Godspeed Ferguson, MO….

So Ferguson, MO …seems to not completely be going down in flames today. I am always a person to fact check before opining on situations like this but honestly its been hard to wait through the opinions. I def am for people questioning government, taking (Positive) action when they see wrong & def police can be wrong,. IN this case I do not think the officer was. One commenter on Yahoo put it quite succinctly :” re the Michael Brown autopsy results: 4 shots to the arm to stop an assailant are what happens when you shoot to disable by aiming for the side of center mass, since they are less likely to kill the assailant, if not disabled and the target is closer then you go for a head shot, sounds like good training to me to explain the location of the bullets…. I am sorry for this it is now true that he was not running away, the witness has been discredited. we have to wait for the rest of the reports.” All very valid…and it substantiates that the officer did his job. End of story. I don’t think there is a conspiracy here. I live in a state that has seen a fair share of officer involved fatalities & I have oft sided w/ the victim in those cases or heavily sympathized. (Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Andy Lopez) I certainly do sympathize. Its sad when ANYONE dies. However if you die in the commission of a crime, or being questioned for one, it warrants a bit less sympathy on my end. I was not impressed with Mr. Brown’s parents on Good Morning America either. They seem to fault only the officer, be in support of the rioting & showed little concern for their son’s activities that day. This coupled with the autopsy results & the very valid comments I Quoted above, lead me to believe the officer was not in the wrong here.

NOT TO MENTION….rioting, looting, stealing, defacing property in the name of justice for someone is backwards & WRONG. If Mr Brown were innocent than people committing crimes in his name will not sway observers favorably. In my opinion, the rioters are nothing but criminal opportunists looking for an excuse to do damage while police resources are stretched managing all that is going on. This is not justice. This is shameful. Godspeed, Ferguson.

Hollywood’s ignorance is our loss (Robin Williams)

I know this is not “political” but it is current. Yesterday the world lost a great talent. Living in the Bay Area, Robin Williams has been a fixture among charities, movie sets filmed in San Francisco and just walking around enjoying northern California. Knowing only bits and pieces about him as a person, I was stunned to hear about his passing and the cause of it as well. I had no idea – as someone who doesn’t know him personally but as a fan/observer – that he was so troubled. I read a quote on social media yesterday that said the saddest people are the ones who try the hardest to make others happy. This news weighs on me heavily. I don’t know if he tried to seek help, or if others tried to help him, or intervene. I do know that the world of mental illness is a murky terrifying path for anyone whose lives it touches. Adding fame, publicity, public scrutiny, movie critics and wealth honestly does not help. If anything these elements make it more likely someone will claim their own life. Hollywood has provided us all too many examples of this this past year and beyond. I dont have any magic answers for anyone suffering w/ mental illness. IT can be difficult to admit a problem – to yourself, a professional, friends and family. Its difficult even if you’re not famous. More so if you are. Who can you call that wont leak it to the press? How do you know they will keep your information confidential?

That said, I DO think its beyond time for Hollywood to help. Its no secret the elements of fame are hard for any individual to deal with on a normal level. It should not be a rite of passage to go to rehab. Hollywood should have on set therapists, counselors, reputable places the famous can go for PREVENTATIVE help that is just as respected as the famed rehab facilities that cater to the stars. How many Cory Monteiths, River Phoenix’s, Robin Williams, etc have to die before this is taken seriously and not treated as a trend or a publicity opportunity? Enough is enough.

 

(more focus on mental illness in general, in next blog)

Hobby Lobby for the win. Hobby Lobby female employees…for the lose.

This morning, Hobby Lobby won their case against the Supreme Court regarding birth control coverage through the ACA, For those who haven’t read my previous post on the subject, or who haven’t followed this story in the news, Hobby Lobby, a for-profit and privately held corporation owned by a family of evangelical Christians, sued the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2012 because it believed that the contraception requirement of the Affordable Care Act was an unconstitutional violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs. While I’m certain no one has contested  the religious beliefs held by Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green and his family, but the Greens are not on the hook to provide their 13,000 full-time employees with contraceptive coverage. In reality, their privately held corporation is responsible for that coverage. Because that’s what it means to be incorporated. One of the questions brought before the high court is whether or not the company itself can have sincerely held religious beliefs, and — if the court is willing to recognize corporate religion — whether the contraception mandate places an “undue burden” on those beliefs.

