What are the Odds?

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This was the comment I posted with an article from AwesomelyLuvvie on Facebook.  This morning in the stark light of day we find ourselves with not one, but two more dead black men who should still be alive. Rather than write my own post about it, I would like you to read Luvvie’s post.

White people. Yes, you. Even you nice ones. These things that are happening? These horrifying things that are happening to my people? They are because people who look like you, have set up a system of supremacy that flourishes. It is one that says people who look like me are violent, threats. It doesn’t matter if they’re holding books, wallets, bags of skittles. It is one that allows people to be killed by cops while sitting in their cars. It allows people to be killed while they lay on the ground with their hands showing. It allows people to be killed while walking away.

Is she mad? Does she use some strong language? You bet she does and she is. SOmetimes strong language is needed.

If you want to know what you can do, start here:
http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/

If you want something else to read, start here:

White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee


Now for some talk about refugees and the odds you will be killed by one.

 

If you like Donald Trump Jr. are afraid of refugees and terrorists I would like you to consider this…

These are the odds these things will happen to you in your lifetime:

Killed by a terrorist:     1 in 20,000,000

Being shot to death:    1 in 300

Being raped:                   1 in 5 for women, 1 in 71 for men

It is funny how Republicans and specifically Trump want us to be much more scared of the terrorists (and our Muslim neighbors) than we are of the Brock Turners of this country (and the Judges who slap them on the wrist) and the NRA which are both MUCH more dangerous.


Finally to tie these two issues together and drive home the point…

In The United States of America, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

I am not saying this because I believe all police officers to be worse than terrorists (on the contrary, I believe most officers to be people who really just want to protect, serve, and go home to their families). I am simply saying it is much more logical for one to be scared of being shot by a police officer, a toddler, or a licensed gun owner than by a terrorist.


[A parting gift: Last week I went to a lecture by Reza Aslan where he talked about bigotry. He made an excellent point that bigotry is not actually rooted in ignorance (we all know some really intelligent bigots) but rather rooted in FEAR. Fear of the other. Fear of progress. Fear of losing privilege. Fear of _______. Then he dropped this truth bomb, “Fear is impervious to data”. All our talking and posting is good, but what really changes things is the hard work of relationship. Opening oneself up to loving people different from ourselves. To see that we are all connected. That what affects our neighbor whether black, brown, white, Asian, hispanic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, gay, straight, trans, bi or any other distiction effects us ALL. We are all in this together. We should be about the business of “walking each other home”.]

I Spanked My Kids and It Is the Greatest Regret of My Life.

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Not so long ago, but in a paradigm far far away I was a part of a faith tradition that glorified many types of violence including corporal punishment. Not only was corporal punishment taught and encouraged, my husband and I were told that if we were to withhold “The Rod™” we were, in fact disobeying God himself (I am purposely using only the male pronoun on purpose because at the time that was the only acceptable one).

Buying into this lie is one of the great regrets of my life. The idea that I ever embraced the doctrine of spanking my children when they disobeyed me now turns my stomach. Thankfully, I could never bring myself to doing it with the regularity or gusto that many people I knew did, but I did do it. Far. Too. Often.

And right here, right now, on the biggest forum I personally have, I am ready to go on the record.

I repent. I was wrong. 

Recently a study from The University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan has come out on the effects of spanking. And guess what? Spanking does not produce the fruit that the proponents of it would have you believe. Violence is definitely one way to get someone to comply with your wishes, especially if you are bigger, stronger, smarter and in control of pretty much every aspect of that person’s life (i.e. your child). It is NOT the best way. Not by a long shot.

The UT/UofM study spanned a period of 50 years, followed over 160,000 children, and was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.  Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin stated, “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.” SURPRISE. #science

From the UT News article, Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research:

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs. As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development.

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Did you catch that? BOTH spanking and PHYSICAL ABUSE were associated with the SAME detrimental outcomes in the SAME direction and NEARLY THE SAME strength.

