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Women’s Issues

Michelle Obama, Democratic National COnvention, Hillary Clinton, ImWithHer, Barack Obama, Democrats, DNC, Michelle Obama Speech

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton this November because I want a better world for my daughters and Michelle Obama is my new woman crush. I’ve always respected the woman behind President Barack Obama, but never more than last night when she spoke out on behalf of Hillary Clinton. These women know what all parents should know and that is that the presidency is about leaving something better for our kids. It’s about our American legacy, our footprint on the world. We have the power to change it, what will we do with that power.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.

Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country.

Make no mistake about it, this November, when we get to the polls, that is what we are deciding. Not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. In this election, and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. I am you tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.

I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children. Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home because … Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment. She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe. There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][torn] apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

But here’s the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.

She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously. Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white. It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

You can see the full transcript here, if you want to read it, write it down and commit it to memory like I did.

Michelle Obama’s speech made me want to go knocking door to door campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

A president that truly believes in the [precedent] that our founders put forth all those years ago — that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. When crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. We are always stronger together. I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be and that is why in this election, I’m with her.

You see, Hillary understands that the presidency is about one thing and one thing only. It is about leaving something better for our kids. That is how we have always moved this country forward — by all of us coming together on behalf of our children. Volunteering to coach the team, teach the Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

Michelle Obama, Democratic National COnvention, Hillary Clinton, ImWithHer, Barack Obama, Democrats, DNC, Michelle Obama Speech

 

Michelle Obama moved me to tears because she is everything that is right with this country. I am sick of the mudslinging of the Trump camp. I don’t want to go low, I want to go high. So, I am asking all of you to register to vote this year and get out and vote for Hillary Clinton. Don’t let something terrible happen to this country of ours, let’s fight to keep it great. I’m with her all the way.

I say Hillary Clinton for President 2016 and Michelle Obama for President 2024!

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Brock Turner, rape, rapist, Stanford University, reduced sentence

Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer, convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and leaving her next to a dumpster has already had his controversial, barely-there six-month jail sentence reduced by 2 months according to court documents obtained by The Daily Mail.

Brock Turner, 20, has already had two months knocked off his sentence for “expected good behavior behind bars”, which means he’ll be a free man as early as Sept. 2.

Yes, people, lock up your daughters because coming soon to a city near you, this piece of shit rapist will be walking the streets free and clear.

As soon as this fall, Brock Turner will be free on the streets, able to find another victim, force himself on her, claim it was just another misunderstanding and get just another slap on the wrist.

Mr. Turner is also in the process of appealing his conviction and moving his three-year probation to his home state of Ohio. All while his dad is fund raising for his son’s legal fees. A customer service representative for the Wright-Patt Credit Union confirmed that Dan Turner, the father of Brock Turner, established the account into which funds solicited through the Facebook fundraising page would be deposited.  The credit union account is still active as of this update.  It is unclear whether Dan Turner also established the page soliciting the funds, which purported to be authored by a friend of the Turner family. Because you know, this has all been so hard on the Turner family. I bet it is hard knowing you raised a rapist.

The page has since been taken down.

Which makes me wonder, what the hell is going on in high schools in Ohio. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that a group of high school boys gang raped an intoxicated, unconscious girl in Steubenville, Ohio? Why do we keep blaming the victims for ruining the rapists lives? How is society getting this so ass backwards?

What are your thoughts on the Brock Turner case and the reduction of his sentence?

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Emily Doe, victim statement, Brock Turner, Stanford, swimmer, rape, rapist, kid, roared, roar, tantrums, mommy moment, bad parenting

On January 17, 2015, former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, raped an inebriated 22-year-old woman, Emily Doe, behind a garbage dumpster after a frat party. There was no remorse on the part of Mr. Turner for raping someone, only the remorse of being caught. We are all Emily Doe. This could have happened to any of us. It has happened to many of us (to one degree or another) and it will happen to many more of us, if we don’t fight to change it. In fact, it will happen to your daughter, and your granddaughters and all those daughters that come after that.

The attack was only stopped when two Swedish PhD students, Carl Fredrik-Arndt and Peter Jonsson, were cycling past on their way to a party. When the two heroes saw that Turner was on top of an unconscious woman, they stopped, tackled Turner and pinned him down until police could arrive and arrest him. They didn’t have to stop, in fact, most people wouldn’t have stopped they would have gone on about their business.

