I am a woman, and today I am scared

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As I reflect on this historic and shocking election result, I look at this photo and remember more peaceful times in my life. Even though I’m still afraid, this photo is comforting. 

This blog post is a complete stream of consciousness. Today, like millions of people all over the world, I woke up from what I hoped was a nightmare. But it’s our reality now: Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, and in nearly a landslide at that.

I woke to dark clouds and rain in New Jersey. It fits with my emotions today. Today, I have reflected. I have cried. I have searched within myself for my thoughts on this election and the results. I have numerous emotions today. Among them are devastation, fury, and disbelief. But the one I am having the most difficulty with is fear. And that is the purpose of this blog post.

I am afraid for, to put it broadly, the world. Yes, I’m terrified for the environment. For Muslim-American families having conversations about not wearing a hijab in public because they are afraid for their safety. I’m terrified for African-Americans who not only are disproportionately targeted by the police, but may deal with nationwide disastrous and racist “stop-and-frisk” policies under a Trump presidency. I’m terrified for the LGBTQ community because our Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, signed the “religious freedom” bill in his state, which allowed for businesses to discriminate against groups they don’t like, specifically anyone identifying as LGBTQ. And even though I am heartbroken beyond explanation for all of these groups, most of all, for personal reasons, I am terrified most of all for women. And I am now terrified as a woman for the first time in my life.

I am terrified for many reasons. Yes, it’s partly because Donald Trump said he would punish women for having abortions. Yes, it’s because he has threatened to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices who would not only be pro-life, but who would overturn Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion. And yes, I’m also horrified that Vice President Mike Pence has pushed for legislation that would force women to pay for funerals of not only aborted fetuses, but for miscarriages. But even though these are reasons to be scared as a woman, it’s beyond this. I’m terrified because of the words Donald Trump has said, and memories throughout my life he has brought to the surface. For the first time, I am reflecting on several memories I have never dwelled on before.

Donald Trump, our elected President, has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen individuals. The numerous allegations range from unwanted kisses and touching to rape of not only women, but of girls, minors. The now infamous Access Hollywood tape is a moment in time. Donald Trump said that not only does he grab women “by the pussy,” but he also said, “I don’t even wait.” What doesn’t he wait for? Consent. Donald Trump said, on tape, that he sexually assaults women. The women who came forward after the tape’s release verified his own admission.

As if there couldn’t be more damning evidence of Trump’s treatment of women, he has been documented verbally demeaning women. In my opinion, the most egregious example is his treatment of Miss Universe pageant winner Alicia Machado. Trump publically shamed her for her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy,” “an eating machine,” and brought press to film her exercising after he put her on a weight loss plan. Machado suffered from anorexia and bulimia for five years due to this harassment.

With each story released of Trump’s treatment of women, I started to look within. Of course I was disgusted and angry. But for some reason, Trump’s blatant sexism made me think back to memories I’d almost forgotten. I want to express that I am not, in any way, equating my experiences to any of these women, or to anyone else’s personal story. But I have read other women’s stories, and I remembered events I’d almost forgotten occurred throughout my life.

I remember in fourth grade, when a boy in my class was standing behind me and stroked my hair. I turned around, obviously a bit creeped out. He just smiled at me.

I remember in eighth grade being called “ugly” by a boy I had a crush on.

I remember freshman year of college receiving Facebook messages from multiple strangers telling me they had seen me around campus and wanted to hang out with me because I was cute.

In the spring of my freshman year, I had a date to watch a movie with a guy in his fraternity’s apartment. I asked a mutual friend, who was in that fraternity, where the apartment building was. My date found out I had done this and shamed me for asking someone else where the building was. He hinted that he didn’t want me to tell people where I would be that night. He told me that if people knew where I was going, they would start rumors about me and would spread lies about what I was doing. Nothing happened when I watched the movie with him. But after that, he messaged me on Facebook with unwanted and pushy sexual advances. I never hung out with him again.

