Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Teaching men and women how not to uphold rape culture

That title is overly complicated. I'll tell you how I got here.

A week ago I posted about things that don't help combat sexual assault, most of which put the responsibility on the targets. Sometimes on that topic people will argue that rather than teaching women how to avoid being raped, we need to teach men not to rape.

While I agree that the responsibility needs to focus on the rapists rather than the victims, where I felt contradictory was my belief that rapists know not to rape; the violation of someone else is their motivation, not a byproduct.

So when discussions on consent become about establishing immunity from rape accusations, I find that to be a very frustrating way of missing the point. That is why yesterday's post was about including bodily autonomy rights in consent discussions. Sexual assaults aren't accidents (because rape is more about power than sex).

Then I read this article:

It is about a group of women who have been working to weaken guidelines on campus sexual assault after their sons have been accused of rape. Fun parts include the justifications that even though their sons were not "falsely accused", they were still "wrongly accused" , and that in their generation it wasn't considered assault but just the girl getting stupid and embarrassed.

(Just a note, most women would not consider going through reporting an assault as a good way to fix embarrassment.)

Still, I think the part that stuck out most was the woman who said that her husband and their two sons were "super respectful" of women and concluded "We don't really need to teach our sons not to rape."

Yeah, I think you might need to.

Then there was finding out about Elie Wiesel groping a 19-year old girl's butt, and former president George H. W. Bush's butt-groping count moving up to five, and Oregon Senate president Peter Courtney having to reprimand Jeff Kruse for repeatedly touching women at the Capitol.

First, for anyone who wants to make the point that ass grabbing is not a big deal, I will give you that the vast majority of women would rather be groped than raped. I am still not going to minimize it.

It wouldn't be good on its own. It's disrespectful, objectifying, and it is embarrassing. You can tell yourself that their behavior is not personal -- they are treating you this way because you are a women and that makes you a good opportunity to assert their dominance. We remind each other of that all the time; I have done this yesterday and this morning with different women. We have to because it is the easiest thing in the world to think it's you. Somehow there must be something wrong or weak or despicable about you, for them to treat you like that.

Getting grabbed is not a compliment. It can be fun for the person doing it, but given how negative an experience it is for the one receiving it, no decent person should find that an acceptable way of having fun. And that's just for the groping, because women never know where it will stop. Some are satisfied with a quick feel, but there are others who are pressing boundaries, calculating how far they can go. Some of them really enjoy feeling the fear, but then there are others who will be annoyed with your fear, because obviously it was all in good fun.

There is fear in pushing back against it too. There aren't many visual cues behind which pushy guy will just swear at you once, which will find ways to up that to frequent verbal abuse, which will slap you or which will shoot you. I wish I were exaggerating.

So I think sometimes the reason we have a hard time moving past rape culture is there are so many people who - without being predators or prey - don't understand that there are predators or how difficult being prey can be.

Many of these are men who would never rape a woman who still feel free to critique her clothing choices or demand that she smile or slap her butt. There are also men who will say they would never rape, but then admit to having done things that fit the legal definition of rape without calling it that. And there are women who will support them, especially if it's family.

So okay, maybe we do need to teach people not to rape, or harass, or assault, or assert their dominance over someone else's body, because they don't have a right to that person's body. See, it's that bodily autonomy again.

But here's a way where focusing on obtaining consent can be helpful, beyond avoiding legal charges. When you want to do something to another person, imagine asking for permission: how do you sound?

The good news is that if it turns out that you sound like an ass, perhaps you will enjoy grabbing yourself.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A word about teaching consent

A while ago a class of 4 and 5 year olds had a lesson on consent. At least one of the parents was very pleased to see her son asking for hugs.

I had a mean thought, imagining a manipulative child asking for hugs while knowing it would look bad for anyone to refuse. I'm not saying that's what happened, but some people enjoy making others uncomfortable. Finding ways to disguise that better works great for them.

So teaching consent is important, but the thing that needs to be taught with it is bodily autonomy. My body is mine, so I should have the ultimate say in who gets to touch it and how they get to touch it.

I have had good experiences with people asking if hugs were okay. I was recently reading about someone who had some past trauma that had some lasting effects. She loves and trusts her husband, but if he were to surprise her with a hug he could really be surprising her with a flashback. If he did not respect that he would not be worthy of her trust. That goes beyond hugs.

There can be room for negotiation. If one half of a couple is in the mood for sex, and one isn't, the one not in the mood should be able to refuse. It is also possible that they will go along with it anyway as a concession to the relationship. The other half could also not want to impose, and wait. There could be a discussion about what would help get moods and schedules synchronized. That can be beautiful if it involves love and respect, and gross if it involves guilt and coercion, but a lot of that will come down to whether each one respects both their own and their partner's body.

