Friday, September 6, 2013

I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic

This was originally a comment left on a post by Jason over at Lousy Canuck (Jason's post is great, by the way, really a must-read in the ongoing, endless discussion about rape allegations, false accusations, etc.).  Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds then graciously hosted the comment as a guest post. I decided to post it here, as well.  

PS & OT: I apologize for going so long without posting. Rather than list a bunch of reasons--which would just be excuses and rationalizations, in all honesty--I'm just going to try and get right into posting more regularly. 

Trigger Warning: Graphic descriptions of rape & the aftermath, police abuse, victim-blaming

I was raped three years ago. Almost exactly: the beginning of August 2010. It was a violent, stranger rape, as I was walking home from work. I honestly had no fear about calling the police. My dad’s a cop. I was in shock, mostly, but certainly not thinking that making a report was going to be worse than what had just happened to me. Plus, there was so much physical evidence–deep tissue bruising on my arms, burns on my labia, tearing that went from my vagina to my anus–it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be believed.

Two male detectives arrived at my house. I stammered out a request for a female detective; it was denied. (I learned later that they violated procedure by not accommodating the request.) They made me go through what happened. I was in excruciating pain and dripping blood but they didn’t want to take me to the hospital just then, and said the hospital “wasn’t ready” anyway. So I described the rape. Then they asked if I was taking any drugs. Well, just my medication. I thought it was strange that they literally spent more time asking about my mental health history and the types of medication I took, instead of the rape, but at the time, again, I was in shock, and not thinking much.

Long story short: I submitted to an invasive physical exam, described the rape more times than I can count. They didn’t wait for my rape counselor, that I requested, another thing I found was actually against the law. (But when she arrived, she kicked major ass. And really helped me through the process; I don’t know what I would have done without her. A rape kit is extremely invasive, and I was already in terrible pain, but she was able to get me through it.) The black light (to look for fluid/blood/etc) was broken, so I tried to approximate where he had kissed me, licked me, so the nurse giving the exam could swab those areas.

Oh, aside: the hospital wouldn’t provide Emergency Contraception, although I did get a few pills to keep from getting STDs. (Not AIDS, however–I was told the procedure was to only provide AIDS prevention if you already know the rapist has AIDS, which seems a little hinky, as it’s not exactly a question I could ask during the rape). The detective, who drove me to the hospital, refused to stop at a pharmacy on the way home, so I could get Plan B for myself. He said he “didn’t feel comfortable” with that and I should “wait for my parents” even though I was 24 and alone at home. Guess 24 is too young to make the decision to try and prevent becoming pregnant with my rapist’s baby!

Over the next few months, I submitted to multiple, horrific “interviews” that really felt like “interrogations” as time went on. I was also dealing with a serious medical condition at the time (I almost died; my intestines ruptured, but that was almost certainly not a result of the rape, just bad timing). But I still believed in the system. I still didn’t want the man who raped me on the streets. I did everything they requested, answered every invasive question (the were really focused on my mental health history!), even got on the ground and acted out the rape for them, with the head detective on top of me acting out the part of the rapist. Not only was I absolutely hysterical by the time we were done, I’m positive that aggravated my PTSD for a long time after.

And after all that, I was called in for an “interview” to discuss “a new lead in your case”. They didn’t let my rape counselor in the room–again, against the law, I found out later! For about an hour (I think; my sense of time was not that great) they were no longer even pretending to be supportive. They accused me over and over of making it up. They had very flimsy “evidence” (which I won’t go into because it’s both complicated and ridiculous) but mostly it was their “instinct”.

Because I have a mental illness. Because I was hospitalized after attempting suicide. Because I “claimed” I had been sexually assaulted in the past. (They asked if I had ever been raped in the past, and I volunteered that I had been molested when I was nine. I found out later this was another mark against me, that having previous sexual assaults--not previous false allegations, mind, just previous attacks--counts against your credibility, for some reason.  Like I'm supposed to tell the rapist: "Oh, hey, sorry, you'll have to find someone else; I'm over my limit.)  

