ScarJo wha?

Dear Scarlett Johansson,

Would you please 1. Read Woody Allen’s Wikipedia page 2. Comment on the number of time he has trucked out the trope of the teenage ingénue in his films and private life 3. Tell us more about how you assess his sexual relationships with these teenage girls (real and thinly fictional) and then

Ask yourself how old was Dylan when she was dragged into a rape story? Would you want that for your daughter? Would anyone?

Believe is a strong word.

With lasting consequences.

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Protect your ass, you mean

Recently I took an online “course” designed to protect Christian ministries from lawsuits arising from child sexual abuse.

I knew it was going to be annoying, but it was worse than I had anticipated.

Here are some (but definitely not all) of the curriculum deficiencies:

  • There was very little information about helping victims of child abuse
  • Many of the recommendations were protective of the church over the child
  • There were broad, unsubstantiated allegations about the victims of child abuse and their families which included saying that they were mentally disabled and prone to familial dysfunction
  • The course stated and repeated that the adult survivors of child sexual abuse were not emotionally stable, neither able nor willing to process and recover from childhood trauma
  • The methods of ferreting out both abuse and abusers were shot through with harmful stereotypes and inadequate information
  • The course taught the participant to favor in-organization reporting over direct and immediate reporting to law enforcement, legal guardians, and child protective services
  • The test reinforced curriculum biases

I contacted the company directly after I took the course and asked them for information on their source material and bibliography.

No answer.

I am not a rape victim, but I was targeted by at least one pedophile when I was young, and I have children who are childhood sexual assault survivors.

I am not “low IQ,” and my children are all smarter than I am. Had any of us been “low IQ” (term taken directly from course material), we would still deserve help from the law and relief from abuse.

Our individual and collective intelligence was not the reason my children were molested by my adopted son, but it also did not save us from protracted and compounded grief.

First from the felonies,

Later from the way “good people did nothing,” or worse still, did things to let us know they wanted to silence our story.

Jesus said, tell the little children they will always be safe with me.

Yet in order to protect their legal asses big, well-known communities and institutions all over this country are serving up biased, unsubstantiated defamation of childhood rape victims and their families in place of solid, simple procedures to ensure that children are safe in church and that the law is followed.

It should never be “protect my ministry,” over protect the children.

Matthew 18

Oblígate carnivores

For months now I have walked carefully, gingerly, with the rocking gait of the elderly, infirmed, or, in my case, feet surreptitiously lamenting for the loss of the whole–

broken heart

crepe-fine skin

Liver, spleen, lungs, and stomach all exposed

As the obligate carnivores we tended as children stalk the house now

Grown

Larger than life,

Pacing hungrily to and fro

As we eye them in dismay

Their pets now

Justice is Love’s Surname

Survivors get to decide what they do with their story.

My daughter reminds me of this when I complain about a particular rape narrator who seems to be exonerating people who actively refused to value her need to be heard over points in a game.

What I would tell if she answered my email is:

  • Describing your rape in sexually explicit details obscures the message that rape is always about anger and power and objectifying the victim. Do not give potential felons a script for how to commit a crime.
  • Why exonerate anyone who has now or in the past facilitated rape culture? Anyone who actively compensated for rapists needs to be called out and fired, not hugged and beatified–no matter how many teams he or she has taken on to victory.
  • What happened to you has and will happen to a lot of other people–male, female, gender non-binary, old, young, non-consenting. Don’t sell all of them out by sanitizing or excusing deeply broken human systems.
  • Don’t unwittingly hand potential perpetrators a script for rape. Whether or not you realize it, when you tell a story where no one has enforced negative criminal or civil consequences for raping you, you are not changing rape culture.
  • No victim of rape should walk down the road you have. Every person deserves incisive rules for sexual safety. We need to change those rules.
  • Most victims chose or are pressured into silence. They should not have to fear the stigma of being a crime victim who speaks out..

…but they are, and as long as they are, your message is not enough, whether it is what you say or don’t say to a group of athletes, or what you tell the mother of a rape victim

By not answering her at all.

Locker Room Obscenities

Inside the camera frame men laugh about bartering girls as sex slaves.

Where are these men now?

Where are their victims?

Is there a Mendelian trait for “monster?”

It is easy to focus on the unfamiliarity of words

They use

For the blue or green eyes

of their victim

But locker rooms are locker rooms

everywhere because

the god of lust and violence has so many

F*cking clothes in his f*cking closet

Zoo Camp

It is just an email for something fun for the kids, but it reminds me of my former squalor, the way you might try to love someone who treats you like the bars, the cage, the meal set before them.

I could tell you all the symptoms and all the chaos, I could tell you the inadequate advice, the befuddlement of friends, the tragedies of children, or the strange calm caused by heavy psychotropic drugs, doctor’s office fish, surely unaware of the storm of a girl in this office by the sea.

I wake up from nightmares feeling that way again–mornings of dread, a low-grade fear of all our tomorrows.

What will become of them? Children without possessive pronouns

To guide them home.

Uncomfortable Sermons

I wonder, perhaps more often than I should, what would happen if we actually expected church sermons to be practical, actionable, real?

I wonder this because in the last 10 years I have worn my proverbial mendicant’s shirt to communities of faith, as has my whole family, only to find that the churchy probably don’t want us there.

They don’t want us because we talk about horrible things–rape, sexual assault, the abuse of children, sexual exploitation, the way the justice system fails victims, the way branded communities fail.

Not all at once, mind you.

But the truth remains so. If you tell a story about faith-minded adopting family neck-deep in ministry and family and community and then those people, especially their young children, are hurt, terribly hurt, by the people they were supposed to consider family.

Well, that is not a good sermon.

It is, however, very similar to many stories in the Bible, which is where I have gone for my uncomfortable sermons.

Where do you find yours? Where do you go to find the way through

The darkest, hardest places?