Saturday, April 26, 2014

Victim Blaming

  It's been months, and I am terribly sorry for neglecting this for far too long!  I've been planning this very post for months.  I've had a topic in mind, very little time, and even less ambition.  It's not as though I haven't wanted to write, because I have.  It's more that I don't know how to say exactly what's on my mind.  

  The last few months have, so much!  Drew left for deployment and has been gone 82 days.  82 days of parenting 2 toddlers.  82 days of getting my teen ready to enter adulthood, go to prom and get prepared for graduation. 82 days of feeling helpless and crazy, wanting and needing a break.  82 days of sleeping alone.  In 82 days, just 82 days, so much has occurred at work, at Sold No More.  We've began all the projects we had planned, and the success of getting those programs off the ground have been amazing and astounding!  We've reached thousands of children in our school district with a phenomenal program, all about prevention, arming children with information and awareness on trafficking, internet safety and pornography.   

  Being in the schools, talking to the youth of our's been like looking into the faces of the future and the past.  I stand there and I know their potential, the amazing humans they are yet to become.  And I look at them and see them and then I see myself.  I see myself in each of them.  I know what they could be, and how horrifying and terrible it could become for them.  I see vulnerable children who think they're invincible, but also not as confident as they want the world to think they are.  I see innocent, sweet children. 

  I stood in front of these children, and I held up a $20 bill.  I asked them "what is this?" and excitedly, they all shouted out that it was a $20 and that they wanted it!  I then took that bill, and I crumpled it, I threw it to the ground and stomped on it.  First there was a mass sound of shock, and then I said: "Every time I hear the words whore, ho, hooker, slut, ratchet, skank... my breath hitches.  It's as though someone has punched me in the chest." By now, I'm stumbling over my words, and tears are pushing at the back of my eyes.   There is dead silence.  "When I walk through the halls of this school, and I hear all of you awesome young, mature people use these words,  and I hurt.  I hurt not just for myself, but for the girls these words define.  Girls who you've been learning about, girls like me.  Those words, they crumple my value, and the value of the girls I work with.  They crumple our $20 bills."  I then pick up that $20, I uncrumple it, and I ask "Is this still worth $20?" And I get a unanimous "Yes." And then I close with "Do you see how our words can effect others?  But no matter how cruel and hurtful words are,  no matter how much they crumple us, we're worth what we came into this world with.  But after the words are said, we have to walk around with creases in our bills, we're never the same.  No matter that men took my body, and slapped price tags on me, no matter the trauma and horror I experienced, no matter the crumples, I am valuable. And so are you."

    My topic tonight is on "slut-shaming" or "slut-bashing", although, I think I would rather use sexual bullying, or victim blaming.  I have had this topic on my mind for many months now, and it's been the main focus in many conversations I've had.  Tonight I posted in a public forum asking for personal opinions on the subject, and to my silly surprise, I got many answers, one of which took me way off guard, because I naievely believed that people just...understand!  Incidentally it caused a trigger for me.  I was angry and hurt, but in retrospect I realize it was in no way the other woman's fault.  I have obviously had a overload of "life" piled on me recently, and triggers have happened earlier this week as well.  

  To back things up a little, my post asked for opinions on "slut-shaming" and how do people think that it effects society, and specifically, how does it contribute to, or how does it effect our hyper-sexualized society? What I forgot to do was put was a disclaimer on said post, and ask specifically how does all of this effect young girls.  In turn, the answer I got was intended for adult women, and in my emotional state, I responded with my opinions on how this subject effects girls, and why it still effects me, and I responded angrily.  She implied that girls (specifically women) who are "slut-shamed" must mean the women in question probably deserves the shame, or else she wouldn't accept it.  And then I explained my reasons for why this issue bothers me so much, and she responded that "the truth must hurt".  In my desperate attempt to explain, and to understand her lack of compassion, I didn't realize that there was a miscommunication.  And that I may have over-reacted. 

  One other issues still remains from tonight's coversation, and that is that someone else pointed out that this woman would likely feel differently if her children were called these names.  After that issue was presented, she defended herself in saying that she would obviously be upset if her children were called these names, but that her children have been raised with self-worth, so it likely wouldn't hurt them.  And my heart hurts for her with that.  

  While dealing with the after math of my emotions, and thinking many things through, it occurred to me that I work for the girls who don't know self worth, who are like I was.  And sadly, that's the majority of girls.  That's what makes them vulnerable.  That's what made me vulnerable.  And so, just because we might* be capable of raising our daughters to love themselves, despite the social influences that we'll have to fight the whole way through, despite that, are we not also responsible for everyone's daughter??  Are we not responsible for lifting them all up, teaching them all the beauty and potential they possess?? Is it EVER ok to shame another girl, just because she's not "ours"??? No. They'll all ours, and we have to fight the social grooming that's occurring everyday, preparing our babies for the vunerabilities pimps and predators are waiting to use.  

  Call me a PC nazi, tell me I've taken my passion too far, but this is real to me.  This is a major issue that we all have to discuss. My biggest issue with the vocabulary is this: 

- These words are derogitory.  They are meant to oppress girls and women.  To me, they're just as hateful as the use of the "N" word, to describe African American people, or the word "Fag" to describe homosexual people.  These words aren't harmless, they aren't ok.  As a society, we KNOW not to use fag and n***** because they are words that are meant to harm and oppress.  So why are we still using words that are meant to harm and oppress victims.  Whore, hooker, those words describe people who being victimized.  And every time we use them as a society, we make them "harmless" and "funny",  we're taking away the seriousness of the harm that people are suffering.  People don't give a fuck, because these words mean nothing to them.  They're not faced with the reailty of who these words describe, and that's makes it ok to keep using them.  I can take it, I can hear these words, people can use these words to describe me in a hateful way, and I can take it.  But I can't take it knowing that it will remain a non-issue to all those who have never suffered.

  Please consider that before you use them again.