Taking a page out of her vaguebook

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Dear Passive Aggressive Facebook Friend,

I’m going to give you some advice and I hope you take it. You see that status you posted on facebook today? And that one from a few days ago? And a few days before that? And pretty much several times a week since you joined facebook? You know the ones – where you rant about people, or “call them out,” or basically insult them and finish it up with the occasional “just sayin?” yeah those. Here’s my advice:

Stop it.

I mean it – just stop. For several years now, I have watched you call people hurtful names. I’ve seen you jump to conclusions about things that you don’t know the first thing about. I’ve seen you post information about people that is none of your damned business. I’ve seen you expose people’s secrets. I’ve seen you judge and judge and judge. And you see – I know you. Your other friends know you. And what we know is that you are in no position to judge anyone. No one is really in a position to judge anyone, but you? You are REALLY not. The things that you are putting out there? You’re guilty of almost every single one. So you might want to think twice before you open your big mouth.

You try to portray yourself as an advocate for people who are bullied or mistreated, yet you bully and mistreat people every day –and you’d it publicly on a social network. You skew it in a way that makes you look like the hero, but everyone knows there is always two (or more) sides to every story, and many of us know yours. You’re no hero.

And don’t forget – heroes aren’t cowards. But posting the kind of things that you do on your vague way is cowardly. If you have a problem with someone – tell them. No – not publicly on facebook, but in private. If you perceive that someone is doing something wrong or hurting you – let them know. Give them a chance to explain, instead of putting it on facebook, where lots of people can read between the lines and know exactly who and what you are talking about. I imagine the people who are talking about often figure it out themselves, and then are put in the uncomfortable position of either letting you badmouth them (albeit “anonymously”) in front of their peers, or responding to your crazy rants (which, as we have witnessed, never ends well).

I suppose you do it this way to protect yourself – so if someone DOES respond to your insults you can claim innocence – “Oh, I wasn’t talking about YOU.” This is exactly why doing what you are doing is cowardly. I guess in a way writing this is the same thing. But I’m taking a page out of YOUR (vague)book. You’ve made it fair game. There’s an old adage that says, “If you wouldn’t say I to their face, then don’t say it behind their back.” I think this applies to the kind of vaguebook posts that you are so fond of.

So stop. Before you post another one, stop. Think about a few things: 1. Is it really that big of a deal that you need to rant on about it? 2. Is it really your business? 3. Have you checked your own closet for skeletons? Will posting it make you a hypocrite? And finally, 4. You might want to learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” before you start throwing out insults.

Who is REALLY getting a free ride? Hint: It’s not who they’re telling you it is.

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So, those of you who know me (or read this blog, or follow me on Facebook or twitter) know that I am a pretty political person. And my political leanings are quite liberal. And by “quite liberal,” I mean “No, really – QUITE LIBERAL.”

Needless to say, I do a lot of talking, complaining, campaigning, bitching, etc about what I perceive to be any sort of injustice, unfairness, and downright unkindness in this country. I do believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I have a hard time accepting the opinion of others sometimes – like when that opinion is based on misinformation and downright brainwashing.

Yeah – I said it – brainwashing.

Let’s face it – no one wants to admit they are being oppressed or controlled. It’s like the way a battered spouse often keeps their abuse a secret – partly out of fear, and partly because admitting you are being beaten is (in your mind) admitting weakness, and heaven forbid we appear weak in this country. Just listen to how often you hear “Man up!” exposed as a response to anything that appears to be emotion or pain (both of which – in this patriarchal society are considered weakness. And in this country anything male is seen as strong and powerful, and anything female is seen as lesser and weak).

So instead of admitting that we – the ever declining, yet huge, middle class – are being fucked royally by the very small group of the rich, we instead make ourselves feel better by royally fucking (and blaming) the poor.

I saw someone post something on facebook the other day, which showed a photo of a child pulling another child on a wagon, and it had a caption about everyone needing to pull their weight and not getting a free ride, blah blah blah. As this originated from a conservative website, I inferred from it that they were yet again blaming the poor (those on public assistance to be more specific) for the problems with this country.

But the kind of people who create this stuff are never ones for facts, so let’s talk a little about said facts and maybe we’ll see who REALLY isn’t pulling their weight.

