Tales From A Survivor

Chris Brown tried to choke Rihanna. That was while he was threatening to kill her. And the stans are out in force claiming that she deserved it/provoked him/he didn’t do it on purpose. I would say I don’t know WTF is wrong with people, but I see this shit a lot. From men who want to justify it and from women who think it could never happen to them. Here’s the thing, abusers never seem like they’re violent to people on the outside, and in the beginning of the relationship they are the *perfect* partner. I mean it, they are absolutely the best partner their victim has ever had. They have all the romantic touches down, they’re a great listener (the best you’ll ever meet), and before long they have insinuated themselves into every single aspect of their victim’s life. As soon as they can’t imagine life without this person, they’re in deep shit.

Why? That’s when the abuse starts. And it’s not overt or even necessarily something that anyone would recognize as problematic. Because it’s just words, little subtle digs at their self-image that come from this wonderful person who knows them so well and loves them so much. And so they listen, and they lose a little of themselves. It’s that slow chipping away that’s important. Because without it? The first blow will be the last one. And the abuser can’t have that, so they lay the groundwork. But sometimes that chipping away doesn’t work, or at least not fast enough for the abuser. Maybe they’ve been pushed too far too fast, maybe at their base they’re not broken enough, maybe they are just plain contrary, or maybe they get fed up early in the cycle. Who knows? But when things don’t go according to plan the abuser flips their shit. Annihilation time if they can manage it.

And the fucked up part? They’re not necessarily consciously aware of what they’re doing to the victim. So they can tell themselves that they’re not a bad person, and they’ve never been this way with anyone else, that it’ll never happen again and a half dozen other things that add up to not having to face the reality that they’re hurting someone very badly. Because in their own heads they love their victim. Even when they want to control them and crush them. They love them so much that they can’t let the relationship end, or risk their SO meeting someone else, or whatever else is the trigger of the moment. And people will swear that something big must have happened to provoke them, but the reality is that they’re a ticking time bomb. All day. Every day. Whether it is a burnt dinner, a tone of voice, or being successful, there is nothing the victims could have, should have, would have done to defuse that bomb.

And people will say “Why didn’t she just leave?” like that would fix something. Know when most victims die? When they try to get out. And the craziest part is that people will still swear they should have tried harder, left earlier, done something other than whatever they did. Because victim-blaming is the most comfortable emotional reaction for a lot of folks. Here’s the thing, for a whole host of reasons there’s no way to spot an abuser at a glance, and even if you do figure it out fairly early in the relationship, there’s no guarantee that the fuse on that bomb isn’t so short that you’re already in danger. Does that mean no one should date? No. But it does mean that people should stop blaming the victim and start blaming the abuser. Want to get them help? Great. But don’t serve it with a side of justification for the abuser’s actions, or disdain for the victim. Domestic violence crosses every line regardless of money, race, or religion and we need to start treating it like the sickness it is instead of hiding from it. Yes I got out of my marriage, but it was hard and required me to do some things that I’m not proud of even though they saved my life. Luckily I had friends that truly supported me, and now I hope Rihanna (and every other victim) has friends that will stand by them until they can call themselves a survivor and get on with life.

Inauguration 2009: A Rant

There was much to be happy about today and I will blog about that in a bit, but I do need to point out something:

Whoever was in charge of the logistics of this day from the Metro and other public transport to safely getting ticketed people into the designated areas IS MADE OF FAIL. I have rarely been so frustrated and annoyed and I have rarely seen a clusterfuck bigger than the one I witnessed today.

Starting with transportation: as I said, we got our tickets yesterday, so we didn’t have to wait in a long line at the start. However, our train took 3 times as long to get into town because there were so many people trying to get on and the cars were full by the fourth stop away from the terminus. As people tried to cram themselves in, they held up trains in front of us, our train, and the trains behind. Though the city claimed to have been ready for the estimated 2 million people showing up for this thing, they were clearly not.

They had to shut down certain stations because too many people were crowding the platforms, then open them as they cleared the folks out. We had to go one stop further than the suggested stop because of one of these closings, and thus had to come to our gate in a roundabout way. I don’t think it would have helped had we come from the intended stop, because for some reason the Blue Gate line was completely useless.

Each ticket had a color, designating your section. Every section had an entry point for security checks and then the actual gate. We passed the Orange line, which had a clearly marked entrance and path. The Blue had no such thing. We kept going to different parts of an ever changing line, no one was ever sure it was the right line, there were no cops, security, line coordinators, or anything to help. Let me repeat: there was no one managing our line, and it was already breaking down into chaos by the time we arrived.

