Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Rape Culture; A Message to the Good Guys




I have been trying to find the words to meld together and organize into comprehensible sentences. Thoughts. A message. But I am mostly just overwhelmed by the one thing I feel so compelled to write about. I avoid it in general, when and where I can because I don't want to feel like I'm contributing to a culture of victim thinking... which is a whole problem all it's own that desperately needs to be dealt with. A pervasive issue that is affecting everything from interpersonal relationships to big scale government corruption. I also know the crippling nature of anger in our lives and how focusing too much on the injustices around us causes us to internalize a severe amount of hurt and fear and rage. How that is a poison that if we allow it, can ruin everything good we experience. It undermines our ability to process humor and connection and joy. But...


I need to write about rape culture. I can't avoid it anymore. Because it's own brand of poison has already taken root in my life and refusing the antidote because if its negative side effects is no longer an option. I need to talk about it because simply acknowledging the good guys out there and focusing on them isn't enough to balance out the prevailing attitudes that are so dangerous to women. It's the good guys that I need to speak to about this. Because while I am furious at CNN (and other media outlets) for sympathizing with the Steubenville rapists, it is true that the were good students with promising futures and talent in the athletic arena. And that info, while delivered with the entirely wrong slant, is important to know. Because most rapists have good qualities in addition to the bad. They are people. Not creatures waiting in an alleyway at night only existing in the moment of their crime.

The reason I want to talk to the good guys is because while they know what consent means, they are interacting daily with other males who do not, and it's easy to assume that they do. It's easy to write off things that their friends and co-workers and family members say as being a joke rather than something indicative of a thinking problem. It's easy as human beings to live our lives under the assumption that the people we are surrounded with, for the most part, know what we know. At a base level believe what we believe.

It's also easy to assume of ourselves that because we would never intentionally disregard someone else's physical boundaries and act on our urges against their will, that our attitudes and our talk to and about other human beings are innocent and respectful. It's too easy to fall back on "normal" and not question ourselves.Or where that brand of thinking came from. But my point that I am trying to get to, is that by the time we are in a court room debating what  does and does not constitute consent we have already long since failed. The fact that someone who was otherwise a "good person" (whatever that means... we're all capable of evil) was able to act in a way that is so ridiculously far off of the correct path is proof that somewhere along the way we as a society, whether that be a small HS football town, a family or the whole country, began taking little steps in the wrong direction.

Please. Do not confuse what I've said to mean that I actually think there was ever a point in time where things were 100% on the right track in this regard. I don't. But I do Think that there are many men who've got it as close to right as a human can get when it comes to their attitude toward women. Now and throughout our history. But... it's not being taught for the most part. The closest I feel we're getting outside of a few communities that go out of their way to focus on it, is trial, error, backlash and a lot of people left feeling like they're mangled and/or walking on eggshells.

To be honest I feel both of those things. Right now.

And while there is so much more to say I have to leave you with a cliffhanger. Because from here there are multiple different components of the problem that each deserve their own post... and they will get them....

To be Continued...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writers Block in the Real World

     Words have the power to build up and to destroy. Spoken or thought. Everything about our world... or at least mine, boils down to words. And I have hundreds of thousands of them, but so often I'm left feeling like I have none at all. Because part of my obsession with words materializes itself in my compulsion to judge words. The deem them worthy or unworthy. Sincere or shallow. Intelligent or immature. The problem however is not so much in the judgement of the individual words themselves, or even in their structure and sound when combined with others... but in the snap assessments of the meaning intended by the one who wields them. Including myself. Oh Lord how I judge myself.

   That is precisely why I struggle to use words in the real world. At least articulate, deep and meaningful ones. Because I fumble when I don't have the space to judge each one as it comes out. I find myself analyzing the beginning of my sentences as the rest left to be said falls out without what I would deem to be the proper amount of thought. I backtrack in the same moment as I'm attempting to conversationally move forward and as a result I wind up getting overwhelmed and lost. So I hide behind my keyboard and my pen... fearing that if someday enough people were to read and enjoy my written words that they may want to hear my spoken ones. Particularly the kind that don't have the opportunity to be rehearsed in advance. And that scares the crap out of me.

   It's true that sometimes... many, many times actually, success scares us far more than failure. Success scares us because we don't believe we have the capacity to maintain it. Or don't believe we deserve it. Or that if we achieve and then lose it we will never recover from the wound it leaves behind. Success leaves scars we tell ourselves. Subconsciously or otherwise... and that notion holds us captive whether we realize it or not. And captivity breeds hostility. At least in me it does.

