Make sure love trumps hate

By RecycledStarDust [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Love vs. Hate By RecycledStarDust [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I feel simultaneously comatose and an ever-changing variety of emotions. I remember feeling empty on Tuesday night when I watched Trump’s numbers rise. My 10 year-old daughter said she was worried. I told her it was still early. I was slightly comforted by the polls and his declining favorability, but, I admit, my resolve was eroding. I was worried about a Trump victory.

There are any number of factors that affected the election outcome: ignorance, not voting, the FBI, Comey, fake news stories, etc. Would as much of this happened had Hillary been a man? I bet not. Many men feel threatened by a strong woman. It’s very familiar seeing how hard Hillary worked and how overly qualified she is, yet an under-qualified, inexperienced man gets the job anyway. This is a familiar story to everyone not in the majority. Still Trump perpetuated the old rhetoric about women being weaker (saying Hillary “doesn’t have the stamina” to be president).

This country does not have the stamina for a Trump presidency. Here’s why:

Donald Trump fits the mold of a demagogue. Donald Trump’s hate speech was taken as a call to action by his supporters. There are people out there like Paul Ramsey (his interview on the Takeaway and his posted, unedited version) and they’re emblazoned by this hate speech. They are acting on such rhetoric, assaulting people who have caused them no harm or ill will. They view gay marriage, Muslims, and not being white, among other things, as personal affronts to their well-being.

What a Donald Trump presidency means for all of us is yet to be found out. What his campaign and election means for us is playing out before us right now. Day 1 in Trump’s America looks like this: women wearing hijabs are being openly assaulted on campus and in the market. Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise. Racist and homophobic incidents are occurring around the country.

 

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Day 2: someone in my own town was sexually assaulted in the parking lot of a grocery store. A man walked up to her, grabbed her crotch, and ran off yelling, “Courtesy of President Trump!” Asian Americans sharing their stories of harassment since Donald Trump’s victory. A student from Saudi Arabia is killed in Wisconsin. And there’s more. This is the result of the normalization of unconscionable behavior this campaign caused.

Controversy in politics and during the campaign season is nothing new. Mitt Romney in the 2012 election cycle mentioned putting his dog on the roof of his car during family trips.


That, my friends, drew more concern from the American people than the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump. It is a shame that the American people value what happened nearly 30 years ago to a now deceased Irish Setter over the lives and experiences of women who are still today alive.

Then there’s the argument that Bill Clinton did the same things when he was in office. One issue there:

Bill Clinton is not running for President of the United States.

His wife is.

The repeated valuation of women exclusively by the actions of their husbands is oppressive.

Now let’s talk about God. I overheard a proud mom tell a story of her daughter Wednesday night while at my daughter’s activity. The mom said of her daughter: “She said, ‘Mommy, I’m glad Donald Trump won because he believes in God.'” The mom was overjoyed. It is the actions of the person that make them good. Just believing in God or claiming to believe in God does not make a person a good person.

Good people respect other people and do not boast about sexually assaulting anyone.

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.”

-President-Elect Donald Trump in 2005

The above quote is from Donald Trump in 2005. This video is not edited. When the video came out in October 2016, he admitted to saying these words. He dismissed them as “locker room banter” and redirected the attention away from his actions by bringing up Bill Clinton’s transgressions. That was a diversion. These words are the words of a man who feels through power he can get away with anything. It’s the diminishing of evidence like this that has allowed our country to fall into the hands of a con-artist.

He abuses his power. He is accused of sexually assaulting women, dismissing the allegations and further diminishing them by insulting the way they look. Women have always been diminished by the way they look. To Trump, women are just livestock. At least NBC felt differently, and fired Billy Bush from his position as a co-host on the Today Show for his role in the 2005 comments. Yet the person who started the 2005 conversation is our President-Elect.

People question why these accusers didn’t come forward earlier. How would that have gone? Traditionally our society values the beliefs, views, and assertions of men over women. Women have historically been accused of provoking the sexual assault or being emotional and not remembering correctly. The rationalization of this lewd behavior – it’s what men do to make people feel small and what chance do you have at winning a lawsuit against someone so powerful?

People suggested these women wanted attention by bringing forward the lawsuits. And what do the women win even if they do win the case? They win reliving their experiences repeatedly for everyone to witness. They win strangers scrutinizing their private lives. They win sexist remarks such as, “Did you lead him on?” or my favorite, “What were you wearing at the time of the assault?” Now, the harassment continues online with death threats and doxing. With sexual assault cases, it is a zero sum game where justice is hard fought, and rarely won.