The inauguration ceremony began at 10, the swearing in at 12. They opened the gates at 8 or 9 and closed then at 11:30, officially. What genius thought that they could facilitate getting a quarter of a million people sorted, through security, and into the standing area in 2.5 – 3.5 hours? I don’t know what the other lines were line, but with the Blue line, there was very little movement and, in the end, we didn’t get in and no one told us why. Looking at the footage on television, I have to wonder if they gave out too many tickets and there just wasn’t any more room.

Still, there was so much that could have been done better, including opening the gates at 5am. It may have still resulted in the area filling up completely before everyone got in, but there would have been time to redirect people elsewhere. The lines should have been tightly controlled, because thousands of confused people all together is never, ever a good thing. All traffic through the area where lines crossed streets should have been halted – yes, SUVs broke the line more than once. When the inauguration ended, there should have been controlled egress to the Metro stations instead of letting people mob the entrances, having no other choice.

I want to smack every person involved in coordinating this, because they obviously failed to consider so much and completely fucked my day. However, there were some bright spots – I’ll blog about them later. For now, I sleep… and then get on a bus.

Mehserle arrested

I’m tired, ya’ll. Too tired to be angry. So tired of all this shit. The tiredness won’t last forever, of course; I’ll rebound, as I must. But I need a break.

In the meantime, though — I’m cautiously heartened by this.

Mehserle was arrested in the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight. An Alameda County judge signed an arrest warrant alleging murder, and Mehserle surrendered without incident, authorities said.

The shooting, which was recorded by passengers in videos widely circulated on the Internet and television, prompted public outrage, and some viewers said that the shooting appeared to be an execution.

Sources said Mehserle was in Nevada because he feared for his safety after death threats were made against him. Douglas County is 15 miles south of Carson City in northwestern Nevada and includes part of Lake Tahoe.

Mehserle’s attorney, Christopher W. Miller of Sacramento, confirmed early today that his client was arrested on suspicion of murder. He said he would not comment further until a news conference today.

I’m waiting to hear the charges. If they’re anything less than first-degree murder, I’m going to feel very tired again.

If anybody’s going to the protest today in Oakland, can you report in on how it went, in the comments?

Of Patriotism, Joe Six-Pack, and Real Americans

There’s been a lot of rhetoric lately about this idea that “real” Americans are middle class Christian white people living in small towns. Because somehow the POC in those towns? Not really American. People living in major cities? Not really American. People who are not Christian? Not American. Part and parcel of the implications of the “real” American stance is this idea that “real” Americans are patriots who are willing to sacrifice their lives (or watch their children make that sacrifice) in service to their country. Now, as some of you already know I’m a veteran. And I have to say this idea that the only specific religions and races are really American? Disgusts me. Because I know who I served with, I know how many families that have made the ultimate sacrifice do not bear any resemblance to the Joe Six-Pack image that is being espoused as the true face of America. The true face of America? Looks like this:

Photobucket

In what reality is it remotely acceptable to imply that this soldier was not a “real” American because of his last name or his faith? He was 20 years old, and he put it all on the line for his country. How dare anyone disrespect that sacrifice by implying that he wasn’t good enough to be a “real” American? Are there real Americans in small towns in the Midwest? Absolutely. There are also real Americans living in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists, and host of other belief systems. They are every race, every income level, and every educational background. Because that’s the true America. Not the one that spews hate and calls it patriotism.

American Terrorists — Will They Be Sent to Guantanamo? Probably Not, If They’e White

September 15th was the 45 year anniversarry of the 16th Street Church Bombing.  Some background, for those who don’t know.  In 1963, a group of white men who were members of the KKK planted bombs in a black church on a Sunday morning.  When the bomb went off it destroyed a good portion of the church, blew out the windows of nearby buildings, and instantly killed four young girls.  I guess those uppity negros learned their lesson, right?

4 Girls Killed at 16th Street Baptist

4 Girls Killed at 16th Street Baptist

It took decades for all of the men involved in the bombing to be arrested, tried, and convicted.  Even though they bragged about it to friends and family.  Even though the FBI had evidence that they did it.  Why did it take so long?  Not just because it was the South in the 60s, which was bad enough, but because dear old J Edgar Hoover saw fit to withold that evidence from prosecutors.

Just so you understand what I’m saying: in 1963 officers of our government purposefully withheld evidence that these men were guilty of killing four young girls and injuring at least 22 others because the government officials in question were dirty, racist bastards.  It wasn’t until 1978 that the first of the murdering psychopaths was put in jail, and it wasn’t until 2002 when two others finally had their asses handed to them.  The forth one died before he could be convicted.

1978

2002

This is how long families had to wait for justice.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West — the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers.

