Labels

Greetings, well met, all that rot. Hope all are well today! I’ve decided to touch on a subject that’s way up there in importance to me — Labels, and specifically, how they can create and/or enhance divisiveness. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m referring to “Labels” with the following description (thanks, MW!):

Label: A descriptive or identifying word or phrase

Labels are important; they help us understand the world around us, and they help us communicate. In fact, without labels and their application, we’d probably be completely unable to communicate. I mean, let’s say I want to tell you about my trip to the ocean. How would I describe it without labeling aspects of it? I could label the water as smooth and calm, or rough and choppy; blue, or green, or red with plankton. If I were to talk about a tree, and its lovely drooping branches, would you know what kind of tree I was talking about without me saying it’s a Live Oak, as opposed to say a Weeping Willow? So, labels can and are used as descriptions, adjectives if you will. In this form of their usage, they’re not the least bit divisive!

But then we have to start looking at the labels we apply, to ourselves, and to others. For instance, I see myself as largely conservative, simply because I believe that the government needs to stay the heck outta my home, my bedroom, my wallet (except for infrastructure, thanks!), and my morality. But because I’m also friends with many people who identify themselves as gay, or queer, or male, or female, or trans, or gender-neutral; in other words, if you didn’t know the parts about my preference for small government, you’d think I was incredibly liberal.

Then, let’s talk about those people I mentioned above. You know, the ones who’re labeled as “deviant” because their sexual preferences and/or gender identification are “abnormal.” So already, in just my second paragraph, I’ve touched on the labeling of people due to sexual preference and gender identification. This is a really key important part of this entire writing, right here, folk; when we seek to identify people on these issues, rather than as a facet of who and what they are, we dehumanize them.

Read that last sentence over again.

All of a sudden these human beings have been devalued and are placed in a position of “less than” or “worse than” I am. Wanna chat politics? Look at the increasing furor in our country over the last decade or so. No subject is undivided, and hate-speech, nasty names, and those horrid epithets “Filthy liberal” and “Bible-thumping conservative” are flung about willy-nilly. So a woman who is pro-life is derided for a belief she holds dear and a woman who chooses abortion is derided for making a choice she felt was necessary but others morally object to. Wanna chat class-separation? Anyone in a suit is “The Man” while anyone not in a suit is a lazy bum who’s not willing to do the work to get a “real job.” Wanna chat racism? Anyone who’s not my skin color is automagically less human than I am. Wanna chat sexism? Anyone not sharing my gender is obviously unable to compete — all men are pigs and all women whores, right?

Are you seeing the point I’m making here? There are literally thousands of ways we can apply labels to people that will allow us to feel a sense of superiority, and allow us to treat those around us as “lesser.” Now, why on earth would anyone want to do that? Weeelllll … let’s do a bit of ‘sploring, shall we? Let’s assume I’m insecure, and I don’t want anyone else to know it. I can either A) pretend to be secure and confident until I feel secure or confident, or B) bring you down a notch or two so I can feel less insecure about my own place in the world.

Now, let’s explore our society a little bit. It can’t be overlooked or forgotten that we began our societal urges when we were hunter-gatherers; someone, somewhere, figured out that people went hungry less if people worked together to actually build communities centered around mutual support and, of course, farming! So we went from straight-up competition; being a better hunter/gatherer/food producer, etc, to cooperation; working together to meet more peoples’ needs than just our own, or our immediate family group.

But we never lost that competitive spirit, now did we? Rather than having to out-produce that other hunter, though, our competition now took on the form of city-states aligned against other city-states, or communities, or whatever you want to call it. Yes, I’m glossing over vast amounts of history here, but there’s one common theme I think needs to be made here, and that common theme seems, to me, to be competition. If we can’t compete individually, then we compete as groups. And in order to compete as groups, we must dehumanize the other group. Those other people on the far side of the valley? They have apples growing over there, and we don’t have apples! Forget the fact that we never initiated direct trade with them — we want their apples! So, what kind of labels can we apply to them that will make attacking them and taking their apples more palatable? They’re vicious apple-hoarding jerks who won’t just give over their bounty to us! We must take it, and to take it, we need as many of our people riled up about the apple-hoarding; the easiest way to sway popular opinion is to provide information, or misinformation, that supports your policies and goals.

