Friday, October 14, 2016

Why I’m voting for Hillary (triggers abound)

When I was ten years old, I visited my best friend who had moved to another state some years ago. One night, we were sleeping in the living room and I woke up to see her father sitting next to me, staring at me. I instinctively knew I was in danger, so I shifted my body a bit so he would know I wasn’t asleep. It worked, and he left. I didn’t tell anyone. I was old enough to understand what had (almost) happened, but not old enough to know how to handle it. Many years later, he was arrested for molesting a young girl. I felt partly responsible – would that have happened if I had spoken up all those years ago?

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  •  Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  •  Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

In 1992, Donald Trump made the comment “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”. He said this about a 10 year girl. He sexualized a 10 year old girl.

When I was 12 years old, a friend and I were at the mall and an older man started following us while rubbing his genitals. We hid in a rack of clothes until he went away.

When I was 15 years old, I worked at a diner. The “regulars” (all old men) used to make comments about my breasts while I was working. I never said anything. I was too embarrassed.

At this same job, the owner’s father grabbed my ass once while we were really busy. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to get fired.

When I was 17 years old, I was at the movies with friends when a man in a business suit suddenly sat down next to me and started masturbating. He was probably counting on me being too scared to do anything, and while I was indeed terrified, I couldn’t just sit there and let that happen. So I stood up and loudly announced that I needed more soda, and the man ran away.

When I was 20 years old, I was at a party and an older man asked me to hold his baby for a minute. I obliged, and enjoyed entertaining the little guy. When I gave the baby back, I commented that he seemed to like me, and his father said “that’s probably because you have large breasts”. I was offended. I said something (not to him), but was told to drop it because this person had the power to shut down the party if he wanted to because of the underage drinkers in attendance. I don’t know who he was or why he had that power, but I did as I was told.

In June 2014, SSH commissioned a 2,000-person national survey in the USA with surveying firm GfK. The survey found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.

In the second presidential debate, Donald Trump denied ever touching a woman without their permission, despite the leaked tapes showing him bragging about doing exactly that. Here is a list of all the sexual assaults that he has been accused of.

When I was 20 years old, I was raped.

When I was 24, I got too drunk at a bar and my best friend caught some guy trying to get me to leave with him. I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t stopped me.

Donald Trump has been accused of raping his ex-wife and a 13 year old girl (stories are included in the link above).

These are all the experiences I can remember. I don’t really have any recent examples (I’m 40) because I’ve formed quite the protective bubble around myself to minimize the risk (as I’m sure many other women have as well). I avoid being alone outside my house. When I walk to my car alone at night, I hold my keys in the way we (women) were taught in order to be able to jab a potential attacker in the eye. When I hike alone in the woods near my house, I have my phone ready to dial 911 when I see someone that gives me a bad vibe. Do you think I’m unique? I’m not. It is not some freak occurrence, or some rare oddity that caused me to spend my youth falling into these unfortunate situations. All women have these stories. ALL WOMEN.  

This is the most time I’ve ever spent thinking about these incidents, and remembering how they made me feel. How scared I was. How “less than” I felt.  How I felt like I had no voice. How I felt like my body was not my own. How simply having a vagina meant that these assaults were to be expected, because this is how men act.

I forget a lot about my childhood, but not these incidents. Never these incidents. They will stay with me forever. I can live with them, of course, and I am generally strong enough to keep these assaults out of the forefront of my brain. Donald Trump has really fucked that up for me. When I see him, hear his voice, read his words, all I can think is that he has made many women feel the same way I have. He has legitimized the practice of marginalizing women. He treats women as “less than”. Constantly. Practically as a rule. And somehow he has made it ok for millions of people to want to have that kind of man as president.

I wrote about my rape after Obama won in 2012 because I spent that election terrified that a GOP win would result in the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The “hot topic” that election cycle was old Republican men wanting to control women’s bodies. I wrote about the impact my rape would have had if I had gotten pregnant and was not allowed to get an abortion. I remember crying when Obama won because I was so relieved that women could remain “safe” (ha) for at least four more years. What’s happening with this election is infinitely worse.

I’m not voting for Hillary because I need for Donald Trump not to be president. I’m voting for her because I need for him to no longer be relevant. His constant presence is a reminder to me of how I rank as a human being in the eyes of many people in power, as well as to those that support Trump and those like him. While he’s still dominating the headlines, I won’t be able to forget the millions of people voting for him despite his truly horrific behavior. While he’s still the focal point of everything, children will be constantly exposed to these terrible words and acts that are suddenly acceptable to say and do because the leader of the free world says and does them.

To be clear, this behavior is unacceptable for any human being. If something like this came out about Bernie Sanders (the only politician I’ve ever given money to), he would not get my vote. Period. I don’t care about Trump’s policies. I don’t care if he would actually make a good president. None of that is more important than the marginalization of an entire gender.

