Consistent Consent

justiceAs part of my Victim Impact volunteer work, I speak in Juvenile programs, a little over a year ago, I came out to one of my long-standing coordinators about my experience as a juvenile rape victim. Since that time, I have taken on a very difficult program, the juvenile sexual predators Victim Impact. The make-up of this group is tough:

  • 95% male, in fact to date I haven’t seen any girls.
  • All incarcerated, none are on probation or parole when they attend.
  • All under 18, the youngest I have had in a group is twelve (12).
  • All their cases have been adjudicated, some will release as inmates from Juvenile others will be moved to the adult system.

This is a delicate and often troublesome issue, one that crosses many boundaries. People from all walks of life, when asked have an opinion, yet many have not considered the disparities found state to state. There are variations on the theme, the age of consent is neither standard nor clear anywhere in this country, it differs depending upon the situation, for example:

  • South Carolina a female may consent at 14 a male 16, unless either is homosexual in which case they may never consent.
  • West Virginia males and females may consent to heterosexual encounters at 17 but must wait if they are homosexual until they are 18.
  • New York consent is 17 across the board no matter your orientation.
  • New Jersey law says at 16 you can consent without regard to orientation.
  • New Hampshire says that if you are heterosexual you are ready at 16 but have to wait till 18 if you are homosexual.
  • Montana claims that girls at 16 can consent but boys and homosexuals must wait till they are 18.
  • Texas says any person of 17 may consent. Texas has a built in Romeo and Juliet loophole of three (3) years, a DA or Judge may ignore if they choose. The other legal problem Texans have, sodomy for everyone is illegal, at any age; this includes all forms of non-vaginal sex.

The list goes on, state by state, the picture becoming clear. The lack of consistency nationwide places young men and women at risk. These risks include the possibility of becoming victims of predators or becoming victims of a legal system that could brand them as sexual predators for the rest of their lives. Why is this important? Why should we be bothered if predators are put away? Good question, I can answer that.

What about the Jimmy the high-school football hero? You know the one, he worked hard, studied hard, plays hard and hasn’t joined a gang. He caught the winning ball at the last game of the season. He has a shot at college and will be the first one in his family who might make it. You know him, we all have read stories about him. Well, he broke up with his girlfriend and she cried rape. Her father, mad at our hero called the courtesy bleacherreport.compolice and they took our high-school hero and his girlfriend’s claims of rape to the DA, who proceeded to prosecute. Now, instead of college Jimmy is sitting in Jail, when he gets out he will have be on the sexual predator list, for life.

This is the other side of the horror story currently unfolding in Steubenville, Ohio. This case has created a public outcry the facts around it though are not a case of consensual sex. This case is about rape, two of the minors involved go on trial in juvenile court on February 13.

I believe the Age of Consent laws are antiquated, they do not address the needs of our communities nor the realities of our society. We desperately need to ensure we have in place laws that are both unvarying and appropriate so children and young adults are protected wherever they might be and under whatever circumstances they might be in. Where once young people rarely traveled outside of their home town during their teenage years today they do so on a regular basis. Young people today frequently have access to their own credit cards, cell phones and transportation making the possibility of a trip outside their home state likely. Today it is easier to exploit a child than ever before. To ensure there is no question of the consequences of their choices it is critical national standards be in place, be communicated and be consistently administered.

Many today are concerned with states’ rights and the amount of power the federal government is ‘grabbing’, however, there are functions, such as this that would be best addressed by a national standard. As a society, we should consider what is important, what must take precedence; the protection of our next generation is one of those critically important issues. While the age of consent might seem a minor problem in comparison to other more weighty issues facing our country, consider the repercussions of not protecting our children. What will happen as those young unprotected children grow into adults?

I do not claim this single small thing, creating a national Age of Consent standard will stop the growing evil of predators. I do not claim it will suddenly balance the scales for our young people. However, I do believe if everyone understands the rules, our focus will shift to more important issues. With national standards we will start to see consistent prosecution of predators and we will stop seeing young lives ruined with inconsistent or absurd prosecution of laws that should never have been applied in the circumstances. We will start seeing the focus on other more important issues, education, reduction of teenage pregnancy, strengthening the foundation of the future.

Insanity in the Face of Truth

Last night I watched two important testimonies to government bodies. As I watched these I pondered, with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart why we, as a nation, continue to have these discussions. I also considered the enormous strength of the individuals speaking while thinking to myself, I wonder what will the media, both mainstream and social reactions to these testimonies be tomorrow. One final thought occurred to me, as I pondered the testimony of one … why the hell wasn’t he or any person from this great tragedy in Washington.