Don’t let this presidency be a zero-sum game. Raise the expectations. Hold each other accountable. Be an ally.

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”

-Louis C.K.

Donald Trump may be our next president, but do not let his behavior set the tone for our country. Reject hate and show love. Do not discount the experiences of the assaulted, harassed, and victimized. Stand as an ally to those who might be put at risk. Be the good that Trump and so many others desperately need to learn.  Do not forget your privilege, as that is the consistent downfall of our country. Remember:

United we stand, divided we fall.

 

Sexual Assault Documentaries

Put this documentary, Audrie and Daisy, on your watch list for this fall. Sexual assault is a painful topic, but one we have to talk about.

If you have not watched, do watch the Hunting Ground.

We cannot let more people become victims. Being a victim is isolating enough. It is the isolation, lack of empathy, and outright hatred by society that hurts too much. Be an advocate. If you can’t be an advocate, be an ally.

 

Brock Turner texted pics of his unconscious victim’s breasts to his friends

According to Brock’s dad, he shouldn’t be judged for his “20 minutes of action.” Brock argued throughout the whole trial the sexual assault and rape was “consensual.” So, Snapchatting your pals pics of your victim’s boobies was totally cool with her too?

When is this acceptance of sexual assault and violence against women going to end!?

Oh, and he shouldn’t be on the registry, Papa Turner? Yes. Yes he should. Because this is not what normal, loving consensual sexual activity looks like: undressing an unconscious woman in order to expose her breasts and genitals, snapchatting friends her naked body parts, then raping said unconscious woman behind a dumpster with fingers and other foreign objects found lying on the ground.

Don’t be silent. Speak up against sexual assault and violence.

I love this: To Brock’s Father from Another Father

I love this letter to Brock Turner’s father from another father. He addresses how a father feels, but also the responsibility of a father.

This is by far my favorite paragraph:

If his life has been “deeply altered” it is because he has horribly altered another human being; because he made a reprehensible choice to take advantage of someone for his own pleasure. This young woman will be dealing with this for far longer than the embarrassingly short six months your son is being penalized. She will endure the unthinkable trauma of his “20 minutes of action” for the duration of her lifetime, and the fact that you seem unaware of this fact is exactly why we have a problem.

Read this letter, and read the victim’s. They are very poignant pieces.

See more of my pieces I have written on sexual assault.

Rape is a huge misunderstanding

If people don’t know what sexual assault and rape are, how can they tell what is rape and what isn’t? We need to educate students about positive relationships and what sexual assault and rape are.

Sadly, in many schools, we’re lucky to get outdated videos shown in health class.

Young people are obviously not getting the information early enough to affect their lives. For example, let’s take the author of this letter regarding convicted Stanford rapist, Brock Turner. His childhood friend, Leslie, kindly wrote a letter defending Brock. In this letter, there are a few mistakes. I’m going to break this down for everyone. You might want to get a snack because there’s a lot of “confusion” in this letter.

It was with great sadness that I read the news about Brock Turner, and the horrible situation that he was involved in.

You must mean the horrible situation he…created. Again, who forced him to do any of these things? Alcohol does not eat, breathe or asleep. A kindergartener could tell you ‘alcohol’ is not alive. Being alcohol is not alive, it cannot make you do anything. Yes, it hinders your judgement, but it’s still your judgement.

In those years, he was always very respectful of everyone.

People who commit sexual assault and rape are not masked strangers. They can be very nice people. My rapist was my friend. A friend I had known for a few years.

We all knew he’d swimming the Olympics one day.

Again with the swimming! Stop negating terrible life choices in light of athletic ability.

They all seem like such good kids brought up by two very cool and grounded parents.

Sure. No one says, “I’m gonna raise a rapist!” and no one ever says, “I’m going to be a rapist when I grow up!” Good people make bad decisions. He could be a very good kid in all other aspects of his life, but he made a very wrong decision in this instance and should have to pay for that decision.

If I had to choose one kid I graduated with to be in the position Brock is, it would have never been him.

You need to let go of your childhood vision of Brock. He may have been that nice guy back then, but he also may have been objectifying women. People are good at hiding their nougatty centers.

I could name off 5 other that I wouldn’t be surprised about.

Ha! Those 5 might actually be nice people. Maybe they weren’t star athletes and maybe you didn’t know them, but just judged from afar. Maybe they’re creepers. Four-fifths of sexual assaults are committed by people you know much of the time.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol increases emotions and feelings. 

