An Open Letter

 

TO: Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

Fellas, (because you don’t deserve to be called gentlemen),

Congratulations! Your votes Friday confirmed a sexual assaulter’s nomination for the United States Supreme Court. Sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh is just a Senate vote away from serving on the highest court in the land.

A proud day, indeed. Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas can swap some good stories, no doubt.

I would just like to make one request of you.

After you’ve gone out and celebrated with the boys over this victory, I want you to go to every woman in your life and explain to her why you voted as you did. I want you to justify your actions to each of them, and assure them that what you did was right.

I also want you to instruct them that, if they ever have to testify in front of a panel of cranky old men about the most horrifying, degrading, humiliating event of their life, be sure to have some “corroborating evidence”, or their testimony will hold absolutely no water.

I want you to look each of them in the eyes, and tell them you truly value and respect women, unless they interfere with getting your man on the Supreme Court.

And lastly, I want you to tell every woman in America that you’re counting on her vote on Election Day.

Sincerely,

A pissed-off old man who’s utterly ashamed of every one of you.

 

BELIEVE THE WOMEN!!!

To the Young Men and Women of America, From the GOP

One of my favorite blogs is called Stuff That Needs to Be Said, by John Pavlovitz. (https://www.johnpavlovitz.com) I want to share his latest post with you, in light of Thursday’s drama regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh: 

 

Warning: The following may be triggering for survivors of abuse.)

To Young Men and Women of America,

Have you heard us?
Is our message getting through?

We’ve been talking to you this week, trying to make sure you understand who we are, what kind of America we’re building here, the future nation we’re dreaming of.

We think we’ve been clear and compelling in our declarations, and we’ve done our best not to leave any ambiguity as to our hearts or our plans or our intentions.

We think our tirades and our condescension and our insults and our sneering tantrums have spoken eloquently about us and about you.

We hope Lindsey and Donald and Chuck and Orrin and Mitch and Brett and Susan have made a strong case—but if not, let us be more explicit in these moments, so there can be no confusion. After all, November is coming and we want you to be certain…

To the Young Men of America,

You can do whatever you want to young women.

You can disregard their humanity,
force yourself on them physically,
ignore their pleas to stop,
proceed without consent,
hurt them,

humiliate them,
indulge your urges,
treat them as property,
and silence, slander, and intimidate them after the fact.

You can do this as often as you like, to as many young girls as opportunity and your desires allow.

We will have your back (providing you are white, wealthy, and one day vote Republican.)

We will marshal our every resource of finance and position and privilege in protecting and defending you.

You will receive sanctuary in our midst, regardless of the horrors you are responsible for or the recklessness and brazenness of your conduct.

We will help you in any way we can, to malign your accuser’s character, destroy their credibility, and embarrass them further.

We will blame alcohol or her memory or her behavior in the past.
We will talk about your viciousness in ways designed to make it seem commonplace.
We will paint you in as flattering a portrait as we can, so that you actually come out looking like the victim, so that the accusations are actually a help.
We will have no loyalty to the truth or to goodness or decency, if such things pose a threat to either your narrative or our prosperity.
We’ll use the invaluable resource of the Evangelical Church to even make supporting you, part of God’s will.

If no other option is available, we will simply ignore what you’ve done. (After all we installed a President that way.)

We will never allow the violence you make young women endure, to prevent you from having opportunity and advancement and success. 

We can promise you that.

And to Young Women of America,

You don’t matter.

Not your trauma or your pain,
not the innocence you lose,
not the damage you sustain,
not the scars you are marked by,
not the nightmares you are haunted by,
not the peace you no longer find, 
not the confidence that leaves you,
not the fear that is ever present,
not the shame that you cannot shake,
not the silence you are imprisoned by.

We simply do not see you as valuable—at least not as valuable as the status quo we’re protecting or the legislation we’re coveting or the religion we’re perpetuating or the votes we’re needing.

You are the acceptable collateral damage of our misogyny and entitlement.

Your body, your emotional health, and your sense of safety—simply aren’t worth more than a Supreme Court seat.

Of course, should a pregnancy somehow be created by your violation, we will vigorously demand that you be forced to carry it, even if it exacerbates your pain and magnifies your despair. After all, we urgently need to perpetuate the appearance that we are pro-life—just not your life.

We can imagine this is less than ideal for you, but we hope you understand that this is how it has always been, and we are counting on you to indulge us one last time, and we appreciate your cooperation. 

So, young men and women of America, we hope you see us with clarity.
We hope that in these days, we are exposing ourselves fully.
We hope you know who we are now.

We’ll see you in November.

Sincerely,

The Republican Party of 2018

 

If you are a survivor and you need help, or if you want to find out how you can be an advocate for survivors, here are some places to start:

RAINN
National Sexual Assault Hotline
EROC (End Rape on Campus)
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Safe Horizon
INCITE (For Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans people of Color)
On Eagle’s Wings Ministries
Human Rights Campaign (LGBTQ)
NCLR Nation Center for Lesbian Rights 
Not Alone
Safe Helpline (Victim support for members of Military)

Live Streaming?

 

I gotta say, you dudes just crack me up when you stare at your cellphone, even while standing at the urinal in the men’s room.

Really, my man? You really can’t break away long enough to simply take a leak? What are you watching, a how-to video?

Frankly, I’m surprised you found the urinal. You could very well be peeing on the bathroom wall and have no idea. Or even found one where someone’s already standing, and right now, you’re ruining his new pants which DIDN’T COME CHEAP, PAL!

Besides, this looks like a dangerous practice to me. What if you drop that phone?

Myself, I think I would just leave it there and go buy a new one.