So, how does that apply to today? Well, let’s look at some of the labels people use to divide themselves from others:

I regularly hear men — and women! — referring to other women as bitches, hos, psycho-bitches, bimbos, twats, and more. So my question to this is if this is now common usage, what do we expect our daughters to think of themselves if they grow up hearing their gender referred to this way? Further, when it’s common to refer to oneself in this manner, how do we not think it’s going to impact the way we, and everyone around us, sees us?

I regularly hear alternative lifestylers referred to as confused, queer, deviant, perverted, and other such epithets. Again, question: How are these labels not intended to strip away commonalities and instead parade forth differences? Further, to parade forth these differences as though they make the person less, somehow?

I regularly hear the label “entitled” bandied about to refer to men or, more specifically, white men. That, again, sets them apart from “us,” because we’ve never been entitled in our lives, now have we? Obviously Mr. Entitled-White-Dude should be made to feel guilty for things he’s never even taken part of, just because he’s different than I am.

It goes on … and on, and on, and on. I could probably come up with a veritable plethora of labels and appellations that different groups have for each other — or I can ask you, what’s your favorite one to use? Stop and really think about that. I mean, even me, who’s super aware of the ways in which labels can be used to cause harm — even I’m known to call people “idiots” when I’m driving and having to endure them! Bottom line is that those instances are, in fact, ways to separate myself from the “sheep” around me and thus indicate I’m better than them. Smarter, more open-minded, a better thinker, a better driver … you get the idea, right?

So what’s the answer? How about something really simple. How about, when we meet anyone, we reserve judgement on them beyond “Human.” Oh, wait, we can’t help but notice that they’re male or female, right? Ummmm … sometimes, actually. Sometimes that dude you’re chatting with may in fact be a chick, or vice verse. So why not just start with “Human.” Oh, then? How about how they’re presenting themselves? If someone’s presenting as a woman? Treat her as a woman! If someone presents as a man? Same thing, treat him as a guy! It really is that easy. You see, the judgement of who or what a person is comes from our end, not usually theirs. If a male identifies strongly as a female and dresses that way, why should I treat her any differently than a biologically-born female? Is it because it defies my sense of what’s right and correct? Probably. And that’s where the judgement first enters the scene: “I wouldn’t tolerate that in my children!” or “What, you’re so confused you can’t figure out what gender you are?” or “Oh, you dress like a woman, so you must be a fag.”

In short, the ability to label things, and then relegate them to lesser status due to those labels is what allows hate-speech. It is what allows us to willfully cause harm to others; if they were more like us, we wouldn’t want to, but since they march to a different tune, they’re less than me. So it’s perfectly acceptable to perpetrate outrage against them.

It begins with that first drive to make ourselves better, or feel better, folk. It goes from there to being a tool used to divide our society, and it ends in a sense of dissociation from anyone who’s not “like me” or “like my people”. And if we allow it to continue, it will absolutely rip our society apart.

Start looking at your peers as humans, first. Explore them from that perspective. What’s their favorite color? Their hopes, their dreams? What are the things that are important to them? Can we find commonality, or do we desire to be superior to this person? Why or why not?

Each individual interaction can be its own individual interaction; me talking with Joe can be a different conversation than me talking with Bryan, simply because while Joe & Bryan are both men, they’re radically different men, and they have very different lifestyles and lives and histories. If I just label them both as “men” or “scumbuckets” or “dogs” because they both have danglies between their legs, then I’ve chosen to absolutely disregard all the wonderful things each one brings to the table. I’ve chosen to assume that they’re going to act and react the same to issues, just because of those danglies.

For me? Even though I do slip, and yes, I admit, driving’s the worst time for that for me; but even though I do slip, I still prefer the joy of getting to know each and every human I meet and interact with as that person, not as some label I feel safe applying to them.

That actually does take more effort … but it’s also immensely more rewarding! Further? It’s less destructive to this community we live within. Our current society, you know? It’s broke, but it’s not irreparably broken. It can be fixed … if enough of us care enough to step up and start doing the work to fix it. In my mind, one of the very first habits we must break is seeing others as less-than. And that means changing how we allow ourselves to see, and name, others.

“I’m Only One Person”

This has been on my mind for a while, but recently it seems to have come to the forefront. Yep, you guessed it; another week when what I thought I was going to write was completely blown away by what decided it wanted to be written. I think I may just have to throw my plan out the window, ya know?