On Halloween weekend my first year out of college, I went to a bar with a friend. Two guys approached us, and we all started talking for a while. One of the guys seemed interested in me and was friendly. I went to use the bathroom, and immediately after I returned, when I wasn’t looking at him, he grabbed my butt completely out of nowhere. I had met him less than an hour ago. I looked over at him and he smiled at me.

Later that same year, I went out dancing with a group of friends. A male acquaintance was dancing with me, and he started trying to feel me up and move his hands between my legs. I stopped him and he became more pushy. He told me that he knew I “wanted it,” and said that I needed to have sex with him. I kept telling him he was mistaken and that I wouldn’t. The last thing he said before I grabbed my close friend and ran off was, “At least let’s go out to my car and I can lick your pussy.”

About a year later, I was in a relationship. My boyfriend wasn’t in town, and I went out with a female friend. A man came up and sat down next to me at the bar. At first he was harmless. But not much later, he told me I should come home with him. I said, “I have a boyfriend.” He asked, “Well where is your boyfriend?” I told him he was out of town and he immediately responded, “He doesn’t have to know.” I refused his request, but that didn’t stop him. He then asked for a kiss. I refused, but that apparently wasn’t good enough. He turned it into a game. He said he would pay me to kiss him. I kept refusing, but he didn’t stop. He jumped off his bar stool and ran to find his friends to ask for money. He came back, and offered me five dollars, ten dollars, fifty dollars, and continued to raise the amount of money he’d give me to kiss him. No matter how many times I said no, he didn’t stop. His friends were nearby and amused by the situation, but didn’t do much to intervene. His friends apologized after he finally gave up, saying that he was just very drunk.

About two years ago, on yet another Halloween night, I was out watching a band with a friend. Out of nowhere, an elderly man (I would venture to say he was at least 70 years old) came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, put his face and body against mine and said, “You are so gorgeous.” I wriggled out of his grasp and ran off with my friend.

My most recent memory is from only about two weeks ago, and it still rattles me. My mom, two sisters, and I traveled into the New York Penn Station on the train. When we arrived, it was insanely crowded, and I felt someone bash into me from behind, and it felt deliberate. While discussing where we needed to go, the man who bashed into me came up from behind me and said, “Where are you trying to go?” Taken aback (he was visibly drunk and/or high), I gave him a look (I have an expressive face, and this time it got me in trouble), turned away, and kept walking. Apparently this set him off. He went on to follow my family and me, circling around yelling at me. “Ugly bitch. Fucking ugly bitch. You fucking ugly bitch. You ugly bitch. Ugly bitch.” He spit every word at me slowly and with hateful venom I’ve never experienced before from a stranger.  I tried to ignore him as my family and I kept walking. He followed us up a flight of stairs, inches away from my face saying, “Ugly bitch, you ugly bitch.” I felt and saw him out of the corner of my eye as he made a swipe at my ponytail. When we reached the top of the stairs and kept walking he circled over to my mom, saying, “You raised this coward?” The last thing he said to me before my family and I found our exit out of the train station and raced away was “Faggot.” After we were away from him one of my sisters said he had been trying to trip me while I was walking up the flight of stairs.

Why am I telling any of these stories? Why am I remembering them now? It’s because our newly elected President of the United States reminds me of these men. None of these men waited for consent, and Donald Trump has admitted that he doesn’t, either. Throughout his entire life as a celebrity, he has spewed hatred towards women. He and his supporters have called his admissions of sexually assaulting women “locker room talk,” which means that, according to them, not only are his words acceptable in private conversations, but they believe these are words you’ll hear ordinary men all over the country saying. After the election results and reflecting on my own experiences, I have to just hope this isn’t true.

I could discuss why I think Hillary Clinton lost and who I blame, but that’s for another post. Today I am reflecting on my fear. My fear of being a woman in this country. Donald Trump has set an example that not only can you get away with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, without consequences, but you can become President of the United States despite the country being fully aware of it. And win in a landslide. Last night, we elected a President who has most likely sexually assaulted multiple women, and may have raped both women and girls. We have elected someone who does not respect half of this country based solely on their gender. Not only does he not respect them, but he has violated them, and these human beings have been psychologically damaged because of his actions. Donald Trump’s supporters have vocalized their dismissal of these allegations, and some have said that even if the allegations are true, that doesn’t change their minds about Trump. Not only is our newly elected leader a possible rapist, but millions of his supporters don’t seem to care. And that terrifies me. What also terrifies me? At least one of the men in this story is a Trump supporter, and one has since had a child.

