International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

I would like to say “Thank-You” to the powers-that-be who sanctioned March 8 as the day to bring my exclusive club of “women” to the forefront of everybody’s minds today. I feel honoured.

For those of you who are not too familiar with my group – the group that is being commemorated today – let me have the privilege of introducing you. It’s only fair that you understand some things about this little group of mine…

  • We are called “women”, a name that has a connotation of kinship with “men”.  Both women and men make up the whole of “humanity”, the most populous (insects aside), and some say the most intelligent, species on Earth.
  • Women have been mandated with the physical task of co-procreating, carrying and giving birth to “new” humans in order to carry-on the existence of our species.
  • Studies have shown that women are as industrious and intelligent as their male counterparts. Some studies would argue that we have a higher pain threshold, are more nurturing and sensitive, and have a much better sense of direction than men.
  • There have been no scientific studies to prove that women are “less” human than their male counterparts, despite popular belief.  However, women have historically – and presently in many parts of the world – been treated as if they are an inferior sub-species of humanity.
  • Despite oppression which many suffer in the forms of physical, sexual, mental, and economical abuse, there are many women who have contributed to society. Many women have been able to raise healthy, content, contributing members of society – and some without the influence of the more superior “men”; some women have made huge strides in the arenas of sports, science, art, industry, and all of the sub-categories of each; and there are some women who have even been considered “equal” with men, securing equal-pay for equal-work, and respect for contributing intellectually to the betterment of society.

So to have an annual day set aside just for us, on behalf of women everywhere, again I say thank you for remembering us today.

Maybe someday we can have a “Humankind Day” so that we can remember the strides and plight of that group once a year.

“Give me a break!”

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Convicted Canadian WordPress Blogger Publically Tortured Outside Red Deer Provincial Court

*Kelly Olsen, WordPress blogger and mother of three, received the first instalment of her cruel and unusual punishment this morning outside of Red Deer Provincial Court, where a judge had sentenced her in July, 2012 to 10 years imprisonment, $300,000, and 10 finger dislocations for writing about her thoughts on organized religion, Canadian foreign policy, and implying that the Catholic Pope is a cult object.

As her husband and children watched on, shouting words of love and support, an RCMP officer escorted a shackled and handcufffed Olsen to a platform that was set up to face the estimated six hundred people who gathered to witness her public shaming and torture.

An officer of the court then read the following: “Kelly Olsen, as part of your sentence to the crimes of which you have been convicted, it is my duty to dislocate all joints in each finger on both hands, to be carried out one finger at a time, each week, at this time and at this location for 10 weeks.”

He then removed Olsen’s handcuffs, placed her right hand in his, and proceeded to dislocate each joint of her index finger with swift and purposeful movements. Olsen screamed in agony with each of the three dislocations and fell to her knees in apparent agony. One of her sons could be heard saying “Stay strong, Mom” through the crowd of cheering onlookers.

Olsen was then pulled to her feet, re-handcuffed, and escorted back into the building.*

Of course, this is a fake headline and story. I am Kelly Olsen. I am healthy and well, sitting with my family in my comfortable home, afforded with the luxury and freedom to write as I choose. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about being arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced for criticizing a particular religion or my government (at least, for the time being).

But you knew that, reading this rediculous story. That would never happen.

Well, it did and is happening. A fellow blogger and journalist just received 50 flogs with a cane this past Friday in a display of public shaming and torture, while his fellow citizens chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and whistled and clapped when the flogging ended.

This was the first installment of the cruel punishment Raif Badawi will receive – another 50 lashes next Friday, and every Friday after that until he has received 1000 lashes. Badawi will also serve 10 years imprisonment, as well as having to pay a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals, equivalent to approximately $266,000US.

Badawi’s crime? Running a website devoted to free speech… for insulting Islam.

Reports say that the chances of Badawi surviving all 20 weeks of flogging are slim. This young man is going to possibly die a horrible death for creating a forum of discussion about religion.

Is that sinking in? He created an opportunity for people to voice their feelings and opinions about what is going on around us. NEWS! CURRENT EVENTS! But because these current events involve fundamentalist terrorism, and that these terrorists claim Islam as their religion, then his website was condemned as being a forum to criticize Islam. So black and white, isn’t it?

Our western governments are shaking their fingers at Saudi Arabia and criticizing this punishment as a violation of human rights, but don’t expect to see too much action from these governments to demand a stop to it. Think about where most of the worlds oil comes from.

It’s up to us ordinary citizens of the world to speak out against this autrocity against free speech and human rights. Do it, and do it now before you, my fellow WordPress bloggers, are also punished for speaking freely.

To read Aljazeera’s latest article, click the following link…

Saudi blogger flogged for ‘insulting Islam’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera Englishhttp://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/01/saudi-arabia-blogger-flogged-insulting-islam-20151911120952108.html

Rape “Culture” or Rape “Ignorance”?

