The Real War Against Women

Cover of "War Against Women"

Cover of War Against Women

I was 16 years old. He was 17, going on 18. We were standing in an alley near the high school we both attended when an argument took a turn for the worse. We had experienced many arguments before but this time was different. As he stormed away, I chased after him, hoping for the opportunity to voice my thoughts and be heard. As I reached for him, he turned towards me with a look of pure disgust and rage and spat directly in my face.

I was stunned. For a moment, he appeared to be filled with remorse and utter confusion at what he had just done but it soon faded, replaced by a steely resolve. I burst into tears and wiped at my face, humiliated and outraged. I asked why, mumbling in protest against his actions. I moved closer. Incensed, he took a few steps back and turned away, but then faced me and asked, “Why are you still here after what just happened?” “What is WRONG with you?”

What is wrong with me…?

That event has haunted me for many years since. I wondered why I stayed with him 5 years after that, why I suffered physical and verbal abuse at his hands, over and over and over again. To me he was my everything and with little resistance, I allowed the violence to continue and escalate until the brink of no return. I thought I was the blame for his behavior. What was wrong with me, indeed.

As a former victim of domestic violence, I still suffer from persistent emotional trauma. I cringe when viewing films depicting acts of violence against other human beings. I distance myself from loved ones that are in current abusive relationships, ones they seem incapable of freeing themselves from. Some nights my ex-boyfriend and attacker visits my dreams with eyes and fists of uncontrollable rage. Loud noises easily startle me. I recoil from physical contact– touching makes me feel uncomfortable and upset. I am insecure and suffer from anxiety. I have unwittingly sabotaged healthy relationships due to low expectations.

Every day is a learning experience, a healing day. Each day is another day that separates me from my past. I have dated a few men since, two that were quite serious, and have avoided the type of man who would mistake my face for a punching bag, my spirit for a foot stool. In spite of my fears, my choices have been wiser and while I am a long way to producing and maintaining a strong and lasting relationship, I will never tolerate violence. Violence is never okay. Never.

Studies have shown that women and children who experience abuse often find themselves repeating those same mistakes, emerging from one bad relationship to advance into another similar situation. When it’s all you know, being the product of a broken home and witness to abusive relationships all around, it’s what tends to be the most familiar and even comfortable scenario, the only way to exist. We rationalize in peculiar fashion that the abuser’s wrath is merely a testament of his love– would he react so, if he did not care? We are moved by his anger, which may be falsely perceived as a form of strength, of manliness and could be enticed by it, all the way up until the exchange or reception of physical blows. These destructive relationships can continue on for years in this way as the victim feels helpless to her acceptance of such a grim reality.

But many women have broken the cycle of abuse. Women do learn from past decisions and make better ones. I did. It is sexist to assume that women cannot move away from or even forgive her attacker(s). It is also folly to chastise or cast blame toward repeat-victims of physical and sexual abuse.

See pundit Dana Perino on her Fox News show stating that women should make better decisions if they wish to avoid becoming victims:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzaTXfdL5p8

We read about domestic violence cases and the names of celebrities Chris Brown, Mel Gibson or more recently Jovan Belcher are thrown about without regard for all parties involved. In the age of the social media blitz, we gain access to sordid details of the private lives of many women who are abused by the men they love. As spectators, we gleefully lob insults towards these types of men, but it is most important that we listen, learn and assist. Millions of women around the world experience the most atrocious kinds of treatment and are invisible. We need to save our women. Violence against women is a human rights issue.

Here’s a quick look at some stats:

  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

via: http://domesticviolencestatistics.org

My family and friends did not know about the sexual and physical abuse I underwent. Most of them remain unaware to this day. I used foundation to cover the bruises. I made up tons of excuses for missed appointments or outings. My studies took a brutal hit. I became pregnant at a very young age. I had nowhere to turn and never reported my abuser to authorities. While I continue to struggle with my past, I know that real love doesn’t hurt. I know that there is no shame in asking for help and that the fault always lie with the attacker. My experiences gave me a voice in this war against women and I stand strong as an advocate of women’s health and safety.

To report abuse or donate to the cause, go here.

Low-Wage Jobs Don’t Just Harm Workers — They Harm Their Children

The recent report by the Pew Research Center that births per every 1000 American women have dropped to historic lows kicked off a flurry of concern amongst conservatives that American culture is beginning to undervalue the future. However, that concern ignores the rather dismal job the country’s economy is doing to care for the children […]

via Low-Wage Jobs Don’t Just Harm Workers — They Harm Their Children.

An Experiment: Unemployed Black Woman Pretends to Be White

I no longer choose to self-identify on applications for fear of discrimination– haven’t for awhile, even though this helps little when I arrive for interviews. Black unemployment has spiraled out of control, sitting comfortably at roughly 14.3%.madamenoire.com A white male with a felony record is three times as likely to receive entry-level job offers than a black man with a college degree and no criminal record. Something’s wrong here.