The food stamps program, for instance, costs the average American family, making about $50,000 a year $36 a year of direct costs. Add in other social safety net program such as Medicare & Medicaid, and it increases out load by $6 per year. I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with $42 (or even a good bit more) a year of my hard earned money going to help what the conservatives like to call freeloaders, but I prefer to think of PEOPLE. People – who without our help – might be living in the street and/or eating out of dumpsters. Do some of these people “take advantage of the system” (a favorite phrase among the brainwashed) – well, I suppose that depends on how you define taking advantage of the system. If you mean that they are capable of working, but choose not to, then yes – it happens. Of course, many of those people are only capable of getting minimum wage jobs, which can’t even come close to supporting them, much less their family.  So yes, these people may prefer to accept public assistance rather than work a job that may STILL leave them hungry and/or homeless. And let’s face it – none of these supposed freeloaders are living a life of luxury. They aren’t going on vacations and living in lavish houses. They are the victims of slumlords, and often deciding monthly which bill they can skip because they don’t get enough for all of them. They are often choosing between paying a utility and feeding their family. This isn’t the high life.

As for the idea that these folks are eating steak and lobster while we’re eating hamburger – sure, maybe some of them are. But not for long. Those food stamps don’t stretch that far and if they blow them all on high end food, the have to find a way to live until the next supplement comes along. This is their choice. I have talked about this before here (go ahead and read it – I’ll wait). You simply don’t know why they are buying what they buy. And if their nails are manicured, or they have cell phones – so what. We help people or don’t help people. We don’t get to dictate how they spend their money. That phone may have been a gift. That steak may be for a once a year birthday celebration. This nails may have been done by a friend. You don’t know. You SHOULDN’T know.

The belief that giving someone charity or assistance means that you get to control how they use that charity or assistance is unacceptable. The belief that poor people have an obligation to dress or eat or live their lives in a way that constantly announces to the world, “I’M POOR,” like some kind of scarlet letter needs to be eradicated. It’s demeaning and unkind.

But let’s talk about the kind of welfare that is REALLY putting a drain on society: Corporate Welfare. Corporate welfare – or subsidies and breaks we as taxpayer pay to large (very, very rich) companies costs that same average American family well over $6000 a year. Six thousand dollars a year of my hard earned money is going to help a handful of men and women who are already BILIONAIRES! Billionaires whose companies often don’t pay their workers a living wage, and need public assistance themselves (which increases the need for public assistance that these same billionaires are complaining about). Billionaires whose companies often discriminate against those based on race, sex, age, or sexual orientation. Often in the name of Christianity. Billionaires who pay a much lower tax rate than that same average American family. Billionaires whose companies often pay no (or next to no) taxes at all. Exxon alone get Exxon gets $600 million in annual federal tax breaks. Exxon, who makes over $100 million in profits PER DAY!

These are the facts. The very rich are lying to the middle class about the problems we have in this country. It’s like if you had a big pile of apples – say 100 apples. And a poor, hungry guy comes along and you give him an apple. Just then, a very rich guy starts yelling “THIEF!” and screaming about how that poor guy doesn’t deserve your hard earned apples. And while you’re distracted, he moves in and swipes 80 of those apples. Don’t believe that guy.

I’m Back

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Oh, blogging – how I’ve missed you! Other than my annual Project 2966 post, I haven’t written a thing since June. JUNE! And I was on a roll then, too. Oh well, I can’t dwell on my failures, can I? Nope – all I can do is start over with all my bitching and ranting and nonsense, I suppose.

I guess I could tell you what I’ve been up to since I last wrote. For starters – June was when things started getting crazy, because I – are you ready for this? – I coached my daughter’s competition cheer squad! IKNOW! Me – a cheer coach! Actually, though, it was a lot of fun – more than I expected, really. But it was definitely time consuming.

Then, even before cheer ended, a new activity (for me, at least) started up. Last year, when the girl was in a musical at CalU (which they open auditions to community members), I thought it was just open to kids. But I discovered that there were adults in it as well and decided that the next year I was going to give it a shot. So this year rolled around, and I figured – what the hell – I’ll do it.

So, I show up for the audition, do my singing and feel pretty good about it. Then, as I finished, I heard the words that strike fear into any old, fat lady’s heart:

“Great job! Now you can wait outside for you dance audition.”

Umm…my WHAT, now? My first thought was to wonder if I could sneak out before anyone noticed, but I’m no quitter, so my second was to wonder if I could get a drink, because my dancing generally involves copious amounts of alcohol. Unfortunately, there was no rum to be found, so I had to tough it out. Oh – and did I mention that “adult auditions” consisted of 15/16 years and up? No? Well, let me tell you – my audition group was made up of about 15 cute little skinny teenage dancers and me. Then they showed us a bunch of moves, which I immediately lost after the first 8-count, while the young, lithe dancers danced their faces off and I stomped around like Godzilla. It was truly something to behold.