Because let’s be honest, most people don’t want to be bothered by the inconvenience. It’s so much easier not to get involved. So people pretend they don’t see it happening; the frightened woman on the subway with the stranger’s hand on her ass, the drunk girl at the party being carried off to another room by a group of guys or even the businesswoman walking down the street being harassed by catcalls by men so far beneath her station that the closest thing they’ll ever get to talking to her is yelling sexually lewd epithets at her.

This March, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and last Thursday Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but instead was only sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.   This is a slap on the wrist and an insult to his victim. Apparently, membership in the club of white penis has its privileges. I’ve seen worse punishments bestowed on POC simply for being of color.

I’ve been avoiding the news the last few days because I wanted to enjoy my time with my family. After last week’s fiasco, I know to truly enjoy my life and time with my family I have to unplug. Then I stumbled across Facebook and I saw the photo of Brock Turner as the clean-cut good kid. Then I saw the actual mug shot and honestly, what does it matter what a rapist looks like? If you rape a woman you are a rapist. How well you dress or clean shaven you are, doesn’t make it okay or make you less of a rapist.

Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

I’m sitting on vacation, reading the transcript of Emily Doe’s impact statement. As I listen to my little girl’s playing and giggling in the background, I am pushing down the lump in my throat and it is taking everything in my body not to start sobbing right here in the pool room at the Hyatt Regency. I didn’t realize that I’d be triggered but I was. Rape culture is alive and well and is not going anywhere soon. If anything, it’s growing momentum.

I want to cry for the victim; for what she has had to endure and her revictimization by a system that has failed her. I want to cry for my daughters who will one day soon be at college, alone without me to protect them from the evils of the world. I want to cry for every young woman who has ever gone doe-eyed and naively into the world and not expected to be victimized; myself included.

The judge was lenient on Brock Turner because he was an athlete, had a promising future and could possibly have even gone to the Olympics; made all of us Americans proud in the fucking 100-meter dash or some fucking shit like that. He got six months for ruining this woman’s life because in the world we live in, women’s lives don’t matter. We might have “equal rights” but really we will never be considered as valuable as men. He could have been an Olympian, what is she? Just another drunk girl at a party; or so Brock Turner, his father and the judge would have you believe. Just a poor dumb girl, who drank too much and had some drinker’s remorse the next day.

I used to be that girl. No, actually I was what Brock Turner and his attorneys would have you believe his victim was so I was actually much worse. I used to drink a lot in college. I would black out on occasion. I went to frat parties and I loved to flirt. I was the touchy-feely girl who loved attention and liked to have fun but I was a virgin until I was in college. Sure, I had boyfriends and there was dry humping, marathon make-out sessions and all that other shit you do when you just haven’t done the deed yet but I never consented to more. I wouldn’t because I hadn’t and I didn’t want to yet.

But there were times when I was drinking and guys got a little too aggressive in their advances. I remember once I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Then there was the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

Or the time I was working at a retail chain as a teenager and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (plus I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

The thing is as I read the victim’s account of what had happened to her, I was saddened and more than anything I was fuming mad. I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men a hall pass for rape and attempted rape and acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime; it is the curse of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it, apparently even in 2016. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my girls to ever feel this kind of vulnerability or fear of living. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time.

Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time. Apparently, that is all a woman’s life is worth. Her life is ruined; she will never be the same but it doesn’t really matter because a penis holds more value in this world than a vagina ever could. After all, we only propagate the species. He could have been an Olympian; she was always just a woman.

Emily Doe, Victim statement, swimmer,Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

The scary thing is Brock Turner is not an anomaly. And it doesn’t matter what we do, how we dress, how much we do or don’t drink, we can all be the victim and this is what scares me the most. When are we going to teach our sons that it’s not okay to put their hands, fingers, mouths and dicks on women’s bodies without permission? When will our girls ever be able to feel safe to walk alone at night or have a vagina?

In case you don’t think rape is a serious crime that warrants more than a six-month inconvenience for the attacker, read the statement below from Brock Turner’s victim.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. “

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

After the victim’s statement went viral, Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be “deeply altered” by the court’s verdict. I know this man is speaking out as a father but really, the callousness with which he disregards the consequences his son’s actions have had on his victim sickens me. He pretends that his son has done nothing wrong worth jail time and has no regard whatsoever for how his child has ruined this woman’s life.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” he wrote.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Mr. Turner says his son, Brock Turner, should not be sent to jail.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organizations,” he wrote.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

Mr. Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people. I get that he is the kid’s dad but there comes a time when you need to support your child by loving them while at the same time making them understand that there are consequences to bad behavior and raping a woman is bad behavior. It is unforgivable behavior.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

“By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.”

