Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the military mental health and #yestoallwomen edition

Howdy. I was tested this weekend in many ways, you guys. I have a general rule about not touching the computer on weekends and try pretty diligently to stick to it. I had to get online yesterday to write my post for Lefty Pop later today, which ended up being a good thing. That post is about the first topic here today, and will be live in a few hours. 

This is going to be one of those self limiting weeks. I'm only talking about two topics even though there are tons of them to cover, mostly because I have so much to say about them.

Off we go.

We Are Failing Veterans
I have rage issues when it comes to Memorial Day. I admit this.

It has always bothered me that some people don't seem to understand what the day is about. It isn't just a reason to have a day off of work and school, it's not just a good day for a BBQ with friends and family. It isn't even supposed to be a day to celebrate the hard work and sacrifice of all veterans (though I'd make the argument, for certain, that we need to do that far more than we do as it is). Memorial Day is about those killed in service. I guess I'm more touchy about it because I actually do know someone killed in the wars of the last few decades, so it hits closer to home.

The past few years have taught me more than I'd ever want to know about addiction and depression and anxiety and PTSD, conditions affecting countless numbers of veterans - conditions that far too often lead to their deaths, whether at their own hands or the circumstances around them. I feel like all those people should be included in any discussion of Memorial Day. I feel like we should all be talking about them, about how our system is failing them.

When I came home from the hospital Sunday (yes, there was a trip to the hospital...The Oldest caught a ball with his face at baseball practice and we had to have him checked for facial fractures and concussion...never dull here), my husband was watching the Memorial Day concert on PBS. Those events just rub me the wrong way, and I'll tell you why. (grab your pitchforks)

They bother me because it always seems like they seek out the most obviously disabled veterans with the worst physical injuries, but make sure that the people they pick are stable and grounded and emotionally sound. Then they parade them around as if to say, look how great these guys are doing even though this horrible thing happened to them. And they are doing great, and I certainly don't intend to diminish their individual situations in the least, but (and this is a big but), what about all the veterans who come home with the injuries we can't see? What about all the people suffering horrible flashbacks and insomnia? What about the guys who come home and lose all family stability because of their erratic behaviors? What about the ones discharged who can't hold a job in the private sector? Maybe if we saw more of them, maybe if we truly understood the lasting horrors of war, maybe if we could wrap society's mind and heart around the reality that emotional injury is as legitimate as physical injury, maybe if we fully saw the consequences of a health care system where thousands are falling through the cracks...maybe we'd all worry more about sending men and women to war and maybe we'd demand that we take better care of them when they come home.

Steps off soapbox and places it in the closet.

Drags the soapbox out of the closet and climbs back up on it.

There was a shooting, another shooting, Friday night in Santa Barbara. The details were a little sketchy at first, as they always are, but it became obvious fairly quickly what happened.

This guy, this 22 year old son of a Hollywood industry professional, decided to kill a bunch of people. He stabbed three of his friends first, then went out shooting from his BMW, intending to kill as many blonde sorority girl types as he could.

His motive? He was angry that he was routinely rejected by women. He was still a virgin. He couldn't understand why his car and his fancy sunglasses and his expensive clothes weren't enough to attract all the women to him. He was frustrated that no one would have sex with him. He was angry, very angry, and he declared all of this in his manifest before the killings began.

He was under the care of a therapist. His family apparently tried to locate him after he posted his last video. They've tried to deflect some of the blame by referring to him as a child, as someone diagnosed with high functioning Asperger's. The police had been alerted to him in the past, of his misogynistic videos. At least one of the roommates he killed was already planning to to move out because of his behavior.

As the media is oft to do in these cases, the reporting centered on the weapons used (bought legally). Then the reporting shifted, as it always does, to the mental health status of the now-dead suspect, to speculation about what motivated him, to guesses about the treatment he was under.

What the media did a fabulous job of failing to report in the first few days was his actual motive, one that he made pretty obvious for us all - his deep rooted hatred of women.

In the days since, angry women all over the country have forced that issue to the forefront, refusing to allow the media to gloss over the 500lb elephant in the room and fall back on their old arguments about gun control and mental health care. There is a huge, glaring issue here, present not just in this case but in many others, that we absolutely need to talk about.

It's an issue that most women I know are already quite familiar with.

We are taught from a young age how to defend ourselves, how to escape, how to evade the advances of men we aren't interested in. We tell our girlfriends where we are going, have them come along and spy from a distance when we go on dates. We turn on the GPS on our phones when we get uncomfortable. We carry our keys laced between our fingers when we walk through parking lots. We take self defense classes because we know that we might need them someday. We know women who have been attacked or we have been attacked ourselves. We may have had a stalker or know someone who has. We have been followed, relentlessly pursued by men who couldn't get the message we were so obviously sending them.

They think they are being persistent. They think we are playing hard to get. They think this is a game.

We do all these things because men in our society far too often think that they are entitled to us. They deserve access to our bodies, our lives, our hearts. They believe that our refusal of their advances is an invitation, a ploy.

Are all men this way? Of course not. No one is making that argument, and I don't believe that anyone ever would. The fact that the #notallmen is being raised as a defense is ludicrous. These warped entitlement issues certainly don't impact the lives of all men, they certainly don't motivate them all, but there is enough of it present in our society that women understand how widespread it is.

We live in a society where men in charge want to muse about the legitimacy of rape, about the harm done to our bodies when they are violated.

We live in a world where the motive behind this crime, one screaming at us from the screen in the perpetrators own voice, written in his own words, is being glossed over because it's easier to think that this case had more to do with a gun or a knife or a prescription or a diagnosis than it is to admit that maybe, just maybe, misogyny is the real problem.

Misogyny is absolutely the real problem here.

Women have known it for a while and we're not about to let everyone else ignore it this time. #yestoallwomen


  1. Well said. Another shooting that took place this past weekend that has escaped national media (for now at least). More victims of a failed mental health system, support for our vets, gun control, PTSD, and war. Sorry, your post was on the money and stirred me up...

  2. It pisses me off too! You said it very well ! Thanks


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