Can you guess the testimonies I am talking about? Can you guess the issue? I suspect you can, it is an issue I have spent time on in the past and one I am passionate about.

Gun Control, or as I like to think of it Gun Sanity.

One thing I thought as I watched the testimonies yesterday, why in the Hell was there not a single person from Newtown testifying in front of the US Senate, not a single solitary parent or first responder. No, instead they had this fool of a woman who made up stories from her vivid imagination and this million-dollar lobbyist for the death by bullet industry:

 Gayle Trotter, an ultra-conservative activist who before she took on the role of pro-gun fantasy weaver, she is also a card carrying member of the far right with not a single credential that would qualify her testimony. This is the same woman who in 2012 wrote on her website a scathing piece against VAWA. But you know, high capacity clips will solve the problem just shoot those thugs as they come through the door.

 Senate Judiciary Committee Hears From Prominent Voices On Both Sides Of Gun Control Debate

Wayne LaPierre, an ultra-conservative mouthpiece for the board membership of the NRA, he no longer even speaks for the majority of the paying membership. When listening to his Testimony one has to wonder, what the Hell he is doing there. Are these people sworn in? Do they swear to tell the truth or are they simply there reading from a script to provide their effing talking points. How does this man sleep at night?  article-lapierre-1221

By the way, they do swear to the truth, they are sworn in. I don’t understand how they are allowed to make up stories, fantasies out of their heads as part of their heads or asses as part of their testimony.

What brought me to my knees and then to my feet was to see Representative Gabrielle Giffords as she slowly walked to the front of the room. Each one of her words painfully spoken, challenging the room and her former peers to do something, to be brave for once to do the job they are elected to do. I thought to myself listening to her, who among us would be as brave as her, as strong as her? Who among us would survive what she has survived and stand before them and demand justice for a nation crying out for change. My tears of compassion for her and her husband flowed freely as I listened to her.

Her husband Mark Kelly testified directly after her testimony. He was fair, he was balanced. Both he and his wife are supporters of Gun Sanity and Gun Ownership. Mark Kelly spoke well, he didn’t make up stories. He was factual in his testimony. It is my suspicion his testimony will be given less weight than both Gayle Trotter and Wayne LaPierre.

Now to the one person who should have been heard but wasn’t invited. David Wheeler, the father of Ben Wheeler, a 6 year old child and one of the victims at Sandyhook Elementary. Mr. Wheeler testified at a public hearing held by the Connecticut legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Violence and Public Safety. I can only ask, why wasn’t he or any of the victim’s parents or first responders of Sandyhook invited to speak in Washington?

Here is his testimony.

I can only say this today, we must bring sanity to gun control. We must stop diverting our attention to what isn’t real and isn’t the truth. Wayne LaPierre wants us all to believe it is the “crazy” among us and so we should look over there, stop trying to control guns instead “control the ‘lunatics’”. This is simply a diversion tactic, the truth those with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence than to commit violence. Yes, we need to make certain we are providing help and support but this doesn’t address the core issue.

Mr. Wheeler made a profound statement and I want to paraphrase it here, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t accidental in its framing. The following is from that first of our documents, one those Gun Rights Advocates all too often forget:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

It seems we have perhaps in some of our wings gone too far today. There seems a belief the correct answer is armed insurrection rather than supporting our republic through debate and the democratic processes. It seems, based on the content of some of the testimony before the Senate Judiciary these small and frankly insane minorities and their nut job spokespeople now speak for all of us, their money and voice override ours.

I fear for us as a nation and a people when the loss of tens of thousands each year means nothing and our voice simply falters.

Turning the Tables: Why Conservative Christianity Bears the Burden of Proof — [D]mergent

Repost Comment w signatureTurning the Tables: Why Conservative Christianity Bears the Burden of Proof — [D]mergent.

Hard Stop Sanity

If I haven’t visited you lately I apologize, I had a very difficult time processing my feelings after the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday. I have watched social media for the week, watched friends and family make their personal stands on the issues of gun control, mental health and a host of other surrounding issues. This is a disclaimer, I am not a mental health expert, I am not an expert on the Constitution nor am I an expert on all the issues surrounding firearms, murder rates or suicide. I am a parent and a grandparent, I am a victim of violent crime, I am a survivor of domestic violence and I am a citizen of the United States. I care about living in a civil and sane society in the future and I care about the future of my children and grandchildren.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois January 27, 1838

We are complicit through our inaction, through our fear and our refusal to acknowledge the issues we create through greed, ignorance and ideology. Yes, I said it we created the Hell that sees our children dying in their classrooms, in the streets, in the mall. We are responsible for this mayhem, this chaos this vicious cycle.