Anyway, on to the topic. This came up largely due to my determination to recycle as much as I possibly can. Our garbage only needs to be pulled to the curb about once every two weeks, but we’re seriously considering getting another recycle bin, as what we have doesn’t seem to keep up with what we’re committing to be reused.

I do not, and will not, purchase water bottles, or a water delivery service. Brita pitcher and Camelbak and Healthy Human are your friends, people! Yes, you gotta wash’em, but seriously, is that that big a deal? I even went a step further, though. No, not getting rid of toilet paper — just eww — but I did get rid of paper towels and disposable napkins in our household. I additionally tossed out or gave away any of the wipes that’re used to clean surfaces. I don’t use disposable make-up remover pads, or any of that. I bought cloth napkins (can be washed and reused — yay!), and I use washcloths in the bathroom for my face cleaning. For overall cleaning, I use what I grew up using — old rags that are fallin’ apart but dang, they surely do work well, and again, they can be washed. You don’t want to know the turmoil that erupted in our house when I told the hubs that we weren’t going to be using paper towels for most stuff anymore. To say he was displeased by this loss of convenience is an understatement. However, he’s a good guy; I’ve learned to expect his displeasure when I spring changes on him, and he learns that it ain’t so bad as he thought it was.

Anyway. Back to the topic at hand. So, I’m a recycle queen … sorta. Localized recycle queen, perhaps. I have friends over so I can feed them (I’m also a from-scratch cook and I absolutely love feeding loved ones!). One friend, we’ll call her A, commented about not knowing if she should use the cloth napkins as she didn’t want to mess them up. I shrugged, said “They can be washed,” and didn’t think anything of it. A little later someone else said something, and I responded that I was doing as much as I could to keep trash out of landfills and out of the ocean. A responded with “You know, I’ve thought about that, but I’m just one person, and I don’t think my contribution is gonna make that much difference.”

To say I was blown away by this is an understatement; you see, A is extremely leftist, and I’d have thought she’d be riding the recycle bandwagon, too. But even more than that was the sense that, if most of our society views things this way about recycling, what else do they view that way?

So let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s imagine that each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of waste per day (for the source, clicky here). Now to put that in perspective, an average-sized bag of sugar weighs five pounds. So, each human, each day, is producing and throwing away just under that amount of waste. That adds up to about 132 pounds of garbage per month, or 1,606 pounds of garbage, every single year. Now, to take this game a bit further, let’s assume a conservative average lifespan of 50 years. That adds up to 80,300 pounds of garbage, per person, per 50-year lifespan. That is just over 40 tons; to give you a visual, that means that one 18-wheeler, fully loaded and including the cab, is going to be the size of the garbage produced by each American, each and every single day.

Conversely, of that 4.4 pounds of garbage, only 1.51 pounds, per day, gets recycled. So, back to the mathing:

  • 1.51 pounds recycled per month = 45.3 pounds recycled per month
  • 1.51 pounds recycled per year = 551.15 pounds recycled per year
  • 1.51 pounds recycled over 50 years = 27,557.5 pounds recycled per lifespan
  • 80,300 – 27,557.5 = 52,442.5 pounds of garbage still getting thrown in landfills and wherever else someone thinks it’s convenient to throw it, per person, per lifetime

So the lifetime current average for recycling is 27.5k pounds, while throw-away garbage is around 52,742.5 pounds, or just over 1/3 of that 18-wheeler I mentioned. The current population in the United States, as of 15 October 2018 (click me!) is 327,426,301 people. This adds up to 1,440,675,724.4 pounds (yes, that first number is in the BILLIONS place) of garbage produced, every single day. Seriously, I can’t even fathom anything that big. To put that in perspective, an Airbus A380, currently the world’s largest passenger jet, weighs in at just over 1.1 million pounds. To really get a good visual, it would take 1,000 of these airplanes to equal the amount of waste produced in America per day.

Now, in light of that? A was absolutely correct. I, as one person, can’t even begin to make a dent in that amount. Really, what’s my paltry little amount gonna do? However, I also realized when I began this recycling venture that it didn’t matter to me what everyone else did; I could and would limit the amount of garbage I provided to greedy landfills and dumping grounds in the oceans. I would choose to be responsible for limiting my addition to that amount.