That said – I got a role. It was a performance of Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical. I was cast as the judge, and it was seriously the most fun I had in a whole bunch of years – everyone was a joy to work with, and so welcoming to me. Oh – and I had to sing badly on purpose at one point, which drove me to fits of paranoia that people would think I was really that bad. Thank god for a patient director!  Emily was cast as Hendrika – the little Dutch girl – her lines & song were in Dutch, which was pretty damned impressive.

Then, once that ended (a sad, sad day, indeed), the rehearsals for the high school musical started up. They did The Wizard of Oz, and my 17 year old son was cast as the Scarecrow. It was his debut performance and he did an absolutely AMAZING job. They cast some elementary kids as munchkins, and Emily was one of them. Then they asked her to play the “mini-witch” (in thi   s version, they throw the witch into the cauldron and she shrinks as she melts – so she went in as a HS girl, came out as a smaller version – Emily – then they threw her in again until she melted to a tiny puppet version, then was gone). It was hilarious and the audience enjoyed the moment as much as I did.

Mr b and I helped out a lot with chaperoning, set, and whatever else we could do, so needless to say, it’s been a busy time. But now, things will be slowing down (total lie – we have softball starting, theater school ongoing, cheer coming soon, etc) and I am going to try to get back to at least SOMEWHAT regular blogging. It’s good to be back!

My mini witch:

oz2

Scarecrow:

oz1

Emily & her wonderful “show dad” from Miracle on 34th Street:

34th2

Judge Meredith Group & Hendrika:

34th

Christopher M. Panatier

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I didn’t know Christopher M. Panatier. I had never even heard his name until I heard it read along with 2,995 others. And though I know I heard it read, I don’t know that I really even took notice of it. 2,996 is a lot of names. It’s especially a lot of names when we’re talking about people who lost their lives.

Christopher Panatier was 36 on that day. Seven years younger than I am now. Many, many years younger, I’m sure, than anyone ever imagined they would lose him. Christopher was a foreign currency trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. I imagine he left for work that day in the towers thinking the worst thing he would deal with was traffic, or irritable clients, or a busy day. Instead, he – along with almost 3,000 others, lost his life in the one of the worst tragedies we have seen in this country.

Christopher was a husband, a father, a son. He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, and they had two children, Annie and Christopher. His children were only 6 and 4 when they lost him. Too young to lose their father. Especially to lose him that way. Too young to even understand how something like that could happen. But really, there is no age, no amount of knowledge or wisdom that could ever make sense of what happened that day.

Everyone who talks about Christopher seems to mention what an amazing, adventurous, and funny man he was. People were drawn to him.

So even though I didn’t know Christopher, I am remembering him along with the other innocent victims of the September 11th 2001 attacks. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend. Because of that, his legacy lives on.

He will be remembered not only for how he died, but for how he lived.

This post is a part of Project 2,966. Go there to see more tributes.

Whiny Little Bitches? Really?

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Facebook has long been filled with funny photos and jokes and someecards. Some are cute. Some are funny. Some are meant to be funny, but miss the mark a little. Some are only funny if you lean one way or another politically. In my experience, the best way to deal with that last kind is to either like and/or comment, if you agree with it, and ignore it if you don’t. It is not worth your time to start up a flame war on facebook. That said, I recently saw one of these that was beyond just being the opposite of my political views, it was downright offensive. I saw it once in the past, but recently a relative (an in-law, actually) posted it again, and another relative (in-law) “liked” it and commented “That’s funny!”

I can’t help but to be disappointed in the one who posted it, though not surprised, and even more disappointed in the one who commented, since I really expected more from him. Why am I so bothered by this, when my policy is to simply ignore this stuff, you ask? I’ll tell you – no actually, I’ll show you. Here is the offending image:

assholes

I have talked before about gun control, but to recap – I am not anti-gun. I believe in restriction, in background checks (which – if they had been in effect – could have saved countless lives over the years). And yes – I agree with the statement in this post – no one really needs an AR-15.

But you know what? This isn’t about gun control. This is about kindness – or the lack thereof. This is about the poor, poor taste of this image and the people who post it and think it’s funny. You can believe what you want about guns. You can believe that guns of all kinds are OK. You can believe that every man, woman and child should own one. You can believe that immediately upon emerging from the birth canal, that every US citizen should be issued their own AR-15. You can believe that every backyard should have a giant shed filled with WMDs for all I care. You are entitled to those beliefs. I don’t agree with them and I will use my voice and my vote to hopefully keep those things from coming true. I will not fight you – I will fight the laws surrounding this issue. You have the right to your beliefs.

