Trump-Don’t-Care: More than a nonhealthcare plan, it’s public policy

So, yeah, of course he did. Trump couldn’t get his crappy healthcare bills passed through the legislative process because, amazingly, there are still a few Republicans who refuse to completely sell their soul to the anti-Christ incarnate residing in the White House. So, Trump did what any aspiring dictator would do, if the democratic process doesn’t work, he’ll just make commandments from his throne. So in yet another abuse of executive powers, the poor rendition of an orange Putin imposter dismantled the ACA with a stroke of a pen. He keeps claiming it will make insurance so much more affordable, despite all the numbers which say the opposite. The CBO says it will cause insurance rate hikes as large as 25% by 2020. 2020 is not that far away, people. That is literally two years and two and a half months from now. Okay, sure if you are super healthy you might be able to buy a junk policy that does basically nothing a bit cheaper, but not by much once those rate hikes hit. And then, if you actually have to use it… goodbye insurance premiums you can ever hope to afford! Trump doesn’t care if you actually have access to decent healthcare. All the best medicine and resources are commodities reserved for those who can afford it. He doesn’t care if sick children die because they are just weak links in the gene pool. If the parents wanted healthy kids, they should have been rich. He doesn’t care if poor people die because he thinks they are stupid. His logic: if poor people were smart, then they wouldn’t be poor, would they? He literally equates wealth to competence. While there may be some merit in a self-made multi-millionaire/billionaire being a pretty smart person, that does not genetically transcend through the sperm and ovaries to their offspring who hit the conception lottery. Trump is a testament to this truth.

But not giving a rat’s skinny butt about people is not isolated to the administration’s stance on healthcare. Nope. It is a general, broad-spectrum domestic policy. Just take a look at the disasters. Harvey and Irma earned a rapid and reasonable response from the administration because those are voters who are in states with people he sees as his supporters. There were also a whole lot of white people affected and wealthy people. Can’t forget the wealthy people, with whom Trump immediately likes to identify. Further, helping these people also helped his donor buddies. Lifting the Jones’ Act immediately in order to move fuel was an economic decision that was good for his cronies. If it helped out a lot of people in need, then that was a bonus good for ratings. But with Maria, a whole different scenario emerged. Now, Puerto Rico actually isn’t that far away. A two hour flight from Miami gets you there. It takes that long to fly from Dallas to Las Vegas. But somehow Trump has tried to paint the island to be hidden in the far reaches of the ocean, or “big water,” as he sometimes calls it. He wants everyone to think it is ridiculously difficult for our military, you know, like the Navy with its vast fleet of ships, to reach. Despite knowing well enough in advance to ensure a rapid response by the military, Trump did not bother to order the USNS Comfort to the island until a week AFTER the hurricane hit. He did not suspend the Jones Act until eight days AFTER Puerto Rico was demolished. And the administration had a great response, initially, as to why they did not see a need to suspend the outdated restriction on domestic shipping. They said they felt US ships could handle it fine, we didn’t need foreign assistance and that it was not economically advantageous.

But, of course, Puerto Rico isn’t full of Trump supporters and voters. It is a poor island that the US invaded and forced under US rule, subjecting the people to citizenship, thus making them eligible to be shipped off to war, and squeezing the small economy for taxes without giving them representation in congress. Trump likes ranting about Puerto Rico’s debt and claiming their real disaster is of their own making. But the truth is that the restrictions imposed on Puerto Rico, without the benefit of representation or power to vote, has placed the territory in a no-win position of perpetual economic distress. Conservatives don’t want to make them a state. They feel it would be just handing the Democrats more electoral votes because it is a minority-majority. However, if the restraints on Puerto Rico were lifted so that their economy could blossom, without the advantage of statehood, they would likely seek independence from a nation who really does very little for them. BUT- those are nuances completely lost on Trump. He doesn’t care. All Trump sees is a bunch of poor minorities and that is a perfectly good enough reason to not care if they live or die, or how they go about doing so.

