Trump is only a symptom

About ten years ago, I was managing a seminar for one of the best trainers in the world. There’s an exercise called Secrets. The room is darkened and then everybody in the room, including most of the staff, has to put their hands over their eyes, or put their heads down on their desk.

Then the trainer goes through a list of questions.

“If you have ever … raise your hand.”

Because I was the course manager, I had to keep my eyes open to make sure the room stayed safe. So I was able to see how many hands went up for each question.

Most of the questions were gentle, even harmless, but all of the questions were designed to be cathartic. But a number of the questions cut right down to the bone.

There are things people carry around inside, a lot of hurt and guilt and shame and fear, but there’s no safe place to unload those feelings, so the exercise allows some relief. The participants get to keep their secrets safe, but they get to acknowledge that they are holding these things that keep gnawing at them — they get to own that part of their identity.

This particular time, however, when the trainer asked questions about abuse, about rape, about violence — nearly every woman in the room raised her hand.

Now this was not a unique group of women. These were adult women of all ages, from early twenties to late sixties. Some were students, others were working women. Some were married, others were single or divorced. Some were highly skilled professionals. Some were strong family women.

“Have you ever been raped?” “Have you ever been molested?” “Have you ever been the target of physical or emotional abuse?” “Have you ever been made to feel ashamed of your identity?” “Have you ever held yourself back…?”

And worse.

Observing this for the first time, I felt tears running down my cheeks because of the level of pain in the room. All those pale hands, silent in the dark. A testimony of unspoken hurt. I felt my chest tightening and my heart pounding — I felt myself getting angry, as angry as I felt when my son finally confessed to me how he had suffered at the hands of an abusive foster-parent. I wanted to find the perp and hurt back.

But no — all I could do was remain a silent witness. Stunned and horrified.

Later … much later, when the trainer and I went out to dinner, I had to ask. “Is this normal? All these women?” He said, “Sometimes it’s worse.”

Ever since that moment, I have had to look at women differently — with the knowledge that I am living among a population that is very much carrying a burden of oppression — not unlike the Jews in Nazi Germany, not unlike the slaves in the pre-civil war south. Not unlike so many populations here in this country and around the world.

White male privilege allows white males to exist in a bubble of ignorance and illusion. I have to generalize here, but I’m pretty sure that most men have no idea and even less understanding of just how steeply the landscape has been tilted — just how much (through our unconsciousness) we are deliberately punishing half the human race.

This week, what has been most appalling to me about Donald Trump’s despicable confession of being a sexual predator … is not the various defenses of those who are trapped in his sinking lifeboat with him. No — what’s appalling to me is how few men are able to understand that what Trump spoke about was the “normal” that women experience every day. What is appalling to me is how few men are enraged.

I have been simmering, smoldering, and finally boiling with anger the more I consider his words. I can’t get them out of my head. I can’t escape them. Despite my pacifist leanings, I still want to punch that vile bastard in the face with a jackhammer. Words are insufficient.

And if I’m feeling that way, I cannot imagine how the women who have heard those words are feeling. This isn’t a once-in-a-while occurrence. This is … just another Tuesday.

Sidebar: There’s a story about the filming of Django Unchained — that Leonardo DiCaprio was having trouble with all the racist language he had to speak. He wanted to apologize for it. But Samuel L. Jackson (allegedly) said, “Hey, Motherfucker. This is just another Tuesday for us.”

Well, I’m tired of Tuesday — and the rest of the week as well.

I grew up in a time when anti-semitism was freely expressed. I grew up in a time and lived in an environment where anti-gay sentiments were freely expressed. And eventually, that sensitized me to a lot of other prejudices — anti-black and anti-Muslim and anti-Native American, and so on.

But it wasn’t until that moment in that training room that I realized what a pernicious vile crime against women we have allowed in our culture.

Women alone will not be the solution here. It is up to men, good men, strong men, compassionate men, to draw a line in the sand and redefine what it means to be a man — and that can no longer include the reduction of women from their rightful place as leaders and partners in our society.

