A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Archive for December, 2012

Hey 2012! Don’t Let the Screen Door Hit You…

I don't feel fine.

I don’t feel fine.

I never thought the world would be destroyed in a fiery apocalypse at the end of this year. Boy was I wrong. For me, it was the end of the world as I knew it.

Today marks a major milestone: It’s exactly two weeks since B left, and he will be moving his stuff out this afternoon. Yesterday his cousin came to take one of our little dogs–the one who has not been himself since B went away. In the past two weeks, now and then, between days of nothing but crying or staring out the window, I’ve gotten off the couch for a few hours at a time in fits of rage and adrenaline to pack another layer of his stuff, move his furniture and miscellaneous items into one room where I don’t have to look at them, and change as much as I can about my living space so that it looks nothing like our home.

In 2012 I started this blog and found my voice. But I lost my joy and everything I thought my life was. Every night I remember in my sleep that he’s not next to me. Every morning I remember all over again that he doesn’t live here anymore. It feels to me very much like a world ended.

I am grateful for the community I have found here, the support you’ve all shown since I started this thing, and the outpouring of love and empathy over the past two weeks. I can’t see a future for myself right now, but I’m hopeful that next year brings healing for me, for B, and for everyone out there who thinks 2012 did a pretty good job of living up to the hype.

2013, it’s on you, now. Don’t fuck it up.

Rosie


“Let Someone Love You”

Screen shot 2012-12-29 at 10.28.42 AM

“broken girl” by Adnagaporp on deviantart.

After I wrote the previous post about loving someone “warts and all” and feeling like I didn’t get the same in return, I ran across this quote:

“Let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as unaccomplished as you think you are. To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” — Marc Hack

It’s lovely, isn’t it? It reminds us to let love in–to let a person truly know you. To be honest with them about the broken parts of yourself and to trust that they’ll love you anyway. The problem is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes those broken parts of you are the exact things the person you love, who supposedly loves you, can’t handle. How many times can we allow ourselves to trust so completely that we reveal those broken places only to be ultimately rejected on the basis of their existence and the “issues” that result? I did it exactly once in 50 years, and the result has not been what I would call a success.

I thought I could tell him when my body wasn’t responding. I thought that meant we’d work together to figure out how to help it respond. But ultimately it meant that he gave up on trying to please me and focused on pleasing himself, and later, someone else. In the past when sex didn’t work, I just pretended. He made me promise early on never to pretend with him. So I told him the truth, and he turned away from me.

I know I’ll be struggling with a lot of questions as time goes by. You’ve watched me juggle many of them here–try to make some sense out of what’s happening by telling myself (and you) the same story in different words. This morning my question is this:

How can I trust someone with my body and my bruised and battered psyche ever again? How can I ever again not hide the parts of me that are broken?


I Have Warts

toadYes, my friends, I fully admit it: I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I suffer from depression and anxiety, for one thing, which means I’m in a constant battle with my brain chemistry. When I take my meds, I have very little sex drive, and when I don’t take them I’m miserable. I’ve tried switching meds several times, but never with good results. And I’m not the neatest person. I smoke pot, and I probably drink too much. And I have a bad habit of acquiring pets in need. The list goes on and on…I’m sure if you talked to my ex, he’d have a number of items to add. And he’s got flaws, too. Many of them are becoming more apparent to me with perspective, as I realize how long ago he must have checked out and stopped giving a shit. But here’s the thing: even after all he’s done, even knowing all I know about him, I still love him.

That’s the difference between us, I think: he loved who he thought I was going to turn out to be, and tolerated who I am. I love who he is, warts and all.

Of course, I have no real way of knowing who he’d be in a real, grown-up relationship because we haven’t had one. I don’t know what it would be like for him to sit down with me and say, “This is really, really bugging me and we have to do something about it,” and then to have us work together to fix it. Most of that kind of stuff came from my side, and we always did fix it. If something bothered him he either stuffed it or made light of it and assured me when I asked him that nothing was really wrong. (And apparently became resentful enough to make snide comments to others, but by then he’d already written us off, I guess, so why bother telling me?) He knew for a long time that he wasn’t happy, but claimed it was himself he wasn’t happy with. He promised again and again to seek help. And finally, he did. It just turned out to be the wrong kind of help.

I now fully believe my ex–whom I still love with all my heart though I am angry as hell at what he’s done–is a sex addict and a serial monogamist. I’m not even sure those are two different things. I think he loves falling in love, loves the hot, passionate, effortless sex that comes along with it, but can’t get himself to deal with the real-life, day-to-day stuff that makes a relationship work. So he sat here for I don’t know how many years wasting both our time ignoring our sex life and enjoying porn by himself instead until he got bored enough with porn that he had to escalate to sex chat,  then escalate to sex, then escalate to full-on chemical infatuation. This is a cycle he has repeated again and again. And that means no woman is safe around him unless and until he recognizes his problem and truly decides to get better. I know he’s not doing that now, because he refuses to give up his addiction. I do not envy her the heartbreak she has coming when he moves on again. But hey, maybe she’ll get seven years of illusion like I did.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote this:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

I’m not sure I agree. As much joy as loving him brought me, the pain of losing him is worse than anything I’ve experienced. I don’t want to go through this again for anyone.

