Beauty, Ugliness & the Meaning of Life

I began writing this post once already and the Internet ate it. For a few minutes I was quite upset as I really liked the direction the post was taking. But now that the mourning period has ended, I have decided that perhaps those words were for me and me alone, and that because of their death, the evolution of my thoughts will have new life and I will be able to communicate with greater clarity.

Just a quick note: This is not a post about Frank’s book. This is a post about Frank and Genie (This ain’t no book cult after all – see what I did there Frank?). The book is all well and good and taught me a lot, however why would you sit with your nose in a book when its author is in the room and you can speak to them face to face?


 

frankeddiedeens This weekend Kent and I had the rare privilege of mingling lives with Frank and Genie Schaeffer as they stayed with us in our home. They were in town to promote Frank’s most recent book,
Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes in God.
Frank Schaeffer (son of evangelical royalty,
New York Times best seller and erstwhile architect an purveyor of the Christian Coalition and the Moral majority) and his lovely wife are among the most gracious, generous, unassuming and fun house guests we have ever had the pleasure of hosting.

 

This post is my attempt to allow you a glimpselilacs into the joy of this weekend in the same way that Frank’s painting of lilacs can transport me to my childhood backyard and the smell of spring. While it is a mere attempt to mimic the beauty, no painting can be spring and nothing I write can take the place of having been here.

 

 

f&gFrank almost always travels without Genie, as most groups do not choose to spend the money required to purchase the extra plane ticket or they somehow do not find value in having the spouse of the speaker at their event, I do not pretend to know their reasons. However, I can tell you that Genie Schaeffer is an endlessly interesting person and if you have read any of Frank’s memoirs like Crazy for God, you already know that. Genie is a pure delight and I feel very confident that Frank would agree that she is his “secret sauce”. By that I mean that without knowing Genie, you will never truly know Frank. Without her, he is an incomplete picture, as am I, without Kent. She is his muse, his greatest love and his anchor in a stormy sea. She is, as he says, the only person who truly understands him and knows with a knowing that only comes with experience what complexities of life have made him the man I now know.

 

As I mentioned before, Frank was in town to promote his book, and though we only brought together a whopping 30 people at most, Frank spoke to us with all the passion of a person who was in town (as Frank was in a former life) via a flight on Jerry Falwell’s private jet to be introduced as the keynote speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention by Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. And although Frank Schaeffer has held court with many, many famous and “important” people, he was most at home on the floor of the bar where we meet, building a castle of blocks with a 6 year old little girl. Why? Because, as he says, that is what is real and important. And believe me, Anika knew she was important to Frank. You could feel it.

 

IMG_8752My children who are 12 and 13 also knew that they were important to Frank and Genie. Do you know why? They took the time to see them­–to focus on them. They were never an afterthought to be ignored or talked down to. That is why my daughter’s lock screen now glows with the inspiration of the picture she took with Frank. When he heard she wanted to be an actress, they spent time one on one discussing Shakespeare. Frank challenged her and connected with her over her dreams. He recommended readings and movies and agreed to Skype with her to talk more about it after she read or watched. Frequently during the weekend when I would be looking for my son, I would finally find him sitting and talking with Frank and Genie in the backyard or showing Frank funny YouTube videos and Frank calling Genie over to watch too. “You have to come and see” he would IMG_8751say. One morning I even found Frank in the driveway feeding Caedmon the basketball so he could practice his shooting. When Frank or Genie were with them, they were the only thing that mattered. It was pure magic.

As for me, this weekend was transformative. We drank wine, we broke bread and though we did not call it communion, that is what it was. We talked about beauty. We talked about art. We shared music. We spoke honest words and we shared empathy. This weekend helped me along in my evolution. After all, life is about becoming not simply having the “right ideas”.

One thing Frank did say while he was here is that he tries to look at every situation and ask “Is it beautiful or is it ugly?” Does believing it help me behave in ways that are beautiful or ugly? Does saying it, or doing it make the world a more beautiful or a more ugly place? I will tell you this, Frank and Genie Schaeffer came to visit and they made our world more beautiful.

 

 

What’s love got to do (got to do) with it?

1_corinthians_13_4_8_by_yods-d4r0d51There is lots of talk about loving your neighbor going around. There are a lot of thoughts about loving your enemy. There are questions about how we can love members of ISIS, megachurch pastors and even that relative you secretly dread spending time with.

