Boston, Texas and an argument or three

Sorry for the long hiatus.  It has been a hectic month here.

So, let’s get right to it.  I have friends in Boston and family back home in Texas.  Two tragedies in one week and I no longer have finger nails to chew.

After Boston, I braced for the inevitable “#prayforboston” to spam the airwaves.  And boy did it ever!  At first, I ignored it.  But the more images I saw of the raw carnage and horror that had befallen my neighbors, I had to actually do and say something.  I started posting about blood banks, donation sites and found an eBay connected CharityWorks that donates DIRECTLY to Mass General.  Set up 5 auctions myself which all end Sunday to raise a few hundred dollars for donation.

I started responding to friends and family who posted “pray for boston” and linked them directly to the hospital’s donation page.  >> https://give.massgeneral.org/boston-marathon <<  Apparently, this was “belittling” and “insulting” to believers.

But I have to ask, if a neighbor comes to your door crying and sobbing that their house is on fire, do you just let them cry it out?  Or do you help them focus, call 9-11 and get that fire put out?  Just because a behavior makes you feel better or helps you pretend that you are helping, does not make it a good thing.  I believe in helping people.  Not patting myself on the back for caring or retweeting that I care.

A few days later, West, Texas suffered a tragedy.  My own brothers were there helping put out fires and search for survivors.  My mother drove up from SanAntonio to volunteer at her old hospital, Scott & White.  I am all the way in New York, so I pledged the remaining money from eBay sales to West, Texas support.  Again, I sent out links, encouraging those who could help to do so.

I will not apologize or be made to feel guilty for trying to actually ASSIST PEOPLE IN NEED rather than stroking my own ego and talking to myself.  My family is Christian.  They actually believe in prayer for many things.  But in times of emergency, they remind themselves that “God helps those who help themselves” and they get to work.  Of course, these are well read Christians who understand the lessons of hospitality and helping the needy too. >.>

So to all those people who I may have “offended” or “belittled”, I am not sorry.  And fuck you.

Thoughts on Eugenics

I find it almost ironic and extremely confusing when fundamental theists ask me my opinion on Eugenics.  Especially when the are trying to relate it to Atheism.

Eugenics is the applied science of the bio-social movement which advocates practices that improve the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population.[2][3] It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of humanhereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people and traits, and reduced reproduction of less desired people and traits.[4]

And to clarify a frighteningly common mistake: DARWIN IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EUGENICS. Francis Galton is.  It is not the same thing as Natural Selection or Evolution.

In practice, Eugenics is ethnic cleansing. It is tribal slaughter. It is the God of the Bible instructing the murder of entire Pagan tribes, even down to every pregnant woman, to destroy their lineage. It is the stoning, burning and wholesale murder of anyone who disagrees with desirable traits.  It is Nazi Germany. It is Christians being fed to lions. It is Muslims murdering any woman with a streak of independence.  It is Jews refusing to mate with or marry outside their faith.

In other words, if there is anyone practicing Eugenics in today’s society, it is NOT Atheists.   The next time someone asks me my opinion on Eugenics, as an Atheist, I will simply reply:

If God were real, he would be the biggest fan.

While the Israelites were camped at Acacia, some of the men defiled themselves by sleeping with the local Moabite women.  These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, and soon the Israelites were feasting with them and worshiping the gods of Moab.  Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the LORD’s anger to blaze against his people.  The LORD issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.”  So Moses ordered Israel’s judges to execute everyone who had joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.  Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into the camp, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as they were weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle.  When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly.  Then he took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach.  So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died.  (Numbers 25:1-9 NLT)

 

Tell me again how evil Atheism is.  How bad Evolution and Natural Selection are.  Eugenics is not “natural”.  It is mass murder and the religious have been practicing it worldwide for thousands of years.

It’s just a joke!

Whenever I see the phrases “Get over it!”, “It’s just a joke!” or “You need a sense of humor.” All I really hear is “Shut up.”

By pretending that humor is an excuse for -isms and phobias is just living in denial.  When a lackluster comedian makes his living by reinforcing the idea that women are gold diggers who belong in the kitchen, he is not “just being funny” he is actively perpetuating a stereotype.  When comedians use race to crack jokes at the expense of others they are not being “edgy” they are being malicious and hurtful.

