Monday, December 23, 2013

Reason's Greetings!

"Why would an atheist celebrate Christmas? You don't believe in god so you shouldn't even be allowed to!" Yes, people actually say this shit to me. Phrases like this one have been flooding my Twitter feed for the last week, I'm getting sick to the point of tears of hearing this drivel, and after perhaps a few too many I'm going to tackle this bullshit HOPEFULLY once and for all. Yes, there are atheists who also enjoy the Holiday Season, and it may surprise some of you to learn this, they do so for VERY DIFFERENT REASONS than you'd probably ever thought of.

Reasons up to and including, but by no means limited to, because I fucking want to.

It's common knowledge that what we now call Christmas is a mish-mash of hijacked pagan holidays with traditions stemming from the Vikings, the Romans, the Celts and then some. You don't need to consult your friendly neighborhood Bible Scholar about this, they've been teaching it in public schools even since I was a little girl. So NO, Jesus is NOT "the reason for the season" as many claim, this is not only historically inaccurate but factually untrue in ALL CONTEXTS. Besides, Unlike Jesus, at least there's evidence of Axial Tilt having a distinct effect of Earth's seasonal weather patterns.

So why, for those of us who DON'T believe in bullshit, would we want to participate? For the same reason many of us enjoy things like the Fourth of July or even Valentine's Day: Yes, I used those two examples deliberately: ONE is an American National Holiday (not in any way religious in nature) and one USED TO BE a religious holiday in ancient times but is generally no longer considered as such. Atheists, being human, tend to enjoy meeting in groups of people that they have a common bond with and having good times together, you don't HAVE TO BE an American Citizen to appreciate or acknowledge the significance of the Fourth of July. I never used to be a huge fan of Valentine's Day, I don't think a lot of people are in this day and age. It so happens to be my anniversary, so it has some extra special meaning for me & my family instead of what people THINK that meaning should be.

For a group of people who idolize a long-haired hippie that told people not to be assholes to people, today's Neo-Christians sure do enjoy being assholes to people.

No one OWNS a holiday, certainly no one owns THE Holidays, no matter what label you want to slap on the front of it you will never be able to honestly tell someone they are not allowed to enjoy a special day on their own terms because it's yours and yours alone. Nope, no dice. Atheists have families, too, are we not supposed to enjoy giving gifts to each other and eating meals together because YOU SAY SO?

I am very hard pressed to think of anything more anti-Christmas than greed, and no I'm not talking about Black Friday Corporate greed. Christians do not OWN Christmas, Jews do not OWN Hanukah nor do Wiccans OWN Halloween (at least they're happy to share with the rest of us, but it's still superstitious nonsense) and so forth: So you can stuff the self-righteous "Keep Christ in Christmas" anger straight up your chimney, I'M going to enjoy myself and you can't do a damn thing to stop me!

So why do I celebrate Christmas? Because of my friends, my family, and the best reason of all...

Because I fucking WANT TO.

Io Saturnalia, friends ^_^

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What's the Point?

I've spent a great deal of my time deliberately trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill, and for what I thought was a damn good reason: In late February of 2011 while I was deployed in Iraq, a male squad-mate forced himself into my room, grabbed my shirt-collar, threw me into a wooden wall-locker, then after searching my room B-Lined straight at me while I was barely off my floor. Several Shrinks & Lawyers later, I've come to agree with their assessment that this incident was extremely fucking likely about to become a rape, were it not for a male NCO that so happened to come strolling along past my still-open door. TO THIS VERY DAY, that incident was never formally or officially addressed, investigated or even acknowledged by my (now former) Commanding Officer nor my Unit: Certainly NOT for failing to report it, of course.

Now that I'm no longer in the Army (I got out this Summer) I've tried very hard, to my detriment, to raise as much awareness about this as I possibly can. I've been screaming it at the top of my lungs since the day I hung up my ACUs, and with the exception of some good folks I've gotten to know via the Twitter Atheist Community, I've received little to no support AT ALL: I've harangued the Army Times newspaper, reached out to what seems like a non-existent "Women Veterans Network" whom has yet to resound to ONE EMAIL almost 6 months after I initially contacted them, I've even written a very detailed letter, to include EVERYTHING surrounding the incident mentioned above, to a US Senator: What acknowledgement have I received for trying to clue in the public about JUST HOW SERIOUS the military's rape crisis really is?

With the exception of appearing on some Independent Humanist media programs, because they graciously agreed to allow me on their programs, ZILCH.

I don't want money, not for THIS. Maybe I'm just exaggerating here, but it seems like the louder I try to make myself sound, the harder people jam their fingers into their ears. Really? Is this how far things have degraded that people who try to speak out about sexual violence are seen as little more than an annoyance? I've even tried writing a book about the entire ordeal, lousy fucking writers' block killed THAT project (at least for now, I hope.) 

Why am I trying to do what feels like the right thing if no one wants to hear my side of things? What is the point of raising my voice, shaking my fists and gnashing my teeth for all the Internet to see just to be shut out and bypassed like the 14th beggar on the same city block? If you have no idea what I'm talking about AND have half-an-hour to kill, proceed no further until you've seen THIS, and hopefully when you're done my frustration conveyed in this post will make some degree of sense to you. 

Again, I am not doing any of this for money: I am doing this because I find it morally fucking abhorrent that the Army treats sexual assault & harassment as a means of punishing Soldiers who screw up instead of as the criminal acts that THEY ARE.

Would I be wrong in interpreting apathy for acceptance? Are people REALLY okay with things just the way they are? Whoah, I do hope not! How bad do things have to get that someone who breaks the rules, however severely, is objectified and dehumanized to such an extreme capacity because of it? Worse yet, that such things are quietly encouraged to continue by those in charge? I THOUGHT that this was an issue worth bringing up publicly once the boots came off for good, but it would seem that I've just been shouting into an abyss all this time. Trust me, I've tried the whole "Unrestricted Reporting" road while I was still in the Army, my own at-the-time C.O. deliberately ignored my story: Fuck him right in the eye, the coward.

Maybe I'm still not trying hard enough, maybe I need to aim higher if I want my story to truly be known.

I'm going to consult YET ANOTHER LAWYER, and then I'll do my damnedest open up the cyber-flood-gates, I'd kindly appreciate as much help that you'd be willing to give me.

I titled that original entry "Vae Victis" for a reason.

Friday, December 13, 2013

RANT: Survivor vs "Victim"

I've survived a great many horrendous things in my 32 years, and considering how things often pan out for women in my position I actually consider myself pretty damn lucky just to still be alive. I've done my share of very bad things (fortunately none of them got anyone killed) and what good I HAVE DONE with my life isn't much comfort in retrospect. At no point in my life have I professed to be a good or moral human being, I've also made no claim whatsoever to sanity (as any of my former squad-mates will probably tell you) but I do the best I can and try to enjoy my own life without imposing directly onto those of others. Even as an atheist, as much of an asshole as I can often be to theists and their tired-ass catch-phrases their priests & pastors taught them, I genuinely get no joy or jollies in arguing with them. In fact, I'm downright dreadful at debating for that very reason.

Maybe my bad experiences in life are a big part of what has shaped me as a person, but I still can't honestly say that they've really made me a "better person," just sharpened my awareness for suffering, at best. I'm a domestic violence refugee, I barely escaped a cult as it was solidifying it's purpose, I served in a war that I never agreed with started by a spoiled old cunt that I didn't vote for and I almost died on numerous occasions while deployed. Also, at the hands of at least one person and almost by two, a multiple rape survivor.

What a funny word, it is: "Survivor." To the uninitiated it does sound a bit heavy, and it's not something I talk about very often in public if only BECAUSE people's reactions to the term are often unpleasant. 