We aren’t finished with disasters, however. Pop over to the West Coast and have a gander at it. Yeah, it is pretty much on fire. Over five thousand homes have been destroyed. Businesses and communities have been laid to ashes. Forty-one people are dead and hundreds missing. More than one hundred thousand people are still under evacuation orders. While the state of California battles these enormous fires to the north, more keep popping up through the state due to unusually high temperatures, low humidity and the strong Santa Anna winds which blast through the region this time of year. But not a peep out of the wanna-be president. Why? Well too many people in California don’t like him and that state didn’t vote for him. It has also been hot spot for anti-Trump protests and its metropolises are sanctuary cities in defiance of his anti-immigration policies. So, all things considered, Trump doesn’t care if California burns to the ground and everyone dies. He took days to respond to relief requests. Those days could have meant resources which might have saved lives. Just like in Puerto Rico, Trump exercises the death penalty for those who disagree with him. While he may not be putting a bullet in their head or a noose around their neck, willful, spiteful  negligence still costs lives.

So, healthcare, disasters, what ese? Hmm? How about his war mongering? Yes, Trump’s ever pulsating need to puff out his chest and demand respect he has neither earned nor deserves, has led to social media saber-rattling, publicly insulting the leaders of other nations, threats to abandon our treaties and honor our commitments, and outright bullying of smaller countries. Yeah, that sounds like leading the free world, right? Trump has done nothing to promote diplomacy around the world. In fact, he literally scoffs at it and calls it pointless. He earnestly believes might is all he needs. He chooses threats to bully the world, but is it even listening? He has systematically turned allies into wary acquaintances. He is pushing enemies to the breaking point. Why? Probably because there is no greater distraction than war. He is pushing buttons in hopes of a war, eluding to its inevitability constantly, for two reasons. First, because he believes war unites the nation behind the banner of Old Glory and no one can criticize him because he is the Commander In Chief of our brave military. He has a ridiculous number of scandals and a very uncomfortable criminal investigation festering around him at the moment, which he blames for his low approval ratings. Actually, he blames it all on fake news and says it is all made up. I’m pretty sure Mueller doesn’t have a Grand Jury for naught, however. And, well, no matter how often he tweets, Trump doesn’t act like an innocent man and his mouth is frequently his own worst enemy. Second, and truly the most petulant, Trump wants to play with his army men. He does not see our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends as people. He does not recognize that the treasure of our military is not the bombs and guns and planes and warships, but the men and women who wear the uniform. They are the national treasure. They are the measure we use to determine the need for conflict. The test for any politician should be, “is this important enough for my child to sacrifice his or her life?” Not how much money it will cost, because money is replaceable. Lives are not. Trump’s wonton and flippant march towards conflict does not ask that question. It shows an eargerness to play with soldiers’ lives like they are expendable to his whims. He doesn’t care if they die. He doesn’t care if they are injured. He doesn’t care if they are captured or tortured. In fact, he likes soldiers who aren’t captured, as he has told us. Trump doesn’t care.

Oh, we can keep going. Education? Trump doesn’t care. Environment? Trump doesn’t care. Endangered species? Trump doesn’t care. Fair wages? Trump doesn’t care. Protecting the Social Security safety net? Nope, Trump doesn’t care. Fair tax laws? Yeah right… he thinks fair equals tax breaks for him. He doesn’t care about anyone else. Equal rights for all, nope. Trump doesn’t care.

Here is the breakdown, unless your name is Trump, and you profit from it, Trump doesn’t care. That is his broad-spectrum policy on everything. Simple and easy to remember: Trump Don’t Care.

Resist. Fight. Speak.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Shout out to Anne Coffer, great friend and amazing colleague and author. She has a new book out, just released, that is fantastic, Edge of Ridiculous . I loved it! Get it! Read it! Then tell her how awesome she is! 

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To Trump: Hear My VOICE.

Trump’s VOICE is hateful and nothing more than a propaganda machine to push his divisive rhetoric. When they do not have a story for “illegal” immigrants, it will quickly turn to the “legal” ones. This will become (and in many places already has) a war against anyone who is not a citizen, or doesn’t “look” like a citizen; more xenophobia at its worst.