Hobby Lobby has based its claim in its religious opposition to abortion; according to lawyers for the company, the main issue here is four forms of birth control that it doesn’t want to cover because it believes they are abortion-inducing drugs. This is incorrect!Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, stated  in an article on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As noted in that article, which first appeared in the New York Times,  emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred. Thus even the “logic” of Hobby Lobby (the people behind it, excuse me) Is unfounded & flawed.

I respect Hobby Lobby being a “Christian run” company. I think its great that they are closed on Sundays and some of the other small things they have infused into their company. I understand SLIGHTLY where they are coming from BUT …it is incredible UN-Christian in my opinion to not provide for your employees health, or ability to have more family than one can care for…Unless Hobby Lobby plans to have a kick ass daycare, extra money to those with families, bonuses for additional children, etc then their views on family have no place being pushed onto employees. Its one thing to decide YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS should be closed Sundays because the Bible says that is the day of rest (I think that’s great & I suppotr that). Its entirely different to say that because the Bible says “go forth & multiply” that you’ve made the executive order that no employee shall have means to choose not birth control options. I could say this affects women more than men, which it does, but Hobby Lobby employed men should be equally offended at essentially having their right to decide the size of their family stripped from them by their employer.

That said, any amount of research can reveal some inconsistencies in HL’s “morals.’ Hobby Lobby has a retirement plan that invests very heavily in the manufacturers of the forms of contraception it claims to abhor so much. According to a report from Molly Redden at Mother Jones, the Hobby Lobby 401(k) “held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions.” I myself HAVE a hormonal IUD. I know several other ladies who are Christians that have IUDs (side note not all denominations specially denounce birth control) They are wonderful. God gave me the children I wanted. He also gave me the tools i needed to not have more so that I could care for the ones I have (just my opinion)

I myself say NO…as I hope all people agree. A corporation is an entity. It is not a person. It does not have feelings. I’m a Christian, I believe in birth control. I also believe God gives us the ability to choose that. Furthermore, I do not believe the Bible says to go make and disciples of your company. God cares about relationships with people and corporations aren’t them, no matter what legal mumbo jumbo one wants to use to argue the point. However I’m not trying to make this blog piece about religion, mine or yours or anyone’s. The main issue here, I feel, is that the Supreme Court in voting YES to this decision has created a slippery slope in which ANY company can pick & choose coverage that they have a “moral objection” to. Not oly that, but this creates a mask for corporations to hide behind whether they have moral objections or not – I can see companies trying to save a couple corporate earned dollars by citing “moral objections” left and right. Thank you Supreme Court for your complete inability to see the big picture.

 

Again it is my personal belief that this is less about morals and more about money. Unfortunately, my fear-and I can realistically see his happening- is that other corporations will follow. As Justice Sonia Sotomeyer stated in her objection  “If corporations could claim a religious objection to providing contraception coverage couldn’t they also object to vaccinations or blood transfusions?”  There are a number of other medical treatments that are not considered legitimate under certain religious doctrine, what is to stop corporations from objecting to covering those as well? We are entering a scary territory where corporations could essentially pick apart the things in the ACA which they “object” to. Again, follow the money not the morals and you can see where this is going to go…this isnt about morals, this is right wing hijacking of the ACA. Theres other powers behind this than just HL> If HL felt that strongly about this one issue they could simply have chosen not to offer coverage & told employees to seek it through the exchange.

In her dissent Ginsburg stated. :”Reading the Act expansively, as the court does, raises a host of “Me, too” questions. Can an employer in business for profit opt out of coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations, antidepressants, or medications derived from pigs, based on the employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs opposing those medical practices?”  No. At least…not yet.