And quite frankly, unless I actually WANT TO open up and discuss my thoughts ON MY TERMS, it's no one's business but mine, maybe my lawyer as well but that's it, really. People have often tried to persuade and coerce me into spilling my secrets to them, even family members, but No Dice: Trying to force someone's memory of a painful incident is, in my experience, as selfish and cruel of them to do as inflicting the actual incident itself. If someone WANTS TO talk about the things that hurt them, they will, but that doesn't de-facto mean that THEY HAVE TO talk about anything WITH YOU just because you ask. If they don't want to talk about it, fine. It's not your job to try to convince them to, asking respectfully out of concern is fine but remember that NO MEANS NO and once that magic word is dropped, YOU WILL kindly STFU and drop it. 

I do my best not to let the things that hurt me haunt me so, but I see so many who let their pain literally become their lives that instead of wanting to be a helpful friend I feel like shying away. It's also hard for ME to remember my own advice at times, to stand aside and let that person process their pain on their own terms without intruding. I can offer a hand, a shoulder, but reasonably that's about it: I can't cry or scream someone else's issues FOR THEM, and I sure as shit have no right to try to MAKE THEM vomit out their story for my benefit, absolute worst case scenario I call the cops if things get violent. I try to do what I can when I can, but it's a tough balance to keep between being a friend and being a nosy jerk.

I have no right to expect others to tiptoe around me, if something irks me SO STRONGLY I'll either say something or walk away. That's just how I am.

I never wanted to be "that one" who lives their life through the lenses of PTSD Glasses, though I have an official diagnosis (finally) my issues are a part of me but they are not who I am as a person. I've known lots of people, mostly via the Army, who can barely function: Usually for one of two reasons, either their issues are more serious than they are actively willing to admit or take proper care of OR they seem to over-analyze every goddamn thing around them and quite vibrantly project their internalizations like a constant blood-spatter-pattern. On rare occasion, some of them find a wandering soul to cling to expecting that person to "save them."

If it sounds like I'm being insensitive or judgmental I do hope you can forgive me, but I'm not going to censor myself for any one else's benefit, especially on MY OWN SITE. I have been that damsel in distress, I used to find the casual ignorance and unknowing of others absolutely crippling, to the point of tears and great malaise. Until one hot day in Iraq, while conversing with yet another "saviour" I'd found, he offered me a tidbit of his insights on human beings in general: No one is ultimately responsible for your feelings, or how you express them, but you. Suffering is, to a point, an unfortunate fact of humanity and no one can reasonably expect nor demand that another person feel something that they simply don't. I found this puzzling at first, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having some doubts about this person's sincerity but after having a good hard think about this for a few days, I found it hard to disagree with him on it.

No one HAS TO appeal to your emotions, however strong. Share your thoughts, express your feelings, bearing in mind you will have ZERO CONTROL over their reactions however poor or favorable to you.

In a way, I try to find a fucked up sort of peace in bad dreams and ill memories. I can't put my whole life on pause to go sob in a corner under a blanket anymore, I can only remind myself that I have no control over the images my brain shows me. I'm not in Iraq anymore, I'm home. I'm no longer in harm's way, it's been years since anyone from ANY ASPECT of my past has shown up on my doorstep demanding information, apologies or payment. I am in a pretty good place RIGHT NOW, this is no longer BACK IN THE DAY. If someone I don't want to talk to DOES show up at my doorstep, I have options (within the realm of the law) at my disposal.

I want my life to be my own, it's the only one I'm ever going to have. I've never been completely comfortable with the idea of relying on others for my own happiness or stability anyway, I rather like being the kind of person that can take care of themselves. Granted, I do have my bad days, and some days that are downright shitty. Some days I still go home in tears, but I do eventually get back up on my feet. I acknowledge that this isn't easy for everyone who has been in my boots, for many it may seem impossible. I get it, I've been there, what seemed to get ME out of that slump was coming face to face with my own mortality (NOT something I would recommend that anyone actively seek out for themselves, this is just MY side of things) and relinquishing all illusions of fate, destiny and control. Instead I embraced responsibility for my own life and well-being, even if at times it just boiled down to getting out alive.

I have severe PTSD, but I am not my disorder. 

No one is responsible for my feelings, for good or ill, but me.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

RANT: Suicide

My Grandmother, Josephine, lived to be 99 years old. In the last month or so of her life she didn't lament never being able to make it to her 100th birthday, she knew she was very ill and likely going to die very soon (this was in 2012.) She was living at my Aunt & Uncle's house in Patchogue, New York, a nurse and a Catholic priest would stop by the house every other day to see that she was comfortable and being taken care of (my Aunt & Uncle aren't bad people, per se, they just have no concept of "bedside manner" or how to take care of a dying person) and my Mom made a special trip from Maine to stay with her for a few weeks. About 10 days after my Mom was back in Maine, my Grandmother passed away in her sleep.

Death comes for us all: Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Scientologist, and yes, Atheists like me. While I wasn't exactly surprised to learn about my Nan's death due to her slowly failing health, it still hit me like a speeding Mack Truck: A person that I grew up with will no longer be in my life, I will never hear her voice or see her face again outside of old family home movies. Nan left existence as peacefully as she lived her life, and now her remains are in a Catholic cemetery on Long Island. I will never again get to give her a hug or see her smile, she's gone.

I was yanked from a Field Training Exercise to go to her funeral, my husband called me and told me the news: For some fucked up reason I'm always the last person in my family to find out when something bad has happened or when someone dies.

About a month ago I learned that a former squad-mate, US Army SPC Steven M Hays, was found dead inside his vehicle with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. When I first met Steven I was so badly dehydrated that I was pretty much completely delirious, our unit had decided that it would be a BRILLIANT IDEA to drag everyone out to an obstacle course and make everyone run it in the height of September with the Arizona sun blasting it's ultra-violet hatred on everyone: You know, to boost unit cohesion and some good clean "fun." So after ranting, yelling and swearing at my entire Company (and apparently my Commanding Officer as well) I was taken to the ad-hoc Med-Station (Which was basically a Humvee with a tank of water and some stretchers) and then I completely blacked out. It would seem one of the Soldiers I had inadvertently cussed out was Steven: Um, sorry 'bout that. 

The following Duty Day, he came to me and asked me what the fuck I was going on about: I told him a very abbreviated version of my story, he recalled to me some of the crazy shit I apparently screamed at everyone, our friendship was sealed from that point forward. I was never terribly popular in my old Unit to begin with, engaging in an act of consensual sex with another grown adult (a concept that our military has always struggled with) during the deployment in Iraq didn't improve my odds with them either, but unlike the other Soldiers who tried their damnedest to make me into a pariah, Steven at least took the time to say "Hello" to me when he could, in a group of people who could obviously have cared less if I had lived or died, it was a shining relief to see at least one other person who was glad that I was alive.

The difference between an otherwise natural death versus a suicide is that while both tend to be an emotional surprise, news of a suicide just doesn't seem to register in the brain at first. It's like you don't believe it at first, it literally "does not compute"

Our military demonizes people who die by their own hand, our society does this as well but not always to quite the same extent that the armed forces do. Sure, they tell you that they want you to get help if you're feeling like self-medicating with a .45 "Anti-Depressant" and they encourage Service-Members to do so, all the faster they can get the necessary paperwork started to kick your ass out. If life in the military is so awful that you want to DIE, why on Earth would you want to STAY IN? Because for many of them, especially those who have deployed repeatedly to Iraq or Afghanistan, that's all they have left: PTSD has ravaged their minds, military life has destroyed their families (Service-Members are up to four times more likely to get divorced than civilian couples) they're so beaten-into the system that it becomes the only life they know. After they have no more self-will, no more distractions from outside and no more control over their own circumstances, it becomes their life in it's entirety.

