This is your trigger warning.

Scroll fast if you need to because I'm not cutting this.

Before this case came about, I'd heard of Steubenville from a lovely older couple (the Enditches from Steubenville, which is how I remember) on a bus tour I took roughly twenty-two years ago.

I didn't know about the football program there or how it was basically the only thing that held the town together.  However, when I heard it, it didn't surprise me because of how utterly beyond the pale OSU fans are.  They riot sometimes when they WIN, :/.

For those of you who are either not in the U.S. or who have been living under a large boulder for the last few months, a young woman of sixteen got drunk at a party last August and was dragged, semi-conscious and unconscious to several locations, where she was sexually assaulted multiple times.  She didn't know she'd been attacked until the next day, when she discovered multiple text posts, pictures, and videos about/of the assaults had been posted online.

Sunday, two football players, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, were convicted of "digitally penetrating" her. There were at least two dozen other witnesses/possible assailants, but these two were (in my opinion) the sacrificial lambs.  I wonder how good they were on the team?  I wonder how many more players/bystanders actually assaulted this young woman?  These two young men were convicted in juvenile court despite their ages (seventeen and sixteen, which in a lot of cases would have them tried as adults), which means that once they're over twenty-one, their records could be swept clean.  Yes, they have to register as "juvenile sex offenders" and yes, their pictures have been plastered all over the media, (we'll be talking more about the media in a moment), which will hopefully help to save future victims, but they still won't have ADULT criminal records.  This still won't necessarily ruin their lives forever in the same way it's affected the life of their victim, who has been shamed in court and received death threats from two other young women via social media sites.  Ohio's Attorney General is charging those who made the latest threats, but where are the charges against all of those who watched this young women be raped?  Not only that, but made videos in which they were laughing about her being raped.

To be clear, I think that this young woman can overcome this, but she might not.  She might not be able to come back from what they did to her.  Her life might spiral out of control because of the control that was stolen from her that night.  She's a survivor either way, but whether this rules her life forever or she's able to put it behind her, the fault still lies with those who, according to the prosecution, "treated her like a toy."

Where is the outrage?  Oh, that's right.  It's being directed towards the RAPISTS, in that media outlets like CNN think it's a shame that their lives were ruined by all of this. (Here's a petition you can sign to tell them what you think of their coverage of this issue.)  And the fucking Onion predicted all of this two years ago.

So what am I taking away from all of this?  I'm not a person once I get drunk.  Hell, I'm not a person if I'm out after dark alone or forget to lock my door or to set my alarm or am not careful enough with my surroundings or wear pants that are "too tight," a skirt that is "too short," or a burqa that shows "too much ankle."  You see where I'm going with this, right?

We teach men that women are "asking for it."  We teach them that they aren't responsible for their actions and that their "innocent lives" could be ruined by "giving in" to a girl who was too drunk to say no.  We shame rape victims so much that someone made a video called, "Shit Everyone Says To Rape Victims," and I'd heard them all before.

Our society doesn't teach men not to rape. Look at what happened to the woman who dared to suggest that we do so on Fox News - she was vilified and got both rape and death threats. Bullying is a part of it - men are bullied by their peers into going along with behavior that makes them seem "manly" to said peers. Even now, we're telling them to "man up," as though being a man is automatically strong and capable.

However, young men are also bullied by their fathers who bullied them, "Don't be a [misogynistic slur]" if they dare to express their emotions. They are bullied by a society that tells them that they aren't "real men" unless they attract as many women as possible, by any means possible. This is not peer-on-peer bullying. This is bullying at every level, from every angle, every day from the moment these young men are born.

If this is not 100% clear - I'm not excusing their actions, but until the rape culture stops telling women how they can avoid rape instead of telling men not to rape, cases like this will continue to happen.  People are starting to think this way (in Vancouver, an ad campaign entitled "Don't Be That Guy" has helped to reduce sexual assaults there by 10%), but the process is entirely too slow.   Also, the myth of the stranger attack needs to go away. Most women are raped by men they know. The Steubenville survivor even testified that she "thought she could trust" one of her rapists and didn't realize that she couldn't until she saw all of the social media about her attack the next day.

Can you imagine that?  Finding out you were raped (and that multiple bystanders, many of whom were your classmates, stood around ENJOYING your rape as though it was entertainment) via fucking Facebook and Twitter?  Can you imagine having two supposed friends of yours call you a liar and end your friendship because they wanted you to leave the party and you didn't do so, ergo what happened to you was your fault?

I've spoken about this before, but seeing what this sixteen-year-old woman is having to go through, with 18,000 townspeople she's known all her life and thousands more strangers online all acting as though this situation came about because she was drunk and not because those young men are fucking rapists, is making me sick on a level I can't begin to express.

