Friday, February 21, 2014

I Love/Hate Chick Tracts

I would honestly love to know why some people think leaving these goddamn things all over the place is a good idea, really. If you want to waste your own money buying packages of these tiny pamphlets that most people just wind up either tossing into the bin or using for fire-place kindling, that's your prerogative I guess. All it really seems to accomplish is desecrating and defiling otherwise perfectly good trees but more notably lining Jack Chick's pockets with money he doesn't fucking deserve to have. Even my Christian friends despise Chick and think his material is grossly unoriginal and perverted. 

You hear THAT Chicky? Even your target audience despises your message!

So when I went to the VA in Fayetteville for an appointment last week and found one of these things not-so-cleverly "displayed" atop a PTSD brochure rack, at first I was more than just a bit miffed. I took it with every ORIGINAL intention of just tossing it in the trash where it belongs. No matter what the fucked-up story-line, these things are all fundamentally the same: The same "Turn or Burn" drivel over and over again only wrapped in slightly different packaging with each printing.

But not this time. THIS TIME I decided to do something outside of my usual routine: 
Get settled in for a wee "Bed-Time Story" kids, because this is not only about 20 or so minutes long but also chock-full-o-swearing and most certainly NSFW!

And as long as some unfortunate bastard continues to drop these things at the VA (which is a Federal Building and not technically allowed to endorse or display stuff like this anyway, so really I'm doing EVERYONE a favor, here) there will be more "Bed-Time Stories" to come in the future.

Please, enjoy ^_^ 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An "Open Letter"

This is silly and I know it, but I feel like it's something I should at least try. Conventional methods don't seem to be achieving the desired effects, so I'm going to keep trying whatever (legal) means possible to make myself heard and make a real difference. Why? Because if I get frustrated to the point of shutting up about this, then I've essentially given up for good. I am unable to forgive, I am unable to forget, I expect this to continue for some time at least until some actual action is taken to correct it. So here it goes...

"President Barack Obama,

As a father, you've stated repeatedly that you'd want only the best possible opportunities for your daughters as they grow into women and enter the world as capable and functional adults. I was one such daughter once upon a time, capable and functional as any other and my father had some very similar high hopes for me as well growing up. A stubborn old-school New Yorker (Brooklyn) he tried to teach me how to look out for myself but to respect those around me to the best of my ability, as a Marine he tried to teach me the value of hard work and discipline, not only to set goals for myself but the importance of carrying them through to the end, however bitter it may sometimes be.

As an Enlisted Soldier (2009) I found myself living these ideals 24/7 and putting them to their most practical purposes not just in my duties but in my daily life. Then in Summer of 2010 I deployed to Iraq, and while I never agreed with that war in of itself I eventually quietly accepted the risks and possibilities that I knowingly signed up for; I shut my mouth, swallowed my tears and "manned up" about the ordeal because there wasn't a damn thing I could have done about it as long as I wore our Flag on my right-shoulder. By that time a draw-down plan was already in effect, damn near all of the "scenarios" that I had been trained for weren't going to actually happen, and while this disappointed me greatly I learned to try and make the best of things whenever possible. Instead of kicking down doors or going out on convoys, I found myself reading stacks upon stacks of books: Dies the Fire, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and the God Delusion to name only a few of the titles I passed some of the Deployment with.

Reading books, one could say comparable as "PT for the Brain" however, was simply no substitute for basic human interaction and contact. Being brand new to my unit at the time, I had very few friends and almost daily I was reminded of this. The only time anyone ever came to speak to me was when they were either making a pass at me or looking for someone else, this behavior pattern continued for months until I happened across, through a small group of people meeting for religious purposes, I met someone I could finally have a genuine conversation with: A CW2 who was Deployed from a National Guard unit from Utah.

