MAKE THEM CARE

MAKE THEM CARE

by Verity Violet

In 1957, 23 year old Jerry Lee Lewis married his cousin, 13 year old Myra Brown. She still believed in Santa.

 
In 1959, Elvis Presley met his future wife. He was 25 and she was 14.
 
In 1975, Steven Tyler purchased the guardianship of a 16 year old girl (Julia Holcomb) from her mother when he was 27 so that he could legally take her with him across state lines while he was on tour.
 
Colored over a “grand romance” and a “decades long relationship”, Celine Dion was 12 years old when 38 year old Rene Angelil became her manager. They went public with their relationship when she was 19.
 
In 1984, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman started dating Mandy Smith. She was 13. Although they did not marry until she was 18, Mandy says she was 14 when they first had sex. Mr. Wyman has never been investigated, much less prosecuted.
 
In 1991, 32 year old director Luc Besson met and eventually married model Maïwenn Le Besco when she was 15. Their relationship inspired his movie Léon: The Professional (1994), which followed an emotional relationship between an adult man and a young girl.
 
In 1993, Jerry Seinfeld picked up a high school student in a public park. He was 39 and she was 17. He and Shoshanna Lonstein dated for four years — through her college years.
 
Noted pedophile R Kelley secretly married R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15 and he was 27. They met when she was 14 and he helped write and produce her first album — “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.”
 
In 1997, Woody Allen should have become notorious when he married his step-daughter. Though she was 21 at the time of the wedding, the two met when she 8. No matter the spin, the facts are stark.
 
It’s the early-mid 2000s and “That 70s Show” actor, Wilmer Valderrama, continues to date teenage girls in an effort to deny that he is now over 30. He dated 16-year-old Mandy Moore despite being four years her senior. At age 24, Valderrama dated 17-year-old Lindsay Lohan though they kept the relationship a secret until her 18th birthday in 2004. In 2010, the 30-year-old began dating 17-year-old Demi Lovato.
 
Back in 2004, 26 year old Joel Madden and Hilary Duff did the familiar dance of being “just friends” until her 18th birthday in 2006.
 
Rapper Tyga and Kylie Jenner began “hanging out” an awful lot beginning in 2014 when she was 16 and he was 24. They dated on and off after that, though they became a lot more openly “on” after her 18th birthday in 2016.
 
2018 — yesterday, 14 year old Millie Bobby Brown innocently revealed that rapper, Drake, age 31, has been with her, for the last year giving her advice about boys. They are friends, she says. He texts her, “I miss you.” This is the same Drake who has, more than once, skated around that “just friends until she turns 18” line — most recently with 18 year old model Bella Harris.
 
Guys, this isn’t a friendship. This is GROOMING. No one will stop it. They’ll “date.” He’ll have sex with her, probably in a couple of years. No one will care because he’s a man and a star.
 
NO ONE WILL CARE UNLESS WE START MAKING PEOPLE CARE.
 
Make them care. No free passes. No 2nd chances (one little girl is all you get, boys.) A ruined career is the least they deserve. It’s not cute. THIS IS NOT OK.
 
~ Verity Violet
#METOO RELOADED

#METOO RELOADED

by Flora Day

In case you haven’t noticed, this is #metoo reloaded, round 2, baby. #metoo original just gave us the nerve to acknowledge. It’s been a year. We’ve made ground, but we’re nowhere near done. So, try to put an alleged assaulter, with a history of misogyny on the Supreme Court? Oh, hell nah.

 

#metoo reloaded, women are telling the stories. Courage and bravery!

 

I can’t wait for the third one in this sequel, when we start naming names. All of us.

 

So all y’all predators/assaulters/boys being boys out there: get ready. Get your lists of women “you haven’t assaulted,” prepare the denials, then, eh, I knew her, and then the I was a boy being a boy.

 

We coming for ya, bitches.

 

Maybe #metoo 4th sequel can be a comedy, where the predators cry about how it ruined their lives, while we all eat popcorn and slurp coke, you know, the lives we should have been living if GIRLS could just be GIRLS!!

 

I Lost Myself

I Lost Myself

by Rose Madder

CW: Sexual Assault

I have been trying to process some painful memories today to share some of my stories. This is dedicated to all the amazing, courageous women who have inspired me to delve deep.