It’s like this man doesn’t think his son has done anything really wrong. I know he’s a father who loves his son and love is blind, especially where our children are concerned but this man is in absolute denial.

What do you think is a fitting punishment for Brock Turner’s choice to rape a woman?

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

My mom was violated. There are few things that make us feel as uneasy and vulnerable in life as being violated. There are a million ways that we can be violated in this world and it is not a problem strictly resigned to just women, though as the “weaker” sex, we are more susceptible.That is not to say that women are “weaker” in any fashion than men, but we are perceived that way and that, in itself, makes us more vulnerable.

Bear with me as I try to explain to you the events that transpired this past weekend. I’m still having trouble believing that this really happened. Sunday afternoon, my mom was headed home from my house after a weekend of celebrating my littlest girl’s 9th birthday. She was almost home when she decided to stop for a refill on gas. My little brother came back home with her since college is out for the summer so he was pumping the gas and she was out of the car talking to him. That’s when it happened.

A man drove up beside her car, stopped, jumped out of the car, reached in and stole my mom’s purse. Jumped back in his car and sped off before my mom even realized what had happened. Luckily, there was an elderly gentleman there who got the man’s license plate and my brother made eye contact with him, so he saw his face.

As if being robbed in broad daylight was not traumatic enough for a sweet southern senior, she had EVERYTHING in that purse. You know that saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” well, my mom had everything of importance in that one purse.

When my mom travels, she doesn’t want to leave anything in her house of importance. You know, just in case some asshole, wants to break in and steal her life away. So she carries it all on her person.  When I say everything, I mean everything. She had her id’s, check book, spare keys to car and house, savings information, about $500 in cash (because people her age carry cash), all of her passwords written down on a piece of paper (because she’s 65-years-old and that’s what she does), her phone and all of her credit cards. Literally, everything of value to her was in that pocketbook except for her children and grandchildren.

Obviously, she is very freaked out. We all are. I know she’s upset that all of her things were stolen. It’s a pain in the ass to call and put a freeze on everything and have things reissued. She had to go into her bank on Monday morning and do all the things to freeze the account and get new cards and account numbers issued. She has to get a new social security card and had to change the locks and get her locks changed on her car. These are all inconveniences but better than the alternative.

All I keep thinking is what if she had been sitting in the car and, heaven forbid, reacted by grabbing her purse? What if this crackhead** in his desperation, pulled out a gun and shot my mother for her purse? That’s what’s keeping me up at night. We can replace all of the things but I can’t replace my mom and that scares the shit out of me.

My mom is gutted that she has been robbed. She feels vulnerable and violated. She is afraid to go home because this person has her address and her keys. She is afraid and I don’t blame her. How do you regain your trust in mankind after something like this? Something so brazen and heartless. I mean stealing from the elderly? You can’t get much lower than that.

I tell people, all the time, that I grew up in the ghetto. I’m obviously not exaggerating but in our neighborhood, my mom is known. She’s lived there for 40 years. We’ve been trying to get her to move for years and this may have just been the catalyst to make that happen. I need her closer to me so I can keep a better eye on her and protect her.

My mom had just visited me in the suburbs, so maybe her guard was down. She’s learned a valuable lesson, to never trust anyone, albeit the hardest way possible. I can’t undo what’s happened to my mother, though I wish I could but I can warn the rest of you.

If you get out to pump gas, even in broad daylight, 1) put your purse in the back floorboard 2) lock your car doors 3) keep your windows up 4) keep your important stuff at home in a safe or in a lock box at the bank, never carry it all on you. I know it sounds like overkill but either you do these things as a precaution or some creep sees you vulnerable and violates you. Believe me, this could have been a lot worse. He could have shot her, taken her hostage or carjacked her. But, as it stands, it was still pretty awful.

** I say crackhead because I say it takes a pretty desperate/stupid person to do something so crazy.

Have you, or anyone you know, every been violated in such a way and how did you recover from it?