After that point, a Service-Member becomes so absorbed into "The Almighty Army" that it literally takes over their life. They are so indoctrinated that they can no longer understand anything else outside of the uniform, this can get to the point of "ordering" a spouse to do push-ups or even trying to pull rank on civilians who don't even live or work on Post. They literally BECOME their job, and when anything threatens them in that state (be it an injury, thoughts of suicide or even an Article 15) they will fight like Hell, scream, shout, even flat out lie, to keep the only thing they have left in their world, their only means of existence. 

The military suicide plague isn't due to a lack of options, it's because of a crippling lack of human decency toward one another.

Choosing to end your own life isn't a cowardly act, but it's nothing particularly ballsy either. Generally most of the people who express that sentiment are those who are upset only because the person they knew is no longer around for THEIR BENEFIT, not because that individual was in a tremendous amount of pain that he/she felt was being ignored or overlooked. There's nothing cowardly about wanting pain to go away, so suicide isn't "the easy way out," if anything it's got to be the most fearful and mind-breaking way to die that I can imagine.

I should know, I've tried it repeatedly.

I guess, to a point, the desire to self-terminate will always be there. When I was younger I was honestly so terrified that I would either go straight to Hell or maybe I'd reincarnate as an animal I didn't like. The last time I gave offing myself any serious effort was in Iraq, I had been stealing my Jesus-Freak roommate's painkillers over the course of a month, along with any & all pills I could get my hands on, and my original intent was to down the entire bottle on or before the day of my Article 15. I made it to about half the bottle before I started vomiting, they never quite made it into my stomach because I could feel my own esophagus squeezing shut: Of course I never told anyone that things had gotten THIS BAD, if I did then they would have just sent me on the next plane to Germany and shoved me into a cotton-box until my discharge papers were done.

I guess at THAT POINT it hit me that not only was the game rigged the entire time, that my squad-mates were NEVER going to grant me the respect that the uniform mandated because I admitted to myself that I'm just a person after-all (and a lowly female, no less) but that if I had actually gone through with my plan it would only be granting them what they wanted the entire time: For me to get myself out of the way before "the Enemy" could do it for them, and I wasn't ready to put my family through all of that. At the time, they had no idea about the kind of relationship my husband and I had, about our "friendships" with other consenting adults, it wasn't so much about me being afraid of the consequences anymore, but instead that I had to live through just long enough to see that they were eventually exposed for their own wrong-doings as well.

Surprised? Don't be. THAT was the big turning point for me, I fed them a line of bullshit about "seeing the wrong of my actions" while in the back of my brain swearing revenge for not dealing with another squad-mate who had assaulted & harassed me to the point of physical illness (I had been blacking out and vomiting so often from stress& sleep deprivation at that point that I honestly thought I might have had cancer, I even went to the clinic and requested a screening: UNFORTUNATELY, I didn't have cancer) and I gave any notion of gods or devils, even any version of an afterlife, the boot: If any all-intelligent being out there purposely allows people to get to the point where they'd rather die horribly than suffer the abuse of their fellow humans, then who in their right might can call this entity "good?"

There was recently a YouTube user going by the handle "MannixThePirate" whom, for the third time, faked killing himself: It's causing quite the outrage.

There is no pain in the world quite like realizing that someone you once knew is now dead, by whatever means. This is an especially troubling process when that person opted to decide things for themselves, but it's hard to put into words the fury that one feels boiling up inside themselves when they discover that someone, for whatever fucked up reason, decided that it would be a BRILLIANT IDEA to play it as a sick practical joke: Fuck you, dude, there are families and lives that are ripped apart because of suicide and you wanted to make a mockery of it? I'm not normally one to say that there are things you just can't joke about, because that would be censorship and I hold very tightly to the idea that censorship is for cunts, but this Mannix character should feel free to go dine on some fine light-bulbs with a tall glass of bleach to wash the shards down: People actually thought you were dead, you sick fuck.

In the end (haha, see what I did there) death really is the only thing that anyone can really take seriously at all, there's never really any going back and no one, despite any and all claims, ACTUALLY KNOWS if anything awaits us on the other side. I can no more demonize the act of suicide than I can cutting of one's own leg, it's your body and your life so I can't tell you what to do with it so long as you don't mean anyone else any harm.

But please, I don't want you to kill yourself. If only because there may be circumstances that you might not have considered until now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

So Yeah...

I may have just bitten off more than I can chew, but I think on some level I needed to do this. I've been keeping an eye on the progress being made with (hopefully) passing the Military Justice Improvement Act, being led by New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand. While it makes my quite happy to see that SOMETHING is finally being done about the plague of harassment & rape withing the military ranks, it pains me inside that no one put forth this effort to protect ME when I needed it most. So, events being what they are, I decided to send an email to the good Madam Senator regarding my circumstances: For good or ill, hopefully for good, I sent her THIS MESSAGE just about five minutes ago... 

My stomach is fluttering, has been since I hit the SEND button.

"Dear Madam Senator,

My name is Jenifer Chadbourne (my friends call me Jen)  and I'm an Iraqi Freedom Veteran. I've been carefully watching the unfolding progress regarding the Military Justice Improvement Act throughout the year, I ETSed out of the Army just this Summer actually, it's hard to believe at time that it had the problem had to escalate this badly for some serious action to finally be taken.

While I'm thrilled beyond words that the MJIA is within grasp, this progress came far too late for me. When I was deployed in 2010-2011 I wasn't regarded by my unit as an actual Soldier, just a walking pussy with an M-16. Life was terribly lonely, but I did my job.

Granted, and I may as well be honest with you here, I DID commit one UCMJ violation: Fraternizing. One man who treated me like a human being, but still outranked me rather significantly (a CW2 from Utah) but what followed after we were discovered was grossly inappropriate and I would call it "dehumanizing."

A squad-mate from my unit forced his way into my living quarters that night, grabbed my shirt-collar and shoved me into a wooden cabinet, then as soon as I got back up on my feet he rushed straight at me. Right then at that very second, my NCO walked past the open door and demanded to know what was going on: I've spoken to chaplains, psychiatrists, even lawyers (military and civilian) about that event, they seem to agree that had that NCO NOT come by when he did, that squad-mate was likely about to horribly assault me.

For months after those events, even well after I got home from Iraq, I was relentlessly cat-called and harassed by my own fellow Soldiers. I complained of the behavior repeatedly but they insisted that not only should I have anticipated this due to my transgression but to "just be flexible" and endure it. To this very day, to the best of my own knowledge and inquiry, not a single one of them were ever held accountable for these events.

Fine, I made a foolish mistake and I got a slap-on-the-wrist for it, much lighter than what it could have been, but that's not the point nor the problem: Were this simply a matter of being punished for a mistake I made, I'd have been able to face the consequences like any other adult, accept them, and have moved on with my life a long time ago.

I even looked my own Commanding Officer right in the eyes and told him EVERYTHING that had happened, and again, to the best of my knowledge, he never addressed or disciplined any of them for harassing me nor for shoving me into wooden furniture (which was quite unpleasant and painful, might I add)

Is THIS how the Army disciplines female Soldiers who stray from their path? By physically assaulting and berating them in such extreme capacities? The name-calling and inquiries about me supposedly "carrying the Chief's baby" (I can't have children, I had an IUD implanted in 2008) were so frequent and so disgusting that I took to hoarding my roommate's painkillers and considered swallowing as many as 12 at once: I think you can gather to what effect, I was that desperate.

