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”.

2013: Atheist Resolutions

I already posted my generic list of goals elsewhere, but I have a second list that needs to be here:

1. I will not back down from correcting anyone who mislabels Atheism as anything but a disbelief in the supernatural.  It is not Satanism, Paganism, anti-religious etc

2. I will continue to spread memes with a secular message and not comment on them. (see #3)

3. I will no longer waste my time debating with extremists who cannot be educated beyond their current level.  There is no point and I am wasting my energy.

4. I will put more energy into positive things this year like charities.  Leading by example and proving the adage that “millions are good without god”.

5. I will open my heart and help to any agnostic or atheist person who finds they have no one to speak to.  You are not nearly as alone as you may feel. ❤

6. I will take control over my future.  After all, you only get ONE life, best not waste it.