincerity:

  • His campaign is named after his latest album.

  • If he had any honest-to-God proof of a pedophile ring, and genuinely wanted it stopped, he’d turn this evidence over to the police and to the media immediately. Instead, he’s been hinting at it for years, while, one assumes, more children are being abused. In other words, he’s positioning himself to make as much profit as he can from this tragedy.

  • If he genuinely was anti-abuse, he wouldn’t be teaching women that in order for them to be a success, they must prance about in public in lingerie. He’d instead be teaching them to rely on their own agency: their intelligence, and also that their talents don’t require soft porn to prop them up. (That’s probably difficult to grasp when you’ve grown up in Hollywood, but there you have it.)

Seriously, Corey, how do you expect people to believe you care about children when you have such a low opinion of women? The unequal power dynamic and the demonstrated subservience alone is enough to indicate that you are no white knight. And that’s a shame, because protecting children from sexual abuse is a great cause. If you weren’t pooping all over your message, you might just make a difference.

Do I think pedophilia exists in Hollywood? Most definitely. I doubt it’s so organized that there’s a “ring”, mind you, but scumbags abound, and in an industry where looks matter, they’re no doubt attracted to these child stars like moths to a flame.

So, yes, I think these slime balls need to be outed, but not so that Corey Feldman can bring in the money that allows him to continue to mislead women into eating nothing but fruit while wearing wings and a halo. He really must enjoy watching them wander about his house, scantily-clad, light-headed, and in heels. Because doing so isn’t furthering their careers.

Shame on you, Corey. You are the worst kind of hypocrite, acting like the low-rent lovechild of Hugh Hefner and Michael Jackson. You could so easily do better than this. Prove it to us.

Corey and his angels

On Being Let Down

I’ve been cranky lately. Grumpy. Impatient. Out of sorts.

It all started when it finally dawned on me, at the age of 51, that my sexually abusive stepfather had started grooming me for his pedophilia at the age of 7. The hard core abuse didn’t start until I was 11. Not that that’s an excuse. And I had been dealing with that for most of my life. But I had been operating under the illusion that I had had a few years there before the dark shadow truly descended.

On the contrary. Looking back on certain incidents from an adult perspective, there was a whole host of inappropriate behaviors from almost the day he married my mother.

As a child, I didn’t know any better. I just knew that the man made me uncomfortable, and I tried to avoid him. But looking back now, I can see that several things would have been nearly impossible for an adult to miss. And yet my mother chose to look the other way.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother very much. But I know that if I had been in her shoes, I would have made different choices. For starters, I’d have never married the pig in the first place. I’d have put my child’s safety ahead of my desire to get out of the projects and be supported by the first available scumbag that happened to come my way. And the first hinky thing that happened would have been the last thing he ever did. I know this as sure as I know the earth revolves around the sun. But that’s just me, I guess.

Over the years, a lot of people have let me down. Teachers. Counselors. Adult relatives. No one heard me. No one wanted to see. I was 21 before I independently arrived at the concept that none of this had been my fault. I should have been told that by every person who crossed my path.

From that, I suppose I could have learned to distrust the world and lash out like a wounded animal at anyone who came close. But I have always been someone who zigged when the rest of the world was zagging, so instead, I put a lot of pressure on myself to not be like those people.

As a result, I am probably the most dependable person on the face of the earth. I listen. I act. I speak out, even when it might be uncomfortable. If I say I am going to do something for you or with you, only hospitalization or death will keep me from doing so. I can be counted on. I keep my promises. I don’t look the other way. I stick my neck out, even though I often risk getting it chopped.

You’d think I’d have acquired a healthy dose of cynicism after a lifetime of being let down by people. But because I’m capable of doing all of the above, I expect it from others, and I’m always rather stunned when they fall short. And good God, do they ever fall short.

The fact is, people are going to disappoint you. It’s part of life. Perhaps part of my anger should be directed at myself, for having set such high expectations for the people I care about. They aren’t me.

