Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the I did this twice in a row edition

Heeeeey. Lookie here. I'm doing this two weeks in a row. It's a goddamn new year miracle.

I'm in a weird place. Really weird. Feeling very conflicted and disappointed about things. Big things, little things, personal things, things that truly have nothing to do with me.

I've actually spent most of the morning trying to avoid writing this because I just don't want to deal with it. But alas, here we are.

I guess we should just get to it then.

Let's start with some serious first world shit.
My house is falling apart. Not literally, of course...but in a sense. We've lived here over ten years and everything is just wearing out. The floors need replaced, the kitchen cabinets are beat to hell, but having five kids and a dog that currently thinks drywall is a good snack, I know there is literally no point even trying. I repainted most of the house recently and that has helped. A little.

I have a repairman coming tomorrow to fix the dishwasher. The brand new dishwasher. I know what is wrong with it. It just needs a part replaced, but since it is still covered under warranty, I'm making them do it. It drives me crazy how cheaply things are made anymore. There was a time when consumer goods were made to last, that they could be repaired, that companies stood by their products. Now, they just hope whatever crap they sell you lasts through the first year until the warranty runs, then you're on your own. Good luck with that.

Fortunately for me, we use the dishwasher way more than most people ever would, so the wear they'd hoped wouldn't surface until after the warranty expired showed up now. I suppose there has to be something redeeming about doing 4 loads of dishes a day, right?

Mothers judging mothers.
This one is a recurrent theme anymore, an epidemic of "please don't judge me, but I'm totally judging you for _____". It makes me so frustrated.

As a society, we bash the everloving fuck out of mothers. We condemn them, question their choices, shame them online, rant about the "I would nevers", and so on. Truth is, we're all doing the best we can with the information we have at the time. What works for you probably won't work for me.

It's particularly upsetting to me to see women struggling with post partum depression being attacked, and this one is absolutely personal. I have a history of dealing with the condition, among other things. I chose to be proactive about facing it this time around, and as a part of that, I had my placenta encapsulated. I was never as sick as I'd been in the past without it. Did it help? I believe it did. I'm not running around shoving pieces of my placenta in your face, I'm not insisting that anyone else consume theirs in any manner. I'm doing what I need to do to make sure that I stay emotionally grounded, stable and alive.

Frankly it doesn't bother me if other people are grossed out by it. I stopped caring what other people thought about me a long time ago. What I do totally care about, though, is that this dialogue is damaging to women in this place, women like me, women who need help, women who might look to natural remedies, women who are already beating themselves up for dealing with PPD in the first place, women who need support from the women they rely on and are instead mocked for their choices.

Stop it. Just stop it.

A lot of women deal with PPD. Some women take medication. Some women seek therapy. Some women encapsulate their placentas. Far too many of them don't do anything, and a huge part of the reason they won't seek help or treatment has to do with the judgment they are afraid of, the judgement that I see out there, the judgement that I have personally dealt with. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Police Dogs.
I was asked to write about this one this week, though I have been thinking about it in a different capacity anyway. Police dogs are an important tool in law enforcement, that can't be denied. They can hear things we can't, smell things we can't, find people we can't and more. Their value cannot be understated.

They are, though, highly trained weapons.

There have been far too many cases of the dogs being used inappropriately, particularly in cases where innocent children have been injured as a result. These cases aren't reflective of the dogs as much as they are of the handlers misusing them. Also troubling is the fact that 11 police dogs died in hot cars this summer. The responsibility for those deaths lie at the feet of the handlers.

What has also happened, and I can't be sure if it is occurring more frequently, or if it is just being more frequently reported, is that suspects are injuring the dogs on purpose. Jethro and Kruger are just the two most recent deaths. Some animal advocates are calling for increased penalties for those who injure or kill police dogs.

Forced sterilization takes an even darker turn.
It isn't news that thousands of women who had been deemed "mentally unfit" and then "promiscuous" were sterilized against their will in this country. What is new, however, are the findings of statistical analysis of the women sterilized. It's been discovered that women with Spanish-sounding surnames were 3.5 times more likely to be sterilized than the general population.

As if the situation couldn't have been made more disgusting...

Sigh. This would be the subject I didn't want to write about. His death came as a shock to all of us yesterday, particularly since he'd just released an album days prior. As we know now, it was his swan song, his great farewell to the world prepared as he knew he was dying.

I still haven't listened to it. I'm not emotionally ready, especially after losing my own father to cancer that had spread to his liver.

He truly left a magnificent collection of work behind. He empowered an entire generation of kids who didn't fit in to live their lives authentically.

What happened almost immediately after I read of his death was something I didn't expect. Articles posted and shared telling stories of things he'd done in the past. Terrible things. Things we don't want to believe that a man like him was capable of having done.

It's alleged that he had sex with underage girls, and the stories (printed months ago, not in the wake of his death) are primarily first hand accounts from the women involved. The age ranges have varied in the descriptions, anywhere from 13-16 years old. The women involved, members of The Baby Groupies, a well documented group of underage girls who were known for their relationships with rock stars.

Bowie was never charged with a crime, though that fact is virtually irrelevant as it has nothing to do with his culpability. We all know that legal charges do not a crime make, they only legitimize the accusations in the cases where the system becomes involved. The girls (now women) who were involved with him maintain that the sexual acts were consensual.

The trouble with that, of course and by definition, is that they were too young to legally consent. By definition, then, any contact amounted to statutory rape.

I've seen the full range of reactions to these stories being shared. Outage. Disbelief. Denial. Some have compared him to Cosby, others have forgiven him immediately as if nothing improper occurred.

It's not for me to say how anyone should react to this news. People get to feel however they want about it. Bowie certainly wasn't the only star with this following, and when compared to the acts of others, his violations were not "as bad". This, by the way, is not in any way shape or form me condoning what happened. He should not have done what he did. Full stop.

I just can't personally equate what he is accused of doing to forcible rape. It certainly isn't on the same level to me as someone who drugged and raped women repeatedly for decades. (For me. If you think they're equivalent, that is okay.)

There is a reason that rape has different definitions and degrees in the eyes of the law.

The industry, as well as our larger society, is deeply immersed in rape culture, in the objectification of women. These men were in a position of distinct power, the relationships they cultivated with underage girls vastly lopsided. Many have justified everything that happened because the girls followed the men around, put themselves in these positions. No. The men should have known better. They were the adults. Period.

Ultimately, this is all becoming an issue now because he died. Some people can't stomach his legacy without at least a discussion of this subject. He certainly isn't here to defend himself. We don't know whether he knew their ages, we don't know what actually happened, we don't know much aside from their highly romanticized descriptions. It's worth mentioning that the girls (now women) involved do not consider themselves victims.

Some have said that because of the ages at the time, they don't get to decide if they were victims at all. They were victims, and under the law (had it been involved, which it wasn't), they would have been considered victims on age alone, without regard to anything else.

People are people. They are flawed and broken, they are selfish and they do terrible things. Sometimes they commit crimes they never answer for. And sometimes we don't know until they die.

Having said that, I've been through some shit and never once have I wanted to violate someone else. Personally, I can't just wave this off. It colors my opinion of him (and many others), irreversibly.

These revelations don't mean that all his other contributions to the world lose their value, for certainly they don't, at least for me. It just means that rock stars aren't superhuman and we shouldn't idolize them. They can't be put up on pedestals. They shouldn't ever be.

Maybe you can separate the man from the music legend. Maybe you can't. Maybe you can't see past the awful things he did. Maybe you frame what happened as part of his entire lifetime.

We're all allowed to feel differently about this.

I'm not even sure how I feel, other than vastly disappointed.

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