Racism remains an unrelenting barrier to economic growth and equality for US citizens. Follow Yolanda Spivey as she releases information regarding her attempts to identify and study the problems associated with Black unemployment rates.

http://www.inspiration1390.com/pages/JohnHannahMorningShow.html?article=10586361.

Playing the Field

I love football. Love it. It is the greatest sport in the world. I am sure the Greeks would disagree but to each their own! NFL football is spectacular and presents an awesome show of power on each play: the passing ability of daring quarterbacks with his offensive linemen, the strength and fortitude of the rushing running back, the determination of your defensive line and the ever speedy receivers bring it all together. Every player has an assigned role and duty: to disrupt the enemy and achieve victory! It’s like war where sweat, instead of blood, is spilled upon the green. Well, sometimes there’s blood. No matter rain, sleet or snow the game is on and neither side quits until the fat lady sings.

Not to be mistaken as the casual spectator, I get a bit emotional while viewing this particular sport. Every aspect of it appeals to me. The inspiring display of teamwork along with the coaches and the passionate support of their team. The peals of overjoyed fans seems to reach through the television screen and takes hold of me as does their sorrow when a team, defeated, begin a pitiful trek back to the locker room. Good old football, where every inch, every yard gained counts for something. Did you miss the incredible play executed by the 49ers last season when a very teary TE Vernon Davis exits the field to the welcoming arms of his teammates? I sobbed with him that day.

That is what it’s all about.

Unsurprisingly, I happen to be a Bears fan, a welcome affliction for many Chicagoans. A big name team with a small-town personality, they are explosive at times, defensively and offensively. They can be quite the opposite other times but that’s my team, win or lose. Every yard gained grants me a bit of solace, a slice of joy amidst all the pain and drudgery of the day-to-day. Perhaps it is why sports fans become so involved during football season. The first game I ever watched was in ’85, when the Bears won the Superbowl with McMahon at the helm. I was young and did not understand fully the magnitude of their victory or why my aunt Vanessa hopped around the living room with infectious glee, tears in her eyes. I was hooked on the sport from then on. I had to be clever and followed games when I could– my mother was anti-TV. If only the world were like the NFL clubs, where black, white and brown come together, play together and accomplish great things.

Beyond field activity, there lies a grim reality that is both endearing yet saddening to consider. Black athletes, many who are renown and beloved by millions, often come from poor and broken homes set within crime-ridden neighborhoods. Reared by God-fearing mothers, these young men didn’t have a father to play catch with. They hone their skills on the very streets that would end them yet they persevere. In fact, I would offer that there is some correlation between a distinct lack of incentive on part of state officials and their elite puppeteers to curb crime, as poverty, fear and a lack of options tend to steer at-risk youth towards sports to escape their circumstances. Upon entering high school these young men meet with motivated teachers and coaches that recognize their ability and potential for further growth. The football programs at these under-performing schools are poorly managed, due to inadequate funding. Also, black men are not properly introduced to training tailored to prepare one for the role of quarterback. In college, they are ferried into the more physical and dangerous positions unless they demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and are able to communicate effectively the coach’s play-calls to the offense. This is the most important position on a football team and it is hard not to notice the overabundance of white quarterbacks in the NFL. It is why it comes with great delight to some– and a bit of derision from people such as Rush Limbaugh– when a black quarterback beats the myth that he cannot comprehend an intricate playbook and lead his team. The rookie Redskins QB Robert Griffin III might have something to say about that.

High school players are recruited and exploited by universities that make millions off poor kids who can barely afford a meal. Yes, they are offered a partial or full athletic scholarship but most of them do not go pro and can lose them for some minor infractions.

More than a century of treating student athletes like indentured servants is finally catching up with the NCAA. How can anyone expect college players to be satisfied with just getting a scholarship and free room and board at a major university that rakes in tens of millions of dollars annually from conference television deals, bowl games, and the NCAA basketball tournament? It’s downright ludicrous.

via NCAA football is modern-day slavery – Page 1 – News – Miami – Miami New Times.

The situation does not improve upon reaching the NFL, faced with the greedy and bloated giant that is the National Football League. The players are like slabs of meat, put out to pasture and if they become bent or broken, cast aside. Their pay is paltry in comparison to what the league owners receive. The money aside, for many of these men, their team is their family, their coach– the only father they have ever known and football, the friend that kept him out of trouble all his life. Under the yoke of their masters, it becomes a double-edged sword. They certainly realize that money is the driving motivator behind the sport and to stay competitive and relevant, may chuck aside sentiments for their share of the pie, which ironically comes across as arrogant or greedy to those observing the spectacle. Adrian Peterson, not known for keeping his mouth closed, openly shared his frustrations with the NFL during the labor lockout with the statements:

. . . If they have nothing to hide, just give us the information. Why not? Obviously, there’s a lot to hide — these guys are professionals, and they’re maximizing what they do. But they know that if all this information comes out, the information the players want, it’ll be right out there for everyone to see. It’s a rip-off — not just for the players, but for the people who work at the concession stands and at the stadiums. It’s modern-day slavery, you know?”