   It's a good thing then, that every once in a while I am reminded that I hold the key.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Not-So-Terrible Two Year Old

   I haven't been blogging lately. At least not much. I haven't been working on my book lately either. At all. But I have been writing lately. More than in a long, long time. I lost it for a couple of months there, and in the process I kind of lost myself as well. But I've recently reacquainted myself with the lost (to me) art of journaling. And in that journal I've begun documenting the parts of my life I usually forgot to write about. Moments. The fleeting kind. I am far more accustomed to writing about ideas and opinions. Stories are somewhat new territory to me. But it is the area in which I feel most compelled to improve. Because it scares me and thrills me the most. It has less concrete parameters. In stories I feel as though my safety vest has been removed and I must rely solely on myself to keep the narrative afloat. Myself and that finicky little thing called memory... a trait, if you will, that I have, but not not the most trustworthy among them.

   So I have been here and there writing down seemingly minor observances of and interactions with my son. The type of things that I always tell myself I will remember, for their sweetness or humor, but never do. For above all I am forgetful. I am that mother who always answers the "How's your kid?" questions with "awesome! He's growing so fast and he's hilarious..." followed quickly by an awkward pause and a blank stare as I try to think up recent examples. Because I can't, and I feel so awful about it. These moments are worth remembering... and so I'm taking it into my hands, literally, with pen and paper, to lock them into permanence of the only kind I know:

Tuesday February 28th 2013:

   I knew I shouldn't have let him play with that darned thing! What kind of mother let's her kid run around with an uninflated balloon between his teeth? A teeny tiny water balloon no less? The nurse at the doctors office said she'd call back after consulting him... Oh that must be her right now! "Yes? Ok... yes, I understand. I just wanted to be on the safe side. Yes, he's eating, drinking and breathing just fine. The coughing stopped. Honestly I don't even know if he swallowed it, I just know I turned around for a second and he was gagging. He said he swallowed something but wouldn't tell me what and I can't find the balloon anywhere! ....Oh MY GOODNESS, I feel like such an idiot for even calling! He just walked up to me now... balloon in hand. He must have gagged on something else. I'm so sorry!"

Friday March 1st 2013:

   Bastian is across from me at the kitchen table as I write this. Sitting in a bar-height chair without restraints, eating his turkey and Muenster grilled sandwich (and sweet potato fries) in strips... because Daddy discovered the other day that he prefers it over the smaller squares.
   He picks up a particularly long fry in his hand that is shaped, at least the way he is holding it, like an upside down "U". He gives me a sly smile and says "it's eensy weensy spider; mom." ...he already says Mom in the way of a teenager. The way that elicits a silent "Duh" on the end... only from him it bears a bit more excitement and wonder. Thank God. I don't think I could bear the sound without it.

Tuesday March 5th 2013:

   My heart soared and burst into a billion tiny pieces just now. Bastian, on the couch next to me, trying his best to keep his balance as he half jumps, half stands tip toed, each leg doing it's own thing... "I can Fly Mommy! .... Bastian not flying" the facial expression synonymous to a motherhood punch to the gut forming on his adorable little face. It's only the beginning I think to myself as I try to figure out whether to smile or cry... and I hug him to hide the bewilderment on my own face.

Wenesday March 6th 2013:

   The first thing Bastian said to me this morning was "Spatula!" As I walked down the stairs he held it up and repeated the word Daddy had just said as if it was some great treasure. Just now, maybe, I don't know, a half hour later, this interchange took place:
Bastian (holding spatula pinched between shoulder and ear): "I'm making a phone call!"
"Bastian making phone call!"
Me: Smile and what I believe to be a look of encouragement.
Bastian: "I making a phone call"
"Bastian making a phone call Mom!"
Me: "Cool"

The above was repeated in similar variations a few more times until I realized that "Cool" wasn't cutting it for him

Bastian: "I'm making a phone call!"
Me: "Who are you calling Bastian?"
Bastian: "It's not a phone Mom!!"


   So... I am definitely a little late to the game when it comes to recording milestones, but I've got to say that for all the mental resistance I gave the idea, it feels pretty incredible to be mother/record-keeper now that I am doing it.  

Doing it my own way.

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