So here I am, up at 5am sobbing and packing the last of his stuff, saying goodbye to one of my little dogs who is going to live with his dad who he loves more than life itself. I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest over and over again.

Sometimes I don’t know if I can do this. This is one of those times.


Drinking Poison

poison_bottle-1A friend once said to me that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die. But who among us can experience injury at the hands of another (or two others) and not feel resentment, anger, spite, even hate if the injury runs deep enough?

Out there somewhere is a woman (a sex addict, I assume, like my ex-boyfriend) who believes that she is entitled to joy and happiness at the expense of another person. I have been her. I am not proud to admit it, but I was her seven years ago when my ex decided he loved me and left his wife for me. As I have explained previously, he was miserable in the relationship, but now I’m certain he told his current addiction the same stories about me that he told me about his ex wife. He “loves” me, but he doesn’t “belong” with me because he doesn’t have the “passion” with me that he does with her.

Now, you and I, reader, understand that he’s got a problem with grown-up relationships. He wants to have GREAT SEX all the time without having to work at it. He wants his woman to scream in ecstasy at his every move because if he’s not the World’s Greatest Lover, then sex is not satisfying to him. And if he can go out and find someone new every time the passion wanes, then why on earth should he make any effort in a relationship? Why should he work with someone who has been raped and abused and figure out how to help her feel the things she wants/needs/ought to during sex when he can go out and find someone who fulfills all his fantasies RIGHT NOW without ANY EFFORT on his part? When you put it like that, it seems so simple, doesn’t it?

And as much as the rational part of me understands that to dwell on them rather than myself–to expend any energy at all on this fucking rerun of the worst syndicated cliché the world has ever dreamed up–is to keep myself from healing, to poison myself, to kill myself, there is a part of me that can’t stop doing it. Can’t stop hating him for loving me so little. Can’t stop hating her for believing she’s entitled to joy and ecstasy and this sick thing the two of them are calling LOVE at the expense of anyone and everyone who might get in her way. Can’t stop hating myself for being just like her, and for being me–the person he left for her.

Fuck him. Fuck her. And Fuck all this hate.

Until tomorrow,

Rosie


No Safe Place

No-Safe-Place-ImageOne of the terrible things about losing love to deceit and betrayal is that there is no place safe from encounters with reminders of that love, and those lies, and the continuing hurts the betrayer sometimes perpetrates (like refusing to break off contact with his lover, friending her on Facebook, etc.). It’s like there’s a knife in your back, and the person you loved keeps twisting it with every thoughtless cruelty. And there’s another in your heart, and life twists it dozens of times a day as you walk through the house taking memories off the walls or move through the world turning your head away from one reminder only to be faced with another. It begins to feel like a conspiracy to keep you in a state of shock, the dull ache always present in your chest, tears always ready to spring from your eyes, and utter emotional breakdown imminent every second.

It’s the video playing in the doctor’s office ostensibly for calm comfort, but the undersea tranquility reminds you of snorkeling with your sweetheart, and that you may never be able to go to Hawaii–a place you loved–again without feeling that pain. It’s the song (and the next one, and the next) that sums up your pain so perfectly that tears stream down your face regardless of where you are. Trivial things like street signs remind you of a conversation, a joke you shared, or one of the many lies you’ve uncovered since you found out about the betrayal.

And then there’s time. It is now separated into three chunks, each of which provides its own special kind of pain when you dwell on it:

  1. Before the Affair: This is almost the most tragic period because it’s when you might have done something to head off the catastrophe you never saw coming. This is when you might have seen the signs and been just a little more mindful, asked more questions, pushed harder to work on the things that weren’t perfect. This is when the best chance existed at continued happiness with the love of your life.
  2. After the Affair Began: This is the period during which you were blissfully unaware that your life was falling apart around your ears, and yet–as you visualize continually now–the love of your life was experimenting with various sexual positions in downtown hotel rooms with someone he met on a sex chat. (And let’s not even wonder how long the “chatting” went on. That’s just too much to think of right now.)
  3. After the Affair was Revealed: The hell you’ve been enduring since you guessed, or he confessed, and your life turned into an illusion, a lie, a place you don’t recognize, but that certainly isn’t safe. The person you trusted with everything treated you like something disposable.

As people who live with anxiety will understand, it’s not just the world that’s the problem. Your mind isn’t a safe place, either. It shows you pictures of times Before the Affair, when you thought life was good, and twist goes that knife in your chest. Worse, it creates entire tableaux of your love and his lover engaging in the kind of intimacy you wanted, but didn’t have. It reminds you of the texts and notes and emails you used to get, and points out that she’s getting them now. It speculates constantly about how far he will continue to take this betrayal during this time when he claims to be trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with him. It rages because how can he be serious about getting better if he won’t stop engaging with his addiction? And in rare moments of peace, the world steps in again with an image or a song or a slip of paper that cuts your heart to ribbons all over again. And if you’re drunk when that happens, your mind can come unhinged a bit, and you can find yourself in the middle of a golf course in the cold, wet, dark trying to wrap yourself around a tree and hide from everything.

