Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rapists; Lessons from Steubenville, OH

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Photo By rogamuffin via Flickr

Oh look! I’m back to our favorite lighthearted topic: rape! Joy of joys.

Today is the start of the trial for two Steubenville, OH high school athletes accused of repeatedly raping a very, very drunk young girl. I wrote a big long post with a lot of thoughts on this because, well…this is the type of thing that spurs a lot of thoughts for me. I changed my mind, though, and I’ve decided to just say a couple of things, then point you to read some words and watch some videos from people who are way smarter than me. So, here we go:

My Thoughts:

Rape is 100% the rapist’s fault. If I run around in my birthday suit, drink a fifth of Jack, flirt with a dude at a bar, pass out at his feet and then he rapes me, there’s still only one criminal here; only one person at fault. And the person at fault is the freaking rapist. There should be NO QUESTION here. Because, after all, it’s not my job to keep you from raping, it’s your job not to be a rapist. Duh.

The only way to know you’re not a rapist, is to know, know, know your partner wants to have sex with you when you are having sex with them. That’s it.

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. (via Wikipedia)

Consent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before, if you’re dating the person, if they’re dressed provocatively…none of that matters. You have to have consent. The easiest way to do that? Ask. Tell your partner that you’d love to have sex with them, and ask them if they’d like to have sex with you. If they say anything other than yes, don’t have sex with them. Blammo. Now you’re not a rapist. Whew! Isn’t that a relief?!

Somehow young men and women aren’t being taught this very simple rule of sexual conduct. So mamas, (and papas!) don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists. Have clear talks early and often about what consent is, about why reciprocity in relationships is so valuable, and about how everyone has a right to their own bodily integrity. Mamas, stand up for yourselves and other women. (You can do it! You deserve it!) Papas, be men that we can all be proud of; men that show respect as a default, and that stand up for women because it’s the right and awesome thing to do. Young men are absorbing the lessons you teach with your life—make sure you’re teaching well.

This horrible, sad Steubenville trial has taken on an even worse tone: consent is on trial. According to an article on Cleveland.com, the defense will argue that because the young girl got in the car with the defendants—even though she was later described as “dead” because she was so drunk—she consented to whatever sexual activity happened that night. Friends, that is a giant pile of bullshit. No matter what happens in this case, I’ll never accept that definition of consent, and I won’t sit by and let other people teach it. We all deserve more than that.

Ick. I’m so bummed.

Enough of me, here are some other people.

Check out this video from Modern Primate, which I found via Upworthy. This guy has it right. A billion high fives worth of right. Mamas and papas (heck, everyone): take note.

Zerlina Maxwell, a super smart person and rape survivor, recently got shouted at on the Sean Hannity Show (and threatened afterward) when she asserted that we shouldn’t try to curtail rape by telling women to carry guns, we should just tell dudes not to rape. There was so much barking in the segment that it was hard to hear her point, but luckily she followed it up with this piece on Ebony.com. Give it a read.

Here’s another great piece by Elizabeth Plank about the Steubenville case, consent, and rape culture.

I think that’s enough for now. It’d be great if we had such a colossal culture shift that these conversations weren’t necessary. We’d just all drink margaritas and play the tambourine. And I could get back to writing about french toast waffles and sarcasm. But sadly, these conversations ARE necessary. Join in, won’t you? But be nice, okay? Thanks.

Update: the two defendants were both found delinquent (the juvenile court equivalent of guilty). Click here to read my final thoughts, along with some other great links.

It’s National Hug a Republican Day

sometimes, a hug is all what we need

Photo By jessleecuizon @ Flickr

So, it happened. Last night, both the US electoral college and the US population decided they wanted to keep our democrat president, Barack Obama, at the helm for another four years. Leading up to election day, the polls had citizens split—47% were pro-Obama and 47% were pro-Romney. Which meant no matter what happened, a bunch of people—nearly half our country—were going to be disappointed.

Now listen, kittens.

We need to be nice to each other. The people that oppose your particular brand of views are not stupid or evil or ignorant. They just have a different perspective. And that’s okay. In fact, having differing views is what makes the US great. It is GOOD for us to have some push back on our ideas so we can inspect them from a different angle, and see them with eyes that differ from our own. Putting our ideas to the test ensures that they are good not only for us and people like us, but for our neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. We build our communities together—differences and all—and we should be thankful that there are so many good-hearted people employing people in our cities, working hard at our schools, and paying taxes so we can pay for our shared infrastructures. We all contribute, regardless of our political leanings. Thank you, citizens!

And here’s why you should hug a Republican: we are afraid of each other. Do you hear that?! AFRAID. I’ve heard that sentiment repeated many more times than I can possibly be comfortable with. We’re afraid! We’re afraid of the people that buy milk next to us in the grocery store. We’re afraid of the parents whose kids go to the same school our kids go to. We’re afraid of our neighbors. We’re suspicious of their intentions. We’re fearful of the origin of their beliefs. We’re sure, deep in our bones, that if “they” win, it will mean doom and destruction for “the rest of us.”

To that I say: absolute rubbish. I refuse to be afraid of my fellow citizens, even if their beliefs seem totally wacky to me. I commit to remember that they worry about paying their bills just like I do. I commit to remember that we are united by our humanity…and a secret addiction to Joss Whedon’s television shows.  I commit to remember that we all want bright futures, a financially sound country, good health, and another piece of chocolate. We share more than we think. We are more connected than we think. And I LOVE that.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Yeah. That. And here’s another quote from my friend Kate, who had just the right words last night, “And we go to bed with the same job description we woke up with: take care of each other. Take care, take care, take care. Rest easy friends.”

Bottom line: don’t be assholes to each other. Don’t give people a reason to fear our collective minds and hearts. Go hug a Republican. And maybe, just maybe, next time your side suffers a loss, you’ll get a hug back. And we can keep building this country together.

