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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Let’s Just Say He’s Innocent

I had a nightmare last night that I was held down and sexually assaulted, and when I tried to speak out, I was mocked, threatened, lied about, and publicly humiliated. And a huge group of white men smiled approvingly while it happened.

“Can’t you just investigate?” I asked. “I’ll let the facts speak for themselves, if only you’ll take the time to look. I have nothing to hide. Do you?”

So they pretended to look, but they were in a hurry. They had other priorities. My pain, my trauma didn’t matter. They didn’t care.

I felt like I was brutalized all over again.

If only I had been taken seriously, if only a full investigation had been done. Even if my attacker was deemed innocent, I would have felt heard. But that’s not what happened. These men didn’t care about me in the face of their agenda.

Let’s just say Kavanaugh is pure as the driven snow. (We’ll never know, now.) Why not take the time for a full investigation, then? What harm would it do? In fact, it would do a great deal of good.

Because, today, I’m every woman who has ever been assaulted. I just want to be listened to, with respect. I want the world to acknowledge that what happened to me matters. Couldn’t Kavanaugh’s inevitable confirmation have waited a bit longer for a thorough investigation so that sexual assault victims the world over could feel acknowledged? What harm would that have done?

Before any justice is appointed, we all should be justly taken into consideration. That’s it. That’s all.

And that’s what didn’t happen. Instead, every aye vote felt like a stab to the vagina. Rest assured that we will all bleed our way to the voting booth.

Shame on all of you who were so busy praying that you’d get a judge that would vote your way that you were willing to step on millions of women to do so. Shame. You have shined a light on the darkness of your soul, and none of us will ever be the same.

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What Do You Do?

My wonderfully woke husband recently posted this picture on his Facebook page, along with the explanation quoted below it.

Jackson Katz

Men ask why women are so pissed off, even guys with wives and daughters. Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why. He’s done it with hundreds of audiences:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.

“Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

“Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.”

Yup. I do the vast majority of these things. It’s second nature to me. I don’t even think about it. It’s what I have to do, as a woman, to walk safely through this world.

It never occurred to me that men don’t think about these things. It never really entered my mind how off balance this world is. It makes me kind of sick to my stomach in retrospect.

And then I remembered a couple of incidents that make a lot more sense to me now.

Once I was on a first date with a really nice guy and he was doing his best to impress me. We were having fun in downtown Jacksonville, and to get from one place to another, we decided to take a shortcut through an alley. (It was really more of a pedestrian walkway, paved with cobblestones and very well lit, but deserted.) I’d been through it a thousand times. But this time when we were halfway through, a scary guy entered from the other end. I stopped dead and started backing up. My date kept going and engaged the guy in conversation. He was begging for money. I think my date was trying to show me he was a compassionate person, and so he gave the guy some money, but by then I had backed out of the alley entirely. He came and apologized to me. He said he hadn’t even thought of the fact that the situation was unsafe, and he shouldn’t have put me in it. Yup. He never had to think of things like that when he was on his own.

Another time, I was riding bikes with my boyfriend through our small town, and we decided to go into the local convenience store, as we had many times before. But this time I could hear drunken shouting inside. Again, I stopped dead. I said, “Uh… not a good idea. Not safe.” But my boyfriend was thirsty, so he went anyway. I rode off and went home, where I have an arsenal of strategically placed innocent-looking items that I can use as weapons if need be. A much safer place to be than in the presence of an outraged drunken stranger. When my boyfriend got back he asked me why I had left without him. I said I wasn’t safe. He was truly baffled.

I would love to have the luxury of being baffled. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying not to be in harm’s way. That’s the way it is. If more men saw that, it would make life easier for us women. I’m not expecting to be taken care of. In fact, I don’t want to be treated like a hothouse flower. But if I do ask you for help, or if I signal that you’re putting me in a situation, then please, take it seriously. That’s really the least you can do while I’m doing everything else on the list above, don’t you think?

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“He’s Always Been Good to Me”

After Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, all these people came out of the woodwork to say how nice Brett Kavanaugh had always been to them. I’m glad to hear it. But what has that got to do with her testimony?