That belief in individual rights may sound obvious, or it may sound like too much.

For example, if I am on a crowded train, I cannot dictate that everyone maintains a six-inch distance away from me; that would be unreasonable. Mainly we all try and not crowd each other, and maybe it's not pleasant but it's fine.

You also have people who will take advantage of the crowded conditions to rub against others for their sexual gratification. This is called frotteurism. (Actually, I see frottage more, but when the rubbing is specifically non-consensual, it's frotteurism.)

I should have a right to not have people grind on me; most people won't even disagree with that in a hypothetical. However, in the event of it happening, there is still a good chance that I will not be able to get someone to believe me or not think that I am making too big a deal of it, or that I might not have signaled in some way that it was okay, or that I should just acknowledge that it could have been worse.

It should be obvious that each person has a right to their own body, but there are too many indications that it isn't. It is more likely to be a minimization or denial of what happened than an actual denial of that right, but it still happens. Perhaps that means it isn't obvious, and needs to be taught.

I can imagine a lot of objections to this, especially with teaching children that they have a right to their bodies. One example that is frequently given is that you should not force your children to hug or kiss or sit on the lap of anyone that they don't want to, and then your child's shyness is embarrassing you at the family reunion.

Possibly, but if the reticence is related to abuse, you are going to regret pushing the issue later on when it all comes out. If there are sensory issues where the child has a harder time dealing with being touched, surely that can be supported. Even with shyness, just acknowledging that the child's desires matter can be a hugely encouraging thing and allow them to warm up more.

I was feeling like a bit of a hypocrite, because I physically restrain children regularly. This primarily happens when they are at the stage where shoving their hands in other children's faces or snatching toys away appears to be the only fun thing to do. I use words to talk about why this is not good and give them other options, but I am also holding them. (These are generally children aged from 18 to 30 months, so some words may sink in, but you can't necessarily tell.)

I feel better about that realizing that my restraint is specifically for teaching them not to dominate others, regardless of their intentions. I don't restrain them for convenience.

A lot of preserving power is about convenience. We can - without personally abusing our own power - uphold a system that makes abuse of power easy.

So here is a baby step: acknowledge that everyone has autonomy over their own body. Do you believe that? Do your actions support it?

Can you handle hearing "No" from your significant other? Can you say "No" to your significant other without fearing that you will be rejected or injured? Can you trust that allowing your children to question you won't automatically make them monsters?

Is that the rule in your workplace? If it isn't, would you know? What needs to change for that to be a reality?

It's okay if these questions make you uncomfortable, but don't let that stop you from thinking about them. It may be the surest sign that you need to.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Band Review: Shock Horror

I know the recommendation for Shock Horror came from Ed Auletta, but I swear he wasn't on Twitter at the time. I think he posted something about them on Instagram, and then someone else (probably Frank Iero) tweeted that. I had heard good things about Ed, and it was reasonable to believe he had good taste in bands. So, it may have been a more roundabout path than usual to today's review, but it still works, especially for October.

Shock Horror doesn't merely have a name that sounds Halloween-adjacent; they describe themselves as Halloween-themed. That may be more obvious in tracks like "Make Mine A Frankenstein" and "Sunsets Are For Muggings", but there are more existential horrors too, like "Teenage Ruts" and "My Favorite Band Broke Up Today (I'm Not Okay)".

(I can't swear to that being a My Chemical Romance reference, but the timing is such that it could be.)

The Yorkshire band delivers its thrash punk beautifully. I feel things like speed and in your face aggression. Stepping back I know they could be faster or more aggressive, but that wouldn't make the songs better, so what they are instead is right. Good. Satisfying. Maybe fun, sometimes, except you can think about things that are more serious with it. But then you could also just listen to the guitar and drums instead of over-thinking it.

Except Shock Horror does appear to be thinking, embracing a punk ethos inspired by Ian MacKaye that includes making their music available readily and freely. Their Blame The Parents EP can be found on Soundcloud, Reverbnation, and YouTube, though Youtube appears to lack an additional song "You're Just A...".

I can easily go ahead and recommend listening to the music simply because it is good, especially if you like punk. Beyond that, there has been a lot of warm fuzziness with feelings of connection. People I like, like this band, or like people that like this band, and then this band likes other people I like, and reminds me of yet additional bands I like. For example, "Teenage Ruts", whether intentionally or not, makes me think of The Ruts, but if you remind me of them and mention Ian MacKaye, then I am also going to think of Henry Rollins.