Yes, I just wrote all that in second person. It just felt better that way. It is Day 11, and while I am numb a fair share of the time, I am discovering that my supply of tears is never-ending, and that the pain comes back stronger to make up for the numb periods. I’m trying so hard to see beauty in the world–to see a future for myself in which I’m happy again and feel ok and stop finding ways to blame myself for letting this happen. But though I catch a tiny glimpse now and then, it slips away before I can grasp it.

And then there are those cruel moments when I almost expect him to walk through the door before I remember he chose to walk away from our life. And it starts again.

One second at a time. That’s how I’m doing it. Each second becomes a minute and an hour and then I’ve made it through another day. String enough of those together, and you’ve got a life. I don’t like mine right now, but maybe I will again someday. Meantime, another breath, another second.

I just have to keep breathing.


How Many Layers?

onion1As the days go by, I realize over and over that my boyfriend’s betrayal has gone (and continues to go) beyond just having sex with someone else behind my back. He used me, friends, and even my own insecurities and personal struggles to give himself peace while he created a fantasy world for himself in which he wasn’t accountable.

[**Warning: You may be witnessing the decline and fall of Rosie’s sanity–please wear a hard-hat.**]

The man I love and devoted my heart to did the following (that I know of):

  • Claimed to love me, that we were “in it together,” and pledged that he would “pay attention.”
  • Became sexually unsatisfied with our relationship and claimed it was his lack of libido. Made multiple promises that he’d get help, but I was ok with being with him regardless. (In fact, as he knew, my libido was affected by my anti-depressants.) If he’d become paralyzed, I would have happily been his partner for life.
  • Ignored my attempts to address our declining intimacy.
  • Sought sex outside the relationship (i.e., this wasn’t an accident) and rationalized that a) what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me, and b) that he was entitled to have his needs met, regardless of mine.
  • Woke me with a kiss every morning, went to work, rented hotels in the afternoon (while wondering aloud at home where all our money was going) and carried on his sexual relationship, which he rationalized was not about me. Was generally home in time for dinner, though now I doubt his every move from cello lessons to drinks with friends.
  • Took his lover on a business trip to San Francisco–one of the ones I did not go on, but you can be certain he texted me the whole time updating me about his accommodations, meals, etc. without a trace of irony.
  • Used at least one of OUR FRIENDS as a decoy for his rendezvous. Said friend has confirmed this deception.
  • Woke me with a kiss one Saturday morning and said he was off to shop for a “surprise” for me. Remained occupied for the entire day making vague excuses about not finding what he was looking for until I texted him in a panic because my drug-addicted brother showed up, at which time he dressed, I assume, and “rushed home in a panic cursing traffic.” He showed up looking guilty as fuck, and of course bearing no “surprise” for me. (Surprise! I was fucking someone else today!)
  • Said he wanted to work on our intimacy and fix our relationship while fully (and later, admittedly) intending to continue a sexual relationship with his lover.
  • Refused, after I discovered his infidelity, to break off contact with his lover, choosing instead to break off contact with me. (This is the part where I packed his shit.)
  • Followed that act by posting on Facebook how awful he felt about what he’d done to me and how he is dedicating the next year to figuring out how to be the person he wants to be (and got lots of sympathy for his pain and loss, of course), while offline telling his lover that I’d tracked her down on the very same website (yeah, couldn’t help myself) at which time she blocked me and he became HER FACEBOOK FRIEND. Oh, and while I changed my status to “single” he changed his to “separated.” Was that meant to give me a tiny spark of hope, followed by a full-on slap in the face? “We’re only separated, but I’m going to go ahead and publicly friend my lover on Facebook.” I don’t even…

What will I discover next?

Yes, I’ve done obsessive, stalkery things, but the book I’m reading says that’s perfectly normal and GUESS WHAT? I’m still not as stalkery as his ex-wife who I DON’T EVEN BLAME ANYMORE. (Yes, this is a pattern. I didn’t recognize it because he had one foot out the door when he met me, moved out immediately, and we didn’t have sex for over two months–she got way better treatment than I did.) I told him I would fight for him, but I can’t if he’s not fighting for me. I’m not going to show up where he’s having dinner with his lover or at his office or church. I’m not going to chase her in my car or insist on meeting her so I can tell her what she’s done to me. Yeah, she’s an asshole, and somebody probably ought to tell her so, but it won’t be me. She didn’t do this to me. He did. This is a man who will apparently stop at nothing to have his sexual and emotional needs met at the expense of everyone in his blast radius. He needs help. He’s a serial monogamist and very possibly a Narcissist. And, God help me, I still love him. Or who I thought he was, anyway.

Some may think it’s wrong of me to be so public with this. But I have no desire to protect him from the truth and the consequences of the choices he made and is continuing to make. And I’m entitled to heal in my own way. If he had chosen to be here working on things, that would have been a completely different path to healing. But this is the one I’m on now and I have to find my own way through this, and the fact that my dog is dying, and everything else life throws at me during this dark and fucked up time in my life.