Friday, August 12, 2016

You know what, fuckers? We're everywhere.

The Friendly Atheist posted this blog about some firefighters in Bowling Green, KY who harassed a fellow firefighter for being an atheist.

This is a good example of why so many atheists are closeted, and why events like the Reason Rally can give non-believers a breather in a country so full of hate for anyone who's not white and Christian. The rally, as well as many atheist bloggers and activists encourage acceptance so that heathens don't feel the need to hide who they are.

Such acceptance is unsurprisingly not very present in places like Kentucky (I'm fine with blaming Ken Ham's "Ark Encounter" if you are), though bit by bit, more people come out, which essentially forces the public to either get over it or die mad.

But to these firefighters - I promise you that you deal with atheists on a regular basis. You've saved their lives when their houses have caught fire (probably due to God's wrath). They've scanned your groceries. They've held the door open for you. They've given you physicals, and medicine when you're ill. They've waited on you at restaurants. They are, quite literally, everywhere. They also may be someone you love dearly, but they haven't told you that they don't believe in God because they know you're a bigoted piece of shit asshole fucktard waste of star dust.

Fucking hell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Third Eye Blind lost tens of fans yesterday

Everyone's favorite "doo do do doo" 90's band was supposed to play their hits to the sea of privileged white people at a charity event near the RNC last night, but instead managed to get the entire crowd to "boo" the concept of science. Awesome.

Twitter is all a flutter with tweets both condoning and condemning the band's behavior, and the band's response to it all (in the article linked above) added yet another layer of epicness to this story. It's true that it can be irritating when entertainers are political during performances, but when you have a Republican National Convention open with a speech from one of the Duck Dynasty guys, you're already knee deep in the shit show that is Trump's presidential campaign. There's an "anything goes" attitude this election cycle, so why not express your love for science and equal rights to a crowd of angry people who feel that if God wanted people to have equal rights, He would have made them the 11th commandment.

Below is a sampling of tweets by people who were mad enough about this to tweet about it.

 Yes. They are EXACTLY like Wall Street. I just checked my 401k, and the "Third Eye Blind Plays Their Hits" fund has already lost 30 zillion dollars. I am SCREWED.

I don't really have a comment for this because it makes no sense but it's ALL IN CAPS SO I KNOW THEY'RE SUPER SERIOUS.

 I will acknowledge that Al Gore isn't a scientist, but I also suspect that "real" astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson is probably on the same page as Bill Nye with most things.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I'll never know how it feels like to be a persecuted Christian

It's true that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) contacted the police department and asked them to remove the decal as it violated separation of church and state laws. It's true that the city agreed and has the decal removed. It didn't occur to me how deeply effected the commentator above would be by this decision, and as a humanist who respects those with faith, I tried to put myself in their shoes.

Imagine that you believe in God. You believe in the bible. You believe that bible-era violence belongs in our modern world and is a system of punishment that we should strive for. You're driving in Harper, KS and see a bible verse on the back of a police car that promotes punishment called forth from God's wrath, rather than the current system of laws that govern our nation.



One brave police officer looked at our system of checks and balances and said "No". "No longer will I sit idly by and let our court systems determine what the best punishment is for criminals that I detain. God, who definitely exists, is the only one who can make decisions like this, and since he tends to be suspiciously quiet, I will take it upon myself to act in his name. Surely if he disagrees, he'll send me a sign."

You drive along thinking "Thanks to this officer, Christians are finally getting a voice. I feel safer already.".

But then, an organization that surely worships Satan complained because the decal violated the VERY SAME laws that the officer so bravely gave the middle finger to when he made that decision to be a hero. Unfortunately, this organization works tirelessly to stop courageous acts like this and appears to be rather good at it, so the decal was removed. 

There were two victims in this tragic story. First, the police officer who tried to imply that he would be receiving his orders from God rather than his supervisor while on the job, and second, the God-fearing Christian who saw that decal and thought ever so briefly that at long last, God and the bible would become the law of land. 

It's sad, and I hope that the officer doesn't get too discouraged and that he didn't throw away the decal since he could put it on his own personal car, mailbox, front door, refrigerator, cat, and LITERALLY ANYTHING HE OWNS. He's still being SUPER persecuted against though, and as an atheist (who is universally loved), I can only imagine how hard this is for him.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, who have been so grievously harmed by this senseless act of aggression against all Christians, (who are, without exception, the best people in the world). :(

Monday, June 6, 2016

To the woman who accosted my son at the Reason Rally

We got to the rally about 40 minutes before it was set to start, and my 12 old son used that time to go see the Lincoln Memorial. When he came back, he showed us a card someone had given him. This was the card:

Ok, so we're at an event for atheists and it was to be expected that people would be handing out literature about atheist-related things. My son also told me that the person who handed him this card had on a tshirt that said "atheist", so my first thought is "ok, it's an org for gay atheists".