There is a line between joking and bullying.  Usually you can tell if the line is being crossed by 1: who is delivering the jokes and 2. whether they are bucking a stereotype or reinforcing it.

I know that most people do not stop to think about humor and simply laugh at it.  The same way most people will listen to music without understanding the lyrics or watch an action movie and not care about the plot.  I believe all three of these activities are LAZY and HARMFUL.

Lazy is paying $20 to buy a CD full of music that insults your sex, your race or your culture because it has a catchy beat.  Lazy is supporting a movie that insults your gender and your intellect.  And LAZY is an Oscar Award Winning actress giggling at a joke that dehumanizes her.

Harmful is telling the entertainment industry that it is okay to step on women and minorities.  Harmful is allowing yourself to be used to market products that degrade you.  Harmful is raising new generations of beings in a society that thinks this is okay.

It is not easy speaking up for what is right.  It is not fun being the “sourpuss” the “grump” the “whiner” and so many other terms lobbed at those of us who aspire to be better than cavemen.  But that doesn’t mean you should just give up.  If you are offended, speak up.  Don’t just smile nervously.  Glower, stare your verbal abuser in the eye and say “No sir, that wasn’t funny. THAT crossed the line.”

I am sick to death of being told that what I need to do is just “lighten up and learn to take a joke”.  No.  Most people who say this are in a position of privilege and have never been attacked for simply being who they are.  And when they are attacked, they react by calling us “haters” or “feminazi” or “prudes”.  Yes, I am a hater in that I hate what our society is. I hate that women, minorities and intellectuals are treated as subhuman.

But what I hate most is that the people who should be speaking out have been guilt-silenced and stomped down into submission.  So far down that they are laughing AT THEMSELVES.  So far gone that there are hordes of women, young and old, who honestly believe that a woman is just a man’s accessory.  That minority children have limited futures.  And that making money should be the ultimate goal in life.  Stop believing the lies they tell you about yourself.  Even if it comes wrapped in a joke and sealed with laughter, an insult is still an insult.

Atheist v Anti-theist

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I feel it’s time I clarify something.  There is a very distinct difference between an Atheist and an ANTI-Theist.  An atheist is just someone who does not believe in the supernatural.  In fact, it’s kind of a silly term to begin with.  Like Nonsmoker or Unsweetened tea, it is a term used ONLY because a majority exists in opposition.  Personally, I don’t enjoy identifying myself through someone else’s hobby but since language evolves slowly, I will bear with the term for now.

As for what an anti-theist is, we turn to what MANY fundamentalists think all atheists are.  An anti-theist is someone who opposes religion.  Completely and utterly.  Like an Anti-abortionist, Anti-fur, Anti-gun control person.  They actually DO identify themselves as an opposing force.

For example, everyone who does not smoke is a nonsmoker.  The Truth campaign is ANTI-smoking.  Most Anti-smoking people are nonsmokers but I am sure even a handful of them are hypocrites.  The same goes for anti-theists and atheists.

Now, just like in the smoking example, not all anti-theists are irrational and full of vitrol.  Yes there are PETA level fanatical anti-theists who hate everything even remotely associated with religion.  Usually these people have very deep, personal reasons for hating religion.  Then, of course, there are rational anti-theists who simply enjoy debating the what-ifs of a future without religion.  They see this as a utopia ideal of humanity.

I fall sometimes in the later category but not very often.  What I am most days is just a human being who happens to not believe in the supernatural.  And it’s not really something I chose to do.  Much like many nonsmokers who have just never smoked, I have never really believed anything at face value.  So it’s not like I had to shed some shackles of faith or “quit smoking”.

Still, I am constantly misjudged and mislabeled by Church advocate groups and religious Apologists who believe any criticism of a religion or church is rude and immoral.  If I call a rapist a rapist or a murderer a murderer I am simply stating a fact.  Does it really matter if they are a priest or a rabbi?  Much like some hypersensitive people tend to play the race card or the sex card, I find many apologists use the religious freedom card.

How can someone fail to see that rape is rape, murder is murder and discuss the human rights and legal terms of a case?  It’s simple.  Inject racism, sexism, or religious persecution. Now any commentary is skewed through the bias of the observer.  Because I am atheist, I am accused of “attacking religion” when I say Scientologists should be held accountable for child abuse.