How can I have spent seven years of my life with someone I loved, but didn’t know? How do I move forward knowing that I can’t truly know anyone? Readers, I know you know these are rhetorical questions that can only be answered with, “That’s just the way it happened.” and “You’ll find a way.” But right now the confusion in my head can be summed up in four little words I find myself repeating often:

“I don’t get it.”


Unexpected Bullshit

*Trigger warning for discussion of rape.*

Dear Readers,

My life just took a turn for the surreal when I discovered that my partner of 7 years sought sex from a stranger and carried on a relationship with that person for months, creating a bond with her and ensuring that ours would be broken, probably irreparably.

“Probably?” You cry. “But Rosie! He did a terrible thing to you. Why the HELL would you take him back? You’re a FEMINIST after all! Show some self-respect!”

I hear you, readers, but life just isn’t as simple as it ought to be. I may not take him back. He may not want to come back. The whole problem seems to be that he lost interest in having sex with me, but instead of telling me, he took care of it himself. And apparently felt no compunction in doing so. (Now, of course, he’s tortured over what he’s done to me. Go figure.)

It has been four days since he left and I have not left my couch. I am, as I’m sure you can imagine, a basket case. Some days I cry nonstop. Others I just ache. In between I seethe at the injustice of it all. I’m also reading books and articles on how to deal with  deceit and unfaithfulness in a relationship. In one book, the author quoted a woman as saying to her husband the following:

“I was raped when I was 15. This is worse. The rapist was a stranger; you were supposed to be my best friend.”

I’ve been turning this over and over in my head. As many of you know, I have experienced actual rape, and it is a horrific thing that does not bear comparing to many others. I told my partner that it isn’t true. But I get why she said it. This feels like a very real violation of my person, and the physical and emotional agony are nearly unbearable. There will be lasting damage. I will have to learn to trust again—if not my partner, then others in the world. I question everything about myself, my life, what I thought was real and true. I don’t know that this is worse than the effects of rape, but it’s right up there.

When my partner confessed his infidelity to me, I confessed something, too. Something I hadn’t told anyone–a thing that happened to me three or so years ago that someone else did to me, something I didn’t write about in my article about my abuse because I hadn’t told him and couldn’t tell him because I was ashamed and afraid to hurt him. Enraged, I described the incident in detail and the agony I had endured keeping it from him. I wanted him to understand how his lies had hurt me. And he does—at least to a degree. I’m not sure he can ever fully comprehend my pain.

People who cheat rationalize that they aren’t hurting anyone. But they’re hurting at least three people. And while people do recover from things like this, I think it’s safe to say that the damage can’t be completely undone. I don’t know that I’ll ever trust another person the way I trusted him. I don’t know what lies ahead. I just know I have a lot of healing to do, and that may mean less blogging as I focus on myself. On the other hand, it might mean more.

Meanwhile, I have several guest pieces coming up, including another from my good friend Sid.

With love,

Rosie

PS: I wrote this post on Day 4. It is now Day 6, and I have packed his shit and told him to leave me alone. I’ll write more about that when I can. I can safely tell you, though, that he has hurt me more than any single person in my life. Including my rapists.


Update (12/18/14): It has been two years today and my ex has married the woman he found on a sex chat site. I’m sure they both got what they deserved, or will. I am still struggling up out of a well of depression. I have been trying different combinations of medications for a year after going off my meds and into a very dark place for a couple of months. I have come to term what my ex did to me as abuse, and have unsurprisingly encountered resistance to that term. I have written a lot about this concept, what happened to me, and what I have gone through in the past couple of years attempting to recover from it under the betrayal tag if you want to catch up. You can also read “An Open Letter to B” for a snapshot of the damage. I know that I am getting better—that I will get better. And writing about it is one of the ways I’m doing that. Thanks for reading.


Save vs. Sexism: New Column on Bitch Magazine

20-sided-die

I wanted to tell you all about a new guest column on Bitch Magazine. It’s called Save vs. Sexism, it’s by Lillian Cohen-Moore, and it’s a reaction to #1ReasonWhy. Cohen explains why a “handful of tweets didn’t feel like enough” for her:

I’ve been playing tabletop games since I was old enough to hold my minis in my hand instead of trying to eat them. I’ve played games in every medium I’ve been able to engage with. I’ve spent my entire life playing and buying games. As an adult, I’ve also reported on games as a games journalist, and even worked on tabletop games as a writer and editor. I want this to be a hobby where people feel welcome, and that means honest discussion of where where we’ve gone wrong—and where we get it right.

The series will run for eight weeks on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.


Desperately Seeking…Something

Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan

Susan…just in case.

After the events of yesterday, I thought we could all use some lighter fare. Love ya.

For months now I’ve watched as search terms and phrases appear on my WordPress stats page and I find myself alternately giggling, smiling, squinting, frowning, boggling, rolling my eyes, exclaiming my horror, and sometimes even feeling a little bit sorry people didn’t find what they were looking for. If you blog or run a website, you’ll know just what I mean. The search terms section of stats can be a useful way of showing you how your audience is finding you–but it’s also a stark revelation that some people trip over your site looking for something else entirely.