We are a nation of paranoids, a nation of victims wrapped in flags with Bibles in one hand and high capacity military grade weapons in the other. What are we afraid of? Oh sure, the government is tyrannical and somehow we must protect ourselves (hint: even with the weapons you have they have better ones). Of course, you need these high capacity clips and assault weapons to defend your home (hint: if you have fired 100 rounds in 30 seconds Bible&Gunsyou have likely killed your own family along with the bad guys and if they aren’t down you aren’t getting out alive).

We should not be quick to jump to conclusions, we should not be quick to slap that ‘insanity’ label on giving us the excuse to wipe our hands and carry on with our mundane lives. The truth is, most spree murderers are not clinically ‘insane’, do not have long-term psychiatric problems and are not psychotic. The make-up of the mass murder is changing, what isn’t changing is access to high-capacity magazines and military guns making the death toll higher.

The meme of those who demand their Second Amendment rights remain sacrosanct:

  • Guns don’t kill people Kill
  • 64,999,987 legal gun owners killed no one yesterday
  • Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.
  • Gun control is hitting what you aim at.
  • The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.

Don’t you just love some of those? Yeah, me too they make me all warm and fuzzy; not.

In light of the tragedies of recent years, does the above stupidity hold weight? Can we honestly stand aside and allow our nation to continue to hold the record for death by gun violence among other high income nations, is this what we should be proud of?

Just a small slice

Just a small slice

I am pragmatic; the monster is already out of the box. We cannot fix what is already so tragically broken. We cannot change the minds or hearts of those who believe the only way to a Civil society is by arming themselves, arming school teachers, arming college students in their classrooms and dorms. We cannot change a society convinced they must be armed to the teeth, in their homes, their cars and walking the streets to protect themselves from the government, those violent ‘others’ they heard about or the zombie apocalypse.

Let’s start with some facts; I think it is important to make this a non-partisan issue:

  • Gun owners are both ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’
  • When the Constitution was written, guns were breach load muskets single shot
  • Slave and Land holders wrote the Constitution; in fact, within the first ten amendments slavery is ratified. We do occasionally see the error of our ways and correct them, the Constitution was not written on stone tables by a lightning bolt shot from on high.
  • Anyone is able to purchase any type of firearm, including military grade semi-automatic rifles and handguns without a background check or waiting period in the secondary market (gun shows and private sales, including the internet). Forty percent (40%) of all legally purchased firearms are purchased this way.
  • Anyone can purchase as much ammunition in any clip size as they want without any tracking, registration or license on the internet.
  • Approximately 10,000 people are murdered every year in gun violence, many of them teenagers.

There are those who say their right to bear arms, their right to conceal carry, their right to own any weapon and any clip size is inviolate. They say armed rebellion would be the result of any attempt at Gun Control, they say SCOTUS has confirmed their right in District of Columbia v Heller to be armed and dangerous under any and all circumstances and without restraint.

This is what I say; I say there must be some middle ground that satisfies all of us. There must be some middle ground that stops the senseless deaths of our children and the murderous rampages in our public places.

This is what I believe must happen if we are ever to begin to heal this nation:

  • Require national registration
  • Demand Conceal Carry permits only in the following circumstance and make this a federal mandate:
    • Show true need (e.g. over the road truck drivers, certain security personnel, off duty police)
    • Attend regular training
  • Require same background check and waiting period in secondary market as in gun stores
  • Create national mental health registry
  • Update criminal background check registry to include domestic violence
  • Do not allow restoration of civil rights after time-served to allow gun purchase for violent criminals
  • Update background check to include Terrorist Watch List
  • Limit Clip Size to 10 rounds
  • Do not allow private purchase without background checks, make private sales illegal even between family members
  • Shut down internet sales of ammunition
  • Require gun safes in the home of all gun owners with children under 18
  • Raise the age limit to 25 for legal purchase and gun ownership
  • Require gun safety class before purchase
  • Change Stand your Ground laws to apply only to personal property / personal homes make this federal rather than state by state
  • Create a federal buy-back program to get illegal guns off the streets of our cities, give it two (2) years. Within the scope of the buy-back program, strengthen the laws and penalties for owning an illegal gun, selling a gun illegally and for using an illegal gun in the commission of a crime.