And yes, everyone mentioned so far is at least punk-adjacent, and when things get so warm and fuzzy that it is basically kitten hugs that may not seem very punk rock, but connection and community is, so it all works out.

(Perhaps this is where I mention that the closest I have come to interacting with Ed Auletta was when I gave Frank Iero some Chocodiles to pass on to him. Corporate brands and junk food, but consideration of others too; punk can work in mysterious ways.)

Anyway, it's a good band, check them out.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Band Review: Fatally Yours

If you check out Fatally Yours (an alternative/rock band from Baltimore) now, links are going to point to their most recent song, "Another You".

That's logical, because it is new. It also gives you one impression of the band that could be limiting.

"Another You" is angry and growling, perhaps bitter. That doesn't make it a bad song, but as you listen more the band has songs with different moods that are really beautiful. That is especially true of "Exit Sign" and "Every Moment". It kind of doesn't sound like the same group.

That's an unfair impression too. "Horror Fashion" comes from the same time period and demonstrates some similar aggression and energy. There is a harshness to the chords on "Calling Out" that doesn't undermine the melody but is still noticeable.

It is possible that the band is moving in a harder direction, making "Another You" a signal of what is to come.

It could also just be a reminder that there is more than one song to any band. You don't know until you listen, and until you explore a little more.

If you do that, Fatally Yours is pretty good.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Things that can help

I have two concrete things I want to write about, but as I did mention the structural issue as an impediment, we should take that into consideration.

Sexual harassment and assault is built around a power imbalance. The abuser can not only leverage access to jobs and wealth, but also tends to have the social and political power so is less likely to be questioned. I don't know that we can really call it trust, because not believing the victim is not quite the same thing as making a choice to ignore it, but still, it's a factor.

Bearing that in mind, one potential solution comes from a New York Times op-ed by Lupita Nyong'o:

After recounting her own experiences with Weinstein, she says that she has not had an similar experiences since. She attributes this not to her actions, but that the projects she has worked on have had women in positions of power, and men who were feminists. This has created good environments.

Yes, there are women who are abusive, as well as abusive men who are self-proclaimed feminists, but there are people who don't abuse. You can hire them and then you don't need chaperones and people wearing wires because you are not giving the predators free rein.

I have written about how some of this is luck, and perhaps an area in which Nyong'o has been lucky is that more women are slowly getting more directing gigs, and they are making some pretty profitable films. Putting more women into production roles and onto boards could be a great step toward reducing harassment, and the odds are good that it will still be profitable. Weinstein didn't rape and sexually harass everyone, but he was a bully to a lot of people too. What if you don't need to put up with people like that to make money?

It doesn't mean that you fire all the men either, but if Hollywood truly cares about this, then they need to quit hiring the open secrets. They need to quit resolving issues with Non-Disclosure Agreements. That is so blatantly obvious that you have to wonder if they would care if no one were talking about it.

But we are talking, and that's the second thing.

Tarana Burke started "Me too" ten years ago in the absence of community outreach for survivors. It is supportive and provides a way of finding your own voice. I have been planning on writing about that as a way forward for days. It has gone far beyond that now.

It's not just that other names have been added to the list in Hollywood. It is not just that Condé Nast has cut ties with Terry Richardson anymore, though that is huge. It is not just that legislators are getting called out.

It is that people are talking and listening. Many people remain terrible, as expected, but others have been much better than expected. This moment has gained momentum.

A few days ago I was thinking of how to build on the moment. Should there be a drop-in event where people can talk, or a chat room? How do you make it easier for people to speak out?

There are still many people for whom it is hard to speak, but at least there is an existing conversation they can join. There are still people with a lot of trauma to work through, and careers that have been lost, but this feels like forward motion.

A male acquaintance who had been simply watching the conversation asked about what to do with his own sexual harassment experience. There are some different obstacles there, where men are more likely to be attacked on their masculinity instead of their moral worthiness. It is progress that more men can feel safe divulging their stories too. There is room for encouragement here.

There is a tangent or two that I want to explore next week, but where we are in this moment is better than I expected. Listening matters.

And don't be surprised that both of those examples came from listening to Black women.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Things that don't help

This isn't about being pessimistic, because tomorrow will be about things that could help, but unhelpful suggestions seem to come up more often. I believe that's because there are a lot of false assumptions and misunderstanding of the issues. If we examine the flawed thinking, perhaps the thinking will improve.

Back when I read Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will, her solution to the problem was essentially that all women need to take urban defense classes. If we all know how to knee and gouge and hold our keys so that we are ready to stab with them, then we can be safe.

I loved this idea, because with that learning of self-defense there would be increased confidence and a feeling of power, and a reminder that your body is not just decor and an object for attraction, but it's you, and you can do things!