You know, I just gotta stop here a moment and ask people — where the heck do you really think it all goes? Seriously. Furthermore, for all of you who don’t want the landfills in your precious neighborhoods — how much do you recycle to eliminate this necessity?

Anyway. The point of all the above is to open eyes to reality, not to talk about recycling. You see, we do all think “I’m only one person,” and we do all find it futile to enact a lasting lifestyle change because it’s inconvenient, and it doesn’t matter anyway because no one else is doing it. But just think a moment, seriously. If we just got our recycling up to 50% per day, not around 34%, we’d be making an impact. If we got it up even higher, it would be more of an impact. Duh, obvious, right?

So let’s turn that thinking around a bit to some other issues. I mean, let’s look at the current political turmoil. Our country is under the thumb of a two-party system that has a lot of noisy people yelling and carrying on about the rightness of their party, and the absolute stupidity and lack of morals of the other party. But I did some more research, and here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Current U.S. population is around 327,426,301 people
  • Of those 327 million or so people, approximately 2,711,000 people work for the Federal Government; these are separate from members of the Executive Branch
  • The Executive Branch of our government employs a little over 4 million people, including Active Duty Military Personnel
  • Combined, our Federal Government is comprised of about 6,711,000 people; this is 2.04% of our current population

All of this information can be found on Google; there are variations in data, and sometimes trying to get good information from multiple sources is hair-raising at best. I invite you to do your own research.

Anyway. Why did I make this point?

Because I’m so tired of all of us feeling helpless. I’m so tired of all the noisy people, of either side, screaming and shouting and calling names and carrying on as though the end of the world would arrive without their input. I’m further sick unto death of the division that’s eating up our country. I’m old enough to remember when our political parties actually still pretended they were counter-balancing each other, rather than showing that politics has become nothing more now than favor-mongering. Each politician gives something up to gain something, and all the while they each continue to use words and commit to actions that enhance, rather than soothe, the divisiveness that’s ripping our country apart. Disagree with me? Honestly, I’d dearly love to hear something to convince me that this isn’t true!

So, what are the answers? I don’t know, actually. I do know that our two-party system is failing. I do know that people are screaming for congressional limits. I do know that people are tired of watching our educational systems get trammeled in the name of pinching pennies. I do know that we’re tired of working harder for less money; of having to downsize because the house payment we used to be able to make, we can’t anymore. I know that our entire governmental system has become bloated, and with that bloat, it has become nearly ineffective at doing anything other than keeping itself in business.

I do also know that the majority of the United States public are quiet; they’re not the ones who have screaming matches on Facebook with their peers. They’re not the ones who march in protest. They’re not the ones who look at others and think “I’m better than you because I belong to the ‘correct’ party.” Rather, they’re the ones who march back and forth to and from work, every day, so they can have a home and food on the table for themselves and their families. They are the ones who quietly go about doing good as they can, helping out friends, neighbors, their community. They’re the ones who duck under the radar, making sure their kids are fed, reasonably well-behaved and educated, and reasonably well-focused on their communities.

These aren’t the people we all hear about, we all read about. These are, if you will, the salt-of-the-earth people, the ones who make our country great, because they keep working, they keep purchasing what they need, boosting our economy. They keep paying their taxes. Are they happy? They’re people, lol! Some are, some aren’t. Some would love to see change, some are happy with their little worlds. But each of them, if tasked with figuring out how to “fix our country,” to bring back the values that it was built on — you know, a government of the people, by the people, for the people — would probably do the same thing I do; shake their heads, roll their eyes, and exclaim “Holy cow, I don’t even know where to start!”

Or, they might say what A said: “I’m only one person. What difference will my efforts make?”

And this is the crux of the entire ramble you’ve just (hopefully) waded through.

We, individually, are only one person. Individually, we cannot effect change on a societal level, only a local (very local) level. Individually we cannot stand against any form of governmental corruption. Individually, we cannot produce the common-sense state of government that is required in order to keep us from imploding.