My husband is a legal permanent resident, since the ’70’s. He is supposed to be 100% protected from deportation. He grew up here, escaping Vietnam as a small child. Legal residents are now scrambling to naturalize into citizenship because they are afraid those promises, like the one made to him,  will become meaningless, that with the stroke of a pen, the rights and safety they were guaranteed will be invalidated.

And how long until even their right to protest or have an opinion is stripped from them? How long before their opinion of our president or his policies  becomes a qualification or disqualification for legal residence or citizenship? How long before an immigrant protesting is stripped of their legal status and deported, their assets seized? With a stroke of a pen it can happen. As those who have been illegally detained by customs officials despite the judicial ruling against the Muslim Ban can tell you, the power of the Presidency is far reaching, and most especially in relation to immigration. It has the power to effectively silence dissent in the immigrant population.

I am ashamed of a country that has caused such fear among the people who live in it, turning them blindly upon one another. I am ashamed that our promise to the world, to all those seeking opportunity, safety, hope and freedom, has been rendered a lie. It is up to us to destroy that lie, to raise our flag into the air and wave its promise truthfully to the world once more.

People should never be illegal. We will never save ourselves by hiding, closing our doors, and fearing our neighbors. Cowards are never heroes and they never forge a path to greatness. We must stand together and be brave, to resist against the clamoring of cowards lost in the nonsense of their fear. We must fight against those who spur and use that fear to their own greedy ends.

I will fight for my husband. I will fight for my neighbors. I will fight to restore the idea of what our country should be, for our hope and our future. So, if Trump wants a VOICE, he can hear mine. Because, resisting him is my birthright. I do not fear retribution. Unlike those I am willing to fight for, no stroke of his pen can take my rights or my voice away. He cannot silence me or those citizens who stand with me. Together, we can ensure a future where every person has a voice, where no one is silenced, where being alive is not a crime… Where birthright is replaced by birth and rights are inalienable.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar-Truong

photo credit: AP/John Amis

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Only Yes Means Yes: The Courts and Rape Culture, Redefining Consent

2016 was a seriously crappy year. In fact, if you were comparing dung piles, 2015 was like a toy poodle’s brown, lumpy work of yard art and 2016 looked like a giant Bull Elephant had an especially grand bowel movement- in your living room. So, when I say it was a crappy year, now you have a full, working mental picture of exactly what I mean.

The fact that it was an especially bitter and horrible election year was bad enough. The fact that ‘alt right’ (previously just known as racists and white supremacists) ventured into the mainstream and were welcomed was enough to make most of us sick. The fact that it was given a total pass by so many made us even sicker. Police brutality was brought to the fore with shining spotlights, caught on camera by ordinary citizens, in undeniable, HD quality; bringing to light injustice is never a bad thing. The ferocious backlash we witnessed in society against those actually seeking justice, however,  was deplorable. And we saw far too much of it. And then, there was the misogyny. Wow. just wow. Women were belittled beyond measure, from Trump’s pulpit to the courtroom. Women, and the rights to their own bodies, were marginalized repeatedly.

And when I say the rights to their own bodies, I’m not just talking reproductive choices. Yes, I am pro-choice, and if you want to know why, click here. But this article isn’t about that kind of choice. This is before that. Like the choice of having sex or not. It is about consent. It is about how consent is never ambiguous. It is about how I don’t have to say no. No is always the implied. The answer is ALWAYS no, unless a woman specifically says yes. There is no ambiguity there. To give consent for something is to say, “Yes.” Consent is not defined as the absence of saying “no.”