But mostly, it was because I was crazy.  The lead detective was sure that I was just looking for attention.  My family had gone camping; obviously, I was angry at being left behind! (Even though I wasn't "left behind" but had instead declined the invitation, because I couldn't miss work, and also I would crawl across broken glass before I'd go camping.)  He had a bipolar ex-wife, you see, and she made his life a living hell. He told me how he understood mentally ill women, and how we need to create drama. How we’re liars, and we crave attention.

And over and over they accused me of lying. Alone in this tiny room with two large, angry men, I was doing everything I could to keep from having a panic attack. I couldn’t respond to what they were saying; again, I think I was in shock. And they threatened me with jail time, with a felony on my record, destroying my family, public humiliation (he threatened to call the papers–something he did anyway, because, quote, “the community needs to know there was no threat to public safety”). They said I would be charged with a false report, with terrorizing the public (there was a public awareness campaign initially after my attack, though I didn’t have anything to do with it. After the rape, I did everything I could to maintain anonymity, and only told two people–beyond my family and the cops–hat I was attacked. But…I did it for attention, which was why I didn’t tell anyone? I’m just sneaky like that, I guess!). Accusations, threats, anger, pounding the table, over and over and over.

The detective looked at me. His whole demeanor changed; he tried to seem kind, avuncular. “Tell me you made the whole thing up. This whole thing will disappear. Nothing will happen to you. You can leave, if you just tell me you made it up. Tell me you made it up and you’re sorry for lying, and I’ll let you leave.” I tried to hold out–but I didn’t last long. Honestly, at that point, all I wanted in the entire world was just to get out of that room. There are very few things I wouldn’t have done, if I could only leave. So I looked at him and lied. I said, “I made the whole thing up. I’m sorry.”

To his credit, the detective was true to his word. (I now realize he could have been lying, and since I wasn’t under arrest or being interrogated–technically, I could have left any time, even though I didn’t know that–my words could have been used in court.*) That was all. He let me leave. Well. He made me give him a hug before leaving, but I was allowed to go.

So understand: I am a “false rape allegation” statistic. When the detectives wrote their reports, sent the numbers off to the justice department to compile the information, I am down as a liar, a false allegation, even though no charges were ever filed against me. (Don’t know if that’s because they didn’t think they could make a case against me, or because they didn’t want to put a cop’s daughter on trial.) And you know what? I am not the only person. It's horrifying, the number of women that I've met in support groups and activist meetups who've experienced very similar things. They too, are false allegation statistics. We were all raped.

So just keep that in mind, when you quote the 6-8% “false allegation” statistic. I know we have to rely on the only information we have, and I use the statistic in conversations, as well. But I always remember that number is certainly not an accurate representation. (Maybe it should always come with an asterisk?)

Please, remember my story when you see “false rape” statistics. Remember my friend, who admitted to a false report charge in order to keep her veteran benefits after being discharged (her rapist’s good friend and direct superior handled the case; a discharge was inevitable.) Remember the middle-aged woman I met, still traumatized, who, as a teenager, recanted her story when her rapist (and stepfather) threatened to kill her family. And the many, many others, all unknown, all forgotten–even in the bare statistics, which are often the only testament to our experiences. And we’re denied even that. Instead, our stories, our traumas, are used to stigmatize and further traumatize new victims. It makes me sick to know MRAs can take our numbers and use them to justify their “bitches be lying” stance. I can’t put into words how devastating that is.

Are there false allegations? Of course. Jason, in opening up about such a difficult topic, has explained exactly that. And no one hates truly false allegations like a rape survivor. But we should balance that with the knowledge that the “official” numbers are not an accurate representation of the truth.

* This is why you never talk to any police officer under any circumstances without a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been arrested, charged, or read your rights. I could have put myself in jail with that lie.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What? "Shut up...bitch?"

Quick post just to clarify something.

Why is my blog called Shut Up, Bitch?

Simple.  I got told "Shut up, bitch!" just one too many times.  In fact, in response to a comment left on another blog, before I had even transfered to blogspot and left my (fandom-oriented) blog on livejournal behind, someone left a comment that was just a link.  This link went to a particular rap song on youtube which, at one point, was the #1 hit for "shut up bitch" (I won't link to it; if you really want, it's easy to find). 

And so I figured it was as good a blog name as any.