Not long after I saw a reasonable argument that the onus of preventing rape should not be on women; expecting women to prevent attacks can be a flip side to victim-blaming.

I still like the idea of encouraging women to take some kind of martial arts, for the other reasons, but there are flaws beyond the potential of "Why haven't you taken any kickboxing classes?" becoming the new "What were you wearing?"

Martial arts training may help some people not freeze, but freezing is a thing that can happen. It may not help people with disabilities, and they are targeted a lot. It may not help women who have been drugged. You can try watching your drink and even wearing the special roofie-detecting nail polish, but it can be so easy to miss something, and some people are really good at helping you miss it.

Self-defense training may not take effect soon enough to prevent childhood sexual abuse. It may not be enough in the event of a weapon, or multiple assailants.

Also, one actual way in which Against Our Will has become kind of outdated is that it focused on stranger rape. Sometimes strangers leap out from alleys, but that's not the most likely situation. It may be harder to gouge the eyes of someone you know, even as they attack you.

Also, let's remember that this discussion has not only been about rape. Think about sexual harassment in the workplace; hitting your creepy supervisor in the throat is going to get you fired. I'm not hearing a lot of stories of women who reported sexual harassment and saw appropriate consequences to the harasser, so I find it unlikely that they will be supportive of you taking your own action.

This lack of action is not due to lack of proof, or recording every interaction could be the answer. As it is, there is a recording of Harvey Weinstein admitting that he groped Ambra Battilana, and it didn't matter. This should not be surprising. Police have been using body cameras for a while, and not only do they not appear to affect police behavior, they do not result in convictions for criminal behavior. Lack of knowledge is not the issue.

I addressed the problems with trying to get all meetings to happen at restaurants last week, but I have seen two stories this week that relate to it. In one, an actress was propositioned in the restaurant, played it off, but then the producer wanted a ride to his car, and she didn't feel she could refuse. At one point she thought, "This is it; I'm going to get raped", but all he did was fiddle with her dress for a while. Still dehumanizing, but ultimately a relief.

However, when a restaurant was too noisy and an interview needed to be moved, David Schwimmer offered to get the reporter a third person to be in the room so she did not have to worry.

That can serve as a reminder that clearly men do know about the issues, but is also a reminder that intent is a bigger problem than circumstances. There are ways of twisting circumstances, if you are motivated.

And that's something to remember in light of concerns about "witch hunts" and educating men. I'm sure there are some who make things worse ignorantly, but there are predators, and there are people who find it easier not to deal with predators because it upsets the status quo.

Solutions that put all of the responsibility on the people most at risk are popular for the very same reasons that they are ineffective. Anything helpful is going to need to look at addressing structure.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Say what now?

While I was bothered by Mayim Bialik's original opinion piece and her wrong-headed follow-up, I started that post "Among the various wrong responses..." and I meant that.

The guy who tried to horn in on one woman's "Me too" post with his own trauma and make it about himself, then when she objected took it as all women being terrible and not deserving any sympathy -- that is not a good response.

People raising concerns about witch hunts, with a barely disguised sheen of self-interest and complete ignorance of the historical significance of real witch hunts, because gender and power were factors there too -- they are not leading us to a better path.

The psychiatrist saying that Weinstein took his one-week outpatient treatment seriously, as well as all of the people blaming the abuse on sex addiction, are not being particularly helpful. (FYI, generally when you find correlation between sexual assault and sex addiction, that is more likely to be victims of sexual abuse becoming addicts, but still not attacking others.)

Still, the other one that really made me mad, and that I need to write about now, relates to the people saying that the women who didn't speak up are just as guilty as Weinstein. I think I saw one person say more guilty, but my focus had been on hoping I had read that wrong. I hadn't. That kept me from focusing on other details.

This sort of thinking has flaws in both comprehension and character. It also has a certain logic: there is such a long tradition of blaming women for their sexual assaults - What were you wearing? Aren't you sexually active (a slut) anyway? - that it may have become difficult for some people to think anyone else could be to blame.

If the women who didn't tell about the early assaults are responsible for the later assaults, but then the ones assaulted later didn't tell, the maybe only the most recently assaulted doesn't have any culpability, or maybe the first one assaulted wasn't responsible for her rape, but she's responsible for everyone else's, but surely there has to be some reason that it was their fault! They're women!

Sure, it doesn't sound right when you write it out like that, but a lot of horrible though rests on not thinking too clearly or looking too close.

There is a lot to unpack about power, and how we favor those in power. We'll get to that eventually, but today I want to focus on the flaw in comprehension. Those women blamed for not speaking out, did.  