Collectively, however? Collectively, to begin with, we outnumber those who’re currently sitting in those positions of power; and we have the power of our vote. We can, at the community level, come together and start asking for common-sense approaches to the issues that currently are so very divisive. As communities, we can hold our elected representatives accountable for their actions. As communities, we can enact change on a societal level that can improve the lives of every single American. We can stop hunger, we can stop rampant spending, we can bring jobs and job satisfaction back to our shores. We can, in fact, do anything we want to — if we act collectively. If each and every one of us “quiet ones” steps up and assumes responsibility for our own futures and, more importantly, for the futures of our children.

Honestly, people. Reread the history of our country. We were founded not as a democracy, but as a republic. Why? Because our founding fathers knew that “popular votes” could be swayed by rhetoric, and so they put systems in place to keep that from happening. In fact, as it was originally envisioned, our country was not intended to be “ruled” by parties at all; the founding fathers did not want party systems, as they knew where that could ultimately lead. Where it has led, and where we are now; parties who exist solely to keep themselves in existence, and in power, and wreck the systems that were put in place for our benefit, not theirs.

This isn’t a call for revolution, per se. It is rather a call to wake up. Stand up, shake the sleep outta your body, and start looking around. Ask yourself; whether it’s about recycling, or about our current state of living — is this what you really want your children to grow up with? Is this the legacy we believe we should leave our children, just because it’s inconvenient to get involved?

Being a Woman in America, Today

So … take 5. Honestly, I have had an arc in my mind for this blog. I was going to start out with personal “tips & tricks” that everyone can employ in your own lives, so you’re less-at-risk of being taken advantage of, and more at risk of finding your own personal happiness; then I was going to move toward addressing social issues that we might be able to work together to change. I have about four or five blogs pre-written in my head at any one time. Yesterday, I went through four before I threw in the towel; no matter what I wanted (or thought I wanted) to write about, the words just wouldn’t show up. These lovely blogs I’ve had dancing in my head forever just — poof! — vanished. I pushed back from the desk, decided to walk away and wait for this morning so I could figure out what was wanting to be written.

Last night, sitting on the deck with the hubs, the above title popped in my head. I groaned, then decided to just do it and so … here we are. This is going to break the arc; don’t worry, I plan on resuming it shortly. But seriously, what kind of SJW would I be if I let the events of this past week go unremarked?

To begin, I want it understood that I don’t much care which side of the political divide you feel you need to defend or represent. However, I work with, and correspond with, and personally know many many women for whom this past week has been traumatic and painful, bringing back all the horror and fear and pain of past issues which have been dragged back out into the light. I actually have a very strong opinion about all of this, which I’ll get to toward the end of the blog.

So, to begin! What I’ve (had) decided (for me) to do today is write about the women I know. The women who share their lives with me; the women whose hopes, dreams, and fears I’ve been privileged enough to learn, to encourage, and to help put to rest.

For this particular blog I’m going to give some demographic information so that you can fully understood the perspective I’m writing from. First of all, I was raised as pure white trash. I currently (with my husband) live at a low-to-middle middle class level — or maybe we’re considered working class? — we have enough money to have a comfortable home, pay bills, eat well; not enough to really travel or buy fancy cars or anything like that. We sometimes find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck; we need cars that won’t fall apart if the bubblegum disintegrates, and honestly, I’d really love a vacay. Just sayin’.

I am a natural-born woman. I say this because my experiences only include the female perspective. I can commiserate and sympathize with men, but I can’t understand the world through your eyes cuz, like, ya know … I ain’t got the right equipment, and never have had. So the views you will see are the views of a woman who’s been female all her life, and identifies very strongly as a female.

History – Me & My family

I’m going to start with my mother, since she was the first woman I knew. My mother, who was horribly abused (translate, raped regularly) by brothers, uncles, grandfather, step-father … you name it. She met and seduced my father when she was 15, getting pregnant with me at 16 and delivering me at 17.

Next, naturally, I must speak of myself. Myself who was beaten and severely abused by both parents. Interestingly enough, in my life, it wasn’t my father who was my primary abuser, it was my mother. Sexual as well as physical and emotional; her love language only knew one means of expression, sadly. At 14, I was raped by a friends’ uncle. When I became pregnant, my father flew home from S. Korea, where he was stationed, and informed me that his whore daughter would not be delivering a bastard child in his household. I could have an abortion or I could go live in a home for unwed mothers. I had an abortion. I won’t talk about that, or the aftermath.