OF COURSE I didn't tell anyone I was feeling so beaten, they obviously wouldn't listen to me so what good would it have done? Even after I got home from the deployment I went to as many NCOs and civillian resources as I could, but they all told me the same thing: You messed up, you should have anticipated being treated this way. Only recently, now that I'm no longer in the Army, have I really opened up about this publicly, I can't bear the thought of any other Soldier, male or female, being "punished" for ANYTHING in the same way that I was.

Madam Senator, while I have every bit of confidence that the MJIA will do a world of good for our service-members who need it most, there is till MUCH WORK to be done to change the culture and mind-sets of those who think this manner of behavior is in ANY WAY okay. When it's perfectly acceptable in their eyes to brutalize someone wearing the same uniform you are, regardless of how trivial their infractions, we have a much deeper rooted problem than just the act itself. 

If someone has to break the rules to punish someone else for breaking those same rules, that's a very clear indicator that they shouldn't be in a command position.

Madame Senator, maybe my story isn't anything terribly special to some, but this has affected me much to my own detriment even today. If I can do ANYTHING, within the realm of the law, to stop this from happening to anyone else, please point me in the right direction so that I can help them.

The Army may not WANT their female Soldiers, but now more than ever they NEED them whether they like the idea or not.

Please tell me what, if anything, I can do to help anyone in the same circumstances I've been through. 

In any case, I'd like to thank you for at least taking the time out of your busy schedule to hear me. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the MJIA hearings proceed and develop. 


I don't know if men in suits are going to show up at my door, or maybe nothing will happen at all, but still: I've never written a US Senator before in my life, about ANYTHING.

There was a hearing about the MJIA in the Senate yesterday, I watched as much of it as my poor old laptop could handle on C-SPAN's website (sadly, it wasn't much) but I'm keeping my figurative fingers crossed for further progress.

It should not have come to this, Commanding Officers should just do the right thing and do their damn jobs, but obviously there are some that just don't give a shit. It's time for that to stop.

And if I can help, I'll be more than happy to.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoughts on Veterans' Day

I really don't want to sound ungrateful, but sometimes when people say "Thank you for your service" I cringe. I don't regret joining the Army in 2009, life in the military forged and tempered me. Iraq was a shit-hole, and as hard as it may seem to believe there really were some very good times and really amazing people there. I met my best friend, Ian, downrange. He was like my brother, we always had each-other's back no matter what happened, even long after we got home. Life in the Army, deployed or at home, changed a lot of my perceptions about people: How we behave toward each-other as Soldiers as well as civilians, trained responses to danger versus panic-response, it really is a whole other realm of experience that a lot of people don't understand because they haven't been there. 

Then one day I had my Transition Leave form signed, drove to the top of Reservoir Hill, mooned all of Fort Huachuca and never looked back. 
In case you thought I was lying

As badly as I want to give shout-outs to all of my Army Buddies and people who were always there for me, and believe you me I DO, the whole of my four years in the service has been poisoned by the unforgivable actions (more importantly, a lack of action regarding a specific incident) of a small group of people of whom I had the great misfortune of being left in their hands. Yes, I'm talking about THIS and THIS because this shit is STILL HAPPENING to our men & women in uniform on a daily basis and no one seems to give a shit.

I want to enjoy today on my own terms, I really honestly do. I plan on staying home, I never really liked chain restaurants all that much, I'm not in any financial position to go on a shopping spree and fire-works sometimes freak me out: I always wondered who thought it was a good idea to reward our combat hardened returning troops with loud fiery explosions in the sky, yeah that sounds like something they'd REALLY APPRECIATE. 

Four years isn't a whole lot of time, arguably, I had every intention (at first) of staying in long enough to eventually become an NCO or even an Officer if I could make the age cut-off for the Green to Gold program. I was even giving strong consideration, once the combat ban was officially lifted, to signing up for a combat MOS. But then after a squad-mate forced himself into my room and (I'm 99.9% positive) attempted to rape me, then my entire chain of command proceeded to ignore my repeated complaints of him harassing and stalking me, all in silent accordance with punishment for a UCMJ infraction... it's very difficult, I would say nigh impossible, to re-stoke any fire of enthusiasm or motivation to remain within a system that clearly doesn't value my effort, dedication, or even my very life.

Much to the contrary of anything your recruiter may be telling you, they do not give a shit about you: I repeat, THEY DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU.

There is nothing noble or patriotic in picking up a gun and not asking any questions, any sociopath that can bang out a few push-ups can do this. Silencing of dissent doesn't do us any favors, either: There will always be whiners and complainers out there, and part of any respectable NCO or Officer's job is winnowing out the nonsense from the legitimate and addressing BOTH OF THOSE. We have a serious problem with sanctioning violence and maltreatment against our own, and the even bigger problem is that no one wants to fix this because they actually prefer it exactly the way it is.

The military isn't trying to purge the plague of rapists from their ranks because they WANT TO, believe you me: They're only proudly donning a polished affectation of drive and concern because there's only one thing our military truly fears, more-so than terrorists or North Korean nukes, and that's bad press. Under the patches and the ribbons they're perfectly fine with letting service-members "punish" each-other in the most vile ways conceivable, the only reason they're making a public stink about it now is because they finally realize that it's making them look like shit and no decent human being wants to come play with them in the Big Sand-Box.

Why does an institution of our government that pretty much does whatever the fuck it wants anyway suddenly NOW give a flying-lizard-clit about what the American public thinks? Because no one wants to sign up for a cause that silently condones brutality against their own behind closed doors and upon deaf ears. Technically, a Soldier doesn't even have the right to defend him/herself against an attacker according to Article 128 of the UCMJ (in many situations) They didn't tell you THAT, did they? If someone bursts into your room and puts their hands on you, you might not be allowed BY LAW to defend yourself. 

So yes, there were some good times and some good people. I loved many of them like family, I'd have taken a bullet for them. All of that camaraderie and "unit cohesion" has been pissed on because instead of simply leaving me to a slap-on-the-wrist Article 15 (I'll never understand our military's inability to grasp the concept of two consenting adults, albeit of different ranks, being together as abhorrent yet somehow THAT warrants a squad-mate's grossly inappropriate behavior as acceptable punishment for said infraction...) my Chain of Command basically told me, though not directly in words, that even if "R" DIDN'T blunder his attempt I would have deserved whatever he would have done to me.

Last I heard, but have not been able to confirm, my former Commanding Officer and his wife now have a daughter: If so, what would she think of my story when I get a chance to tell it to her?

Despite what many close to me might tell you, I AM quite capable of forgiving people and moving on from transgressions. I have a personal rule when it comes to forgiving people for their mistakes: I am not in any way obligated, in ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, to forgive someone who has made no attempt to apologize or explain themselves or their actions. Go ahead and pray to your imaginary friend for salvation, throw your "sins" upon them to your hearts' content, so far ONLY ONE SOLDIER has apologized to me personally for his poor behavior and it wasn't "R" himself nor any of our superiors. So beg forgiveness from your so-called "god" if it makes you feel better about yourself for being such a shit-person, but do this knowing full well that you never had the testicular fortitude to come to ME and beg for MY forgiveness (with the obvious exception of that one Soldier previously mentioned.)

And until you do, maybe even AFTER the fact, I promise you that I will spend the rest of my life ensuring that I am heard, acknowledged and understood: I don't care if telling the whole world what you bastards did rides upon my very dying breath, you will not silence me. I don't care if I have to suck off the Anti-Christ himself to do it, either.

When the game is so obviously and grossly rigged, the only way to truly win is not to play.