So, why is this so important? Why is defining this so crucial? Because 2016 proved that judges seem to be freaking morons. Because it became overwhelmingly apparent as the year progressed that our judicial branch had a serious lack of fundamental vocabulary skills, where they came to the conclusion that rape and sexual assault isn’t so much of a crime if a woman is intoxicated. In fact, an appellant court in Oklahoma ruled that sodomy without consent wasn’t even illegal if the victim was intoxicated because the law did not specifically provide for being incapacitated due to intoxication. I’m pretty sure it did not specifically provide for slipping on ice, a sudden drop in blood pressure causing someone to faint or a tree branch falling and whacking you on the head, either, or a drug induced sleep  (like anesthesia) or a host (millions) of other specific elements which could cause a person to be unconscious, aside from intoxication by alcohol. Some people chose to blame the law for being too vague. I am not of that opinion (though thankfully Oklahoma made a very quick legislative effort to correct any ‘misunderstandings’ by the courts).  The real problem is the same reason a frat boy gets a couple of months for raping a girl behind a dumpster, or a man gets sixty days of time served for repeatedly raping his daughter, because we place all the responsibility on the victim. If the victim was drinking it was her fault. If she didn’t report it, it was her fault. If she was wearing revealing clothes, it was her fault. If she has had sex before, it is her fault. If she accepts a ride home with a guy, it is her fault. If she goes to a party, it is her fault. If she (fill in the blank here) it is her fault. The courts have been attempting to define consent as not saying no, regardless of the victim’s capacity to say anything at all.

Consent is saying, “Yes.” Consent is having the ability to comprehend what you are agreeing to. The message the courts are sending, over and over again, is that women do not have ultimate rights over their own bodies, that they can be forcibly taken, that they can be used, that their safety and sovereignty as a whole human being is less important than a perpetrators whims and exploits and desire for domination. They don’t like to hear rape cases, not because because of the heinous act, but rather because it is an uncomfortable truth, distasteful and rooted in a misogynistic view that women should be chaste and pure and that loose women get what they deserve. It perpetuates this notion that men are primal and can’t control themselves, therefore, women must adhere to different social rules. That is what we are teaching these boys, that they can act on impulse, that they are entitled to act on impulse. They are being taught to, “grab them by the pussy,” just because they can. We saw privileged men such as Turner and Wilkerson and the unnamed seventeen year old assailant in Oklahoma, receive ridiculous sentences which were little more than slaps on wrist or complete acquittal because their future, their lives, their autonomy was deemed more valuable than those of their victims.  And they hinge it all on victim blaming and redefining the meaning of consent.

I suggest we stop this campaign of , “No means no.” We are evidently sending the wrong message. It is, apparently, being taken to imply that women must say no, or have the capacity to do so. Perhaps we should try a more positive approach. Maybe, “Yes mean yes.” or “Yes means consent, silence or anything else means no, you sick bastard.”  (I kinda prefer the latter).  Perhaps if we firmly establish defining consent as specific approval (which is what it seems to mean in every other aspect of law), and we continue our outrage against a misogynistic judicial system, then maybe we can stop giving a free pass to mistreat and violate women. Maybe we could begin accepting that women are whole persons in our society and that they do not exist under separate laws and separate freedoms. Our bodies, our choice.

So, while I applaud efforts to effectively update laws to be more inclusive and require harsher punishments, we need states to address the fundamental issue: make a no-excuses definition of consent to mean an individual gives absolute permission to take part in any form of sexual activity, with complete knowledge and understanding of that consent, and if they are incapacitated in any way which would otherwise prevent them from being bound by any other legal contract, then that consent is invalid, as the person does not have the mental clarity or comprehension of consequences to consensually take part in what could be a life altering contract or event. (You know, like how you can’t just get someone drunk and convince them to sign over the deed to their house or the title of their car… except this is your BODY, and you have no idea if that person has an STD, HIV, is using protection, if you could get pregnant, etc. So yes, life-changing consequences which you should be able to make a rational decision regarding.)

I know… that is pretty darned drastic! Why that would make men have to be really freaking responsible about having sex, especially if their idea of a fun night is getting a girl drunk and getting laid. Getting a girl drunk and taking advantage of her might be considered rape, especially if he intentionally used alcohol to alter her thought and decision making process so she would do something she otherwise would not have agreed to do.  Men never do things like that, do they? But they don’t consider it rape, they just think it is loosening her up so her boundaries get a little fuzzy and she is more ‘open minded.’  Is that a crime?

Yes.