Later I married a man who told me “Hey, I know you have issues, but I’m a man, and I have needs. You’re my wife, so it’s your job to take care of those needs.” This, when I was trying to work my way through a lifetime of heinous abuse. The last therapist I worked with, around 2010/2011, was shocked as I was relating some of what I grew up with. Her jaw dropped, her face became pained, and she asked me, “You do realize that what you’re talking about would, by most countries, be considered torture, right?” But thats ok, hubby dear; I’ll put my issues to the side and spread my legs for ya. I mean, you’re “The Man” in the house, right?

From Husband #1 I went to the single life for a couple of years, then met someone and got involved with him. Throughout our relationship, I was constantly chided for being too fat. Now, he wasn’t all that attractive himself, but the burden of a happy relationship obviously fell on me, because I was female and too fat.

From there I got myself involved with a man who took pride (not when we met, not for two years) in being a sadist. Specifically a sexual sadist, and if you don’t know exactly what that means, you can read this; in short, it’s not about deviant sexual practices but rather, deriving sexual pleasure from mental, physical and/or sexual torture of another person. I survived 10 years with that man; I didn’t escape unscathed. It’s taken me about eight years, now, to move past the damage he inflicted, but every day is further away from that time, and it just gets better.

In between all this, I found myself attacked, physically, by men on three occasions. Once, when I was seeking to protect a friend who was being targeted by two guys who were bound and determined to have fun with her in the parking lot, after she left the bar we were hanging out in (I was driving her home). Once, by someone who thought he was God’s gift to me, and all I had to do was lay there and let him prove it. Never mind the fact that I kept trying to walk away, and walk away, and walk away … the third time by a guy I was dating. We’d been out that night, then came back to my place and sang songs together while he strummed his guitar. Lovely, wonderful evening; until he tried to pick me up and carry me to the bedroom, and I protested. My house took a beating; we won’t talk about him, or me.

None of the above incidents got reported to the police. My familial abuse I actually did report when I was hospitalized as a teen; from there, we had family group meetings before we met with counselors, where I was coached very carefully on what I could and could not discuss. The rape by my friends’ uncle wasn’t reported because my parents didn’t want to believe it was rape; my father was out of the country at that time, and my mother was out bar-hopping with her bestie the night it happened. So, believing it was rape might be a tad inconvenient. The first husband? What’s to report; he was just “being a man,” right? He didn’t actually force himself on me … and my second husband? Did I mention he’s also really really smart, and a classic narcissist? In short, everything that I did during our marriage (except of course for the date-rape drugs he fed me, which I cannot prove) could be said to have been my own choice. The three other occasions? I can hear it now: “If you (or your friend) hadn’t been giving off the wrong signals this wouldn’t have happened” or “If you had been at home where you belonged …”

My sister was beaten regularly by her first real boyfriend, the father of her two children. Beyond that I don’t know; she was eight years my junior and we operated in separate spheres. Further she was killed when she was 30; at that time, she’d been in prison, back out, fought a custody battle for her kids across the nation, then worked 2-3 jobs at a time as well as putting herself through school. There were things we discussed … and things we didn’t.

My cousin was raped by her father; when she talked about it, she was told she was making it up. He later married another woman, and was reported for rape/molestation of her daughters. He was cleared of the charges because the daughters were afraid to testify.

My youngest daughter was date-raped when she was 15. A male friend picked her up, took her for a ride (many many miles away from the house), then told her “If you want me to drive you back home, have sex with me.” She was too far away from home to even know where she was, and this was before cell phones were prevalent. She was utterly at his mercy. She never reported it because she believed that she “consented.”

My oldest daughter? I think, and I hope, she made it through without all of this. But so far, just in my family, we’re talking about five of six women who’ve lived through physical and/or emotional and/or sexual abuse, all within one family unit. We’re talking three generations, but a common thread exists that crosses the generations to wreak havoc on our lives.

My friends

Alrighty, on to other women in my friend circle. We have P, beaten and raped throughout her childhood; when she spoke to her parents about it she was ordered to keep it hush-hush. Her abusers were family and non-family; she was essentially “passed around.”

We have D, whose second husband tried to cut her daughter out of her womb when she was eight months pregnant with her. Her daughter, now 12, will carry forever the scar on her back, which she received from that event. D was seen in the hospital, obviously; when she told the medical staff and later the police what happened, it became her word against his. He was never charged for assault with a deadly weapon, with attempted murder of mother and child.