So I got to thinking, is there anything to be learned in scripture about loving well or what loving someone actually, practically looks like? One famous passage immediately springs to mind, 1 Corinthians 13. You may have heard it before. It goes something like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If we assume this to be true and an accurate depiction of love, what does that say about who God is seeing as the scriptures tell us that God is love? Let’s sub in God for the word love in the 1 Cor. passage and see what we get:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God’s love never fails.

That phrase “is not self-seeking” is also translated “does not insist on its own way”.  Can you imagine? God does not insist on his own way. BOOM. WOW. INSANITY.  I don’t know about you but that was a revelation to me this week.

What about us? How does that help us? Does this have direct application that helps us love the specific people mentioned earlier? Let’s see. I’ll try it with myself. (I don’t know about you but this is actually one I have done before).

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind. Michelle does not envy, Michelle does not boast, Michelle is not proud. Michelle does not dishonor others, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails.

If you want you can take it a step further by inserting the person(s) you aren’t sure if you’re loving. Can I confidently say:

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind toward her enemies. Michelle does not envy her neighbor, Michelle does not boast to her frustrating family member, Michelle is not proud when someone offers advice. Michelle does not dishonor he enemies, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered with her children or spouse, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in the megachurch pastor’s wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth that allows healing to begin. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails?

Honestly, sometimes I can say those things and sometimes I can’t.

However, I can confidently say, this is the kind of love I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to be. And for real, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all these kind of people?

In the end, what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything.

 

 

Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

A Rude Response: Lessons in missing the point.

So there is a video that has gone viral this week of a Dad’s response to the song Rude by Magic!. So far I have had several people post links to it in my time line. The problem with both the original song and the tongue-in-cheek response to it is they both miss the point entirely.

Here are the lyrics to the original song:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet, all the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old fashioned man yeah yeah

‘Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause I need to know
You say I’ll never get your blessing till the day I die
Tough luck my friend but the answer is no!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I’m gonna marry her anyway

Marry that girl
Marry her anyway
Marry that girl
Yeah no matter what you say
Marry that girl
And we’ll be a family

Why you gotta be so rude

I hate to do this, you leave no choice
Can’t live without her
Love me or hate me we will be boys
Standing at that alter
Or we will run away
To another galaxy you know
You know she’s in love with me
She will go anywhere I go

Hook-Chorus-Chorus- etc

Here are the lyrics to the response:

Saturday morning came without warning
Woke me up from my bed
Seeking permission to marry my princess
Son, what’s wrong with your big head
It’s the first time I’ve met you, why would I let you
Run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go.
The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life
Well you’ve got to make more than burgers and fries
Get out your mama’s basement and go get you a life
Son you’re 28 don’t you think that it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doin’ what a dad should do
Keep her from a fool like you
And if you marry her anyway

Marry that girl,
I’m gonna punch your face
Marry that girl,
I’ll make you go away
Marry that girl,
In the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this so let me explain
Cause you need to undersatnd
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinkin’
You think you’ll still take her
Give it your best shot
I may be a Christian
But I’ll go to prison
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time

Hook-Chorus

The answer is no
So why don’t you go away?

Did you see it? Or should I say did you not see it? WHERE IS THE WOMAN IN BOTH OF THESE SONGS?????  Both of these songs are about two men making a decision and coming to an agreement about what will happen in this woman’s life WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE WOMAN. The most worrisome lyrics in both songs imply that this is some weak ass woman who has no clue what she is doing and needs the two men to decide for her.

 “Can I have your daughter?”
(Not can we have your blessing or your permission but, “Can I have your daughter” like she is property to be transferred.)

“You know she’s in love with me. She will go anywhere I go.”
(This can be a beautiful thing if you say to someone else I will follow you anywhere. However, in the song he is saying it more like, I can take her anywhere I want and she will go with me and you will lose her. It seems like a power trip.)

“I’m gonna punch your face
I’ll make you go away
In the bottom of a lake”

“I may be a Christian,
But I’ll go to prison.
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time.”
(So Christian dad just wants you to know (in all love) if you insist on marrying his daughter and “taking her” he will have to kill you.)

“you think you’ll still take her”
(Again with the “taking”, as if she is an object he can just take against her will. Obviously she is not thinking clearly if she chooses a mate Daddy doesn’t like.)

A while back I wrote a post called, Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter. At the time it was a response to the rise of so called “Purity Balls”. In it I said, among other things,

My husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice…

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

 

Aside

Birth Control, the Supremes and You.

birth control

SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. I have seen primarily two types of reactions. On the one hand are my friends who see this as good news, a sort of mandate that will open the door to challenging all sorts of parts of the ACA. On the other hand are my friends who are disappointed with the Court’s decision this morning.

