I’ve got a bone to pick with Avril Lavigne

4 Aug

Yeah, as an advocate for victims of sexual assault I have to say something about this. I just do. It’s Avril’s song Smile that’s in question. The lyric I’m about to address really upsets me. I will admit, however,  that against my better judgment and music taste, I listen to this song and all her others with a kind of paralyzed enjoyment. How awful are Girlfriend and Hot? Pretty bad, but they’re on my running mix. Moving on.

This is the lyric that I wish she would have thought more about before singing it into America’s eardrums:

Last night I blacked out, I think
What did you, what did you put in my drink
I remember making out and then, oh oh

The next line in the song explains what happened while she was blacked out: his-and-hers tattoos. But taking the previous lines by themselves, there is a strong suggestion that somebody got her drunk and/or influenced by a drug so that she wouldn’t be conscious for what came next.

The fact is, alcohol is the number one date rape drug, and alcohol facilitated sexual assaults are common. Sometimes a person chooses to drink, and sometimes he/she is manipulated into inebriation. What some may try and pass off as “drunk sex” is actually sexual assault, because in some states (like mine), an intoxicated person cannot consent to sexual activity. Intoxication muddles consent, which is often communicated nonverbally.

And that’s what I have to say.

Who are the Joneses?

13 Jul

Click to find out

A different kind of movie review: Domestic violence in Water for Elephants

23 Jun

I went to see Water for Elephants when it was in theaters knowing nothing about the story. I enjoyed the movie’s premise, it’s cinematic stuff (as much as the next average movie-goer), and the 1930’s era elements. Even Robert Pattinson was bearable – dare I say likable. Compared to August, Jacob was a downright hero and you hoped he’d get the girl. I realized as the movie progressed that not only was August a perpetrator of domestic violence, but that his behavior and personality were textbook batterer. Everything about him was right on track.

  1. August married Marlena, who was a young and abused girl. The more vulnerable someone is (because of their age, past abuse, home life, living situation, etc.), the more likely it is for them to be targeted and then victimized.
  2. Marlena tried to excuse August’s temper, controlling behavior, and physical domination over her by his consumption of alcohol. Although it is common for perpetrators of domestic violence to abuse alcohol, it is not the cause or reason for their abusing.
  3. August abused the circus animals, which he knew were dear to Marlena’s heart. Abusing animals for the purpose of intimidation and cruelty to their wife, girlfriend or partner is a tactic of abusers.
  4. Although August correctly suspected Marlena and Jacob of having an affair, it’s not much to assume that August didn’t also falsely accuse Marlena of other affairs. To me she acted like his accusations were familiar. Often, abusers will fabricate stories of infidelity just to have a reason to yell at, berate, and name-call their partner.
  5. In the end, August tries to kill Marlena. Domestic violence homicide does happen – there were 543 of them in the United States in 2009. Sometimes the lethality of an abusive relationship comes into question when other factors are in play, like they were with August:
  • the abuser is assaultive during sex
  • weapons are present
  • the abuser starts letting others see his abusive tendencies, rather than keeping it in the home
  • the victim has begun a new relationship
  • the perpetrator abuses the victim while intoxicated
  • the abuser is depressed
  • the abuser is preoccupied or obsessed with the victim
  • the abuser has a history of assaultive behavior against others

Social Injustice News Summary (SINS): June 13-17

17 Jun

Texas: In Houston this week, the publicized rape of Jamie Leigh Jones finally goes to trial six years after her victimization. Jones says that in 2005, working in Iraq at 20 years old, she was gang raped by several male KBR/Halliburton employees. She had been socializing with the men one evening, and after she accepted a drink from one of them became unconscious until after the attack. Based on her account, her victimization did not end with the violent rapes that night. She was confined without food, water, or communication for 1-2 days under armed guard. Then, the forensic medical exam performed on Jones by a U.S. Army physician was given to KBR.  This latter action was a violation and conflict of interest in the chain of evidence of the case.