She deserves better.  She deserves to be believed, to be supported, to be cared for, and, above all, to be told it was NOT HER FAULT!  But we don't do that in this country, or apparently any other, if Steig Larson and recent reports out of India are accurate, which I'm certain they are.  And those are only two examples - if anyone knows of a country/culture where rape is considered SOLELY the fault of the rapist, I would certainly love to hear about it, as I could use some good news on this front today.

The worst part - everything I've linked here is the barest tip of an iceberg so huge it could sink a million Titanics.  I could find dozens more links, all telling me that in the eyes of the world, my bodily autonomy is subject to the whims of others.

Society doesn't see me as a person.  I'm going to fight to change that.

ETA: Henry Rollins' commentary is rather similar to mine.
Sadly, I can't link to it here because it has the person's real name attached, but there's a viral image on Facebook that is a screencap of the following status:

I caught my son walking home with the gay kid from across the street.  My hand and his butt are going to be sore for the rest of the night.

A friend re-posted the image with the following caption:

Complete parenting fail.  The best way to teach your children hate and bigotry is to violently abuse them.

As her name was on it (she has an uncommon name and the pictures matched), I sent her the following message with the picture attached:

I wanted you to know that your incredibly awful parenting has gone viral. Congratulations on teaching your son hate, bigotry, and fear through abuse. You are disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself.

She'll probably be able to get the image pulled if she reports it to Facebook, but for now I'm happy to see her publicly shamed for being an intolerant child abuser.  There's also a fan page that's been set up to bash her with the tag line, "Proud homophobe and child abuser."

If there's anyone out there thinking that I (or anyone else) shouldn't sink to her level by shaming her, bothering her with messages, or any other such rot, allow me to remind you that she's the one who hit her child because he walked home with a child who may or may not be gay.  If you're on her side in any way, shape, or form, your comments aren't welcome here.
So I had a dream last night (bear with me, because I know that studies have shown that nothing is more boring than listening to other people's dreams), I had a dream that we actually had to say in person everything we wrote online to the people we were saying it about/to. 

It was intense.  It was probably also prompted by this post by [ profile] sparkindarkness, which features a video from Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters showcasing the homophobic tweets that people sent #tomyunbornchild.

In any case, I'd really like for all of you to take a moment and think about everything you've ever written about/to anyone on the internet.  Now imagine them standing in front of you.

How many of you would still call them the names you've called them online?  Some of you would, I know.  Some of you aren't cowards, hiding behind screen names or sometimes not even that.  Some of you would own what you say, think, and feel, by saying it to a person's face.

But many of you wouldn't.  Because to many of you, the people represented by every line of text one finds online (even the bots were programmed by someone), EVERYONE is a bot.  No one is real.  We're all just characters in a big game.  Some of it is human socialization.  When interacting with others I think it's 70% how you look, 20% how you say something, and 10% what you actually said (numbers pulled directly from my ass, but I think they're pretty close to reality). 

Online, it's 100% what you said.  Online, we are what we type.  Not only that, but unlike with most face-to-face interaction, there is no body language, no nuance of expression, nothing but words on a screen.  To many of you, that's all I am, for better or worse, I'm words on a screen. 

I've said and done hurtful things, both in person and online.  Online, it's forever.  There is no way to "make up" with someone online, not really, because the connection is at once tenuous and permanent.  If I misspeak offline, I still may make an enemy for life (or at least lose a chance at a friendship), but let's be honest here - human memory fades and it's much easier to make amends to a person than a screen name.

The internet doesn't fade.  The internet is forever.  Every poor choice of words, shitty opinion, sleepy tirade, or stupid comment is just there.  Even if someone deletes, there are screencaps and WayBack machines. 

Where am I going with this?  I'm not really sure, I just needed to articulate my unease with the idea that to many people with whom I interact online, I'm not a real person.  Why else would so many people call the world outside the internet "real life," when in fact it is "offline life?"  ([ profile] rm did a good post about this a while back that I'm too lazy to go and look up.)

I remember once reading a fiction story that described a mental disorder in which a person didn't believe that every person around them was in fact "real."  They knew that they were "real," and felt that others could be "real" as well, but for them most people were simply two-dimensional characters, with no true thoughts, feelings, or lives of their own. 

I am not a character in Sim City.  Neither are you.  What we say and do here may be escapism from everyday pressures such as bills, work, homophobia, racism, sexism, or just the general pain of living, but everyone with whom we interact has problems, maybe not just like ours, but problems all the same.  Everyone has pain.  Everyone has tragedy.  Your pain does not make my pain less, nor does my pain make your pain less, nor should it.  We are all human beings. 

We all have privilege to one degree or another (simply the act of being able to get online to read this- Hell, simply the act of reading is a privilege), but there is no one can see this who has not suffered.  No one who has not felt pain or loss or alienation from others.

