A “mistake” at 17 should not ruin a life…

While awaiting the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, next week, the one thing to keep in mind is that if her story is deemed credible, Judge Kavanaugh’s fate should not be determined based solely on his alleged actions at age 17.  His fate should be determined based on his actions every day after the alleged attempted rape.  More on that, in a moment.

The initial #GOP defense for Judge Brett Kavanaugh centered around what seemed to be an unassailable denial that Kavanaugh was capable of assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when he was only 17 and she was 15.  The defense transitioned to one that suggested that even if the event had occurred, he was very young. Furthermore, the person he was, then, should have no bearing on who he is as a human being, now.  There has been an outpouring of sympathy, for Judge Kavanaugh, matched by a myriad of doubt, derision, and outright character assassination for Dr. Ford.  Ford is even faulted for not, at 15, taking on a system that has storied tradition of secondary victimization of  adult rape survivors who dare to step forward and name their attackers.  What hope would she have had?

Why didn’t Ford tell someone, more than three decades ago when the event allegedly took place?  I think the answer can be found in the numerous attempts by critics to unveil every detail of Dr. Ford’s life – while ignoring the unanswered questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s spending habits and outstanding debts, which are also relevant to any decision to grant him a lifetime appointment to the bench.

If less than a third of sexual assaults are reported, and less than 5% of perpetrators are convicted, what hope did a 15 year-old have at the time of the alleged, brutal, assault?  We understood even less about rape and rape survivors then than we do, now.

Rape Justice System RAINN.Org.png

 

I would strongly urge anyone reading this blog entry to make your way to RAINN to learn more about sexual assault and its impact on survivors of violence.  I strongly urge you to urge your member of congress to do the same.  I fear for Dr. Ford in her appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee, given the comments and excuses I have read regarding  Judge Kavanaugh’s presumed innocence, at best, and newly limited culpability, at worst.

Is he the same person who, at 17, is alleged to have engaged in such a brutal assault of a 15-year-old teenage girl?  Most likely not, but if he is guilty, he is the same man who  lived every day of his life without once apologizing to his victim or taking responsibility for that day.  If he is guilty, he allowed Dr. Ford to live every day of her life with self-doubt, fear, shame, anger, and a sense of loss that impacted her life to the point of needing support and care to try to recover from the event.  The #GOP is mounting it’s own “Brock Turner defense” in which Turner’s father commented that 20 minutes of action shouldn’t ruin his son’s entire life.

I think it is telling that the Good Ole’ Privilege party views the event from the perspective of the alleged perpetrator and not the alleged victim.  If guilty, Judge Kavanaugh has seemingly moved on and, to our knowledge, has not sought help for any guilt or despair associated with attacking another person.  Dr. Ford has lived with her trauma for more than 30 years. She has not forgotten the clothing she wore, the sound of the music getting louder, the smell of alcohol on her attacker, the hand that covered her mouth, the friends in the house who could not hear her screams, and her own feelings of despair thinking that she would become a rape victim.

If her story is accepted as credible, Judge Kavanaugh is not being criticized and held accountable solely for his actions as a 17 year-old, but for his actions every day since then and his refusal to take responsibility for \the scars his actions left on the psyche of another human being.  If our elected #GOP officials don’t understand that, they are even less deserving of their positions than any nominee they would send to the bench.

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Imagine, if you would

This one may be hard to read, folks.  It deals with the issue of violence against women in daytime.  It is relatively graphic though not explicit.  You may want to come back for the next entry, if the topic is more than you want to handle right now:

Imagine

Imagine being in the safest place you could possibly be in – your own home.  It’s the place you go  to shed the weight of the world.    You may have fallen in love while living there. You may have raised your children there.  Your summer meals are eaten on your back patio – allowing you to enjoy and cherish each cool breeze.  When it rains or storms and the winds are blowing, you watch from the comfort of your window with a cup of strong hot  tea.  Some nights you pop  popcorn, throw on a movie, and just unwind.  Home is good.