#NotAllMen

I will start with some personal stories, I like stories. I have 2 brothers (no sisters) , a son, a stepson (no daughters), 2 brother in laws on my husbands (no sisters for him) side.. I”m also married to a man. I like men. I feel I understand a lot ab the male side of our population having been surrounded by them my entire life. I also understand women’s issue, having been one my entire life. I consider myself a moderate on a lot of issues. But I do have an understanding that misogyny, rape culture, unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault etc primary targets women. I don’t blame men for the creation of these things in society because frankly women keep them in place as well.

The media is full of sound bytes & news clips with little discussion. I find however that messages about women & stereotypes, gender issues tend to blow up before getting blown away. The recent story about the kidnapped girls in Nigeria spawned the hashtag trend #BringBackOurGirls, because people with a worldview will understand that hate towards some women is hate against all women. I’m not using an us/them dichotomy here though. This is not about women versus men but an underlying feeling among many  (mixed) populations that women aren’t deserving of education, rights etc. It is important in these instances to stand up to this,  especially when the world is watching. People need to understand how the girls in Nigeria, the targeting of women in the Rodgers shooting rampage,  etc connects to a larger issue. These could be viewed as disconnected isolated events, but to think that doesn’t look at the bigger picture. These events are but examples of that bigger picture.

In another example the recent hashtag trend #YesAllWomen spawned similar dissent among people – not all of whom were men- who deny the existence of misogyny, rape culture etc. These things make people uncomfortable,I get that. And it should. Being uncomfortable shouldn’t be a reason not to address issues & try to solve or change them. I don’t want, to derail the female centered topic & focus on potential hurt feelings by men though. I’m sorry but there is a bigger issue that needs to be the focus. I feel the need to explain some things further, relating to these issues, in hopefully understandable non-offensive terms though.

I recently had a (male) friend rant on Facebook that he’s tired of female friends posting stuff that make all men out to be “evil” “rapists” & how he gets “all men are evil b/c they are rapists or want to pay you less.’ That right there is the problem:  when people get uncomfortable they tend to  stop listening and get defensive. No need to get defensive. How about helping?  Even if a “woman’s issue” that doesn’t directly affect you, surely it will affect your mother, sister, daughter, friends. Don’t be dismissive. Understand that if YOU aren’t a rapist, a predator, etc that those types of postings aren’t about you, but they should offend you that men out there CAN be those things. Denying & attributing to some “other”  in society doesn’t help eradicate the problem.

The reason a lot of these types of stories are attributed to misogyny is because simply that IS whats at the root of them. Of course not all men are women haters. Misogyny exists in society & is built up over time and takes a lot of people to hold in place. But it exists here nonetheless.  The success and popularity of the Tea Party being one  example….but there are many more, including people in the media & politics that regularly spout off in this vein:  Rush Limbaugh. Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan,  Michelle Bachmann (yes a woman).  Of course not all men are rapists, etc, but while its important to acknowledge this its important not to get sidetracked on it. Women already know this. Men already know this. We live in a society that while there are movements and laws against rape, there are also a lot more places that feed it to us in ways that desensitize society to it: video games, movies, music, public places, private citizens views…a bar in Spokane, Washington  thought it humorous to create a drink called “Date Grape.’ When there was protest, the bar owner (a man) stated it was “just a joke” –and also refused to change the name. He then began a campaign of harassment against the protest organizer (a woman). While that’s his right to name drinks whatever he wants, the humor he find in rape & those supporting it, is a shining example of what I mean. (My personal opinion is that its in beyond poor taste considering how often acquaintance rape occurs in college settings & tends to involve alcohol..but don’t let me go on a tangent)