To all my friends, no matter your take on today’s ruling, I offer the following thoughts:

  1. This is a very narrow decision applying only to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a corporation where less than 5 individuals hold more than half of the shares. They are private companies and are not publicly held.
  1. This decision leaves the door open for the government to pick up the slack and pay for contraceptives themselves using tax dollars, including the tax dollars of the owners of Hobby Lobby.  Congress could also choose to impose a small tax on large corporations to make up for the coverage. Alito also noted in the majority opinion that employees of these companies could still obtain birth control through an accommodation introduced by President Obama for employees of religiously affiliated nonprofits. This program allows for the insurance companies to provide the coverage while not involving the employer.
  1. Even though Hobby Lobby has won this battle, it may lead to them losing the broader war. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is only a small step in that direction. In other words, someday when we look back at this decision, we may see that it directly contributed to America eventually adopting a single payer system.

BONUS: I do find it interesting that the court was quick to point out that this decision only applies to the birth control mandate and does not apply to other treatments that raise life and death questions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions. They also made it clear that the ruling was not a free pass for companies to opt out of any law they consider incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Where do I stand personally on the decision of the court today? I will leave you with the words of a woman far more eloquent and learned than I, The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in her blistering dissent,

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. “

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eggh45efjj/top-20-largest-private-companies-in-america-2/

https://wordofawoman.com/2012/11/14/why-christian-companies-corporate-conscience-should-be-clear/

https://wordofawoman.com/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-a-lesson-in-missing-the-point/

Time to send some girls to school!

banner-educationLast year for my birthday I put out a challenge to you all, my loyal and amazing readers. The challenge was to send one girl to school for every year I have been alive. We did great but we didn’t quite make our goal. This year I will be  45  birthday and I would like to see if together we can reach our goal to send 45 girls to school next fall.

I am hoping you all will help me. There A LOT more of you this year than last year. I believe we can do it. Like last time, I will kick it off by sponsoring two girls, 2 down 43 to go!

Here are some statistics for inspiration:

  • For each year, a girl stays in school, her future income can increase by 15-25%.
  • Girls with secondary schooling on average have 2.2 fewer, yet healthier children.
  • If 10% more girls attend school, a country’s GDP increases an average of 3%.

For just $56 you can send a girl to school for a whole year. That is only $1 a week.

Come on, let’s change the world for the better this year!

Click this link to get started.  http://gifts.rescue.org/product/education/year-school

When you have completed the process, be sure to let me know either in the comments or by private message so we can keep track as we approach our goal together!

#YesAllWomen – Sharing Our Stories

sheissomeoneFirst off let me say to all the amazing men out there I know you exist. I know how great you are. I am more thankful for you than I am able to express. Thank you for standing up and speaking out when you see women being mistreated. Thank you for being one of the good guys. I love you for it. I want to reassure you, #YesAllWomen is not about you guys. What it is about is telling our stories. About knowing we are not alone. It is about not being ashamed because these stories are not our fault by bringing them out of the dark and saying yes these things happen. All the time. Sad to say, we have gotten used to it. We expect it. That makes me sad and angry.

Flashback…a few days ago I wrote a post called Sexual Assault and Me. At the time I asked for other women to come forward and tell their stories. I wanted people to know that this goes on way more than most people realize. I wanted women to know they were not alone and I wanted the men who aren’t at all like that to know what the vast majority if not ALL women go through.  Little did I know what was about to go down in Isla Vista, CA or on Twitter in the form of #YesAllWomen. Following you will find the stories some of my readers sent in to me after my initial post. I have listed them as they requested. If they wanted to be anonymous I changed their names. All stories are used with their express permission.

NOTE: Usually I allow all comments to remain on my posts. On this post however I will not tolerate or publish anything that attempts to harass these women in any way shape or fashion.

 

Sara from Florida – age 25, single, college student, 4.0 GPA, health unit coordinator

I’m going to write my story. I’m unsure at this moment how vague or detailed this may get, I’m just going to spill on this keyboard.

I was 8. My grandpa left his computer room to take a shower. I asked grandma if I could go play games. I type http://www.msn… And before I could even get to “s” I see, “www.momsthatfuck.com” and, “www.milfshardcore.com.”

I was 9. My parents were divorced. My mom was dating a man. He called me butch and laughed because I liked to play sports and play outside with my friends, who were mostly boys.

I was 17. A kid in my section of band “pantsed” me and called me hot, and said, “We should do it.”