Imagine every wonderful experience you’ve ever had in your home and as you’re sitting there thinking about it, you look up.  There’s a stranger standing in front of  you. It’s confusing because it’s your living room, and you know he shouldn’t be there.  How and when did he get in?  You know from his expression that his presence isn’t accidental.  You know, as he moves toward you, that his intent is to do you harm, or worse.  The anger in his eyes makes you fearful won’t survive what is about to happen.  You wish you’d called your mother and your children that morning when you had the time, but didn’t because you thought you’d have time to do it later.  In the dark place you don’t want to go, you pray that they aren’t the ones to find you.

When he first hits or grabs you, you stop breathing.  You pray that it’s a nightmare, and start to convince yourself that it can’t be real.  Your cup of tea is still sitting there, warm.  The television is still on – and the characters on your favorite program are laughing and joking.  How can you still hear the sound of laughter while feeling such pain and fear?  It doesn’t make sense.

The sound of your own crying and the sting of your own tears makes you hate yourself. You feel betrayed.  The tears  make you feel weak and you’d always  thought that you would be stronger -fight back, if it ever happened to you.  It all makes him seem even more powerful in that moment.   There’s that little voice inside of you tells you to listen, and look, and remember everything you can.  It will all  help you help the authorities catch him, if you live.  Maybe you should scratch him, or grab something of his that will leave a trace to prove he was there.  The sight, and the sound, and the smell of him makes you ill and you can’t do it.  The survivor’s voice tells you to get through it, whatever it takes.  The survivor’s voice tells you that it will be over soon so you start to think about something or somewhere else… this is not happening.

When it’s over, you’re supposed to be grateful for having survived it. You’re supposed to be glad that he’s gone, whoever he was.  You pray that you never see him again, but your pain is so great that you almost begin to pray for your own death – anything that makes it all go away.  You’re not sure if you want to survive.  “You’ll be ok”, they tell you. “It may not seem like it, but you’ll be stronger when this is over”.  No matter what they tell you, you know what you feel.

Imagine, if you will, that when he’s caught, you find out that the person you’ve loved, or tried to love but has only ever despised you and faulted you for her own life failings, is the reason you looked up to find a stranger in your living room.  She’s the reason he was there to violate you.  She didn’t tell him to do it, she only told him that he should pursue you, you’re ‘that kinda’ girl.  She tells him how to gain access to your home. The ultimate betrayal.

All for display – Epic FAIL

That, dear readers, is daytime in a nutshell.  Writers at all ages/decades of entertainment write based on what they understand the ‘truth’ to be at the time they create their works.  The truth they seem to keep ignoring, as I see it, is that women are tired of violence against women.  PERIOD.  It’s not entertaining to us, even when it’s supposed to be educational, because we’ve lived it all too often.  If it hasn’t happened to us, it’s happened to our friends, our sisters, our mothers, our aunts, and sometimes our grandmothers.  We’re tired of watching daytime writers craft  ‘rape’ storylines and then treat them as if they have no meaning – that rape survivors move on and live their lives without the context regarding their assault:

DAYS – Sami not only had children with her rapist, she’s now defending him as a ‘changed man’ despite the fact that he’s violated her since the rape.  The writers apparently decided that they liked the ‘chemistry’ between the victim and her rapist and have decided to downplay the fact that he held her at gunpoint and then threatened the life of her fiance to force her into having sex with him.   I’ve written enough about this travesty, I don’t think I could stand to address it again.

GH – Elizabeth Webber, who’d worked so hard to rebuild her young life only to continue to throw it away on illicit affair after illicit affair and is now the mother of three children with three separate fathers, none of them involved in the lives of their children – so far.  This storyline could have been tied back to Elizabeth’s rape, that she never fully adjusted and that no one noticed her still fresh scars, but no.  The idea is that Liz is just willfully self-destructive  without cause. Her life is just charmed, but her morals are weak.  What a waste of a character and a storyline.   The most I/we can hope for is that Lucky becomes the father of two of her children (forgeddabout Jason) and that Liz is allowed to deal with her assault and refocus her life on herself, not the men in her life who treat her like something they own and then discard at will.