Art: Jamie Leigh Jones

This case is about the crime of sexual assault. Let us remember, then, that sexual assault is not the fault of the victim. Whether or not a victim is drunk, sober, high, flirtatious, attractive or plain, it is the perpetrator who decided to rape. Also, let us remember that it it is rare for someone to fabricate a sexual assault.

For six years Jones has been hushed and disbelieved by KBR, who insists its innocence. But now Jamie Leigh Jones has a foundation, is married and teaches, and has her day in court. I can’t imagine that this trial will be clean or easy for her, but let’s hope that justice prevails.

India: Although not written this week, I wanted to talk about a Washington Post op-ed about sex-selective abortion in India. The author is Aseem Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation and an Associate Professor of Urologic Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. He’s talking about the cultural, societal, and political reasons and consequences for the boy-baby preference that some Indian families hold.

North Carolina/U.S./World: This week the BBC has reported on current compensation efforts by the North Carolina state government to help ease the trauma of the many living victims of forced sterilization. Though the primarily mental-health, sexual orientation and race-determined eugenics programs happened in decades past and ended in 1979, these people have not received acknowledgment of their suffering.

Add some swing to your weekend

11 Jun

Social Injustice News Summary (SINS): June 6-10

10 Jun

New York: The New York Times has reported on  a 13-year-old autistic boy, murdered at a care facility for people who are mentally disabled. The facility is the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center, and young Jonathan Carey was asphyxiated to death. The employee responsible for the death was a former convict who was overworked at O.D. Heck at the time of the murder. He sat on the face-down boy for 15 minutes in an attempt to restrain a fit Carey was having. He was convicted of manslaughter.
In addition to the inexcusable events of Carey’s death, the O.D. Heck center and eight others like it in New York state have a history of hiring criminals, not using federal funding appropriately, and dismissing legitimate reports of client abuse. [A similar situation in England was documented in January.]

Illinois: Two teachers at a Christian school have been charged with sexually abusing students, according to the Chicago Tribune. As is common with child predators, these sibling perpetrators had vocational access to children, and used alcohol and grooming tactics (.pdf) to prepare their victims. The two are Nelson Quintana and Eliza Martinelli, and they are pastor’s children. She is married, and currently being held on $1.5 million bail. The abuse, which happened over a period ending in 2007, was revealed by the five victims. Whether the perpetrators used spiritual manipulation on their victims the story did not say. [For more information on spiritual abuse and child abuse in general, consult the National Child Protection Training Center newsletter – Volume 2 Issue 12.]

Iraq: Among the increasing number of U.S. Army suicides, the death of a mistreated Army Specialist is now being reported by the Stars and Stripes. Specialist Brushaun Anderson, 20, shot himself on January 1, 2010 in the midst of being hazed and abused by his superiors. Anderson began his military career enthusiastic and well-praised by his commanders. He had been enlisted for a year when his first deployment came up, to a remote base in Iraq. His attitude changed there, when he was singled out in unusual punishments and infractions. His suicide note revealed a tone of regret and disappointment in himself and in the Army. His abusers remain in Army leadership positions.

New York: The World Heath Organization and the World Bank have released a report, summarized by the Washington Post, on the global population of persons with disabilities. The report mainly links disabilities and disease with poverty and aging.  I liked this quote by Etienne Krug, a Belgian physician at WHO: “Disability is an interaction between the impairment and the barriers put up by society and the environment.”

On a bit of a lighter note:

Georgia: A Catholic Archbishop in Atlanta wrote a letter addressing child sexual abuse within the Catholic church. According to him, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People study has found sexual abuse in the Catholic church greatly declined.  It’s good to see a stand being taken; however, just because clergy abuse “incidents” are down doesn’t mean that abuse isn’t happening. Less than one-third of child sexual abuse victims disclose, and of those only a percentage are reported (source).

Indiana: The Indianapolis Star covered a report made by the Indiana Department of Child Services, which found child abuse fatalities down in that state.  In 2009 there were 38 child deaths resulting from abuse and neglect, down from 46 the previous year .

NEW weekly feature: Social Injustice News Summary (SINS)

7 Jun

Hello all. I’m here to announce that starting this Friday, I will begin a new weekly feature called SINS.