The phrase is beng used everywhere of late, and it is maddening. “Rape Culture” is a phrase that was coined by feminists in the 1970’s, used as an all-encompassing definition of the way society tends to blame the victims of everything from sexual harassment to violent rape. I can’t get away from that phrase these days. I don’t find it “cultured” when you cannot turn on a news program without hearing stories of victims coming out of the woodwork accusing everyone from teenage college students to “untouchable”, respected public figures. I find it “uncultured” when the vast majority of victims refuse to speak of their experiences, let alone come forward, and hold their accused perpetrators accountable, not because I find them cowardly (I am one of those “in the closet” victims), but because of the almost certain negative ramifications they will face once they do come forward.

Let’s call it what it is…it’s “rape ignorance”. When victims are perceived as the criminals, it’s time for society to give it’s head a shake and smarten up. One sickening example of the pervasive ignorance that is infiltrating this mindset is the interview the author of “Marry Smart”, Susan Patton (also known as “Princeton Mom”) had with CNN’s Carol Costello. Patton was asked to give her opinion of “rape culture”, specifically as it relates to college campuses. The results were an absolute train wreck, however I did smile smuggly as I watched this so-called authority (whoever thought of booking this farce of an author needs to be severely reprimanded) go down in flames.

Almost right of the bat, Patton compared rape to sex when she said “the conversation about sex is a bit difficult”! What? Rape and sex are NOT synonymous, Susan Patton. The conversation was about RAPE.

She asked Carol why these women just don’t “get up and leave”. Again, WHAT? Patton was referring to women who were in situations with people they know, but, as Carol reminded her, MOST rapes happen between people who are familiar with each other. On the same note, Patton suggested that it’s up to the victims to be responsible for their own safety in this way…”I’m suggesting that women be smart for themselves, remain sober enough to extricate themselves from a situation that’s headed in a direction they’re not comfortable with,” she said. Finishing with the qualifier,  but “I’m not blaming victims”, however. Really? Aren’t you?

If you want to be entertained and maddened at the same time, go ahead, watch the interview here.

Regarding Mr. Bill Cosby, I understand that one is to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but in this case, the law will not allow the opportunity for him to be proven anything, due to the US’s Statute of Limitations for rape. All these women can do is summon the courage to come forward in the face of intense scrutiny from the court of public opinion (the number is in the double-digits and climbing), have their lives and credibility examined under a microscope, and hope to make some kind of positive impact on the obvious “rape ignorance” that is surrounding them.

Don’t Feed The Animals…Er, I mean HOMELESS.

How many of you would give food to someone who knocked on your front door and asked to be fed?

I’m pretty sure almost all of us would.

How about if you seen a hungry homeless mother and her child in a park rummaging through garbage bins?

I’m sure if you had the means, you would most definitely help.

How about if it was a drug addicted, mentally ill man laying in the entranceway of a public building?

A little scarier of a situation, but I’m sure for those who were brave enough, and were moved with compassion, you would probably help.

THE SITUATION IN FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.

It seems the lawmakers in many municipalities in the warm state of Florida wouldn’t be so moved to help any of the people above. So much so that they have made it a criminal offence to feed the hungry, homeless people who flock to Florida to at least have a warm climate to weather while living on the street.

Mic.com reported here about an elderly man who was arrested for having compassion and feeding a homeless person. Read about it here.

THE SOLUTION?

I’m sure that the very idea of NOT BEING LEGALLY ALLOWED TO FEED THE HUNGRY in the hopes that they will just move along infuriates you as much as it does me.

I’m Canadian, and our homeless problem is no less important than those of Florida, but the day we put people in office who dehumanize homeless people and make it illegal to feed them like they were zoo animals, that is the day I officially do not want to be a citizen of the human race anymore.

What do we, as the voice of humanity, do about this? Well, maybe we can TALK about this so much, and shame those who are making these laws, that it will move our American friends to lobby against these laws.

Maybe we can start a movement calling people to IGNORE the laws and if we convince enough people to feed and cloth the homeless of Florida, that the justice system (which I say ironically) will not have the capabilities or resources to prosecute SO MANY PEOPLE.

My father and mother-in-law winter in Florida. It starts with me. If I am moved to help someone in need while in Florida, I will. Let them arrest me. What a wonderful criminal record to have…I WAS ARRESTED AND FOUND GUILTY OF HAVING COMPASSION AND PUTTING FOOD IN A HUNGRY PERSON’S BELLY. How f*@king ridiculous!

I just happened upon this 45 year old homeless woman’s blog, and it is very eye-opening. Please visit her blog here and read her words. http://suicidaltransgirl.com

It all starts with awareness.

#BeenRapedNeverReported

There is a lot of buzz right now about popular canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi being fired from CBC because “the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.” They’re his words.

The black and white of it is simple…he is accused by multiple women of crossing the line to criminal sexual behaviour.