Enjoy your barbeque, go have a beer or two, and reflect upon your wrong-doing. Look your wives and children in their eyes and think about what YOU would do if someone had attempted to do upon THEM what you allowed upon ME and MY HOUSEHOLD. There are countless heroes being remembered today for genuine acts of valor and bravery, for sincere and selfless service under the banner of our flag, and know that as long as you silently condone such acts of violence and barbarism, you will never be honestly counted among them.

I don't say this about terribly many people and mean it, but I genuinely hate you.

Thanks for ruining what should be a holiday by not doing your job.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

They Came for MY SOUL

We had our first "Intruder" upon our property yesterday morning, and it shames me to admit that we were completely unprepared for them: A Jehovah's Witness. She came by herself, an 84 year old woman in a long coat and a crocheted cap. My husband & I might have panicked a little at first, we're in a rural enough area that only a few people are really SUPPOSED TO KNOW our exact location, so to see a stranger sauntering up to our door on the security monitor was a bit of a surprise.

My husband answered the door (behind the scenes I'm grabbing my revolver out of it's holster, just in case) and before John even opened his mouth she already had a little pamphlet held up in her hand at him.

Something to the effect of 'I'm going around town with these leaflets because my church is having a Bible Study tomorrow, we're inviting people to come attend, perhaps you've heard of us?' John nods at me: Not a threat, just an annoyance. John makes the mistake of asking what church, she answers.

The Kingdom Hall of Huntsville, Arkansas: It's about 45 minutes from where we are. That means this person went way the fuck out of their way to go bother complete strangers.

You bet your ass I was chomping at the bit when those words came out of her mouth, I stashed my fire-arm in my waist-band and headed on up to the door. Yes, I'm one of those 'asshole Atheists' you see tend to see on the Internet blasting dumb-assery online (mainly Twitter.) I've been trying to slow down and pick my battles more carefully as of late, but this one literally came to MY HOUSE and sought me out. I may as well make it worthwhile, I'm already armed so what's the worst thing that could possibly happen, right?

After my husband took the pamphlet she handed him, he glances it over while she talks about her "Bible based church group" that she says she's inviting people too, as she's thumbing through more papers in her hand (stacked on top of an old Bible, of course) when she asks what denomination we happen to be: The answer to THAT question, of course, being "None" because we're Atheists.

I'd like to note here that not once during the entire conversation did the words "We're Atheists" or even "Atheist" in of itself ever leave either of our mouths. People have a very negative perception of non-believers as it is, we want to avoid coming off as hostile.

And when we say "None, we're not religious" she actually looks a little confused for a minute. This the Arkansas Ozark Mountain Range, the hairy arm-pit of the American South, nearly everyone out here is either a bat-shit-loco Holy-Roller or a tight-assed Baptist. Meeting people who have no religion at all out here is a bit like finding a 14 karat gold needle in a whole field of hay-stacks. I think within a few moments it clicks in her head that we quite literally do not subscribe to any religious belief nor take anything the Bible (or any holy book for that matter) says to heart, and then asks why. Why what? Why we don't believe in god? Why we don't go to any church? Both?

I 'accidentally' cut John off right as he was about to say something, sorry about that, babe: "Because if any religion on Earth had any real merit to it at all, people wouldn't be killing each-other over them. I'm an Iraq Veteran, ma'am, I've seen and heard quite enough of what people are willing to do in the name of their holy books. If that's the kind of thing that any god is okay with, then I want nothing at all to do with it."

She paused for a second, and what came out of her mouth next absolutely stunned me: "Well the Lord actually tells us that he wants us to live without any war." 

SOMEONE, in 84 years of being alive and advertising her special brand of Bible, obviously hasn't actually read that fucking book!

Seriously? Do you actually think for ONE SECOND that I'm going to fall for that? Now to be fair, she IS only doing her job: She's not a physical threat to either of us and things haven't become hostile or abusive, just a tad weird so far. But really? Lady, I heard my down-range roommate say it's not a sin to kill Iraqis because they're not christians, and I won't even start with the days on end of constant 'calls to prayer' while our base was under attack from insurgents. But nope, apparently she really thinks that the god of the Bible is anti-war and forbids his chosen followers from fighting. Sure thing, what's in the cookies they bring to these Bible Study groups of which you speak?

She reminds me that Jehovah Witnesses are in fact forbidden from either joining the military or going to war, I'm thoroughly aware of this. Not only have I met one or two Jehovah's Witnesses before, but I also briefly worked with an NCO who joined them for the sole purpose of getting out of the Army. When I told her this, she seemed even more confused, as if something not physically possible had taken place: Either I described the dishonest actions of a misled and desperate person seeking a means to an end that went against the Watchtower Society's teachings, or I spontaneously grew a penis out of my forehead.

'Well that's not why he joined us, I promise you,' That's pretty much she says, and she really does seem sincere in saying this, "That young man wouldn't have done such a thing, there'd be a huge stigma... um, against that sort of thing." Ma'am, I hate to burst yet another bubble of yours, not only was this dude in his 40's and knew exactly what he was doing, but he DID IN FACT join your organization just to get out of the Army: At one point within a few days after the original blog post I'm linking here, I heard the words come out of his mouth myself. Yes, ma'am, there are in fact people out there who are taking advantage of your organization for their own means, and I find it equally confusing even if not for the same reasons you do.

Like any other religion, the Watchtower Society and their members are literally trying to sell you a lie. The only difference is that Jehovah's Witnesses will lie directly to your face in order to accomplish this, in fact they are encouraged to do so. 

Now I get it, this lady is just doing what she's been trained to do presumably since she was a young lady being brought up under the Watchtower Society's rules, but twice now she's already lied to me and pretty much pissed on my leg and told me it was raining. Anyone who served with me in the Army will tell you my philosophy about why people lie to each-other: There are, fundamentally, two common reasons why any human being would lie to another human being. The first is because they're afraid of what the other person will do to them if they knew the truth, the other is because they think the person they're lying to is stupid. I've done nothing to harm or threaten this woman, and since she has a "product" that she's trying very hard to "sell" to us, logic dictates that it's reason number two.

Guess what, lady? That shit didn't work on me in Iraq, it didn't work when I got home, and it's not going to work now. But you keep thumbing through those little tracts and pamphlets you keep handing me, I'll take them and I will in fact read them later on, because I know that this kind of life is all that you have ever really known. John and I COULD try to debate you while you're standing on our porch on a rainy day, I think on some level you really don't want to be there either. If I live to be your age, I'd rather stay at home with a cat on my lap either reading a book or cleaning one of my guns, not wandering out in the rain lying to strangers to convince them to join a cult. 

We told her multiple times that we had errands to run, shit to do, but that if we had any honest questions we'd come to the Kingdom Hall and ask: She still wouldn't get off the porch. 

The very same NCO who joined the cult once told me that when a Jehovah's Witness comes to your door trying to preach to you, that they're trying to do you a favor so you should be polite and hear them out. I'll give someone a chance to talk to me, they obviously went through a great deal of effort to get here. But no, I don't OWE THEM my time or courtesy: When I tell you to leave, that means leave. Yes, I still had the gun behind my back, no, I still didn't think it was necessary or wise to just whip it out like a psychopath. She wasn't trying to get inside, she was just damn convinced that she really was trying to help us (in a sort of Scientology-ish fashion, but in reality just as futile and frightening) 

At which point, after about the third or fourth "we have to go now, goodbye" she kept asking for our phone number. Um, no. Seriously, no. I know what happens when organizations like the Watchtower get a hold of your contact information, you 'mistake' it for an invitation, I'm not giving you my phone number nor my e-mail address because I get enough spam and solicitation via both channels. 

