Spanish Fly

witches chair 2We are a people who fail to consider consequences just as we fail to consider the linear notes of our history. It seems it is impossible for some of us too reason, for us to see where we have been and acknowledge the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at where we are today. We only see the right this minute and think somehow this is all there is, this bubble of bullshit somehow represents the entirety of our social make-up, there is nothing else, we got to this moment in time without all of the transcendent moments before this too pile upon.

Really? Are we really, as a people this stupid, this blind? Can this truly be possible?

I swore I was not going to discuss the issue of Bill Cosby and his heinous acts against women and I am not. What I am going to talk about is why so many, men and women alike came to his defense. We watched Bill Cosby and Larry King and we laughed right along with them, a nation thought their discussion of drugging women was funny.

Why did so many turn their backs as women came forward to accuse Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) of being a sexual predator? Because we accept his actions, it is simple. Why so many, shrugged their shoulders and thought to themselves even when not thinking it aloud, ‘boys will be boys and those women were probably asking for it’.

I said I wouldn’t discuss Bill Cosby, I won’t. What I will discuss, is why anyone would think to defend him or his sexual molestation and rape of twenty or more women. Why anyone would think it was okay for Bill Cosby to drug young women so he could sexually molest and rape them. I know why, but I wonder if most understand how far back our disdain for women goes.

 If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

There is of course more, but this is a good place to start with the very framework of those who lay the foundation of a nation in Biblical literalism. Starting with the Pilgrims and moving to the Puritans, not a single one of those who first came to these shores believed women were of equal value to men, in fact most believed they were of far less value.  In all cases, women could not own property, not even their own children unless they were widowed and never remarried. Even within the context of those much vaunted and hallowed documents of Independence and Democracy were women considered, only men are given a voice; not women and just to be clear, only White Men.

Witches and Puritans

Witches and Puritans

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

Exodus 21:7-11

We are without moral ground, it is power and control and it is right there in the very book so many within this nation claim as their guiding light, their shining beacon. How could we not ignore rape, ignore or worse still, blame the victims of rape in favor of the rapist. How could we not look at the victim of rape and ask these horrible questions:

6371058_G“What were you wearing?”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“What did you do to entice your rapist?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Why were you at that restaurant, bar, party?”

Of course there is any number of other questions the victim is asked, making them party to their own violation. Making them at fault for their rape, not a victim of violence at all, rather a willing participant and someone to be victimized, ostracized and humiliated further by society, the criminal justice system and too often family and friends.

It is estimated there are 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the nation. Rape victims, waiting for justice, who have submitted to invasive examinations of their bodies so Untested-Rape-Kits-1000x600police can collect DNA evidence, in most cases they do nothing with. The decision to test those kits, at a cost of $500-$1,500, is usually left to the investigating officer. The officer or the District Attorney, who too often are making the decision the case is ‘too hard to prove’, or worse have decided the rape didn’t happen, who are all too often searching for consent, searching for a reason not to prosecute and thus serving the rapist.

How did we get here? We have always been here, this is what we have always been. This is not new, we have not reached some new sociopathic low. The difference is women have started to speak out, started to say enough and no more. The difference is social media and the ability to connect with other victims, to compare stories and begin to understand the true nature of rape, the damage rape does to us, not just the initial damage to our bodies but the long-term horror the rape victim suffers.

In the past rape was a silent crime, the victim was silent and thus after the fact consented. Perhaps, if they were fortunate they had family or friends who were supportive and loving, this wasn’t always the case though. There was a reason rape victims’ names were masked from the public, it was to protect them from being humiliated and ostracized by the community, to prevent the community from dragging them to the gates and stoning them.

images‘What were you wearing?’

Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.

Recent Stories: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/16/untested-rape-kits-evidence-across-usa/29902199/

Private Programs to end the backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/what-backlog

I Don’t Believe You, I Do

OpEdSince the beginning of the Bill Cosby fiasco, I have remained silent; I have chosen not to speak. I did this for a reason, not because I had nothing to say or because I believed one side or the other; no that wasn’t it. It also wasn’t out of respect for Bill Cosby or the women who were coming forward, this wasn’t in my mind, as I watched all the media, social and regular rip both sides of this story to shreds.

