Curbing Male Violence

Have you ever noticed that people always talk about the number of women who were raped each year, rather than the number of men who were rapists each year? Why is that? I think it’s because, whether we care to admit it or not, there’s a twisted bias in the world that if women get raped, they’ve somehow asked for it. When it comes to violence against women, it’s the women who get to “own” the crime as well as the statistics.

It has been ever thus. Women are expected to limit their freedoms to curb male violence. If you don’t want to get assaulted, ladies, you should avoid going out at night. You shouldn’t be in that parking garage. You shouldn’t dress like that. Don’t take male-oriented jobs. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Be quiet. Never travel alone.

I genuinely believe that more is not done to curb male violence precisely because that violence helps keep us women in our place. I’d call it a disgusting trend, but a trend implies that change occasionally happens. This is more aptly described as a disgusting culture.

Sadly, the focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator isn’t going to change if we sit back and wait for the men to make the changes. Women need to speak out to adjust the focus to the ones committing the crimes. We need to raise our boys to understand that violence is never okay. I also wish more women would take self defense classes. We are not, nor do we ever have to be, helpless.

And yes, I know that men are raped, too, and that most men are not violent. But every woman I know has been the victim of some form of violence, abuse, or harrassment or another, so you do the math. It’s time to claim our freedoms and make these criminals sweat.

To show you how pervasive the culture of having women own victimhood really is, I must confess that I almost included a picture of a woman as a victim here, rather than one taking charge. Shame on me.

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Mid-Month Marvels: Life After Hate

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

It seems that now, more than ever, a lot of people are walking around full of the type of hate and anger that leads to violence. This often stems from fear for their futures, alienation, uncertainty, trauma, shame and/or abuse. But violence has never solved anything. If anything, it perpetuates more hate, anger, and violence.

“Research shows that many violent extremists become disillusioned with the so-called ‘movement’”, according to the organization called Life After Hate, which was founded by former extremists in an effort to turn the tide. Their website states that “Life After Hate is committed to helping people leave the violent far-right to connect with humanity and lead compassionate lives. Our vision is a world that allows people to change and contribute to society without violence. Our primary goal is to interrupt violence committed in the name of ideological or religious beliefs. We do this through education, interventions, academic research, and outreach.”

Here’s an organization that does not pass judgment. They just offer a path forward. They offer insight and advice. They help you let go and break free.

Constant hate or anger has got to be exhausting after a while. If you want to find another way, if you want to move on with your life but don’t know how, or you have a family member who is heading down a violent path and you don’t know what to do, this organization is for you.

For more information, check out this PSA, and also this story of one family transformed. After that, reach out to them at info@lifeafterhate.org, or call 612-888-EXIT (3948).

Please join me in supporting Life After Hate. No judgment. Just help. We could all use a little of that from time to time.

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A Unique Opportunity to Cut Off Our Lunatic Fringe

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I genuinely believe that not all Republicans are bad. But if we have learned nothing else from the insurrection in the Capitol a few days ago, there are definitely some on the absolute lunatic fringe (as are some democrats, of course). Most of us watched their actions in utter horror. I genuinely believe that includes the average Republican, too.

There are many things most humans can agree on. Violence is unacceptable. Our democratic process should be inviolate. We need to protect our planet as it’s the only home we have. Basic human rights should apply to everyone. We need to improve our healthcare system and our schools. Murder is unacceptable, as is rape, sex trafficking, and theft. We need more invention and innovation. Hate gets us nowhere. Facts are facts.

I think both parties should add the above, with mutually agreed upon wording, to our national platforms. We should rename ourselves the Rational Republican Party and the Rational Democratic Party. If our members can’t agree with all of the above, then they should not be considered part of our membership. They should be rejected outright. “Your hate and violence are not who we are. You do not speak for us.” Let them form their own insane little cohorts and self-destruct.

Each party, of course, still has room for a lot of planks in their platform that the other party may disagree with, and that’s okay. But we have got to agree that we can no longer turn our backs on basic human morality. The lunatic fringe does not deserve our support.

I think if we did that, we might discover that we all agree on much more than we think.

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Not Real Life

Have you ever noticed that no one ever says ouch in action movies? They get attacked and immediately respond in kind. I’m not so quick on the uptake. If someone hit me, I’d be shocked. I’d say ow. Only then would I beat the living crap out of them.