I was 17. My mom’s ex drank too much like he did every night. He made fun of the adolescent zit on my face and called me a lesbian. My mom stepped in to try to make him stop and he hit her. I hit him right back and he knocked me onto the ground and kept hitting me. Then he went back to my mom as she was crawling out and kicked and hit her. We finally got out into the garage.

I was 18. I just started college. I started wearing my hair down all the time and wearing mascara – I think that’s when boys started noticing me – because before I didn’t, and I only had one real boyfriend before that. He got me alone in my dorm one night and forcefully fingered me for a brief couple seconds as I cried and pushed him off. He stopped and said, “Gosh, don’t be a prude. This isn’t going to work,” and stopped talking to me.

I was 19 and attending Bible college. I was walking into a convenience store, and I heard, “Damn! Look at that ass. Lemme go yo number, girl, hook a brotha up!” My reply, “Sir. I’m about to pay for gas in my own car – where is yours, and no, I will never give my number to someone who won’t respect me. Mind your own business or find it elsewhere.”

I was 20. I went to a place called Cowboys to two-step with my best friend. A guy grabbed my chest while we were dancing. Same night, a guy pushed me into a corner and attempted to kiss me. I slapped him.

I was 20. A youth pastor of mine who was now a pastor of a church and married with a kid became really close to me and my best friend. Long story short, he got weird, lied to me that him and his wife were divorcing, and came onto me; twice. He was my best guy friend, spiritual leader, and father figure. All that was shattered. We no longer speak.

I was 21. I took a trip with my best friend to Tennessee. We went out on the town and drank a bit, as most girls our age do at 21. We met cute, nice guys we spent the evening with. Long story short – we were given the date rape drug, Rohypnol. My best friend ended up passed out in her own vomit, and I was raped by two guys. One outside a car on concrete of a construction site they were working at, and the other in the same bed as my best friend.

I am 25. I’m now dating a girl, that I’m 1,000,000% sure I’ll be with the rest of my life. A creepy man that sees me every Friday and sweet talks me comes up and asks finally, “So, you have a boyfriend?” I told him I’m dating a girl and his reply was, “WHY?! A damn, fine girl like you? For what?” “Let me be your man. Let me be your man for a dinner, and you be my girl for a dinner, I’m different than those other guys.” ….Clearly you’re not if you’re asking me to cheat on my girlfriend.

There ya go. That’s not even the full of it. Just the “big stuff.” This doesn’t include all the times I’ve been shouted at, stared at, honked at, or treated like I was some piece of meat that once you eat you’re done with. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect, but you can maybe see how this skews with the way a girl thinks.

 

Anna from Texas – Married mother of two, Compliance Assistant, age 26

I keep struggling with hitting send. With being open. I’ve only told three people I actually know. My husband and two of my closest friends. And now you will make four. But I keep being drawn back to your post, and I know that I have to contribute because what you have to say will be important. Maybe it will give someone hope or a voice…So if you were looking for more depth than this, I can certainly try. But please keep me anonymous. I know I’m not supposed to be ashamed, but…I am.

When I was sixteen (nearing my 17th birthday), my boyfriend raped me. Nobody ever told me your boyfriend could do that. I was so confused (and I think also in shock) that I stayed with him, thinking I could hold onto my ‘purity’. I don’t exactly know what you’d call what he did to me for the rest of that relationship – there were other times that he assaulted me, but there were also times where I just did whatever he wanted because then he wasn’t hurting me, I could at least pretend I actually wanted it. During that relationship, I started drinking, and spent a lot of time with him and his (‘our’) friends. I was drugged at a party and made to do sexual things with the friend of one of ‘our’ friends. I also woke up once to find my ex’s best friend kissing me with his hand in my pants. I wasn’t safe anywhere in those days. Then, and in the years that have followed, I have also been on the receiving end of many comments, proposals, and unwanted touching/groping. Waiting on dirty old men and them commenting on how they hope I give better head than the beer they got. The guy in the chuck-e-cheese costume grabbing my ass at my ex’s niece’s birthday party. A man walking up to me at a club and just grabbing my breasts saying “better protect your assets, baby.” A bouncer at a club putting his arm around my waist and “wishing I wasn’t happily married so I’d let him F— me.” So many more… Why? I’m told I did nothing wrong, but now I question everything. My instincts, my judgment, where I go because who might be there,,,especially having multiple experiences. It makes me feel responsible to some extent, I guess.