We have D2, who was out with a girlfriend a couple years ago. Girlfriend went to get the car and pull it around while D2 paid the bill; by the time D2 got outside, she found her girlfriend bent over the car, her panties down around her ankles, with a man about to rape her. D2 clubbed him, got him off her friend, and got them both in the car and to safety. This was never reported because D2 didn’t know if she caused serious harm to the rapist; he wasn’t moving when she left. She was afraid she’d be charged with assault or, possibly, murder.

We have V who, at 14, was in a foster home with her sister, after her father “sold” them to a couple who then abandoned them. V ended up making a deal with the father; you see, he was being inappropriate with her then-12-year-old sister, who had MD. She would do anything he wanted, as long as he left her sister alone. This was never reported because he was, in her mind, someone that the government “gave” her and her sister to, and obviously if the government approved of him, then reporting him wouldn’t do any good.

We have O, who lived as straight-and-narrow a life as you could possibly imagine, who was raped by an acquaintance’s boyfriend during a wedding rehearsal/reception. They were in a hotel when the lights went off and stayed off; he took advantage of the situation. She never reported it because she was too ashamed, and because she knew the reputation this male enjoyed. She did not feel that she would be believed.

We have P2, who lived in an abusive marriage for 24 years. He terrorized her, threatened to kill her and her children, and was an all-around bad dude. When she talked to family and friends about what she was living with, they scoffed at her. “He’s a good man,” they told her. “You just need to work on being a better wife.”

We have D3, a professional bartender as well as the director of a county government HR department. A year ago she was out with friends; she knows all the tricks. Somehow, she still ended up roofied, her phone and wallet taken while she was left behind a bar miles away from the last place she recalled being. So far as she knows, the phone and wallet being taken was all that happened to her; but she doesn’t know for sure that she wasn’t assaulted. She believes she wasn’t — I mean, no physical aches and pains indicating she was — but she doesn’t know what they did or did not do to her.

What’s It All Mean?

The point I wanted to make with the above information is two-fold. First of all, of the women I know, most of us have suffered some form of abuse, at least once in our lives, at the hands of a man. Secondly, the ones who actually did report (or have it reported due to circumstances) were not believed, were not given the ability to see their transgressors punished. Not one of the cases above, including the woman who nearly had a baby cut out of her womb was believable enough for the police or law enforcement officials to charge, much less prosecute. So next time you wanna ask “Why wait,” re-read what I’ve written out here for you above. Seriously — why report? Until our country adopts a stance that doesn’t put the blame for rape and physical assault on the woman’s shoulders, what good does it do for us to report? If we’re young, we’re already terrified; who’s going to believe us? Most of our perpetrators actually play off of that. “I’m a nurse/doctor/police officer/high-level manager/blah blah blah. No one’s gonna believe you over me!” So, is it inconceivable that women will refuse to report, when we know women who have reported, and have seen nothing come of it?

But that’s not really the point I want to make, either. All the above? It’s been laying ground work so that I can make the point I want to make. That point is simple:

If women keep on tearing apart other women for political reasons then we will never be able to achieve any parity in justice for the crimes committed against us.

Divided We Fall

Our country currently has two major sources of news: So-called “legitimate” news brokers, and Social Media. I say so-called “legitimate” because it’s nearly impossible to watch the news, nowadays, without seeing information related to “What’s trending?” in Social Media. Seems there’s a huge crossover, but that’s a blog for another time.

What I’ve seen this past week is partisanship that has created a gulf, a chasm, between women. On one hand, we have “The Conservatives” falling in line with the party rhetoric because, well, they’re “The Conservatives.” Anything that indicates harm to anyone in their party must be met and challenged, regardless of whether we have suffered through it ourselves. On this line of the divide, we have women proudly denouncing Dr. Ford, because “I lived through terrible stuff, but I didn’t come crying about it 36 years later!”

On the other side, we have those nasty, stinking “Liberals” who’re just hell-bent on doing anything to keep another yucky Conservative outta the Judge’s seat. They’ll lie, they’ll obfuscate, and they’ll make up stories just to keep a nominee from getting nominated.