Currently, in the U.S. 65% of percent of people approve of spanking and 50% of parents say they at least sometimes spank their kids. As succinctly put by The Economist, “In America Republicans spank more than Democrats; southerners more than north-easterners; blacks more than whites; and born-again Christians more than everyone else.” You can find the numbers to back that up here. I was a “born-again Christian”. I currently call myself a follower of Jesus. I disagree with way too much of my old system’s doctrine and practice to identify myself that way anymore.

Do you want to know why born-again Christian parents spank more than anyone else? Because their God demands it. They are, by and large, loving parents who want to do what is best for their kids. They love their kids. They spank because they have been taught that in order to truly love their children that they must. How sad.

There is at least one more study I think you will find important to our discussion. It is a 2008 study by Dr. Martin Teicher, a neuroscientist at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Teicher studied the consequences of corporal punishment on brain scans. I read an article yesterday called, Is Being Pro-Spanking A Sign of Brain Damage (You can see the scans on the link). It said:

In 2008, he and his team completed a five-year neuroimaging study of the impact of corporal punishment on the brain. He scanned the brains of 46 mainly middle-class, well-educated subjects, half who had been corporally punished and half who had not. “All the subjects that we looked at were hit at least once a month, through several years of childhood,” he said.

The consequences are not abstract or only visible on the brain scan. His work and that of other researchers shows that spanking is associated with aggression, delinquency, low IQ, mental-health problems, and drug and alcohol abuse.

I have spoken to my now teenage kids. I told them I was wrong. I asked them to forgive me. I am sharing this with you now in the hope that it is not too late for some of you and by extension for your children. Please join me in saving our kids from “love” that does not look or feel like love.

[Want to know something scary/sad/screwed up? I learned a little speech in a Christian parenting book that I used to use before I spanked my kids. First I would talk to them calmly about what they had done. Then I would ask them to tell me why they were being punished. Then I would explain that God expected me to train them in how to obey me so that they could obey him. Next, I would tell them I AM SPANKING YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Then I would spank them. Then I would hug them and hold them while they cried (often crying myself) and tell them I loved them. How screwed up is that? I actually taught my kids that this was love. Being hit by the person who loves you the most. Hitting someone to help them obey is actually loving. WTF? As Lord Davos said to Melisande in Game of Thrones, “If your Lord commands you to burn [hit] children, your Lord is evil.” I no longer believe in a God who drowned almost the entire human race, demanded genocide or commands us to hit our children to prove we love them. That god is an asshole and a monster. I believe in the God who is love; The God who commands us to love each other; The God who contains no darkness; The God who forgives; The God who restores; The God who makes all things new. I reject any teaching or practice that affirms a God whose love demands pain and suffering to be satisfied.]

One of my favorite people in the world introduced me to something called Conscious Discipline. I only wish I would have known about it when my children were young. On their website they describe it this way:

Defines discipline not as something you do to children, but something you develop within them.

Teaches new skills to the adult first and the children second, empowering you to become the mindful parent you want to be.

With Conscious Discipline, we can learn to discipline differently than we were disciplined, break the cycle of “do as I say, not as I do,” and discipline our children without permissiveness, aggression or guilt.

There are of course other options out there for parents who are ready to stop spanking, or even better, to never start. I don’t care which one you choose, any of them will be an improvement over striking your child with the arms you should only use to love them.

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Bikini Photos and Social Media.

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I thought I would make it through this summer without writing a post about modesty/bikinis. I was wrong. (Also, sorry I haven’t written much lately. I have been a little uninspired.)