On that note, let me give you an example of what I mean, in better terms. When college guys go out, whoop it up, get fall down drunk, people (PEOPLE) think nothing of it other than writing them off as “boys will be boys” “typical Frat guys” etc. Guys can go out and sh*t faced and not worry that a woman will see them as prey, and frankly I doubt this concern ever crosses a guys mind (I’m just assuming though). When a guy walks out of his house without a shirt or with pants sagging to his knees, no one thinks a thing of it. (Other than maybe “pull up your pants whippersnapper”) If a guy got mugged or beaten up, its doubtful anyone would say “well look at how he was dressed” “what did he expect, dressing THAT way?” Whereas when a woman goes out, if she were to get assaulted those things often times become center stage: “what was she thinking acting THAT WAY…dressing THAT WAY…” If you disagree I’m sorry but this is a huge part of the reason so many rape victims don’t press charges, b/c more often than not, stuff like that are some of defense attorneys central questions on the stand or in opening arguments. Its also the way many people think…boys will be boys versus women who shouldn’t  behave ‘that’ way.  Again, this is a societal thing, not a men versus women attitude, that does permeate our culture. Think of it: if men can freely dress how they choose, act how they choose…why is not okay for a woman to do the same? If a man can act ‘that way’ why cant a woman? Why IS it “asking for it” in these circumstances? That right there, is the clearest example I can give of what I am referring to.  There are silent beliefs that people often don’t think of because too often they are silently agreed upon by society. Dont agree. Dont help hold these in place.  #ThisTakesEverybody

 

#YesAllWomen part 2

I’d also like to give the floor, virtually speaking, to the feministsall over that have some very articulate things to say regarding this event.

 

http://feministing.com/2014/05/27/essential-feminist-writing-on-the-isla-vista-shooting/

Some snapshots:

Masculinity, Violence, and Bandaid Solutions by Miri Mogilevsky at Brute Reason

You will not hear that Black people who commit violent acts are never presumed to be mentally ill; they’re just presumed to be Black. You will not hear about how it’s only “terrorism” if a brown person does it; the fact that it’s politically motivated and intended to terrorize a particular group of people is not, apparently, enough. You will hear a lot about “not all men,” but you will not hear that misandry irritates and misogyny kills.

 

Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism by Laurie Penny at The New Statesman 

The ideology behind these attacks – and there is ideology – is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”, in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence – stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power.

 

Yes all women (my thoughts on the shooting in Santa Barbara & the misognyist psychopath that is responsible)

As a self described feminist as well as a “professional” one (I have a dual degree in Sociology & Women’s studies) I have many thoughts on this past week’s events in Santa Barbara (Isla Vista). You can probably gather my opinion simply from the title of this blog piece. That said, I don’t think being mentally unstable alone was cause, nor was being a misogynist, people on the internet, guns, mental illness. At the heart of any answer to this tragedy is a multi-layered cause.

We don’t know if Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. We don’t know if he was a “madman.” We do know that he was desperately lonely and unhappy, and that the Men’s Rights Movement convinced him that his loneliness and unhappiness was intentionally caused by women. But lets me real for a moment, people face rejection every day. People do not go on killing sprees every day. Rejection hurts and it sucks, but it is a part of life. It can make us stronger and more resilient as well as shape us in good ways (ie actors that get rejected from auditions may choose to take acting lessons to sharpen skills…as opposed to shooting the casting agent)

Rape culture: This one’s a big one. Not a lot of people have heard this term, understand it or agree with it. However to ignore its existence is a dangerous thing. Violence and hatred against women permeates our culture in such a way that we believe it to be normal. Of course, the average person isnt in support of domestic violence or rape, but how often do we support these activities when we lok the other way at violent video games that show graphic harm of women, singers that beat their girlfriends, movie directors that molest their daughters (I am looking at you Chris Brown & Woody Allen!) ? IN Washington last month, a bar owner caused upheaval when he added a specialty to drink to his menu entitled “Date rape.” He thought it was “funny.” Women’s rights groups did not think so & protested. Even now, amidst very low patronage, the bar owner has maintained his “right” to have this drink on his menu & call it whatever he wants. He chose to make fun of protesters for “not being able to take a joke.” However taking this “joke” & drinking it would accept that rape is something to make fun of. Given how often date rape occurs among drunken college students, in frat parties, dorms, etc I dont think its a bit funny. But this bar owner & his supporters (few that there are) do not understand their role in holding up rape culture. They have been so steeped in it via so many societal messages that it has become normal.

Mental illness: While no one can say conclusively if Elliott Ridges was diagnosed with a mental illness, he was clearly not well. Men (and women) get turned down for dates every day. Only someone who is a bit unhinged somewhere in the head will respond by killing random strangers.