Trump is only a symptom. The real disease still festers in the rest of us.

trump-100-smug-republican-hate

(via David Gerrold on FB)

Every woman.

Thanks to the US presidential election, there has been a lot of discussion lately about sexual assault, attitudes towards women and how men conduct themselves when they are in the private company of other men.  It’s really quite hard to ignore at the moment as the media is in the grips of what must be the very exemplar of a true media frenzy. For most women, the topic of sexual assault and sexual harassment hits us somewhere deep and personal that we’d rather not think about.  It brings ugly memories to the surface and dredges up life experiences that we’d prefer to leave quietly filed away in The Past™.  Many of us have these long suppressed and often ignored, but never forgotten, unpleasant memories of how we have subjected to the abysmally inequitable status quo that continues to exist in our society.  To varying degrees, most women I know have had a lifetime of unsolicited sexual attention.  All women live with the awareness of possible sexual harassment and assault every day – it is the background noise of our lives.  It hurts us, it scars us, it sure as hell scares us, and it follows us around our entire lives. And more often than not, it starts really young. So goddamn young.

I was 5 or 6 years old and at primary school, when a man we called ‘Window Willy’, lived in a house adjacent to our playground. He gained this nickname from his habit of flashing his penis at us little girls during our lunch breaks. Despite repeatedly reporting it to teachers the message always came back to just stay away from that area of the playground.

I was about 8 years old when one day, I was up at the Carina Terminus shops waiting for my mother in the haberdasher.  A man who was seated outside the shop had been staring at me through the window, and I thought nothing of it.  While my mum was busy with her purchase, he shifted the leg of his c.1970s very short shorts, and displayed his penis and scrotum to me – a little girl.  I told my mum and the lady in the shop… they just told me not to look at him.

I was an athletic, short, blonde, tanned and already busty 12 or 13 year old, when I came out of the surf at Stradbroke Island one holiday with my hair slicked back wet to my head, and a ‘friend’ of the family said I looked like Bo Derek.  My Dad gave me a towel and told me to cover up.

I was 13 when I had recently joined the Army Cadets and a Cadet Under Officer came over to me while we were at attention on the parade ground and fiddled with the lanyard attached to my breast pocket, saying it wasn’t sitting right.  Seemed innocent enough but then I caught the satisfied and smug look on his face as he walked away because he had touched up my boobs in front of everyone.

I was a little over 14 when I went to the movies in the city with a large group of (mostly male) friends one Anzac Day. The boy I was sitting with thought it was appropriate to pull out his dick and put my hand on it in the dark. I screamed, everyone laughed, I switched seats.

I was barely 15 when a 21 year old man, an officer of the same Cadet Unit decided to single me out. I was flattered at the attentions of this older guy, so it never occurred to me to object when he woke me up in my tent at 1am, and encouraged me to go for a walk with him.  He took me to his panel van and convinced me to ‘come talk with me’.  After a while he kissed me and that was okay, but when he started to grope under my shirt and and tried to pull down my pants, I had to fight tooth and nail to get out of there without pissing him off and causing more aggression… or god help me, violence.

I was nearly 16 when another CO – this time a 23 year old man – took me and two other 16 year old friends to the Gold Coast for a ‘night off’, while we were supposed to be on bivouac.  He bought two bottles of vodka and got us all drunk. I vaguely remember doing cartwheels and round-offs over a campfire that night.  I absolutely, 100%, clearly remember waking up in the early hours of the morning in his car with his hands inside in my pants and him saying, ‘Let’s finish what we started.’ Those words have simultaneously haunted and comforted me.  If things needed ‘finishing’, then maybe my fuzzy drunken memory lapse wasn’t covering up something even worse…

I was 17 when I was waitressing at the local Leagues Club, helping out some friends with their catering business, when a drunk footballer stood up and waved his dick at me to the amusement of his friends.  I ran and hid in the kitchen, shaking my head in disbelief and discouraging my black belt boyfriend from going out there and smashing his face in. One of the older women who was also waiting tables with me offered to take over that table.  He didn’t flash at her.

