Another Teenage Mom

Last night I found out my 16 year-old niece is pregnant. She put her ultrasound up on Instagram. She announced her “bean” will be here in December and her family helpfully congratulated her on her news. Congratulated her for becoming a teenage mother. Is no one explaining to that child what kind of life she can expect? How hard it will be for both her and the child? No. I can almost guarantee that no one will sit her down and talk to her about the new reality she is facing.

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I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

Is Sex Evil? Nope.

I may have mentioned the CT’er1 that comes into my job. I like her generally, but she’s easy to get riled. I find that hilarious. The other day this fine lady told me that Podesta or Clinton or someone was a gasp follower of Aleister Crowley. She declared him evil because he practiced gasp sex magic.

Regardless of your feelings on Crowley (I have none either way), the idea that sex magic is EVUL™ just grates my cookies. Sex is evil? Well, it can be. That’s true. Men have used rape to subjugate women – and other men – forever. But overall? Sex is most assuredly not evil.

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I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

  1. Conspiracy Theorist []

She just wants to be loved

She just wants for someone to make her feel wanted,

to make her feel Loved.

So she settles for the half truths, and inconsistent kisses and hugs.

She deals with the constant arguments that drains her energy.

She’s exhausted.

But she just wants to feel loved.

So she watches him fill his body with toxins,

she watches what it does to him,

mentally and physically.

She doesn’t see how toxic he has become to  her,

mentally and physically.

But she ignores her own soul’s deterioration,
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“Beautiful hurricane, I create disasters”

What did she do to provoke him?

I am not a journalist. I’m not looking for fame. Look around and you won’t see any ads. When I write it’s because I’m passionate about my subject for one reason or another. When I wrote this post it I was disgusted with the hypocrisy in the progressive community regarding abusive behavior from our own. You should know that though I was disgusted with progressives it was never about politics. I get disgusted because our side will– in a heartbeat — call out that exact kind of behavior from the Right using every weapon in our arsenal. I wrote subsequent posts about exactly that.

Here is the catalyst for this post:

What Provoked him

I’d like to hear what she did to provoke him

Now we have an answer to that seemingly innocent question:1

When someone victim shames, or slut shames, they do so by asking questions that seem innocent. This isn’t something that seems odd to most people because we have this mentality taught to us. We’ve seen it in media, learned it from our family and, probably, engaged in it– She must have done something to deserve what happened to her. For rape victims it’s usually her sexual promiscuity, but for abuse victims it’s pretty much always “What did you do to deserve that?” This kind of thinking presumes that the aggressor is innocent and isn’t capable of controlling his own actions. If only she’d have known that he was this way she’d not have brought such a thing upon herself. God fucking forbid an adult have any kind of self control. Women have these magical powers, you see. Not only can we coerce men into falling in love with us (Magical vaginas!) but we can force them to put us in our place.

I remember once, when I was about 14, my sister’s lover beat me so severely that there were literally puddles of blood in the carpet. He was 18 at the time and there were plenty of witnesses. In those days, minors couldn’t bring charges against adults for battery. It was up to the parents to do it. When my mother found out what had happened, when she saw the carnage, the first question she asked me was “What did you do?” It doesn’t matter what provoked his attack on me, so I won’t answer that question for you. It is an example of how ingrained victim blaming is in our culture2. We can forgive a man for being abusive to a woman if she did anything leading up to the abuse. We use that reason to offer him forgiveness or, really, just to give ourselves reasons for not standing up against it. This is typical of our culture and cultures worldwide.

So, what did she do to provoke the abuse she received in this voicemail?

Jessica has a tendency to fight — and she will admit this — that she withdraws. She likes to say that she likes to go and stare at a wall, maybe for a day, maybe for a week but whatever. When she’s good and ready to then talk, she’ll come back. […] And she did it this time, and I unloaded. I didn’t want to sit there another week and wait for her to come back on her own sweet time

She chose to not participate in an argument and to allow herself time to cool down. By his own admission, he didn’t want to wait for her to cool down. He knew she withdrew and he didn’t accept that. What part of that behavior begs for the kind of abuse he leveled at her in that voicemail? None of it, of course. Because her withdrawal from an escalating argument is exactly the right thing to do. It’s what he should’ve done. Indeed, he admits that:

I should’ve gone to take a walk. I should have gone and smoked a cigarette, even though I haven’t had one in six years. I could have done a lot of things. I didn’t. I unloaded on her, and I’m very sorry about that, and if she ever gave me the chance to, I’d tell her that I’m very sorry about that.

That should end this situation. That should be the very last thing that he has to say about it. But, in fact, it’s not. Because he’s not sorry for his abuse. He’s sorry that she revealed it to the world. He’s sorry that we’ve been discussing it. And he’s sorry that she didn’t give him the chance to bring on yet another honeymoon period.

For those who don’t know what a honeymoon period is:

  1. Reconciliation/Honeymoon phase
    Characterized by affection, apology, or, alternatively, ignoring the incident. This phase marks an apparent end of violence, with assurances that it will never happen again, or that the abuser will do his or her best to change. During this stage the abuser feels overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness, or at least pretends to. Some abusers walk away from the situation with little comment, but most will eventually shower the survivor with love and affection. The abuser may use self-harm or threats of suicide to gain sympathy and/or prevent the survivor from leaving the relationship. Abusers are frequently so convincing, and survivors so eager for the relationship to improve, that survivors who are often worn down and confused by longstanding abuse, stay in the relationship.[1][4]


    Although it is easy to see the outbursts of the Acting-out Phase as abuse, even the more pleasant behaviours of the Honeymoon Phase perpetuates the abuse because the survivor then sees that the relationship isn’t all bad.

He admits that he’s very, very good at the honeymoon part of the cycle:

But she knows also that I’m *sorry* when I’m sorry, okay? I’m pretty good at that. Okay? To the point where she used to not like it very much. [chuckles] Because I can be good at it. Okay?
And what I mean by that is that when I’m contrite, I am *really* contrite. I will explain *why* it hurts so much that I hurt her, okay? And sometimes we’ll talk too much about it.

Do you see what he said there? Do you see the admission? This was not the first time he’d done this. Indeed, it’s not the last. In fact, his “apology” post was in reference to a later incident that happened 7 months after the voicemail to which I’ve linked above.

He’s very good at apologies and convincing her that he’ll be a good boy from now on. It’ll never happen again. It’s only this one time. Why won’t you please just fucking get over it, you cunt!

Dm to Jessica

 

He says that he explains– to her — why it hurts him to hurt her. They talk about how it hurts him to hurt her. If she wouldn’t behave that way, if she wouldn’t stop staring at that fucking wall he wouldn’t have to hurt her. Do you see how that works? Those pretty words, spoken calmly and with a chuckle, tell us so much about his mind. And if she wasn’t being manipulated by her friends then she’d see that. If she wasn’t so sick of being intimidated and harassed and having her friends harassed then she’d understand how much he hurt to have to hurt her.

This is not a play on words. I am not taking anything he said and twisting it. Feel free to listen for yourself. For those who can’t listen the transcript of the relevant portion is at the bottom of this post.

The reason he did this “interview”– with two men he claims he can’t stand — was to “clarify” some things. He claims that he didn’t want to bring up Jessica in this “interview” and yet the very first thing he did was try to explain away his own behavior. It was her fault because she didn’t want to speak to him. That’s how she dealt with his moods and that’s why he had to go off on her. Oh, if only she’d have allowed some time to convince her he wouldn’t do it again. If only those meddling friends of hers hadn’t been manipulating her to keep her away from here.

Another common theme out of this particular episode is that he doesn’t give her credit for anything but his angst. When she decided to break it off it wasn’t because she chose to do so– it was because other people were meddling. The reason she outed the abuse wasn’t the reason she gave3, but because someone manipulated her to do it. They’re manipulating her now! This very instant! If it wasn’t for her obvious lack of mental capabilities everything would be a-ok. Because they were stronger in her mind than he was– with his ability to be very contrite– and not at all because she made the decision that enough was enough.