I know that some people have a real problem with reclaiming slurs, and a problem with "bitch" specifically.  That's fine.  I would never force someone to claim a label they weren't comfortable with, or call someone something that offends them.  But me? I like "bitch".  I want to me more of a bitch.  Hell, I'm conciously working hard (thanks to books like Nice Girls Finish Fat and The Nice Girl Syndrome, both of which are awesome) to stop being such a nice girl and start being a bitch.  (And, personally, I think a lot of women would be much healthier--not to mention happier and more effective--if they picked up one or both of those books.  As much as I appriciated the help I got from Codependent No More, it's nice to read a self-help book for codependents that isn't filled with fluffy "just trust your higher power" nonsense.)

So.  That's why the name.  If it's not your cup o' tea, great.  It works for me, though.

And with the more recent harassment I've recieved* from people who just want me to shut up...I don't think I'm going to be changing the name any time soon.

*Funny thing...almost all the harassment I've recieved has come from comments I've left on other blogs.  In fact, the only really awful comments I've had here, the ones I've had to delete, came as a result of a certain youtube video made to mock me...for a comment I left on another blog!  So I'm not sure anyone really cares what I say here!  Regardless.  I'm not shutting up, here or anywhere else. 


Trigger Warning: Body-Hatred

So Melissa Harris-Perry (who I love) issued a challenge on her show, during a larger segment about body image and eating disorders, for fans of her show (those of us in "nerdland") to take a pic of ourselves sans makeup and share it on twitter, all to show that we (want to) love and accept our bodies as they are.  I thought this was a pretty neat idea, so I participated as well.

I knew full well, however, that I was being ridiculous.  I'm not much of a makeup person in my everyday life.  Oh, I have every shade of lipstick and nail polish and I usually slather some on before leaving the house, but that's about the extent of my makeup routine, and it's a lot less about hiding anything or feeling ashamed about my natural body and more about, y'know, liking color. 

That doesn't mean I don't hide my real body.  That doesn't mean I love or accept my body. Not even close. 

I've decided to combine a couple goals in today's post.  One, I've wanted to explain for a while now why it's taken me so long to update my blog...and, ironically enough, those very reasons have been keeping me from updating and explaining my reasons.  Two, I've been feeling a little guilty about my #barefacedbeauty picture.  It felt like a lie.  So I've decided to post my real picture here. 

(*cue minor panic attack*)

Note: I'm putting this picture under the cut.  It's not really nudity--I'm less exposed than most bathing suit ads--but it might be NSFW depending on where you are.  And it's definitely not...attractive? Is that the right word?  It's a picture of a stomach, a stomach that has gone through 15 abdominal surgeries, countless procedures, multiple tubes and drains, and 200 lbs of weight loss.  And it looks like it.  Each event left a mark that only very expensive--and, therefore, very out of reach--plastic surgery could fix.  So view at your own risk, is what I'm saying, I guess.

Oh, and if you couldn't already tell? This post is really self-involved and self-indulgent.  So feel free to just skip; I wouldn't blame you a bit.

Also, my post on fuckability might be good background reading before going further.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Feminist Thanksgiving?

A repost from 2008

This Thanksgiving, as my family sits down to their traditional dead animals, I’ll be munching on Tofurky and vegan stuffing. Whatever, I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years, I’m used to being the odd girl out every fourth Thursday of November. And, just like every Thanksgiving since I stopped eating meat, I know I’m going to get the comments and the jokes, even though it’s hardly a novelty after all this time.

What is it about Thanksgiving that brings out the super-traditional? Even in my fairly feminist household--my parents are proud of their egalitarian marriage, split the chores and childcare responsibilities pretty evenly, Dad had no problem moving for Mom's career, etc.--my dad and uncles and brothers will still watch the football game and chug (non-alcoholic) beers after the big dinner while all the womenfolk clean up the kitchen. No one even pretends that there’s an equal distribution of responsibilities. Sure, every year Dad ceremoniously asks if there’s anything he can do, but much like the ceremonious cutting of the turkey at the beginning of the meal, it’s all for show. The men have nothing to do with the preparation of the meal, and they certainly have nothing to do with the cleanup. Their role is to eat and digest, and compliment the gals on a job well done. I don’t know what would happen if this year Mom answered, “Sure, we’ve got dishes for thirty people to clean and about fifty pots and pans that need scrubbing…there’s the sink!” It’s as unfathomable as my meat-and-potatoes family deciding to share some Tofurky and forgo the bird carcass.