Fine, there's a rank difference and I understand that on the surface of things it didn't exactly look very good, but the moment my boots first touched the soil of this particular Combat Theater I very quickly witnessed, observed and learned that regulation was often a very far cry from reality and that certain behaviors, though against written rules, were often "permitted" out there. As previously mentioned, I had unwillingly become the center of A LOT of unwanted attention from male Soldiers and even civilian contractors, many of whom were married. But this all happened so casually, and so often, that after a while it all seemed so common-place and accepted that it became a strange sort of "normal" after having been away from home and family for so long. I myself am married, and I'm very fortunate to have a husband as understanding and "open" that he is, we live and love just like any other married couple, our only difference being a certain candid 'agreement' between the two of us.

At some point the Chief and I were eventually found out, certainly a violation of regulations and I'm not going to argue against that, however Mr President, THAT is not the reason I'm writing this to you. Were it simply a matter of being processed for UCMJ Action, I promise you I'd have been able to accept the consequences like any other adult and eventually have been able to pick up the pieces and move on with my life. But that's not what happened next, not in it's entirety.

The night I was "discovered" a male squad-mate forced himself into my room, grabbed my shirt-collar and slammed my head against a wooden wall-locker. After performing a "search" which consisted of little more than waving a flash-light around the room, he came at me again but was interrupted by an NCO who came upon the still-open door (that seemed to be the only thing stopping him from assaulting me further, the fact that at some point SOMEONE had noticed something happening.) 

After my "leadership" coerced my confession, for the next several weeks I was regularly subjected to being followed around the FOB and being questioned about completely inappropriate things like if I was carrying the CW2's baby (I can't get pregnant, an OBGYN saw to that by MY CHOICE some years before I Enlisted) and what diseases he had given me (NONE, I've actually never had a sexually transmitted disease and I have medical records to prove this) along with essentially any and every little demeaning and dehumanizing thing my supervisors could think of. The very same male squad-mate who broke into my room and assaulted me was consciously allowed to stalk and harass me, despite my repeated complaints and attempts to report his disgusting behavior. He had taken to following me to the Gym, to the DFAC, anywhere and everywhere he could get away with. Even my own Commanding Officer, on the eventual day of my Article 15 hearing, sat at his desk and purposely did nothing to stop the harassment when I brought these events to his attention.

There were times I went for days without sleeping, the most I was consciously able to count was four consecutive days, because someone would come knocking at my door at any random hour to come bother me. I was afraid for my safety ever time I reported in for duty, especially if my supervisors might find it amusing to leave me in the same room alone as my aggressors. Despite my many protests, I had repeatedly been told that due to the nature of my indiscretion, that I had brought this all on myself and to "just be flexible" and basically put up with it. One day a Soldier from another unit came into our Area of Operation for the specific purpose of asking me if I'd have sex with him, and when I asked him why he pretty much told me that I was "highly recommended" for the task. Things had deteriorated to the point that I had taken to "collecting" painkillers and other random pills with which to end the torment permanently: I'm pleased to report that despite upon the one attempt at swallowing them, I promptly began vomiting them back out. I didn't tell anyone this, I didn't want to give them cause for celebration.

Basically, Mr President, an entire Army Unit under your command had taken to using sexual harassment and perceived threats of rape & violence as a means of punishment for a UCMJ violation that never endangered anyone else's capacity for duty, their lives or their well-being (certainly not to the same extreme capacity that I was being regarded!)

I am the daughter of a proud United States Marine, and having served in the Armed Forces myself I suppose I could call myself a Daughter of the Flag. I have since learned that those who were my aggressors have daughters of their own and I sincerely fear for them, to include my (now former) Commanding Officer, whom, in refusing to acknowledge my reports in person, disobeyed a direct order issued by HIS Superiors so that my "brothers in arms" could have their fun at my immediate expense.

Now that I'm no longer in the Army, I've come to learn that that my story is not an uncommon one, coming from various support sites and first-hand accounts of Sons & Daughters of the Flag who have also suffered at the hands of those wearing the same uniform we did. I now know that I am just one among many thousands, more than tens of thousands (it's hard to establish a solid statistic for Military Sexual trauma BECAUSE incidents often go unreported) who were abused by the system we swore to defend.