Recently, the topic of bikinis (and whether your daughter should post a photo to social media in which she is wearing one) has been discussed among a group of my friends.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Personally, I could not care less if my daughter’s private account has pictures of her in her bikini. You can literally see girls in bikinis everywhere you look in the summer, including at my house.
  2. I own several bikinis myself and there are likely pictures of me in them somewhere on facebook seeing as I wear one often on vacation, at the waterpark, at swim parties or in my own back yard. I try not to be a hypocrite when setting boundaries with my kids.
  3. We try to teach our kids not to be ashamed of their bodies. I wish you wouldn’t teach your kids that my daughter should be ashamed of hers.
  4. If I don’t have a problem with my daughter wearing a bikini in public, I should not have a problem with her posting a picture in one at the pool with her friends. A public pool and a public post are not all that different.
  5. Boys/men/girls/women can literally see girls in bikinis at any public pool, in advertisements, and at virtually every swim party (unless everyone there subscribes to the same modesty doctrine). Your child has literally already seen hundreds or maybe thousands of women in bathing suits. LIVE AND IN PERSON.
  6. If you are worried that your son or someone else’s son (or lesbian daughter – we are inclusive here) will use these images to masturbate, they might. But guess what? They will likely think about whom they are attracted to when engaging in this behavior – bikini photo or no bikini photo. There is literally nothing you can do to stop someone from thinking of a particular person when they are  masturbating. Nothing. Unless of course, you keep them at home and never let another human know they exist. SIDENOTE: Masturbation is actually a healthy and normal part of sexual development.
  7. If you don’t want your child to see people wearing bikinis or pictures of people wearing bikinis that is your prerogative; However, it is your responsibility to prevent them from seeing it (good luck with that), not my daughter’s or mine. After all, if it is up to women to prevent themselves from being sexualized, we are all screwed. That is the kind of thinking that leads to women being hidden away at home and discouraged from going out.
  8. Every person gets to decide for themselves where their boundaries are, but they are just that, THEIR boundaries. I decide for me. You decide for you.
  9. BONUS: I saw a funny post this week about school dress codes. It said something like, “I wore a top with spaghetti straps to my class today at college. Funny, all the guys were somehow able to and expected to learn.”

It has all just been too much.

I have not posted for awhile. Here is why.

It has all just been too much.

Brock Turner

The Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting

Alton Sterling

Philando Castile

The 5 Police Officers gunned down in Dallas

The Killing of a US Citizen by Robot Bomb

The Nice, France Bastille Day Massacre

The hatred in my newsfeed – for blacks, for cops, for Muslims

The craziness of the Presidential Election. Seriously, we are going from President Obama to Trump Inc. or Hillary?!? What the hell?

Y’all…the developing Republican Platform.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.

It is exhausting. And heartbreaking. And even though there is no time in history when it was better to be alive – There is still…

SO. MUCH. PAIN.

There is too much hate and not enough love.

There is too much division and not enough community.

There is too much suspicion and not enough trust.

There is too much blame and not enough understanding.

Here is where I stand. 

Black Lives Matter.

I support law abiding Police Officers and thank them for their service.

Rape is wrong.

Killing unarmed people is wrong.

I am pro common sense gun control laws.

As a white ally, I must stand up and confront racism whenever and wherever I encounter it. I also must examine my own motives and assumptions every day.

As a white feminist, I must listen to my sisters of color and their experience and recognize that even as women, we are frequently not treated equally.

Truly loving our neighbors (all our neighbors – including people of color AND good cops), which means sacrificing for their wellbeing, standing up for them when they are being mistreated, and providing and protecting their children is the only remedy.

We must look for the image of God in one another. For we are all Imago Dei and none of us is better or more human than another.

I will leave you with this prayer.

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An Eye for an Eye or a Rape for a Rape – Either Way, the World Goes Blind

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Since the news of Brock Allen Turner’s horrific actions reached public consciousness and the world reacted in horror to the lack of acceptable consequences, I have seen way too many people react by wishing that while in state custody, Brock would be raped.

Think about that for a minute.

We as a society, as individuals as fellow humans are rightfully outraged at Brock’s actions, his lack of remorse, the defense penned by his father and the sad excuse of a sentence handed down by the presiding Judge. Why is it that then we want to trade the moral high ground that we soundly and wholly possess for blind vengeance? Why, in our pain would we want to become no better than Brock himself?