I don’t have any solutions right now. I don’t know what to do to stop this country from moving forward.  I’m just as lost as the rest of you. All I know is that I am a woman, and for the first time in my recollection, I am afraid to be a woman. I am afraid for our country. I am afraid for our world. But right now, today, I am afraid for our women.

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Our country is in a dark place. All I can do today is look at photos of more hopeful times, when I was at peace.

 

Announcement: New Feminism Blog With Modern Day Artemis!

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Hooray for feminists!

Good news, everyone! (Did you all read that in Professor Farnsworth’s voice from Futurama? I hope so!)

For a while, fellow blogger, Modern Day Artemis (check out her blog!) and I have been discussing the creation of a new blog we wanted to start. We both have an interest in feminism, and decided to dedicate a blog on Tumblr to the topic of feminism.

Our blog is entitled “Why I Am A Feminist,” and our mission is to have a platform for feminists everywhere, all over the world, to share their stories and express their reasons for why they are feminists.

As it grows, we hope to hear voices from many different countries, all coming together with a common mission: to spread the word about the importance of feminism in our lives. From America to South Africa, feminism is important for equality not just for women, but for everyone.

If you’re a feminist, check out our blog, and tell your friends. If you’re not a feminist, still check out our blog and tell your friends. You know you want to. I believe that education is crucial in gaining awareness of things we do not understand, so I hope that our blog will help those who don’t understand feminism to gain a bit of insight.

I wrote a blog post dedicated to why I need feminism a few months back, and I believe that I need feminism in my life. I believe that the more voices we have speaking out, the better. Speak out for what you believe in, and as voices join together, the world will hear us.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: First Reported Time Traveler From 1955 to 2015

Source: olddogthoughts.com Scott Walker is frustrated that 2015 is progressive and has lost the narrow-minded perspectives of 1950's America. Temper tantrum ensues.

Source: olddogthoughts.com
Scott Walker is frustrated that 2015 is progressive and has lost the narrow-minded perspectives of 1950’s America. Temper tantrum ensues.

*Great Scott!

Many United States citizens have been wondering why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seems a bit backwards and out-of-touch.

It’s because he is.

Scott Walker (and rumors of other fundamentalist Republicans) is one of the first time travelers to join us in 2015.

During Marty McFly’s time travel adventures, Scotty sneaked into the backseat of the DeLorean and traveled with Marty from his home in good ol’ 1955 to our modern world of 2015.

Marty jumped out of the DeLorean immediately after arriving at his destination, unaware that he’d brought a passenger with him. He’d parked in an empty school parking lot, so he assumed the time machine would be safe until he returned.

As soon as Marty was gone, Scotty stumbled out of the time machine and was confused and befuddled.

Source: occupydemocrats.com Scott Walker's face of utter confusion.

Source: occupydemocrats.com
Scott Walker’s face of utter confusion.

Scotty ambles through the streets of 2015 America and as he saunters by a newspaper stand, he sees the headline on the front page: “Gay marriage legalized in all 50 states.

“WHAAAT?!? This can’t be!” Scotty exclaimed.

He couldn’t believe how progressive the future was. In his mind, it was the most absurd atrocity he could think of. However, he realized that more equality in America was just the beginning.

Scotty bought a newspaper and as he scanned the headlines, he realized that America was changing in ways that were against his Republican, strongly-conservative ways.

Stories in the paper discussed the confederate flag and its racist history. Suddenly, Scotty’s face was red. His conservative blood began to boil. His hands shook, and he ripped the newspaper in half, throwing it on the ground.

“The future is full of anti-American heathens!” Scotty screamed. Luckily, the street was empty, and so there weren’t any witnesses to his meltdown.