Another thing is that combative females often have long hair, but no one ever grabs that hair to yank them to the ground. I mean, seriously, in real life, no one plays that fair. If you really want a more level playing field, ladies, then get a freakin’ haircut.

A major pet peeve of mine is movies where cars successfully jump opening drawbridges. As a bridgetender, I can assure you that when people attempt this, it never, ever, ever ends well. If you value your car, your life, and your reputation as an intelligent human being, you won’t try this, at home or anywhere else.

And how is it possible, Hollywood, to throw so many punches without revealing how badly this damages the puncher’s hand? Hands are poorly constructed for impact. Giving people the impression that not only can you knock out someone with one punch, but that you’ll be able to walk away and play the piano afterward is irresponsible at best.

Another unrealistic trope is that you can plunge through a plate glass window and emerge without a single cut. Come on, now. We all know better than that.

The characters in movies seem to be superhuman. They can get shot and carry on. That doesn’t happen. Getting shot freakin’ hurts. After you’re shot, you just aren’t going to be in the mood to do much of anything, I promise. You’re going to say, “Yeah, I’m done.”

And, for what it’s worth, most women can’t run very far in 5 inch heels. I can’t even walk in them. Most conversations in bars are done at a shout. Most dumpsters are full of sharp objects. Doors are not easy to kick in. Most apartments in big metropolitan areas are extremely small. Dorm rooms are even smaller. It’s not easy to make a car explode. It’s pretty much impossible to hold someone’s hand while they dangle off the side of a skyscraper and then actually pull them back up onto a roof.

Come on, script writers. You can do better than this. I just had to get that off my chest.

Thanks. I feel cleansed.

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Pew, Pew, Pew!

I grew up with Star Trek on TV. It never occurred to me that this show was violent, even though they got into a shooting match at least once per episode. I think that’s because you never saw blood, and even the Vulcan neck pinch didn’t seem that invasive. And the phasers didn’t go “bang, bang, bang,” they went, “pew, pew, pew.” And most of the time they were set to stun. The very word phaser makes you think it will only leave you fazed.

I remember running around in the yard, pointing my finger at other kids, shouting, “pew, pew, pew!” and knowing that at the end of the game, no one would really be hurt. It’s hard to even shout pew. It sounds like a whisper even when you say it loudly. In fact, it sounds like you’re talking about sitting down at church. And come to think of it, the pews almost always seem to come in threes, like the holy trinity.

I’ve been lucky, living where I live at this particular point in time. I’ve barely ever heard a gun shot in real life, and I have never been shot at. No invasive metal objects have entered my body unless you count tooth fillings.

But here lately, my fellow citizens have been hit with rubber bullets and glass balls. Flash bangs and tear gas have been thrown at them. People have been hurt, hospitalized, even killed. All because they are protesting police violence, where people have been killed for no justifiable reason. We’ve been ignoring this. We can no longer do so.

While I’d love to reenter the fantasy world of my childhood, the land of pew, pew, pew, I can’t do that anymore. Violence is real. And while most of us are, indeed, stunned, these phasers have never been set to stun for many of us. It’s time we acknowledge that and put a stop to it.

Phaser

COVIDiocy

It’s amazing to me how much this pandemic is bringing out the very best and the very worst in people. Today I’m going to talk about the very worst. Warning: this is not going to be a tactful, unifying post.

As this stressful pot gets stirred, it seems that more and more of the idiots in this world are rising up to the surface to make their stupidity known. There has been a marked spike in aggression and violence towards Asian Americans. It’s appalling to witness.

There is nothing that will reveal your ignorance more than seeking out some random person and blaming a virus on them. There’s no better indicator of your overall douchebaggery than spitting or coughing on some old man just because you’re scared and you can’t figure out where else to direct your rage. And statistics are showing that Asian American females are being targeted three times as much as the males. What’s the matter? Afraid to pick on someone your own size? Cowards.

If you think that it’s acceptable to shove or shout at a person, if you think that will solve this problem or improve the situation in any way, then you are an imbecile. Do you think that by spewing your hate at people who are in the exact same contagious boat that you are, you’re living your best life? What would Jesus do? Such class. Your mother would be so proud.