SINS is: Social Justice News Summary. What I’m going to do is scan major newspapers and publications (as many as I can get to) for stories on social injustices. I will link the stories and summarize them here in a SINS post.

I will do this for personal and public awareness: How can we care about atrocities that we don’t fully understand? How can we do our small part for social justice in our daily lives if we don’t know what’s going on?

I understand that it’s quite sad and sick stuff that I’ll be re/printing here, but it’s better to know. Ignorance counters solutions, but knowledge counters ignorance.

A final note:  When I wrote Social Justice News Summary and realized it spelled SINS, I felt confirmed in this project. Social injustice is sin. Please (proverbially) join hands with me in solidarity against it.

If you have any online publications to suggest that I scan for stories, let me know! Thank you.

*update* I’ve begun researching for this Friday’s first SINS. I am sad to say that the numbers are true: every single day people are killed, abused, mistreated, marginalized, wrongly persecuted, victimized, or manipulated. I realized that I didn’t put any scope or parameters on the SINS project. I would love to present what’s going on in the world fairly by giving all forms of injustice equal weight: child abuse, domestic violence, prison rape, religious persecution, civilian war casualties, famine, human trafficking, elder abuse, civil liberty, gender iniquity, sexual assault, military deaths, homelessness, abuse of the mentally or physically disabled, etc.

But I don’t see how I can both cover the array of different injustices AND do it unbiasedly! Here’s what I’m going to do: limit the number of stories I present to no more than five (theoretically, one for each weekday), and I will try to give attention to all manner of social injustice in and outside the United States.

What friends have done to me

3 Jun

I know I’m lucky to say this, but I haven’t been badly burned by people who call themselves my friends. I haven’t really been belittled or backstabbed, forgotten or forsaken. For any of you who carry around hurts from friends – especially people you once deeply cared about – I’m sorry. There are people out there who won’t do that to you, and I hope they find you soon.

Good friends make me better off. They have changed me in good ways. They haven’t just been people to complain to and go to movies with. They do this really amazing thing of knowing who I am, accepting who I am, and loving who I am. I mean… I can’t even do that for myself all the time! But these people who have heard me make a fool of myself, seen what a mess I can make of my bedroom, and experienced me obsess over things that won’t fulfill me… they choose to love me, and they express that to me.

Here’s how I’m better off because of these people:

  • when I thought I had screwed up bad enough to lose my job, one friend picked me up at almost midnight to encourage me and cheer me up
  • when I finally ended a saga and let go of an apathetic guy, one friend (my best) sent me an email full of praise, making me sound like the most wonderful girl that he rejected
  • when I realized that I needed to end said saga, another friend sat until I had talked out and freaked out
  • when I’m ever frowning (even if just on the inside), one of my roommates notices and checks on me
  • when I’m broke, my friends buy my meal
  • when I need to talk, I know that I’m welcome to waltz into my friend’s bedroom, day or night, without introduction or reason
  • when I scream in my sleep, my friend is ready to beat up somebody with a field hockey stick, just in case that’s ever the reason that I’m screaming
  • when I’m afraid that I’m abnormal, my (best) friend always proves that I’m not by sharing her own relatable experiences with me and assuring me that I’m fine
  • when I need a place to stay, my friends offer their parents’ house
  • when I want to quote the hilariousness of favorite movies and shows, there are the perfect friends who appreciate them as much as I do
  • when I lament my inability to be funny, my friends remind me that my laughing makes up for it
  • and much more.

So what have my friends done to me? They’ve spoiled me for fair-weather friends, mediocre friends, and uncaring friends. I’m accustomed to the best now.

For the linguistically challenged *updated*

11 May

If you’re like me, half a semester of beginning college Spanish is about all you can handle. Yes, half a semester. After that it was all Greek to me.
So we may not ever be bilingual, and that kind of sucks. It’s also embarrassing when you’ve studied so little language, and have such a loose handle on non-English pronunciation, that you just give up trying with the easiest of words: “Tasty lookin’ whores-devours at this party, huh?” That might offend.