But it wasn’t enough for him. He mentions being dumped or doing the dumping. He also says a few things that are contradictory:

  • “We had not had a relationship
  • “…it was only a cyber-relationship”
  • “All I wanted to do was discuss the issue, because we just spent two years together. Do you know what it’s like to walk away from two years, Lee? Obviously, you want to try to fix things, right? If it’s at all fixable.”

 
I’m sure that he doesn’t realize what he did there. He wants people to hold in their heads two thoughts: That it wasn’t a “real” relationship and that it was so serious for him that he had to do anything to fix it. They had two years! It was fixable! Except it wasn’t real. In so many ways he invalidates her very person and he’s so sincere; so troubled. Listen to the audio. He truly believes that there was no way that Jessica could have chosen to walk away and so he had to do something to save her.

His enablers, like the person who tweeted the bullshit above, think that she should’ve walked away. It’s their contention that it’s Jessica, Imani, Darshann and the rest of us who have caused all this strife. In his own words he explains how he tried for weeks to contact her friends to get Jessica to allow him to work his magic on her. Listen to the audio.

Because from that point forward — then from three weeks from that time, Jessica — Jessica went online and went into a meltdown rant which — I tried to reach out to her friend Brandibax. I said what’s going on? Why won’t Jessica respond to me?

He knows that Jessica is pissed. He knows that she doesn’t want to speak to him. So he continuously tries to contact her through her friends. He emails her to warn what will happen if she keeps speaking out:

But I’m basically saying, “look, you always told me you were so paranoid about your work and here you are making this scene on Twitter. Randy, you know is up my ass all the time. He’s gonna come gunning for you.” She then presented that as a threat to her, right? And I’m now — she described in her blog — I was setting up plausible deniability to threaten her.

He did threaten her. He did it in public– on Twitter — for all of us to see. Not only did he threaten her in public– after much behind-the-scenes communication hadn’t worked– he tried to emotionally blackmail her into talking to him.

And when that didn’t work, he decided to sic his less ethical friends on her. But wait! As this escalates and he doesn’t get what he wants, he decides to try another tactic: going after her friends.

By getting them out of the picture then he’d have a better in– or, as he puts it, he’d be better able to find out why she “suddenly” went on a rant. How else could he get her to listen to him? It’s not like he could possibly have left her alone to deal with this on her own and, maybe, get to the point where she could say “Dude, look, it’s over. Let’s move on. Good luck.” He couldn’t possibly just say to himself “You know, she’s upset about something. Maybe I’ll just give her some fucking room and let her heal.” That would be something a normal person would do. Especially if they thought the situation would escalate. Not him. He decides to take out her support system.

Shoq threatens friends

“You’d think that they wouldn’t want the guilt of their friends being hurt by their endless malice. They don’t seem to care.” Read more along those lines here.

 
And he did. He began to threaten to out their real names on Twitter as well as where they work. He even went so far as to tweet to one person’s employer.

Contacting Employer

1 of your employees is harassing me, possibly on your time & hardware. Where I can find your legal dept’s #?

He’s emailed them, blogged about their personal lives (and had others blog about them) and threatened to call employers. Of course, all of this pissed off her supporters and, well, didn’t work. None of her friends abandoned her. None of them decided “Hey, I better get back in line or this dude is going to fuck up my life.” In fact most of them– including her– outed themselves and their employers. They took away the weapons that he had against them and pushed back. Most of the push back was in the form of mockery. Is this guy serious? (Yes, he is.) Does he not understand the words he forms on the screen? (Apparently not.) Does he understand that other people can see what he writes? (Apparently we’re all affected by short-term memory loss and can’t remember what we’ve seen with our own eyes.)

These are just examples of his public behavior. All of the people he was threatening were previous allies. They were his friends who trusted him with personal information. But he happily provided all of their information for fodder to be publicized and twisted and made into, I kid you not, “Burn Notices”.

She knew he was capable of this when she decided enough was enough. He admitted in this interview what he was willing to do to bring her back to him. To talk to her and convince her that he was “contrite”. I can’t speak on the motives of people who aren’t her, but she wanted him to leave her alone. To let her be and to allow her to be angry. Anger brings healing and, eventually, silence. For most people, who are normal and aren’t of the mind that manipulation is the very best way to love, an “I’m sorry” would have been the end. There would be nothing else to say. No more for her friends to become angry over. No more damage. Normal people, though, don’t allow themselves to become the person who can laughingly say they are good at explaining how hurting someone else hurts them.

When the only way he could get a message to her was through Twitter he let a bit of his manipulation tactics show. He was on a rant and said that his mother was sick. Not just just sick, though, she was close to death. All of this was becoming too much for her and she wasn’t taking the breakup so well4. This form of manipulation is, again, text book for identifying an abuser.

Knowing that the victim wants love, approval or confirmation of identity, blackmailers may threaten to withhold them or take them away altogether, or make the victim feel they must earn them: “as the power of emotional blackmail indicates, self-identity is inevitably affected by… the ‘reaction’ of the other”,[6] as is self-esteem. If the victim believes the blackmailer, he/she could fall into a pattern of letting the blackmailer control his/her decisions and behavior and become “caught in a sort of psychological fog”.[7]
Emotional blackmailers use fear, obligation and guilt in their relationships, ensuring that the victim feels afraid to cross them, obligated to give them their way and feeling guilty if they don’t: indeed Forward and Frazier invent the acronym FOG, standing for Fear, Obligation, Guilt – feelings which often result from being exposed to emotional blackmail when in a relationship with a person who suffers from a personality disorder.[8]
Types
Forward and Frazier identify four blackmail types each with their own mental manipulation style:[9]

  1. punishers – ‘My way or the highway’ is the punisher’s motto. No matter what you feel or need, punishers override you.
  2. self-punishers – “self-punishers cast their targets in the role of the ‘grown-up’ – the only adult in the relationship… supposed to come running when they cry”
  3. sufferers – sufferers take the position that “if you don’t do what I want, I will suffer, and it will be your fault” (see victim playing)
  4. tantalizers – Tantalizers are the most subtle blackmailers, they offer nothing with a free heart.

He sent this series of tweets to her:

My mom is sick. Call me and we can end this.

.@vdaze My mother is despondent over reading your manipulations. You’ve hurt many people just to “get even.” Call me & we can end this.
.@vdaze And if my mother dies as a result of this drama, it will be one of the saddest cyber romances in history.

Mother is wailing

Fuck. My sister just called. My mother is reading these streams and shrieking hysterically. GOD DAMN THIS WOMAN. GOD DAMN HER.

He readily admits to lying about this. He’d sent an email to a friend of Jessica’s who, rightly, fessed up. If there was ever the seedling of a doubt that maybe his mother was very ill over their breakup5 then someone who cared would call him to either tell him to fuck off and quit involving his mother or call him to express regret. Either way he was hoping that she’d call him. This alarmed her friend who saw it as obvious manipulation and, really, who lies about their mother being ill? Someone who is desperately trying to control a situation from which he should be walking away.

Email admission

More on emotional blackmail:

Abusers often justify their emotional blackmail with fear – abusers are often afraid that they may lose something important (material or immaterial) that their victims provide. This can include a home, access to money, the loss of credibility, sexual intimacy and the loss of parenting opportunities, etc.
Most people who use emotional blackmail fear losing something. To gain coercion, compliance and dominance, abusers may:

  • Act like victims
  • Make angry threats
  • Install limiting beliefs
  • Block the victim’s goals
  • Disguise abuse as humor
  • Withhold essential information
  • Forget promises or agreements
  • Contradict their victim’s perspectives
  • Invalidate their victim’s reality and perceptions
  • Trivialize their victims thoughts and achievements

Abusers can come from any background – most seem to learn to abuse by watching their parents.