I don’t want to take your guns. I want sanity and safety. I would rather not call it gun control, I would rather call it Gun Sanity. These days I am afraid to go to the theater, the mall or anywhere else. If you are a gun owner, frankly I am afraid of you. Is this really the world any of us want?

http://www.academia.edu/1199492/Hegemonic_Masculinity_and_Mass_Murderers_in_the_United_States

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence?s=1

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/in-gun-ownership-statistics-partisan-divide-is-sharp/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

Hunting Goodwill

560px-DespondentAngelMetCemHeadWander the malls festooned with fake glitter and false boughs of pine, blasting Christmas carols of peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. Peace and goodwill, one has to wonder how we accomplish this wondrous peace and goodwill when one of our nation’s most dominate and viciously protected rights is the ‘right’ to bear arms.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Goodwill indeed, twenty children under 10 years of age dead, twenty-eight people in all but TWENTY CHILDREN shot to death in their classroom. Twenty mothers and fathers, who will never again kiss their children goodnight, never again tuck them in at night. Twenty parents, who will not see their children grow to adulthood, who will not watch with pride as their children graduate, marry and have children of their own. All their dreams lay wasted at the end of a gun wielded by a twenty year old with access to the legal guns of his mother. LEGALLY OBTAINED GUNS.

The Second Amendment is ensconced in our national psyche, come hell or high water we will hang on to our effing guns. No matter the innocent lives laid in the cold ground, the families in mourning, by God and all his Angels we will keep our guns and our ammunition and our rights to bear it all without interference of any kind. No one will touch those rights, no matter what. My and other people’s personal right to safety on the streets, in the mall, in theaters or in the classroom will sgen577hnever be considered, we do not count in the grand scheme and neither do any other gun violence victims. So long as the Neanderthals in the NRA can convince enough people it is viable they might someday need to protect themselves from the government, or save a life during a mass shooting, or battle a zombie horde by keeping a well-stocked arsenal in their basement and a side-arm concealed, just in case.

Without Registration and without Limitations, we will by all that is holy and by Hell and the Damned, protect our Right to Own our Arsenal, to Conceal Carry and there is not a damned thing anyone can do or say to limit this right. If anyone suggests otherwise they will be demonized, they will be called fanatics; they will be debrided, sometimes painfully so. They will certainly be taken to hard task for their unpopular position; friends and family will drive them into corners with meme that are not defensible in the face of the innocent lives lost.

I have been lashed with it all before and those who have lashed me both friends and family forget sometimes I was left on a dark road with three bullets in me bleeding out and dying but they by God thought it important for me to know I was an effing idiot for my position. So be my guest in the future, call me a fanatic. I am sick in my soul of hearing about gun rights and the Second Amendment. Call me a fanatic, those of you who believe your rights outweigh my rights or the rights of the following:

  • the twenty children and six adults dead today at Sandy Hook elementary school
  • those wounded in the mall last week in Oregon
  • the twelve dead Aurora victims
  • the two teenagers victims of Stand your Ground killings in Florida in this past year (Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis)
  • or tell Nick Rainey the 30 year-old salesman also killed in Florida, with a defendant also using the nefarious Stand your Ground defense
  • Gabby Gifford and the six dead in the same shooting victims of the Arizona shooting
  • the victims at the Sihk Temple in Wisconsin
  • the Chardon victims, Daniel Parmertor, 16; Demetrius Hewlin, 16; and Russell King Jr., 17

These are just 24 months’ worth of random killings or attempts at them. We thought Aurora was terrible, we mourned for a brief moment social media blew up for a minute, apparently not hard enough or long enough. We demanded justice for Trayvon, but barely blinked for Nick or Jordan. The Chardon victims barely made the news, and the Ohio mall was not even a blip on our radar likely because there was no massacre, no random death to titillate us or incite the media for hour upon hour, day upon day.

There are more, there are always more aren’t there? The children lying in the streets of our cities mowed down by illegal guns. The women and sometimes their children, lying in pools of their own blood murdered by their partners by legal guns in fits of rage.  Yes, please call me a fanatic, call me a zealot, call me anything at all I simply do not give a damn what you call me because I am all those things. I will become all those things, I will stop here and now trying to strike a balance between politically correct and my honest belief guns are no longer needful things in the hands of private citizens without limitations, regulation or oversight.

I am tired of all of it, the senseless death, the random violence the terrible and horrifying loss of life. I am tired of children losing their life before they reach adulthood. I am sick of the politics of money taking the front seat to the lives of people. I am tired and worn out, heartsick as I watch news of the shooting of Sandy Hook Elementary and the 26 deaths at the school, plus the shooters mother in her own home and by one of her own legal guns. I am sick to death of those who wrap themselves in sanctity and patriotism, scared to say no more, it is time to change the rules and be damned the NRA and the love affair with violence and guns.

I am bored with the idiotic motto of fools with guns and a love of random and unnecessary violence, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’.