I was maybe all of 19 when a colleague who I had been reasonably friendly with, cornered me in the copy room late one Friday at work. He pushed me up against a photocopier and pressed his erection into my thigh saying that he thought I was really sexy and he couldn’t help himself.  Knowing that more than 80% of the office had left for the weekend already, I talked fast,telling him I had a boyfriend and asking him what his wife would think. I never scrambled so fast to get the fuck out of a place in my life.

When I was about 20 we used to hang out down at Fisherman’s Wharf for lazy afternoons of live music and cheap drinks.  After one of these nights, we ended back at my boyfriend’s best mate’s place.  My boyfriend passed out drunk in a spare room, leaving me in a strange house with a guy I had met only once before.  This guy. This ‘best friend’, decided this was a good opportunity to pin me down on the carpet, stick his tongue down my throat and have sex with me.  I was too drunk to say no… I was too drunk to say yes.

Thus began my life of never drinking to the point where I might lose control. Of my wits. Of the situation. Of myself.

I was 23 the FIRST time I felt the penis of a complete stranger digging into me when riding a packed train in London.  I’ve lost count of occasions when I have been on trains, buses, or in a tight packed crowd at a concert, and someone has pushed their erection into me, or an anonymous hand opportunistically groped at my breasts, or grabbed on my arse. What do you do?  What do you do?  Sometimes you don’t even know who did it.

I was 35 when a man in Pakistan at a tailor’s shop, slid his hand up my thigh.  I stepped away, only for him to sidle over to me and do it again. Culturally this was seriously creepy – I know how little men value women in countries like this. I was over 40 when a skeezy little Chinese guy in Shanghai pretended to sneeze – face first right into my chest. Fucker.

Thankfully, it happens less and less these days… perhaps because I’m getting older and I am no longer as desirable as the younger version of me was. Perhaps because I no longer frequent pubs and taverns without the protection of a group of trusted friends.  Perhaps, because like many older women, I have carefully cultivated a general ‘fuck off’ vibe, that I arm myself with whenever I leave the house.

I am not in any way tormented or traumatised by my experiences. Have my behaviours evolved to ensure my personal safety and to avoid situations like this?  God, yes.  I don’t go out by myself at night, I am careful about my alcohol consumption (even among friends), I dress fairly modestly most of the time – primarily because I prefer people to talk to my face and not my tits, but also because I don’t want to offer encouragement. Mostly I don’t think about these things because is just the background noise of my life – this constantly and habitually minimising risk.  I don’t dwell on these experiences or in anyway, nor do I feel myself to be any sort of victim.  I’ve never sought justice or expected sympathy over any of this.  These are just things that happened to me.  Sometimes I think the fact that I am not traumatised from these incidents is an indicator of how normalised sexual harassment and sexual assault is in our lives and in our thinking. Other times my thought patterns are more: ‘Yeah, that happened. I can’t change it. I wasn’t seriously hurt. I’m still here. Could have been worse. Who cares?’

Mostly I just don’t think about it at all… but at the moment, with the current media climate, I don’t know how NOT to think critically about my past experiences and how/if they have effected me. What I do know is that sexual assault of varying degrees is so completely pervasive in all our societies. It doesn’t matter what your background is –  it leaves no girl or woman untouched.  I may not have suffered the torment and horror of a complete stranger raping me behind a dumpster – but every single woman I know has stories of unwanted sexual attention.  Every. Single. Woman.

And now, whenever that simply horrid, overblown buffoon of a billionaire, wannabe President, opens his mouth – all I hear and see are these men from my past.  These men who took liberties with my person because I am female. Fuck them and fuck him. If this self professed pig of a man wins the White House and sets a shining example for people all over the world – how do we even begin to try and fix this if it?  I can’t believe he is even being considered as remotely suitable.

consent-sexual-assault

Australia’s biggest dumbass.

Well, he gets to be Australia’s biggest Dumbass today… tomorrow, of course, is another opportunity for an even bigger dumbass to come along and grab the public’s imagination.