It’s the same after someone becomes a spree killer. “He was always so quiet. He paid his rent on time. He used to hold the door open for me.”

Humans are complex, folks. The fact that Kavanaugh volunteered at a soup kitchen does not absolve him from any crimes he may also have committed. And it certainly does not mean that he couldn’t possibly have committed crimes. Character references only get you so far. Charles Manson got more fan mail than any other prisoner in American history. That doesn’t make him a Boy Scout.

I’m really glad that Brett Kavanaugh isn’t the devil incarnate. I hope he has many opportunities to help little old ladies cross the street. We need that in this world.

But do I believe that at least once in his life, his did a horrible, unforgivable, unacceptable thing, and because of that a woman’s life was changed for the worse? Yes. Yes, I do.

Until we make it crystal clear that such behavior is unacceptable, that all the soup kitchens on earth won’t make up for it, there will be no reducing the amount of sexual assault in this society.

Boys must be taught that no means no. It’s that simple. Even my dog understands it.

And just so we’re clear, a yes that changes into a no is also a no. And an intoxicated yes is a no. It’s about respect. Respect for others and respect for yourself. If you can’t follow those simple rules, you should expect consequences, no matter how nice you are most of the time. Sorry to disappoint you.

I’m reminded of something my late boyfriend used to say. “You can pour all the syrup on it that you want, but that don’t make it a pancake.”

Pancake

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Me Too

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Me Too campaign to speak out about sexual harassment and assault. Its primary purpose is to raise awareness about the magnitude of the problem. And I think that’s an excellent concept. But here’s the dirty little secret that most people don’t care to admit:

We already knew.

I mean, come on, people. Stop acting so surprised. I’m a 52 year old woman, and every single female friend I have has been physically, verbally or emotionally abused at some point in her life. Every. Single. One. And every single one of them can say the same thing about every single one of their friends. So, you do the math. This is a violent, brutal society. We just don’t want to think, talk, or do anything about it.

I’m glad this campaign has opened up a dialogue. But I think the more pertinent question would be, why have we all known this all along and taken no action? Because we do know this. You do. I do. Every-freaking-body does.

The time has come to stop letting the people who benefit from this silence have their way. Don’t let them get away with their evil abuses. Shine a light on these cockroaches. Speak loudly and often and don’t shut up. Because it’s not okay. It never has been, and it never will be okay.

I’m telling you, we are legion. And when an entire legion turns around and decides to fight back, it’s a formidable thing. You would be wise to stop poking this she-bear.

So, for the guy who groped me on the subway, the coworker who retaliated against me when I asked my supervisor to take his swimsuit edition calendar down, the coworker who had a coffee mug in the shape of a woman’s breasts, the doctor who told me my breasts reminded me of his girlfriend in college, the ex-brother-in-law who liked to “accidentally” be nude in my presence, every single stranger who called me “honey” or “sweetie” or “darling”, the uncle who used to humiliate me about my developing body during puberty, the boss who placed a soap dispenser shaped like male genitalia in the bathroom, the coworker who delighted in making me feel weak so he could feel strong, the supervisor who permanently assigned me to scraping dirty dishes because I wouldn’t go out with him, the coworker who “accidentally” rubbed up against me in an area where there was plenty of room, every construction worker who whistled as I walked past, the bridgetender who always groaned suggestively when he saw a woman in a bikini float past, the supervisor who just the other day said I had too strong of a personality, the old man who touched my leg as some warped thank you for giving him a ride home, the stepfather who sexually abused me and the guy who raped me…

I am the rule, not the exception. And you have run out of excuses.

Me too. Me too. Me too.

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Do Republican Women Hate Themselves?

When I was in college I was invited to join the youth division of a service organization called the Rotary Club, and I was seriously considering it. I thought it would look great on resumes and applications, and it would be wonderful to have a positive impact on this world.

Then I had a conversation with one of my professors. “Why on earth,” he said, “would you even think about joining an organization that does not allow adult women to join?” (Although the Rotary Club does allow women in its membership now, it didn’t at the time, and hadn’t for the first 75 years or so of its existence.)