The whole of the encounter lasted just under five minutes, as I'm typing this I'm using her pamphlets and tracts as a coffee-coaster.

I still haven't read any of them. I can't be angry at the old lady herself, rather I feel sorry for her. True, nobody was holding a gun to her head and FORCING HER to go door to door in the rain, but religious groups like the Watchtower Society and Scientology have (in some cases, literal) death-grips on the lives of their followers. Not only do I very strongly disagree with the very notion of gods and afterlives, but I don't want to live my life as a slave to something I can't even prove to be real, nonetheless forced or in any capacity coerced to mold every aspect of my being to such ideals.

Lady, go home and stay there for a bit. Take a rest, have some tea and re-think your life. You've obviously had A LOT of time to think about it before, I can't help but wonder if you even want to try and enjoy whatever you have left of it.

And tell your "boss" not to send anyone else, we're not interested.

We're Atheists.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

You're a Very Bad Person

I've already written a piece covering my position on some aspects of Army-Wife Culture and why I find a good lot of it fucking abhorrent, and then yesterday I happened across a particularly shiny little polished-turd that made my jaw drop. I found this Print-Screen/Copy/New-Document/Edit-Paste monstrosity via the Overly Sensitive Military Wives Facebook Page, of which I've been a devout fan of for quite a while. No, seriously, this is un-frikkin-believable...

Oh, your precious HUSBAND is offended by women being in the military, is he? Maybe he shouldn't be an Officer anymore, then! 

No, you don't deserve any more "pats on the back" because the only reason that you agree with your undeserving husband's point of view would either be because you are inexperienced and ignorant  of what the lives of military women are like, or possibly he verbally/emotionally/physically beat it into you. Really, like military MEN don't pack on a shit-ton of weight for seemingly no reason? Aside from this entitled parasite's complete dismissal of male service-members' who also steal credit for false accomplishments (I actually DID go to Combat, BTW: In two wars with no definable "front lines" whatsoever, combat finds YOU whether you want it or not) yet again she seems to think that a spouse serves a role in their service-members' actual career: NEWS FLASH, unless you picked up an M-16 and got on the plane WITH THEM, no the fuck you don't!

After 22 years of this person supposedly being an Officer in the American Armed Forces (and no, lady, Post Security doesn't count) HE really should know better. In all honesty, our military has seen administrative, tactical/strategic, policy change out-the-ass over the last two decades and you honestly mean to tell ME that he's either too full of himself, too stubborn, too stupid or (possibly after that long) too fucking senile to recognize and comprehend that while the military may not WANT it's female service-members but that they do in fact NEED THEM? 

Every Officer has SOMEONE supervising them and governing over their actions, I can't help but wonder how they would feel if the entirety of America knew what a misogynistic sack of crap they have representing them...

I HAVE been to Combat, I HAVE seen some pretty horrible shit when I was in Iraq, I HAVE come home with some fucking problems, and yet despite all of the experiences I've seen and survived (for good or ill) I wouldn't trade ONE MEAGER SECOND of it for the life of a bottom-feeding Dependapotimus whom, rather than get off the couch, go out into the real world & actually doing the shit yourself, settle for little more than the occasional "pat on the back" from a domineering over-lording dictator of a husband who demeans his own fellow Soldiers: Regardless of the organs they were born with, he wears the same flag and uniform as THEY DO, and if he's "offended" by the idea of serving with women, then it's time for him to take it off and hang it up. I DO NOT want someone who thinks of me as an inferior being in charge of me in a combat situation, I would sooner shove someone like that in front of me once the bullets start flying.

You don't deserve a "pat on the back" for being a misogynistic parasitic Haus-Frau, you deserve a cold-hard (proverbial) kick-in-the-teeth and an ice-bucket wake-up.

And don't hand me that "women can't be misogynists" bullshit, Case-In-Point: Sarah fucking Palin. You have no idea how truly far-reaching the consequences of your husband's hatefulness and Vaginaphobia can go, do you? Did you ever think for but a moment that posting his bigotry and endorsing it publicly on the internet, with your name attached, couldn't possibly reach the eyes and ears of whoever his unfortunate superiors are? Were you completely fucking oblivious to the SENATE HEARINGS concerning the plague of violence against women in our military that out-dated mind-sets like his contribute to? Did you REALLY THINK that female Soldiers and Veterans weren't going to be royally pissed about your misguided statement categorizing us as little more than lazy brass-grabbing sluts in uniform? IS THE CONCEPT OF CONSEQUENCE COMPLETELY LOST UPON YOU?

What the flying fuck would you really know about military women anyway? The last thing you "served" was probably a sandwich to that undeserving fucktard you're married to. Well good for you, precious, as long as you insist on vicariously living your life according to someone else's deluded opinions, that's all you'll ever amount to in life: Another Bragg-Bagger Dependa who's too chicken-shit to actually take any real steps to experience her own life, but instead whines and squeals from inside the belly of whatever unfortunate host you decided to latch your hideous parasitic-self onto and expect us to give you a "pat on the back" for it.

If you're still reading this, granted that you can read at all, then I hope you understand by now EXACTLY how wrong your situation really is.

Yes I curse like a Marine, my Dad was one, deal with it. I'm a grown-up who uses adult language, I "defended" my right to Free-Speech and I'm GOING to use it as I see fit: Women like you give women like you an even worse reputation than already previously sunken down to, but for YOU especially...

Fuck you right in the eye with a burning snake-turd.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bullet Burgers

Even as I'm sitting in my bedroom typing this on my lap-top, I have my Smith & Wesson 442 loaded and holstered outside the belt of my maroon corduroy pants. I'm only up one cup of coffee so far and I'm already anticipating a potential "situation" that I'm employed for the specific purpose of diffusing: Unwelcome guests. I'm not a cop, I'm no longer a Soldier, you could say I'm something like a security guard that lives where I work.

I'm care-taking a 700+ acre cattle-ranch that has been in my employer's family since 1860, there are a few bad apples in the bunch that want to go "Scavenger Hunt" inside the very house I'm being paid to live in and protect.

Realistically, I'll likely never have to use my chosen side-arm for that specific purpose: More of an annoyance than a real threat, but better to have it close to me and ready to use in case of a REAL THREAT which is still quite legitimate. Though people living in very rural parts of the US aren't as likely to be robbed at home as those in the sub-urbs, when IT DOES HAPPEN it takes the cops & paramedics a ridiculous amount of time to respond, and by the time they DO arrive it's too late. I quite literally do not have time to wait for the cops to show up if someone actually does try to break in here, the nearest "town" to speak of is 45 minutes away (and that's WITHOUT traffic.)

But aside from potential human threats, which are not as likely but still just as real for anyone else in the United States, every night I fall asleep to the howls of what must be at least a hundred coyotes reverberating through and across the outer Ozark Mountains where I am currently situated. While they're more likely to get into my garbage-bin than inside my house, they're still dangerous and I don't want them near me or the property I'm working on. There's also a family of rabbits bouncing around where I intend to plant my vegetable garden come Spring, so THEY have to be dealt with by then because not only do I not want rabbits feasting on my soon-to-be red peppers, I don't want to have to clean up after coyotes feasting on red pepper stuffed rabbit.

At least 3 or 4 times a week, I drive my truck around the perimeter of the property where cattle are grazing to check the fences: I take my AR-15 with me every time.

Why? Aside from the fore-mentioned coyote threat, who seem to love little more than waiting for a mother cow to give birth and tear the throat right out of the newborn calf as soon as it pokes it's head out, on rare occasions past my employer has also had encounters with human trespassers during hunting season. Unlike my home State of Maine, where you have to have "No Trespassing" signs posted at a specific distance around the perimeter of your property if you own more than a certain amount of acreage, here in Arkansas you aren't legally required to put up any signs at all (but it's still recommended) so most people out here don't bother with actual signage as long as they have a stable fence up.