Well, I guess Sandy Hook Elementary School just goes to show what happens when a Human is wielded by a Gun doesn’t it?

I am effin’ tired of the idiots who suggest a car is an equally dangerous weapon. Or murder would still happen with a knife if a person wanted murder, yes you azzhats that is true however, a lunatic with a knife could not kill TWENTY CHILDREN in less than 5 minutes.

This morning the bodies of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims have not been moved from where they fell. The children remain on the floor of the school, unreleased to their families, as the school remains a Crime Scene under investigation.

I weep for the families, all of them. I know what my family went through when I was shot and left for dead. I know what I go through even now twenty years later. These survivors, the children will need enormous support systems for years to come. The families who lost children will never fully recover, their loss is unspeakable what they have lost will never be recovered.

I tire of hearing ‘now is not the time, each and every time a tragedy happens and we see terrible loss’, I must ask if not now then when?

Nevermore Forever

I sat back yesterday, I watched and I wept. Yes, I wept. In fact, I am still weeping, I can’t stop my tears from falling.

Israelites encounter undrinkable, bitter water on their journey

Every single time I read anything about the Sikh temple murders I start crying again. Not because I am personally related to any of the victims, rather because I am connected through my humanity, through my empathy and through my compassion for their loss.

We should, all of us be connected to them, weeping for them and reaching out to them in their pain with our sympathy. We should all be standing shoulder to shoulder with them offering our human compassion. We should all be offering to mourn with them.

When will it be enough?

When will there be enough innocent lives piled at the door of the NRA and those who do their bidding for sane people to say ‘no more’.

When will we say we have seen enough senseless death on our streets, in our town squares, in our public buildings, our schools and places of worship to demand change and stand up to the bullies. When will we stop, as a nation and a people, kowtowing to these tyrants with corporate money and an agenda that has nothing to do with our safety, our peace of mind and everything to do with xenophobia and fear-mongering. When?

Isn’t enough?

What will it take for us to change the hearts of the heartless?

I am not going to throw statistics out there of all the innocents dead this decade, or even this year; these numbers are easily found. I am not going to rail at those who demand their rights in the face of the horrifying and senseless violence; this clearly falls on deaf ears. I will only say this; I am speechless, heartbroken in truth at the depths we have fallen, the bitter water we drink and call it sweet.

I leave you with this, because this is what the victims will not have –

525,600 minutes or another Season of Love

Generations Lost

Children Lost

Another generation, not ours, not even our children’s but a next generation of children. Children lost to poverty, poor health, illiteracy, ignorance, hate and yes, even hopelessness and violence. You might be shaking your head as you read these words, saying not in my backyard, not my grandchild or not any child I know. I can only ask you to think, to consider are your assumptions really true? If this is you, wake up! You are either living in a very rarified position, away from the rest of us, or you are blind too what is truly happening in what was once possibly the greatest country in the World.

1 in 45 children are homeless today, living either on the street or in homeless shelters.

1 in 5 children will go to bed hungry tonight, during the summer months this is even more devastating as there will be no school lunch program so they may remain hungry through the day. Of course, many states have already cut the school lunch program from their budget so they will already be use to the daily hunger especially at this time of the month when food stamps have stretched as far as they will go. We can dress this up all we like (Food Insecure = HUNGRY) but the simple fact is, they are without food.

50,000 children sleep on the street in this country at any given time. These are the runaways, the at risk children.

250,000 families with children are in shelters at any time. This number doesn’t account for families living on the street or in their cars, families squatting in empty buildings or on park benches.

National Alliance to End Homelessness

To make it more real, perhaps easier to see the numbers:

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Youth violence, a nice way to say our young are killing each other without remorse; their weapons include their fists, guns and even words. Bullying is on the rise along with suicide. Our Juvenile Justice system overflows with the spillover to the adult prisons; the coffers of the for profit prison system in nearly every state of the union overflowing. Youthful offenders, boys and girls as young as twelve remanded as adults for crimes even a decade ago they couldn’t have imagined and now they commit without understanding the consequence, they will have a lifetime to consider though as they sit in cells and on yards never intended for them. Wasted lives, wasted futures, wasted potential and all our futures are at risk, as an entire generation turned more antisocial, even sociopathic.

What were we thinking in our Greed and Self-Absorption, what did we think when we failed so miserably to provide communities and schools for all the children of this nation and not just our own. Did we really believe we could draw invisible lines, build invisible walls high enough and escape with our ‘White Flight’ and the wretchedness and purity of our selfishness wouldn’t follow us, is that what we believed? Those birds have come home to roost, each generation becoming more entitled than the last; each generation in this millennium more inclined to demand their place at the table while contributing nothing. It is our fault for training them and providing nothing but our own sense of entitlement, our own self-absorption and lack of compassion, along the way. What will we do now?