Then and there, Scotty’s heart yearned to travel back to his home of wholesome (but racist) 1955. He began making his way back to the DeLorean, and hoped that Marty McFly would be back soon so that he could go home. He’d hide in the backseat again, and Marty would never know the difference.

Immersed in his 1950’s, bigoted thoughts, Scotty was so distracted that he tripped on some uneven pavement and face planted into the ground.

He came to after about a minute, and recalled a message from God. Not the loving, accepting God, but the perception of God Scotty had invented in his head. Scotty was now the man with a plan. A plan to take over the state and try his damnedest to spout his message and reverse these progressive liberals and their hopes of equality in 2015 America.

Scotty thought to himself, “We need to move this country back to the morals of 1955!”

He had a spring in his step as the wheels turned in his head. Scotty decided that he would take the DeLorean a few years back and earn a position of power. But how?

Suddenly, a voice from Scotty’s perception of God spoke to him:

“Scott, son. You must run for Governor of Wisconsin. Your goal is to move Wisconsin back to the morals of the 1950s. Make it your mission in life, Scott.”

With that, Scotty ran back to the DeLorean, got inside, and drove off.

Source: i09.com Great Scott! It's Scott Walker flying in the DeLorean, off to become Governor of Wisconsin!

Source: i09.com
Great Scott! It’s Scott Walker flying in the DeLorean, off to become Governor of Wisconsin!

Scotty traveled back to the year 1985, went to high school, and graduated a year later. He started off his career off with corruption, of course, because how else is he supposed to be elected into office? By being honest? How silly! Scotty used his sneaky, manipulative qualities to weasel his way through the years, eventually becoming Governor of Wisconsin.

Scotty made sure to speak out against equality, workers’ unions, and women’s reproductive rights. In the future, Scotty hopes to take over the country as President of the United States. He is so far disappointed because Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are beating him in the polls.

Meanwhile, Marty McFly is out for revenge against the mystery person who stole the DeLorean.

*This story is satire. It is only a theory. Just so y’all know.

Let’s talk about cops (and racism)

*DISCLAIMER: This post does not mean ALL cops. It means SOME cops. But there is no denying that SOME cops have done what I am about to discuss.

Source: politicsrevealed.com

Source: politicsrevealed.com

Racist emails, unnecessary violence, and gunning down unarmed black men. No, I’m not talking about the KKK. I’m talking about some cops in America.

Like many other Americans, the series of widely publicized shootings of unarmed black men has made my blood boil. I don’t believe that these eerily similar shootings have necessarily increased over time, but I think that the advancement of technology has allowed us to document and display the violence to wider audiences.

Keeping this in mind, the events of these horrific shootings involving white cops gunning down unarmed black men proves that not only does blatant racism still exist, but it’s alive and well in many police forces.

The most recent event is the shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott, aged 50.

Police officer Michael Thomas Slager shot at Scott eight times as Scott was running away from him. Three of Slager’s bullets hit Scott in the back, and after the eight shots were fired, Scott dropped to the ground, and died.

How do we know this? Because a witness caught it on video. The video not only captures Slager shooting Scott in the back as Scott was running away, but it also shows Slager possibly planting evidence by dropping his Taser near Scott’s body. The footage shows that when Slager fired the shots, Scott was far enough away not to be a violent threat to the police officer.

This video is crucial to the case because it led to the arrest of Slager. His original police report suspiciously differs dramatically from the actual events captured on the video. Slager claimed that there was a struggle over his Taser and that there was a struggle before the shots were fired.

Clearly, the video evidence shows otherwise.

This case is different because the cop in question has been arrested and will be tried for first-degree murder.

It’s about time we see this outcome after a cop kills an unarmed black man.

Unlike the cases with the high-profile shootings of Trayon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, there is the possibility that Slager may be imprisoned.

Even though Eric Garner’s death was also captured on video, there was no indictment against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner, despite the fact that chokeholds are banned by the New York Police Department. Many were outraged by the outcome of this case, myself included.

With the case against Slager, the Supreme Court’s ruling proves that the officer’s actions were illegal. According to the Supreme Court, using deadly force is only legal if “the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm.”