Maybe when people don’t return phone calls, ignore messages, don’t follow through, or stand me up, I shouldn’t take it as the abuse that it feels like. Maybe I need to develop a thicker skin. Because the fact of the matter is, I can’t control when other people screw me over.

There’s really no point in wasting energy on an existential tantrum because I can’t force everyone to live up to my standards. I can only learn to set up healthier boundaries and try to make better choices moving forward. Emotional distance. That’s what’s called for here.

disappointment

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Merry Unbirthday

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, is a controversial figure. Did he write the book while under the influence of drugs? According to this article, modern scholars seem to be of the impression that this wasn’t the case. And yet you’d be hard-pressed to overlook the drug symbolism, whether it be intentional or not. And was he a pedophile? He did like to take pictures of little girls, the composition of which raise modern eyebrows. We’ll never know for sure.

Regardless of your opinion of the man, I have to say he did get one thing right: He invented the unbirthday. After all, why should we celebrate ourselves just once a year? This concept holds great appeal to me.

So based on this delightful idea, I’ve created a tradition of my own. I have marked my calendar for the day of the year that falls exactly six months from my actual natal day, and on that occasion I celebrate me. I don’t ask for, nor do I expect, gifts or a cake or a party on that day. On the contrary, it’s more of a private, “me time” sort of thing. I pamper myself. I treat myself. I splurge on myself. I acknowledge how special I am.

I highly recommend this custom. In our fast-paced world, where we can so easily get lost in the shuffle, it’s an idea whose time has come.

a_merry_unbirthday_party_by_caelwit
A very merry unbirthday to you!

Tickling

I don’t like to be tickled. That should be all I have to say on the subject. But unfortunately there’s this weird tickling dynamic out there.

Some people actually think that there’s some get out of jail free card for tickling. It’s as if this form of space invasion is somehow more acceptable than any other inappropriate touch. Many people, who otherwise understand that no really means no, will cross that line when it comes to a tickle.

If you tickle me, I will laugh. It’s a natural reaction. But it doesn’t mean I’m having fun.

Here are two scenarios which will explain my stance on the subject:

First, there were a few times when I was a child when an adult tickled me and it got all creepy. And it’s a fact that pedophiles will sometimes use tickling as an inroad to even more abusive acts. Tickling should not be a socially acceptable way to cop a feel.

Second, tickling can be a form of aggression. One time a boyfriend tickled me so much it became painful and I cried. And he was kneeling on my hair so I couldn’t get away. And even though I was screaming for him to stop, he didn’t. And he had this glazed look in his eyes that chilled me to the bone. It was bad.

So, yeah, if you’re one of those people who thinks tickling can be fun, make sure the other person is genuinely on the same page. Otherwise, take the hint. And keep your freakin’ hands to yourself.

tickleajfli-

I Love Your Mind

In this modern computer age I have quite a few friends that I haven’t met face to face. In many cases we are a half a world away from each other, and the likelihood of us ever breaking bread is pretty slim. Even so, they’re as dear to me as any partner in crime from college ever was. We banter, we chat, we meet on Facebook or in the virtual world of Second Life. We exchange e-mails. We skype. I have even made several friends through the comments here on my blog. I’ve also connected with distant relatives and reconnected with long lost friends on line. I love being alive at this point in history!

Granted, you can’t always trust what you learn on line. That girl of your dreams might be a fat old truck driver with bushy chest hair pushing out the top of his wife-beater shirt, and pedophiles and perverts love the internet even more than I do. I have met my fair share of crazies, believe you me. But generally speaking, crazy is hard to hide for long. It usually oozes out of the cracks in one’s façade fairly quickly.

But what I love most about meeting people this way is that you skip right over the assumptions and judgments that come along with the usual first impressions. You get past that two foot long beard because you aren’t aware it’s there. Obesity, deformity, race, bad taste in clothes, and really bad cologne do not factor in when you are getting to know someone on line. You aren’t meeting face to face. You are meeting mind to mind.

Within three seconds of meeting an adolescent in Second Life, I can tell. They have no life experience, and therefore very little to contribute to a conversation. I move on. It also doesn’t take much time to determine if you have nothing in common with someone. If someone is pushy, aggressive or rude, they’ll usually be the same way in cyberspace.

