Charlize Theron’s Rape Comments

Let us be quite clear:

The only thing like being raped is actual sexual assault. Rape is defined by the FBI in clear terms and our society often openly thwarts dialogue about the tolerance of and open acceptance of many of the categories of rape.

Getting your picture taken because you have rich-and-famous career or lifestyle is not rape or anything like it.

Rape victims are marginalized.

Rape victims are forced into involuntary sexual contact and then often revictimized by a lack of justice.

Rape victims are not glamorized, idolized, or over-compensated.

When famous actors whine about the exposure they have voluntarily garnered as a function of the career they have freely chosen and compare this scrutiny to a devastating crime it is offensive and insensitive.

These people use words to make a living. Perhaps they should start choosing those words more wisely.

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Gang Rape in India

The story has been told too many times–a woman, a girl, gang raped by a group of males. Often beaten as well. Left for dead.

I cannot bring myself to call them men. Anyone who would do this to another human being is a monster, not a man.

Men must have some moral code. To rape teenage girls and then hang them is such an atrocity, such a clear sign of a broken system–a system that has made it clear that in India it is open season on women and children.

As appalling as the crimes themselves?

A police force that turns the other way, tacitly affirming that the victims lack any protection from the law.

We in American may look at these stories and choose to believe that it could only happen there, not here when in fact the torture and murder of African Americans in the South during decades of racial oppression proves differently.

These terrible crimes need only two contributing factors–hate, and a government that refuses the protection of the law to its most defenseless citizens.

Remembering Maya Angelou, correctly?

We expend our words extravagantly about the wisdom of our poets, our beloved memoirists, but it sometimes seems as though we pick and choose our stories.

I heard yesterday about Maya’s “abusive childhood” and the years she spent in silence. But I heard little to indicate we as a nation are willing to examine the take-away of the very things that defined Maya and her titular caged bird.

Because the issue of caged birds is a thorny problem.

Angelou went mute for years as a child because she felt responsible for the death of her abuser.

She was not. He was. He was responsible for violating her and the law and then in turn the law was responsible for a completely inadequate response.

We tout the years of silence instead of decrying a lost childhood and a deeply riven justice system.

Not much has changed. I am convinced that it might have been more effective for me to choose years of deliberate silence over the quiet futility of decrying our inattention to sexual assault survivors.

Except for this: my daughters deserve to watch me fight for them. They deserve to let me carry the futility and the anger just a little.

When so many of us refuse to carry it at all.

Fasting for Meriam Ibrahim

The year I found out my adopted son was a felon I fasted a lot. It was survival fasting–not so much about food or no food, more about please, God, help us survive this.

He did.

But at my low points I still questioned whether fasting helped.

Meriam Ibrahim reminds me why we fast, so I decided to…fast again.

Governments protest. Lawyers appeal. Journalists report. A young mother languishes in jail, facing torture and death.

Such pain and uncertainty defies description.

It seems a small thing to beg God to spare her.

Please. For her little ones. Please…

The Relative Conversation

It happens sometimes. He encounters people with functioning extended family–they exist in movies and television. They pop up at the occasional birthday party.

He asks, do I have cousins? Or uncles, aunt, grandparents, depending on the occasion. And I find myself staring at the rock wall of truth.

How do you explain the FBI definitions of rape to a kindergartener? How do explain the way humans can run like roaches when confronted with the concept themselves? Or worse. There is always worse.

So I take time to answer, starting with the easiest part–You have cousins. You played with them before. You just don’t remember.

He makes an expression of mild exasperation. Why can’t he remember them?

I tell him he probably would if he saw them again. I tell him I will show him pictures.

You have pictures? he exclaims, as though I have been stashing chocolates.

Yes. I have pictures. And memories too. They are pretty lovable kids.

And this is the part I have yet to frame into words, into pictures on the wall of who we are–

If you love someone, and that loved someone gets hurt, badly hurt, it is your job to stop the hurt. Your job to stand up for that love. Whatever the cost. Whatever the monsters

If you don’t, you can’t call it love.

Darling, I am so sorry, it was our own family who taught me that.

Hypothetical Mom

First you have to
Believe she believed
In mom-hood–

The theoretical belief that sacrifice and love can change children’s lives

And that this
belief led to
Lost opportunities
Abandoned careers
Messy hair
And chaos

Then you have to
Ask yourself
Has her belief has been tested
For its tensile strength?

Next you must
examine the specimen herself

Does she look and smell like a real mom?

Finally you have to ask
How much does it cost?
How much did it ever cost?

And is there a real
Alternative?