Believe it or not, I haven't been following the case that closely. I have only read a few articles. Maybe I am better at taking in and remembering details than some readers, but from those few articles it would appear that among others, Mira Sorvino told Quentin Tarantino, Gwyneth Paltrow told Brad Pitt, and Rose McGowan told Ben Affleck, who responded that he'd told Weinstein to stop doing that, raising the strong possibility that at least one other person told him.

Ambra Battilana (yes, I had to look up her name, but I remembered there was someone) told the police and helped them with a sting. Maybe she needed better coaching in effectively getting someone to incriminate themselves, but she told.

Many stories are being told now about unnamed producers (though you have to wonder now how many are about James Toback). These women told in two ways. They told people that they thought could help, and had it minimized or justified or lost careers because of it (or all of the above). They also told each other, because there are so many stories of being warned off. It's the missing stair system -- we can't take away the danger, but let's try and protect each other. Except, we could take away the danger if the right people wanted to.

One of the big indicators that many women told is the number of Non-Disclosure Agreements out there. You could look at that as women agreeing not to tell, but if they are trying to tell and not getting anywhere - because they are not the ones with the power - that's something else.

However, how many people knew about the NDAs? There should be at least two lawyers for each one, I imagine. If there is a payout, and that money is coming from the studio, then how many board members knew?

Here's the thing: I had started hearing things about Bill Cosby at least three years before it really broke. It started changing how I felt about him personally, but I still had some doubts because if it were real it seemed like it should be a bigger deal. This was naive of me. People were speaking up, but they weren't being listened to. They were being called liars and told that they were too ugly to be raped (because rape is nothing if not a compliment on your beauty), and people really didn't want to deal with it until it became too awkward to ignore.

Please note, that turning point was largely due to Hannibal Buress, a man. I don't want to downplay his role, because apparently he was listening to women, and he did care before it was big, but other people could have listened earlier. Louis CK's career is going great; is that only because only women are talking about what he does?

Let's think about the abuser side for a minute. Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly and Bill Cosby remain rich. Trump was elected president. That thing where they say that being accused of rape is the worst thing that can happen to a man (as opposed to rape)? Patently false.

Coming forward and speaking about being attacked, on the other hand, is horrible. You have to relive the trauma, be judged for it and blamed for it, and often you find that nothing happens. I was reading a thread about workplace sexual harassment, and the best outcome was that one harasser was transferred to a new office, where he would probably find new victims. Most of the women eventually left their jobs.

Despite this, women speak out all the time. There can be a lot of blame to go around, but silence on the part of the victims is not the problem.

And to believe that it is requires a pretty terrible person. Like, maybe not actively terrible, but you accept evil to stay comfortable. That has to be soul-killing. I'm just saying that it's worth thinking about.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Band Review: Zombie Schoolboy

For a band with their name, Zombie Schoolboy is remarkably lively.

With a fun and fresh delivery, they fit comfortably within the category of pop punk. I especially enjoy the guitars on "Surprise".

In case it hasn't been obvious, I have been picking bands with somewhat Halloween appropriate themes or names for my October reviews. Zombie Schoolboy is not particularly creepy.

I believe the name comes from the second life the band members have after rising out of defunct bands. There may also be some memories of not being engaged as students; I don't know.

As you listen the songs are more about relationships and their frustrations (and a little bit of nostalgia in the case of "Andy and Brand"), but the verbal angst is paired with musical fun, making them a treat to listen to.

Check out their 2017 EP  A Disappointment From the Start on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Band Review: T.K. Bollinger

I didn't really enjoy T.K. Bollinger.

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Bollinger is a singer of sad songs, referencing sad-core and Southern Gothic as descriptors. I have spent the week listening to his 2016 album, Shy Ghosts. This appears to be a solo effort, when at other times he records with That Sinking Feeling.

There are times when the music can be effective. On "Flesh and Bone" I notice that his voice is good, and the intro to "I Hear Monsters" (from 2014's A Catalog of Woe) reminds me of the guitar tones on "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones.

The music is not terrible. It is almost relentlessly dirge-like, and that isn't for everyone. Shy Ghosts exacerbates this by starting with two unusually long and plaintive tracks. If you think you are interested in listening, skipping to track 03 could be a good idea, but the Youtube videos are probably a better starting point.

I admit that some of my disappointment comes from expecting something more eerie and supernatural. The death here feels more like the living who have been left behind in despair, and now question the value of a life so fleeting. I don't know if that was the intention, but it's kind of a downer.