I have yet to encounter another human being out on the land other than my own husband and most of the fences have been repaired within the last year, so while I doubt that I'll ever encounter the world's dumbest tourists out on the range, there's almost no street access for a squad car or ambulance to come if things ever do get out of hand.

Though I've been a vegetarian for many years, without me & my AR-15 protecting the cows from predators and thieves, your BK Whopper would go for about $30 due to covering cost of raw materials (in this case, beef)

An armed vegetarian ranch-hand? On 700+ acres of open field with plenty of grass and even a creek running through the property, I'd much rather see cows that are in good health and living in conditions such as these than in a crammed feed-lot where they can barely walk around even if they weren't knee-deep in their own shit. Given that the average American consumes up to 4 times more beef products than the rest of the developed world, I find it astonishing that people are completely fine with sacrificing quality for quantity and getting upset with people like me who just don't want to participate.

So what does all of this have to do with owning guns? Not only would I be out of a job (and without a place to live) but my employer could be out of trade-able assets within the scope of a year, enjoy your $30 Whoppers. Honestly, I know that no reasonable American wants to grab up every gun in the country, but there are a few groups of people that actually think they guns are solely used for committing crimes, ESPECIALLY the "dreaded death-machine" that is apparently the AR-15.

If you're pro-gun control and you eat meat, ANY MEAT AT ALL, you have two choices: Re-consider your positions on who can have or use the types of firearms that I do as part of my job, or go vegan. Guess which is easier?

While few and far between, the people that DO WANT TO grab up all of the guns have no fucking idea how far reaching the consequences of doing so could be. Even fruit and vegetable farmers out here keep a variety of fire-arms to keep local wild-life from eating up their crop, so while meat is such a common commodity here in the United States, it's not the only one that needs the kind of protection that people like me can offer.

I use an AR-15 for my job because criminals and coyotes are too smart for traps and snares, and too dangerous NOT to be dealt with.

By the way, I've been a card-carrying Democrat since the first day I've been eligible to vote.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Army Wives

On many of my past ranting sprees about life as a female Soldier, one thing I catch a legitimate amount of flak for talking badly about is the "Real Army Wives" stereotype: Because in at least half of the cases I've PERSONALLY witnessed & dealt with, it's completely true. Now to be fair I'm perfectly well aware that, as with ANY stereotype, there are going to be a large group of people that the shoe won't fit. For the rest of this post, however, I'm going to be specifically addressing the ones that the beer-stained pink Crocs DO fit and why they make life miserable for other military spouses and service-members alike.

There's an unflattering term for this kind of spouse, the Dependapotamus:

Not the kind of wife who tries desperately to manage the house and family while you're away, but the kind who desperately tries to vag-cram her way into EVERYONE ELSE'S as fast as possible before you get home. Not the kind of wife who tries to be your rock of support when your PTSD starts controlling and destroying your life, but the second you start having issues she divorces you and takes half your deployment pay with her. I'd like to be able to honestly say that these are few and far between, but they're just not. I think there might be a reason for this, though, just like the military life itself creates a culture swarmed with it's own horrifying problems: The atmosphere that many military spouses, male and female alike, have to live in is creating a culture of trying to pull "Silent Rank" and ridiculous entitlement complexes. 

Many of us Veterans recall the story of the famous FRG Meeting held by an officer, the specifics of the story vary greatly by there person telling it, of course (Fort Bragg, Fort Gordon, Fort Huachuca, Rammstein, etc..) but the basic story is something like THIS: An officer orders a group of Army Wives to form up by rank, they shuffle around each other like a herd of angry cats and just before they start tearing each-other's hair out the officer screams at them to STOP! "You don't have any rank!"

This may sound mean-spirited, and the story itself is likely exactly that, but unless you're enlisted/commissioned yourself, YOU DON'T HAVE ANY RANK. Struggles at home while your spouse is deployed are nothing to look down your nose at and trust me, I understand that! My Dad was in the Marine Corps until I was 8 years old, I saw what time away for many many years can do to a family. My own husband had shit he had to put up with both while I was deployed and when I got home, and I'm all the more grateful for his support now that I'm out of the Army. BUT...

Military Spouses have ZERO SAY in Military Procedure or Policy.

When our government FINALLY lifted the ban on female Soldiers in "combat roles" (not that we haven't always been there anyway) one common argument against letting women serve as grunts & gun-bunnies was that the wives of the men object to having to deploy with other women: Get the fuck over it! Do you think MY HUSBAND had issues with me being surrounded by males while halfway across the planet? Of course he did! But did any of his complaints or concerns mean jack and/or shit to my Unit or to the Army at all? NOPE. So what makes YOUR INSECURITIES so special that I have to put my career on hold because you don't trust your spouse? YOUR marital problems are not MY hindrance, they are exactly that: YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM.

When I was deployed I was told I had to keep my voice down while a squad-mate was on the phone with his wife because she'd flip out at him if she so much as heard me speak. Bitch, I don't want to be here any more than HE DOES! But I still have a job to do, so you can stuff your sexist bull-shit and get the fuck out of my way! Unless your spouse is wearing the same uniform that I once did, carrying the same rifle that I once did, dodging the same bullets and rockets that I once did, she's not qualified to lick the filth from my government issued boots if she thinks she can try to tell me that I can't speak to my squad-mates from the other end of the Globe just because I so happen to be assigned to the same unit as her husband.

Unless you are enlisted/commissioned yourself, you ARE a civilian. PERIOD.

In a conversation I had with a friend many years ago, who is herself a military spouse who also has concerns about life as such, she once made the suggestion that perhaps female service-members should have to meet-and-greet with the wives of the Soldiers/Marines/Etc that they'll be deploying with as a way of re-assuring them. While membership isn't mandatory in most cases, there's already a kind of organization that does that: The FRG (stands for Family Readiness Group) and they're supposed to include all service-members' families who choose to join. However in my friend's case, her husband is a Reservist and they get next to zero actual support because of it, even though Reserves and National Guard deploy more frequently than Active Duty personnel do.

My issue with her suggestion is that, and at the time I don't think she thought of it that way, it implies that I have to preemptively apologize for being in the same unit as their husbands and that if THEY did something that jeopardized their own marriages, it would somehow be MY FAULT even if they didn't do it with me. I'm not going to apologize to anyone for having a vagina or just reporting in for duty, again, someone else's insecurity is not my fault nor my problem. I'm going to continue to do my job and if you and your wife doesn't like the fact that I'm there, too fucking bad: When I signed up for the Army, I didn't get to pick what unit I'd be assigned to or who my squad-mates would be, the Army decided that FOR ME and, just like you and your wife, I had to be a grown-up and deal with it.

My other problem with this suggestion was that it was solely one-sided: Not one of the male Soldiers in my unit made any effort to greet my husband and re-assure him that none of them were going to try and rape me (and one of those, who was himself married at the time, DID TRY & FAILED) but it implies that female service-members somehow bare that burden alone. At this point in time I'd like to point out that not once had I nor my husband been invited to a single FRG function when I was in the Army, and I would never have gone because I genuinely hated the people I had to report to and still want nothing to do with them.

I'm so glad that I have reasonable and smart friends, they help me see things objectively: Once I (much more politely and calmly) explained these quandaries to her, I think she saw the flaws in the idea and dismissed it immediately. 