 

I was the most sheltered, naive person in my college. Most of my friends there were a few years older than me. One night, I met this guy at a friend’s apartment. We hit it off, and he came home with me. I assumed we were just going to fool around, since that’s all I had ever done before, but soon his clothes were off. I was so frozen with shock, I never said no. It took months before I realized it wasn’t consensual. I lost a piece of myself that night that I don’t think I can ever recover.

 

A few years later, I was out at a bar with friends. One offered to drive me home but then made up a bullshit excuse to take me back to his apartment. He made a move on me, and I rejected it. He put on porn and jerked off in front of me. When he was done, he cuddled up next to me, as I lay frozen in terror again. I couldn’t sleep at all, positive he would assault me once I did. Some of my friends are FB friends with him, so it’s especially lovely to see his face as a reminder of that memory.

#MeToo
#IStandWithChristineBlaseyFord

NOT MY FEMINISM

NOT MY FEMINISM

by Rose Madder

It’s shocking to believe that almost a full year has passed since America’s greatest threat to democracy took office. In that time, I have made and lost hundreds of friendships, took part in countless debates, and developed unbreakable bonds. But despite all the ideals many of us shared, there is one subject where we seem unable to agree. What does feminism mean to you?

The discussions began with the allegations made against Al Franken. Most of my closest friends shared my feelings, which came as a relief. My affinity for him began 2 decades ago, so learning that the supposed advocate for women was nothing more than another perpetrator of assault was a hard pill to swallow. Equally shocking were the personal attacks launched against his first accuser: She is a Republican. She is a plant by Roger Stone sent to torpedo Franken’s possible presidential aspirations. She was photographed groping Robin Williams. All of these were coupled with the implied or verbalized understanding that she was promiscuous and got what she deserved. I shed some friends during these discussions.

Now accusations have been made against Aziz Ansari. It all started again, except it’s much more personal this time around. The account given by his victim rings true to me, as I have experienced a similar assault. As I scanned my FB feed, I learned that many other women had also been through comparable encounters. I put all those forever raw nerves out there to share my own story, to explain why I identify so strongly with her. But the response from some people was disappointing, to say the least.

Feelings about what constitutes as sexual assault or harassment can vary immensely from one person the next. All of those opinions are valid, but not the same. I expressed the sentiment that if someone feels they were violated, they were. But instead of the support and love I was hoping for, my own words were tossed in my face scornfully. I was belittled and informed that regret over a sexual encounter isn’t rape. It was like rape victim Olympics, and apparently my experiences don’t qualify, even though they were emotionally devastating.

So I come back to the query of what feminism means to you. Does it mean we always support women, even if we greatly admire the men accused? Do feminists get to be the people to decide the hierarchy of what is real or imagined assault? Can you be a feminist if you victim blame or slut shame? We all have such different perceptions of feminism, so I can’t be the arbiter of it. I know that I don’t feel that anyone has the right to devalue another person’s feelings, even if we disagree. I hope to soon be in a world where questions of women’s sexual history will become irrelevant in regards to accusations of assault. Consent should be the one mantra we can all live by.

RECLAIMING OUR SPACE

RECLAIMING OUR SPACE

by Lexi Justice
I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely tired of men’s opinions and ideas being prioritized over women’s. This isn’t new, of course, but it is frustrating, especially in progressive politics, where people are theoretically more aware of power differentials and marginalization. Of course, the recent Women’s Convention and Bernie Sanders’ original place as a keynote speaker there has been on my mind and has brought up a number of personal experiences in which this has also been the case.

Inviting a man, specifically a man who has been as dismissive of women’s issues as Sanders, to speak at a Women’s Convention, seems on the surface a rather baffling choice. But upon further reflection, it’s not a huge surprise. We continuously allow men to be the arbiters of policy, make political decisions, and support them because they’ve had more experience. But they gain more experience by being louder, by talking over us, and by changing plans without consulting us.

Bernie Sanders is not the first man to tell women that their reproductive rights are not as important as other issues, that we must just sit back and wait until some other Important Problem is solved. This includes trans women as well- access to empathetic healthcare is critical to trans health. Women of color have been told throughout history that their rights come secondary to everyone else’s, even other women’s. In fact, other women are often the ones to tell women of color, trans women, and non-binary femmes that they are next on the list, just as soon as the smallest of first steps is accomplished.