That’s really all it took for me to give it a pass. No way was I going to lend my talent, effort and enthusiasm to an organization that, upon my 19th birthday, would deem me unworthy to join their ranks based solely on the fact that I did not have the requisite reproductive organs.

From that day forward I’ve always been rather befuddled by women who endorse any group or philosophy that supports the notion that women are in any way inferior. In particular, I will never understand why a woman would join the Republican Party here in the United States. Let’s look at their policies:

  • Republicans don’t mind you having birth control covered by your insurance, as long as you don’t work for an organization that would get upset about it. For example, if you have a job in a Catholic organization, regardless of your own particular religion, they think it’s okay for you to be deprived of your right to affordable contraceptives.
  • They also do not see any problem at all with a woman earning less than a man for doing the same job.
  • They do not support or condone the equal rights amendment.
  • They want to cut the funding for WIC, a federal aid program for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five.
  • If you want to be totally outraged, simply Google “Republican” and “Rape”. Their views, even the less extreme ones, make it quite obvious that they are still of the philosophy that most women bring it on themselves. They aren’t even comfortable with the idea that we should reform policies to crack down on sexual assault in the military.
  • Conservatives oppose the support of violence prevention programs and battered women’s shelters, as evidenced by their opposition to the Violence Against Women Act.
  • They have practically criminalized the term “Planned Parenthood”. In 2009, this organization, according to Wikipedia, “provided 4,009,549 contraceptive services (35% of total), 3,955,926 sexually transmitted disease services (35% of total), 1,830,811 cancer related services (16% of total), 1,178,369 pregnancy/prenatal/midlife services (10% of total), 332,278 abortion services (3% of total), and 76,977 other services (1% of total), for a total of 11,383,900 services. The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams.” And 75 percent of their clients have incomes 150 percent below the poverty level. Oh, yeah! These folks are EVIL!

And let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? Abortion. Many women that I’ve talked to identify themselves with the Republican Party because it is opposed to abortion.

Here’s what utterly confounds me about this line of thinking. I am opposed to smoking. There is overwhelming proof that it kills you. But never in a million years would I try to introduce legislation that would prevent a consenting adult from making the choice to smoke, as insane as I think that choice may be. That choice means, effectively, that that person is killing a full grown human being and possibly people in their vicinity. And if they’re pregnant, they’re flooding the fetus with carcinogens. These are people who are loved by others, and often depended upon by others. But it is not for me to decide what he or she does with his or her own body.

So in essence, women who join the Republican Party because they oppose abortion are NOT saying, “I disagree with abortions, so I’ll never have one, and I will try and talk my loved ones out of having one.” That I could respect. But no, what they are saying is, “I disagree with abortions, so I want to join a political party that is hell bent on depriving every woman of the right to make their own life choices, because the male-dominated political arena is more capable of doing that for them. I also want to reverse the law of the land and put desperate women who are doing desperate things in jail, and relegate the rest of them to back alleys and coat hangers, so that instead of just the fetus being killed, the woman will be killed too.”

Yup, sorry. If my choice is between saving the life of a full grown, fully developed human being or a fetus, as distasteful as having to make a choice of that kind may be, I’m going to choose the adult every single time. And the irony is that if you oppose family planning and sex education and access to contraceptives as the Republicans do, you give women two choices when the inevitable unwanted pregnancy comes along. Either they become brood mares or they seek the very abortions you oppose.

I don’t get it. Why on earth would any woman want to join the war on women? Do they hate themselves and their daughters and their sisters? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I am braced for outraged comments, but I hope people have the good sense to realize that I’m expressing my opinion, and I’d love it if someone could make me understand, but I really don’t see that happening.

Even if you personally never take advantage of the programs, benefits, and services that the Republicans so vehemently oppose, if you are a Republican, you are depriving women, not men, of those programs, benefits and services. As a woman, how can you do that?

There’s no reasonable explanation for supporting a group that does not support you.

war on women

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[Image credit: opednews.com]