Now, I’m not saying men and women can’t drink and have sex. Sure they can. I am saying it is outright wrong to use a drug to alter someone’s perceptions and then use that as an advantage to have sex with them when they, under normal circumstances, would not agree. And, by the way, that goes both ways. Women shouldn’t use alcohol, or any other substance, to influence a man to have sex with them, either. Yes, girls, that is rape, too. Don’t be a predator. But between consenting individuals who want to drink and have sex together just because that’s what they like to do, have at it. And how is a guy supposed to know? Well, he can ask. He can be honest, tell her he doesn’t want to get the wrong idea and doesn’t want to impose on her. Women will just have to get over being insulted by honesty. If you aren’t interested in drinking and having sex with him, politely say no. Don’t be a bitch about it. He is being responsible and he just gave you a choice while you were still rational enough to make it. Don’t discourage him from giving that choice to someone else. Men, don’t be an asshat when you ask. Be respectful. Also remember, if she changes her mind, it is a no go, I don’t care if your pants are already on the floor.

Also, boys and girls, if you are not old enough to sign a legal contract, you are not old enough for consensual sex. I’m sorry. I know it seems like fun. I know you see it on television, the internet and the movies, but here is the thing: irresponsible sex can screw up your life. Seriously. And if you think oral sex is safe, think again. You can still get awesome things like Herpes and other STDs . If you are being pressured into sex, that is a form of rape. If you are pressuring someone to have sex with you, then you are invading their personal safety. If they don’t say yes without having to be convinced, then that, my friends, is a no.

Which brings us back to the meaning of consent. Only Yes means Yes. Period. Only a sober Yes means Yes. Only a conscious person can say yes. Forget No mean No. It does, but it should never come to that because it is always no in the absence of yes. We need to send this message loud and clear to both our judiciary and legislative branches so that there is no longer even a sliver of ambiguity. We must define consent by what it actually is. Consent is saying yes, not the absence of saying no.

We are One woman, One World.

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Are You Feeling Safe Yet?

Trumpaloompa has done absolutely nothing to unite this country. This country of immigrants. This country of refugees. He continues, executive order after order, to inflict his small, bigoted mind on the masses.  His Middle East ban is nothing short of a ban on Muslims, a method to discriminate based on religion. We know this because Trumpaloompa ensures that Christians will be given priority. But, hey, you alt-right so-called Christian conservatives, Trump’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. He got a Muslim ban for you, like he promised, but he couldn’t quite take it far enough to threaten his own pocket book. So, he left out all the countries where he has business ties, you know, the ones where actual deadly terrorists, who attacked the US on US soil and killed US Citizens actually came from. So, he is with you, so long as it doesn’t hurt his profits.

And in case anyone ever has any question about how I feel on this issue, here is some info for you to digest. I am married to a refugee. My husband had to escape a war torn country (that the US was at war with and lost) as a child, with his family. My husband, who is an absolutely wonderful man, was once a desperate child on a boat trying not to die, watching as others were killed or lost to disease and famine. He has been in the United Sates for thirty-seven years and he is thankful for his life here. He is a resident alien.

When I see these children, I see him. I wonder what would have been his life if he had been turned away because of someone’s unjustified fears? Are you really such a coward that you would sacrifice countless lives to hide from the fractional percent of danger that someone might pose? Is your faith that small? I would rather die today doing the right thing than live a long life cowering behind the sacrificed, innocent lives of others. And if you are not willing to die or sacrifice yourself, or even your own convenience, to do what is morally responsible and just, then you have no business calling yourself a Christian. You have forsaken your god for an idol; you have placed more value on yourself than your faith. You are a coward.

We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of refugees who came here in the hopes of a whispered promise.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My husband’s mother smuggled her children out of a Communist won country, suffered through pirate attacks, were lost at sea and were left to die by passing ships. A last pirate attack proved they had nothing left to take, no food, no valuables, nothing but a slowly sinking vessel.  So the pirates towed them to a sand bar which allowed them to walk into Thailand, where they spent more than a year in a refugee camp. Not all of their family survived the journey. The atrocities he witnessed are chilling. Were it not for the compassion of those last pirates, he and his family, along with many others, would have died. So when I look at what we are doing today, what I see is that we have less compassion, less moral aptitude, than pirates. We truly are, collectively, cowards brandishing our chest and might, hiding our fear behind a false show of strength to disguise how hollow we are inside. Empty.