Scenario: I’m angry and go get my gun because I am particularly annoyed at my neighbor right now. I shoot him, killing him, as a result. I’m a murderer, right? Oh, but I had been drinking heavily so now it’s all good because I was extra emotional?

I think this is all a huge misunderstanding.

How exactly? He didn’t take her overcoat by mistake, or try to get into her car, which happened to be identical to his, or bump into her spilling his hot coffee on her. Behind a dumpster, he stripped an unconscious woman just enough to provide himself access to her breasts and her genitals, as though she were some sort of utility. Please let me know your misunderstanding of the situation and I’ll help clarify it for you.

Brock is not a monster.

To you, no. To the victim, yes. Yes, he is. He is her personal boogyman. He taints her dreams. He sours her waking life. He violates her sexual interactions in her loving relationships. You may not see a monster, but she does.

I have known him much longer than the people involved in his case.

People change. People make bad decisions. Unless you were with him that night, you can’t say anything about his character at that point. Only Brock knows what he was thinking. And really, who would walk into court shouting their guilt from the hilltops? Of course he’s not going to say anything truthful.

I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next 10+ years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him.

So, Brock raped her because she was drunk? And if she doesn’t remember anything, the 2 bicyclists and the police and the nurses and the doctors and the counselors should just forget all of what they saw too?

I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right.

Yes, you are, but I have hope you will get educated and see your flaws in your arguments.

But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.

They’re not tree-leapers. Rapists are people too and odds are, besides Brock, you know someone who has sexually assaulted someone. You certainly know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Whether or not they know, in either case, is questionable. Does that excuse the assaulter from guilt then?

It is because these universities market themselves as the biggest party schools in the country.

Stanford, to me, is not a party school first, but one of good academics. Also, I cannot remember the last time I saw keggers mentioned in a college brochure.

They encourage drinking.

Girl, please. I think you just made every student affairs professional’s eyes roll. Would you like to handle campus judicials? Be my guest. The load would be so much lighter if these students would not drink. Maybe on-call staff and college VPs would get to sleep through the night on weekends. We discourage drinking until we’re blue in the face!

This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist.

Yes, and so is Brock. There are many types of rape.

These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement. 

Another scenario: I drink and drive. I have an accident. I kill a man. That is called vehicular homicide. Why is it not just clouded judgement?

I’m not saying that is every case because I know there are young men that take advantage of young women and vice versa, but I know for a fact that Brock is not one of those people.

Why not? Because you played kickball as kids together?

He is respectful and caring, talented, and smart enough to know better.

Yeah, he probably is smart enough to know better. But also maybe he isn’t. Maybe he wasn’t taught to respect women. Maybe sex education and sexual assault weren’t covered where you all grew up. That doesn’t excuse his behavior though.

The trouble with thoughts like this young lady’s is that they’re contagious. They’re diminishing to victims. They ignore the facts. I hope one day she realizes what sexual assault and rape really are. I hope if she ever has to support a friend or loved one who was sexually assaulted, she will whole-heartedly support them.

Now go forth and share what you’ve learned. Or just share my posts about sexual assault. If we’re silent, someone else will become a victim.

 

Victim blaming has got to STOP!

We have all heard it. Some may even slip into it accidentally. We may not recognize it.

Victim blaming.

Victim blaming can happen with any sort of crime.

Robbery
“Oh, they shouldn’t leave their curtains open because people can see right in!”

Mugging
They shouldn’t have been out so late at night.”

Sexual harassment
“Well, she shouldn’t wear such revealing clothing.”

Racism
“What did they expect driving through a predominately white neighborhood!?”

Sexual assault
She was asking for it.”
She made me want her.”
She said ‘yes’ once before.”
She sent me the wrong message.”
She shouldn’t have gotten drunk.”
“I couldn’t help it. She has a hot body.”
She’s the one who decided to break up with me.”
“If she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have worn that.”

The list for sexual assault victim blaming, just like in the crimes above, goes on and on. The difference with racism and sexual assault are those are crimes against a person. A violation of their human rights. Racism and sexual assault are NEVER the victim’s fault. For this piece, I’m going to focus on sexual assault considering the recent events in the Stanford rapist case.

Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Maybe someone can tell this to the Stanford rapist and his father. Brock Turner was sentenced to merely 6 months in county jail for violently raping a woman while unconscious (please read her powerful letter addressing the court and Brock) after dragging her behind a dumpster and manipulating her clothes so he could access her breasts and genitals. The maximum was 14 years and prosecution only asked for 6 years.