You can read his open letter here, but I’m not going to spend any time here talking about his explanation of the details of his dismissal.

I will say, however, that I have read all of the comments to the above mentioned letter, and a conservative guess is that 80% of the comments are in support of Jian, demanding that CBC give him his job back. I also commented; my feelings seemingly in the minority.

From all of this and the other buzz about “rape culture”, a twitter trend has quickly developed…#BeenRapedNeverReported.

Women are coming out from every nook and cranny revealing how they have been raped/sexually assaulted and never reported it for some reason or another…and their reasons are heartbreaking. Read here about this.

It’s time to break the silence and shine a bright spotlight on the damage this is doing to women around the world. These women are your mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and best friends. They are people like me.

I was never raped, according to the general consensus of what the word rape means. I was sexually violated/assaulted three times, however, and never reported it.

The first time, I was 17 and sought safety and refuge at my uncle’s place from issues at home. I was sexually assaulted by him and his wife while I slept. I moved out immediately and never spoke of it much. I told my mother years later. She had a difficult time believing they were capable.

The second time, I used my head to avoid things from getting any worse by tricking the man who had me pinned against his wall in his apartment. I tricked him by playing a willing participant, saying I needed a few moments to get ready for him, giving me time get the hell out of there. I was 19. “no harm done” I thought.

Third time was in 2000 by a neurologist in Lethbridge, Alberta while my (then) husband waited in the waiting room. I can’t really explain why I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was considered someone who was mentally strong and always stood up for myself, but the thought of going up against someone like that scared the hell out of me.

I still regret not reporting these incidents to someone to hold these people accountable. Like I said, I didn’t consider what happened to be rape, but they were most definitely sexual violations and assault. Maybe speaking of it now, along with the hundreds of other brave women, will help encourage other survivors (I hate the word ‘victims’) to take it a step further and report the crimes.

We all need to quit taking these all-too-common incidents so lightly. Too many men have a sense of entitlement when it comes to sex (and yes, women are capable of such things as well). Women need to discuss their boundaries, and if these boundaries are crossed, we need to stand up, be brave, and hold people accountable. It’s not okay to be violated.

Here’s to the #BeenRapedNeverReported tweeters.

F*@k Religion

Merriam Webster defines religion as:

: the belief in a god or in a group of gods

: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods

: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

Let’s get that out of the way before I even start.

I was born and baptized into the Catholic Church.

I was put in a white “wedding dress” for my 1st Holy Communion and marched down the aisle of the basilica with a throng of other little girls to affirm our commitment to the church.

I was escorted from my classroom with all my other classmates and, in single-file, marched next door to the Catholic Church to “confess my sins” to a mysterious cloaked man behind the screen in the next cubicle (most of the time I made up my sins to make them “juicier”, because other-wise “father” would think I wan’t coming completely clean). Then he would tell me go back out into the pew, kneel, and recite 10 Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s for penance…PRAYER AS PUNISHMENT. Hmm. Even as an child, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the reasoning of this.

Then came the scandal. It was discovered that my very own family were victims of church leaders who brutally physically and sexually abused them as children. Needless to say, I needed no other reason to say good-bye to Catholicism.

Before the scandal was ever discovered, I was searching for something to believe in that made more sense in my head. Parents of a friend of mine were Jehovah’s Witnesses. One evening during a sleepover, I was given a long, but interesting, take on their beliefs. Then I was given a choice…salvation or damnation. I told her I would think about things and get back to her at breakfast. I decided to give it a go. I went to worship with them once, but decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for.

When I found myself pregnant at age 26 and on my own, I was invited to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I found immediate acceptance and “conditional” love. I will elaborate some other time about why I say “conditional”. But it was enough for me. They were offering me everything I needed: emotional support and financial/material help to get on my feet.

I ended up marrying an older man in a different province who was known as a respected, upstanding member of the church. My short-lived marriage to him told me otherwise. I left him, and the church, after realizing that what I was accepting as truth was no longer true for me…and that I was falling in love with a man who would become my present husband – a man who is still teaching me that I don’t need “religion” to be a beautiful, faithful, compassionate, respectful member of the human race.

Don’t get me wrong. I respect all faiths, but when faith turns to religion, and those religious beliefs form the basis of pain and destruction, then I say F*@k religion. Need an example? I can give you thousands. Religious persecution, wars, terrorism, cults…the list is endless.

It’s time to start RESPECTING each other’s faith, LOVING each other despite our different beliefs, ACCEPTING our differences, and VALUING each person as fellow human beings. It’s time to STOP the god-damned madness. Fighting back and wiping our religious enemies from the face of the earth is NOT the answer, at least not because our religion is better (or truer) than theirs. How many prayers are sent up to heaven asking God or Allah to put an end to what we want to end? God has not ended it. That’s up to us. We need to just STOP. Because if it doesn’t, the only sure thing to come from all this religion is death.