Seriously. These are pretty much the views we carry about other women, based solely on what we believe their political affiliations are. Now, I don’t really consider myself as belonging to either party; I absolutely consider myself standing outside of the rhetoric. Further, neither party currently in power is willing to do what’s right, rather seeking to do what’s convenient; for themselves, for the power they’re building, for their party’s ability to help them grow that power. Until this changes, I cannot back either party. Elections are fun; I have to actually be more educated about where people stand, so I can try to make the best choice possible for the outcome I wish to see. I consider myself conservative, but mainly because my views are simple: The government needs to keep itself out of my home. Out of my bedroom, out of my pocket-book (for anything beyond infrastructure). Out of my business, unless I do something that brings harm to another person. This means I don’t think the government should be legislating morality. I further don’t believe the government should be constantly delving into my pocketbook to pay for programs that are useless — and prove themselves useless and open to manipulation regularly. I am seen, however, as being liberal, because I absolutely refuse to think of people as anything more than people. I don’t care if they’re black, white, foreign, national, gay, straight, transgendered … whatever. I don’t care. The things I care about are their actions toward me, and toward other people. There really isn’t a party for people like me … yet.

The point that I really want to make here is that, almost across the board, the women I’ve listed above (friends, not my immediate family) are like me. It’s not that we’re apolitical; it’s that we have lives to live, and current politics just don’t really do anything for us. We are, largely, lower- and middle-middle-class people. We are more interested in the fact that prices for services and products keep going up, while we keep getting so-called “Merit Raises” of 2.5% or less. We generally have 1-2 children per household, until families blend and remarry and then who knows what you end up with? We want schools that teach our children, not try to reeducate them. We want to eat food that doesn’t poison us. We want to be able to afford to put our kids in extracurricular activities, without breaking the bank to do so. We want to stop seeing ourselves having to work more and more, just to afford less and less, every year. We are enraged that corporations and government are keeping in place a system where the rich keep getting richer, and the not-rich keep getting poorer … regardless of how bloody hard we work.

We also, desperately, want to see our home, our country, change direction. We want to live without fearing that opening our mouths will cause us to be reviled. We want equity in treatment; that doesn’t mean we want more or better treatment than our male counterparts have. It just means we don’t want to live in fear. We don’t want to raise our daughters to be afraid. We don’t want to have to continue going to work, knowing our male counterpart who is doing the exact same job and has the exact same time in service is making more money than we make. We want to not be harassed professionally or personally by our male counterparts. We want to be seen as exactly what we are — human beings worthy of being treated with grace, dignity, respect, and courtesy. You know, the opposite of harassment.

Why we have allowed ourselves to be further divided along political lines is confusing to me. I mean, we can agree to disagree, right? We can agree to say “I don’t agree with you, but I’ll still be your friend.” What I’ve seen, in this last week, is people across the board refusing to remain friends with anyone who disagrees with them. A woman I respect and admire who’s a faithful Christian and, largely, a Conservative, offered up a neutral post about this past week’s debacle. The responders were all women; of those women, at least two I can think of were ugly, rude, discourteous, and even inflammatory and outright combative with people who disagreed with them. Name-calling was rife. If you disagreed with these people you were thus open for any amount of name-calling and abuse they wanted to heap upon you.

This. This is the point I don’t understand, so I’ll spell it out for you.

Ladies? We’re fighting an uphill battle, already. We’re the wives, the mothers, and in many cases professional leaders, and we are still struggling to be seen as viable, equal.

Where does it make sense for us to allow our country’s current political structure to continue to divide us? Especially over something that each and every single one of us knows is something that we will all have to face. How many of you don’t carry pepper spray with you? How many of you don’t walk out to your car with your keys securely gripped, pointing out from your fist? How many of you don’t check the back seat & back of your car, before you get in it? How many of you don’t make sure you’ve always got a buddy nearby when you’re out past dark?

Stop and think, ladies. Now is the time for us to relearn that we are all sisters, and when we roar together, we can change the world around us. As long as our country continues to embrace a policy that divides its population as clearly as our country’s current structure is dividing us, as a people, someone needs to maintain a clear head! Why not unite, find our common ground, then work as a team to implement what we want to see changed? If change must happen from within, great! Let’s work on it from within. But let’s work on it together instead of falling into the trap that we have to prove our party’s better than their party. Really. Haven’t we left high school yet?