Generations Lost used the following sources and my own broken heart:

http://www.familyhomelessness.org/LookingIntoLight/

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2011/HUDNo.11-121

http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/state-of-americas-children-2011/intro.html

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4361

Where have all the Flowers Gone, Boomers and Feminism

When I was born in 1957, society was on the cusp of change, women, particularly in the West, were beginning to shake off traditional roles and demand their place in the offices and the boardroom. I was born in the last cohortwikipedia.com of the Boomers, the generation of rebels and idealists. Mine was the generation swept up in the second wave Suffrage, rebranded Feminism and ignited by the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Mine was the generation who wanted more than marriage and a house in the suburbs, who are now struggling at the end of our careers and wondering just what in the hell happened.

My generations coming of age began in 1967, better known as the Summer of Love, it ended with the start of the Reagan years in 1981. During the intervening years we saw many changes in our thinking, our social views and even across the approximately 69,000,000 members of the Boomer Generation still alive, there is a greater divide than in other generational cohorts. Perhaps this is why we struggle so with the loss of all we gained during the great uprising of our youth, the time when we were still fresh, rebellious and idealistic.

It was during this time we pushed for freedom to choose a career and delay marriage and motherhood; we thought we won. We won the right to access contraceptives whether we were married or not (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). Through the generosity of a single woman, Katherine Dexter McCormick hormonal birth control was developed by Gregory G. Pincus and finally brought to market as an oral contraceptive in 1960. We saw our right to health privacy and body integrity affirmed (Roe v. Wade, 1973). In 1972, we saw the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), sponsored by Martha Griffiths (D-Michigan) in the House and Sam Irvin (D-N.Carolina) in the Senate, pass with bi-partisan support.

What you might not know about the ERA:Wikipedia.com

Finally, in 1994, then Senator Joe Biden a legislator of our generation drafted and passed with broad support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA HR3402, 1994, 2000 and 2005) which until this year has been reauthorized with little opposition. The 112th Congress is still battling to reauthorize VAWA this time, thus far the Senate passed the reauthorization with new provisions reflective of our times while the House in a very partisan vote said ‘Nay’ and is busily rewriting for the third time their offering with reduced funding and of course changed provisions.

Some things you might not know about women both locally and globally:

  • Women perform 2/3 of the world’s labor, this includes both paid and unpaid
  • Women make up 51% of world’s population and 50.9% of the US population
  • Women with children make up 13.1% of our entire national community, or 8.3 million women. Women globally head 83% of households.
  • Women account for 2/3 of the world’s illiterate adults.
  • Women globally earn only 11% of the world’s income and own <1% of the world’s land and assets. In the United States, on average women earn .77¢ for each dollar earned by a man for the same work.
  • Gender based violence kills more women worldwide than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. It is estimated one in three women will be the victim of gender-based violence between the ages of 15 to 44.

We hear a great deal of rhetoric right now with the political season upon us. A lot of slogans dancing across our screens and men talking big about morals, ethics and the Right American Way as they beat their drums and flap their gums rapidly to keep the money pouring in. There are billionaires buying elections, Churches crying the blues, talking heads spewing hate and idiots making up nonsensical string theories to scare the naïve into cult like head nodding while they chant the names of their favored candidate or platform meme.

One thing I believe as a woman is true, we have looked away too long. There is indeed a war being waged and we are losing. When I asked ‘what the hell happened’, it was a very real question not just about our jobs but our public life, safety and enfranchisement within society. In 1967, we thought we were moving into a new age of freedoms and opportunities. What we have found instead is a scarceness of opportunity as we approach our retirement. We did not achieve equality for ourselves and our daughters’ watch helplessly as what small steps forward we did take is being stripped from them through legislation intended to diminish them and effectively strip them of their freedom.

The 112th Congress has floated the following:

  • 61 Abortion bills since they have been in sessions, or should I say Anti-Abortion bills.
  • 813 separate pieces of legislation specifically related to health care and insurance, much of which is directly related to the Affordable Health Care of 2009.

What the 112th Congress hasn’t done is focus on putting our nation back on track and working in a bipartisan way to fix what is ailing us. Instead, what we have seen is women being pushed further and further down, across the nation laws are being passed that are draconian in nature and elected officials are using language that even a decade ago would have seen them run out of the office. Meanwhile, women are being silenced for saying VAGINA.

What is next?  Will we be back to begging in the streets when we grow too old to sell our wares?

I leave you with this, it is I think relevant and I leave you with one other question is it time to stand back up not only for American women but for all women everywhere.

