Category Archives: Feminism

Focusing On Empowerment

Spending years working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in various capacities added so much to what I had already learned from my personal experiences with both. For the last thirteen years, most of my head space has been dedicated to finding better ways to serve that population. One of the more effective positions I held was facilitating a seventeen-week course called Pattern Changing For Abused Women. I was a student of the course at first, following my departure from the abusive situation I had found myself in. I was amazed at what the authors of this rebuilding technique were able to pull together. It was so comprehensive and truly had the potential to alter behaviors of survivors, driving them toward a future void of likely victimhood. I say potential because the work required to obtain substantial change in oneself, while well structured and communicated, must be completed by each student in order to reach that potential. Many simply weren’t motivated and felt more comfortable staying with what they knew. They found themselves right back in the cycle of violence that had brought them to the class initially. Yet there were a few, myself included, who demanded real change from themselves. They weren’t going to repeat the same mistakes as before. It was my personal success combined with that of a few in my class which motivated me to become a facilitator of the program. That position, working with local police on their Domestic Violence Response Team, being a member of a county-wide Sexual Assault Response Team, and serving as a domestic violence shelter Resident Advocate for the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse, enriched my understanding of what we as a society aren’t doing. Add to that my endless hours of researching academic studies on which specific psychological and emotional mindsets serve to lure one into a world of violence. The totality of this information pointed to one common denominator. Accountability.

It’s very easy to dismiss accountability with a quick well-liked phrase such as victim-blaming. Tossing this term out at anyone who has discovered a true and viable way to impart enough knowledge to a survivor, so that he/she can find their way to empowerment and independence, is the perfect weapon for shutting down a different way of discussing the issue of violence against women. By the way, domestic violence and sexual assault have male victims as well. Ignoring that because the reported instances aren’t high enough to garner attention is a dangerous and certainly absurd choice. That dismissal simply adds to the division between genders and points toward women being deemed more worthy of protection. It’s hurting us as a society and it lends more chaos to the movement toward equality for all. We’re not helping ourselves with this perspective. Meanwhile, many women are still finding themselves feeling powerless as they continue the use of a coping mechanism termed ‘learned helplessness’. This takes me back to the idea of altering lifelong patterns of behavior that lead many into a place of dependency and complete lack of the concept of accountability. The Pattern Changing course I mentioned above is just one way to address reconstruction in behavioral patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another. Some may have the gumption to make these changes on their own. I know plenty who have done it precisely this way. There’s more than one path to independence and empowerment.

My determination and perseverance held the hand of my willingness to take responsibility for my participation in making my life a living hell for many years. When I was ready to be honest with myself, while getting fully involved in rebuilding my foundation, I found out what true self-reliance and accountability could afford me. Complete empowerment. There’s no greater gift one can give to themselves. Putting all of this in place changes the course of one’s life for the better and likely for the duration of their existence. To withhold this information is unethical. To withhold it in response to societal pressure is a cop-out.

Having come this far and seen with my own eyes the benefits of conveying this information to others over the years propels me forward whether anyone wants to hear what I have to say or not. I don’t care that the majority needs to maintain the use of terms such as victim-blaming, rape culture, and the like. Those who feel the need to call themselves ‘activists for women’ would serve those women better if they offered them something that would lend itself to removing the potential victim from the grasp of intimate violence. There is accountability to be owned by the activist as well. And I’m going to be sounding off about it. Should this make me the target of those resistant to hearing the truth, so be it. My choice has a worthwhile payoff. That being, there are many people who would like to make real improvements leading to the removal of the violence we are all touched by.

Teaching survivors and victims that they can alter their future behaviors, become more independent, and feel true empowerment is not just a nice thing to offer, it is the best thing to offer. Without making changes to their current behaviors, survivors will once again find themselves as victims. Not necessarily or only to the same perpetrators of the violence they specifically suffered but victims also of the consequences that come from doing the same things over and over again. We owe each other more than protection after the fact, we owe each other the truth. The truth that developing self-confidence, improved self-concept, and taking charge of one’s life, really owning it, will bring a level of empowerment which will reap significant benefits not only for those who get their hands dirty and do the hard work of rebuilding themselves, but also for their surrounding communities and society as a whole.

If there aren’t any victims to prey on, those who have become so entrenched in their own aggression will have no one to feed on. This philosophy isn’t cold or lacking in empathy. On the contrary, it is the most compassionate and responsible thing we can do for ourselves as members of humanity.

So consider rethinking your stance on what it is to spout out politically correct terminology in order to maintain your place as a quasi-activist. Maybe take just a few moments to imagine a society without available victims to satisfy the horrifyingly dysfunctional predators. Whether you can imagine it or not, I can see it, I’ve been living it, and I’m damn well going to share it.

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Filed under Egalitarianism, Feminism, Personal Evolution, RadFems

It’s Over When I Say It’s Over

These last two weeks on twitter have been quite a mixed bag. Writing about the shitty parts brings me much needed relief. So I shall begin. Buckle the fuck up, bitches.