Here we see a list of expected (or at least unsurprising) terms and phrases all the way up to the last:

Click to enlarge.

Most surprising to me was not that the phrase appeared, but that during the specified time period FOURTEEN PEOPLE found this site looking not just for “ass” but… Well, I’m sorry, fourteen people. This is not where we keep all the ass. But I got you this:

This isn’t ALL of it, but it’s the best I could do.

I’m going to skip some of the most offensive/ugly phrases for now, because this is for fun, but trust me–they get pretty bad. (Though, not as bad as the ones I got on my much more polite blog about my sponsored kids. That was some sick shit.)

“her ass”

I can only assume WordPress directed them here believing they’d misspelled “harass.” How disappointing that must have been for…let’s see…SEVEN PEOPLE! Seven people, I refer you to the image above. One of those is bound to be female.

“jennifer jason leigh legs”

Not the person, just the legs. These three were probably not looking for a post about unshaven woman legs. Or maybe they were. Maybe someone told them, “Hey, I read a great blog post the other day about unshaven legs nightmares. It had a pic of JJL in it. You should totally Google it!” Three times. I Googled “jennifer jason leigh legs” and mostly what I got is a lot of “THIS SITE MAY BE HARMFUL TO YOUR COMPUTER!” And this:

Truly? This is a thing?

“sammich rosie”

Hey, that’s me! These people may actually have found what they were after. I’m sure they’ll let me know if they didn’t.

“pork rinds of the month”

Are there PORK RINDS of the MONTH? Why didn’t anyone tell me this? There really aren’t, right? This person searched from their phone using their butt as a stylus.

“treehugger”

Me, again!

“drunk hugging a tree”

’nuff said.

Could it be…Cindy Bear?

“yogi bear’s girlfriend’s name”

Does anybody know this one? I mean in case this person comes back. It might be important.

“why do some people say sammich instead of sandwich”

These two unfortunate souls have obviously never tried saying “sammich” out loud. (It’s ok that you just did. Everyone should.)

“stephen colbert doritos”

New flavor!

“dill mustache”

The name of my next band.

“creepy girl cheese”

#WINNING

“when a wife is rebellious to her husband”

New hit song by Percy Sledge! “When a wiiiife’s rebellllious to ‘er husband/Can’t keep her mind on makin’ dinner…”

Your wish is my command!

Your wish is my command!

“de-tachable boob-ies”

That’s right, people. Sing it with me.

“political correctness for a woman to make a sandwich feminism”

Of course, there are many variations on “make me a sammich” and “sammich meme” and “woman sammich” and “woman slap sammich” and fun stuff like that. But this actually seems to be a query as to what might be the politically correct (according to feminists) way to ask a woman to make you a sammich. In case this person comes back, I’m going to go with, “Hey, do you feel like making me a sammich?” or “I love your sammiches. Will you please make me one?” <–helpful

“jack nicholson not giving a fuck”

Now, THESE folks got what they came for. You’re welcome.

He really doesn't.

He really doesn’t.

That’s all for now, folks. May your search terms always yield the results you seek.

Love,

Rosie


Teen Girl Missing, But it’s Not News

A 19-year-old girl is missing  from Charlottesville, VA after she had planned to meet a man for a date, her family says. Police questioned the man and then lost track of him, and they’ve made no progress after three weeks, although they say they’re working steadily. Media–even local media–has barely touched the story.

Every story on Google related to Sage Smith's disappearance.

Every story on Google related to Sage Smith’s disappearance.

Sage Smith

Sage Smith

Normally, a missing teenager–especially a girl–is big news. So why does no one want to write about this particular missing child? In his story Where is Sage Smith? on Huffington Post, Daryl C. Hannah speculates that the issue may be that this young woman was born male. The person living now as Sage Smith was born Dashad Smith. Sage is a trans woman. So ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a story about any transgender person in mainstream media?

To make things worse, Smith’s family doesn’t believe the police are doing enough to find her.

From The Daily Progress:

Kenneth Jackson, of Rice, asked to address the City Council at Monday’s meeting, saying he was once proud of Charlottesville, his hometown.

“But I can’t brag on Charlottesville when my little 19-year-old cousin is missing,” Jackson said, adding that the FBI and state police should be called in to help with the search.

I’m not sure what I hope to achieve by writing about this. I guess I just felt that someone ought to. I don’t know what happened to Sage. I don’t know whether  Erik T. McFadden–the man she’d planned to meet–did something to her that night, or if–as he told police–she never arrived for their date. (Fun fact: According to reports, McFadden has since fled VA.) I certainly want to point out the injustice of the fact that I believe, had this young woman been straight and white, her photo would be plastered all over your television and computer screens. At the very least, it would be in her town and state, and in the states nearby.

Let’s talk for a moment about what it means that it’s not…what it means that newspapers and television stations in the city Sage lives in seem to have no interest in talking about her, getting her photo out to the public, maybe helping the police by getting citizens to call in tips. If you buy the premise in italics above, I think it can only mean one thing: they see her as less than human. Because when a young human girl goes missing, it’s news.