I often feel dumb when I don’t know how to pronounce the names of fashion designers. Obviously this embarrassment isn’t made public often, since I nor anyone I really know is in the designer-wearing crowd. Still, if you too struggle with this, here’s some help: the BBC and the Wall Street Journal have kindly provided articles on the subject.

If you don’t feel comfortable ordering a few dozen types of scotch, a Scot has done the talking bit for you, aye.

Click for pronunciation

For many other of your pronunciation needs is a YouTube channel, Pronunciation Book. These spoken words are either ridiculously mundane, or rather helpful.

Lastly, but most shameful, I am terrible at Bible words. Here’s the thing: Even if you don’t read or talk about the Bible much, you  will be all the smarter, more cultured, and sophisticated-er with the ability decipher some Hebrew, Greek, and/or Latin vocabulary. Do so here and here.

Now go forth, knowing more both obscure pronunciation like examples above, and more common ones:

  • aegis: ee-jis, not ay-jis
  • asterisk: as-ter-isk, not as-ter-ik
  • alumnae: a-lum-nee, not a-lum-nay
  • archipelago: ar-ki-PEL-a-go, not arch-i-pel-a-go
  • athlete: ath-leet, not ath-a-leet
  • candidate: kan-di-dayt, not kan-i-dayt
  • chimera: kiy-MEER-a, not CHIM-er-a
  • disastrous: di-zas-tres, not di-zas-ter-es
  • electoral: e-LEK-tor-al, not e-lek-TOR-al
  • etcetera: et-set-er-a, not ek-set-er-a
  • lambaste: lam-bayst, not lam-bast
  • larvae: lar-vee, not lar-vay
  • library: li-brar-y, not li-bar-y
  • mischievous: MIS-che-vus, not mis-CHEE-vee-us
  • mispronunciation: mis-pro-nun-see-ay-shun, not mis-pro-nown-see-ay-shun
  • nuclear: noo-klee-ur, not noo-kyu-lur
  • nuptial: nup-shul, not nup-shoo-al
  • primer: (schoolbook) prim-mer, not pry-mer
  • picture: pik-cher, not pit-cher
  • prescription: prih-skrip-shun, not per-skrip-shun
  • prerogative: pre-rog-a-tive, not per-rog-a-tive
  • peremptory: per-emp-tuh-ree, not pre-emp-tuh-ree
  • probably: prob-a-blee, not pra-lee or prob-lee
  • Realtor: reel-ter, not ree-la-ter
  • supposedly: su-pos-ed-lee, not su-pos-ab-lee
  • spurious: spyoor-ee-us, not spur-ee-us
  • tenet: ten-it, not ten-unt
  • ticklish: tik-lish, not tik-i-lish
  • triathlon: try-ath-lon, not try-ath-a-lon

Read more: Commonly Mispronounced Words — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0907075.html#ixzz1M49d6rKj

The more tired you are the comfier it becomes, etc.

10 May

Have you noticed how much more comfortable that hard couch, thin futon, or feet-smelling carpet becomes when you’re very tired? The increase in comfiness is directionally proportional to how glorious it feels to close your eyes. Your body ceases to feel the springs poking into your sides; your senses fail to detect the lights and noises that might otherwise hinder sleep.

It makes me think of Lampy on Brave Little Toaster, plunking down on that rock for the night. Anybody!? As children’s movies often are, Brave Little Toaster (1987) was strange and somewhat disturbing, but I do have fond memories of watching it. And Lampy was my favorite.

Just one of those things.

Here’s a random peeve about traveling: I like pilots… especially when they tell jokes on the PA. But why do they insist on telling passengers what direction and speed the wind is blowing on the ground at the arrival destination? “Alright folks, sorry about the turbulence there. Better the plane be shaken than stirred – ha ha! We should be touching down in Sacramento in the next 30 minutes, where it’s a breezy 65 degrees. And get this: that breeze is coming from the northwest at 17 miles per hour!” Thank you, Captain Weathervane.