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?

 

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

 

My Privilege

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.49.31 PM

You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…

You’re Damn Right I Believe in Another Gospel.

Since beginning this blog, I have had several Evangelical friends accuse me of believing “another gospel”. At first, I bristled at their accusations. But here today, I would like to say to them all, “You’re damn right. I believe in another gospel.”

If your gospel is that God is some sort of abusive parent who loves you “unconditionally” unless you die without accepting his love and then he sentences you to eternal conscious torment in hell, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel says some people aren’t good enough to help feed, clothe and educate children simply because they are married to someone of the same gender; if your gospel says you can cut off these kids like a subscription to Good Housekeeping because “Ewww, the gays.”; if your gospel closes the doors of heaven in people’s faces because of who they love, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel says women are eternally subjected to men because Jesus is eternally subjected to the Father; if your gospel says women are equal, but men are more equal; if your gospel excludes women from any area of ministry, leadership, service or vocation, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel allows you to feel oppressed when other people gain rights you have always enjoyed, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel encourages you to pass laws that discriminate against others, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL

If your gospel encourages you to identify and exclude people who disagree with you, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel permits you expelling a little girl from school for not being girly enough then, YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that women are responsible for the sexual sins of men, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that everything in the Bible is to be taken literally, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel teaches that God is some sort of genocidal terrorist who condones the killing of entire races, including children, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel features a God wrapped in the American flag, who always votes Republican, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel features an AR-15 toting, cage fighting, ass-kicking Jesus, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel is one of “us versus them” or “in versus out”, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

If your gospel puts anything above loving God and your neighbor as yourself, then YES, I BELIEVE IN ANOTHER GOSPEL.

The Gospel I embrace is one of love; one where we are all equal in the eyes of God. One where neither how much you’ve blown it or how perfect you’ve been is what matters; one where everyone gets to play. One where the Father loves without an unless; one where grace and generosity trump fairness; one where we do not get what we have earned or what we deserve but one where we all get to belong. The Gospel I embrace is truly good news, and if THAT is “another gospel” I am guilty as charged.

 

 

 

Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

purityballMy 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.

Recently the topic of so called “Purity Balls” (hee hee) has been back in the news. (I think maybe because it is spring? Not really sure. Is that when these things traditionally take place? Or possibly on Father’s Day (um, ewww)? Thank God I don’t know from first hand experience.) The first ball was put on by the Wilson family in Colorado Springs in 1998. Randy Wilson is a field director for the Family Research Council, which was originally part of Focus on the Family until 1992. The recent Nightline feature which ran March 22nd, featured Randy Wilson, Ron Johnson, the Pastor of Living Stones Church in Indiana and their daughters. Johnson, is quoted in the program as saying to the young women (who typically range in age from 9-14),  “You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?

The Balls, according to Wilson’s Generations of Light web page, now take place in 48 states. The ceremonies themselves resemble wedding receptions. The fathers give the daughters a ring (often they wear a ring themselves that they later gift to the future husband at the wedding), there is a father daughter dance, the girls wear white dresses and the father and daughter exchange pledges. The amazing thing to me is that these balls are considered “godly” events by their participants.

On Saturday night I shared this story with my Dad. He was disgusted and appalled and I thank God every day that I was raised by a father (and mother) who respected me as an individual, and never believed it was his job to be my “boyfriend” and who never taught me that I, individually, was to be married to Jesus. Ewwwwwww.

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.”