Problems That Lions Don’t Have

Have you ever had a frustrating moment in your day and thought, “If I were a lion, I wouldn’t have this problem”?

Really? Me too. Those lions. They have it made in the shade. Here are some common people problems that wouldn’t be problems for lions.

Getting “Burn” by Ray Lamontagne Stuck in Your Head

You know when you get a song stuck in your head and it just plays over and over and over and over again, and you sing it in your car, and in the kitchen while you’re doing dishes, and you try to figure out how to bleep out the g-d part because you don’t want your toddler singing that? And then finally you have to look up the guitar chords so you can get the full effect in your living room?

Yeah. Not a problem for lions seeing as they don’t have CD players, and even if they did, Ray Lamontagne might be a little too indie for the average plains-dweller.

Listening to Angry People Talk About Politics

Civility in politics is dead, and if you take the civility out of politics, you’re left with annoyance. If some yammerhole gets all red-faced and absurd about politics while talking with a lion, the lion wouldn’t have to feign interest or try to find an interesting segue to plants or (obviously) Ray Lamontagne. No, the lion has simpler solutions.

Deciding What to Make for Dinner

I’m pretty sure lions just eat whatever’s running by. Sure they probably get bored with zebra from time to time, but their lives are simple; they’re not bombarded with a thousand restaurants, and 400 kinds of soup, and a million new uses for the crock pot which they discovered on Pinterest. See it. Catch it. Eat it.

Yes, the life of a lion: so simple, so bloody. Plus, they look really comfortable when they take naps. Which of your problems could be solved by being a lion? Do share.

Five Rules for Debate in 2012

It’s 2012, you all. An election year. A year in which we will “take on the issues,” “get back to real American values,” and “make choices for our children and our children’s children!” Apparently, when elections come around we all get really smart and principled and become thoughtful guardians of the future. But if you were to listen to people converse about the issues, you certainly wouldn’t get that impression. You’d get the impression that a bunch of cranked out baboons had gotten loose and were attempting to write public policy.

We, as a society, have completely forgotten how to debate. The term “civil discourse” shouldn’t even be in our vocabulary. It’s not a thing that people do. It falls in the category of powdered wigs or leeches—things that used to be part of every day life, but now seem archaic, strange and otherworldly.

But, hey, it’s fine. Let’s not pretend to be something we’re not. If we’re gonna do this, let’s DO this, right? Embrace who we are! Talking is for dummies! And in that spirit, I present you with:

Five Rules for Debate in 2012

1. Name-calling is your first priority.

If someone disagrees with you, come out swinging. Don’t waste any time, and don’t take any names off the table. Keep your options open. Terms like jerk, asshole, douche bag, and bitch should roll off your tongue like slobber out of a dog’s mouth. Or slut. Slut is a good one. Don’t edit. Just spew. If you can add in something like racist, communist, sexist, fundamentalist or, really, nearly any -ist, you get extra points. Combining a truly un-nice name with an -ist classification is gold, you racist whore. See? See how effective that is? Bam!

2. Nuance is the enemy.

We know that life is complicated. We know that. We all live complicated lives full of grays, with so few blacks or whites. But you cannot recognize this fact. Like, ever. Never, ever, ever. So, when you present your argument, just find the most outrageous, damning, horrific point (or amazing, too-good-to-be-true point), stamp that thing on a flag and wave it until your arm falls off. Don’t worry about data, or objective studies or thoughts from experts. Besides, how can you fit all that information on a JPG to share on the interwebs?

3. USE CAPS!

A lot of our word bludgeon sessions—er, debates—happen on Facebook or blogs or other online forums. The problem with this, is that when everyone’s opinion is reduced to the same black characters on a white background, everyone’s voice has the same volume. Well, you’ve gotta fix that, and fast. SO TYPE IN CAPS! USE MANY, MANY, EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!! If you can BOLD your WORDS it’s EVEN! BETTER! BETTERRR!!!!!

4. Question your opponent’s character.

We’ve already called people names and accused them of being racists. That’s good. That’s a start. But what we really need to do, is erase any shred of dignity there might be assigned to their person. We need to hold court on their humanity. A good place to start, for us here in the states, is to question their loyalty to their country. Make sure everyone knows that the only way to be a Real American is to think how you think.

Again, reality will try to sneak in here and tell you that your neighbors, family and co-workers probably also enjoy living in this fine country, but squash that thought like a cockroach! I mean, if people don’t agree with you on how to handle gigantic, complicated, economic and political issues, maybe they were never true Americans/Christians/Muslims/Conservatives/Librals/Humans to begin with! Extra credit is earned on this point if you find some commonality between the person who disagrees with you and say…Hitler. Or a serial killer. Or a rapist. Don’t be shy…find someone terrible, and find a way to equate your mailman, or barber, or whomever you are arguing with, to that terrible person. You can do it. Don’t be a baby.

5. Don’t be afraid to throw a punch.

Really, Melanie? Violence?

Sure! Why not? I mean, let’s be real. Civility flew out the window a LONG time ago. With all the name calling, fact twisting, CAPS TYPING and integrity shredding, NOT hitting someone is almost a charade, right? I mean, come on, what are you, better than fighting? You’re above all that now? Let’s just call a pig a pig (or a racist, ugly, selfish, asshole pig) and get down to brass tacks.

In fact, maybe we don’t even need the first four rules. Maybe our policy changes and political offices should be determined by a good ol’ fist fight. Or maybe actual, literal mudslinging. Whoever slings enough mud to knock their opponents unconscious becomes president. This may be the horizon of our future, people. This may be our bright, swollen future.

If you’re not already following my blog by RSS, email or WordPress, you should. It’s more fun than a cranked out baboon.

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