What did she do to deserve that? She removed herself from the situation. That wasn’t good enough for him because it was out of his control. So she fought back. But is it as bad as getting a smack? Knowing that someone is desperately trying to communicate with you and will do anything to do so creates a psychological dilemma. She knows that her friends are putting themselves at risk. She knows that he won’t stop and will just evolve into something more. She’s seen him do it to other people. He recruits people to help him in the assault. If she finds herself moving on, he’ll find a way to let her know he’s watching. Always watching. So, she knows what’s coming and, yes, that can be just as bad as knowing a smack is coming.

The assumption is that her experience really isn’t that bad and if she hides herself away he’ll just go away. It’s not that bad. Why ya whining, sister? Every chance he has to get her attention or to insert himself into her head, he does exactly that. What’s so bad about that? It’s not like he’s throwing punches, right? It could be worse. It’s probably a good thing she removed herself before it got to that. But saying that about emotional abuse is an intellectually lazy excuse to absolve him of his own guilt. That’s laying the responsibility for his abhorrent behavior on her shoulders.

Yes, it could’ve been worse. I was nearly killed by one of my abusers and have a life-long disability because of that experience. But that doesn’t mean what she experienced wasn’t traumatizing for her. That kind of emotional manipulation takes time and when it’s finally over the healing is extremely slow.

The question in this segment of the interview is simple:

What’s your goal in all of this? And what I mean by that is, what are you after? What do you want Heather to do? What do you want Imani to do? What do you want Jessica or Milt to do?

The answer is, well, interesting:

I want to know who told Jessica about this alleged invitation to Canada that blew her up. That’s what I want to know. That’s first and foremost what I want to know. Okay? And you can ask Randy right now, if you wish, but I’d like to know what you believe. Did you hear that story? Do you know who did it?

These two are supposedly discussing a conspiracy where a group of people are targeting an activist group and/or/maybe trying to get money from a guy who admitted to being an infiltrator and/or/maybe they’re trying to hide their complicity with said infiltrator. That’s what the question was referencing. The answer tells another story — it’s all about her. I find it interesting that here is the answer to it all, every bit of it, but the discussion surrounding that very candid admission is just not there. He wants answers. She gets angry and withdraws. He admits that he will do anything to get her to communicate with him. He admits that he doesn’t blame her for allowing herself to be manipulated (though he would very much like to be the one doing the manipulating) and why is everyone so damned mean?

The most telling part of this segment, though, is this:

It’s my fault that I do that; I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t go from an agitated state like I’m at now [yelling] to some kind of abuse when she doesn’t answer the phone! Okay? Agreed, that’s abusive. And that’s exactly what that message was about.

Yes. Yes, it was abusive. The actions that led to that and the actions to led to her blog post were abusive. The actions that have led to this blog post are abusive.

Want this to stop? Repeat after me: I’m sorry.

Then leave her and her friends alone.

 
***Updated to include a screenshot of a DM that he sent Jessica regarding her asking him to “please stop” as well as the email that he sent admitting to lying about his mother.***

Listen here if the player doesn’t work.

  1. I ran across this audio and immediately thought of the “what did she do to deserve it?” nonsense. This is about that. []
  2. And a big “Fuck you” to the enablers who will undoubtedly repeat “Well, at least it’s not as bad as…” I’ve been through worse too and it’s my experiences that allow me to recognize it and to have a voice in calling it out. []
  3. That he’d been harassing her and her friends and she just wanted him to stop. []
  4. The breakup of a couple who weren’t in a relationship… heh. []
  5. That didn’t happen because there was no relationship, right? []

I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

Still Victim Shaming

Your friend, your idol, the person you follow on Twitter is an abuser. You’ve known this for a long time, but you’ve turned a blind eye. Maybe he hasn’t set his sights on you. Maybe he hasn’t raged. It’s just that person over there and doesn’t affect you. You feel uncomfortable. You don’t like looking at it. You don’t like reading about it. Why doesn’t she just shut up already?

I’ve already discussed victim shaming, but let me reiterate what that is and why doing it hurt all victims1.

Victim Shaming involves telling a victim that her2 experience really isn’t that important or really wasn’t that bad. It involves finding a million reasons why the victim should just stop talking about what’s happened. It’s telling the victim that it’s her fault and if she’d just done what was expected of her then none of it would have happened. It’s talking over her experience, minimizing it, defining it for her and moaning that her experience makes you uncomfortable.

Why does that hurt anyone who’s experienced abuse? Because they see what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and talk themselves into remaining silent. This gives the abuser strength and validation to continue his dirty work– either on his current target or on another victim. Instead of feeling shame and getting help, he’s validated in his actions. And it keeps others from speaking up.

“If it was that bad, why didn’t she speak up sooner?”

She’s protecting his goddamned reputation or remembering what it was like to love him or telling herself that it was her fault. She’s holstered the one weapon she can really use to help prevent this from happening again because someone decided her experience just wasn’t that serious. You made her feel like she just wasn’t legitimate enough for you. It really doesn’t matter why she didn’t speak out sooner, because there are a multitude of reasons. I’ve never asked because it doesn’t matter. And asking her to answer this question is invalidating her experience.

I could sit here and type story after story about my own experiences. I could tell you for days why this issue is close to my heart and why I don’t give a fuck about past grievances. I could whip out my virtual victim “dick” and measure it right against yours. Shoot, there’s a good chance my scars out scar yours. I could do this:

Legitimate Abuse

Except I won’t. I won’t minimize what happened to someone else because it doesn’t fit my definition or because it wasn’t as extreme as getting punched in the throat. I’m not going to write a screed about why a victim should shut the fuck about what happened to her. But I’ll happily and most definitely write about the people telling the victim to shut up or OH MY GOD ROMNEY WILL WIN THE WHITE HOUSE.

First, seriously? It’s a Twitter personality. Give me a fucking break. The day tweeting wins elections is the day people stop actually, you know, voting. Oh, and guess what? Progressive politics includes standing up for the victim– whether it be against someone taking away their fucking Medicare or trying to manipulate them into calling them just to “talk”.

Shoq Tells Vdaze to Call him or his mother would die

.@vdaze And if my mother dies as a result of this drama, it will one of the saddest cyber romances in history

.@vdaze My mother is despondent over reading your manipulations. You’ve hurt many people just “to get even”. Call me & we can end this.

Secondly, it didn’t happen to you? Good. It happened to someone else. It’s happened to multiple someone else’s. It didn’t fit your definition? Too bad, because it fits into a definition or two of abuse.

Do you recognize anything in this list?

  1. Denial: Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
  2. Rationalization: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization is closely related to spin.
  3. Minimization: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalization. The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting, for example saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke.
  4. Selective inattention or selective attention: Manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it”.
  5. Diversion: Manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
  6. Evasion: Similar to diversion but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague responses, weasel words.
  7. Covert intimidation: Manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats.
  8. Guilt tripping: A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.
  9. Shaming: Manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm. Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
  10. Playing the victim role (“poor me”): Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.
  11. Vilifying the victim: More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.
  12. Playing the servant role: Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause, for example saying he is acting in a certain way for “obedience” and “service” to God or a similar authority figure.

If you don’t recognize anything in the above list I’m sure someone can give you specific examples of every single item in that list. Every one.

I’m going to quote myself here, because this so obviously bears repeating a second time:

“So, let me be very, very clear here to the people who are telling us– and specifically her– to stop talking about this. When you tell her to stop talking about it, you are telling her to shut up and you are attempting to shame her into silence. That makes you part of the problem. That makes you his enabler and that makes you supportive of the abuse.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you angry now? Good. You deserve to feel that way. Imagine what the victim of the abuse feels like when you tell her that her experience is not worthy of your tender little eyeballs. When she sees you validating the person who abused her. It’s precisely people like you and your reaction to this that more people don’t come forward. Go sit in your corner, cover your eyes and pretend the only ugly that happens in the world happens to people you don’t know. No one’s stopping you from hiding to protect your delicate sensibilities.