The answer is, we wouldn’t.

This is certainly not a punishment we would participate in ourselves. No, we want some “criminal” to do it on our behalf. As if wishing for some “degenerate” other to do the dirty work of our twisted brand of justice absolves of guilt because we did not carry out the rape ourselves.

Make no mistake, prison rape is still rape. It is no different just because both parties are convicts. As humans we are either against all rapes or we are for rape under special circumstances. I am against all rape.

Believe me, I am horrified by rape and rape culture (I have written/posted on the topic many times). I am horrified by a system that gives 15 years to a black man for the same charges as well as a system that jails people for much much longer for possessing a small amount of pot. I am outraged when we blame the woman for irresponsible drinking and turn around and use alcohol as an excuse for the man. I am sickened when we ask–– What was she wearing? What is her history? What should she have done to avoid being assaulted? I am incensed when we look for reasons to excuse the perpetrator while searching for reasons to blame the victim for their assault. Make no mistake Brock Turner deserves to be locked up and certainly for a lot longer than 3 months (which is how much of his 6-month sentence he is expected to serve).

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When we advocate for someone to be punished in the same violent way (rape, torture etc.) that they inflicted pain on another, we do nothing to make the world a better place. In fact, we simply add on to the misery. I think we do this to absolve ourselves, we do this to avoid the uncomfortable reality that we as a society bear some responsibility for these assaults because we continue to tolerate a culture which is willing to turn a blind eye to the conditions that produce men like Brock Turner. I am hopeful this case and Emily Doe’s statement will be the beginning of a wave of change in this area.

One thing is for sure, making Brock Turner into yet another rape victim is not the answer.

I will leave you with the words of “Emily Doe” the victim of Brock Turner…

“The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. … I fully support your journey to healing, to rebuilding your life, because that is the only way you’ll begin to help others.”

“Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away,” she wrote. “You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely.”

That my friends is how we make the world a better place…be more like Emily.

 

The Next Stanford Rapist Looks Like Every Kid You Know, Even Yours

Until we begin to recognize that most rapists are not the “monsters” we imagine.

Until we realize that most rapists are not the ones lurking in bathrooms wearing dresses.

Until we admit that most rapists are not found in white panel vans snatching unsuspecting women as they walk down the street.

Make no mistake, these types of rapists exist. But they are far from the majority.

Most rapists… look like, talk like, work like, go to school like, play sports like, are in plays like, eat snacks like…our sons, our brothers, our friends or the kid next door.

Most rapists are known to the women they rape. Most of them you wouldn’t guess in a million years are rapists by looking at their resumes, box scores, lap times, report cards, wardrobe or faces.

And my friends, that is the problem.

Until we recognize that it is possible for our sons to be the ones who grow up to do these things we will not do what is necessary to educate them.

So have a conversation.

Explain consent. (To your sons AND your daughters – men can be raped too)

Talk about specific situations, including ones involving alcohol (especially one’s involving alcohol).  For example: a drunk partner should be tucked into bed and left alone no matter how horney you are.

Just telling kids they can avoid all this by waiting until they are married to have sex is not enough.

Thinking it would never be your kid is not enough. No one thinks it will be their kid.

 

 

 

 

Does This Really Make Anyone Feel Better?

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I really think these kind of memes and things we say to each other in hard times make things worse and not better.

For example, I can’t very well say this to my friend whose son was born with cancer and has had to live with pain and treatment for his entire eight-year-old life. I would sound like a colossal jerk.

My theory is that they make the person who is not suffering feel better somehow. I think perhaps it gives them a sense of security that they themselves will never be in a similar situation. And that if they are, there will be an easy answer to help them through it.

But, let me tell you, it is a false sense of security.

I am with Tim Lawrence on this one. “Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” And the people who help the most, are not the people who give you not-so-easy, non-answers but rather the people who just show up and help you carry them.

Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason

by Tim Lawrence