Mr President, anyone else who is assaulted or harassed at their job at least the option to call an outside authority to investigate impartially and fairly instead of by their immediate supervisors who may or may not have already formulated their own opinions and judgements well in advance. I fought for and served an idea of "justice" that I never got to see a scrap of for myself, I served a Flag that stood for ideals and promises that had since failed me when I needed them the most. If a Soldier/Marine/Sailor/Airman, male or female, can't have a fair chance at justice against those who assault and/or abuse them, because their superiors either quietly condone such things or simply don't think that stopping rape is a priority (though I don't see how any human being, especially some with daughters of their own, could possibly look themselves in the mirror with such inhuman sentiments) then just what are we really defending? If a service member can't report or press charges against against someone who does them harm, however small or severe, without a neutral and unbiased party overseeing the proceedings, then what is the point of the'J" in UCMJ aside from covering the tails of the perpetrators?

When we support, endorse and advertise a system that so brazenly allows such horrific maltreatment of those wearing the same Flag, then insist that nothing actually needs to change in order to fix a problem that the Department of Defense doesn't even want to acknowledge exists, how exactly are they any different from the enemy they've trained so hard to "protect" us from? The traditional system of leaving a Commanding Officer to decide wether or not an incident even occurred is clearly an outdated one, Mr President. The fact that a Soldier is STILL more likely to die by their own hand than by an enemy weapon should stand on it's own merit that the current system is failing the very people it's supposed to keep in line. If you'll pardon the comparison, as long as they insist on using proverbial Band-Aids to cover these recurring bullet-wounds then our military leaders have no one but themselves to blame for the very real blood on their hands.

In my personal opinion, Mr President, not only is this your chance to nip military rape/harassment int he bud once and for all, but perhaps it's high time that the UCMJ should be re-evaluated and replaced with a different system altogether since it's become nothing more than a tool-box for silencing victims and survivors in favor of keeping the untouchable aptly titled. You're the Commander in Chief, if YOU can't stop another Service-Member from suffering the same (or worse) "punishment" that I did, then our beloved Sons & Daughters of our Flag are in some very dire straits indeed. 

Before I close this letter, I have one question to ask you: Have either of your daughters ever expressed an interest in speaking to a Recruiter?

Very Respectfully,
West Fork, ARKANSAS"

Friday, February 7, 2014

An Extreme Case

"Feminist" is a tricky word to solidly define, but the general idea applies to one who would strive to see women regarded fairly and equally in all aspects of society. I can see why, even at the most basic of levels, this idea makes conservative skin begin to crawl. But it's my general impression these days that even among my fellow liberals that the term sounds pretty dicey to the mind. No one in their right mind wants to look like, sound like but especially BE a misogynist (arguably, this is one of the oldest and most deeply ingrained prejudices in human culture, it's going to take a lot of hard work to fight it out of existence) but very recently I came across one of the rare individuals whom I believe betrays the title outright.

No self respecting feminist likes the stereotype of the "Man-Hating Feminazi" but as with many cultural stereotypes, they come from SOMEWHERE. Ridiculous as they are, there are a few people out there (not specifically women, as I have had interactions with only a few men who might agree to these terms) who take ANY IDEA to the farthest possible reaches of absurdity and keep reaching out further. As with any idea, religious or otherwise, Feminism has historically been no exception to this unfortunate trend.

I believe I have found one such individual who fits the description of an extremist almost perfectly.

I'm not going to lie about it, I was drinking while filming my little "critique"

I say and do a lot of weird shit, I certainly don't expect people to agree with it and I would hope that if someone DOES disagree they can feel comfortable stating as such, so long as they clearly state their reasons and provide evidence for their claims. I'm completely fine with people questioning me, so long as they do so for good reasons (and I draw a line at threats & Ad Hominem, though I admit sadly having stooped to AH at the end of this video. I'll do my dam nest to avoid it in future content.)