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gynecological misadventure, gynecological visit, mammogram, pregnancy, miscarriage, fibroids, mammogram, menopause, millenials

A gynecological misadventure is never fun, especially when they involve surprises and words like fibroids, pregnancy, menopause, miscarriage and mammogram all in the same visit. Last week, I had my “yearly” exam and mammogram because women’s reproductive health is my jam. And, I discovered the meaning of life or at least solved one of life’s great mysteries, why women start getting mammograms at 40 and not 25.

As the mammogram tech, the same lady who did my first mammogram last year, gingerly fondled my breast as she positioned and repositioned my very pliable breasts I realized, had I not given birth, breastfed and subsequently fallen victim to gravity, there is no way that she could maneuver my breasts into this machine. Mammograms are not a young woman’s game. Then I laughed because I remembered that I used to be known for my breasts and my legs. How’s that for irony? Broken and Broken. Check and Check.

Pert breasts could never do what these ever so gracefully aged, slightly used breasts can do. No way my 25 year old tits cold be placed into a machine as an entity in and of itself, separate from my body, as if I could remove them.., place them in the machine, walk out of the room and come back after pressing the imaging button. No way!!

Mature breasts have lived more and while they may be slowly creeping into my armpits because my hatred of bras has increased almost as much as my newfound love of full-coverage panties, they still have some life in these old girls… even if they are 3 inches lower than they used to be. You know the story, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

I thought my advanced maternal aged” pregnancy at 31 made me feel old, well… you can imagine what being referred to 3 times (by 3 different medical professionals) as menopausal at “my age” made me feel like?

It was like suddenly my lady bits dried out, shriveled up, got arthritis and no longer functioned. I felt old, like my uterus suddenly needed a walking cane. Like the fruit that were my loins had suddenly rotted on the vine. Hey ladies… Don’t you worry about my bits, they’re working just fine, every 28 days just like clockwork and my ovulation could give any 27-year-old a run for her money. The shark week force is still strong with this one. 

The gynecological inner workings of my lady bits were insulted and then my ego was grievously injured. Shot through the uterus. Menopausal? Jesus! Had my moisturizer stopped working? This was more embarrassing than the fu man chu incident of 2005!

I knew this exam was different because for the first time in my lifetime, the doctor didn’t have to grab for the world’s deepest speculum, you know the one that feels like my uterus is in my throat? Nope she was able to use the “regular” speculum, just like she uses on everyone else. Whomp whomp. In a weird way I took pride in that crazy deep cervix of mine, it made me feel special like a gynecological unicorn but alas, now I am “average”.

I balked. “Wait? Is something wrong down there?” My doctor, whose sense of humor is just as randy as my own, replied, ” No, sometimes this just happens to women when they get “old”. Their uterus begins to fall.”

Not “older” that bitch said “old” and then she giggled, signaling to me that she was in fact giving me a hard time. I mean, I’m not Michelle Duggar, my uterus should be firmly in place and this lady wants to play Chicken Little with jokes about my uterus falling! Did I mention she’s only 3 years younger than me? Hey now!

Luckily, she quickly followed that by, “It’s hormonal. At different times of the month it can feel differently.” That didn’t give me any relief. And then while doing the physical exam, she gave me the head tilt and ” Hmmm?” Not a combo I like to see at my doctor’s visit.

Wait! What’s going on? Is my fucking uterus actually falling? Nope, she followed with this, ” Well, your uterus feels about the size of a 10-12 week pregnant uterus.”

Dumbfounded.

Silence.

Silence.

Gynecological misadventure number 1; possible pregnancy.

If you thought an accidental pregnancy at almost 40 was scary, you can’t even imagine what one today would do to me.Whispering as all the color and blood rushed from my face, “What? I’m not pregnant! Am I?” I hoped she had the defibrillator near by. Obviously being “menopausal and of the reproductive age of retirement ” I was going to have a heart attack any second now. Then, my brain, “Booyah bitches! Who you calling menopausal now?” Strangely, momentarily, I felt reproductively vindicated.

Wait? Was I one of those morons who didn’t know they were pregnant until they went into labor? 147 IQ, you failed me. Oh God, senility is setting in, maybe I am menopausal?

Then she tilted her head the other way and said, “Hmmm” again as she manhandled my uterus.., “Nope! Have you been having regular periods? When was your last one?”