But we will not be silent. We will not ignore it. We will stand up and say that this is enough. Abuse is a real issue that affects real people and, guess what, Sherlock, those real people are probably people you know. So, you can sit down and shut up now. Hide away deep in the crevices of the internet where real life never seeps in and your only exposure to real ugly is in a link your friend posted. The rest of us, those strong enough to actually look at what happened to Jessica and others like her, will stand with the victim and see real life the way it actually happens. And we will be very, very angry about it.”

Maybe you’ve been getting DM’s or emails or talking with the aggressor on the phone and so feel compelled to speak out on his behalf. Let me explain something to you– and him– he doesn’t get to define the conversation. I don’t care how many of his supporters whine about it on their blogs and on Twitter. If you cared about your friend, if you care at all about victims at all, you will convince him to be quiet and you will convince him to get help. Victims of “real” abuse3 have seen what he is capable of and we– we, motherfuckers, because I have survived some of the worst abuse you can fucking imagine– recognized it immediately and were triggered. I hate to be the bearer of sad news for your tender little hearts, but this falls right into the perimeters of “real” abuse.

Now, you can whine that all this talk of abuse and bullies and victims is dangerous to Obama’s election chances, but you’ll be arguing out of your ass. This is a legitimate issue for millions of people and, guess what, it’s not going to stop people from voting one way or the other. The aggressor does not matter to this election. His tweeting does not matter. His “insightful” observations do not matter. That is a form of psychological manipulation that you can see in the above list. You fell for it. Congratulations, you just allowed yourself to be used against his victim. You just allowed yourself to engage in victim shaming.

Now, don’t you feel proud of yourself?

You should look inward a little and ask yourself why you felt compelled to speak out against an abuse victim. Why you felt obligated to denounce her as someone who’s just creating noise to detract from a presidential campaign. Why you felt it was your duty to stand with someone who is capable of manipulating even you4.

  1. This post is not going to address cyberbullying. []
  2. I’m using “her” only because it’s easier. I understand that men can and are victims. []
  3. As you and your comrades call it. []
  4. And, no, I don’t feel used by Jessica, so save that shit for someone else. I have my voice and I have chosen to use it. You don’t like it? Too fucking bad. []

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On Victim Shaming: We Will Not Be Silent

Stop talking about it

Updated Below

I want to make something completely clear: Jessica did not ask me to write my previous post. In fact, she didn’t even know the post was coming until it was done. Going a step further, her abuser would label me as an enemy. I took it upon myself to post what I did in solidarity with her because I refuse to pretend this is a “private/family matter” that shouldn’t see the light of day. She took a big risk letting the world know what he did and how he behaved toward her. She knows what he’s capable of but still took that leap. I wrote my post to support her– so she wasn’t leaping alone and so our little twitter community couldn’t say “This is just a private spat between two people”.

Fuck that.

Abusers count on their victims remaining silent and their actions remaining hidden. When we have evidence that abuse occurred– and verbal/emotional abuse is as bad as physical abuse– we as good people should not be silent. Abusers should not be able to hide behind the cliche that this is a private matter. We’ve come too far to go back to that. We’re stronger than that. We no longer accept that.

But many people in the Left’s twittersphere have decided that discussing an instance of abuse, online and in public, is distasteful. They don’t want to see that. They want to discuss the “issues” and continue tweeting Obama to his presidency. They don’t like seeing this played out and their favorite twitter icon shown in a bad light. It makes them uncomfortable and sad. They’re conflicted so they tell the victim to just stop talking about it.

Update 1:
This is an example of what this post is about:

and then:


End update

Here’s a clue for those of you whining that it’s too ugly for your blushing eyes to handle: Abuse is an “issue”. It’s an ongoing battle that many women, children and men endure. Most of the time that abuse is kept “in house” and the abuser gets to say things like “There’s never been one woman come forward”. It is an issue that spans the political spectrum and effects millions of people. If this particular abuser were anyone else, you’d be chirping how awful he was and that he should seek psychiatric help. Instead you validate his claim that he’s being bullied unfairly. How dare anyone come forward and show his abhorrent behavior to the world! How dare anyone blog it or tweet it!

*Note: No one is alleging physical abuse. But if you’re intelligent then you know that emotional abuse is just as painful as physical abuse.

In many ways, emotional abuse is more psychologically harmful than physical abuse. There are a couple of reasons for this. Even in the most violent families, the incidents tend to be cyclical. Early in the abuse cycle, a violent outburst is followed by a honeymoon period of remorse, attention, affection, and generosity, but not genuine compassion. (The honeymoon stage eventually ends, as the victim begins to say, “Never mind the damn flowers, just stop hitting me!”) Emotional abuse, on the other hand, tends to happen every day. The effects are more harmful because they’re so frequent.
The other factor that makes emotional abuse so devastating is the greater likelihood that victims will blame themselves. If someone hits you, it’s easier to see that he or she is the problem, but if the abuse is subtle – saying or implying that you’re ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, not worth attention, or that no one could love you – you are more likely to think it’s your problem. Emotional abuse seems more personal than physical abuse, more about you as a person, more about your spirit. It makes love hurt.

Let’s look at some facts:

Verbal, Emotional, and Psychological Tactics1

  1. Using degrading language, insults, criticism, or name calling;
  2. Screaming;
  3. Harassing;
  4. Refusing to talk;
  5. Engaging in manipulative behaviors to make the victim believe he or she is “crazy” or imagining things;
  6. Humiliating the victim privately or in the presence of other people;
  7. Blaming the victim for the abusive behavior;
  8. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;
  9. Denying the abuse and physical attacks.

I’ll tackle these one at a time.
1. Using degrading language, insults, criticism, or name calling;

We know for a fact he does this. Listen to the audio. “You intolerant cunt”

2. Harassing;

She’s made clear that he’s contacted her friends and continued to try to call her even when she ended their relationship. In fact, if you look at Jessica’s posts in response to his you will see that this wasn’t the only voice mail he’s left her. He actually “apologized”2 for the wrong one. I have no idea how many of those he left her in his fits of anger, but I see the pattern.

3. Refusing to talk;

I guess this one doesn’t apply from the evidence we have.

4. Engaging in manipulative behaviors to make the victim believe he or she is “crazy” or imagining things;

In his latest note to Jessica he says this:

We even spoke of you getting counseling for your relentless brow beating of me whenever we had seemingly minor disputes. None of that made it into your blog narratives.

On Twitter someone said she was childish, he agreed. He’s setting the “narrative” that she’s emotionally unstable. He ignores the fact that he’s the one with the anger problem for which he should seek help.

5. Humiliating the victim privately or in the presence of other people;

Currently he’s doing damage control and so is very much trying to get her to shut up or at least get the rest of us to shut up. As we’ve heard on the voice mail (which, I will remind you, was not the only such one he left for her) he used very humiliating language.

6. Blaming the victim for the abusive behavior;

There is ample evidence of this, both in the voice mail and his response to her making the voice mail public.

From the voice mail:

You did that on purpose…stop driving me to this level of anger and pretending that you’re not aware that you do it. You know that you’re aware that you do it.

From the “apology“:

It was loud, intense, and used words I deeply regret. I am so sorry for them, and I wish I could take them back, but I can’t. I was furious. No, that’s wrong. I was totally and completely hurt and angry at you for taking our private matters into a public venue like Twitter as you had. After repeatedly asking you to explain what had suddenly angered you, knowing my countless enemies are always trying to game us and destroy me, I got no responses at all.

From his response to his behavior being made public:

Again that doesn’t excuse my vitriolic anger, but since recordings only reveal my reactions and not what caused them, they naturally work for you among your friends, or anyone disposed to thinking that any form of yelling into a telephone answering machine is evidence of, or suggestive of some larger form of physical or extreme abuse in person. We both know that never happened.

7. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;

He’s infamous for his DMs telling people to unfollow or block certain people he doesn’t care for3. She has admitted that she’s done these things for him in her apology to the people she hurt. I have to other evidence to show he’s gone that far.

8. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;

I’ve personally seen no evidence of this one. So, I’ll assume until otherwise notified this one doesn’t apply to him.

9. Denying the abuse and physical attacks.

There is ample evidence of this particular tactic. Just look at his blog or his twitter timeline. He’s denying it as I type this. As far as quoting him, look above. His non-apology and his response show in great detail how he denies the emotional abuse. Note: We are not talking about physical abuse here. Jessica made clear that it was not physical.

We have seen that abuse has happened and that it is ongoing– in his responses to her on his blog and twitter, his underhanded threats to her4. Yet, there are still some who say that this should be handled privately, that this shouldn’t be brought out into the open or that public squabbling is unseemly. They are uncomfortable with being confronted with the fact that someone they respect is capable of such things. They are conflicted because they’re not sure how to act. They blame her for being emotional.

Why is it a good idea for Jessica to discuss this publicly? For one, she was able to name her abuse and her abuser. By doing that, she took back her power. Secondly, she was able to find allies to support her. She found that she did not have to face this alone.

NAMING IT
Because it is harder to name emotional abuse as abuse, it can be harder to heal from as well. The first step is to name your experience as abuse. Trust how you feel. Many people can identify the abuse once they know what to look for because they change from being outgoing, self-confident, and care-free to feeling nervous, anxious, and fearful in the company of an emotionally abusive person

She needs to get her confidence back. If you’ve ever experienced this kind of abuse, you know that it drains your very soul. He was able to take her self away and make her his. By naming him and her experience, she was able to take her self away from him.

IF YOU’RE PRESENTLY BEING EMOTIONALLY ABUSED
If you know that you’re currently being emotionally abused, you’ll need to find ways to protect yourself emotionally; to reduce or stop contact with the abusive person; to find allies; to talk about what is going on, and to look into options to keep yourself from being further abused5

She reached out in a way we’re all familiar with– to her allies in the virtual world. Her friends and people who can empathize with her situation. She is finding support and healing from the damage he did to her in a way of her choosing.

So, let me be very, very clear here to the people who are telling us– and specifically her– to stop talking about this. When you tell her to stop talking about it, you are telling her to shut up and you are attempting to shame her into silence. That makes you part of the problem. That makes you his enabler and that makes you supportive of the abuse.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you angry now? Good. You deserve to feel that way. Imagine what the victim of the abuse feels like when you tell her that her experience is not worthy of your tender little eyeballs. When she sees you validating the person who abused her. It’s precisely people like you and your reaction to this that more people don’t come forward. Go sit in your corner, cover your eyes and pretend the only ugly that happens in the world happens to people you don’t know. No one’s stopping you from hiding to protect your delicate sensibilities.

But we will not be silent. We will not ignore it. We will stand up and say that this is enough. Abuse is a real issue that affects real people and, guess what, Sherlock, those real people are probably people you know. So, you can sit down and shut up now. Hide away deep in the crevices of the internet where real life never seeps in and your only exposure to real ugly is in a link your friend posted. The rest of us, those strong enough to actually look at what happened to Jessica and others like her, will stand with the victim and see real life the way it actually happens. And we will be very, very angry about it.

Update 2:

Jessica has updated her own post to include more voice mails. You can read the transcripts and listen to recordings.

Don't be silent

  1. Courtesy of “The Basics of Domestic Violence“ []
  2. I use that term very loosely because his apology was anything but. []
  3. Myself being on that List, which is actually quite comical. []
  4. That he will write his own tell-all and that she’s lucky he’s above that. []
  5. Courtesy of “Emotional Abuse: The Most Common Form of Abuse” []

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When Progressive Men Abuse Women

Updated below

someone you know needs help

I’m an abuse survivor. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the stories of my experiences on my blog. I know I haven’t gone into detail about it. My experiences aren’t special. Many people go through abusive situations, either as children or adults. Those of us who have lived through it tend to empathize with other victims. We understand the pain of being berated for having the audacity to be who we are or because we have feelings or because we’re not exactly perfect. We know that, yes, cruel words from someone you love can cause deep, painful scars. We remember that strength and healing can come from knowing someone out there actually cares.

I lived with emotional abuse during my most formative years. As a young adult, I believed that physical abuse was normal and violence was to be expected. It took me a long time to understand that normal people don’t hurt the people they love intentionally. Normal people don’t say things like “You made me this angry. You knew what would happen, but you did it anyway.” That’s what abusers say to control their victims. And then after they’ve been shown the tears or seen the broken heart they apologize with words like “I’m so sorry, but if you hadn’t done what you did I wouldn’t have done what I did.” They like to see the control they have over their victim. Maybe, in some deep recess of their tormented and broken brain, they actually do feel bad that their victim made them so angry. I don’t really care about their reasoning. I have no compassion for abusers.

You're nothing

If only you’d have stopped making me angry.
If only you’d have not been yourself.
If only you’d have realized that I’m capable of such things.
If only you’d have stopped before you let it get this far I wouldn’t have to put you in your place.

I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of both emotional and physical abuse. And, as such, I’m not one to sit back and pretend that I don’t see it or it’s not my business or, maybe, the perpetrator of such acts just needs a fucking hug. I’m not one to see something like this or hear something like this and act like it’s not really a big deal.

I’m not going to pretend like I know the whole story. I don’t need to because I heard the audio. He said this to her:

You did that on purpose, and don’t pretend you didn’t. Yes, an intolerant cunt. You don’t like it? Too fucking bad. You did that on purpose. I even gave you signals that you did it to me, and you did it anyway, because you’ve decided to be a passive aggressive bitch with me for over a month. Admit it! Stop making it my fault! Stop drumming me up, and…stop driving me to this level of anger and pretending that you’re not aware that you do it. You know that you’re aware that you do it.

Words hurt

He’s screaming at her. It’s her fault he’s screaming at her. If she hadn’t ignored his signals he wouldn’t be driven to such anger.

Then to make it even better, he apologized with this. Here’s the apology to her. Don’t worry, though, it’s still her fault.

I can forgive you for doing that to you and to us. I hope can forgive me for my inexcusable tone and words in that final voice mail. It was loud, intense, and used words I deeply regret. I am so sorry for them, and I wish I could take them back, but I can’t. I was furious. No, that’s wrong. I was totally and completely hurt and angry at you for taking our private matters into a public venue like Twitter as you had. And I was also quite drunk.
[..] Again, I am very, very sorry for my choice of words, and that tone. There was no excuse for my channeling my anger in that way, other than that I am human and make mistakes. But you know that about me, as I know it about you.
[…] You did that before my voice message. And you’re now still doing it long after. But none of that excuses my message at all. But neither does my message excuse humiliating us in public for no rational reason that I, nor anyone else can understand. Still, I will not retaliate for that. That is a promise. I will not share details of your life, just to “get even.” There is nothing to be gained but more pain, and I care about you too much to hurt you more than you already are

He says this on his blog:

Shoq stalks and harasses women (variant: he DMs them for “cybersex.”).
Try finding some of these women. You can’t. It’s just one of these things trolls will say because it sounds so controlling and dangerous.You’ll generally just run into dozens of women who know me personally who will point out that I am rather popular with women on twitter.

He goes on to point to this blog as an example of someone trying to railroad him (though in his post he intentionally adds the wrong url). It quotes anonymous women telling of what his tactics with dealing with women. Tactics that have now been shown to be true. So much for trolling, huh?

Ah, so now we have proof that he’s an abuser. Recorded proof and an admission. Considering that other women have anonymously confirmed that he’s done this type of thing before, I guess we can call this a pattern.