The Trumpaloompa administration has now come after immigrants. It has challenged religious freedom by attacking Muslims. Next on the slate, per released White House leaks, is an executive order against the LGBT community. Are you complacent because you are not an immigrant, or you are not Muslim or because you are not LGBT? Well, be reminded

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

We are all something. We each have something which can identify us. Women, Men,  LGBT, Minority, Religion or Atheist, Homeless, Poor, Elderly, Disabled, Middle Class, Sick, Unemployed, Under employed, Children, Veteran, Liberal, Conservative, Single Parent, Married… we all live behind labels. If you restrict anyone’s rights based on a label, it is real people who suffer and only because they are different. It becomes easier and easier to justify xenophobia. It becomes easier and easier to suppress those who are different. But eventually, you will come to realize that we are all different, when they come to suppress you.

I will not be a coward. Though I can never imagine being as brave or strong as my husband or his family, I will fight to help ensure that we remain the kind of nation which welcomes a child, seeing his or her potential, knowing their diversity gives us strength and hope. Though I know not every immigrant will be a good person, because that is not realistic, I refuse to use the excuse of the very few to justify cowardice. I will not disgrace my country by standing aside while cowards close our borders and hide, cowards who will never feel safe because there will always be someone who is different.

We are One Woman, One World.

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MARCH IN BODY, MARCH IN SPIRIT: WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD STAND AGAINST TRUMP

Today in cities large and small, across the United States of America and across the ocean, women, men and children have taken to the streets in a sign of solidarity against the oppression of women’s rights. Many, unable to march, are contributing by other methods: through social media, by sponsoring marches, signing petitions, writing letters, sending emails, making phone calls, or in a host of other ways. While it is true there are (too many) women (and men) who support Trump and his backwards policies, blatant misogyny, and rape culture, the vast majority are appalled. We, as women, are right to feel threatened as we watch the birth of an amoral, religious fundamentalist administration intent on revoking the rights so many have fought, suffered and, some, even died to win and protect.

Women around the world are standing today to say, “No.” We will not accept being pushed back under the thumbs of men, reduced to breeders with our value determined by physical attributes rather than our intellect and ability to contribute in society. We will not speak only when spoken to, but shout to the world, to those that seek to oppress us, “We are strong. We have power.” We are not just mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces and sisters. We are people and we will not sit meekly aside while our rights, even to our own bodies, are dismantled.

To quote one of the strongest women to ever walk this planet, who has withstood misogyny hurled at her with grace and poise and never backed backed down, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”

Today’s marches around the world are not the culmination of our protest. They are the beginning.

We are One Woman, One World.

Women’s Global March

CNN

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photo credit: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/

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No, It Is Not the Orange Way Or No Way

Trump is trying to do to the Nation what he has done to small businesses across the country. He is attempting to force his deal down our throats. Donald Trump has a history of making great propositions, pulling people in with what appear to be fair, reasonable, even profitable agreements and once he gets what he wants, he changes the rules. He calls them in and tells them he is not going to pay them what he agreed. Trump, and his team of lawyers proceed to explain that this small businessman can either take half, or less, of what was agreed to and be happy about it, or Trump will pay him nothing and tie it all up in litigation for years. The small businessman, who doesn’t have the monetary means to pay lawyers for years of litigation, and who needs to pay those who work for him, is coerced into accepting Trump’s terms because it is the only path forward. He just has to cut his losses so he can move on.

Trump’s talk of a rigged election is his way of justifying not accepting the outcome. And now, he has made it abundantly clear he does not plan to accept defeat graciously if he loses the election. Instead, he is positioning himself, and in fact telegraphing to the country and the world, that he either gets his way, or no one wins. He is telling the American people that if he doesn’t win, then he is prepared to make it so that no one does and undermine the transition of power from one president to the next. He will attempt to throw it into litigation for an indeterminate length of time. Oh, but America, you can avoid all of that. All you have to do is give The Donald what he wants. If you vote for him, then you don’t have to worry about him holding the presidency hostage. That’s the Art of the Deal, so to speak.

