Don’t Be A Rapist: Of Survivor Parenting & Young Males

We have a lot of conversations around masculinity now since kid #1 is pubescent. At not quite 12 he’s starting to feel his way through what kind of man he wants to be and having parents that he feels he can talk to is helpful, but occasionally traumatic for all concerned. We’ve talked about sex, drugs, booze, and money at various points over the last few years. All those conversations were tough but the “Don’t be a rapist” convo was possibly the most awkward of my life.

When the story first broke about the 11 year old girl being assaulted in Texas he asked me about it. Why? Well he’s 11 and he has a ton of 11 year old female friends. Since we’ve been pretty open about the mechanics of sex he was upset & confused at the idea of a girl like one of his friends being forced to “do it” with anyone, much less with a group of strangers.

After the initial conversation about why rape happens, and a discussion of the harm it can do, I left the door open for him to bring any other questions to me or his father. Over the last few months we’ve talked about kinds of rape as he’s seen them mentioned on the news (date, stranger, corrective, etc.) and why people blame the victims. Lately, the conversation has turned to stuff like Slut Walks & how telling women to live a certain way in order to avoid being raped doesn’t do anything to stop rape.

He’s having conversations with his Dad of the “No means no”, “Alcohol, emotional upset, drugs, etc. can impair judgment”, & “Don’t hang out with guys that think a girl has to be convinced to have sex” variety. At one point during the course of these conversations I got a little worried about whether the topics were too heavy for him. Then I had a chat with the mother of his best female friend who reminded me that this is the age where girls start talking about it, because this is when the warnings about how to behave to avoid trouble really start pouring in as their bodies start changing. So, I guess if the topic isn’t too heavy for his female friends it isn’t too heavy for him either. Is it okay if it feels too heavy for me right now?

Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard

I saw this article & for some reason I assumed that anyone reading it would see through the hyperbolic billboard to the petty abusive personality behind it. Then I looked at the comments (I know, I know I should never look at the comments on any news story), and remembered I was awake and on planet Earth. Is it really that hard to see that even if she had an abortion she had a perfectly logical reason not to want to be tied to this guy for life?

Rape Culture & Racism

All this backlash about Rihanna’s Man Down video sounds a lot like “Think of the Poor Rapist” with a side of “How Dare She?” and it highlights (for the nth time) the influence of racism in rape culture. If this video had featured a dainty young white woman it would probably be getting hailed as a anthem by everyone from the NRA to Sarah Palin for showing a woman fighting back because she was empowered by owning a gun. Don’t believe me? Think about Independence Day & Goodbye Earl.

But a black woman who both enjoys sex and thinks she has the right to say no? Pfft, rape culture already thinks women in general can ask to be assaulted, but for WOC there’s the extra layer that claims that we never say no. We’re not just sluts for wearing tight clothes, we’re supposed to be sluts on demand for anyone that wants us and once we are in our “proper position” we can only redeemed by becoming Mammy. Sexual agency is never an option for us.

Goodbye Earl celebrates the murder of an abusive husband, and Independence Day is all about a woman remembering her mother freeing her through a murder suicide. The lyrics & the tempo of both songs is upbeat, catchy, with no sign of remorse or grief. In stark contrast Man Down focuses on her regret and highlights that having acted in the heat of the moment Rihanna regrets taking the life of her rapist. Yet, it is her song that is blasted for promoting violence. And for added…something, her abuser’s name is brought up as though his actual violence against women is less important than the fictionalized revenge of a rape victim. Interesting how the message after all these years is still one of “You don’t own your body, so how dare you try to defend it?”

ETA: A friend on Twitter hipped me to the fact that there was some backlash against Goodbye Earl for encouraging women to resort to murder in order to escape domestic violence. I tried to find links, but the song is old enough that all I can find is the stuff about the Chicks being Anti-American and some references to their being some complaints about the song. Anyone remember the size & shape of the uproar against Goodbye Earl?



Attack Of The Cult Of The Fetus

Aside from a willful refusal to read past Stanek’s misleading headline (I never admitted embellishing anything. Because I didn’t embellish anything. But hey, keep letting Stanek lie to you instead of reading for yourself.), I’m getting the same few criticisms leveled at me in the spam comments over and over. Apparently I’m cold, not graceful enough in my response to the attacks by Stanek & her followers, and too angry. Also, if I were telling the truth I’d act just the way the commenter demands (that ranges from naming the doctor to filing a lawsuit to publishing my medical records to not talking about what happened to me at all to providing them with a platform to blogging how many tears I cried), and all I can do at this point is roll my eyes and wait for the trolls to figure out that I’m not going to be bullied.

Stanek’s lies about me aren’t going to become the truth no matter how many times she plasters her delusional interpretation of my words on any site that will accept them. People that claim to be pro life demand to know why I didn’t just die that day instead of having an abortion to save my life. Others insist major surgery (that is what a c-section is for the record) was a better option than the abortion. Fascinating how many people claim to be medical professionals and then display a complete lack of medical ethics in trying to prescribe treatment for a patient they’ve never seen.

I’m 99.9% certain that most of the people making demands would swear they were acting this way out of concern for their cause or my kids or some other batch of buzzwords that masks the reality of their hatred for women. I suspect my race adds a layer to the conversation (I’m also getting lots of comments about knowing my place which would be upsetting if it wasn’t so ridiculous), but then this wouldn’t be the first time misogyny and racism have intersected in the life of a WOC. So, once more the new folks who will undoubtedly be dropping by today. Stanek is attacking my experience to raise her profile. I can’t stop her from doing that, but I’m not going to be bullied into pretending that I lied about the treatment I received. Nor am I going to pretend that this harassment is coming from any place but one of hatred.

Lies, Damned Lies…and More Lies?