 

Priscilla from Hyderabad, India  – age 32, married to an equally amazing man

Hey, just wanted to share mine & my family experiences of sexual abuse to help your post. My mom was a single parent so we all were obviously more prone to abuse without a man in the house, including herself. The only proper man in house when my dad left was my wee brother . We are 4 sisters and we faced almost everything you had mentioned in your question, started as young as 8 yrs. My mom faced sexual advances from our rented flat owner to men in our colony. Random men used to flash their private parts at us and also men we knew at shops to which we would go regularly. While taking walks young boys would just whack us on our private parts and ran away, celebrated as it was some achievement. Men we knew from church used to come home in the name of God and touch us inappropriately. I hope this was of help, sorry if it was too much but it is the truth. Thanks for asking I feel lighter.

 

Amber – I am 28 years old. I work part time as a payroll administrator.  Most of the time, I am home with my 3 year old daughter Sadie. I have been married for 4 years. I graduated from Ferris State University, where I met my husband, David. I live in Holland, Michigan.

Hi, I read your post about sexual abuse. Thanks for sharing and I hope you are doing well today. It’s such a tough subject. I would like to share some of my unwanted advances. Most came from family. Some worst then others, like incest at a young age. I hope you don’t mind me sharing. It helps me when I write about it.

First memory was being about 8 and having my uncle rub the front of my pants (crotch area) while we watched a movie. He had a blanket over us. I just thought, whatever.

Same uncle, smacked me on the butt for several years. At least till age 13. He did it whenever I walked by him.

My older brother who was in college at the time touched me inside my pants a few times. He told me once that he was checking for hair. What difference did that make I don’t want to know.  I was about 11 years old. He also asked if I would have sex with him when I was a teenager.

My 14 year old cousin showed me his penis when I was 9.

My best friend’s dad called me “beautiful” instead of Amber throughout my teen years. I didn’t feel comfortable about it at all.

Throughout high school, students grabbed me.

As a waitress, many times I had customers write things about my looks on receipts. I hated it too.

I was basically hired out of college because my new boss said I would “turn heads.” He offered me a raise a few weeks in if I slept with him. The man had a wife and 3 kids. I quit that same day.

I walked past a car a few weeks ago that had a man masturbating in it. It was an obvious set up for me to see him.

Now the real bad stuff.

I was chased by an older man once while I rode my bike. I was 12 years old I think. He screamed at me to stop. At one point, I was only about 5 feet ahead of him. Nobody else was around. It terrified me so much. I thought I was going to die if he caught me.

My father, who was a Reformed minister, use to pull me into his bed sometimes when I was young (about 7 or 8) and spoon with me. He was naked, I was happy to get attention from him at that age.

When I was 11, my family took a vacation to a lake that was only about 2 hours from our house. One Friday night my father asked if any one of us kids would go home with him that night so he could study Saturday morning. I volunteered because everyone was coming home anyways Saturday and heading back out Monday. On the way home we stopped for ice cream. He pulled into an empty parking lot so we could eat the ice cream. I was wearing shorts and dad was stroking my leg. Once we got home, I headed off to bed but my father stopped me and offered to rub my back in his bed. So I jumped in his bed and was given a back rub as promised. But it was a trap. I remember being 8 years old and not being able to get out of my father’s bed. Now I was 11, nobody else home. His hands began to wonder and my clothes were “getting in the way.” I was fondled and given oral sex, at just 11 years old by the man I should be able to trust more than any.

Thanks for listening.

 

Mandy – book nerd, lover of music, age 36 from Texas

Wow, you got me to thinking. I myself was molested at the age of 5 or 6 by a cousin, and nothing was done. Because “we” didn’t want to upset the family. I still struggle with this. I have forgiven my cousin, but struggle forgiving my mother for not wanting to do anything.

When I was in 7th grade my teacher (a man) loved to go around touching the girls. Anytime I would tell him to stop, he would laugh it off or threaten me with going to the principal. I went to a Christian school, during this time, and even the principal (a preacher) thought it was ok to touch us and make comments about us. He would line the girls up both in junior high and high school against a wall, and encourage the boys to “rate” us. He encouraged them to make comments about our butts and breasts. He constantly told us our parents were wasting money on our education, because we were girls. He even would comment on the bodies and berate the female teachers. These women were members of his church. He taught the boys it was ok to do as they pleased to girls, and he would tell us girls we were less than the boys. I endured 2 years of boys touching my breasts and butt, and also thinking it was ok to stick their hands up my skirt. I got in the habit of wearing shorts under my skirt. (we had to wear uniforms) I went to this school for my 7th and 8th grade years, after that I begged my parents to home school me. I never thought of telling my parents everything that went on, because I knew they wouldn’t believe me. After all he was a preacher. Several years later this man was arrested for having sex with some of the high school girls. When it made the news I decided to tell my parents everything that happened. They were shocked and also admitted they would have had a hard time believing me before he made the news.