Was Scott armed? No. Were the crimes he was suspected of crimes that involved violence or physical harm? No. In the moments before Slager opened fire, was Scott threatening him or anyone else? No.

The evidence against Slager is damaging, and it seems unlikely that he will be found innocent. However, with the history of these cases, police officers somehow manage to walk away free after murdering unarmed black men with not so much as a slap on the wrist.

Technology is crucial in keeping police officers with this track record in line, but it’s depressing to me that even with video evidence, police officers somehow manage to avoid prison time or even an indictment at all. Police officers are in positions of power, and officers accused of crimes can use this power to their advantage. Jury members may have the mentality that most cops are truly abiding by the law.

Yes, there are “good cops” and “bad cops.” But this fact shouldn’t mean that there is no justice for the men who were killed by those “bad cops.” Police officers who disobey the law should be held accountable, just like every other citizen of the United States.

Video cameras should be used more widely among police departments across the nation, and investigators are beginning to crack down on the corruption among police departments across the nation. Hopefully, this means justice. Hopefully, this means that police officers will be held accountable. Going forward, America will hopefully become more united.

Religious Freedom (in other words, Freedom to Discriminate)

Source: washingtontimes.com

Source: washingtontimes.com

Religious freedom is not what people in favor of it want you to think. At least, not according to the law Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed in private yesterday. Religious freedom is nothing more than passing laws to have freedom for businesses to legally discriminate.

While Pence claims that the bill he signed, called the Senate Bill 101, “is not about discrimination,” it is clear that that’s exactly what it’s about. The bill “prohibits state and local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion.” There has been worry that this means it’s, essentially, making it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, all in the name of “religious freedom.”

The reason people are fearing that this could allow businesses to discriminate is because of the timing (after conservatives in Indiana failed to ban same-sex marriage in the state) and the allies Pence had on his side (conservatives who have pushed for anti-gay marriage laws in the past, such as Eric Miller, the head of Advance America).

Source: akopsa.wordpress.com

Source: akopsa.wordpress.com

Interestingly, Pence cited the equally-controversial Hobby Lobby case as some of his inspiration for signing the bill. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned businesses can legally deny their employees insurance coverage for contraceptives under the grounds of “religious freedom.” What does religion have to do with contraception? Not much, but Hobby Lobby and other “religious” corporations can use their “religious freedom” as an excuse to deny their employees coverage for different forms of health care.

The passing of Pence’s bill is more of the same. While “religious freedom” shouldn’t have any direct correlation to gay marriage, the law could open the floodgates and allow businesses in Indiana to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers on the grounds of their religion. Apparently, if their religion states that gay marriage is immoral, Pence just passed a law that would allow these anti-gay marriage businesses to discriminate against customers they have a problem with.

The “religious freedom” laws that have been passed over the course of the last year make many Americans wonder what happened to the idea of separation of church and state. While the separation between the two isn’t directly in the Constitution, the idea is still there. Recently, businesses have been given the privilege to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate. Discrimination is against the law, yet “religious freedom laws” are going against that law.

While Pence claims that this bill isn’t about discriminating against groups of people, it blurs the line. It gives businesses the right to discriminate against people, claim that they are exercising their “religious freedoms,” and doing so legally.

America is founded on the idea of “freedom,” but when someone’s freedom compromises the rights of other citizens, then that is no longer “freedom.” That is discrimination. We should be free to practice our religion (or choose not to practice any religion in particular), as long as those practices do not include denying services to customers based on their sexual orientation alone.

Laws like Pence’s Senate Bill 101 in Indiana could open up the doors for similar bills in other states. Despite the fact that Pence claims his bill was not passed to allow discrimination, it is clear that the bill would make it easier for businesses to do just that. If other states follow suit, discrimination could become easier for businesses to practice legally.

It’s unclear whether or not Pence will be running for president in 2016, but if other conservative candidates hold Pence’s beliefs, then this election could prove to be an election that includes candidates who are still fighting to take away human rights on no basis other than discrimination excused as religious freedom.