Well, I know. I’m not sure ‘they’ know, however. Ever see a weigh-in? They’re almost…eerie. It does remind one of the meat block at a slave auction.

No matter their background, players are being exploited by the NFL and black players disproportionately so. No matter what walk of life, we’re all getting our clock cleaned by the powers that be. It suffices as an accurate analogy when you consider conservatives and liberals pitted against one another while rich elitists lie and manipulate laws to their advantage. We are all pawns to be had and sacrificed in the interests of shareholders and CEOs.

I love football. When they play, you can almost forget about the greed and rampant corruption. You can almost forget about the weigh-ins where prospectors observe tall muscular athletes, appraising them as if at the slave block. I know many of those players ignore it. They still want it. They have and continue to fight the good fight, seeking a place in history alongside a Superbowl win. I’ll keep watching and supporting their dreams even if those dreams have been compromised at the whim of greedy old men.

Game Faces

I play this really nifty game called League of Legends. Its time-killing entertainment that requires a bit of cleverness and quick-witted playing style– where teams of five are pitted against one another in a battle to claim and destroy the enemy base. Fun fun. One of my favorite champions is Ashe, a bow wielding archer in all her animated glory. The graphics are quite lovely and its free to play, though you may opt to use real cash to purchase an assortment of champions.

I have only one major gripe about this game: the lack of diversity in the champion designs. Most of these champions are as white as snow, not a single champion of darker hue. Except Evelynn, who is blue and from planet Kolob for all I know. There are a few Asian champs but they’re few and far in between. I wonder why that is? Sure, it shouldn’t be a big deal but when I consider my own childhood and the barrage of white dolls received that made me feel diminished and irrelevant, it is.

Young black kids play this game. Young people of all ethnicity.  I play this game. I have seen firsthand how ugly it becomes during battles, where racist taunts are hurled to and fro like candy, for even the slightest of infractions that have little to do with one’s melanin content. I’ve heard players (Summoners, as they’re referenced in LoL) state that black people don’t and don’t know how to play the game. I suppose we don’t like golf, or swimming or bungee jumping and all other things ‘true’ Americans enjoy. The exclusion of ethnic champions from the roster only attributes to the false perception that black people, and other people of color, are predictable and disinterested sheep, a sideshow and not to be included or taken seriously. An ‘other’.

Ignorance runs rampant through the gamer world. Only through broad inclusion can we change or erase such close-minded views and yes, even something as silly as a game can promote prejudice. If a game or program can foster prejudice, it can certainly do just the opposite. We have to expose people to ‘other’ people, so much that our differences began to mean very little at all. Diversity is one of the keys to accessing equality.

So back to whiny-mode. Can we have just one black champion? Someone cool, with a sword and a cape and a bad ass daemon that follows them around snacking on enemies? Black guys can be heroes too, I’m just saying. 😦 The hero isn’t always the white guy, even if most movies and games support and enforce that way of thinking.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say it were by design. Oh wait…

I am weary of stereotypes that root blacks in a special category. So persists the idea that other groups or whites in general, cannot relate to us. Well– they can. We’re quirky and nerdy and we like skydiving, technology and putting carrots up our friend’s noses while they’re asleep. We cry at movies, play RPGs, watch Braveheart several times a year and are patriotic Americans, not mindless drones in search of a leader. We giggle and say ‘like’ a LOT. We like golf and hockey and NASCAR. If anyone thinks otherwise, they’re not looking hard enough. As for minorities that shy away from certain things, it does happen and is often a result of their limited options in life. Environment. Culture. Fear and insecurity. For hundreds of years, blacks weren’t even allowed to participate in many things. The mind can become a prison when fear of reprisal and rejection supersedes curiosity and a sense of adventure. That same fear has oft reduced me to a quivering jellyfish when I attempt to do new things, things no one expects a BLACK girl would be into– and this girl is into a lot of neat things. Like really, a black girl that is a hardcore gamer, loves sci-fi and lists The Lord of the Rings as her favorite movie series of all time? Unheard of. 😛

An Early Probe

I learned about myself the hard way.

Now I could recount personal tales of woe and all things experienced but who has time? And even after spilling the sordid details, there would lie nay specific answer. I will dive right into it. Race. Who I am. My purpose, feelings of exclusion– kept me within a shell most of my life.