Up until last Friday when I was given the amazing opportunity to sit in on a podcast with Deborah, @stefanelli, @Becky_Garrison, @EllenBethWachs and @mattfacciani on the @GodDiscussion Freethought Fridays Show, I was feeling that I had finally succeeded in getting beyond the irritation I felt with RadFems, Atheism Plus and @The_Block_Bot. Hearing what these truly awesome free-thinkers had experienced, my desire to expose blatant horsehittery was reignited. I promoted the recording of that show and felt heartened by all the positive feedback that we received from the twitterverse. The individuals offering this feedback were people who I and many others consider to be intelligent, independent folks with a penchant for debate badassery, their supporters and beneficiaries. As long as there are people who promote exclusiveness there will be more folks who push the off-limits barricade right the fuck over. Creativity along with skill and precision, while resourcing all of their knowledge, comes rather easy for those that hunger for true equality. These people are a constant source of inspiration to me and countless others.

While on the show I learned of the relentless harassment my fellow panelists have endured online. At least three of us had been brutally attacked in real life and survived. And I mean truly triumphed over our attackers, living to tell the tale and hopefully being able to offer others a new perspective on what it means to reset your life to your own specifications, and move on. Not wearing the label of survivor every damn day mind you, but being content to use only our given names as our identifiers. These names hold within them many facets but no one facet tells our entire story. That’s integrity, that’s true empowerment. How any of these individuals could be accused of rape apology or misogyny leaves me not only astounded but also re-inspired to hold up my spotlight and shine it right on the hypocrisy that is RadFeminism.

Sure I was born with an amazing vagina and eventually developed an adorable little rack, I was also born straight. Who the fuck cares? I certainly don’t. I lack the need to know what you were born with or without as well. It simply doesn’t come into my realm of consideration when addressing whether or not you deserve equality. Your preferences, your persuasions, your genitals (new or used), your disorders, your abilities or disabilities, even your personal history doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in my perspective. It’s the mere fact that you’re human that offers you a seat at the table reserved for those I will fight for. So check your perceived privilege, my RadFem friends, before you decide to get up in my face or anyone else’s and tell me or them who is and who isn’t allowed to walk beside you and work for true equality.

Naturally, due to the fact that I’m alive for fuck’s sake, I’m aware that some groups of people have suffered the consequences of an extremely focused form of abuse more so than others. If it works for you to keep a particular group of mistreated individuals at the top of your docket then have at it. But to convince yourself that your inclination toward defending the rights of only that group and its subgroups means that you’re the only one fighting the good fight is not only absurd, it’s downright ignorant. There are many people suffering out there and each person is entitled to equal treatment by our global society. By all means, keep moving forward with your cause, just don’t lose sight of the reality that not only are many others in your corner, there are many other movements happening simultaneously. That’s a good thing. That’s how tipping points are reached and what brings about the shift in perspective needed to allow for a world where all are afforded the same opportunities. That’s the fucking goal. I in no way think I’ll live to see the day where we reach that utopia although I’ll continue to offer the most substantial contribution I possibly can. If while I’m busy making my contribution you feel it necessary to point out what I’m doing wrong in the way that I speak or the issues I choose to address, you’re going on blast. I rather enjoy that activity so you’re welcome to bring it. I’ll have tissues on hand for your tears and fresh underwear as well. You’ll need these items for when I’m done exposing your real agenda which is to appear as though you’re in the fight for equality but really you’re looking for a shitload of ‘atta boys’ and some vulnerable people to prey on. I look forward to seeing you in the ring.

While that’s going on, folks like @AtheistMel, @SecularBloke, @Atheist_Alabama, @JohnTheSecular, @KelsTheSecular, @fieryskulldiary, @SecuLawyer, @RegCarolMoore, @AtheistMummy, @francosoup, @SlagOffTwits, @Lenn_Len, @HalfEatenCrayon, @Liberty_2112, @cartridge_uk, @philositect, @Nostradamnisuck, @IRaiseUFacts, @danarel, @GRIMACHU, @danabrahmsen, @mcbroomifer, @sherriwright78, @TheAtheistSpark, @Moq72, @Martymad0001, @lillai23, the always awesome @SecularDad as well as @DenverAtheist and many, many others will be plowing through bullshit like they so often do. For the accounts who weren’t mentioned here but have no problem speaking truth, I left you out because 1) I know you would prefer it for a number of reasons or 2) you’re busy pushing for change on another important front or 3) I am not able to access my most recent memory of your awesome and worthy contribution to egalitarianism. If you want me to add you to or remove you from this list, please let me know.

In conclusion to what is likely to be my last post regarding #counterfeitfeminists, as there are many other topics I can hold in my head and speak about, I want you all to know I have long since arrived at a place where speaking out comes as easy to me as breathing. As long as there are instances of inequality developing before my eyes I will not hesitate to confront them. Including the instances that are caused by the disruptive machine that is group-think. It will serve you and I well if you would take a look at your behavior and decide if you are practicing exclusion. Should you find that indeed you are, know that you’re on the wrong side of your very own cause. Then for crying out loud, make the necessary changes so we can all get back to doing what we do best as cohabitants of this planet which is making our own lives and the lives of others the best they can possibly be.

For more on how #ActualHumans see the cause of feminism check my post titled Feminism:The Hard Way.

If you should have any questions or comments you are welcome to leave them here or tweet me @jen_august.

See you on the top side.

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Filed under Atheism, Egalitarianism, Feminism, RadFems