Gynecological misadventure number 2; a possible miscarriage!

“26 days ago. I’m starting again on Thursday.” In my brain, ” oh dear Jesus, I’ve had a miscarriage again.” Holding back tears, saying a rosary in my head.

More uterine fondling, this time it felt personal. She tilted her head back in the other direction, “Hmmmmm, nope!”

Silence

Silence

Waiting

Jeopardy music playing in my head.

“Probably just fibroids!”

Just fibroids?” Que loca? There’s no such thing as just tumors in your uterus.

“Just tell the front desk to schedule you for a ultrasound and we’ll take a look next time.”

Gynecological misadventure number 3; cancer?

I tilted my head, “Hmmmm, Nope!”  I suddenly staged a sit in of one. I refused to leave the building without knowing whether I was dying or not. Damn you webmd. Just like the 108-degree bronchitis fever incident in 2009. I’ll sit here forever. I’ve got nothing but time, lady. She knows that I’m was just crazy enough to do it.

Needless to say, I was seen immediately for my transvaginal ultrasound. Suddenly, I found myself pantless in stirrups having trouble breathing. Then I remembered the last time I was in this room, on this table, I was told, ” I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” The day that all I could do was cry.

Gynecological misadventure number 4; fibroids?

As a middle-aged tech, at least 10 years my senior explained to me that fibroids are common in women who are “menopausal” I nearly lost my shit. If only I could breathe. Then she showed them to me, my fibroids. All 3 of them. I had gotten my first one with Bella, a second with Gabs and I’m assuming a third with the pregnancy I lost. I wanted a tattoo to commemorate the baby I lost but instead, I got fibroids as a parting gift.

So, I go upstairs and wait to see my doctor again. She confirms that I’ve got the fibroids (guess its better than hemorrhoids?) but it’s nothing to worry about. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I quietly asked her the question that we’re all dying to know the answer to, “Am I menopausal?”

Gynecological misadventure number 5; menopause?

She giggled, no hmmm or head tilt this time, “No, you have no symptoms and you are still regularly menstruating and ovulating. Some women do start the process at 35, though. But no, you’re not menopausal.”

I felt like she should have handed me a damn t-shirt saying as much. I felt reproductively spry. Then, I gave her a hug bye and said, “Can you pass the word along to the rest of your staff and… I’ll take that referral for a vasectomy for my husband now. You know since obviously, I’m still fab, fit and fertile!” My uterus is a millennial even if my breasts are looking middle-age ish these days. Damn you breastfeeding.

And we both laughed.

Have you ever suffered a gynecological misadventure or (any doctor for that matter) and how did you handle it?

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Beyonce, formation, super bowl, girl power, black power

Saturday, I saw  Beyonce‘s video for Formation and I fell in love with it. I’ve been a fan of Beyonce since Destiny’s child. Not a rabid fan but I had a genuine appreciation for her as an artist. She has a beautiful voice and she’s all about the girl power, which as the mother of two daughters, she had me from the get.

What I love about Formation is how strong she is. Giving absolutely zero fucks. I’m going to speak my mind because bitches I’ve been silent too long. She came out the box with words a blazing. The lyrics alone were strong and on point but the imagery of the video told the whole story.

She is the kind of role model I want for my little girls. Hell, she’s my new shero with this bold new side.

Here are a few lessons all little girls, especially those little minority girls of ours, can learn from Beyonce and her new video.

Beyonce, formation, super bowl, girl power, black power

1. “My daddy’s Alabama, my mommas Louisiana”

Be proud of who we are no matter where we come from. Who cares if you are from the country like Bey or the ghetto like me. Where we come from makes who we become. If I hadn’t been poor and grew up in the ghetto, I probably wouldn’t be the strong broad I am today. Coming from hard places makes you scrappy and a fighter and that’s nothing to be embarrassed ever.

Beyonce, formation, super bowl, girl power, black power

 2. “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making”

We can be anything we want to be. If we are ready to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get it. It can be ours. We are not limited by anything but our own determination. Don’t let other people’s opinions matter more to you than what you think of yourself. Work hard and do you.

 3. “I carry hot sauce in my purse”

Firstly, me too girl, me too! Be yourself and be proud. Give zero fucks about what other people think about you. You have to live with yourself. Make yourself happy. Life is too short to spend your life worrying about what other people think about you. We can’t leave our happiness in someone else’s hands or we’d all be unhappy. We’ve got to be who we are and go after what we want.