And here’s the strangest thing: I know that come Thanksgiving, even with my feminist heart heaving with the unfairness of it all, I’ll be in the kitchen with my mom and aunts and girl cousins, cleaning up while the guys burp contentedly in the other room.

A couple years ago, deciding to make a statement, I informed my mother that I was watching football with the boys. I expected a little anger, maybe even a flat refusal, but my mom, perhaps knowing what was to come, had no problem with it. So for the first time since hitting my teen years, I sat out in the living room and watched the big game while the big clean-up went on without me. And here’s the thing: even though I’m a huge football fan, even though watching a game with Dad is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, it wasn’t very long at all before I was back in the kitchen.

I try and justify my own lapse back into traditional gender roles. The cleaning isn’t hard at all, I reason, not with a dozen people pitching in. It’s a safe, female-only space, our own little once-a-year, consciousness-raising event.  But the truth is, that I know it’s bogus. I know everyone should pitch in after dinner, and I know that it reinforces all the stereotypes I fight against the other 364 days of the year for the menfolk to all watch the game and the womenfolk to clean and gab.

But I also know that I’d much rather be in the kitchen chatting with my aunties, hanging with cousins I see once a year at best, and, yeah, pitching in on the cleanup, then hanging with the dudes in the living room.

Go figure.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

(Or: Why I've been MIA)

Apologies for going so long without posting. I thought I’d let everyone know what I’ve been up to.

At the end of September, I was feeling really sick: heart palpitations, my muscles were clenching, my face felt tingly and numb, I was slurring my words. From past experience, I was pretty sure that I had a potassium deficiency; unsurprising, as I had been throwing up pretty much everything for about a month. I went to the ER expecting to get the usual treatment: some IV fluids and medicine to stop the pain and vomiting, and a bag or two of potassium. Like I said, I’d done this a few times before.

Instead, my potassium was so low that I was immediately admitted to the hospital. I had been trying to fix it myself by drinking a lot of banana smoothies and Ensure, because I hate hospitals and I can pretty much do the same thing for a intestinal blockage at hone that they do in the hospital (basically, a liquid diet and rest, giving time for the intestine to decompress and go back to normal). However, I let my hatred of hospitals and my fear of going alone (my parents were out of town that week and I waited until they came back to go in) keep me from seeking treatment for too long, and I had put myself at a serious risk for a heart attack, among other dangers.

At the hospital, they put my on a liquid diet, as I expected. They tried to get potassium in through the IV, bur I was so dehydrated and my veins were so bad after years of medical treatments that after the second day they couldn’t get an IV--even the best nurses, the trauma specialists, the nurses from ICU who used an ultrasound machine to try and find one. They also couldn’t get me to keep any food down, even with the strongest anti-nausea medications. The doctor decided, after a week, to send me to UCSF where they had better specialists and tests that could be done. Also, I had two hernias that were causing a lot of pain and trouble, and there was talk of getting them repaired on that trip.

At UCSF, they gave me the complete workup. They also tried to get an IV in, and even their best people couldn’t get one started, so they inserted a PIC line. They started me on IV food (TPN). There, they discovered that the problem really wasn’t a hernia or an intestinal blockage, but that some of the tissue that had been used to reconstruct my digestive system after my intestinal rupture last year had become necrotic (died). It was why I couldn’t keep food down, why I wasn’t absorbing the nutrients of the food I could keep down, and probably some of the pain.