This is the essence of his refusing to accept the outcome of our election, a temper tantrum meant to bully people into just accepting him on his terms. Of course, it makes sense. This is a tactic which has worked for him over and over again. He is used to using his money and power (and lawyers) to intimidate and take advantage of others.

But Donald, the Presidency of the United States of America is not a position you can bully your way into. You cannot hold it hostage in lawsuits. Your thinly veiled threat is an indecent proposal that should even shame you, if you understand that emotion. In the end, you will not only go into the bowels of history as the most petulant, vile man to ever run for the office of Commander in Chief, but as the worst loser in history. In the meantime, while you are waving your fists screaming about how unfair it all is, how the election (like so many other things in your life that didn’t go your way) was rigged against you, we will move on.

But you won’t have much time to grieve, as you have a fraud and racketeering case to attend to on November 28, and then a child rape case in December.

Vote! Your voice is important. It is your right and your duty.

We are One Woman, One World.

Photo credit: dandyfashionerdotblogspotcom

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The Real Sex Education in Our Schools – And It Isn’t Part of Health Class

italian-textbook

When we say Sex Education, you immediately think about health class, how boys’ and girls’ bodies work differently, and together, to produce offspring. But in reality, that’s just biology. Health class may provide information on how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and give you a healthy dose of respect for what those diseases can do to you.  Depending on the school district,  the class may provide information on preventing unwanted pregnancies.

But that is not the real sex education going on in schools. Well, if that isn’t it, what are we teaching our kids?

I suggest perusing through the student handbook. Stop at the dress code. Take a quick look at the boys’ dress requirements (it won’t take long as the list is pretty short.) Now turn over to the girls. Depending on the age category, you will find  host of things different than what is required of male students. While the boys’ dress code is designed to simply be neat and positive, the goal for girls is modesty. Straps on tops must so wide, skirts must be no shorter than X inches above the knee, no tight pants or leggings, no strapless tops, must wear undergarments including bras, undergarments must not be visible through clothing. Now, I am not saying there isn’t the school policy out there that states boys must wear undergarments and they can’t be visible through clothing, but I randomly chose 20 handbooks from schools across the country and the only mention of undergarments for boys was that their pants must cover them, as in, no sagging your pants around your knees like you forgot to pull them up when you walked out of the bathroom. But the reason for that is 1. it is (reliably or not) associated with street gang attire 2. Easy to trip walking through crowded halls 3. makes navigating busy stairwells unsafe for both the student and the students around him 4. they don’t want the boys more worried about holding up their pants than carrying their books and 5. they want to bring the kids out of gang/rapper mentality and encourage them with ideas and habits to help them succeed – and the grown ups just don’t like it. I list the reasons out because those reasons, whether you agree with them or not, are quite telling.

Why does a girl’s skirt or shorts need to be almost to her knees? Why must she wear a bra? Why does she have to have straps or sleeves on her shirt? Why must those straps be at least an inch wide? Why can’t she wear leggings? None of these things are gang related. None of them affect her ability to walk down the school halls or carry her books, or navigate stairwells or deflect from a positive attitude for success. No, they teach something completely lacking from the boys’ page in the handbook. They teach modesty.

And the reason? They claim that if girls dress a certain way, then it distracts boys from their lessons.

Let us reflect upon that. What does this really teach? It teaches that girls and boys are not equal. That girls must dress and behave to accommodate boys and that instruction is carried with them through their lives. It is subtle, but it tells both boys and girls that women are responsible for the behavior of men. If a girl wears a sundress with spaghetti straps and a boy decides to stare at her rather than do his work, his lack of discipline is the girl’s fault, not his. We are teaching young boys that they are not responsible for their actions if they are distracted by a girl, if the boy thinks she looks attractive or sexy and he chooses to think about that rather than focus on his assignment. We are teaching boys to not have self control, and worse, that they can blame girls for their lack of self control.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there should be a general rule of modesty for all students. Obviously we don’t want kids showing up naked or in their underwear to class. Not because it is sexy, but because it is a distraction to everyone. But tell me, why should a girl have to wear a bra? Bras are uncomfortable and actually bad for a woman’s body. They cause fibrocystic changes in breasts, loss of the musculature designed by the body to support them (which can result in back and posture problems) and prolonged use of ill-fitting bras can cause masses to develop in the breast tissue, which is believed to increase risk of breast cancer. Girls and young women can seldom find bras that fit them well because their bodies are rapidly changing. Low income families can seldom afford good bras, especially for girls who are still developing.