I didn't sign up to serve my buddies' wives or girlfriends, or in some cases husbands or boyfriends. And on that note, just to serve as a reminder, women in America's armed forces are vastly out-numbered by men so singling out female spouses is not intentional discrimination, merely a matter of numbers. I wore the flag of the United States of America on my right shoulder, not a picture of your lady-friend. Conversely, since she's a civilian and a Soldier isn't, she is under no obligation to salute THEM and they are under no obligation to salute HER.

In case you need a (not very polite) diagram...

Proper respect for rank is one of those pivotal ideas that many credit for keeping a functioning military unit in good order. Rank, be it among enlisted or officers, determines (albeit superficially) a service-member's position in the leadership scale: A Sergeant outranks a Specialist, Specialist outranks a Private, a Private and a 2nd Lieutenant are only on the same level intellectually but at least the Private knows they don't know what the fuck they're doing. Without rank to tell them apart, you'd have a bunch of people with weapons all yelling at each-other. "Silent Rank" as many military spouses call their station in life, are "Silent" because they don't fucking exist. I don't care if it hurts your feelings, unless you actually stood front-and-center at your own husband's Article 15 hearing right next to him, "Silent Rank" is just a catch-phrase put on t-shirts at Clothing & Sales so you'll buy them: Nothing more.

Now please don't misunderstand me, running a house-hold practically by yourself is no joke. Seeing a person who used to be the man you loved transform into an anger-panicked wreck because of PTSD is also nothing to be taken lightly. There are times I look back at how John and I somehow managed to survive with the ass-load of issues that I had to wrestle with when I go home from Iraq, were it not for some serious effort and communication emphasis I don't know where we'd be right now. Your suffering and struggle, however, does not trump ACTUAL rank or time-in-service.

Being married to a service-member is not the same as actually doing a job, if it WERE you'd be getting up at the ass-crack of dawn and going to PT Formation with the rest of the Unit.

As previously mentioned, I'm not in the Army anymore. I actually ETSed in the summer of this year. I wanted to stay in, I had every intention of re-enlisting. Then after an unexpected spinal injury and all the nonsense that followed just trying to find a competent doctor, I had a good long hard think about what four more years of being told that I'm a lesser being than the guy next to me would really do for me: I did my time, played in the sand-box with the big-kids, I'm done.

Rank does have it's privileges, but only if it's YOURS.

Shout-out to Overly Sensitive Military Wives fan-page, Represent.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Feminists vs. Sex Workers

Aside from the usual "Fuck Atheism+" uproar, my Twitter feed has been a-buzz with more cyber-warfare raging between two very different opponents: Self-described New Feminists attacking self-identified Sex Workers (and for the sake of this blog post, I'm including strippers, web-cammers, prostitutes and porn actors in my definition of "Sex Workers") because NFs think that all SWs are either unwary and unwilling people who are being exploited or simply must be out there waiting for their next paying client willing to participate in "destroying women..." where-as the SWs claim a distinct difference between human trafficking versus legitimate sex-work (the biggest difference, obviously, being the ability to consent to have sex with clients) and many also feel betrayed by NFs for lack of support, even though many of them are also women themselves.

Pretty Woman was a terrible fucking movie, anyway. 

I wasn't alive during the original Feminist Movement of the 1970's, but my mother was: I don't think she invested a whole lot into the idea back in those days, being a recent newly-wed and a semi-devout Catholic (and it shows, even today.) There's no reasonable way that Gloria Steinem could POSSIBLY have anticipated the needs, or even the possibility in a few cases, of transgender women publicly speaking out against violence and bigotry toward them, women in the military & the ongoing Military Rape Crisis, or even the persistent lack of women in science. Her writings and activism got one Hell of a ball rolling, but Feminism as a philosophy has one serious Achilles Heel: Aside from better life and equal opportunities for all women everywhere, which are certainly nothing to look-down-your-nose-at and I would completely agree with, there are no solidifying foundations or rules.

Essentially, if you're down with giving women a fair chance at life and prosperity, you're considered a Feminist: Which is great, on the whole, but consider this...

Is it somehow completely impossible that a woman, or even a man since we're discussing equality in general, might actually WANT to get naked or otherwise use their bodies sexually to earn their living? Surely not EVERY stripper on the pole at your friendly neighborhood titty-bar comes from a broken home or otherwise "just paying for college," is the idea of ANYONE embracing their sexual identity AND making a living from it just that outlandish that it simply doesn't happen? Certainly, if we're talking about a better life and better opportunities for people than we can't rightly leave consenting and aware Sex Workers out of that picture or else what kind of "Feminist" could one possibly hope to be?

The supreme irony of New Feminism's objections to Sex Work is that these are the very same people that can't bare the thought of Republican Congressmen/Senators legislating their bodies on their behalf, and yet here they go on trying to invalidate the needs and concerns of their "Sisters on the Streets" by doing THE EXACT SAME THING. Who is ANYONE, male or female, to tell another grown adult what they can and can't do with their own body in any capacity whatsoever? How does any organization or ideal based on empowering human beings & breaking free of gender oppression have ANY RIGHT WHATSOEVER to tell other consenting adults that being happy enough with your body to use it for your job is morally wrong or in any way deplorable?

"If you want it you're going to pay up front for it, we're going to lay down some ground-rules and NO MEANS NO" When put in terms as straightforward as these, I am hard pressed to think of a more "Feminist Occupation" than PROSTITUTION.

I've had a few conversations, mostly via the internet, with a few people claiming to be SWs: I'm not going to drop names or locations, not only to be respectful of the people I spoke to, but also because they didn't give me any. Many of those, surprise-surprise, actually enjoy what they do and regulate their own circumstances as best they can. From what I've gathered from talking to them, these are not people who were smuggled into the US in the hull of a cargo ship and sold to the Mafia, these are natural-born US Citizens (and one Canadian) who charge an up-front fee for their "services" and don't take shit from shady prospects.

These are not scared or dirty "Broken Dolls" in slums & street-corners, these are flesh and blood human beings with active social lives and a very interesting outlook on life: THEY own their bodies, not their customers. THEY draw the lines and call the shots in any given "session" and not some pimp looking to make a buck off of other peoples' hard work. Shit, I can't dance worth piss regardless of how many drinks I've had, I'm not ashamed to admit that I envy a stripper's ability to not only expose herself semi-publicly but to climb up a shiny steel pole without help (I've tried, I can't do it, even when I DIDN'T have herniated disks in my spine, that's a NO-GO for me. But I won't stop someone who honestly wants to...)

An argument I recently heard against legalizing prostitution was that "it's rarely anyone's  first choice of work." Before I joined the Army I was a JANITOR for many years! That job isn't ANYONE'S' first choice!

The lives of these SWs isn't all Kinky Boots and shiny steel poles, BECAUSE certain aspects of their chosen profession is still illegal in much of the United States, they face very real dangers at the mercy of the public: SWs are unable to report incidents of assault, rape, murder or pretty much anything else. Unless they have a solid network of amazing friends, or so happen to be Ju-juitsu Masters as well, they have little to no recourse if someone hurts them: This happens to them ALL OF THE TIME, and they get next to ZERO SUPPORT from so-called "New Feminists."

So until you're actually willing to see the other side of the $2 Bill, regardless of where it came from, NFs can shut their lying cock-holsters about better opportunities for women everywhere if that includes leaving SWs in a bad way. I'm not interested in Sex Work, that's just not for me, but I will never put down another human being for using their own body to earn their living how they see fit & without hurting anyone else.

MASSAGE THERAPISTS "use their bodies to earn a living," the same with UFC Fighters and Broadway Dancers: No one is arresting THEM (well, not for THAT, at least...) 

Be respectful to SWs, for they are ALSO human beings.