The head surgeon--a smart, capable guy with a decent bedside manner, but who unfortunately was the most arrogant person I’d ever met, and that’s saying something when you look at the number of surgeons I’ve had over the years--decided he wanted to do a pretty intense operation. He needed time to prepare and reserve an OR, though, so he sent me back to the original hospital to basically hang out and get the IV medication and bulk up on the IV food so I would be in the best shape for surgery. A week later, I would come back for the operation. That week, I was pretty nervous. This was going to be surgery number 15, so you’d think it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but this surgery was going to be more complex and take longer, with all the assorted risks that comes with, than most of my other surgeries. Also, most of my previous surgeries were done on an emergency basis...they happened immediately after discovering a problem, and I never really had time to sit and think about the risks. There was another new risk, as well: I had 125 cm of small intestine (the average person has about 22 feet). You need 75cm to be able function normally (well, for a given value of “normal”); if they had to remove more than 50cm of intestine, I would have to be hooked up to IV food for the rest of my life (or until they developed the technology to do a transplant). Along with it just being an enormous life suck to have to be hooked up to an IV for 16 hours a day (I did that for 6 months, thank you very much, and I feel like I lost those months of my life), the long-term projections are not so good. It would significantly lower my lifespan, and even when I wasn’t hooked up to the IV machine, I would still be too tired and sick to get out of bed and go do stuff. So this was a pretty terrifying possibility, and the doctor was not giving me good odds. The surgery had to be done, though; if they didn’t take out the necrotic tissue--even if doing so would shorten my small intestine too much--not only would I not be able to eat or absorb food, I would die from the infections. So I sat in my hospital bed silently freaking for a week.

(I’m putting description of the surgery below the fold, so skip if that grosses you out.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is the Republican Party Pro-Life? A look at the new GOP party platform

I have tried to back up every statement of fact that I make.  For the most part, I have linked to respected unbiased organizations and news sites and resisted posting to blogs and advocacy groups, and when I couldn't find an original source, I tried to state that.  That doesn't mean I always did; sometimes an advocacy group has a much better presentation of facts in a format that is easy to read and understand.  You can judge for yourself the legitimacy of the information, but remember: you are always entitled to your own opinion, but you are never entitled to your own facts. 

Republicans are usually considered the "Pro-Life" party.  They certainly are anti-choice, though of course there are a few pro-choice Republicans and more than a few anti-choice Democrats (remember Bart Stupak?)  But as a national party, the GOP takes a strong stand against abortion, and accomplished many legislative victories across the country, while for the most part, Democrats aren't nearly as committed.  Oh, they say they're for reproductive freedom, and there are Democrats in both state and federal legislatures that fight for choice, but they don't have near the amount of victories (just an impressive string of failures) or passion as their Republican opponents. 

But are Republicans really Pro-Life?  I decided to take a look at the newly approved party platform.  You can read the entire platform here.  I will be quoting the relevant bits.


On Zinnia Jones Vlog, Heather had something to say about radical feminism and transphobia. 

I think it's  a great post for so many reasons, and I'll probably be back to discuss it more later.  There was one thing, though, that jumped out and bit me.  Probably because I'm too self-absorbed, it was the only part that was at all connected to me.  I feel kind of guilty about this, because as wonderfully important Heather's video was, I'm not really going to be talking about radical feminism or transphobia right now.  Later, definitely; there are so many good things in this video, and I do think it's a good for both the transphobic radfems and the feminists who hate radfems because they think they're all transphobic to watch. 

Right now, however, I'm just going to limit this to what I have personal experience with: fuckability.

(Starting at 2:23) The sex classing of women and requisite caste system of the class (more commonly known as varying degrees of fuckability, or even more commonly as a scale from 1 to 10) has inhumanely relegated trans women with a certain remaining organ to the undesirables. They are expected to be content with either fetishization or pity fucking, along with cis women of the overweight and differently abled varieties. This particular problem has recently been the birth of a massive online “cotton ceiling” debate. We’ll get back to that.

Yes, we will definitely be getting back to the "cotton ceiling" debate, but it will have to be in another post.  I have some very strong opinions, again, as a cis lesbian radfem (gah, labels), but I hope it doesn't surprise people that the majority of the time I come down firmly on the side of trans women in this debate.  Actually, it was reading some back and forth between trans women and radfem activists on the whole cotton ceiling debate that first made me want to give up the label "radical feminist" in the first place.  I do not want to be associated with those people...but I also don't want to give up on the feminist philosophy and theory of activism that most meshes with what I see, how I feel, and what I believe will actually transform the world.  But that is a discussion for another time.

Today, in what will probably be a self-indulgent, perhaps self-pitying post (you've been warned), we're going to talk about fuckability.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thoughts on Prostitution and Pornography

Trigger Warning: Graphic description of child abuse and rape.

