Thinking About Isms and Ignorance

I read this tweet and the following comments by the person who posted it and it reminded me of a thing I read some time ago about how trans women and people raised as boys eventually learn and see the institutionalized sexism that happens to women all the time. 

I kind of get it though, not noticing or not thinking about something as critically as you could until you experience it, and for a second I lamented there's no way this could be done for race. I can't think of a "this could happen to me" type of 'ah ha' moment that can happen to make racism better understood. I see instances of racism, modern and historic and I'm not surprised. 

I'm not surprised at proud white people posed beside a dead, lynched black person. Not in 18-whatever, not in 1957. It's like seeing groups of white people with shit eating grins in black face, I'm not surprised, just saddened each and every time that people aren't better. Seeing a color, instagram photo of dumbass white people in black, yellow, red face and other colored-face makes me angry but also sad that there's no way these people can ever really feel compassion for the people they're mocking and insulting. 

The closest is if we make it about them and that's not the same. 

I mean, I've heard people get so snitty and so pissed because someone's wearing a band shirt and they're "not a real fan" or about the concept of "fake geek girls" and "fake gamer girls". Titles of being a geek, a gamer, a fan of something are things you willingly put on and add to what you already were. And people get so defensive of the perceived "wrong person" giving themself attributes of something they like. But these selfsame people can't understand that when you dress up like something that a person can't change about themself and you're being insulting about it that it actually is harmful. 

I think I was also thinking about this because of that shitty Time article from this weekend when a college freshman went on and on about how he won't apologize for white privilege. He said some truly ignorant things but mostly addressed the hardships his grandparents had to overcome but never really addressed the aspects of his life that he had easy. His grandparents escaped Nazi-fied Europe and made it in America, made a business and started a family. His father worked too many hours and was barely around to see him as he grew up and he's not white privileged to be able to go to Princeton. I look at that and think about the loans his family was able to take out easier and with lower interest than what naturalized black Americans would have had access to. I look at the fact that he had both parents in the home and never made any mention of how much or little he saw his mother. Not that single parentness is a POC issue, but there'd be a different situation if there weren't a parent in the home when the other was at work. I also wonder how often he was a shitty kid in school and was never punished and what he himself accomplished with his own two hands and his brain to get into Princeton. I wonder if he was ever told "you speak good English" by people in his community, as if he shouldn't be able to. How often people ask and assume he's from a specific location because of his race and how he presents himself. He has lived a privileged life and it's disrespectful to just ignore it, it's disrespectful for the hell his grandparents lived through if he doesn't acknowledge that when they got to America they were playing the Game of Life with different handicaps than they had been playing with in Europe.

Crossdressers, trans people and I think even fe/male impersonators fall into a different category, they're not ridiculing and they can change who they are to a certain degree. You can't change your genetics or what ever biologic sex based medical diseases you may get. I don't know what it's like but I'm sure we need more trans positive doctors to help with pre-change health conditions that someone is still susceptible to. 

It's just maddening how difficult it is to educate someone who has never had to think about how complex the life of an Other is. Sex based discrimination can be seen and learned when someone changes who they are outwardly and society acts in kind. Race can't be learned as simply. Even going to a different country won't be the same because of old colonialism and Western domination. 

Thoughts on Sexual Assault

Edited Fem 4, 2014 Author's Note: At the bottom of the essay, in addition to rape and assault hotlines and websites I have added links with resources about domestic violence and getting help. 

I have never been assaulted, if I had I think I’d be open about it. I’m open about so many things, but I don’t know. I hope you’ll trust me that I’m being honest about this. There are so many reasons to lie.

I just read an article in the Washington Post about how a Notre Dame alumna isn't going to be supporting ND in some game on January 7th because they protect and defend their football players who have been accused of rape and assault. You can read the article here. I find that the school protects accused assailants in the ways identified to be horribly disgusting. I’ve seen different image projects pass through tumblr where an assault victim has written what they were told to say on a piece of poster board. 