BnB – Brooke Logan Forrester.  While the BnB is not alone in writing follow up storylines for rape victims that are disheartening and improbable, the BnB is the worst.  Stephanie Douglas (Forrester) has demeaned Brooke in a manner far worse than any man ever could.  She’s called her ‘whore’ so often that it’s shocking to me that the writers haven’t changed Brooke’s name to reflect Stephanie’s constant name calling.  Stephanie is the woman who facilitated Brooke’s rape by sending Andy Johnson after her.  Afterward, Stephanie admitted that Brooke wasn’t a ‘whore’, that she never was, and that she didn’t deserve to be raped by Andy, or treated poorly by her.  That lasted a few months, maybe a year.

Brooke had to ‘trade’ her evidence that Stephanie facilitated the rape by using the letter with Stephanie’s admission of guilt for her brother’s freedom.  Storm shot Stephanie to protect his sister Donna (a sad, stupid, and sick move on his part).  Being a “free” woman she was free to return to being violently misogynistic toward the Logan sisters.  She was free to pimp her own son, using his drugged and alcohol fueled condition to force him into bed with Brooke’s rival.  She is FREE, period, when she should be in jail many times over for her acts of violence and attempts at murder.

Her freedom has led to one more tragedy.  She’s facilitated Beth Logan’s death.  The Logan sisters are now motherless.  Storm is dead, their mother is dead, Brooke still lives in the home where she was raped – she still bears the scars, and Stephanie will continue on.  It’s hard to believe that the writers can allow one woman to cause so much human misery and not understand that for some of us, when we look at this character, we still see the woman who lacks remorse for the sexual assault of another woman and who keeps inflicting pain on her.

For all daytime writers, these are words on paper.The characters aren’t real so the actions aren’t that serious.   For many women and some men, these are scenes linked to painful very real episodes in their lives.  In the end it is ‘just a soap’.  We get that, but why take the most painful and hurtful things that  could happen to a person (murder and rape) and treat them as mindless entertainment?  You can’t ‘undo’ the ill treatment of serious issues by adding a PSA at the end of an episode.  You can’t continue to heap insult upon injury and expect the rest of us to keep watching.

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  Click the RAINN logo above for more informatin.  Help be a part of the solution!

National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  Watching soaps today, alone,  would make you question, 1 –  whether writers were aware of the  significance of this month, 2 – if they would care if they were aware of it.  According to RAINN, every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.   Click the RAINN symbol to learn more about SAAP month, and to find events taking place in your local area. Today, on almost every soap left on air, a woman was nearly sexually assaulted, emotionally assaulted, or physically assaulted – almost none for the sake of furthering a discussion about sexual and other violent assaults.  Almost all for the sake of ‘entertainment’.  Check the ratings, writers, we – your primarily female audience, are not amused or entertained by such storylines.

1.  Days of Our lives. I’ve thought of EJ as a coward for quite a long time.  Today’s episode just made things a heck of a lot worse.  If your father is a murderous psychopath and you’re quickly following in his footsteps, then it makes sense that you don’t care to protect your partner in crime from your father’s tyrannical wrath.   It makes you appear to be less human, as well.   Too busy trying to cover his own arse, EJ has made no moves to stop others from thinking of Anna as a vile kidnapper who tormented a  young infant girl for months after she’d already lost the only mother she’d ever known.    If you were watching today’s episode, you witnessed Stefano Dimera, EJ’s father, physically assault his former daughter-in-law, his deceased son’s wife.  Tony might have killed Stefano for slapping his wife.

The excuse is supposed to be, I’m sure, that Stefano had no idea that Anna wasn’t alone in kidnapping his granddaughter when he slapped her.   My response?  WHO CARES!?!?!  She as alone, half dressed and defenseless against him and the goons he brought with him.  That scene was heartbreaking from beginning to end.   It was in fact EJ, the child’s father, who concocted the scheme and convinced Anna to become his partner in crime.  It was his son EJ, who got the ‘bright’ idea to cover the child’s clothing in blood and make everyone think the infant had been murdered.  Will Stefano slap him across the face?  Will he have his son dragged off with threats of death?  Is that behavior reserved only for women ‘who have it coming’?