Beyonce, formation, super bowl, girl power, black power

4. ” I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

Love your body. Love what God gave you. If you are black, white, Latino or whatever else you might be we might all be the same on the inside (human) but we most certainly look different on the outside. We have different body types and we need to embrace them. I’m never going to have the “model body” of a 10-year-old boy. I have curves. It’s how I’m built. I have no ass to speak and rather large breasts. I can’t change any of it and instead of spending my life hating the body I was given, I need to embrace it and love it for what it is and not hate it for what it isn’t.

This part is everything.

Beyonce, formation, super bowl, girl power, black power

5. Go for it! Slay it. Put your heart, your soul and your back into it. Take no shit. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t be afraid to make your voice heard because we all matter!

I see it, I want it

I stunt, yeah, little hornet

I dream it, I work hard

I grind ’til I own it

I twirl all my haters

Albino alligators

El Camino with the ceiling low

Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser

Sometimes I go off, I go off

I go hard, I go hard

Get what’s mine, take what’s mine

I’m a star, I’m a star

Cause I slay, slay

I slay, hey, I slay, okay

I slay, okay, all day, okay

I slay, okay, I slay okay

We gon’ slay, slay

Gon’ slay, okay

We slay, okay

I slay, okay

I slay, okay

Okay, okay, I slay, okay

Okay, okay, okay, okay

Every woman…can I please get a HELL, YEAH? This is the anthem for African Americans and women alike. It’s a call to action. A wake-up call. We all matter and that’s worth fighting for and I can’t think of anything better that I’d like to teach my little girls.

What did you think of Beyonce Formation video and its message?

 

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catholic church, abortion, roe v. wade, open mind, parenting

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the controversial Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. I have always been torn between my pro-life Catholic upbringing and my pro-choice heart. I hoped I’d never find myself in the position to have to decide whether or not to have an abortion but I also learned at a very early age that sometimes women( and girls) do and it’s one of the hardest decisions they ever have to make and it’s one she has to make for herself.

When I was 15-years-old, I had a friend who confided in me that she was pregnant and was going to have an abortion all on her own. I had no idea what to do but listen and hold her when she cried at her predicament. I was young and naïve and had no experience or reference to what she was going through. I felt useless because I couldn’t help her. The decision was one of the most agonizing things I’ve ever seen someone go through. In that moment, I knew I would always fight for a woman’s right to have dominion over her own body and reproductive system. I’ve been prochoice ever since.

So this morning when I went to mass, the one my daughter has been asking me to attend for 3 months because she was leading the choir, imagine my shock when the first words out of the priest’s mouth in the homily was, “Since today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade…..” followed by the phrase, “Women commit abortion” which is code for sin and then he went into how every life from the tiniest in the womb to the most elderly person on the footsteps of death are loved by God. That was powerful but it rubbed me the wrong way because I knew his undertone. He continued on saying, “ No matter what the mother feels, God loves that child.”

My mind was filled with all the noise and chaos of that moment when you know you have to say something, “OH.SHIT. This is the worst possible mass for me to attend because I instinctively go into defensive mode.I have a crazy need to right all the wrongs, especially when my children are part of the captive audience. 
People, it took everything in my body not to raise my hand in front of a packed church of children and elderly, stand up and ask, “ But is God going to feed them, cuddle them, provide shelter and clothing for them? Is God going to make sure that every child born has all that he needs?” I was flabbergasted. Then something crazy happened, this priest, who is almost fanatically pro life, began to speak and his words were filled with compassion, caring and love.

His next few phrases are what blew my mind out of my head, right there in the back pew as my baby girl sang.

He said, “Abortion is man’s fault, not women. Because men should treat women like the crown jewels they are and love, respect, honor and support them and if they did, there would be no need for abortion because there would be no unwanted children.”

Let that sit with you for a minute.

Then he said, what I’ve said forever, “ Women are God’s most precious gift to Men and they are not to serve us, they are here for us to marvel with love, respect and adoration because without women, there is no life. Only women have been blessed with the ability to bring forth life.” Everything I thought I knew up until this point about this man changed.