A Kos diarist posted about it, and the local Dayton media reported on it, but a cursory Google News search shows that hardly anyone is reporting on this.

Someone, or a group of someones, attacked children in a house of worship.  Could have, and probably intended to kill children and adults in a house of worship.

What the fuck is wrong with this goddamned country.

And no, I do not care if at some time or in some place a Muslim individual has also killed or harmed children or people in a house of worship.  That does not fucking excuse this behavior.  It is not ever, EVER okay to respond to ideological differences of opinion or faith by ATTEMPTING TO KILL PEOPLE.

Attacking children in a house of worship is on a short list of things that make you so worthless that shit starts to look like a good candidate for president.

And how many years do you think it will take for these families to see justice for this?  How many more years do we have of it being all right to attack Muslims or people we think might be Muslims the way it was completely okay to attack black people in 1963?  Which government officials will claim the glorious honor of being the ones to hush up evidence, or turn a blind eye, or just not give a shit hard enough in the victims’ general direction?

People who might be Muslim, or Arab, or look kinda Muslim or Arab or brown or strange have been sent to Guantanamo for being on the wrong side of the street on a Tuesday.  If we ever deign to catch these worthless bastards, will our government prosecute them as terorists?  Or will they decline to even label it a hate crime?

People (usually white people) often wonder why I’m not patriotic.  This. Is. Why.

16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing

16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing

The Audacity of Bodily Autonomy

Surgeon sued for giving anesthetized patient temporary tattoo. The tattoo was not at all medical in nature. She had surgery for a herniated disc and the next morning discovered a rose tattoo had been placed on her abdomen below her panty line. The doctor doesn’t deny doing it. In fact he claims he does this with all his patients to lift their spirits after surgery. Now, the really interesting (and disturbing) thing about this situation is how people have reacted to this woman’s decision to sue. The comments on this article are just the tip of the iceberg. Many people seem to be outraged by this woman being willing to sue this doctor for marking her (however temporarily) in her pelvic area without her permission.

We’ve all gone the rounds about the politics of choice as it applies to reproduction. But the idea that women’s bodies are public property doesn’t stop there. Catcalling, comments on weight, comments on hair or makeup from strangers are all just symptoms of a larger societal delusion that women’s bodies are a commodity first. Somehow we’ve gotten stuck in this idea that a woman’s valuing of her body as a part of her self comes second because her first role is to belong to the world at large. Women who refuse to accept that paradigm and insist on being recognized as people first whether it be by yelling back at catcallers, refusing to let strangers touch them, or filing suit when they feel they’ve been violated are then castigated for having the temerity to think that they can dictate what happens to their bodies. Apparently we’re just supposed accept these “lesser” intrusions and not take steps to reclaim that sense of safety because nice girls know their place and don’t delude themselves that they have a right to feel safe and comfortable.

Well, I’m with the women who yell back, who walk away, who press charges and file lawsuits. Because it is past time we got past this idea that being nice = being a willing victim that never complains. I don’t want to live in a reality where people think marking an unconscious woman without her permission is a-okay because it’s temporary, or he didn’t mean any harm, or there’s no proof that he “actually molested her” so she shouldn’t seek legal recourse. I know I’m talking crazy, but wouldn’t be nice to live in a world where women were viewed as people first? Where people didn’t blame the victim, but instead celebrated her willingness to fight back?

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America. Her posts on any topic can be found at her Livejournal.

What Rachel Moss Did

This past weekend I was in Wisconsin for the WisCon convention. I have a lot of posts to write about that, including some ruminations on panels and some stuff about POC at WisCon. But this post is about something that happened during the convention that is contributing to my angry blackness and making me so angry I want to hurl gendered slurs in this woman’s direction for a week.

A woman named Rachel Moss put a post on Something Awful mocking attendees not because of their politics or their feminism or their willingness to come to Wisconsin, but because they were too fat, too white, too male, or too black for her taste.

However, the problem reaches beyond just what Rachel Moss did. It’s now what other people are doing because of Rachel. And though she can say “I don’t have control over what those people do,” the responsibility for starting this whole mess rests squarely on her shoulders. Being a veteran of online snark circle jerks, I know that had Rachel not pointed WisCon out to these people, had not mocked fat people and 9 year old kids, had not put up pictures to go along with that mocking, and had not set the tone for whatever came after, others would not have attacked us in exactly this way.

Let’s start at the beginning. A few days ago the post went up on the Something Awful forums, a site dedicated to making fun of shit. Rachel Moss, the post’s author, has some serious issues surrounding fatness, her own self-image, and understanding the difference between snark and being a total asscrab. I’m going to quote extensively here for reasons I will explain afterward, but I’m putting it under a cut for your pleasure:
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