While EJ sat home, basking in the glow of being complimented for being a ‘great dad’, Anna was being slapped around, manhandled by Stefano’s goons, and had to plead for her life, as Stefano promised her that she would not be alive  much longer.  DAYS has done a lot of things right, but  this was dead wrong and made it clear how parasitic the Dimera men’s relationships with women are.  EJ professes love, two children later, to the woman he raped at gunpoint, and while he sat with her  trying to convince her he was a new man, Anna faced violence and certain death.

2.  The Bold and the Beautiful. I watched the last 10 minutes of the show, today – apparently ten minutes too many!  It was a continuation of Donna Logan Forrester being treated as if she was disposable by her husband, Eric Forrester.  This follows an earlier discussion in which he screamed at her in front of his ex wife and his former sister-in-law (both of whom have attacked Donna physically and verbally).  Earlier he’d faulted Donna for never being on his side – a full-throated lie.  He’s clearly ‘finished’ with Donna and finds excuses to scream and yell at her, including faulting Donna  for her brother-in-law’s partnership with his WILLING ex-wife, who helped weaken his company before Bill Spencer bought it out from from under him.  Eric accepts no responsibility for being a lousy businessperson.  He also gives Donna ZERO credit for being willing to deceive her own sister to help him get his company back.  He screams at her, demeans her, and then she returns home to beg for his forgiveness for not being tolerant enough of his needs.  If she was a friend of mine in a marriage like that, I would be advising her on thinking about how to get out of it, or at least  how to protect herself from a man like Eric Forrester.

3.  One Life to Live. Schuyler Joplin has been just about as perfect a man as one can be in daytime.  He’s thoughtful, loving, kind, and patient… which means that when he had to be torn down to prop the show’s resident snooze producing couple – the writers took the lowest possible  route to try to make him unlikable to fans.  His soap day started with him being  a loving father who only wanted the best for his child.  He finds out the child he’s been loving isn’t his and just a few hours later he’s holding Gigi Morasco hostage at gunpoint, trying to force her to undress so  they can have sex and he could prove to her that they still have a special relationship.  He doesn’t want to be alone.

Pretty.Damned.Pathetic.

Soaps use to write rape storylines to  sway fans’ sympathy in the direction of ‘bad girls who needed redeeming’.  Now they use rape as a way of trying to sway fans’ ire at male characters they want to get rid of — most of the time.  Sometimes they decide that the rapist isn’t all that bad and try to redeem him or try to get the audience to accept his attempt to get his victim to fall in love with him.  It’s that sort of  clumsy and careless storytelling that makes soap fans ashamed of the genre.

4.  General Hospital. Kristina, after ignoring Ethan’s pleas to not allow the entire town, most especially her murderous mob father, believe that he’d beaten her up- as he was innocent – was beaten again today by her boyfriend, Kiefer.  I’d watched DAYS’ Anna being slapped around, DAYS’ Sami talking about her lovelife with her rapist,  OLTL’s Gigi held at gunpoint and potentially raped, BnB’s Donna beg forgiveness for being treated poorly, and then Kristina.  I am emotionally drained and most especially because it’s clear that daytime writers still don’t get it.

As usual, the storyline hasn’t been about this poor teenage girl who is being harmed, it’s about the adults around her – her mother who took the time to run down her attacker with her car while on the way to the hospital to get help for Kristina, her angry mob boss father, Ethan -the wrongfully accused… but very little about the survivor.

I’m hoping we’ll see more of Kristina, in therapy to learn that it’s not her fault she’s been attacked, or that we’ll get to see her confront Kiefer and make him realize how badly he’s hurt her.  As I’ve written about before, it would be best to see HIM in therapy – helping him figure out why he’s so violent towards  women.

Soaps do a lot with the ‘assault’ part, nothing much with the  ‘prevention’.   Were women victims of assault and violence on the other two soaps?  Probably, I’m just glad I missed it – I’ve had more than my fill in just a single day.  It’s depressing.