The above images are from Project Unbreakable, the exact posts: "I'm Going to Fuck You" "C'mon...Nobody has to know..." "Stop Struggling"

These statements are all victim shaming which is also telling these people that their peace of mind is valued to be less than that of their assailant. These women are actively being told that they are less important and that they’re lying about being assaulted. These are the things that feminists and people are and should be fighting against. Institutions that protect someone accused of something. Institutions that drag their feet to find the truth about what happened to a potential victim. Institutions that grill and attack the victim on the witness stand and turn a blind eye to the wildly changing story from the assailant.

What about the women who lie? So fucking what? If a woman lies the truth will come out. If a man lies the truth should not be protected. It isn’t everywhere. I really did feel proud that at ODU they protect women. We take all of October, every year, to educate on sexual assault. There are little seminars and speakers against it. ODU has a sizable women’s center that works with women who have been assaulted to help them the best they can. ODU has persecuted at least two accused football players for sexual assault because the understand that college football is fleeting for most, the fallout from sexual assault isn’t. My university tries and when it fails and an assault happens they do what they can afterward to help. We are a little, moderately known public university in south eastern Virginia. We have a new football team that apparently has been doing quite well and bringing us notoriety. Our other major sports, before we had football (which has been around for only 3 years) were women’s basketball, men’s soccer and I think woman’s field hockey or lacrosse  I’m not a sports person, I don’t really care, but I do think it’s a big and fantastic thing that ODU works for victims as much as they do and that some of our biggest draws in sports were our women’s teams. That’s respect.

Thinking about what I learned about “why” sexual assault happened as a kid, in the glorious rainbow filled 90s that had the best cartoons, I remember kids in elementary or middle school saying that fat and ugly chicks should “ just lay back and enjoy it, it was the only way they were going to have sex”. That is an incredibly ugly, hateful and poorly educated sentiment and it’s horrifying that children thought this about assault. It’s showing a lack of understanding about how adults go after sex to begin with, but also showing how little respect women had that they should accept and expect to have no choice in how they were going have sex. It’s also an interesting dichotomy of adulthood where the hateful statement is that “she deserved it for dressing how she was/being where she was/being alone etc”.  That dehumanizes a woman in one of the worse ways imaginable and it’s saying that men have no control over their sexual urges. Both of these faulty statements take the responsibility of the assault away from the assailant and put it on the victim. That is never right. If we lived in a country where we were truly past ‘feminism’ and it wasn’t a thing that people worked for and identified with as a social statement then falsehoods like those would never be uttered. There wouldn’t be an assumed statement that the victim of sexual assault deserved it to any extent. There wouldn’t be the heaping of responsibility onto women on whether or not a sexual experience was going to happen or not. If we lived in a truly post feminist world victim blaming, shaming and quieting wouldn’t happen. Victims of assault would not be afraid to point out the accused. Hell, if we lived in a truly post feminist world and everyone was humanist wanted equality for everyone, maybe sexual assault wouldn’t happen. Maybe no one would be pressured into a situation they didn’t want to be in and the party that wanted a sexual experience would back off and find a willing partner or handle it on their own.

Both of those statements involve an unhealthy relationship and understand of sex what all parties involved are expected. The first one shows that men will fuck anything and they don’t care about what their partner wants. That’s incredibly selfish. The second says that but it’s also saying that men have a right to sex whenever they want it and that women need to be punished for showing too much skin. The second statement says that women are just walking sex toys for any interested penis and if every penis is interested then her vagina is theirs for the taking. But really what’s worst about both of these is that it’s reducing all factors involved in a sexual experience to a dehumanizing base where men have no control over themselves, effectively ever if they will equally rape a ‘fat/ugly girl’ and a ‘scantily clad hot girl’. This thinking also says that women have no say over their bodies and that they exist solely for the pleasure of men and that women have no interest in sex. 

That’s all just me thinking about an entirely unwanted sexual situation and not considering other ways for people to get to a sexual situation and maybe wanting it for a while then changing their minds. That’s allowed. Either party can change their mind and any time. I never wrote out any hypothetical situations that could lead to an unwanted sexual situation because I don’t think it’s necessary that I make those up when there are real accounts of assault that can be found and read online.