Dan Turner, father of convicted rapist Brock Turner, wrote some interesting pieces in his letter to the court of Brock’s sentencing: “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…” He’s 20 years-old and you have failed to teach your son how to respect other humans. I don’t care about how much weight he’s lost. I could give a crap less about his Olympic potential. He. Raped. Another. Person. He made his choice that night in January and now he has to suffer the consequences, which are all too light. But by far, my favorite quote is: “Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

Yes. Alcohol and sexual promiscuity made him do it.

First, alcohol. So there were how many other drunk people at that frat party and how many of them raped other people? How many people get sloshed at bars across every American city each day of the week and how many rapes are caused by that daily consumption of alcohol?

Now, sexual promiscuity. We talked about this above. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Not ever. But damn that woman for wearing a beige cardigan and a dress! How sexually promiscuous! BEIGE! I have never seen anything hotter than a beige cardigan. Even had she been naked, she should not have been raped or even touched.

He chose her because she was drunk. He sought her out because she was the wounded giselle separated from the herd. And this predator only gets 6 months in jail so he can go tell women at colleges across America how to not turn on men so they don’t get raped.

Read more…

 

Oklahoma police officer explains how to avoid sexual assault 

The police brutality chiefs ignore

Showing Remorse and Taking Responsibility

Tonight I read the letter the victim of a rape read to her rapist in court. He was convicted of 3 felonies and sentenced to six months in jail. To date, he only admits to drinking too much that night.

To him, rape is a natural consequence to getting drunk. Don’t do too many shots, people! You might find yourself in a zombie-like state where all you can do is hump others!

He raped her behind a dumpster. Isn’t a dumpster where you discard things you don’t care about anymore?

I know I’m almost post-doc and I should be minding my Ps and Qs better, but maybe my pluck and integrity displayed here will hold up for something to future employers.

To sexual assaulters, I’m fed up with this crap. Take some responsibility for your actions! You didn’t slip, or trip, nor was there a gun held to your head. You are responsible for your actions. They were no accident.

My rapist never apologized specifically for raping me. He wrote me an email at work some years after the rape. To find my email address, he had to google me. In the email, he said something to the effect of, “Sorry for all that crap I put you though. I hope you can forgive me.” I deleted the email. It disturbed me him knowing where I worked and contacting me like that.

Last year, I approached him. Said I forgave him. I did this because I needed to let go of my anger and my hurt and try to move forward. He brought up the situation of vandalizing Chris’ truck (Chris woke up on his 21st birthday to his truck’s lights and grille missing). He went on saying he never did that and wouldn’t do that to someone’s car. [But he’d vandalize someone else’s body?]

Maybe he doesn’t know, but I think he knows. He just doesn’t want to outwardly admit it. It would make it too real. It would make it criminal. All he wanted was a little fun, right? What’s so wrong with that?!

Since there were no witnesses, and I’m guessing he used a condom since it burned like hell (I’m allergic to latex), so no evidence. There was just my story and his. A “he said, she said.” We weren’t arguing about what color to paint the walls or who broke grandma’s favorite vase, but the violation of another human being. He didn’t hit me. He didn’t yell mean words at me. He got pleasure out of forcibly penetrating me. He got pleasure from my lifelong pain.

I never thought of it before, but shortly after the rape, my grades dropped. I stopped showing up for my observation hours in the observatory. My scholarship was in jeopardy. I couldn’t focus on homework. I dropped my major, which I still regret to this day. I loved astrophysics. I still do. I took a semester off from UMSL and went back to community college, even though I had nearly enough hours to graduate. I didn’t have the concentration needed for applied mathematics, calculus III, and planetary origins. I didn’t correlate the two events until now.

I tried so hard for so long to pretend this never happened. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. If you’re treading water you’re still not drowning, right?

I’m doing ok. Really, I am. I’m finishing up my doctorate. I have great friends and colleagues. I started a non-profit which is doing amazing thanks to the awesome volunteers! I have a great partner of 16 years and two wonderful kids. I have a lot of light in my life.

But sometimes the days get dark. Sometimes I relive the rape in my sleep. It’s bound to happen from time to time. My brain is trying to make sense of it all. Trying to work it out. It just doesn’t make sense.

It just doesn’t make sense.

I’m puzzled, still as an adult, by why people would want to hurt other people. It just doesn’t compute with me. No, I’m not naïve. I just don’t think anyone should explain away someone’s will to hurt another person. It just doesn’t make sense. No, “Oh, they’re jealous!” or “They had a bad day.” To me, those are excuses for something inexcusable.

You hurt someone. Take responsibility.

For those who wish: the original story of my sexual assault.