The Honourable *scoff* Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment was quoted in the news media as having ‘researched on Wikipedia’ that there is no connection between the bush fires currently ravaging parts of New South Wales, and the conditions currently experienced as a result of global warming (though in truth, I don’t think he stated his opinions quite that concisely or eloquently).  Naturally, he has been lambasted across the press and various social media platforms for being a complete asshat.

What’s got me, is that this joker is a Law graduate, with Honours, of Melbourne University, did his postgrad Masters degree at the prestigious Yale University, and was even supposedly a Fullbright Scholar… and yet here he is talking to the national media about important issues like global climate change and using WIKIPEDIA as a source to back up his argument!!!

What a complete tool…  anyone with half a brain would have seen the fallout coming as soon as the words came out of his addlepated brain.  Needless to say, the Twittersphere has been having a field day, and rightly so.

Someone even took the liberty of making some alterations to Mr Hunt’s own Wikipedia page to demonstrate how factual Wikipedia really is on a moment to moment basis.  This of course was duly altered back to reflect the good minister’s preferred version quick smart.

Fortunately, for those of you who missed it… I have a screen grab  🙂

Environment Minister Wikipedia page hacked

 

Well, what can we say…  If someone is going to go around quoting Wikipedia as a definitive source in a national debate on climate change – then getting your page hacked couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Yale grad and Fullbright Scholar, my arse!

DIY Rainbow

Last week, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay decided to rip up the Rainbow Crossing that was installed for the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade allegedly because it created a public safety hazard as people were stopping to take portraits on the colourful landmark.  Oh no. We can’t have people actually enjoying a public art installation can we?   Gay (ironic, huh) knowing how popular the decision to get rid of the Rainbow Crossing would be, had it ripped up in the middle of the night and without consulting the local community.

sydney rainbow crossing destroyed

 

As expected this has been a very unpopular decision, but has caused a significant and still ongoing ‘backlash’… if you can call it that.  Most public ‘backlashes’ that rail against bad government policy or unpopular community decisions tend to lead to acrimonious accusations in the news, social media outrage and sometimes protesters taking to the streets shouting their cause and holding hastily created placards.  This ‘backlash’ has taken on a very different form – it’s a very warm and fuzzy supportive sort of backlash if we can still call it that.  People are indeed taking to the streets to rail against this particular unpopular decision, but in a totally unique and totally cool way…

DIY rainbow 4 Diy rainbow 5 DIY rainbow 12 DIY rainbow 13 DIY rainbow 14 DIY rainbow 15 DIY rainbow brisbane DIY rainbow soho DIY rainbow st louis Sydney wants to keep its rainbow road crossing celebrating gay and lesbian heritage DIY rainbow6 DIY rainbow7 DIY rainbow8 DIY rainbow9 DIY rainbow10 DIY rainbow11 DIY rainbowsemaphore DIYRainbow FNQ DIYrainbow DIYrainbow2 DIYrainbow2NY DIYrainbow3 DIYrainbowB105

 

People around the country, well around the world actually, are grabbing chalk and making their own pavement rainbow crossings in a huge DIY Rainbow Crossing campaign to show support for Sydney and their lost Rainbow Crossing.  Small and large chalk rainbow crossings are appearing all over the world and pictures of them are turning up all over Twitter and Facebook.  It’s really heartwarming to see such a peaceful protest having such a powerful impact.

 

Slow down, you move too fast… and get it wrong!

What a morning!  Woke up ready to study Latin (well as ready as anyone can be for such an endeavour) only to find out about the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon… and then I watched the complete media clusterfuck as it unfolded surrounding the event.  It seems technology is working against us now.  There were reports that all the cellphone towers were shut down as a preventative measure to stop any further incendiary devices being set off remotely using mobile phones… this was incorrect.  The cellular networks were over capacity and failed, so people lost signal and connection and were encouraged to use text or email to send info to friends and family.