Look, I understand the importance of free speech and I really do believe that IF all religions conducted themselves like any fandom we would have far fewer social problems and could coexist.  But as things stand now, all I can do is debate and try to change minds one at a time.  All I can do is vote for people who support equal rights for ALL citizens.  And if voting for someone with pro humanist, pro science viewpoints makes me “anti religious” then I guess diabetics are really just anti-sugar.

*edit: fixed some typos. grrr *

Things We Need to Stop Saying

After reading this article and ignoring all the little flaws like 1. did this even happen as described and 2. God didn’t make anything, genetics did   I still find it unnerving that even in comments and social media replies, people are still blaming the victim.

I think it’s time we start cutting certain verbal habits from our daily dialogue.  Sexist cliches only serve to reinforce hostile environments for all females.

1. “Fathers lock up your daughters.”

This phrase is used as both positive reinforcement for boys (a man so attractive he can sleep with anyone he wants) and negative (uh oh, pervy Mr. Swanson is coming to town!).  In each case the assumption is that girls cannot help themselves and need to be “protected” from men and that men cannot help themselves so locking them up would just be a crime.

2. “Boys will be boys.”

Another Nature vs. Nurture argument that assumes genetic drive is 100% un-maintained by environment or social norms.  Also, false.  “Boys” assuming the already incorrect attitude that there are predefined binary genders, will not “be boys” unless they are raised to act that way.  In this cliche case: aggressive, overtly sexual and unfaithful.  Not only does it insult and question the worthiness of any male who does NOT wish to act this way, but it excuses bad behavior and choices.

3. “… for a girl”

This one is usually tacked on to the end of a genuine compliment.  Rather than accepting that a woman can be talented at something in an entire field, the speaker decides they should be ranked against ovary bearing competitors only.  Never mind that many female athletes, entertainers and scientists have surpassed their male counterparts throughout history, there is still this need by some to say “she could have done even better if she had a penis.”

4. “Look so pretty when you smile.” “Just smile.” “A smile is so much nicer.”

I understand that this is a genuine truth.  People ARE more attractive and inviting when they look happy.  The reason I include it is that I never once heard this phrase uttered to any of my three brothers.  Never once to my dad, my boyfriend or any male character in a show or film.  So why this silly stigma that women need to be giggly perky 24/7?  The perpetual cheerleader stereotype.  The waitress, stewardess, secretary etc.  Unless that is your NATURAL personality, having false delight forced on you is cumbersome and constantly frustrating.  I once had a manager tell me I should be “smiling more” while washing dirty trays.  Sure, if I want to look like a crazy person!

** I will add more as I come across them. **

So please, make a conscious effort to scrub these cliche ideas from your vocabulary.  Future generations would be thankful if they knew. ;)

“Don’t Get Raped” vs. “Don’t Rape”

First off, put this number in your phone or somewhere you can find it easily: 1.800.656.HOPE (4673).  It is a sexual crime hotline which can help you find local help and talk to you.  No victim should ever feel alone.

Second, let me tell you my story before anyone jumps to conclusions or makes ill-informed judgment calls on me.

I was raped at 15.  It was my first time having any sex and my attacker was my boyfriend whom I had dated for over a year.  I had come over to his house to hang out (playing video games, watching movies) the usual things we did.  We were kissing as usual and went to his bedroom to make out.  He had never tried anything on me before so I was not suspicious that he wanted anything more.  Suddenly he had his pants off and was on top of me telling me over and over “don’t worry don’t worry it will be okay” as I pushed at him and said “No” repeatedly.  I stopped struggling when I realized I couldn’t get him off of me and it was over quickly.  There was blood everywhere and he looked horrified so he moved off me.  I ran to his bathroom and locked the door.  He was outside the door saying things like he was sorry and he’ll drive me home.  I quickly washed up in his sink and said, “no thank you.  I’ll just walk home.”  I ran from his house as fast as I could and ran all the way home.

He broke up with me two days later after no contact.  I did not speak to him again for years.  I blamed myself, that I had somehow lead him on by kissing too much or being alone.  I did not tell anyone what happened.  Instead, I withdrew from future relationships.  I refused to be alone with a guy, I was scare to kiss too much or let anyone touch me.  I assumed that all men were horny jerks and it was my job to be safe.  It was not until 5 years later that I trusted someone enough to even try having consensual sex.  And even then it was awkward and unnerving.