Relief

For those who wish: the original story of my sexual assault.

Today I found out the man who raped me moved across the country. I never thought I’d feel such incredible relief. I never thought about the possibility of never seeing him again. I thought he would be a constant in my city. In my life.

Whenever I would see him, I always would get a chill. Whenever I saw him, I always felt like I was being watched. Always.

I hate that being raped affected me. Before I was invincible. Now I am vulnerable.

I was raped by a friend, not a stranger. Not some peeping-tom creeper. But I still check all the doors, windows, and cars to be sure they’re locked at night. Somedays I feel insecure being in public. It’s a control thing. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it feels comforting. It’s my new normal.

It’s like wanting to have all the lights on, and simultaneously have them off. You want to see what’s in the shadows, but you want to hide in them too.

You want to sleep, but only in the dreamless sleep exhaustion brings. When Chris is out of town it’s the worst. I stay up way too late busying myself with chores until I’m beyond exhausted. Sometimes I sleep in bed with one of the kids, or just have them all in my bed. My kids will save me from the boogyman. That’s how I roll now.

I’m sure this will always torture me, but that might begin to heal now that I won’t see him. Ever.

The Hunting Ground

Hello! If you all are visiting my site from Craig and Katy’s project, the Art of Survival, thank you for taking an interest in ending sexual assault. If you have not already, do check out their project about sexual assault during the month of April. We all want the same thing: to bring awareness to sexual assault.

Did you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness month? I didn’t either until Craig reached out to me about sharing my story on the Art of Survival project. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness month, I have committed to 30 days of writing about sexual assault. I know this is going to be particularly emotional for me at times, but if I’m quiet, he wins, and the cycle continues with new victims like me.

Yesterday, I finally watched the Hunting Ground. It’s a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, the inaction or lax actions by the institutions, and those who are fighting against the bureaucracy.

Colleges and universities have chosen to violate the Cleary Act and Title IX.

Sexual assault doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s just the nature of the beast when you get people together from this culture: where sexual assault has not been addressed, where sexual promiscuity has been pinned on females, and sexual desire said to be something ingrained in the biology of males.

Less than 8% of men on campus commit 90% of campus sexual assaults. Repeat offenders commit an average of 6 or more sexual assaults (Lisa & Miller, 2002). These statistics do not include females as offender or males as victims, but that does not mean that does not occur or is any less of an issue!

We need to break the belief that women are possessions, here to pleasure men, and men cannot help their “biological predisposition” of uncontrollable sexual desire. Society needs to stop accepting and promoting the sexually aggressive behaviors of men.

Just because a woman says no, and because you had sex, those are the two facts: a woman said no and you had sex, then are you a rapist automatically because of that?!
– male student from Brown in historic footage

 

Yes, Brown student, yes, that makes you a rapist. We also need to quit the cycle of reaffirming that rapists are creepy dudes who lurk in bushes at dusk! Beyond teaching people that “nice people” don’t rape, it reaffirms this belief that if I’m an all around nice person, I did not rape this person. It was just a “miscommunication.” Rapists can be your friends: 4 out of 5 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.

Staggeringly, only 26% of rapes reported to police end in arrest, and only 20% of rapes are prosecuted (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 2010). Destruction of rape kits or not processing them occurs.

Colleges and universities need to have their crime stats as low as possible so it doesn’t detract from admissions, so they think. But, as seen with Senator McCaskill’s investigation into campus sexual assault, everyone has it. Accepting the problem and addressing it will not occur until higher education puts students before the bottom line.

Don’t even get me started on athletics: 4% of students on campus are athletes, they commit 19% of all campus sexual assaults. Entitlement. Period. They are “celebrities” which enhances their sense of entitlement and given such passes by administrators because of what they mean for the colleges or universities: admissions, donors, fame.

At Notre Dame, for example, campus police cannot approach students or athletic department members at the arenas, courts, or stadiums. Just look at the case of James Winston. He raped a woman, and with proof stacked up against him, Florida State University allowed him to play football, the State Attorney said he would not pursue charges, and Winston went on to be the 2015 top NFL draft pick. Athletics has a history of accepting the heinous behaviors of athletes. Make it stop.

Make sexual assault on your campus unacceptable. We are not only supposed to educate students with their subjects, but with how to be a person. If what we are doing now with sexual assault is how we’re educating them, we’re failing. We’re failing not only them, but the future society they are supposed to create.

Read More
Student-Athletes Commit Sexual Assault More Often Than Peers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Sexual Assault in College

RAINN.org Sexual Assault Information