OLTL — Rape is not just a word,

it’s an action. (Click the Rainn logo and find out where to go to get help or how you can help victims of sexual assault).  It’s just not clear if the OLTL writers understand sexual assault in a meaningful way.  For as much as I’ve talked about BnB being my favorite soap, OLTL has been the only show that’s even come close to knocking the BnB out of the number one spot for me, until now.  I’m more than a little disgusted by the current storyline featuring Todd and Marty, I’m horrified.

Todd RAPED Marty.  Todd assisted and encouraged a GANG RAPE of Marty Saybrooke.

At what point in a woman’s head does a brutal gang rape become just some ‘past incident’?  What are the writers thinking?  I held out hope that John finding that picture of Todd wheeling Marty out of the building would finally put an end to this farce of a storyline.  Those hopes were dashed this week, of course.

The writers are reverting back to 70s/80s type, when rape victims not only forgave their attackers, but in forgiving them they set aside their own pain and began feeling sympathetic toward the ‘tortured souls’ who brutalized them.  From there, the next step was to fall in love with rapist-turned-romantic-lead.  Theirs would become an epic love story, one to stand the test of time.

The only problem with that is that it DOESN’T work that way!  Victims don’t just ‘forget’.  Many learn to live with the pain and the scars.  Victims don’t put the ‘pain’ of the apologetic rapist ahead of their own.  That he feels remorse?  GREAT, maybe he won’t victimize another woman, but that he feels remorse AND a romantic/sexual attraction toward his victim?  What utter garbage!

The OLTL writers appear to be testing the possibility of getting the audience past the traumatic history between Todd and Marty. Good luck with that, because it’s not happening.  They’re bringing back 70s-80s romance between a victim and victimizer on the cheap.  That Marty doesn’t remember Todd or the rape?  It does not move me.  That Todd, a rape victim courtesy of Margaret Cochran, is seeking redemption?  It does not move me.  That the writers didn’t have them rush into a romantic relationship?  It does not move me.  That Marty and Todd are growing physically closer, DOES move me, and not in a positive way, either.

Todd did not experience a brutal, physical rape, but given the fact that he remembers what he did to Marty, he DOES know what that looks like, and how terrified a victim can be.  Not only has he violated her trust, stolen her ability to be a mother to her son – a son who desperately needs her, while trying to make her a surrogate mother to the grandchild he hopes to raise.. .not only has Todd managed to become the most unlikable villain in daytime, but he’s lost what’s left of his humanity in the process.  A villian without SOME humanity left is little more than a cartoon character.  Unless the writers are planning to kill off this character, what further use can he be?

What’s supposed to happen now?  Are we supposed to cheer on Blair and John in their destruction of Todd?  Are we supposed to cheer on Starr and applaud her in warning Cole not to trust her father?  Are supposed to realize that Todd in still just a hurt puppy?  What’s most likely to happen is that this storyline is yet another that will hasten the death of daytime and OLTL in particular.  Daytime writers are writing for an audience that no longer exists.   Viewers forgave that sort of behavior before.  They know better, now.

Guidning Light has Olivia Spencer pay the man who nearly raped her daughter to sleep with her.

Days of Our Lives has Samantha Brady carry EJ’s child and later ‘fall’ for him, sleeping with him.

The BnB has Brooke Logan forgive the man who violated her at her husband’s gravesite while she was suicidal and hallucinating.

The list goes on.  These are NOT the sort of storyline that move the daytime audience.  It’s NOT the sort of storyline you’d use educate your viewers.  They’re the sort of storylines, ones that defy our current understanding of rape, that make it easy to tune out a genre that is both locked in the past, and disrespectful of the primary female audience that’s kept this industry afloat for more than 50 years.

It’s small and beneath us all.  Just in case the writers have forgotten what happened, and the history they’re disregarding, here it is:

She’s screaming, crying, she’s bound, and gagged – and has to leave the moment of her near destruction just to survive it… do the writers REALLY believe we want to see Marty play ‘grandma’ to her new friend’s grandchild?  NO MORE, writers.