But you also have a responsibility. You have a responsibility as a human being to at least attempt some compassion. This image not only fails at compassion, it’s downright unkind and ugly.  Just as you have the right to believe that AR-15s are just peachy, other people – particularly the victims of violence via AR-15 have the right to not be called “whiny little bitches” for their beliefs. Especially when their beliefs may have prevented an AR-15 from taking the lives of their loved ones.

Gun violence is not a joke, and your treating as such is insulting and small-minded. It belittles the loss of so many. So maybe before you make jokes like this again, you should put a face on the “whiny little bitches.” Here’s a good start. If you still think it’s funny after this, then I’m not mad at you anymore. I’m just sorry for you:

Charlotte Bacon, 6

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Daniel Barden, 7

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Rachel D’Avino, 29

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Olivia Engel, 6

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Josephine Gay, 7

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Dylan Hockley, 6

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Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47

hochsprung

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

hsu

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

hubbard

Chase Kowalski, 7

kowalski

Nancy Lanza, 52

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Jesse Lewis, 6

lewis

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

marquez

James Mattioli, 6

mattioli

Grace McDonnell, 7

mcdonnell

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

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Emilie Parker, 6

parker

Jack Pinto, 6

pinto

Noah Pozner, 6

pozner

Caroline Previdi, 6

previdi

Jessica Rekos, 6

rekos

Avielle Richman, 6

richman

Lauren Rousseau, 30

rousseau

Mary Sherlach, 56

sherlach

Victoria Soto, 27

soto

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

wheeler

Allison N. Wyatt, 6

wyatt

Photos from http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-victims/index.html

We’re Still Blaming the Victim

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Yes – following up on yesterday’s ranty post, I’m ranting again today. Today, let’s talk (again) about victim-blaming.

I recently read a story about a woman who was fired because she had an abusive husband. She worked in a school (religion-based, of course), and her abusive husband showed up one day in the school’s parking lot. So the school fired her and kicked out her kids. Super Christian reaction, right?

Even better, I read another story about a 13 year old girl who was raped and got pregnant. (I know, right? I’m not sure why she didn’t use her magical rape-pregnancy-fighting vagina powers, either!) Anyway, she chose to keep the baby, which you would think would please the small-minded idiots, but nooooo…once again, America proves itself to be as awful as the rest of the world thinks we are, as people in her community have been harassing her, calling her a slut and a whore. Vandalizing her home. Basically making her life a living hell and turning her into a recluse, because she can’t take the abuse every time she leaves the house.

Is it any wonder that so many domestic violence incidents and rapes go unreported? I only know a teeny-tiny bit of what that girl is feeling. When a classmate tried to rape me back in high school, it was stopped because some “friends” walked in. I use those quotation marks around friends, because when they walked in and saw me struggling, him on top of me, pinning me down, and saying “You want it, you want it,” their reaction was to exclaim, “Gina!” as if I were somehow responsible for what was happening. And I was young and stupid enough to allow myself to believe it. That somehow, I was responsible. But I know now that my only crime was being a girl.  That was nearly 30 years ago, and we are still blaming the victim.

And I’ve spent nearly 30 years wishing that someone had told me I was wrong – that it was his fault and not mine. I realized it soon enough on my own, but not before I spent way too long thinking I ruined the prom picnic for my date and my friends (since I got good and drunk to self-medicate and forget after that happened). Luckily, I realized it before he tried it again a couple years later. And again to a friend a few years after that. Each time, the violence escalated from the time before, but luckily, I (and my friend) were strong enough to fight off his attempt (emotionally, of course, but also – given his early onset of pathetic alcoholism – physically). Still, I wonder now how many victims he has left in his wake.

The most troubling thins about all this victim-blaming is that it is deeply rooted in sexism and misogyny. For thousands of years (and in some countries, still today), a woman who has been raped or assaulted was herself punished, rather than her rapist. She could be beaten, forced to marry her attacker, or even killed. And it was perfectly acceptable.

And while in this country, we love to show our moral superiority over stories of things like the so-called “honor killings” in the other countries, our outrage over women and girls who are beaten or mistreated because they dare to be raped, or even possess any sort of sexuality, we aren’t doing much better. We need to get off our high horses and take a good look around. Because, no – we don’t literally stone a rape victim. But what is harassing and threatening her, calling her a slut, spray-painting “whore” on her house, then a figurative stoning? We put her photo all over the internet. We talk at length about what she was wearing. We sympathize with the rapists and their “ruined lives.” The wounds may not be physical, but an emotional beating hurts no less. No – we don’t kill literally a woman or girl who has been raped. But when she takes her own life after experiencing this treatment, her blood is on our hands. We are guilty of causing her death.