Then he said, “ By men making women objects of lust instead of objects of love, they are to blame for putting women in these compromising positions.” I know that pregnancy take two and I don’t blame men alone for women being put in the position to choose life or not, but it was nice to finally here a man (a Catholic priest no less) say that men should take responsibility for their actions and keep it in their pants. I never expected to hear those words echoing through my church, ever.

Women have always been treated like second-class citizens throughout history in society and especially in the church. I’ve always felt differently and that’s made my views as a Latina and a woman unpopular with many men I’ve known.

I’ve never been particularly fond of this priest because I’ve always felt that he’s too judgmental on situations like these but this morning his words and his heart were filled with kind words of love and compassion for our children and that is so important when you are molding young children’s minds. His words moved me.

Don’t get me wrong I haven’t changed my mind. The feminist in me will always believe it is the woman’s right to choose and the 15-year-old me will always fight for the right for women to make their own choice without condemnation from others but he made me appreciate the choice from another perspective, more importantly he explained to my children in a way that fosters compassion and self-respect. I was impressed and in the end, I didn’t have to raise my hand or storm out of mass.

 

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Christmas cards, peace on earth, domestic violence, awkward holiday card, hannah hawkes photography

When you think of peace on earth does your mind immediately go to women should be seen and not heard? Do you think the above photo can be construed as funny? I don’t. I find it offensive that a family would request this sort of photo that makes light of such a serious topic as sexism and condones domestic violence. How can a photo of your wife and daughters bound and gagged ( even with Christmas lights) with your toddler son giving a thumbs up be found anything but disgusting? But I’m not mad so much as I am saddened that anyone would think this is okay.

I can take a joke just as much as the next person. Hell, I’ve written some pretty off the cuff pieces, dare I say maybe even bordering on offensive, humor pieces about lady bits and I’m no stranger to controversy but as someone who has experienced abuse and spent my childhood being told that I should be seen and not heard, sometimes even threatened by physical injury and other times being on the receiving end of a good slap for speaking up, I don’t find this funny.at.all. In fact, I find that it makes a mockery of domestic violence and women’s rights in general.

I’m not sure why this picture was taken or whose idea it was. The mom’s? The dad’s? Either way, why did the other one go along with it? What kind of message is it sending to their daughters? What kind of message is it sending to their son? What kind of message is it sending to the people they know that they might send these cards to?

There is nothing funny about this photo. I know people push the envelope to get these awkward, funny to some, creepy to others holiday photos. I get that but this photo offends me on every level. This photo clearly sends the message that women should be forced into submission and seen but never heard. It objectifies women and dehumanizes us.

I’ve spent my life speaking up when I was told to shut up. It wasn’t easy and it was even dangerous. It took bravery to break that cycle. Do you know what it feels like to be afraid of your own voice? Do you know what it feels like to be punished for voicing your thoughts? It is a misogynistic way of breaking one’s spirit by humiliating them at their very core. The message is clear, to be seen and not heard means that you are invisible and your thoughts, your existence, do not matter. You do not matter and your very existence is only allowed by someone else’s permission.

Peace on Earth is not achieved by silencing women.

I can’t even be irate by this photo because I am too busy being so saddened that this is the message these parents want to instill in their children. This one photo, that speaks volumes, is telling their children that women should be silent or suffer the consequences and that men only get peace through violence against women. This photo is telling their children that women don’t matter.

I’m sure these parents thought this would be a funny gag but maybe, as parents, they should consider the ramifications and lasting impressions they are making on their children. This one small moment has ripples and if they took this picture, as anyone who has ever told a joke knows, there is always some truth to the joke so if they thought it was funny, somewhere inside they believe that this is how peace on earth is achieved.

Women bound with Christmas lights with duct tape over their mouths, with a young boy giving a thumbs up and a grown man holding a sign that says “Peace on Earth” is not my idea of funny. It’s sexist and wrong. Simply put this photo condones the subjugation of women, in fact, it celebrates it. I want a better world for my daughters and I hope the family in this photo, want more for theirs.

Dear Peace on Earth Family,

I hope this was a failed attempt at being funny and there is nothing more nefarious or, indeed, true about the logic behind this photo. As a mother, a woman and someone who has been told that she was to be seen and not heard at threat of violence for her entire childhood, I implore you to please consider the message you are sending your children, all of them.

Readers, what do you think of this photo of “peace on earth”?