But just as in real life, when you click with people, it has nothing to do with the physical. It’s their sense of humor, their integrity, their intelligence and their point of view that makes you like them. You have a better chance of meeting these gems on line, because you won’t discount them for their scary biker attire or their severe facial scarring.

Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we’ve all dismissed someone due to our assumptions based on their appearance. What opportunities have we missed for life long friendships? The internet is the great equalizer in this instance, and I’m forever grateful for the many friends I’ve made through its agency.

read your mind

Keep your Children Safe: Think Like a Pedophile

Controversial title, I know. But hear me out.

Charish Perriwinkle, 8 years old, is dead. Most of you will not have even heard of her. She was abducted from a Walmart here in Jacksonville, Florida, and within hours her body was found and her abductor was apprehended. He was a serial pedophile, someone who should never have been allowed the freedom to continue hunting. Moot point, because hunt he did.

I always hate it when abduction news stories lay the blame at the feet of the parents, because there’s really only so much you can do when there’s a monster on the prowl. But there are some disturbing lessons to be learned from Charish’s tragic end.

First of all, her abductor befriended the family that very day at a Dollar General store, and offered to meet the whole family at the Walmart to buy them clothes, and her mother accepted. That’s an astoundingly dangerous amount of trust to put in a total stranger, but then I know what it’s like to be poor and desperate. So I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt on that one.

But what I have a much harder time accepting is that once they were all in the Walmart, shopping away as you do, the creep offers to buy them all some hamburgers, and the mother allowed him to take Charish with him. Alone. And she didn’t get worried until they had been gone for a half hour.

Pedophile avoidance 101: Do NOT let your child walk off with a virtual stranger. Duh. That seems like common sense to me. But then, maybe I’m better at putting myself into the twisted mind of a pedophile than some people are. But parents need to learn to think like a predator in order to make sure their children are not the victim of the hunt. If you are a parent, a certain level of paranoia is not only acceptable, it’s required. So here are some tips. (And before you hurl verbal tomatoes at me, note that I’m saying you should THINK like a pedophile, not ACT like one.)

  • If you are a pedophile, you’re going to want to put yourself in places where you have access to children. I always find drivers of ice cream trucks highly suspect. I look askance at men who hang around public pools or playgrounds. And if you see someone chatting up the kiddies at the school bus stop, you’d be well advised to interrogate that person. And I don’t care how lost you are, if you feel the need to drive up to a child and roll down your window to ask for, well, ANYTHING, then that’s an enormous red flag. If you’re lost, ask an adult, or risk having your eyes scratched out by me or someone like me. Yes, all of this is profiling at its worst, but you know what? I could care less. Your child is too much to lose. And if the person is truly innocent, then he or she shouldn’t be offended that you are questioning their behavior and putting your child’s safety above all else.
  • Do your due diligence. Unless you know someone inside and out, for years on end, do not, repeat, DO NOT let your child go anywhere or do anything with that person alone. In fact, you’ve got to question why a person would want to spend time alone with a small child that isn’t their own.
  • Meet the parents of your children’s friends. Just because someone is a parent does not make him or her trustworthy.
  • Lock your doors and windows, close your curtains at night and leave your bedroom doors open so you can hear as much as possible. If you can’t afford a security system, I’d even consider putting a portable motion detector that triggers an alarm at a height that’s taller than your child so he or she doesn’t trigger it, but not taller than an adult. Aim it right over your child’s bed, and turn it on every night without fail. You can get them at Radio Shack. As a matter of fact, if you’re not a parent but know someone who is, this would make a great gift.
  • Teach your children. Sadly, “stranger danger” isn’t enough, because abusers are often relatives or friends. Teach your children about good touch and bad touch. Teach them to always talk to you about things, even if someone tells them they shouldn’t. Teach them to be safe. Mind you, there is a difference between making them feel insecure and constantly afraid and teaching them that safety is important and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Even theirs.
  • Don’t ignore your inner voice. If something inside is telling you that someone is creepy or suspect, err on the side of caution.
  • Participate in the National Child ID Program so that your child can be easily identified if the worst should happen.
  • When in public, do not let your child out of your sight. I once saw a toddler wandering around a large public library. No parent anywhere in the vicinity. This kid was in the same room as the homeless people who come to get out of the heat and use the internet to look at soft porn. I walked up to the kid and said, “Where’s your mommy, honey?” and he burst into tears. Even though the child was wailing, it took what felt like 5 minutes for the mother to wander out of the stacks to find the kid, and she didn’t seem the list bit concerned. It took everything in me not to slap that woman across the face. Twice.
  • For the love of God, do not sexualize your children. When I see parents entering their kids into those beauty contests, putting them in sexy little outfits, covering them with makeup and teaching them to blow kisses at strangers, I want to vomit. When children are allowed to wear clothes that are not age appropriate, it makes me shudder. Children should not be dressed to attract. You never know what you’re attracting. And what lesson are you teaching? That your looks are a commodity for manipulation? That’s a twisted and dangerous mindset.
  • If your state has a sex offender’s database as mine does, look up your neighborhood. You’ll be horrified to see how many live near you. Print out their files. Memorize their faces and addresses. And if you suspect that that person no longer lives at that address, report it to the authorities, because chances are that criminal has taken flight and is re-offending. (There’s an address near my house that looks abandoned to me, and a sex offender supposedly lives there. I’ve reported this to the police, but that address is still the one listed for this guy, and that disturbs me greatly.)
  • Pedophiles LOVE the internet. Pay close attention to what your child does on line. Your child should not be talking to anyone whom you do not know personally. Period.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • As a parent, trust should not be your default position when someone enters your sphere. Trust should have to be earned, and it shouldn’t be easy.