And the internet is the ultimate alienation.  We're all just words on a screen to one another, which means that far more than with face-to-face or even telephone interactions, we must choose our words with care, thoughtfulness, and patience.  We must not be rash, or hasty, or cruel if we can avoid it.

But we are.  Unless you're a total lurker (as I was for many years - ah, the salad days!), the odds are good that you've said or done something online that has hurt someone else.  That hurt has been real.  It was a real person you were calling horrible and while you may have felt they deserved it (and they certainly may have), I still have to ask - Would you have said it to their face?"  Or signed the name that people know you face-to-face to it?

Do you own what you say, think, and feel here where you don't have to?  Would you say everything you think of me if we met offline?

I hope you would.  I hope I would.  Actually, I know I would because I have.  I've told people that I just met that they had terrible opinions and I've called people out at work and school when they've said something nasty.  Not every time, but then, I don't engage every time online, either.  And just as with here, I don't win friends and influence people... but sometimes I do, :). 

Again, where am I going with this?  Nowhere, obviously.  I'm just a 35-year-old, white, US-born woman, sitting in my pajamas in an office chair with a tabby cat on my desk in my messy office, listening to my bed call my name because I can go back and sleep a little longer today before I go to work, writing about a dream I had last night. 

I have homework to do, bills to pay, and paperwork I need to file.  I have problems.  I have pain.  I broke down crying for a moment last night when I saw the same tabby cat that's sitting on my desk right now out of the corner of my eye and for a moment, my brain forgot Buttons was dead.  I have joy.  I cuddled up with my husband last night and I'm done with school for the week.  I also cooked myself chicken for breakfast.

I'm a boring, ordinary, living, breathing human being with an average number of problems that are almost certainly worse in my head than they are in reality. 

I'm real, though.  I'm a real person with real thoughts, real feelings, and real pain.  You can hurt me, if you have that desire. 

I am a living, breathing human being.  Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

And so are all of you.  I'm going to try to do better about remembering that. 

I would sign my full name to this, but that's against LJ's TOS, so I'll just say - Eh, perhaps not.

With warmest regards,

Beverly J. Horsley
Inspired by more than one comment on the post that this post links to, I'm finally going to weigh in on the whole anti-PC, thought-police, this-word-has-another-meaning-and-no-one-can-own-a-word, I-don't have-to-change-simply-because-you're-offended school of thought.

I'm going to begin by saying that I'm guilty of using pretty much every word that is at issue at one point or another, some as recently as last year, so I'm not saying that I'm not in a glass house here. 


For those who are against changing their language to remove certain words from their vocabularies because another person is offended by it, I ask the following question:

Who does it hurt? 

Seriously, who does it hurt to make the effort not to use words that others have found offensive?  I know that it's an effort to do so, so I guess someone could argue that it's hurting them by virtue of the fact that changing one's vocabulary and deleting certain words is hella difficult...  Well, I have to say that it's more difficult in the offline world, but online?  It's as easy as being careful of what one types.  I realize that for some, who type as quickly as they think, that could be a challenge, but seriously?  Who does it hurt?  Why is it such a big deal to just not be an asshat when someone asks you to do so?

Cut for possible triggers and an incomplete list of incredibly offensive slurs that everyone should know not to use. Ever.  )And because I've been educating myself a bunch lately, here are a bunch of links that all say all of this a lot better than I just did.

101 Primer

[ profile] sparkindarkness' entire journal.

Read all of that and then come back to discuss, if you wish, :).

ETA: Proof that not being an asshat is an ongoing battle: Weak is ableist.  Thank you to [ profile] 51stcenturyfox  for letting me know, :).

ETA 2: My comment thread on the post that started all of this is here

ETA 3: Drama communities are probably not the best place to start, lol, but if it were not for them I never would have found most of this stuff out, which is why I mentioned them.  The best place to start is with the 101 Primer and go from there, :).

This post has now been edited because my essential message was being lost and I was doing more harm than good by defending my position on one phrase.  Most of the comments regarding that phrase have now been screened.  I'm not a PoC, so my feelings on that phrase don't matter whatsoever and continuing to argue about it only detracts from the essential point of what I was trying to say. 

I apologize for the drama.

For the record I am US-born, white, queer though I easily pass for both female and straight, and able-bodied.  I have no personal experience with physical, racial or ethnic discrimination and I apologize for speaking for those groups as if I were personally invested in those particular slurs not being used.

The areas in which I have personal experience and/or a personal investment include: feminism/sexim, sex work, body image/food, sexual freedom, BGLTQP rights/homophobia, bullying, child abuse, the US foster care system, the US health care system, PTSD, anxiety, depression and mental health.  