It is important that we as women do not fall into the trap of defending men who do this, or of giving them space that women should be occupying. The response from the Women’s Convention organizers was to state that they tried to find someone else, that Sanders was a “champion” of women’s rights throughout his career. But what we’ve seen in the past couple of years has been Sanders’ continued insistence that we must first address economic issues before moving on to identity politics, a term he uses with clear disdain.

I saw a lot of arguments online about how Sanders is one of the most “popular” politicians among millennials, and that he would be a draw for the convention. But politics shouldn’t be a popularity contest, and women are smart enough to discern between what is popular and what is beneficial to them. But Sanders himself seems to treat politics as a popularity contest. He should never have accepted the invitation, and there were several ways he could have declined respectfully. Stating that he would prefer women’s voices be centered at their own convention would have been a good start. Instead, he waited until people were upset, then decided to go to Puerto Rico to…do his actual job as a Senator. Thankfully, a woman took his place.

The silver lining in all of this is that women have been using our voices more.

We’ve been speaking up more in solidarity, as a collective. We are slowly but surely affecting change. It starts with us continuing to carve out a place, to maintain our spaces when men attempt to intrude, to continue to use our voices against the men who would silence us. When it’s all of us together, we have a chance.

ENOUGH EXCUSES

ENOUGH EXCUSES

I was supposed to write a piece for She the People on rape culture, but I’ve found myself with a million things to say and no way to get it all out. For the past month, my entire Facebook newsfeed has demonstrated just how pervasive rape culture is, from Melania’s clothing, to #MeToo, to Roy Moore, to Al Franken. As a rape survivor, I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to even check my newsfeed anymore (seriously, Facebook, why did you get rid of the Groups app?!).

There was a time when I would have excused Al Franken or Bill Clinton (sorry, but I’m pretty sure I would have found Roy Moore’s actions repulsive and inexcusable at any time). There was a time when I believed Clarence Thomas over Anita Hill and William Kennedy Smith over Patricia Bowman. I get it. There is a pervasive undercurrent in our society that causes us to be skeptical or to push blame back onto the accuser. I can only speculate why or how it came to be, but I can tell you that its pull is just as strong now as ever.

One of the most common excuses I see for slut-shaming is this lousy analogy comparing rape with theft. The argument was that if you flashed a lot of money and fancy things and left your car or your house unlocked, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if you got robbed (the implication being that women who dress or act a “certain way” shouldn’t be surprised if they become the victim of rape or sexual assault). But there are multiple flaws in this analogy, which only further prove the point about rape culture. First, if your friend says he was robbed, what is your initial response? I can guarantee it wouldn’t be a question about his own behavior and home security. But when a woman says she has been raped or assaulted, the initial response is often a question of clothing or alcohol consumption. In the case of the robbery, do we tell the victim that he couldn’t possibly be the victim of a crime since he was “irresponsible”? Will his actions be on trial if the thief is arrested? Will a jury find the thief Not Guilty?

Ultimately, the personal responsibility argument needs to work both ways. Open any one of a thousand self-help books and the message is the same- we can only be responsible for our own words and actions. We can not control the people around us. And yet, as a society the message to women is that we are somehow responsible for men’s actions. It’s ingrained early, as seen in the questionable creation and enforcement of school dress codes (can’t have that bare shoulder distracting the boys, so you need to change your shirt). It continues through our lives and is reinforced every time we see explicit pictures of a woman used as evidence against her if she is the victim of harassment or assault. Why do we not put this kind of emphasis on the behavior of men? Why is it so difficult to hold a man accountable for his own actions?

I’m tired. I’m tired of living in a world where how a woman dresses or what she does for work is used to discredit her. I’m tired of living in a world where partisanship appears to cloud our judgment. I’m tired of feeling like our experiences can be brushed aside or invalidated if our truth is seen as an inconvenience.

The sad truth is that we live in a culture where I suspect almost all, if not all, men have done something that crossed a line at some point in their lives. Making excuses for those actions doesn’t help anyone. As a society, we need to start facing and owning up to it- that’s the only way we can ever hope to destroy this toxic undercurrent. This isn’t about an individual or a political party. This is about human decency.