We’re surrounded by sexism. Some of it minor – seemingly harmless. But those little “harmless” instances lead to bigger ones. In my last post, I talked about “gateways” and “drawing the line.” Well, this issue is where we need to worry about those.

Because if it’s OK to have “girl” books and toys that are all about being pretty and nice, while “boy” books and toys are geared towards being smart and brave, then pretty soon we’ll have people asking if we’re OK with women being primary breadwinners. When we attack women for being single mothers, while ignoring the men who have left them that way, then pretty soon, we’ll have a bunch of idiots talking about “welfare queens” and forced sterilization. All of these “little things” lead to politicians who use terms like “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape,” who believe that the 32,000 women who get pregnant through rape each year just didn’t know how to turn on their magical vaginas, who believe that pregnancy rape is a gift from God. These “little things” lead to laws which allow rapists to sue for custody of those children. These “little things” lead to lawmakers who refuse to pass laws protecting women from their batterers simply because they don’t believe that all women deserve that protection. That the color of someone’s skin or their sexual orientation somehow renders them less of a victim. These “little things” lead to women being paid far less than their male counterparts for the same work.

So pay attention to these so-called “little things.” Start thinking about them and you’ll see more and more everywhere you look. I was hanging out with my 94-year old grandma the other day and she was watching Family Feud. In the course of one hour, I heard the following questions,

“How tall is too tall for a woman?”

“How many times a day do women look in the mirror?”

“At what age do women give up on finding Mr. Right and settle for Mr. OK?”

I’m still not OK with it.

So many assholes, so little time

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It’s weird, sometimes when I neglect this blog, it’s not because I don’t have anything to talk about. In fact, usually, when I have a lot to say is when I don’t say it – particularly when I am all riled up about some assholery. I get mad and then I get all furiously tongue-tied and I end up not writing anything. This past week, so many assholes made me mad that I don’t even know where to start. I have quite a few things to rant about, and dammit, I am going to rant. So today, let’s talk about one of those things, why don’t we?

I saw an article about another celebrity (or that’s what they tell me – he’s an MMA fighter, which – to me – is like saying, he’s very famous, he makes shoelaces in the basement of a wrench factory”). Anyway, this guy was talking about gay marriage, and while he proclaimed to support gay marriage (or at least not care about who wanted to marry whom), he went on to bring u the old “where do you draw the line?” argument. He said:

I’m only asking a question. My next question is, should siblings be allowed to marry siblings? My point is, where do you draw the line? I personally don’t care who you marry but I also am smart enough to know that it opens a gateway to men/women trying to marry young kids, siblings marrying each other and people having multiple husbands and wives. You have to think all of these things are okay otherwise your stopping them from being happy as well which is hypocrisy. Equality doesn’t stop with gay marriage, it just starts with it… my question to you is, why is it okay for gays to marry and your gonna turn around and tell the guy he can’t marry the lil girl next door or the teacher she cant marry the lil boy in her class? Siblings, animals, etc.

Sadly, he’s not the first with this mentality. Jeremy Irons said pretty much the same thing in a recent interview. And you can hear lots of random idiots spewing the same “logic.” It’s the “gateway drug” argument that our parents and teachers used on us when we were growing up: “Don’t smoke pot. It’s not dangerous and it won’t hurt you, but it’s a gateway drug. Get high even once, and you’re doomed to be smoking crack & snorting Drano within weeks! REEFER MADNESS!”

OK, so maybe it’s not exactly the same, but it’s the same premise. And, it’s worse, if you ask me. The gateway drug argument does have some merit. But the “gateway sin” argument, as I’ve come to think of it, is total bullshit. “What’s next? Marrying parents & sibling?” No – that’s called incest. “What’s next? Marrying your dog?” Um…how sick are you to even think of that shit? “What’s next? Polygamy?” Maybe. Who cares? Consenting adult humans can make their own choices about marriage. If I don’t want to be polygamous, I won’t (though I could use some sister-wives – this house is a mess).

To anyone who feels uses this “gateway sin/where do you draw the line” argument to hide your bigotry: STOP IT! Just stop with all the pretending that you’re only worried about all the innocent children and dogs of the world. We can see right through you. All of you who equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Those who ask “where do you draw the line?” I’ll tell you where you draw the line: At child molestation and bestiality!

See? That wasn’t hard now, was it? Any idiot with a brain and a smidgen of compassion should be able to see it, but still you keep going straight from gay marriage to dog-fucking. CUT IT OUT!

John Stewart said it best:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-april-3-2013/red-brand-redemption