When I was in my mid 20s the church I attended had a youth director that would constantly come up and touch me. In church. He would come up and grab my hair and start smelling it. Or he would grab my hair and rub his face in it. This would happen in church but he was a man of God, so it was ok. When I would say something to him, he would laugh it off and say I was overreacting. If I was sitting down, he would come over and sit in my lap. I wasn’t the only woman he was doing this to, but he was a man of God, so we (the other young woman and me) were being told that we were being a hindrance to him. He comes on to us and touches us, and WE were the one being accused of the wrong doing. This is also another case of years later he being caught sleeping with the high school girls.

I had a male friend that thought it was ok to touch himself in front of me. And make comments about my body. When I would say something he would get mad and threaten me. He was also a preacher. I’m also no longer friends with him.

This list could go on and on. Even now I get comments about my body. I’m tall and overweight, and I get mainly men wanting to say stuff about my body. Total strangers. Thinking it is ok to make a comment about me. I have had total strangers tell me to send a nude pic of myself. When I use to write letters and send care packages to the troops, I would have them write back wanting nude pictures or even wanting me to “talk dirty” to them. I wasn’t the only one that happened to. The organization I was part of had that happen to many of the women sending care packages, but it was ok because they were soldiers. I feel that is crap. Thanks for serving our country, but that doesn’t give you the right to be a perv.

For so long, I blamed myself. Or I thought I was being silly being upset. I was overreacting. Even with being threatened with violence I thought I was making him do that to me. It was my fault. I kept trying to make myself act right, so my friend wouldn’t be mad and hit me, or to have a thicker skin, and not be so sensitive. Or that this is the way it is, and I have to deal with it.

I’m now in my 30s and have decided, it wasn’t my fault, I’m not overreacting, and I don’t have to learn to deal with it. This crap has to stop, and from my experience, we as women need to support each other not tear each other down.

I don’t know if this was exactly what you were asking for. I probably sound more like I’m rambling, but when I start talking about this, it brings back a lot of anger. I can’t quite always get my thoughts together.

 

Shawna from Texas – age 38, single mother of three, accounts payable lead

I’m just going to give a bullet style run down of unwanted advances that I have received over the years:

* Without going into details, I was sexually abused between the ages of 11 and 15.
* My sister’s ex husband (who I thought of as an older brother because he was about 18 or 19 and I was 15) tried kissing me a couple of times and I had to literally push him away from me.
* When I was about 31 my sister’s ex boyfriend drunkenly told me that if he could pick between my sister and I, he would choose me because he was physically attracted to me.
* When I was about 30, I was in a club with my (then) boyfriend, sister and several friends.  My ex boyfriend and I used to work with local rappers and they had a gig at a club in Fort Worth.  I used to do the photos and graphic art work for the company and artists, so I was walking around taking pictures.  A guy and his friend started following me everywhere I went and I just said “no” hoping they would go away.  They didn’t and I then held up my finger to show them my engagement ring and again said “no”.  One of them cussed at me and started walking toward me in an aggressive manner.  They ended up walking off.
* When I was about 20 and at a club with my ex husband, my sister and her ex husband, my sister and I were walking out of the restroom when a guy asked me to dance.  I told him no and started to walk off.  He grabbed me by my arm and said for me to go with him.  I told him I was married and he got in my face and called me a bitch.

There have been many more instances over the years, but these are the ones that stand out the most.  If you have questions or want additional information just ask.

These are but a few stories from women I know. I am proud of them for finally giving voice to their stories so that they can leave them behind. May your bravery allow others to do the same. And may their telling help them to stop happening to future generations.

 

Other related articles:

#YesAllWomen By Phil Plait

An open letter to all my male friends by Estelle Tang

The #YesAllWomen Tweets You Need to Read by Margaret Eby

#YesAllWomen, a Response to California Rampage, Reaches 1 Million Tweets By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis and Kelli Bender

#yesalpeople by Nanette Irvin

#allmencan on twitter

 

Colorado GOP “Reaches Out” to Women Who Subsequently Overreact Which is Why They Make Less Money Even with Better GPAs (or something like that)

Yesterday the all male GOP candidates for Governor of Colorado decided to have a debate geared toward addressing women’s issues. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s a hint: If you want women to think you see them as equals, you might want to avoid patronizing them by calling them “ornamental” and setting up your Q & A panel in the format of The Dating Game, complete with theme song. Clearly these men are in touch with what women want.  In addition, you may want to actually talk about the issues where the GOP has alienated women.  But as Rebecca Leber pointed out in her article on ThinkProgress.org,

…little of the gubernatorial debate’s substance had anything to do with issues where Republicans have alienated women. Republicans typically find themselves on thin ice when discussing things like birth control, abortion bans, sexual assault prevention, equal pay, and maternity leave. Instead, there were questions about which women they admire (excluding their wives and mothers), creating jobs, and even about oil drilling. 