Lack of initiative by people in society to step in: Of course, people say crazy things off the cuff every day. For example “Oh I wanna KILL them” without meaning it literally. Police cannot arrest you for your thoughts. However I’m wondering if theres not more that could have been done by someone who read his manifesto or watched his video. His parents did the right thing in calling the police. The police probably did only what they could within the law. Rodgers had committed no crime by spewing hatred, awful as it is, I have read worse on news feeds on Facebook. I do think more oversight somewhere could have helped, or offering counseling or some kind of intervention. I don’t know the answers as to what more could have been done in this arena. I DO know that in this country mental illness still has a stigma attached, people are less likely to seek help even if they know it & those that may want it may not find the resources in their area. Its unclear what was done for Rodgers mental health but it is clear he could have benefited dearly by having a professional to talk to.

People on the internet (More misogyny)  Apparently Rodgers was a part of a  “Men’s Rights” Group. While I don’t believe anyone can claim the internet made him do it, it certainly doesn’t help when a lunatic has supporters. This group, as Rodgers did, has the right to the views. Though as a person whose read up on history I’d say somewhere these men (and I used that term VERY loosely) missed the fact that this country was founded and has been running for the last several hundred years on “men’s rights.” Examples by the dozen can be found in your high school U.S. history textbooks.

Misogyny: Yes this is a clear one. Rodgers stated in his manifesto & video a deep hatred towards women that rejected him that he then applied to all women. This was NOT helped by the group he chose to associate with online. He was an active member of the PUAHate,”” an online forum dedicated to “revealing the scams, deception and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to mislead men and profit from them.”  These are men who both feel entitled to have sex with women and also blame all women everywhere for their lack of ability to to acquire sex. .THe overwhelming opinion of this group of men (again, using the term LOOSELY) is that hey want to have sex with a woman because that’s what they deserve. They also hate women for withholding what they view as rightfully theirs. PUAhate forum has on its site (*it was recently taken down I believe*) threads with titles such as  “Are ugly women completely useless to society?” and “Have any hot women ever committed suicide?”Rodgers was encouraged by messages such as “F* women” “those bitches deserve it” (I dont want to etc. Given these eloquent internet rantings, it stands to reason why they didn’t understand how they weren’t attracting any women.  It also tells us Rodgers was not a lone case. There are in fact a percentage of men like that who think similarly to him. This fact alone should scare all of us. .

#BringBackOurGirls

Three weeks ago, 234 girls were kidnapped by an extremist group in Nigeria with the intent to sell the girls into slavery. Why should this be important to us? History tells us where hate is allowed to foster, it can easily spread. THe girls in Nigeria arent just 234 girls in an isolated situation. There are millions of girls worldwide affected by extremists with the same ideas. IN the case of the Nigerian schoolgirls, an extremist group by the name of Boko Haram’s name translates to “Western education is a sin” in the local language. The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

I guess I shouldn’t fail to mention here that I’m mostly a “stay at home” wife/mother who works around my family’s schedule. I also have an AA degree in Communication as well as a dual degree in Sociology and Womens/Gender studies (Double major – oh the horror!) . I think education is important no matter what you do in life. There is no such as thing as being too intelligent, being too articulate, having too much critical thinking skills. Education serves a purpose and advances people in many ways. I’m sorry that there are people in this world who do not see its value. The men that claim education should only be reserved for men show how it is wasted on the likes of them. Clearly there is no cure for stupid. But for those with desire to learn, with the passion to change themselves and the world around them, to better themselves…education  is key.

The extremists in Nigeria could be anyone. They could be anywhere. By that, I don’t mean that terrorists are at every corner. Ignorance is. These women need to be brought home. They need to be brought back to school. The world is watching — and ignorance needs to be fought against so that not only these girls are returned to the education they deserve, but so those who believe otherwise are told that there is no place in this world for such ignorance. These girls aren’t just Nigeria’s girls. They are our girls. Bring back our girls.

(Postscript I have called the White House comment line so President Obama knows my opinion. I urge you to let him know yours too. Write letters to the editors of papers and magazines who arent reporting this story. There is much we can do from our homes to tell our leaders that this will not stand)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/03/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/

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