I don't think that music should always be poppy and bouncy either. Ultimately, this simply did not suit my taste. It could work really well for those interested in the darker edgess of folk, or those who would like to hear country music go a bit darker and more Goth.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

That's not how it works

Among the various wrong responses to the news about Harvey Weinstein, I want to spend a little time on Mayim Bialik's op-ed:

It has already rightly received some backlash, so maybe everything has already been said, but I couldn't help but notice that her apology missed the point as well. Anyway, there were some fallacies in it that stuck out to me, and I would like to address them now.

"I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy."

This is probably the part most perceived as victim-blaming. The easiest defense is the closely following statement that obviously that doesn't excuse the actions of the men and admits that having to watch your behavior can be oppressive.

The reason that defense doesn't work is that it implies that it was flirtatious behavior that led to the assaults and harassment, acting as a sign that the advances were welcome.

There is no evidence of that. Sure, some women could have been flirty, but listening to the stories does not back that up as a contributing factor. Expanding that beyond Weinstein to look at other victims and that point becomes even stronger. It happened to women who were acting professionally, who were acting uncomfortably, and to women who were trying to avoid the situation.

There was a 1994 movie, Disclosure, based on a Michael Crichton novel. I never saw it, and I doubt it's very good. However, one thing I remember from the trailer, which I saw many times, is the-obviously-a-lawyer character saying "Sexual harassment is not about sex. It is about power."

That phrasing -- for rape and assault as well as harassment -- seemed to become a mandatory line in any movie or television show dealing with it: it's not about sex, it's about power.

The idea has been around since at least 1975 (Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller), but based on the movie it's been mainstream for at least 23 years. You would think we would have it down by now, but I still see it disputed, relatively recently in the case of Steven Pinker. Those arguments often focus on the biological differences between men and women and the power of lust.

I mention that because Bialik's mention of "doe eyes" and "pouty lips", and her concluding by encouraging women to develop their inner attributes - especially if they are not beautiful - seems to go back to this idea of all of harassment and assaults being responses to the desirability of the women. Isn't it great to not have to worry about that?

Without ever having been sought after for my looks, I find that highly insulting. As the flood gates open, and we find more and more women victimized by Weinstein, but also victimized by other men in the film industry, and then we hear about similar situations in modeling, sports, and academics, is that really that tack you want to take? If only Angelina Jolie had been more politically aware! If only gymnast McKayla Maroney had tried to develop some kind of skills beyond her looks! And don't forget politics, with those congressional pages not devoting themselves to anything but makeup!

I don't think that's what Bialik meant to say, but as much time as she spent on her own awkwardness and such, maybe she has carried a chip on her shoulder all this time about not being pretty, and resented the pretty girls. She's 41 years old; this is a really good time to get over it.

Most of all, so many times what ends up as victim-blaming is based on this faulty assumption that you can prevent bad things from happening to you. If you are just good enough, smart enough, careful enough, then you don't have to worry about being lucky enough. I wish that were true.

As we start thinking about prevention and correction, you can start finding some pretty big obstacles. One I have heard is "Just never meet in a hotel room." That sounds logical, but the film industry involves a lot of travel, the nice, big rooms often have meeting space, and it can be very practical.

Sure, if you are meeting in a restaurant, your producer is unlikely to take off his clothes. It ignores how many women have been groped or forcibly kissed or had horrible threats made to them in restaurants. It also ignores how easy it should be for any person to stay fully clothed and not sexually assault someone else.

I don't think solutions that require the prey to constantly outsmart and outrun the predator are ideal. In addition, if you think your care can prevent every bad thing from happening, not only does it tend to make you treat victims horribly, but it's going to make it much harder to deal with the time that your precautions don't work.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Just for now

I want to say yesterday was more draining than it should have been, but the amount of draining was probably appropriate.

If I think about it as what I wrote personally, it shouldn't be a huge deal. If I consider all of the other status updates that made it necessary to write, then yes, the reminder of not just how common it is for women to be harassed, assaulted, and raped, but also how terrible people can be about it (which I think will be its own post), okay, I can accept that it is taking more than a day to recover. At least I kind of knew it was like that; some people were really surprised.

I have a lot of thoughts going around about things I would like to say, but the one priority I really stuck with was finishing cutting out the fabric for the gowns.

(If you don't remember the angel dolls project, I wrote about it here: http://preparedspork.blogspot.com/2015/05/coordinating-sewing-service-project.html)

We have not been able to get as much help this year (at least from the adults) but as the unemployed person in the household I have had time for some cutting, sewing, turning, stuffing, stitching, and more cutting. There are 86 dolls ready, and the fabric is cut out for 84 gowns, just finished today. We will have to recruit for that, because no one here has or knows how to operate a serger.

I have a lot of things that I need to get done right now, but this weekend it felt like that was the right priority. That is not unreasonable, as we were not sure how many gowns would need to be sewn until the cutting was done. We are ready for the next phase now.