Maybe you have more confidence in your grip than I do. (On the phone, I mean.)

Look, guys, I know it’s a boring chore but, come on, we’ve done it for centuries without needing the entertainment of a phone. Just pause whatever you’re doing on there and take care of business, for Pete’s sake. It’s safer, not to mention, less stressful. For me, that is.

 

Which makes me wonder something else…

Do you fellas even put that phone down long enough for sex?

I mean, we’re talking roughly the same amount of time, right?

 

How You Doin’?

 

 

From the Associated Press, 06/08/2018:

“Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created, was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions. He was 61.

“CNN confirmed the death, saying that Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert in the French city of Haut-Rhin. It called his death a suicide.”

 

From the Associated Press, 06/06/2018

“NEW YORK (AP) — The husband and business partner of designer Kate Spade, who died in an apparent suicide, said she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years.”

 

From the Washington Post, 06/08/2018:

“Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the individuals had no known mental health condition when they took their own life.”

 

Is there anyone out there who still doesn’t see how serious a problem this is?

We’re dying, folks. By our own hand.

In ever growing numbers.

I find that both terrifying and heartbreaking.

Not to mention, completely unnecessary. This doesn’t need to be happening!

My brothers and sisters, we need to look out for one another. Where are we failing?

Well, I have one possible explanation:

The CDC report pointed out an apparently high number of suicides among people without a known mental health condition, saying: “In the 27 states that use the National Violent Death Reporting System, 54 percent of suicides were by individuals without a known mental illness.”

But Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, added an important asterisk to that statistic, saying that, “When you do a psychological autopsy and go and look carefully at medical records and talk to family members of the victims, 90 percent will have evidence of a mental health condition.” So, many of the suicides were completed by people who were never even diagnosed, and consequently, never got any treatment for their condition.

According to the report, a likely reason for that is, most people aren’t asking for help. Especially, men. 

 

And, listen, I understand the reluctance. Mental illness still has a huge stigma attached to it. Nobody wants to admit there’s a problem, because it comes with a great big Scarlet Letter.

So, rather than be negatively labeled, people will just keep killing themselves.

THAT’S why the stigma has to be eliminated. That’s why we need to discuss mental illness as easily as we do cancer, or heart disease, or any other physical malady. It’s an illness, and it can and should be treated. People with mental illness aren’t crazy; they’re sick, and they need help.

And here’s the important part: If you know them, they need you to ask them if they need help.

I know that’s tough but, many times, they’re simply waiting for someone to ask them; they just won’t come out and say it.

Look, I’m no doctor. I’m no psychiatrist. I do have an illness. It’s called clinical depression, and I sure enough need help for it. And I’m getting it. Because I deal with those thoughts that visit me sometimes, and tell me just go ahead and check out, because you’re hopeless, you sorry, no good SOB.

But then, I realize: after posting information on this blog about what some of the warning signs are in someone who may be suicidal (08/31/2017), where to go to get help (08/31/2017), and how to help someone who is suicidal (09/13/2017), and after offering personal encouragement (09/23/2017 and several other dates), it would all ring pretty hollow if I just went and killed myself, wouldn’t it? I’d be the world’s biggest fraud. (Well, second biggest; you longtime readers know who I think has a lock on first place.)

But, back to my point: We all need to learn to be more observant of the behavior of those around us and, if we notice something that’s off with somebody, ask if he or she is okay. That’s not nosy, that’s caring.

And, you never know. It could be the difference between someone getting help, or ending it all. The stakes are that high.

Please, folks, let’s get out of ourselves and our cellphones a little more, and check in on our family, our friends, our colleagues. They may be waiting for us to ask.

But for how much longer?

By the way, how are you?

 

This Is Me

 

I have clinical depression.

I was diagnosed with it in 2003. For all I know, I’ve had it for much longer.

It often leaves me irritated, angry, impatient, indifferent, unmotivated and, definitely, depressed. It leaves me with feelings of guilt and hopelessness.

It steals my concentration, paralyzing me to the point of straining to write every word on the page.

Or do anything else, for that matter. I just mostly don’t care.

I don’t care about taking care of myself. I know I should eat better and exercise, but meh. My therapist has offered me some practical things to apply toward improving my mental health, but who wants to do that?

That’s probably what I experience, more than anything: just a whole bunch of whatever.

I’m not always like this, you know. I have my good days, where everything’s generally cool, and I’m doing okay, and life feels good.

But then, there are those other days. And sometimes, those days get pretty dark.

And, if it gets bad enough, my depression will get me thinking, maybe I just don’t belong here, anymore.

Maybe I should rid everybody of me.

 

Men, does this sound like you?

Okay, well here’s the part that probably doesn’t.

I’m talking to someone about it.

I’m getting help for it.

It took some time for me to get to that, mind you. I thought psychiatric treatment was for crazy people, not me.

Maybe you think so, too. Maybe you think you’re weak if you’re depressed, or if you have anxiety. Maybe you’re embarrassed to tell anyone what’s going on with you. Maybe you think you can snap out of it, or you can overcome it by yourself.

The truth is, guys, you can’t. Ask Michael Phelps. Ask Kevin Love. Ask Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Ask me. You need to talk to someone. You need help. And the sooner you face up to that, the better.

I know that, based on what I’ve said here, it doesn’t seem like I’m any better. Unfortunately, this is something that takes time to treat; there is no quick fix. And I readily admit, I have a ways to go.

But, I also know, just the act of talking about it with someone brings great relief. It’s a good first step.

Fellas, I’m pleading with you; too many of us are killing ourselves because we wait to ask for help until it’s too late.

Please, don’t let that be you.