Erik T. McFadden

Erik T. McFadden (click to enlarge)

Here’s a photo of McFadden (and possibly part of his vehicle) just in case he ends up being connected in any way to Sage’s disappearance. I half hope he is, since he’s the only lead they’ve got, but if so, I don’t expect a happy ending.

Honestly, I don’t know what to hope for, except that wherever she is, she’s not in pain. And I hope like hell she makes it home to her family somehow.

~Rosie

PS: There’s a Facebook page dedicated to finding Sage–like it for updates. You can also donate to a fund for the families effort’s to find Sage.


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Happy Holidays, Best Wishes, Joy, Love, and All That Jazz

Whatever you celebrate, whether you celebrate, best wishes to you.


How M Quit Workplace Sexism

Guest post by M

Office Sexism“Dude, she’s got a smoking hot body!”

Hardly an uncommon phrase in the workplace. It may not be something we say publically anymore (at least, not loud enough to be overheard), but guys still send it over IM, mention it in hushed tones around the water cooler, or talk about it around bites of sandwich at lunch when our female colleagues aren’t around.

For a while, I’d excised this phrase from my vocabulary. It was standard fare at both the company where I began my career and the marketing agency where I continued it, especially the later where career-minded women were impeccably-dressed and fit because that’s simply what our clients expected. It was an unwritten rule but a rule all the same: if you were fat, ugly, or a mix of the two, you weren’t going to go very far because clients wanted to see good-looking women.

So did the guys in the office, and we talked about it to each other.

When I did a spell in an office in the UK, I found attitudes towards female colleagues much different. There was more open flirting but when I mentioned how hot one of my coworkers was to another guy, he was flabbergasted. “We’re married,” he said. “And that’s destructive.” It just wasn’t done there, at least not like that. If a colleague was well-dressed or looked nice, you could say so and it wasn’t sexual harassment. But talking about how much you wanted to bang her over Instant Messenger? Not kosher.

Office Sexism 2I recently started at another marketing agency. About a week after I arrived, one of my guy colleagues (and an old friend of mine) sent that phrase to me me over IM.

I responded in kind. And so it began again.

Except that late last week I realized exactly how destructive this phrase is, and why.

Language, to a greater or lesser degree, shapes perception of reality—which for creatures whose reality is in some part determined by our perception means that language can also help shape our reality. At the very least, it shapes our responses, which can be awfully close to the same thing.

There’s evidence of this principle (called linguistic relativism) in behavior sciences, including cognitive behavior theories (and the implementation of cognitive behavior therapy to alter behaviors). You could also make the argument that it’s the cornerstone for religious behaviors—most notably the principle of Right Speech in Buddhism, but bearing false witness could fall under this category too.

In less-technical terms: if you talk about reality in a certain way, you become habituated to respond to reality in a certain way. This is the theory behind some kinds of politically correct language. If you constantly refer to black people as “niggers” even though you don’t hate black people, or women as “bitches,” or gays as “fags,” then it reinforces the perception that those people are somehow less-than-human in your head. At the very least, it reinforces an “us vs. them” dynamic with you as the “superior side.”

In the workplace, if you’re constantly talking about how hot your female coworkers are, even if you’re married and have no intention of sleeping with any of them, then you’re reinforcing the notion that women are objects, not people.

“But it’s harmless! It’s just what guys do! It doesn’t hurt anyone!”

womanobjectThat isn’t true. I felt my perceptions subtly start to shift in the couple of weeks I started participating in being a stereotypical male again. I was checking out my female colleagues, and doing it all the time. A little bit of this is natural. We’re wired to look and evaluate for potential mates. When that instinct starts overriding equal treatment of our colleagues however, that’s when it becomes destructive. That’s when it hurts. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I saw the early seeds of this destructive attitude in myself. I was mentally evaluating female colleagues not on their intelligence, creativity, the kind of work they produced, their client management skills, or any of the other elements you’d use to evaluate a successful marketing executive. I was not treating them as equals, as I’d want to be treated in the workplace. I was mentally reducing them to objects.

I’m not saying that removing this kind of language is the only solution to workplace inequality, but it certainly helps guide thought processes away from it. The very act of mindfully considering whether your thought patterns or speech are truly treating colleagues equally regardless of gender (or race, or religion, or sexual orientation) helps shape the reality we need to create. To take it a step further: if your thought patterns reinforce the criteria for evaluating people equally through intelligence, creativity, and so forth, then you’re starting to reinforce positive thought processes in yourself and those around you. We naturally evaluate each other, especially in a workplace where a lot of Type-A people are vying with each other for success. Let’s make sure we’re evaluating each other without bias, and about things that really matter.

equalityUpon my realization last week I told my friend exactly what my male colleague overseas told me: “I’m married and I don’t need to participate in this behavior.” And it has since stopped, and I’ve felt my own perceptions go back to normal. Which isn’t to say I don’t notice attractive colleagues, but not being immersed in the language of sexism all the time means that we naturally start to interact with each other without it.


M is a friend and feminist ally. Read his previous MMAS article, Lolwhut?