Then there was The New York Times coming out with a (obviously unverified) report that a 20 year old Saudi national was being detained as a suspect in the bombings.  This was rapidly refuted by the Boston Police Department as being untrue and that they had as yet not identified any suspects… The New York Times slinks off with their tail between their legs but it’s too late, the ever simmering ‘Merican Racial Hot Pot hath been stirred.  FFS, if you can’t trust the NYTimes, who can you rely on?

screen grab nytimes boston bombing

With the ‘information’ (and I use the term loosely) coming out at a rapid rate of knots as each news service is determined to beat their competitors to the punch line, sees a situation come to pass where NOTHING in a crisis is reliable.  People need to wait for the dust to settle before the lay of the land can be assessed, and this is just not happening.

President Obama gave a speech which was immediately hosted on the White House Youtube Channel (yeah, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing ten years ago while spending hours watching West Wing re-runs), giving what some have described as a dispassionate and robotic speech to the people about yet another tragedy affecting the American people and their sense of security.  To be honest, I think President Obama just looked like a guy who is sick and tired of giving these speeches after every mass shooting and every domestic or foreign terrorist attack.  These speeches must take a toll and would definitely be one of the worst parts of his job.

President Obama’s Address Boston Marathon Bombings

But he makes his speech, and they make it immediately available to the public to comment on, though the ‘why’ of that completely escapes me as there tends to end up with about a 8:1… political and inane vitriole : sympathies and condolences, ratio.  Some of the real corkers I’ve copied in here and I’m sure it only got worse as they fed off each other like ravenous hyenas picking over a carcass that turn on each other once they’ve ripped the speech apart…

Andres Pereyda:
Inside job. the Onion has better actors than you rich “leaders”

JoseCleveland:
I had to go look into animation cats and to see if I could find the thin Pink Panther like cat …I saw in the clouds. I couldn’t. I did find Yogi Bear when I looked up Warner Bros, Hanna Barbera, MGM, Schultz, etc…. then the storm in N/South Dakota area is
called Yogi.
Ok.

Kevin Garcia 5:
You forget that this is MERICA! We do what we want to get where we want and fuck you!
MERICA!

cplasko:
North korea with out a dought

PresidentTerrorist:
USA without a doubt

Listenbuddy1:
I’m sad for him that it had to happen on the most sacred day of the year for him and his kind, April 15th.

RidlerThe:
They are going to say its Iran and evade… Just like Iraq with 9/11. This is to make the US citizens hate a country so they get a green flag to do whatever the fuck they want.

loooooooo65432:
If Romney was president this would not have happened!

WoWSmirv:
“On days like these there are no republicans, or Democrats, we are Americans united and concerend for our fellow citizens” Really? how about having that philosophy, idk, ALWAYS? why should it take the death of many to come up with that statement? Also, he says they have no idea who did it or why? how about telling us the truth, You did it as a way to continue your fucked up agenda on taking away all our rights and privacy? You know it was you. I am sure Satan will welcome you to hell w/open arms.

Theodore Kaczynski:
Obama, you can have our guns but please leave us our bombs♥♥♥♥♥♥

Twostones00:
Obama’s speech sounds just like the speech Bush gave after the 911 incident. Next FEAR, HATE, LIES, RACISM, PROPAGANDA, WMD’S, COLOR CODED FEAR CHART AND WAR OF AGGRESSION. Thousands of innocent people will die in an OPEC country just because they have brown skin and oil.

SODMGYGRN:
THIS WAS A FBI DRILL PLANNED OUT BY THE U.S.A GOVERNMENT!!!!

zatorith:
Best laugh I had since 2001. More bombs please, I love watching murikans die. You fucking faggots blow up children in the middle east every fucking day, and now some low tier firecracker goes off in some shithole and I am supposed to care? I hope there will be more bombs, fuck America and this fucking world we live in.

cmadd bro:
the goverment prolly paid some 1 to do it so they could blame north Korea

nmnn95:
IT WAS THE GOVERNMENT TO BLAME NORTH KOREA AND GO TO WAR JUST WATCH ITS GONA HAPPEN

Arc Zie:
USA invasion of Iran, here we come.