Everyone taking sides, everyone with an opinion, everyone prepared to judge, everyone no matter their knowledge or qualifications prepared to render a decision.

I watched and I listened. I read the comments on the various stories. Some of the comments caused my heart to shrivel, others made me want to jump into cyberspace and hunt down the anonymous person without a soul who felt a need to spew their bile. Mostly though, I watched and I listened; to friends, family and complete strangers as they dissected the story of Bill Cosby the public persona and Bill Cosby the man and his legacy. On the other hand and from the other side of the debate I watched friends, family and strangers discount, disregard and disparage the twenty-four women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby, not Cliff Huxtable but Bill Cosby the man of drugging, assaulting and raping them.

hero to zero

I do not know the truth. The only ones in this entire tragedy who know 100% of the truth are Bill Cosby and the twenty-four women who have accused him of horrific acts of violation.

As I listened and I read, I struggled with my feelings. When Phylicia Rashād said, ‘forget those women’, I became enraged, I could only think to myself, ‘how could any woman say this about victims of sexual assault?’ Is it possible for anyone to be this free of empathy, this lacking in compassion?

Forget those women.

Then my friend and hero, Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet wrote this, encapsulating so much of what I wanted to say but didn’t have the words.

Victims of sexual assault do not report, all too often we do not report. There are many reasons for this, but the sad truth is the number one reason is how a victim of sexual assault is treated by the system that is supposed to protect them. Every single person, with rare exception, from first responders, to hospital personnel, police, DA’s and yes sadly, family members and loved ones tend to blame the victim, fall into the trap of wondering what the victim did to create, invite or otherwise cause herself to be raped.

I do not believe you.

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When society plays the blame game, protecting the rapist no matter what the reason; high school football star, politician or beloved television star every excuse is trotted out for why they could not have possibly done what they are accused of doing. The ultimate result of this cover-up is, their bad acts were caused by the victim, it was the fault of the victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing, accepting a drink from them and tempting them to bad behavior. We don’t report because we already know the outcome, there are names for women (girls) like us and none of them are kind.

I could not understand, truly my heart and mind simply stuttered. How can any of us sit back and cast aspersions on victims brave enough to step forward into the light of day, allow their names and faces to be seen knowing what they would they would face; Golddigger was the kindest appellation I heard applied.

Then as if reading my heart and mind, again Deborah at Monster in Your Closet wrote another stunning analysis, this time her words brought me to my knees.

I believe you.

What all of us, every victim of sexual assault needs to hear.

I believe you. I trust you. I love you. I will protect you.

That is what most of us never hear. Never, not from our parents, not from our friends or loved ones, not from first responders or doctors, not from the police or DA’s; we just want to be heard and believed, protected.

Why don’t we report? Can you imagine having to tell the story of your sexual assault to one stranger? How about ten strangers? How about a room full of strangers? How about a room full of strangers who don’t believe you, who don’t want to believe while your rapist sits staring at you with a smirk on his face knowing he will be free soon while your heart and soul is being destroyed, your reputation shredded.

Why does our story change? We don’t remember. It is nearly impossible for us to remember ever detail in what for most of us was the most traumatic event in our lives. We don’t want to remember, for most of us we spend a lifetime trying to forget.

Effects of Rape

Am I taking sides? No, but I have a tendency to believe the victim especially where there are twenty-four. What people fail to realize, Bill Cosby isn’t going to be arrested and thrown in jail most of these accusations are over a decade old. Might there be some Civil Suits, sure but even they may get thrown out or settled so we never hear about them. In the meantime, Bill Cosby is still doing his stand-up act and making jokes to women about not drinking around him. He doesn’t appear to care to much about the gravity of the situation or his legacy, why should we?

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