Fake Geek Girls, #1ReasonWhy, Sarkeesian Speaks

These three videos really sum up the past two weeks for me. Each provides its own perspective on the issue of sexism in geekdom, and each one is ultimately hopeful and inspiring. We need more of that in this discussion.

 

Fake Geek Girls

Angelina LB on the Tony Harris FGG screed and the phenomenon in general. Fabulous.

ALB is on Twitter and Facebook, too.

 

Sessler’s Something on #1ReasonWhy

Revision3 Games (Rev3) producer Adam Sessler uses his new show to shine a light on #1ReasonWhy. Very well done.

Follow Adam on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Anita Sarkeesian @ TEDxWomen

The pop culture critic and creator of Feminist Frequency explores the gamification of Internet harassment as she saw it in the hate campaign against her. Fascinating.

Follow Feminist Frequency on Facebook and Twitter.

Something’s afoot, people. I hear whispers from all over about meetings and events, missives and plans hatching…. The geek community is making 2012 the year we put our collective feet down with a resounding THUD! the ripples from which are making themselves felt and will continue to spread into 2013 and into the brave new world beyond. Welcome to the future, my friends. We have cake.


Jada Pinkett Smith: The War on Men Through the Degradation of Woman

Today I saw this and wanted to share it with you.

jada

The war on men through the degradation of woman.

How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only. The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection. There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer. He doesn’t recognize that the create of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize. He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.

May we all find our way.
J


Text is originally rom Jada’s Facebook page. What do you think?


An Open Letter to the Oatmeal

Guest post by Sid

Matthew,

Before I start, I want you to pretend with me for a minute. Pretend that you haven’t had a wave of shitty words thrown over you in the last 24 hours, even after you took down your defense. Pretend that you didn’t have to turn off the computer just to get a few hours of peace—so you didn’t have to keep looking at words like “asshole,” “misogynist,” or “sack of shit.” Pretend for just a minute that that never happened and that the internet consists of only you and me.

Now that we’re alone, let’s talk.

I do not want to call you names or imply that you meant to hurt anyone. I won’t do that because I know that wasn’t your intention. I’m not angry with you, because I understand that you honestly might not have a handle on what all the fuss was about—and not in a “willful ignorance” kind of way. In a “no, seriously, I can’t make this make sense” kind of way.

I want to sit with you, calmly and respectfully, and try to unpack what all this backlash is really about.

Wait, wait, wait…don’t close the window yet. I know—you’ve been hearing it in 140-character chunks all day long. People have said it to you over and over again. But the thing is, most of those responses were angry and hurt, and many used hateful words. No one listens once hateful words are leveled at them. That’s just science. So here, in our little pretend world where none of those words were said and you and I are alone, I’m hoping you’ll give me a chance to explain what the problem really is.

Lots of inappropriate things are funny, including many of the things you listed. So why isn’t rape funny? Or rather—since you never claimed that rape was funny and I don’t want to put words in your mouth—why isn’t it funny to compare activities that aren’t rape to rape?

The word rape brings with it a lot of imagery. It is the forceful and unwanted invasion of a person’s body. Every day more and more people experience it. You can say the word—you can—but by using it to describe an everyday task, like refreshing a web page, it takes some of the meaning away from the word. It gives the word a little less potency, which makes it easier for friends, employers, and juries to write it off as “not a big deal.” (This gradual impotence of meaning is what people are referring to when they say “rape culture,” because it leads slowly to acceptance of rape as “norm.”)

So why is it okay to joke about other offensive things?

Because being offended is different from being hurt. If you want to fight the “people get offended too easily” fight, I will walk beside you and fly the flag, but this is something different. A lot of people—women in particular—are actually hurt when they see the hell that they experienced made into something small. They relive the experience of having their bodies invaded.

Let’s, for just a moment, liken it to the n-word. I imagine this is a word I would never see in your comic, because this word hurts people. It directly targets one specific group of people and tells them they are less. I completely understand that this was not ever your intention, but when you joke about rape, you tell survivors that it’s no big deal, that we can joke about it. It targets them as a group and tells them that they are less because they weren’t even worth thinking about.

As I mentioned, I know you’ve taken down even the defense of the joke, but I suspect you may have done that because you were tired of the hateful words (which would be totally fair). Please note that I am not saying your apology was insincere. I believe that you really meant the apology. My honest goal here is to try to help you understand—not to condescend to you and not to treat you like some kind of monster, but to come to you with a sincere explanation of a sincere issue. I hope I’ve done that.

If you would like to respond to any of my points, have questions about any of my examples, or would otherwise like to continue in respectful discourse, my Twitter is @SeeSidWrite—just DM me with your interest (and whether you prefer Matt or Matthew) and I will DM you back with my personal email address. I would be more than happy to continue this conversation.

All the best,
Sid


Read Sid’s previous MMAS articles in Sid’s Stuff. Follow her at @SeeSidWrite.


UPDATED: Oatmeal: Own It or STFU

I AM SO RELIEVED TO SEE THIS.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Matthew Inman.


I logged on to Twitter this morning just in time to see this.