I have since had progressively worse relationships. I have attempted suicide multiple times. I have knowingly let myself be used sexually and abused physically by convincing myself I deserved it.  Ten years after the incident, I saw him again in a random encounter.  His first words were ” I am so sorry for what I did to you.”  He went on to say that he has felt nothing but guilt since that day, that he is sorry for ruining my perception of men and that what he did was the worst possible thing a man can do.  He had apparently become very religious and was joining a missionary service overseas.  He said he had wanted to “cleanse his heart” and asked for my forgiveness.  I told him, I cannot forgive him, but I hope he will in time forgive himself.  With that, he left.  I have never filed criminal charges.

————

So, now you know my background.  After hearing what happened in India recently and seeing the re-posting of “rape prevention advice” all over facebook, I decided I need to say something.  First off, there is no 100% way to “prevent” rape. There are many good tips for protecting yourself from further violence or from avoiding being a target of randomized rape.  But the fact remains that good 85-87% of known rape is perpetrated by someone you know and trust.

So does that mean we can’t protect ourselves?  No.

I have compiled a list based purely on my own experiences of warning signs that you may be with a potential rape-threat partner or friend.  When I was 15, I did not know many of these things so I hope that it can help at least one person:  *** Please note that one or two of these signs do not equate a rapist, but if you see multiples, it’s probably NOT a healthy or safe relationship!***

Signs of Aggression:

1. Quick to Anger. Seemingly benign things agitate him to extreme rage or fits of physical violence.

2. Physical threats. Constant griping and threatening of violence should be treated like the growl of a dog.  A warning.

3. Friends/Family fear him.  If the people closest to him who have known him long amounts of time act like they are scared, it could be because they have seem him do horrible things.

4. Prideful boasting.  A man who feels the need to always be top dog dies not take “no” easily.

Signs of Control:

1. Does he try to dictate portions of your life as if you are his child?  Your clothing, food, friends etc.

2. Does he easily get upset when things do not go to plan?

3. Does he often shout or talk over you or, contrastly, does he not even let you speak or listen when you do?

4. Do your goals or dreams have any bearing on his future plans?

5. Do you ask for permission to do simple things?

Signs of Sexism

1. How does he treat female members of his family?

2. How does he treat females in customer service jobs?

3. Has he made any negative remarks about the “proper roles/place” of women?

Signs of Sexual Hyperactivity

1. Does he seek constant sexual stimulation?  (pornography, strip clubs etc)

2. Does he pressure you to do other sexual acts when you are on your period?

3. Does he threaten you with cheating if you refuse him?

4. Does he try to use sex as an all-cure instead of taking into account your illness/concern?

5. Does he try to guilt you into sex with comments or statistics about what is “normal” or “expected”?

Now, again, I must reiterate that people come in all ages, creeds, backgrounds etc.  So some of these actions are not auto triggers.  But I want women to know that whether it’s a first date or someone you’ve been married to for years and had children with, you can ALWAYS say no.  You do not “owe” anyone sex.  Your body is yours alone.  Your best defense is to raise your standards for a mate.  DO NOT accept anyone who treats you as anything less than human.

Lastly, you cannot fix him.  That’s it.  Move on, let go and stop hurting yourself.  Until generations of boys are raised respecting their mothers and sisters, we cannot just talk him into being a new person.  He is the product of his upbringing.  Perhaps if we all stop enabling rapist behavior, men will realize that THEY are the ones who need to change THEMSELVES.  And there is no greater motivation for the man than his libido. ;)

***As an aside, YES I know men get raped too.  Mostly by other males and mostly in prison or jail settings.  So that’s a whole other topic and one I will not pretend to be an expert on.  I am not dismissing the male experience, nor will I be accused of forgetting same sex relationships.  I understand that to every topic there are exceptions.  But bringing them up does not change the topic at hand.  It only detracts and dismisses.***

Why “Pro- Life” really means “Anti Abortion”

I was going to avoid this topic as it’s very near and dear to me.  I am a woman and I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who is a Neonatal Nurse.