At this point I should admit that I’m not fond of vdaze because of the way she behaved toward some folks in the past, in defense of him and prior to seeing the real side of her abuser. She hurt some people that I care about and went on crusades against people who she felt were causing harm to him. She was what we called a “mean girl”. Some would say that she was a bully herself at points. But she does not deserve this. No woman does. I don’t give a fuck who they are. I know what that kind of shit feels like and she doesn’t deserve to know it too. When I say I stand for women’s rights and I’m a warrior against the War on Women, I’m not just talking about keeping the government out of our uteri. I’m talking about standing with other women when men– with or without any modicum of power– attack them. I won’t stand silent because I disagreed with her. I won’t pretend I don’t care what happened to her because of some bullshit Twitter drama. I read that post and heard that recording and it infuriated me for her and for any woman who has ever been on the receiving end of that1.

She’s afraid of him. She knows him so well that she felt the need to inform her employer about a possible retaliation2. She feels like she should get a restraining order. She’s protected her twitter account so he can’t see her (though he gets reports and possibly has a sock account to watch her). The other women mentioned in the other blog are so afraid of his retaliation that they wouldn’t even use their real name. She knows what he’s capable of and it scares her. She shouldn’t be afraid to break up with someone. She shouldn’t be afraid to move on with her life.

According to this blog post, that also has a recording featuring our perpetrator, he has political connections and is willing to use a private investigator to get information on anyone he sees fit. These women have a reason to fear him. They fear this so-called Progressive man who supposed fights for women’s rights. Who uses women, abuses them and then intimidates them– while sitting on his Twitter account all day playing like he’s the knight-in-shining armor.

Here’s an example of his support system, which was posted after it became known what our Chief abuser is capable of:

This bothers me. It bothers me a lot. It bothers a lot of people3. It bothers her the most though. Because he’s got her in his sights and is pissed at her and wants her to feel sorry.

I’m not writing this for myself, but for other people and for her. No one should be afraid some anonymous4 asshole on Twitter is going to ruin their life. If this was done by anyone on the right and we caught wind of it, we’d be screeching far and wide. “Look what they’re capable of! This proves that the right hates women!” We ignore it when it comes from out own side though, don’t we? Not all of us, of course. Some have stood up for her and offered to be there for her. Others have offered advice to help her in dealing with this person. No one should be afraid of standing against him while offering her support.

But there are plenty of Progressive men and women who are pretending it’s just a “family” issue. One even had the gall to say she felt like a child in a divorce. He made clear that particular “feminist” was spending time helping him through his difficult issue. As if this kind of silly little argument is ok and there’s nothing wrong with what he did to her. When we ignore it from our own side, while shouting about it when it’s from men on the other side, then we what does that make us?

I’m frustrated because 1) hearing that recording triggered me, 2) he was able to call this a “mistake” and compare himself to mentally ill artists and 3) the people DMing me to tell me what’s going on aren’t making this noise themselves. He still sees nothing wrong with what he did and he still gets accolades from Progressives. Even Progressives who can’t stand him haven’t stood up to say “Hey, motherfucker, you’re sick and need to shut the fuck about women’s issues. Get your own fucking self in order before calling out anyone else.” Because of my own frustration I decided to write this post. Why? So later, when someone says “Oh, he’s a good guy with lots of good ideas and blah blah blah” I can point back here and ask “Does a good guy do this to someone he supposed loves?” No, good guys don’t do that. Good guys don’t create such havoc that a woman breaking up with him gets verbally abused and feels the need to protect herself against intimidation and retaliation. Good guys don’t show a pattern of this kind of behavior. Good men possess the ability to let shit go and not feel it’s ok that someone they love is afraid of them.5

More importantly: Good people don’t ignore it or excuse it.

Update:

Some folks call this damage control. Rational, sane and normal people call this a threat.

Screenshot because he deleted the original tweet.

There’s a lot of talk about this post, vdaze’s experience and Shoq’s abusive personality on Twitter. He’s pissed. He’s now decided to threaten her. She should know that we’re not going to let him get away with this. Not again. Not this time.

And, no, motherfucker, I’m not anyone’s sockpuppet. I’m someone who you can’t scare and you can’t threaten. You have no power over me. If you didn’t want the world to know what really happened, then maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t have done it.

Update 2:

The ol’ “There’s two sides to every story schtick. Sorry, buckaroo, too late. You’ve already admitted that you did it. We’ve heard the audio. It is not her fault.

Last Update:

I just want to point one thing out. Shoq “apologizes” to vDaze, which you can read here (along with her response to his post), but mistakenly thinks the voice mail that she uploaded was recent. She notes that the voice mail we’ve heard is from January 25, 2012. I don’t know how many of these drunken, enraged voice mails he’s left her, but since he’s confused about which is which, I’m guessing more than one. Think about that.

  1. If you know me at all you’ll refrain from coming into my comments or my Twitter mentions to say that she earned this for whatever reason. I have no use for that and if you feel the need to voice that then you can fuck right the fuck off. []
  2. He basically admitted something of the sort in his “apology” and has been shown to do such things. []
  3. Many of whom have DM’d me privately that I should gather up Progressive women to rain down fire on this asshole’s head, while not doing the same from their own accounts. []
  4. Not really anonymous, but he likes to pretend. []
  5. Full Disclosure: I haven’t liked this man for a very long time. He’s a bully and a liar. He likes to take credit for ideas other people have had. Usually I just like to mock his ridiculous, narcissistic behavior and I had a field day when he actually threatened to sue another Twitter user for something someone else said. He doesn’t like me either, so there’s that. []

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Floating Boobies

Most of the people I follow on Twitter are progressive or liberal.  I like reading their various views on things and following their links. Mostly. Today a lot of them were pissing me off. I was in a foul mood anyway, so it didn’t take much to set me off. And I have no idea why I expected more from a group of people that laugh hysterically at Rush Limbaugh’s man-boobs (though he does so deserve to be laughed at for every single thing about him).

Carrie Prejean is Miss California. She’s the winner of a fucking beauty pageant that has made public statements against gay marriage. Whoo-di-fucking-do, right? There are enough intelligent women and men in this country to ably counter anything this chick might have to say. And generally she would be ignored anyway just because she’s a part of that “beauty pageant” subculture, which I can’t stand. I know I was ignoring her. And happily. There are thousands of people, who are more powerful and have more influence, that are against same-sex marriage and, I thought, those were the people the movement for same-sex marriage should be fighting against. Apparently, I missed the boat on how utterly important this woman is. Or, better yet, how shameful she because she 1) got breast implants and 2) she was photographed topless.

I have a lot of strong opinions on society valuing women’s bodies more than their intellect and talent. Who the fuck cares if you look good in a string bikini if you don’t know jack shit about what’s going on in the world around you? If you can’t manage your own finances, who the fuck cares if your nails are perfectly done? So, here’s a beauty contestant that has political views and has agreed to be a spokesperson for a group supporting those same views. That should be a relief to people who hate the beauty pageant culture for it’s objectification and dumbing down of the contestants. But no. Apparently she should have kept her mouth shut and just sat pretty.

This is where I’m parting ways with some of my lefty compatriots. Mock her for her beliefs, yes. We do that with everyone to a certain extent. Laugh at the stupid shit that may come out of her mouth1. But what’s the point of going on and on and on about her boobs?

She had a boob job before the competition. Ohmyfuckinggod! Can you believe that shit? Here’s a young woman who, for whatever fucked up reason, chose to enter a contest where she would be judged not on her intellect, talent or character, but on her looks, who paid money to improve those looks. According to societal standards, of course. The world of pageantry says that flawless skin, slim figures, and firm breasts are beautiful. Those that enter that world want to conform to those standards. Getting a boob job did that for this woman. It gave her an extra edge in that competition. That was the goal. Why is this shocking? Why isn’t the fact that she felt she needed a boob job being discussed instead of her fake “floating” titties? Why isn’t the fact that those new boobs probably won her more points than anything else in that competition being discussed?