John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent said in his assessment of the debate that:

…the three candidates — former Congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler — had no specific policy proposals regarding women’s issues and barely mentioned women…

In ColPols.com’s live blogging of the event:

This was billed as a debate centered around “Women and Colorado’s Future,” and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of “The Dating Game” after every break. It’s hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.

They also included some of the questions and answers:

Next question: How would you deal with Democrats accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women?”

Beauprez: Says 1/3rd of our kids can’t read at a third-grade level. Don’t know what that has to do with this question.

Gessler: “I think we have to take that head-on.” Says Barack Obama and Mark Udall clearly discriminate against women. Says the New York Times just fired a woman as editor in chief. Why those two items are connected is not clear.

Kopp: Brings up Ronald Reagan for the 10th time. If you wonder why Republicans have trouble attracting young voters, it doesn’t help that candidates like Kopp keep bringing up a President who left office in 1988 and has been dead for 10 years.

Or how about this doozie?

“Name a woman you admire, not including your wife or mother.” The fact that the questioner thought this qualifier was needed tells you everything you need to know about this “Women and Colorado’s Future” shtick.

Beauprez: A woman who worked in his bank.

Kopp: There is a woman in this audience (whose name he butchers). Kopp says she is an immigrant from Colombia. Says he calls her “The Colombian Hurricane.”

Gessler: “Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony.” This could not get any more ridiculous. Asked to name a woman he admires, Gessler can’t even come up with someone who is actually alive today.

Enter this meme posted by a friend today on Facebook:

 

newton

Do you see how maddening this is? If you are a woman and do not laugh these things off, or if you respond to it in a negative way at all, you will be labeled as an “overreacting female” and they will say, “See? This meme is truth.” Arrrrg. No, this meme is misogynistic hogwash. This time the meme in question was posted by a male friend of mine. However, I have seen very similar ones posted by WOMEN in my feed. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED. These women are akin to the women who agreed to take part in a panel that treated them like they couldn’t relate to a panel discussion unless it was set up as A DATING SHOW. But wait, maybe I am just OVERREACTING to the clear efforts of these fine gentlemen to make politics more fun and understandable for us lady folks    .

Perhaps all this overreacting explains the article I read yesterday. Clearly this is the reason women who earn 4.0 GPAs in high school earn roughly the same amount of money as men who earned 2.25 GPAs in high school.

GPA-Earnings-Chart-600x310

 

Please tell me again how there is no pay gap or war on women and how exactly I am overreacting?

 

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

Sexual Assault and Me.

TRIGGER WARNING

Today I saw this awesome PSA that Joe Biden put together for the 1 is 2 Many campaign which was designed to bring awareness to the disturbing problem of sexual assault and violence against women, particularly women on college campuses.

Interestingly enough a few days ago I asked for your input on Facebook:

If you are a woman who doesn’t mind sharing her story, I would love it if you would answer the following question, either as a comment, a message or an email addressed to mkrabill@gmail.com. I promise to keep your identity secret if that is what you want. How and when in your life were you subject to unwanted sexual advances including but not limited to: comments, gestures, groping, forced contact, abuse, rape, etc? It is my guess that it is way more often than most people realize. I want to write a post about this topic in which I will include my own experiences.

Sadly, I did not receive very many responses. [Thank you to those who have responded. I will be sharing your stories in a future post and rest assured I will treat them with the utmost respect, care and confidentiality.] So today I would like to share my own experiences in hopes that more of you will be willing to share yours either in the comments section or anonymously via email. By sharing our stories I hope to bring awareness to the issue and to encourage other women by showing them that they are not alone and that they are not to blame.

To start out I will say that I believe I have lead a fairly normal and safe life as far as these things go. I never witnessed violence, disrespect or inequality in my home. I was never a victim of rape or incest and I have never been beaten by anyone or even been in a fight of any kind. However…

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I had a man expose himself to me at the Ann Arbor public library. I was not alone. I was sitting in a common area with lots of other kids and he was sitting nearby in a chair reading a magazine with his legs apart in his very short late 70’s style running shorts sans underwear.