I know it takes energy to be on alert 24 hours a day, but this world isn’t a safe place, and your children are too precious to put at risk.

school safety

(Image credit: pasadenausd.org)

Can You Keep a Secret?

What? You didn’t seriously think I was going to tell you one, did you?  Well, actually, in this day and age when people have 600 friends on Facebook, 570 of whom they’ve never met, and in spite of that fact they post the most intimate, personal things about themselves, I don’t suppose it’s that big a stretch to suppose that I would.

I knew a young man whose wide open Facebook page gave you the following information: His high school and the year he would graduate, which tells you his approximate age. About a million pictures of himself. His sexual orientation. A very personal and public letter to someone that indicated that he was EXTREMELY sexually active. The town in which he lived, which has a population of about 200 people. And then one day he posts that his parents were taking a trip out of town. I’m amazed every pedophile in the tri-state area didn’t converge on his house. Among his 600 friends, how many of them could be trusted? He couldn’t possibly know for sure.

When I pointed all this out to him, he said, “I have nothing to hide.” And yet, his planned career path is one that requires confidentiality. Employers check Facebook. Based on that, no one is going to hire him. It breaks my heart.

The more life experience you have, the more you realize that secrets don’t get kept. That’s why conspiracy theorists amuse me so much. Do you honestly think that entire government agencies are capable of keeping extremely volatile and scandalous secrets for all eternity without a single person leaking information? People are not automatons. You can’t punch a set of commands into them and expect no one to deviate. We’re more like ducklings who will scurry off in every direction without any obvious reason. Anyone who believes humans are capable of the level of efficiency and unity of thought and opinion that would be required to maintain a conspiracy is, frankly, kooky.

And have you ever noticed that these conspiracy theorists never seem to participate in any wide open movements for the common good or take the lead in movements for positive change? They are entirely too busy assuming that everyone is diabolically evil and that their personal duty is to convince everyone who will listen that they are the only ones who know the truth. This level of paranoia is a sickness. It’s like voluntarily marinating in a vat of toxic waste.

My response to these people is, “So you’re aware of a problem? Well, unless you’re going to come at me with a solution and actually take an active part in it, don’t waste my time. I have no need for your stress and anxiety. This constant state of hypervigilance without positive resolution does no one any good.”

paranoia