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school uniforms, little girls, body image, private school, self-esteem,

Have you ever thought about how our daughters’ self-esteem and body image could be affected by the school uniforms or dress code policy? Sounds crazy, right? I mean isn’t that the entire purpose of school uniforms in the first place, to level the playing field; to equalize all children and neutralize all social hierarchy? Isn’t a dress code to keep kids comfortable and tidy.

I have daughters, who have to wear school uniforms. There is no option. I thought this was a great idea when we started school but now, I think it’s stifling and worse, I think it’s causing some damage to my tween’s self-esteem and worse, her body image. It’s bad enough that they are not allowed to even look like girls; no ruffles, no frills or even pale pink polish because it might be “distracting” to boys but now we are even making the clothes to fit like a boy. Someone once told me that I should cut my daughters’ hair because they “read somewhere” that long hair is conducive to rape. I said, no why don’t women teach their sons not to be rapists and to respect women and their bodies. Why should my daughter have to look like a boy so your son doesn’t get any ideas? Why do the girls have to be punished?

But how are school uniforms destroying little girls’ body image, you ask?

This year, it has become almost impossible to find anything that fits my child and believe me; I have tried all the stores and all the sizes. I’m frustrated; my poor daughter is beside herself. She had a growth spurt over the summer and suddenly all of her clothes are too short and tight. So, since I don’t want to send my child to school looking all “Hulk Smash” I decided to try to just buy her some bigger clothes. Makes sense, right? WRONG!

You see, I’ve noticed that for the last few years, the girls’ uniform pants that we bought at Children’s Place were made slightly different than boy uniform pants. It was the little details like a little spandex mixed with the cotton so that the pants could bend and mold to a little girl’s body. Also, little girls’ pants were slightly flared for aesthetics and had a cute little ribbon belt. The pants were perfect. My children have been wearing them for years.

But this year, with all the let’s eliminate labels like “boys” and “girls” campaigns being on trend, nothing fits. It’s not my imagination. They have actually stopped making the pants we previously bought and have gone to a more streamlined look, that happen to look exactly like the boys’ pants. Let’s put it this way, my waif like 8 –year-old who almost blows away with a strong gust of wind and typically wears a size 6X/7 had to buy a size 10, in order to fit.

My poor 10-year-old who typically wears a 12 or a 14 depending on the length of the pants, literally, could not find a pair of pants that fit her in the length and waist. Either they swallowed her whole or fit in the waist but were up to her knees or in one particular worst case scenario, we had to try on a size 14 that was tight on her waist and her butt and then we found out it was a mislabeled 10. With tears in her eyes in the dressing room, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, I just want to be normal. I just want pants that fit to wear to school!” I’ve only noticed this in uniforms, but of course, that’s all I’ve shopped for recently.

My heart broke into one million pieces because I saw every single woman that has come before her and every single little girl that will come after her if we don’t do something to change this NOW! There is plenty of time for her to feel like shit about herself because the fashion and style industry do not cater to normal sized women and they surely don’t cater to tall women, who are neither anorexic or plus sized. Our options are crying in the dressing room while trying to either starve ourselves into see thru micro mini everything, wearing muumuus or dressing like a man. Why do we have to dress according to them? And who the f*ck are they anyways?

Isn’t it enough that our daughters are bombarded by images on television and in the media of starving women as our standard of beauty, now my 10-year-old and 8-year-old are being told their bodies are wrong by fucking uniform pants. And by the way, if there was ever proof that the patriarchy is in charge, just look at a school uniform policy. It is made to inflict embarrassment and shatter self-image by making every little girl feel as ugly and plain as possible.

This is my plea, manufacturers and designers of little girls’ school uniforms

Please stop making school uniforms cut to give our elementary school aged girls doubt in themselves and their bodies.

My daughters are perfect and healthy and beautiful and in one shopping trip, fashion has planted a seed of doubt. I saw her face. I know that look…

 If only I could lose 5 pounds, I could fit into those pants!

I didn’t ever want to see that look in her eyes; that partial disgust and doubt of her own body.

It had nothing to do with wanting to be fashionable and every thing to do with just wanting to be normal and wear pants that fit. Why are we allowing the fashion industry to destroy the self-esteem and body image that we have worked so hard to instill in our girls? We pay for these clothes, shouldn’t they be made to fit our bodies not the other way around? The fashion industry works for us.

What are your thoughts on vanity sizing and unisex cuts in girls’ school uniforms?

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