On Bullying

Oct. 1st, 2010 06:26 pm
There have been a lot of posts on my friends' lists lately about bullying and a lot of stories in the news about it, which has forced me to go back to my own childhood and actually think about sharing what I went through.  This part of my youth is separate from every other part.  It's the icing on a very large cake filled with bullshit and it's something that I think about less than most of the other pains from that time. 

I'm going to start generally, because it's the only way I can even begin to find a place to start.

Cut for EPIC!Length.  )

This entry is long, rambling, repetitive, probably incoherent and I feel as though I've strayed from my essential point.  You be the judge.  


Sep. 4th, 2010 05:11 pm
I have an account over there.  Someone gave me an invite code a while ago and I thought it'd be good to have if I wanted to log in and comment on something.  The name there is the same as the name here and if you friend me over there, I'll friend you back.

That said, I'm pretty much never on Dreamwidth unless I'm linked there by someone else.  I had to struggle to remember my username over there the other day when someone friended me.

I also have no plans whatsoever to migrate for the simple reason that I've only recently gotten the hang of LJ, FFS (after ten years, thank you very much) and I really don't have the time to futz around with another platform right now.

Plus, I think that Dreamwidth is ugly.  The color scheme is hard on the eyes and I don't like looking at it.  While I know that I could probably customize it to make it less so, again, I don't have the time to futz around with it right now.

Finally, and this is just me being a total bitch -  )

Moral of this whine?  I'll migrate to Dreamwidth when the pain in the ass of doing so is less than the pain in the ass that is LJ. 
First off, I'm going to say upfront that if you've recently posted asking that nothing you post be reposted, I've added a note to your name in my LJ.  I've also used this code, thoughtfully provided by [ profile] 51stcenturyfox, which makes it impossible for anyone to share my posts accidentally, so if you're worried about it happening in your journal, this will help to prevent that, :).


If you're auto-sharing everything as a matter of course (and who the FUCK does that?), it won't stop you, but this will keep anyone from accidentally linking to my journal.

Again, if you want to link to something public in my journal, please feel free to do so - just don't link to anything friends-locked and if you're the sort who's cross-posting everything you do, just stop commenting on my friends-locked posts, kthanx? 

For those of you who hate this change, here's LJ's official response and a link to a poll that everyone who cares about this should participate in.

For the record, I still think that anything that you post online should be something that you wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of the NY Times, but that's me, and I promise to respect the wishes of anyone who posts or comments about them.  So, if you haven't posted on this issue recently, but still never want me to link to anything you post, please leave a comment and I'll add a note.  I should also mention that I'm already in the habit of asking before I link to most things anyway (except for things that have already been linked in multiple places), because again, it's, y'know, POLITE.

I'll screen the comments on this, just in case, but will unscreen any of them with permission from the person commenting, :).

For the record, if it's public, it's linkable.  My real name isn't public on this LJ and my facebook is pretty well locked down from random people finding me.

Plus, if I'm of the opinion that if you don't want something seen by someone else, either friends-lock it or, y'know, DON'T POST IT ON THE INTERNET!

That being said, I pretty much never repost anything that I see, nor do I auto-post comments to facebook.  And I always ask before I link to someone's journal because it's, y'know, POLITE.

ETA:  I wrote this before I realized that you could linkback to friends-locked entries.  For the record, if you link back to anything of mine that is friends-locked, I'll de-friend you, ban you from everywhere I can and denounce you publicly for not respecting my privacy.  

Friends-locked means friends-only.  If you don't respect that, you're an asshat.
Please, just assume that everything there is public unless you've gone in and CHANGED YOUR ACCOUNT AND PRIVACY SETTINGS so that either no one can see things, or only your friends can see them.

Remember, facebook right now is a FREE SITE for most users that makes its money by using the information that you provide and by selling ads.  If you don't want your information everywhere, LOCK IT DOWN.

Or, y'know, don't use facebook.

I only mention this because I was just reading yet another "facebook is evil"- type post and realized that it's not facebook that's evil.  It's people being stupid with their information online that's wrong.  facebook is simply using every resource that YOU'VE GIVEN IT.  

Personally, I really like facebook.  It's allowed me to connect with people that I haven't seen in years and is generally great fun to play around on and I don't even play any of the games, :).  But I assume that everything that I post might be seen by anyone, anywhere because, y'know IT'S THE BLOODY INTERNET!

Sorry to scream here, I just get tired of seeing all of these big 'privacy concerns' about pretty much every site that I frequent when pretty much all of them have settings that allow you to make your stuff PRIVATE.  It's just that the defaults are set to 'public' and most people don't take the time to actually change them, which ISN'T FACEBOOK'S FAULT.

IMHO, naturally, :).  And I'm sure that there's at least one setting that's more evil than I realize and that someone will tell me about it - that's what I get for making sweeping generalizations.  I'm just tired of people blaming facebook (and many, many other sites) for their own lack of care with their personal information.



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