About 5 years ago I found myself pregnant and though it was unplanned, I was in a serious relationship and would have kept the child.  However, as I went back for my check up (it was too early to see an actual zygote and they could only tell from a urine and blood test) I was told that the egg was actually lodged in my Fallopian tube.  I had never heard of an ectopic pregnancy before then.  But as I told my mom over the phone she asked me what I would do.  I was terrified.  Though I was always pro choice, I hate hospitals and surgery scares me.  Thankfully, it was only about 4 weeks in and I was told I could do a simple medical abortion, no surgery needed.  In fact, I later found out this is what almost 90% of women who have abortions do because they come in early enough.  Basically you take two doses of high strength pills which force your period.  It’s what the morning after pill does.  You uterus expels the fertilized egg, you have bad cramps for a day or two and you move on with your life.

Sure I thought about all the what ifs, but I didn’t want to die.  You can’t carry a baby in your fallopian tubes.  So you can either risk surgery to replant the egg in your uterus, you can wait til the body aborts it naturally or you can die when the egg tries to grow and causes internal bleeding.  I chose the smart route, and took a couple pills instead.  And I will never ever feel guilty for making the choice.

So fast forward to today and all I hear about are how “baby killers” are “ruining the world” and have “no respect for life”.  I did not “kill” a baby.  I have great respect for human life.  Probably more so than more pro-lifers in that I know we only get ONE life on earth.  But these people don’t bother me nearly as much as people who call themselves Agnostic or Atheist and still hold onto pro-life ideas.

First off, you are not “pro life”.  Everyone who is breathing is pro life.  What you are is ANTI abortion.  And I am willing to bet that it is because, like most people, you have very little understanding of the science behind the female body, reproduction or abortions.

For starters, the human body rejects fertilized eggs all the time.  Naturally.  Women who cannot get pregnant usually have a uterus that reject eggs and treats them as foreign objects.  They have to rely on medical intervention or surrogates to even GET pregnant.  So, no, not all uteruses are created equal.  There are also those women who because of physical duress or illness have aborted fertilized eggs naturally.  Sometimes the body decides it doesn’t have the ability to feed another living thing and expels the egg/fetus.  We usually call this a miscarriage but sometimes it’s just as simple as getting your period soon after hearing you are pregnant.

As an aside to “abortions are natural” do you know why we crack eggs in a separate bowl when cooking?  Because before we had technology  (or candles) there was no way to tell if your menstruated hen eggs were fertilized or not.  Humans bodies are not unique in rejecting eggs.

So, now that you understand it occurs for many reasons without science intervention, let me explain why science intervenes.  Women used to die in childbirth much more often before medical science.  In fact, it was so common that you will find it is a common thread throughout older literature.  Thankfully, we now have ways of making this body straining act safer.  But not all women are lucky enough to be healthy and for them, pregnancy is extremely dangerous.  Does this mean they shouldn’t have an active sex life or want to attempt to have children?  Does it also mean that should they find themselves pregnant but unable to carry to term they should be denied their right to seek every available medical option to survive?

For starters educate yourself.

So you say “okay, women who might die should be allowed abortions, but no one else!”

Ah, what then in the case of rape?  Do you as an agnostic/atheist support the Old Testament belief that rapists own their victims and can force them into marriage and child birth?  Do you honestly believe that a girl or woman is so much less than a human that not only should she be used as a sex toy but she should be forced through all the pain and trauma of childbirth as well?

I sincerely hope your answer is “no”.

Lastly, let’s get some facts straight about abortions here in the US.

1. A good 90% of abortions are done early and with pills which eject merely a fertilized egg.  Not a zygote, not a fetus, not even close to a baby.  And by increasing accessibility to abortions and the morning after pill, this percentage would go up as women would no longer have to wait or jump through hoops.

2. Late Term Abortions aka: partial birth abortions were outlawed over a decade ago.  Let’s stop circulating pictures of outdated medical practices as evidence against something unrelated, shall we?

3. By cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and other such women’s health programs you are not only denying poverty level women a chance for cancer screenings and HIV testing, you are also making it more difficult for women to detect and deal with pregnancy EARLIER.  Not to mention the easy access to contraceptives would prevent more pregnancies in the first place.

I implore you, next time you want to make a judgment call on abortion, do your research first.  Some of those pictures are a hoax.  And those of you who do not believe in a “soul” or supernatural conception should have an understanding of what it means to be “viable”.