SOURCES:

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-14.pdf

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

http://www.opencongress.org/money_trail

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-01-26/features/9001070809_1_decency-real-thing-guardian-angel

Uncivil Discourse

The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal” during a political debate; I pondered this before I responded. I understood my opponent was rather angry, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:

ou.org

GODLESS LIBERAL !

That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and thus not worthy of anything approaching civil discourse.

This entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our nation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking, outside of what boundary was I that this complete faceless stranger felt comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms all the while holding himself up as Christian, intellectually and morally superior?

Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”

Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity

Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures all members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he understand what he meant or was he just parroting others mindlessly, just to have something to say because he was unable to debate the issue.

The first half of this year has been one of change for me; some of this change has been intentional and thus far challenging. Without going into detail, I have changed my mode of employment, at least for now. I have of course begun to expose deeply buried secrets. Finally, it is a Presidential election year; I admit it I love this season. I am a bit of wonk with a passion for a good debate especially if I can also dig into some research and history. This exchange though, this Godless Liberal along with other name calling got me thinking about how we have changed in our interpersonal relationships, how we have changed in our communication manners.

The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Do we truly all agree to and apply the same rigorousness to our Morals, Ethics and Principles? Do we all truly walk the walk each and every day? One key to answering these questions is, are they all one and the same thing, different aspects but in fact the same thing. Personally, I look at that list and think they are not the same; they are instead building blocks.

I have been thinking about this all week.  This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think and how you would respond to the scenarios, I have posed.

Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.

  • Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
  • Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
  • Don’t murder (killing might be okay for the right reason)
  • Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)

Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to when they got in the way of profit.

  • Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
  • Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
  • Respect for local culture
  • Respect for environment
  • Deliver profit to shareholders

Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

So what are these amorphous ideals some of us develop over time and where do they come from?

Scenario 1:

Gladys has been part of a workplace Lottery pool for five-years.   Each week she and ten others put $1 into the pool and purchase a PowerBall ticket with the intent of splitting the proceeds should they win. Gladys collects the money and buys ten tickets for the pool, this week she also buys a ticket for herself with $1. Well, well one of the tickets wins the PowerBall, if Gladys is principled what will she do?

Scenario 2:

Pontdre is a company with well-documented business ethics that all new employees are required to read and sign their agreement too. George developed a new product with the potential of huge profits but it will require that Pontdre actively petition for a change to current government policies affecting the livelihood of another industry or group and could also cause significant negative ecological effects on nearby towns. How does Pontdre resolve this?

I am not going to provide a scenario for Morals; we can all come up with these. I will leave you with this though; I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –

Circling back to the idea of GODLESS LIBERAL and my answer of YES

If I read my 4 Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.

If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner; I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been trouble for doing so in the past.

If I read my definitions and scenarios for the last group, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.

Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society defines it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual.

Liberal, indeed I have been and am now a Progressive to the Left of Center Liberal in most things.

I wonder though, does this mean there is something wrong that makes me deserving of the other name-calling? I wonder how we get the name-calling toned down.

Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and very public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?

Warning: George Carlin can be a bit offensive. Don’t watch if you are easily offended by language or for that matter by his view of religion.

Inside Domestic Abuse

The 112th Congress has refused to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, significant in the original passage it opened the door to what had previously been viewed as private family matters and provided both education and funding to help victims and law enforcement. Never, since its original passage has it been the subject of a partisan fight on the floor of either house of Congress, yet this year it is. The overall tone of the Right, women are of no particular value unless they are in the kitchen, pregnant and silent. The objection to the Bill, is the expansion of services, the boogie man of ‘other’; Gay, Transgender, Native Tribes and Immigrant Women are included in this years re-authorization, we all know none of us are part of humanity and should be served, right?

I wrote this several years ago. At the time, it was wrenching to write. Today it remains wrenching for me to read. To answer the question, I know first hand what it is to be a survivor of Domestic Abuse. I also know how very important this Bill is to all those Women and Men who are now and will be in the future Victims. I ran from an extremely volatile, horribly violent relationship after having been hospitalized multiple times with multiple broken bones, I knew I would not see my eighteenth birthday if I stayed. I had nowhere to go, no money and no support structure; still I ran as far and as fast as I could go.

I survived.

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Why we stay, pitiful in our bruised bodies and our excuses, our fear palatable yet even before we are healed we return to the hell that is home. Why do we stay? The question is asked repeatedly, often with a tone of derision. Our answer, sometimes that we love him, sometimes worse that he doesn’t mean to hurt us he loves us. The truth though is harder for us to admit to you when you ask and ourselves; this is all we deserve and we have nowhere else to go.