People are encouraging me to reply to the latest volley from Stanek and her followers, but there’s really nothing for me to say. She’s decided to ignore many of the actual words on screen, and create new meanings for the words she does see in front of her. I don’t know how one rebuts claims that are obviously false, especially when the person making the claims proves your point for you. I didn’t embellish a thing and I never said I did. I’m not interested in blog wars with Stanek or her ilk so I’m going to keep leading my life. Hopefully she’ll find her way back to reality.

My life is not your life

So, I’m looking at some of the comments and emails that are flooding my inbox demanding to know all the inner workings of my life when I had the abortion that saved my life. And I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but there seems to be an ongoing assumption that I had tons of family support, disposable income in abundance, and that my two kids were self sufficient. At the time my oldest was 8 and my youngest was 1 1/2. My friends are supportive, and one of them stepped in to take care of my kids that night but I’ve never had the kind of family of origin that will pitch in to help me (or each other) with more than the most basic things most of the time. It was better before my grandmother passed away, but she’s been gone a while now and without her we’re not a close family by any stretch of the imagination.

When I say my family will help, I’m mostly referring to my aunts or my husband’s family. My parents? They aren’t helpful. They got the phone call that I was in trouble while they were en route to St Louis for a televangelist’s convention. They suggested I call someone else to come get my kids, and then they continued their drive to St. Louis. I did get a phone call from my mother the night after the surgery. She was more concerned with me interrupting her weekend away than anything else as far as I could tell from the conversation. Admittedly I stopped listening after she launched into her latest version of ” This would be shocking, but this is the same woman that didn’t bother to name me and then got mad when I was 13 and filled out my own birth certificate with the name I’d been using at school instead of the moniker she’d always planned to saddle me with so I wasn’t shocked. It was the last straw for our already tenuous relationship, but that’s a story for another blog.

On the disposable income front…at that point we were a one income family and just barely getting by on that one income. It was cheaper for me to stay home with our two kids (childcare costs in Chicago are astronomical), but that also meant we had very little wiggle room financially. So, there was no question of my husband taking off work for weeks on end to allow me to stay in bed all day every day. And while his family will help to their best abilities, they have their own households to run and must go to their jobs too if they want to pay their bills. Same thing with our friends. I don’t know where people live that folks can just stop working and keep living, but I don’t live there.

Someone else asked why I didn’t take my kids with me to the hospital. Aside from not wanting to traumatize them, there was also the part where my oldest was at school. We lived close enough to his school that he could walk home, but having him come home to an empty house was not an option. Nor was waiting for him to get home since you know, I was bleeding profusely and all. My friend cleaned my blood off the walls and hid my sheets so that my son wouldn’t be scared. As for the demands that I have a c-section just in case a micro-preemie could have survived? You should go look at the survival rates for 20 week preemies again. Death wasn’t going to be averted, it was just a question of whether we both died. There seems to be this assumption that major surgery was a better idea than a less invasive procedure. The first thing discussed when I got to the hospital was the lack of viability for a child born at that point, then there was the part where I was in active labor & had no amniotic fluid when they did the ultrasound. But hey, go ahead and assume you know every detail of what was going on in my life so you can pass judgment on the decisions made by the person actually living it.

Lastly, no I wasn’t paid by Salon or anyone else to write that post. It’s not fiction, and the title of my blog isn’t an indication that my nonfiction should be taken with a grain of salt. It is an indication that I’m a published author of fiction and non fiction. The idea that this was a publicity stunt is laughable. I don’t know what planet some of the folks making that comment are on, but on no planet that I work on is having a blog post about a tragedy a way to boost attention for a closed company. Yes, I said closed. Verb Noire is defunct and has been for some time. My writing career has been developing for years and really, I know enough people to have a good chance at selling the book I’m working on.

Mind you, I wrote that post after an argument on Facebook with someone who insisted (as many people do) that abortion is not a medical procedure and that no one ever needs one. I posted it on my personal blogs & on a blog that I co write with several other angry black women. Most of my posts are made in a similar fashion. Most do not go particularly viral. This one has, and yes I did put myself out there when I agreed to let Salon re-post it. Not for an agenda, but simply to write what happened to me and talk about the fallacy in “No abortion is ever necessary” arguments. Did we file a lawsuit? No. I had a lot of other things to do (like mourn and heal) and the hospital staff that did eventually treat me encouraged me to go through internal channels so that patient care would be improved. I did that, and then for the sake of my sanity and my family I put away what happened to me and got on with the business of living my life.

Some say I should name and shame the doctor that refused to do the procedure. If I knew why he refused I might have done just that, but since I know that there are many possible reasons that he did not do it? I’ve left him to deal with the internal procedures in place. Same thing with the hospital where this happened. I could name it (funnily enough many people have correctly guessed and more than a few remember me naming it when it happened), but I didn’t write this post to shame the hospital any more than I wrote it to shame the doctor. Hard concept to grasp for some, but this post wasn’t about revenge or money. It was about me coming to terms with what happened and about my disdain for a particular pro-life argument. Believe it, don’t believe it. That’s up to you. My life will go on either way.

Committing acts of fiction

I’ve been spending so much time on non-fiction the last few days I haven’t worked on anything fun. The last few days haven’t inspired any fiction fit for public consumption, but today I saw this pic Black Pin Up Model

It has my brain back on the Siren story (for those of you who don’t read me elsewhere I’ve been rewriting a novel I wrote some years back about Sirens), and may have finally resolved my question of how people can tell the Sirens aren’t human without having to rely on anything too cheesy like them sparkling or having unusually colored eyes or whatever else the Mary Sues are doing these days. Possibly they can draw so much attention simply by existing that it becomes obvious that they aren’t entirely human because of the way people react to them. Good idea? Bad idea? Something else entirely?