Sunday, September 28, 2014

Raising His Hand

It has been said that when one student in a classroom is brave enough to raise their hand and say they don't understand something, there are others who are sitting silently, also not understanding, but too embarrassed to raise their hand.

I'm linking here to a story I just read about a teacher in Pennsylvania.  She was charged with felony sexual contact with one of her students.  The discovery came about when parents of the student found inappropriate texts on his phone.  This discovery led to a bigger story unrolling about a  relationship that a teacher initiated with their teenage son.  After charges were pressed, another young man, a teenage student of hers, came forward.  But that was not the last of it.  More allegations were then made concerning "inappropriate activity in a classroom."  In short, the parents discovery brought forward the truth that their son was not the only one.

Misuse and abuse of power rarely happens as an isolated incident. 
It is a powerful thing when one person comes forward with their story.
It gives permission to those who have been sitting silently. 
It helps pave a path to the truth, so that corrective action can begin. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Stories Shared

Meredith Vieira is brave.  Here she tells of her own experience with domestic abuse, and why she stayed:

From working with victims of sexual abuse, I have found that one common thread is this: no one searches harder for fault or blame than someone who experiences something terrible over and over at the hands of someone who loves them.  Often the conclusion becomes self-fault, self-blame. 

The move from victim to self-advocate is such a very very vulnerable and fragile thing.  The work is mental and emotional before physical.  The leaving comes after the inner work has begun.   

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Thing She Carries

Emma carries her mattress wherever she goes.

Sometimes people help her carry it.
Sometimes they call her names for dragging that thing out in public.

She carries it anyway.

She carries it without expectation.  She carries it because it is with her always, anyways.

Emma is healing and allowing us to see her healing.

"It's been a week now, and it already feels a little lighter," she says.
"I’m getting used to it; I’m getting stronger.”

---from Going From Class To Class With Emma Sulkowicz And Her Mattress

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Even Elevators

The national attention on domestic abuse has been intense over the past few days, following a high-profile example playing out with NFL player Ray Rice and his now wife, Janay Palmer, complete with elevator video evidence and subsequent press conferences.

All of the dialogue around this issue is very useful.  All of it. 

Co-hosts of Fox and Friends have been denounced for this particular piece of commentary:

After discussing the latest developments in the Ray Rice situation — in which the star ex-Baltimore Ravens running back assaulted his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator — Kilmeade joked, “I think the message is, take the stairs.”
Doocy countered, “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”

This morning, on a local radio show, I listened to two men talk about how "the media changes everything."  That nothing is private anymore, there can't be anything that happens without someone documenting it with their phone, that "even elevators aren't safe."  They didn't mean safe for women, or human beings.  They meant safe from scrutiny.

At this moment, I am glad that we live in an age of information. 
That we live in a time and place where even elevators are not private, where moments that could typically be tucked away from public viewing are no longer tucked away from public viewing. I am glad that this particular type of "safety" is evaporating.  It forces us, all of us, to confront what happens behind some closed doors, and more importantly, what we believe about what happens behind closed doors.

One woman, Beverly Gooden, tweeted, "almost without thinking", why she stayed in an abusive relationship. 
“The overwhelming tone was, ‘Why did she stay?’” Gooden, a human resources manager from Charlotte, N.C., told The Washington Post. “I felt that people just don’t realize, asking ‘Why doesn’t she leave?’ is such a simple question for a very complex issue.”

Gooden's goal was simply to offer support:
"I want people to know they are not alone and that there are people who truly understand what they have gone through," said Gooden. "When the overwhelming public voice is of shame, you can get lost in the guilt. You can feel voiceless. I want people to know that they have a voice! That they have the power. That's so critical, that survivors feel empowered."
Gooden's message resonated. Within a few hours, thousands of Twitter users were sharing their stories. 
--From 19 #WhyIStayed Tweets That Everyone Needs To See

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blaming the Victim: The Joint Apology for Getting Punched in the Face

Many people didn't really want to see that video. They wanted to believe Rice was attacked by Palmer and did something to warrant being punched in the face. From the moment part of the video became public over the summer until Monday morning, it was easy to put some blame on Janay Palmer.
The woman always gets the burden of proof and the burden of pain. The woman is always cast as the gold digger, the mentally imbalanced stalker, the inappropriate dresser. The woman is always the provocateur.
---from Culture of Blaming the Victim

When it takes video evidence to get the public to take abuse seriously, the power is in the hands of the people who have the videos — and decide whether or not to release them.
Without documentation, the victim's and aggressor's accounts become a "he said, she said" — and we know from media studies that people are more likely to believe accounts that confirm their prejudices. If people tend to side with the person they already know, like or trust — in this case, the star player — video evidence becomes one of the only things that can break that impasse.

---from  The People Who Have the Footage Have the Power

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I was contemplating the fruit flies that had appeared on our blueberries that we just picked when I heard this wonderful interview. 

This, the flies, was not at all what I imagined when I pictured us traipsing through the rows of bushes heavy with plump berries waiting to stain our eager fingers.
I blame my romanticized notion of berry picking on Blueberries For Sal, which we re-read last week.  I mean, who doesn't want to hang out with bears while gathering fruit?  

We weren't in Maine so our berry excursion had no bears.  There were some Amish women that Miss C stopped to listen to as they talked to each other, but that was brief because Miss C is a competitive berry picker.  This also was not in my imagined experience, but as soon as her uncle taught her how to "tickle" the branch so that maximum ripe berries would fall into the bucket, it became a competition.  Between her and everyone else who happened to be berry picking that day. 

Anyway.  Fruit flies.  And 17 pounds of blueberries.  And this awesome interview with the actress Helen Mirren.

The interviewer, Melissa Block, says,

"You have talked a lot over the years about roles for women, the paucity of good roles for women, and especially women who are older, at a different stage of their career..."

Helen Mirren responds,

"You know, I have to say I haven't talked a lot about that.  Journalists have talked a lot about it to me, but I have not talked a lot about it.  And I have always responded, for the last twenty years, with exactly the same response:  'Don't worry about roles in drama.  That's not your concern.  Worry about roles for women in real life.  Because as night follows day, roles for women in drama will follow.  And when you have a female president of America, which hopefully maybe you will very soon, when you have female heads of hospitals, of legal firms, of schools, of universities, you will have roles for women in drama.'  And that has happened.  That's absolutely happened." 

I think what she's saying is: Art imitates life, yo! 
With an English accent. 
The rest of the interview is here

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ann with an E

Miss C and I started watching Anne of Green Gables, which has led to me reading Anne of Green Gables. 

(Do not call her Carrots.)

I imagine that Megan Follows, who plays Anne, took 5 shots of espresso before filming each scene. 

Or as Miss C puts it: She is crazy. 

But she's the fun crazy. 
As I keep reading more of the wonder of Anne, I have concluded that she is the first character to demonstrate both The Positive Thought Movement, and a very real case of undiagnosed ADHD.

"Do you know," said Anne confidentially, "I've made up  my mind to enjoy this drive.  It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.  Of course, you must make it up firmly.  I am not going to think about going back to the asylum while we're having our drive.  I'm just going to think about the drive.  Oh, look, there's one little early wild rose out!  Isn't it lovely?  Don't you think it must be glad to be a rose?  Wouldn't it be nice if roses could talk?  I'm sure they could tell us such lovely things.  And isn't pink the most bewitching color in the world?  I love it, but I can't wear it.  Redheaded people can't wear pink, not even in imagination.  Did you ever know of anybody whose hair was red when she was young but got to be another color when she grew up?"    

---L.M. Mongomery