I’ll ignore the chatter about her baring her breasts. I can actually see the hypocrisy in that as she’s supposed to me all moral and upstanding (and now I’m ignoring the question of why does women covering their breasts equal moral). She worked hard for that body and she wants to show it off, but she doesn’t want people that have lived together and loved each other for 50 years to be married. Yes, there’s hypocrisy there. That should most definitely be called out.

I won’t take Ms. Prejean seriously because she doesn’t take herself seriously and she’s a hypocrite. But it’s not because she had a boob job. If I dismissed every woman who’s ever done something to “improve” her looks I’d miss out on a lot of wonderful people, including:

  1. Any woman who has ever put on makeup because “her eyes are so much prettier that way”
  2. Any woman who has ever run on a treadmill in effort to fit into those jeans (as opposed to staying fit and healthy)
  3. Any woman who has “washed that gray right out of” her hair
  4. Any woman who has ever used wrinkle “reducing” cream
  5. Any woman who has ever worn control-top panty hose
  6. Any woman who has ever added spritz to her hair in order to “control the frizz”
  7. Any woman who has ever had her teeth straightened and/or whitened
  8. Any woman who has ever spent 5 minutes in a tanning bed (or laying out on the beach)

Of course, that’s only a partial list. As women, we are conditioned at a young age to do certain things to be pretty in our society. And most people don’t think ill of women doing that. In fact, if a woman in the public eye dares to go out without her hair done and makeup perfect she’s ridiculed. We do it because it’s expected of us. The only people who should be able to ridicule a woman’s physical “enhancements” are those that are perfectly happy with their physical appearance and don’t engage in any of the above actions2. Going on about a boob job is something I expect from asshole motherfuckers who can’t piece a coherent thought together to save their lives. You know the ones: “A woman’s place is in the home.” I most certainly don’t expect to see it coming from people who are supposed to be more politically aware and sensitive.

The very nature of her anti same-sex marriage stance is repulsive. Argue that. But stop arguing that her argument is invalid because she got fucking implants. That kind of diminishment is insulting to all women. Progressives and liberals should be the last people to be using the way a woman looks to bury her argument—whether it’s good or no.

P.S.

I know these issues are regularly discussed on the rad fem sites. I was just irritated that this meme was going on for so long in my Twitter stream and even the self-professed feminists there weren’t calling it out. I’m glad, though, that since my temper tantrum it seems to have died down.

Popularity: 12% [?]


Sphere: Related Content

  1. I don’t listen to her as I was trying not to pay attention to her. []
  2. Including those not listed. []

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I Felt Their Pain

This post was written over the course of a few days. I couldn’t decide where I was going with it and even if I wanted to post it. But here it is.

I am having a difficult day today. I saw on Twitter that another baby has died. Last week it was little Maddie Spohr, who was 17 months old. And today it’s Thalon Myers, just under 4 months old. I don’t want to link to them, because I don’t want any trackbacks to here to diminish what those families are experiencing1. Each death is a tragedy and each child was a gift. But, selfishly maybe, hearing about little Thalon brought back the pain of my own loss.

There was a link to a list of suggestions on how to approach and comfort a mother who has just experienced such a loss. The suggestions there are very helpful. If I’d have known about that list I’d have handed it out to every person that came into contact with me after Gabriel died. It seemed that everyone thought it was ok to say things like “You’re still young” and “You can always have another one”.

I was so utterly angry after Gabriel’s funeral that I’m pretty sure there was nothing anyone could say that would comfort me. Most of what I heard through my fog just caused me more grief. My aunt even told me at one point “You still have that one” (meaning Lil’ Miss). I’m sure she meant well, but I still haven’t gotten over the rage I felt at hearing it. As if Gabriel was just a throw-away and I should be thankful for being able to bear children at least. Pfft.

But the absolute worst part was hearing the sounds of other children or hearing stories of other children. My child was dead and I couldn’t love him or mother him or do any of the things that other mothers could do with their living children. I didn’t want to hear about them because it just hurt so damned much. And that made me even more angry.

I was reading Heather Spohr’s account of bringing her Maddie’s ashes home and that brought back all of those memories too. Gabriel’s funeral was on Monday and on Wednesday I went to pick up his box2 and nearly lost my mind. I was bringing my son home in a box. How unfair was that? There was no new baby smells, no crying, no cuddling. Inside the box was a small, Ziplock sized bag that contained what remained of his physical body. Imagine two cups of flour. That’s about the equivalent of what was left of my son. I thought it ironic too that there was a pad lock with numbers holding the bag together3. Who was going to steal him? Did they think I was going to inhale him? After I looked inside that box, my soul left my body, I think, and I was left empty. I couldn’t breathe– literally. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t hear anything besides my own heart exploding. I closed that box and didn’t open it again for 2 years.

When I went through the comments to both Heather and Shana (Thalon’s mom) I was reminded of what kinds of things I hated hearing while I was deep in my grief. So many people left them heartfelt condolences and didn’t mean to be hurtful, but so many of those comments would have sent me (during my grief) into a spiral.

To me the worst thing would be to be reminded that someone somewhere has a living child. For example, “I hugged my little one a little tighter today in your child’s honor” is meant to offer comfort, but is hurtful to a newly grieving mother. She can’t hug her child anymore. Her child is gone and the above comment just brought the pain of that realization to the surface.

Another one was “When my twin toddlers came running to me today…” Again, a new grieving mother can no longer experience whatever it was that those toddlers did. She lost that when she lost her child. That is agony for her. The sentiment of the comment will be realized later, but when she initially sees that her grief and pain will be compounded. It’s inevitable. I don’t think that anyone who has never lost a child can understand why being sentimental about your living child to a newly grieving mother can make things just a little bit worse. Or, if she was like me, a whole lot worse.

I knew for three months in advance that Gabriel was going to die. I had grief counseling before he was even born. I was warned that people would say things that were meant well but that would hurt me. I was supposed to be prepared. I wasn’t. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a mother to all of the sudden loss her child. For her baby to be there one minute and lost the next. I can’t imagine that, in those situations, those mothers are any better at handling stories of living children than I was.

I’m lucky in two respects (as compared to other mothers who have lost their children): I knew Gabriel was going to die and he died shortly after birth. So I was prepared and I didn’t get weeks, months or years of bonding time with him. But I still lost my mind when the mortuary came for his little body. I still lost my mind when I saw living children. I still lost my mind when I brought that box of ashes home. But I didn’t have those memories of him to torment me even more. Just my two days with him in the hospital. That didn’t diminish my pain, of course, but I didn’t have the shock and all that goes with having a living child which would, no doubt, add to the struggle for breath. I am heartbroken for Heather and Shana, but can’t offer them comfort because there is none. Not right now.

I hope that both mothers stay away from their blogs and Twitter for a while. Even when you think you’re strong and you think you understand what is being said, the pain still grips you just a little tighter when living children are mentioned. They have lost that when they lost their babies. They don’t need to be constantly reminded of their loss by well-meaning people who think all children bring comfort and joy. That’s just not so for mothers who have just lost one of their own.

Two things helped me when I was grieving.

One was to be part of a support group for grieving parents (as opposed to grieving spouses and such). Being able to talk and to listen to other people that have been where I was brought me a little peace of mind. I learned that what I was feeling was normal and that it was ok to feel all of those negative things I was feeling. I didn’t have to be polite when someone was being thoughtless. I didn’t have to journey alone.

The second one was gardening. I started by planting a tree as a living memorial for Gabriel. Then I repotted all of the plants I’d received at his funeral. They were just more living, growing memorials to my son4. Then I made flowerbeds so I could display little garden statues and plaques in his honor. I picked perennials so they would keep coming back. I took care of those plants like they were my child. I talked to them, I fed them, I weeded them. I mothered those plants. I was productive and that eased my mind tremendously.