Click to enlarge.

In case you didn’t see the original comic, it’s pretty well described above. It’s about repeatedly “raping” your F5 key to get a page to load. I saw it on Twitter yesterday and thought, “Ew,” but I missed the attribution. It matters that this comes from someone who a) is respected by many and b) has gotten it wrong before and thinks he’s entitled to do so without consequence. My good friend Sid is working on an open letter to Mr. Oatmeal even as I type which will go into more detail and be less “scathing” than the one I would have written (update: her letter). But let me say these things for the record:

  1. Daniel Tosh didn’t start rape culture or make rape jokes unfunny. He just happened to be well-known enough to bring the issue to the forefront. Rape jokes were never funny–and always painful–to rape survivors.
  2. Giving money to a women’s shelter doesn’t absolve you of all future crimes and misdemeanors. We all screw up now and then. Own it. REALLY own it.
  3. No one censored The Oatmeal. Enough people called to his attention his contribution to rape culture that he felt he needed to pull it down. The Oatmeal has, at last count, nearly half a million readers so that means A LOT OF PEOPLE chimed in about this. Dear Mr. Oatmeal: Censorship is when the government silences you. Free speech comes with consequences. You should know that by now. If you won’t learn something from this, you may as well join the Penny Arcade Rape Culture Denial Club and Bowling League.

Sigh.

Look for Sid’s missive here.

Love ya,

Rosie


Why #1ReasonWhy?

feministplotDear Rosie,

WTF is this whole #1ReasonWhy thing? Why are a bunch of angry women tweeting that ALL MEN ARE PIGS AND SHOULD BE GATHERED UP AND SHOT?? Is this whole thing a RADICAL FEMINIST PLOT? And why should game companies care what girls think anyway? Everyone knows that the target demographic for games is males aged 18-25! All the tweeting in the world won’t change the fact that sex sells. Girls don’t even play REAL games except to get guys to like them. And if all these lady game industry types were any good at their jobs, their gender wouldn’t matter, would it? Why are they whining about sexism on Twitter instead of DOING something about it? Why don’t they all just go find an island somewhere and make girly games in a girl-friendly environment? Plus, men have to put up with name-calling in the workplace, so why shouldn’t women? And my ex-girlfriend treated me like shit, and the women I’m attracted to aren’t attracted to me, so they’re all cold-hearted bitches–why shouldn’t I treat them like shit? All I’m saying is that women should STFU and learn to deal with the fact that games are made for and by boys and men and if they can’t stand the heat, get back in the kitchen! HAR! HAR!

Signed,

I Don’t Get It


Dear IDGI,

You really, really don’t. #1ReasonWhy isn’t about you. It’s not an accusation–but if it sounds like one to you, you might want to take a look at how you treat women in games or in your workplace. It came about in response to a question. If only a few dozen people had taken up the cry, you could write it off as a small problem. But thousands did, and they’re still showing up a week later. This is an epidemic that a) has gotten worse, not better, in the 25 years I’ve been in the industry, and b) until now, we have quietly accepted as being just the way things are.

fngAs for your misapprehensions re: gamer girls and demographics, I cheerfully direct you to this article, which debunks them (with sources!) quite handily. You’re welcome.

On to the rest.

Yes, sex sells. You will sell more copies of your game if you feature a giant pair of tits on the cover than if you feature, say, a race car or an army man. But we make choices, don’t we? We decide, when we go into business, whether we are going to make products that contribute to societal disease or ones that do not. There was a time very recently when it was hard to find a triple-A MMO featuring female armor likely to protect the character in battle. Today I’m playing Guild Wars 2, and not only is my character fully armored, but her breasts don’t animate when she’s standing still. Way to go, ArenaNet!

Most game developers have, since I started working in the industry back in the late 80’s, stopped sprinkling “humorous” racial slurs into their games like the ones I lobbied (unsuccessfully) to get removed from the games I worked on way back then. As a society–and as an industry–we decided that we were above that. And once, I thought we were above sexism, too. But as I said, it seems only to have become more prevalent. I think that’s why #1ReasonWhy hurts so much–it’s a confirmation of something many of us have known for a long time but have been unwilling or unable to talk about in mixed company because it just wasn’t safe socially, professionally, psychologically. And not saying it out loud meant leaving it unconfirmed much of the time. It meant accepting the status-quo.

This week, all that changed. Women and men came together to talk about the issue–even as people like you, dear IDGI, peppered us with your troll wisdom and lulz–and some of us were comforted while others had their eyes opened and pledged to make things better. The national press covered the discussion–even as you berated us relentlessly for wasting our time (though you didn’t seem to have anything better to do with yours)–and helped to shine an even brighter light on the issue, bringing more supporters in from all over the world to speak on #1ReasonToBe and #1ReasonMentors about next steps.

This is why, IDGI. And though you don’t get it, so many more do today than did six days ago. While #1ReasonWhy is difficult (and even infuriating, at times) to read, to me it is a symbol of hope and a sign of progress. This is how we do it. A spark becomes a flame, and a flame catches the world on fire.

Burn, baby, burn.