Orrrrrr, not.

It was really sneaky of you to use rainbow lettering on the front of your card. It was also really sneaky of you to wear a shirt that suggested you were part of the rally, because for my son, that made you "safe". That meant you weren't a stranger. We later discovered that you and your crazy friends were wearing shirts to advertise a movie about how atheism is wrong. My son told me that when you handed him this card, he told you that he was here for the rally, and you replied "maybe you can do this afterwards".

1. I know that in your version of the world, you're doing God's work by trying to convert people into thinking like you. Your self-righteousness allows you to do things that for other people would be considered inappropriate. For example, approaching a child without his parents present with the sole purpose of changing his worldview, his mind, and who he is as a person. How dare you. How fucking dare you. I also assume that you would not have approached my son had I been with him, which makes you seem even creepier and most definitely, a coward. 

2. This point is easy and will be short. 

How would you feel if I approached your 12 year old son and handed him literature on atheism and encouraged him to read it? Glad? Grateful that someone was around to show him that he has other options?

I didn't think so.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why we need the Reason Rally

Four years ago, Madscutter and I attended the first Reason Rally in Washington D.C, as well as the American Atheists convention that followed. It was an amazing weekend, and a bit surreal to be surrounded by literally thousands of atheists. I had this feeling of kinship and belonging that made me realize just how "taboo" atheism still is in normal life. Though most of my family is generally accepting of my lack of belief, and most of my friends are also atheists, it can still be difficult to navigate society as a non-believer.

A non-practicing lapsed Catholic is still perceived as "good" because you know, at least they believe in god. Atheists, until very recently, have sat at the bottom of the list of various identities that the general public would be willing to vote for in a presidential election. We now rank above Muslims (thanks, Trump), and Socialists (thanks, Bernie), but should an openly atheist candidate ever attempt a run at being president, discrimination against non-believers would reach a new high (and the candidate wouldn't win).

So stubborn are the faithful who attach morals and values directly to a belief in god, and attempts to convince them otherwise is not something I've ever seen succeed. Conversations about this can be interesting though, because if a person close to an atheist truly believes that faith is needed in order to be a good person, but they think said atheist is good, that means that they're either wrong or they don't believe this person is an actual atheist. Generally, it's the latter because people really hate being wrong.

The second Reason Rally is this Saturday, and though I wanted to go, I had decided not to for various reasons. Then, a few weeks ago I happened upon an article on a religious site about plans an evangelical group has to come to the rally to protest, try to convert atheists, and of course, to evangelize. This effort is being led by Ray Comfort (of banana fame), and the article treated this as a bigger deal than it merited. It also contained false information that wasn't major, but I have no patience for shitty news reporting, so I commented on the article, and this is what happened:

Note: the blacked out text is my real name - my Discus account was using my information from Facebook. I have obviously since changed this, and it's probably not particularly hard to figure out my real identity, but you know...I have to pretend.

So, that's the response I got just for correcting facts in an article. I didn't attack Christians, faith, or say anything that merited such an insane reply. It didn't piss me off  - it was too perplexing to get mad about, but it did highlight how much events like the Reason Rally are needed. We need to continue to work on changing the public's misconceptions about what atheism is (and isn't), and to combat the persistent hate and discrimination many atheists experience.

So, tl;dr - we'll see you at the Reason Rally!

P.S. I'm going to bring a banana with me to try and get Ray Comfort to sign it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Boy Scouts does not impress me

Xander was a boy scout for approximately 2 days before we found out how anti-gay and anti-atheist they are.  It was definitely a parenting fail on our part since we didn't do the research on this until after he joined, but at least our relationship with the Bigot Scouts was fleeting.

It was big news recently that the BSA is considering allowing gay members.  Great!  Kind of!  Unfortunately, they will still not allow gay adults to be scout leaders, since of course all gay people are pedophiles.  It's clear that their attitude about homosexuality hasn't changed at all, and that this BIG STEP they're taking is an attempt to appease their critics.  So yeah, not impressed.  I do like that people are fighting back though, as evidenced in this (local, yay!) story:

Even if they completely lifted their ban on gays, there would still be that pesky intolerance they have towards non-believers.  I wonder what the chances are that they'll eventually lift that ban as well, considering the pope is totes cool with us now.  I think that if they happened to become completely inclusive, I would still have trouble supporting them.  Open homosexuality and atheism has been around way too long for me to be able to believe that any lifted bans would be done because of a true change of heart, rather than grudgingly "getting with the times".

Of course, one common argument that supports the BSA is that they're a private organization and can do whatever they want - but it's a really shitty argument.  Country clubs could still ban Jews and blacks if they want (as was the custom in the 50's and 60's), but the public simply won't tolerate that kind of bigotry anymore, so it makes little business sense. 

So whatever, BSA - I don't need your stupid organization anyway.  We can just have Xander join Satan's Youth Army or something.