I'm not joking, I think the entire premise of this piece is absolute, convoluted and speculative horse-shit, with little or no substantial evidence with which to give this particular individual's opinions any actual ground on which to stand. And ordinarily I wouldn't have bothered to acknowledge this beyond a chuckle, however OMG LOOK AT SOME OF THE FUCKING COMMENTS!!!

Wow, why would any sane/rational person ever lend credence to someone who admits to not living in the real world and/or practically being diagnosable as insane? Mentally is is not the same as being insane, mind you.

Really? THAT'S your standard of evidence? That 'every hetero female's "first time" is painful' ergo it's rape? Um, well, to be honest MINE wasn't really all that painful at all. I've had vaccinations that have hurt more than being penetrated. And if it hurts THAT MUCH, that's a sign that something else is probably wrong and medical intervention might be imminent.

THIS is why everyone's ideas/opinions DON'T deserve blind nods of "respect" because while certainly, people have the RIGHT TO their ideas (however bat-shit fucking loco they may be) the ideas themselves are not above criticism and scrutiny.

But I encourage my readers and friends to have a look and decide for themselves, Yes, I've been quite rude, but at this point I don't care: If I HAVE TO be able to stand to criticism and questioning of my ideas, then why shouldn't I apply that to anyone else's ideas?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

... Really?

Again, when someone says they'll do something, at the absolute least I'd expect that they make the effort to TRY. That having been said, I've spent a great deal of time and effort trying to make my voice heard, my issues know and awareness spread about exactly how serious an issue that military rape really is. Many good people, cyber-friends and personal friends, and even a few family members, have been helping me gather information about this subject for the purpose of trying to make a difference in the outcome of the decision of wether or not the Military Justice Improvement Act ever gets passed. I WANT for this to work out, because the thought of another Soldier/Marine/Airman/Sailor experiencing anything like what I had been through, though in reality it often amounts to far worse, fucking infuriates me. Any regular to my blog has a pretty good idea how important this is to me.

But that's not all that's got me very upset: I've been publicly decrying this manner of horrific violence since I hung up my Uniform last summer, I've come across quite a few organizations and figure-heads whom, at least on the surface, claim advocacy and a voice for women and men who were assaulted and/or harassed while serving in the American Armed Forces. I've written to damn near every single one of them that I've ever heard about.

Most of them never even bothered to respond at all.

Before I proceed, know this: I am not accusing anyone of fraud, at least not all of those. I can understand a Senator having far more on their plate than a run-of-the-mill journalist. But any organization that touts 'a voice for survivors' could at least expend the courtesy of a confirmation e-mail, takes about a minute to come up with something simple and professional with which to answer somebody, so from where I'm standing the lack of support from some of these "voices" is puzzling and at worst inexcusable.

THESE people have taken the time to hear me and/or help me be heard.
The Herd Mentality Podcast
Atheist Hangouts (with David Viviano)
SGT Skeptic Podcast
26,000 Letter Project

THESE people haven't (and for some, it's literally been MONTHS)
Women Veterans Foundation
S.W.A.N. (Service Women's Action Network)
Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
My Duty to Speak
Protect Our Defenders
Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)
A particular journalist from The Raw Story
Military Justice for All

... there have of course been more, but as you can surely understand as to why, the mere fact that some of these are even on the list at all is very surprising and kind of alarming to me. Really? I can't necessarily make any claims that "It's because I'm an atheist, isn't it?" partly because MAAF is in there as well but I also have no proof that THAT'S specifically the reason. But why else a group of large-scale assistance organizations wouldn't even give me the time of day, forget so much as an instant message or an e-mail, is very disconcerting indeed. I think that if you're going to take the time and effort to create a network of people who "care" about the rights of survivors and actually preventing and prosecuting rape, one would at least have the decency to respond in some way, even if it's just to say "I'm a bit busy at the moment, but I'll get back to you soon." This is supposed to be an issue of justice, compassion and "care", so if you don't care then it's time to hang it up and go home: You don't belong here.

As usual, if anything changes, I'll do my best to keep people posted.

Thanks again for listening to me rant, this has been exhausting but I'm very grateful for your help.