This is going to be bit rambly. I can't help that. I have a lot of thoughts, conflicting thoughts, and I'm going to try and get them out as best I can.

I have no personal experience with prostitution, or with what most people think of when they talk about pornography.I have been molested and raped: both times, pictures were taken. When I was nine, I was molested over the course of a year by a seventeen year old boy who was living in our house as he finished up High School.  I was easy prey; I was homeschooled, extremely sheltered (I didn’t even know what sex was), a chubby, socially isolated outcast with few friends, and though my parents loved me, they both worked all the time  On several occasions, he took pictures of me, partially undressed, in what I now realize were sexual poses. At the time, I didn't fully understand what was going on. I knew enough to be ashamed, I knew that I couldn't tell anyone. But J. told me I was beautiful and had me pose like the pictures on the magazine covers and movie posters, like a real woman.

Years later, when I was an adult, I was brutally raped just a couple blocks from my home, when I took a stupid shortcut through the park. The pictures were almost an afterthought; after he had bruised me, burned me, raped me, he pulled out a camera phone and snapped a couple pictures. The most I ever saw of him was through the glow of that phone, his bulbous nose and crooked teeth, not enough for a good description for the cops. Oh, the wondrous progression of technology.

I have lived in fear for years that those photos of me are on the internet, graphic snapshots of my humiliation and pain. I have no reason to think that they aren't. Sometimes I can't help thinking about the men who have, over the years, masturbated to those images of a scared, humiliated little girl trying so hard to be pretty, to be loved, to be a woman. I wonder if that rapist was able to get my face in the shot, or if I exist only as a headless battered vagina, if he could even get the pictures to come out when they were taken on a pitch-black night. I try not to think about it, which is really all that I can do about it.

People would be quick to point out that what happened to me wasn't really pornography, it was rape, and they would be mostly right. I didn't chose what happened, and I certainly wasn't paid for it. But I have heard too many stories from girls and boys and women who were forced to take pictures, like I was, so that men could continue to rape them in their minds over and over and over again. I can't entirely dismiss the comparison.  I also can’t dismiss the similarities between what I went through and common images in movies and magazines.  Would I still have been raped and molested without the multi-billion dollar porn industry, much of it saturated with images of raped and abused women? Maybe. But the boy who molested me wasn't an adult, wasn't any older than my baby brother is now (who seems impossibly young to me).  Would he have known what to do without porn? Would he have even thought to take pictures? Again, maybe. There's no way to know something like that. Thinking of a society without porn seems even more fantastical than thinking of a society without religion.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Religiously Motivated Child Absue

This is an OLD post (about 5 years, now) that I pulled from the blog I kept back then.*  It's still, unfortunately, quite relevent.

[Trigger Warning: Descriptions of Child Abuse--ESPECIALLY in the linked articles.]

I strongly recommend giving at least a quick glance at the series dogemperor has put together over on DailyKos about religiously motivated child abuse (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).  As someone who is a survivor** of this type of environment, I'm always amazed when people don't know about the culture of violence that many, many children are brought up in.  Like all survivors of child abuse, people who grow up in households with religious child abuse believe (for the most part) that what they went through is normal...and, worse than that, they believe the abuse is justified by being a Christian, that they deserved it.  If they are unable to get help and healing, they may start their own family believing that such abuse is the only way to truly raise good Christian children, and the cycle continues.

I think it is especially important for people to be aware of how isolated children in conservative Christian families can become.  Because parents are justifiably afraid that teachers and doctors will report child abuse (or, as these folks call it, "discipline"), kids are pulled out of public and even private schools, and sent to pediatricians who are dominionist Christians.  While my parents weren't so extreme, many children I went to church with never encountered a non-Christian in a meaningful way.  They were homeschooled, played sports with Christian groups, went to church (and were pulled out of the youth group when non-Christian kids began to attend), were not allowed to participate in outreach activities, only saw Christian doctors, and were always under the watchful eye of their parents or a trusted, like-minded adult. 