p money:
if u take away americans right to bear bombs, obama will impose sharia law and communism, theres always that guy on these vids

blake2341000:
Im telling you it was north Korea it all makes sense now the threats in weeks it all adds up to this planes are next bridges towers we need to take action these people have been preparing for this #getkoreanow

Tman2010001:
It will probably be blamed on a group of Patriots who believe in the constitution. Like in the shows they’ve been using to prepare everyone for this. They plan to blame it on the people who support the 2nd amendment and constitution to make all of those people seem bad… Just a theory

cody Strauss:
This bombing is really suspicious it will probably be blamed on other country and make war

UAL8658:
Whoever did it, the United States will find you and wil end your reign of terror on the American people and the free world.

HcccAcsClub:
I am a PROUD GAY American.. And I agree with this Speech.

ahmad baswedan:
LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOOOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

SuBZeR0TeMP:
Why are Americans so fat?

jonethot33:
This event took place in America. We are living in America. We are Americans. I’m sure foreign countries don’t care at the moment.  Shut up.

FREEDOMSPRICE1:
Oh good grief, you could give a shit about the people in Boston it’s just another operation smoke and mirror bull shit !!!

bass109:
activate anti terrorists and anti retaliation riots forces across cities in america. Stabilize the nation under peace of the lord and president. God love you all.

Nicholas Miller:
on tax day not many injuries compared to 911 this was a domestic group boston tea party or people who dont wanna pay taxes deff some one from the united states

Gjergj Kastrioti:
But the people dealing in the name of YOUR BOOK of hatred call you are brother in faith. So GET RID of islam or GTFO

TheisticWisdom:
Poor families affected. But you should GET ANGRY, because… BARACK IS AN ACTOR, look at him! ! ! FAKE SHIT.  What a SHOW. This is a SCRIPT. Another FALSE FLAG to have laws changed and agendas pushed. ‘MERICAH! !!

Ulvenkai:
I love how, no matter the degree of the tragedy, even while the tears are still fresh in our eyes, you can always rely on YouTube comments to remain a steady constant of people calling each other queers, dumbasses, brain-dead and the usual rhetoric.
My heart goes out to you, America. Your loss is felt all over the world.

…  …

Hmmm.. And that was just some of the inane responses from idiots commenting on the President’s address to the nation via the White House Youtube Channel.  It gets so much worse:

“In response, and utterly without any evidence, frequent Fox News contributor Erik Rush tweeted out a message blaming the bombing on Muslim terrorists, saying “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon! #bostonmarathon.”

That prompted another Twitter user to chastize Rush for making such unsupported accusations, which prompted Rush to respond with a call for all Muslims to be killed:

RushBostonTweet

So in the wake of this tragic event a few things become exceedingly apparently…

  1. Social media and the mainstream media are in a race to get information to the public asap, and as a result of this race, the mainstream media have defenestrated source integrity in favour of rapid dissemination times – ’tis better to issue an apology than wait for confirmation perhaps?
  2. American’s call themselvs ‘Merrica, ‘Murrica, and ‘Merika just like we do WHEN WE ARE TAKING THE PISS OUT OF THEM!  I did not know that.  I would have thought many would consider this a slight to their oft God Blessed, United States of America.
  3. There appear to be more conspiracy theorists per square inch in the US than anywhere else on the planet, the tenor of distrust and suspicion for their own government is unbelievable!  Attributing the government with the ability to bomb it’s own people to justify invading *insert unpopular foreign nation of choice* is just madness.  Who thinks like that?
  4. The US really needs to do something about its public education system… it was everything I could do not to go and correct the rampant spelling and grammatical mistakes in those comments and most of them, even the sensible ones not included here, made me twitch!And finally…
  5. Regardless of whether it turns out to be a psychologically disturbed individual or a well organised and politically motivated terrorist group that is responsible for this reprehensible attack… one thing is clear:  In ‘Merrica, there is plenty of hate to go around.