My advice to anyone wishing to offer comfort to Heather and Shana is to just offer condolences and maybe point them to other mothers who can offer understanding. As much as you want to do so, you just can’t understand their pain unless you’ve traveled their road. There is a tremendous comfort in being heard by someone who has survived their own pain and remember what it felt like.

And please, though you mean well and are seeking to lessen their pain, don’t mention your own living children. Not now. They will only feel unfairly reminded of their own tragic loss. The wound is so fresh, the heartbreak so recent and the hole so gaping that it will not help them right now.

Update:
I just wanted to say that I didn’t intentionally ignore the fathers who have lost their children. They experience it a little differently– and sadly, are expected to be stronger. Their own grief is pushed aside as society, I think, doesn’t expect them to feel pain at the loss of their child. That’s incredibly unfair to the fathers and I in no way want to diminish their grief. I wrote this post from a mother’s perspective and shared my own feelings.

Sour Grapes has also felt the sting of loss and offers this from the comments:

The comfort for those mothers (and fathers) will come when they realise you can actually survive such a blow. Your life can go on. But that’s not something to suggest at this stage.

My advice to friends of the bereaved: don’t try to make it better, or make it less. Try to see that it’s at least as bad as your friend is making it out to be (she’s actually trying to make it easy for you). Never dismiss the sorrow, the rage, the anger, the frustration. If you can’t handle it up close, stay away and send a nice card. You’ll get your chance to be chirpy and upbeat later.

He’s right. The parents will feel guilty for causing your discomfort while they grieve. They don’t want to burden you with their own pain. I do remember 6 or 7 weeks after Gabriel’s funeral when someone said to me “You’re still crying? Isn’t it time to get over it?” I wasn’t over it. Am still not “over it”, though I’ve learned to let go. Give them time. Mommy and Daddy will need so much time. More than you can possibly understand. And, yes, realize that they are both trying to make this whole experience more easy for you by not letting loose with all of their feelings. Just because the mothers and fathers seem “ok” and “courageous” and “graceful” doesn’t necessarily mean they feel that way.

memorial to Gabriel.

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Sphere: Related Content

  1. Oops. Too late. []
  2. His ashes were put in a picture box instead of an urn and we put a picture of him in it. []
  3. The state of Ohio requires a serial number for all cremations. []
  4. I still have them all, as a matter of fact, save for the tree which was left behind when we moved. []

I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

Win or no candy for you

My last post dealt with the possible insanity of pushing out 8 babies at once (I’m exhausted just thinking about it). One argument is: Will she be able to provide enough emotional care that the babies grow up “normally”? The concern is that she’s got too many children and not enough love and attention to go around. I think that’s actually a valid concern.

But there’s the other end of the spectrum. The moms who have only one child and are living their lives through them. For instance, this new show on WE: Little Miss Perfect.

It’s about pageant moms and their little doll babies, er, I mean, daughters. The young girls who are dressed up like grown women and trotted from pageant to pageant and forced to perform like trained dogs1. They start these girls at as young as 18 months old with their makeup and posing and… ugh. Look at some of the responses to criticism in their forum.

Mothers of these toddlers say they do it because their children want to. Whee!! An 18 month-old child said “Mommy, I want to go be in a pageant where I can wow everyone with my grown-up style and poise. And don’t forget to do my hair.”2 What? A child still in diapers, barely off the teat, is going to decide this? Really?3

I saw previews for this show and there was a mother who declared “Anyone who doesn’t like us is just jealous because their kid isn’t as pretty as mine” (or some such similar shit). Another mother was helping her daughter learn to pose in just a swim suit. All the mothers showcased were shown standing in front of their made-up daughters coaching them on their facial expressions. These tiny little girls were being primed for the stage where they would compete with other little girls to see who was the “prettiest” (in their done-up hair, fake lashes, and adult-style makeup).

Sorry, I forgot the “talent” portion, where each one could showcase their own talents– while in “costume”. Pfft.

So, I was thinking, through my disgust and animosity, could it be true that some of these girls are really doing what they want? Maybe at 5, 6, 7 years old. I can see that. 18 months or 2 years? What the hell do babies know about this kind of shit? They want to play and pretend and learn to be preschoolers. If they do play dress-up it’s because they’re emulating their mamas, not because they want to prance around a stage looking way too grown up.

But the thing that got into my head and just won’t leave is the danger these tiny tots are facing from pedophiles. About 5 years ago I had another blog and I had written a post about people who call themselves “minor attracted adults”: pedophiles who were organizing online4. They would surf the net looking for pictures of cute little kids– some preferred that the kids be in diapers– and share them with their cohorts as if the pictures were good porn. To these fuckheads, the pics were porn. Anyway, these guys move from site to site5 and share fantasies about little kids and stories about what they’ve done to little kids and how they love pageants.

I just can’t get past that fact. These little girls are getting made up to look sexy and learning how to walk just-so and then fucking pedophiles are watching the shows. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. I know these guys are going to go about their sleazy business no matter if these girls are in pageants or not, but the thought of them drooling over these kids just makes me want to blow someone’s flippin’ balls off. Sorry.

Anyway, the mothers kill me when they say their toddlers were so insistent and they just wouldn’t be refused. They would rather get up early for “practice” then drive all over hell and back to compete– oftentimes losing (because there’s only one winner)– and feeling bad because they didn’t live up to their mother’s expectations. Their mothers become disappointed because they’re still not winners and then the girls have to do it all again another day. Bah!

I look at my beautiful 4 year-old and watch her trying to learn Hannah Montana dances. She does pretty good too. I could ask her if she wants to compete, but I know the minute she notices I’m watching she’s going to stop. Because she doesn’t want the audience. Maybe I should have tapped into her talent when she was just learning to walk. I’d probably be rich by now. Except Lil’lady would’ve gotten bored and I would’ve been all “Ok. Wanna learn to paint?” and that I’d still not have realized the glory I could have had if my mother would have put my sorry ass in a pageant. Ya know?

Why won’t my children become famous so I too can be famous? Don’t they know I’ve dreamed of their stardom my entire life? sob

That’s what I imagine most of these mothers are feeling. Just like the sports parent who pushes their kid to perform and aim for the big leagues. They failed, so their children mustn’t. Having dreams is good but forcing your child to have your dreams isn’t.

I think I’d feel differently about these pageants (and the sports thing) if the kids were older and actually had the time and inclination to make the decision that this is what they wanted to do with all of their free time. Kids that young want to be Tasha from the Backyardigans and Dora the Explorer, for fuck’s sake. After that they want to be fairy princesses or, in the case of Lil’lady right now, get drinks for people at a restaurant (where her sister works). The little kids in these pageants are living the dreams their mothers have forced on them. What happens when one of these girls grows up and decides she wants to be a ranch hand (or soldier or police officer)? Is mommy’s head going to implode from yet another disappointment? One can only hope, right?

I imagine that a lot of these girls are going to have extra self-esteem issues when they reach adolescence. Many of them will lose their cuteness (they’re not babies anymore, afterall) and no one will “oh” and “ah” over them anymore. They’ll be average for the first time in their lives. After years of their identity being based on how well they did in the pageants they’ll no doubt have an extra hard time finding their true selves. Until they have their own babies and start living their lost dreams through them. Ugh.6

P.S.

When I was 3 I decided I was Barry Manilow’s wife. Maybe if my mother would have pushed me a little harder…

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  1. I’m a little biased, can you tell? []
  2. Probably not. I’m exaggerating, but their mothers insist they do it for the girls and not for themselves. []
  3. This one was 8 months old when she decided she wanted to do pageants. []
  4. I didn’t migrate most of the posts from there to here. []
  5. As they get shut down at one place, they move to another []
  6. Then there’s the whole gender stereotype enforcement thing. I’m running out of time for this post, but feel free to discuss that issue in the comments. []

I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.