So, folks, when you see your neighbor abusing his or her child, don't assume that a trusted adult will catch it.  For many kids, that may be the case: they'll see teachers, doctors, and coaches, all of whom are mandatory reporters (though there are news reports every day about how these stop-gap messures fail).   Children raised in these very conservative, quiverfull-type homes, may never see an adult they can trust.  Call in suspected abuse.  You can do it anonymously.  Better safe than sorry, and while a visit from a social worker can suck, annoying an innocent parent is a hell of a lot better than allowing a guilty parent to continue to torture their child in the name of God.

And that's today's PSA.

*  I changed this a bit in the repost.  I wrote it back in 2007, when I was still a very committed Christian.  At the time, I took great pains to say that this type of abuse is against Christian values, and no true Christian would abuse their child like that.  I've since changed my opinion on this, and while their brand of Christianity still seems like a perversion of the faith I was brought up in, I realize that they have just as much biblical justification for thier position as I ever did, such behavior is perfectly in line with a certain type of Christianity. 

** My parents (my father especially) were quite abusive during my early years.  I don't think they were abusive out of malice, but out of ignorance.  They followed books like "Dare to Discipline" and the advice of older Christians who insisted that beating us would make us obedient kids.  (Honestly, if anything I would say that it made us a lot angrier.)  We were hit with metal spoons, slapped, pinched, forced to stand straight up (not leaning against a wall) for over an hour (and spanked if we leaned or sat down), left in dark rooms, and humiliated in public (that was and remains a favorite tool for dominionist Christians in like-minded settings...public humiliation and spanking of children in church is not uncommon). 

My mother, around the time I was eight or nine, realized that what she was doing was wrong, and stopped. She said that it was because she heard God telling her that their behavior was wrong.  It was a brave step: she ignored the advice of everyone around her (including the pastor) to do what she felt was right.  (Of course, I think that "still small voice" was her innate empathy and consience rather than the voice of God, but that's not an argument I can win.)  She's since apologized to me, and that relationship has been more than healed.  I recognize that I'm lucky in that respect.  My father, likewise, stopped his abuse.  He had an anger management problem (like a lot of cops) and was also raised in a very physically abusive environment (his mother used to hold his head under the bath water if he mis-behaved, among other things).  So he took a step back from being the disciplinarian until he got that under control.  My parents got a lot of flack because my dad didn't take the active roll in discipline, which other church members considered to be his job as the spiritual leader of the family.  But he couldn't trust himself to discipline without it becoming abuse, so he did the right thing by stopping.  By the time my youngest brother came along, my parents no longer used physical discipline at all, having discovered that other ways of parenting worked much better, and didn't violate their ethics. (Or, my mom would say, they started following God's direction in discipline. BLECH.)

I've forgiven both my parents, and I have a good relationship with them, but some scars can never be erased, and that's why I'm so passionate about this issue.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hating God

Since being out as an atheist, I have been accused many times of hating God. No matter how many times I explain that it’s rather impossible to hate someone that I believe doesn’t exist, the same allegation still comes up, many times by the same person. Maybe there are people who honestly can’t comprehend that some people just truly don’t believe in a god, and view my stated disbelief as a sort of rebellion, a childish way of lashing back at God out of anger.  They cannot conceive of never believing, because in their mind God is as real to them as the air they breathe, so it's impossible to accept actual disbelief from others.    

(Unfortunately, they don’t take this far enough to examine why I might be angry with God if that were the case…usually I’m told some variation of “you want to sin without feeling bad about it” or “you’re angry that God doesn’t give you everything you wanted.” These are both wildly inaccurate, and make me look like a petulant teenager, which might be why some believers I've encountered are so dismissive and condescending towards me. I want to explore both of these in more detail later, so stick a pin in them. Right now, all I can say is that this characterization is just plain wrong. For more insight, you can read a little about why I no longer believe in God.)

I also think that there are some believers who confuse my hatred of the atrocities of religion, and my hatred of how some believers treat other people, as a hatred for God. And while it would be too strong to say I hate religion, because I do think that good things have come out of religions (maybe in spite of the religion itself), I do hate irrationality, intolerance, cruelty, evil, and the many, many other negative effects that religions have had on our world. (I don’t have the time for a total overview; that would take a book, many books. The best book I know on the subject and one I recommend everyone read, religious, atheist, or indifferent, is: Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless.)

Yesterday, however, I came the closest I've ever come to truly hating God.