So, why do we make girls wear them to school? Oh, that’s right. Because boys are attracted to breasts and therefore, girls must bind them up. It doesn’t matter that they are uncomfortable and unhealthy, that is secondary to a girl’s responsibility to not distract the boys from their education.

Did it ever occur to anyone that if we stopped teaching boys that they should be distracted by female bodies during class, stopped making girls bear a greater responsibility for the the actions and self discipline of male students, perhaps the distraction problem would fix itself?

I understand boys go through changes as well, their hormones become difficult, etcetera. If a boy finds a girl attractive, she could be wearing a burlap bag down to her ankles and he could distract himself with what might be under the bag. He will still wonder if she likes him and think whatever thoughts he would if she were wearing a t-shirt and shorts. The same thing is happening to girls as they go through puberty. They look at boys, think they are cute. The difference is that girls are taught to accept all the burden. They are taught they need to look a certain way to attract a boy but then it is their fault if the boy is distracted by them. Confused yet?

This is the sex education we are teaching from as young as kindergarten where little girls are told they can’t wear a sun dress unless the straps are at least an inch wide on their shoulders or wear leggings or wear shorts or skirts unless they are a certain length. From this age forward, we begin reinforcing in both girls and boys the responsibility of women for men’s actions. Do you think that five year old boy cares if a girl in his class has thin straps on her sundress? No. He doesn’t until the school begins telling him that he should.

This is how we perpetuate rape culture in our society. This is why we cannot escape a fundamental barrier of misogyny. It has been ingrained by the school system, generation after generation, from the age of five, onward, that girls, and then women, are responsible for the actions of men. We begin placing culpability on women and teaching them that if they distract boys, it is their fault because boys can’t help themselves – teaching them this fundamental, misogynistic message before they even lose their first baby tooth.

But that is not the only message we send. We are also creating a system of patriarchy. We are telling our girls that the education of boys is more important. The girls must dress a certain way, even if it is uncomfortable and distracting, so as not to distract a boy. If her attire is questionable, she is removed from class. Her education is secondary to the distraction she didn’t cause until someone pointed out that there should be a distraction. So, she has to miss class until someone can bring her new attire or she is sent home. I have read so many instances where the student actually believed they were within the dress code policy, and often were.

The problem is that women are used to accepting this. They have been trained since five to accept it, therefore, it seems and feels normal. They have been taught it is indecent to not wear a bra, therefore this affects their judgment. But what would happen if we just stopped? If we just stopped creating this double standard? If we taught boys what is probably a much more beneficial lesson, that they have to learn to focus despite their attraction? In turn, that teaches them self discipline and responsibility for their actions. What if there was just a single dress code? That would better recognize transgender children and create a healthier acceptance of people as just people. What if we didn’t make dress codes based on the distraction of one sex? What if we don’t teach boys they should be distracted? If they see girls who don’t wear bras all the time, I promise it won’t be any big deal. It would be normal. I doubt any boy ever failed a test because Julie wore a dress with thin shoulder straps. If he did, then that is his fault for not learning to focus, and the school’s fault for not teaching him to ignore distractions.

If we ever want to move past our patriarchal society, this must change. We must start addressing these “what ifs.” We have to stop making a boy’s education more important than a girl’s. We have to stop teaching boys that they are not responsible for their actions or lack of self control. We must stop teaching girls they carry the burden for the actions of boys and men. We begin victim blaming them before they even know they are being victimized.

This is why so many women who have been assaulted do not come forward and why they blame themselves. This is why women who are violated feel ashamed. Because that is what they are taught before they even have their first visit from the tooth fairy. Girls are taught shame.

That is sex education in our schools.

We are One Woman, One World.

 

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