And while we’re on the subject of twits, dimwits, morons, and fools, can you please explain what possible good it does for the leader of the free world (may heaven help us) to call COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus”? What goal could he have other than to spread hate, chaos, and division? How is that helpful? Is that what a leader should be doing at a time when we all need to come together? Where are the comforting and reassuring words? Where’s the compassion? I guess there’s no need for that, since everything is going to be back to normal by Easter.

I’m just so frustrated right now. This should not be who we are. End of rant.

Happy freakin’ Easter, by the way.

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Tomorrow, In Mexico, A Day Without Women

Femicide. It’s a word I’d never heard until a friend of mine in Mexico introduced me to it. It seems that violence against women is an ever-increasing trend in that country. In fact, according to this article, they averaged three femicides a day in 2019 and one in three Mexican women is a victim of sexual harassment or violence. That’s horrifying and unacceptable.

As is typical of most governments these days, the Mexican government doesn’t seem to be taking women’s issues seriously at all. So there has been an outcry on social media asking women in that country to “disappear” for a day. Don’t go to work, don’t go to school, don’t go out at all. Women comprise 52 percent of the population, 50 percent of the students, and 40 percent of the work force, so this could potentially have a huge impact on the country.

According to the New York Times, this day was sparked, in particular, by two recent femicides that rocked the nation. (Brace yourself.):

Ingrid Escamilla, 25, a Mexico City resident, was stabbed, skinned and disemboweled. Her body was found on Feb. 9, and photos of her mutilated body were leaked to tabloids, which published the images on their front pages, adding to the public outrage.

On Feb. 11, Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett, 7, was abducted from her primary school in Mexico City and her body was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag next to a construction site on the outskirts of the capital.

If enough women participate in this day without women, it could cost the Mexican economy 1.37 billion. (I’m unsure if that’s pesos or dollars. The Times didn’t specify. Still, it’s a lot.)

Protest today, March 8th, International Women’s Day. Take to the streets, if you feel safe doing so with COVID-19 lurking about. (I know the Women’s March here in Seattle has been cancelled, and even though that’s understandable, it saddens me.) Then drop out tomorrow. Let them see that they can’t survive without you.

Please join me in standing in solidarity with the Women of Mexico in their efforts to feel safe in their own land. Every woman, every human being, deserves that basic human right.

#UNDÍASINNOSOTRAS, (A Day Without Us).

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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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In Spite Of, Not Because Of

So many good things came from the Christine Blasey Ford hearing. She started a long overdue national discussion about abuse and, even more basically, about what it means to be a woman in this world. This genie will never be put back into the bottle, and I think our culture will be all the better for it. Being heard provides an opportunity for healing.

Believe it or not, I’m a very quiet person. Because of that, it’s assumed, I hope correctly, that I’m a good listener. Therefore, people tend to confide in me. So I have heard a lot of amazing stories of survival over the years.

These stories have left me with two lasting impressions. 1) We live in a world that is a great deal more violent and abusive than most people realize or care to admit, and 2) I will always be fascinated by people’s ability to survive and even thrive in spite of the many obstacles that are thrown in their paths.

I know a woman whose mother tried to kill her on multiple occasions. I know a woman whose parents attempted to beat the gay out of her. I know a woman who was sexually abused at an extremely young age by a never-ending series of her mother’s boyfriends. I know many people who have been beaten up for simply being who they are. I know a man who was so severely tortured by his alcoholic father that to this day he is afraid of his own shadow.

I’ve learned of knives being held to throats. Legs broken and improperly healed. Humiliations and punishments beyond your worst nightmares.

Every one of these people survived in spite of, not because of, the people around them. Those people should have been supporting them and raising them up in life, not beating them down. The fact that abusers seem to flourish in this society is an outrage.

Survivors are my heroes. They have a depth of character that people who have had the good fortune of waltzing through life unscathed will never achieve. But I’ve come to believe that depth of character wasn’t brought out by the abuse. I think it was always there, deep inside. Humans have this uncanny ability to default to incredible if given half a chance.

So, if survivors are already awesome, imagine how much more they could have been without the toxicity that was injected into their lives. What gifts has this hostile world deprived itself of? What are we missing? How much further could this society have evolved without all the harm that it inflicts upon itself? What an incredible waste.

Something to think about.

Michael Paul Miller The Calling
The Calling, by Michael Paul Miller

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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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