Race has always been a point of interest for me. Not as a source of pride but of curiosity. When I was a wee little girl, we’d sing all sorts of Black pride songs at school. Black is Beautiful chants, Young, Gifted and Black, yada yada. I suppose those songs were meant to promote high self-esteem and morale. I think I was too young to understand their importance but I can say with much certainty that they do not work. They were just songs. Like, the marching ants song (loved that one) or that ditty about twinkling stars. The lyrics along with the tune were quite easy to recite in chorus.

I didn’t feel empowered by those songs. Black History month never made me feel like I truly belonged. I couldn’t relate to the valiant beings that came before us, who paved the way so that I could partake of a mediocre educational and societal system in the grand city of Chicago. Who gave me…what? The right to sit wherever I like on a bus? Okay okay, so I know it was the principle and not necessarily about planting one’s boo-tay on a bus seat. Equality and what not. True privilege for me would be to plant my ass in a nice car without worrying about accumulating mass tickets. There is absolutely zero parking in my North side neighborhood! Hmph.

When I was around eight or nine, my grandmother gave me a gift. It wasn’t a birthday gift or pertaining to Christmas. She was a Jehovah’s Witness and I grew up within the grip of her faith. I’ll get into that at some other time, don’t you -worry-. Anyhoo, what she gave me was a doll. Now, this wasn’t just ANY doll, this was a monstrous life-sized doll with curly golden locks and big blue fiberglass eyes. This monstrosity was as tall as I- I loved her! Its name is engulfed in the past, forgotten, but wherever I went, she went. Tried to take her to class but surely the other kids would have been much too jealous and I couldn’t have them ripping her poor plasticky arms out or something equally dreadful. One night I was lying in bed resisting sleep and was consumed with a desire to comb her golden hair. I crept out of bed and into the bathroom where I hoped to find a comb or brush- brushes are better suited to such purposes. Doll hair can become matted so easily. So I acquire a comb and here I am combing, combing away when it dawns upon me, that this doll, like every other doll ever received, looked nothing like me. Why hadn’t that mattered before? Did it even matter? I didn’t fully grasp what was felt but I wondered why my hair wasn’t so golden, so silky. I wondered why my skin wasn’t as fair, my eyes not as blue. If my doll was pretty, did that I mean I wasn’t?

I started to envy my doll. Not in a vengeful, angry way. I grew up appreciating the small things, I wasn’t an angry child. Just confused and sad. Wistful.  From that point on, I became invisible to myself. White dolls, white girls…hell even white boys, became the standard. Every book I read, and I was quite the reader, was stock with tales of dashing heroes and beautiful fair-skinned maidens and damsels in distress. The emphasis on the ‘paleness’ of one’s flesh, the pinnacle of beauty. I didn’t own a single dark-skinned doll. When I outgrew my life-sized dolly, I ‘graduated’ to the more grown up and sophisticated Barbie dolls. Now those plastic ladies were hot! Obscenely perfect proportions, long blond or brown hair. Big huge green or blue eyes. I would dedicate hours to playing out their wonderful imaginary lives within makeshift dollhouses made of milk crates and other fixtures constructed out of whatever trash I could find around our apartment. It was an unhealthy fascination perhaps- living out the life I should have had through my dolls. Obviously I should have been born white and beautiful, not brown and boring. Any other life would have been better, put to a side-by-side comparison. But never mind all that, I had my dolls, my books- I was set. I sank into a false reality only snapping to when faced with the actuality of my situation.

My school, set within a violent, poor and urban backdrop, was filled with black kids. The only white or Hispanic people I saw were on TV or at annual JW conventions. In a world so black, so…like me, I missed the mark somehow. We were not a necessary component. Some cosmic farce or case study for others to observe. Hardly ideal or beautiful. Sure, there were many pretty black girls in my classes but somehow they paled next to the women described in my books or those shamelessly perfect Barbies.

With more clarity, I now realize that we weren’t the only group left out of those fairy tales. I did not read of Chinese or Indian princesses. Such material wasn’t so readily available. Jasmin was gold- the love of Aladdin, a brown skinned princess that one could admire. Otherwise, the majority brown people of the world were left out. Either they weren’t pretty or interesting enough or perhaps, they weren’t the standard. Whiteness, being the standard by which all others are compared.

I’ve grown quite a bit and have tried to level my fears, reason with myself. After all, there is scientific data that explain the reasons for the physical differences that exist between humans. All of us belong here. All of us are equal. There have been numerous reports that support the theory that environment and not genes play a huge part in our overall mental and social well-being. Still, none of that matters when I enter an upscale boutique or restaurant with a predominantly white clientele and feel like running for the hills. In tears. Nothing explains that irrational fear and insecurity. Not as adequately as I might like.

CK