When I was about 9, I had an adult man I had just met that day try to kiss me in the woods at a family camp I was at with my parents. He wanted me to meet him for another walk the next day but I never went back.

The summer I turned 14, I had a 20 something guy who was working at a teen Christian camp I was at ask me for a birthday kiss and when I gave him a peck said, “No, I want a REAL kiss.” It was VERY awkward, but then he laughed it off since there were people standing nearby.

When we were moving to California we stayed at a couple of Air Force Bases. To pass the time, I would go to this activities center where people could do crafts, frame pictures, do ceramics etc. I liked to hang out in the print shop and the dude who worked there was really cool. And he was flattering; he offered to take my picture. He said I was photogenic. He even told me stories about how other kids had gone to his house and let him take pictures of them there. At the time I thought he was a nice guy. Now? I’m not so sure.

When I was 15 or 16, I was grabbed in the breast while walking alone down the sidewalk in Riverside, California. No comment. No warning. Just grabbed.

A co-worker referred me to by making the gesture of holding his hands in front of his chest to reference my breasts as if that is how I was known to the rest of the all male bartenders.

I have been paid less than a guy who was hired after me who had less experience. My manager said it was because he was a man and needed to provide for his family.

I was fired for “over pouring” shots at a bar where I worked. Fun fact: I didn’t over pour. I did however rebuff the advances of the management and their friends.

I have been grabbed and danced with against my will while cocktail waitressing.

I have been propositioned at my job at JC Penney.

I have had customers say things like, “You sure have a shirt full of those things, don’t you?”

I had a customer who continually asked me out on dates. No matter how many times I said no.

I had a customer who would ask me “hypothetical questions” every time he came into the club which usually involved my husband coming home and catching me and this dude in a compromising position. Disgusting.

Honestly, on most of these occasions I never even considered saying anything because it seemed to me that either nothing could be done or would be done, I was embarrassed and/or I wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened. Worse than that, I knew that often a woman is blamed when she is the victim of these types of behaviors and is thought to have “asked for it” in some way. Want to know what is weird? I learned to try to think of the verbal assaults as compliments. (How sick is that? I mean seriously, how sick is that?) And as for the ones that happened to me when I was a child, I think I mostly just thought I misunderstood what was happening.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything that has been said and/or done, however it does cover all the major events and give you a good idea of what kinds of things are said and done to women daily. I didn’t even mention the times I have been dismissed as “missy” or  “honey” in an effort to shut me down in a conversation or debate. I also didn’t include the times people have thought I was pushy or bossy or bitchy for wanting to be treated with respect. I have been told I have no sense of humor when challenging a sexist joke. I have been told that what I need is to get laid. I have been told to “calm down” or “not get so excited” when I speak about equality. I have even been told I’m cute when I’m angry or I’m sexy when I’m worked up.  Thank God that as of yet I have never received the comments that many female bloggers, gamers and politicians get threatening rape. If you are not aware of how prevalent this problem is for women online you can check out these articles (WARNING: These articles contain quotes of actual graphic threats made to real women)
http://jezebel.com/man-poses-as-woman-on-online-dating-site-barely-lasts-1500707724

http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/janelle-asselin-comic-book-rape-threats

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/21/female-journalist-gets-rape-threats-over-comic-book-criticism.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/11/rape-threats-abuse-sex-female

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/let-s-be-real-online-harassment-isn-t-virtual-for-women

http://groupthink.jezebel.com/ceo-to-gamer-complaining-about-rape-threats-hes-tire-996706957

As I said before, I consider myself very fortunate to have lived a pretty amazing and safe life. I still have experienced way too much in this regard. It may surprise you to know that I am not even close to alone. Start asking your friends, your sister, your mom or your wife or girlfriend. You might be surprised what you hear. Give them time to really think about it though. I have found that many women automatically respond that they haven’t had it that bad. But if they are anything like me, when I began to write this stuff down, I just kept remembering and remembering.

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault of any kind, please talk to someone you trust and report it to the authorities. Men and boys can also be rape and sexual assault victims. Rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the victim, male or female. Rape and sexual assault are always wrong.

For victims assistance:
RAINN: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
1.800.656.HOPE

http://www.rainn.org/

 

Statistics on Rape and Sexual Assault:
http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php

http://www.sarcbv.org/get-info/stat

http://www.cwfefc.org/svfacts.html