I have kept to the more common male attacking female situation but understand that men do have control over their faculties, as much as they jokingly deny it, and they can be assaulted. The body will react to stimulus that the brain doesn’t approve of, that is not consent for either sex. Women can be sexual predators and that is never right. It doesn't happen or isn’t reported as often but it can happen. And after that, there is unwanted homosexual assault that happens. There is never a right time to blame a victim for their proclivities, their fetish, their sex, gender, age, race, orientation, fashion choices and especially their sobriety.

There are many resources online for information on what to do in instances of sexual assault and my favorite anti-assault program I’ve ever heard that works to educate young men that assault is wrong and they should use their strength to protect women and make them feel safe and not to abuse them.

I know I used 'assault' more often than 'rape' and polite euphemisms don't really make things better, but this was a time I felt more comfortable with the euphemism.

Reference and Help
---
More from Project Unbreakable here
If you are struggling, RAINN has a free, confidential, 24/7 sexual assault hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE(4673). or online -
  Online
Similar to Project Unbreakable, It Happens Here
Laurie Penny sharing her story of assault
Societal Attitudes About Rape - Stats and numbers
Men Can Stop Rape - I mentioned this for a moment in the last paragraph above. This organization works with young men to educate them on not raping people, and not just on avoiding getting raped. That is one of the most important and biggest things that can be done to be a rape deterrent 
Title IX - the cause of many of the assault problems on colleges
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips
An old essay of mine: American Sex Culture

Edit: Feb 4, 2014

Verizon Wireless: Hopeline -- Karen Ogden informed me about this program through Verizon which works to get help to women, people though, in abusive situations. By proving phones to people who are in danger but have no safe way of getting help, hopefully more victims can break out of he dangerous life they had and get to safety.

Helpguide - This site has information from psychologists for getting help with depression, anxiety, abuse, family issues, weight change, and others. Here for Abused Women - Here for Abused Men

National Guide for locating women's shelters

Oprah's Domestic violence resources

Shelter for Help in Emergency

Safe Horizon - various types of abuse assistance

National domestic violence hotline - help understand if you're being abused and how to get help and move to a safer situation.

 

Sun Salutation for the Somnambulant

Hello, 

This is my first blog here. I'm new to maintaining this site but I can point you to some cool things I have. If you click on the 100 Days link you'll go to the old Blogger site that will still be updated until I get all of my old comics back here. Also above is my sketch blog which is different from my art portfolio (this site) in that things get posted there as I do them and they're generally mediocre cell phone photos and not pretty scans. 

I do plan on maintaining a blog here, I don't have the time right now to get that fully underway and get to writing things for here but that will be booming soon because I'm wordy and have thing thing where I over share. 

I plan on adding a few more pages to this soon including a list of webcomics I read, podcasts I listen to and other things from the Internet that I enjoy including Internet Indie artists and web shows. I will probably talk book and movie here a lot, and of course I'll talk about what I'm working on. 

Art progress: I have my senior art show coming up November 2, 2012 and I will be printing the first 12 pages of 100 Days 2012, Lawrence's Dairy chapter 1 and Cinema chapter 1. I have all 12 pages of 100 Days penciled waiting to be inked, markered and scanned. The first 5 pages of Lawrence's Diary are penciled and are waiting inking and colors and I haven't started final pencils on Cinema yet, I'm doing my second edit of the script and transferring the scrip to thumbnails. My plan it to start coloring pages by the end of next week if not sooner. 

Now that i've started I want to just talk about everything. I've had it in my mind about how I care about things, what I care about and how much I care. I was told by one person that I'm caring and by another that I don't care. It's interesting but that's for another post how both of those are concurrently true. I also think I want to talk book a little, I may wait until after SPX for that. And glass. I want to talk glass a lot, it's my newest acquiring skill set so it's always on the brain. somnombulant 

But I must go, I have plans on dying my hair before class tonight and tomorrow I go to SPX and between now and next week some homework I have magically gets done. No clue with me being at a convention that is far more interesting than researching glass artists or figure artists. I mean, I love gathering information like that but comics and meeting people I've only spoken with online? Come on, how can it compare. This weekend is an adventure! Homework has nothing on an adventure.