How did we get here?

Is it because we seek what we believe that we deserve? Do we have a neon sign swinging over our head that says “I am here and vulnerable”; I will take it, whatever you dish out. I will take it and even be grateful to you for staying one more day, one more month, one more year.

Have we been so convinced by our mothers, our fathers, or society that we must conform, not speak out; not fight back that we will take the slaps, the closed fists, the kicks and on our knees begging for it to end still be thinking that he loves us and if only we do better it will not happen again?

Why is it that we stay? 

Why do we make excuses, transparent excuses for the broken teeth, the black eyes, the bruised arms? Why do others believe our excuses? Do they really think that we are so incapable of walking from our beds to our baths that we run into doors once a month or once a week? Is it easier to believe that we are so clumsy that we cannot walk up or down a flight of stairs? Do those who claim to care for us find it easier to ignore the truth than acknowledge that we are in danger?

Why is it that we allow ourselves to be so brutalized? What happens to us that our flight or fight instinct is entirely broken? We find no comfort, realizing even those to whom we reach out for help find us incomprehensible in our pain. Even if we finally find it in our spirits to run, to escape we are broken by the prison of our shame. Our defeat is what we carry with us; our inability to explain our willingness to take what our abuser gave; his love in closed fists, slaps, kicks, hate filled words that tore down the walls of our humanity and convinced us that we had no value in our homes or in the world.

Run, with Nothing but You

The telephone, our greatest enemy each time it rings we jump through our skin; we know it might be him. We know we are still weak and frail; that we have no defenses against his apologies and his protestations of his own weakness. Even through our nightmares; those screaming, cold sweat nightmares; we know that if we hear his sugar coated voice telling us that it will never happen again; we might believe him because we need. Who else will love us now? He has destroyed all that was ever lovable in us. We know that in our heart and soul; in whatever humanity we have left we know that we might listen and might return. It will be good for a while; as good as it was in the beginning. Then it will start again, we know that too; even knowing these absolute truths; we are weak and fearful and lonely.

Our frailty during our initial freedom, so tenuous, unreal to us because there is no one to confirm our existence and we don’t know where to begin. The slightest sound behind us is no longer the precursor to pain. The footsteps on the stairs, not a reason to fear but maybe a friend come to call instead. Bumps in the night no longer herald a rape by the person who promised to love and care for us. Still all those sounds send us into a paroxysm of fear, self-doubt and finally anger that our lives will never be without our abuser because he is inside of us; he has replaced everything  that was good with his vileness. We may have escaped him physically but we will never escape him fully, we think this now and in our hearts know this as a truth. We have lost ourselves to his definition of us, weak and of no value.

Nightmares

Our minds work in miraculous ways. If we can stay gone long enough we begin to heal and rebuild. We can begin to take the abuse he called love and place it in appropriate boxes sealing them tightly and marking them as our hated history. When the boxes are full of our past we can stack them in a room within our mind padlock the door; knowing that some day we might return to examine them to try to understand what led us there; but not today. Today just stack the boxes tightly, shut the door and turn the key. Face each day knowing that the door exists and all the boxes exist waiting for us to be strong and come back to learn; but not today. That we might revisit them in our nightmares and run screaming down the corridors of our sleeping mind; waking in cold sweats and shaking in fear; this we can escape. This will happen for some of us it will happen forever, when we least expect it sometimes at the end of what we thought was a great day. In our nightmares the maniacal horrors of our past will sneak through the cracks of that door we locked to terrorize us; to remind us of what was or what might have been.

Future Glory

Our history does not have to hold us hostage; we can shape our future we can redefine ourselves. We were somebody before they arrived to tear us down. Somewhere else in our mind we have a room with a locked door that contains the “us” before them, before the abuse. We have the key to that door also, even if it is lost in the trash that our abuser has piled on us. We have the ability to unlock that door and find the “me” that was before them. Perhaps we will find there were reasons we let them in, the neon sign that was lifted above our heads inviting them in; we can fix this. Possibly we will only find ourselves in the here and now that we are stronger now, more able to face today because of our past. Perhaps we will only find only that we can let go, say no more and look forward without fear.

Whatever we find we will ultimately know that we are precious, worth more than the blows, the slaps, the kicks, the venom that dripped from the lips of our abuser. We will know no amount of pain masked as love is the truth and abuse is not the reality that we deserve in our lives. We will roar our anger and our frustration at the waste of our days in agony rather than joy. We will cry out our pain. We will whisper our validations of self and finally scream our truths in the wind if no one else will hear us.

We will most certainly stand free of what was told to us as the truth knowing finally it was a lie.   

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