It did mean I hadn't blogged or read or edited or submitted or made any phone calls, but those all require a bit more mind than I had available today.

I went back to the computer to at least try and blog, and I saw two tweets from @silentrex:

If it turns out we can't stop imminent destruction of civilization by the forces at work right now, what should we be doing right now?  /1

On the other hand: if it turns out we can, but we must act quickly, what should we be doing right now?  /2

That shouldn't be comforting, because I cannot answer those questions at all. It may be the lack of available mind.

But I did find a right now, and I completed it. It's something.

Maybe tomorrow's activities will be more to the point, but there are different points too.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Me too

If you don't know yet, women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed are setting their Facebook status as "Me too". It's kind of a roll call.

I have not put that status yet. When I wrote about one assault, I mentioned at the time how hard it was to call it that. There is such a strong feeling that it could have been worse, that it shouldn't really count.

Women do that a lot. There was an article recently from a woman who was describing her gratitude for never having been harassed, except in the article she also describes two pretty clear incidents of harassment. There's not even a hint of her thinking that they should count; just that they were uncomfortable and she was lucky.

Something else I know I have mentioned is that every time I post something about sexual assault, some woman I know will say something revealing her own assault. It doesn't matter how many of them I already knew about, there are always more.

The numbers are really going up today. I imagine it can be very triggering for some, depending where they are at in dealing with their own memories. I sympathize with that. I think it can be helpful for others, and I hope it is.

My initial reaction has been a lot of sadness, then one friend posted this:

"Of course me too. I am a woman, aren't I? So me too, more times than I have any stomach to list here."

Then I got mad.

I get that some people may be concerned with this putting harassment and assault and rape all together, because that increases the results. I'm just going to tell you that they are interconnected enough that it makes sense. There are similar root causes. Yes, some are worse, but women do enough minimizing on our own. We don't need any help with that.

And still I feel like I can't post it as my own status, because nothing has been bad enough. And still I keep thinking about this one, that I haven't really written about before. So it needed a blog post, because that's how I deal with things.

I was at a concert that I had really been looking forward too, but then I was in a weird state of mind leading up to it. I was worried and insecure and just not doing well. I was really there for the opener, I didn't take in anything from the second band, so I decided to just get out of there before the third. As I was on my way to the train, a group of guys approached me and as they were passing one of them grabbed my breast.

It was over before I could even react. I just kept going, as they did, but in completely different frames of mind. They were laughing, because it was funny for them. I had been feeling pretty horrible before, and that validated all my concerns about being insignificant trash. Why wouldn't I be a crude joke to them?

So it's really not that bad, almost nothing, except I still remember it, especially today.

Women also blame themselves a lot. I can assure you I was not dressed sexily (though I was walking by myself at night) but I really believe that part of it was the frame of mind I was in. I was less aware of my surroundings, so I didn't notice that anything was happening until the contact was made. I was more vulnerable by being down. It doesn't mean that it can't happen on a good day or to an exhilarated person, but I felt like it was a factor.

And it says something about those -- it's tempting to call them boys, but they were probably in their early 20s. They were legally adults and certainly capable of knowing better. But, if I am right that they picked up on me being down, and their response to that was to invade my space in a sexual way, to ignore any humanity and grope me, and that was amusing to them, well, why am I thinking of myself as garbage? Because I don't do things like that.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Band Review: Zombie Sam

The most accurate description of Zombie Sam's aesthetic has to be The Nightmare Before Christmas. That goes beyond artwork and frequent covers of music from the movie to being more of a mission statement. Even some of the bell-like instrumentals remind me of the holiday Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Check out "Through the Looking Glass" for an example of that.

Not all of the music sounds like it was played on a celesta. There are driving guitars and definite rock. My favorite of the rock songs was "Woman in White".

(No, I don't think all of the song titles are literary references, but there are at least a few.)

The band can definitely be appropriate October listening, and fits well in that realm. This includes a couple of collaborations with Sophia from Season of Ghosts, reviewed last December. "Awake" is a good example of that, and of the band's more haunted elements.

If you do not care for supernatural dreaminess, it could prove distracting. Try listening to "Stay Away from Me" as an example of Zombie Sam's rock.

If you don't like any of the four tracks mentioned, they are probably not for you. If you like some but not all, you can pick and choose.

And if you like all of them, including the instrumentals, you may have just found your new perfect band in plenty of time for Halloween.

Good luck on this Friday the 13th.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Band Review: American Monster

American Monster is a rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. While they have been around since 2015, their new EP, Make It Hurt, has only been out since August 26th.

The title track is aggressively percussive. It kind of feels like this is how the band sees themselves: we are big and bad and we can be obnoxious. All of that makes sense for a band from Sin City, or for a band with their particular album cover (someone's naked mid-section covered only by a strategically placed skull decorated with a stars and stripes motif).

It's not that this is a wrong impression, but it could be incomplete. There is some real beauty and emotion on tracks like "The Hourglass" and "Skies of Fire".

This is particularly true of the guitars on "Haunt Me". They do start pounding and driving, but first they are emotional and expressive. There is some balance.

At least more than you would guess from the album cover.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

One story of one band

The band is Farewell My Love, and I wanted to incorporate that into the title in some way. Due to my current state of crisis and some recent posts, I didn't think I could put "Farewell" in the title without creating concerns. If the title seems bland, that's why.

Farewell, My Love was my 44th band review, but about half of those were bands that came from concerts or that I had gotten interested in through some other means. For bands that I reviewed because they followed me on Twitter, they came pretty early.

There were two memorable things from that. One is the onslaught from the main account. "Follow our bass player! Follow our lead singer! I thought it was overkill, but it worked because I did end up following all five of them. At some point that slowed down, but they would tweet about releases and shows and retweet things fans wrote to them. They seemed to be a big inspiration to a lot of young people, which I always appreciate.

(I don't know how helpful this is to anyone but me, but Palaye Royale has been following a pretty similar trajectory, which I hope will be where the similarities end.)

Some of those many tweets showed me that they were coming to Portland around when it would be time for me to review them anyway, Actually, another band had followed me right around then that was touring with them, too. Being able to do a concert review for two of the Twitter follow bands seemed like a pretty cool opportunity.

There were two other bands on the tour, plus two local bands played, plus the venue was interesting (the building also functions as a haunted house around Halloween), so there was a lot to write about that show. I got a few more follows from it, and then someone I knew from yet another band ended up joining one of those bands, so it was an interesting experience all around. Also, it was the closest I have been to attending a basement show in some ways.

A few months later the band needed a new trailer and crowd-sourced it. I supported it, and ended up on a video chat with four of them. At that point, two or three of the guys were also following me on Twitter, and I had ended up following a sister and a girlfriend.

It was a fun conversation. I remember knowing at that point that they had originally had a different singer, because I asked how they had met Ryan. I also remember talking about the song "My Perfect Thing" and telling them that while it sounds like a love song, it felt like love for the band. They agreed. They were having a great time, and enjoying the band and each other. I was happy for them.

And then everything changed.

Some things I can only guess at, but I know for sure that Ryan got really sick. I believe it interfered with some shows, but initially the rest of the band seemed to be supportive. Suddenly he was out, and Logan was angry and he was out.

That did not seem great, but health problems and work problems can put stress on relationships that the relationships don't survive. It was kind of sad, but then it got weird.

Chad taking over as singer was not weird. He had done some prominent supporting vocals, and seemed to be responsible for a lot of the band outreach. That made him a logical front man. It was weird when everyone went blond.

Previously there were two blond members, two brunettes, and one half and half. With the two blond ones gone, everyone else got a lot lighter. The only dark hair left was on the new guy. It wasn't just the hair. The previous fashion choices had been fairly Goth. Clothes lightened up too, and video settings.

That actually made the rupture more comprehensible; maybe they had started out on this path to being one kind of band, but it fit some better than others and they were reshaping into something that suited everyone better. Then the band and Chad unfollowed me.

I do use the free Tweepsmap features. I thought they would be interesting, and they have really reinforced that a lot of people who follow me only do it to get followed back, which has done a lot to alleviate my guilt about not wanting to follow them all. These guys, though, we had been connected for a while and I wondered if I should take it personally.

I don't know how high their follow count was before, but I remember them following at least 156000 people. Now it's 193. I can't even imagine the process of casting off that many kids. It was completely impersonal for them, but how many fans did they hurt? That was when they became completely unrecognizable.

It's not that I wish them ill now or anything, but it was kind of disappointing. Following that many makes for a messy timeline - that is true - but there are ways to get around that, like lists.

(I do have a contingency plan for what to do with my account if I suddenly get famous, but it if happens really quickly it may not work.)

I have continued following Ryan and Logan, and intending to review their new projects, but it can be more complicated than you might think. I am reviewing Zombie Sam this week, but the recordings are old enough that I doubt Ryan is on them. Still, if it gives some attention to the group, that could be supportive, right?

With Logan, he very well could be on the new American Monster EP, but now he has removed all references to the band from his account. Will my review be helpful? I don't know; band life can be complicated.

I can only do what seems right at the time. However, I am auditing an online course on the music industry, and maybe I will have better insight after that.

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