#whyistayed “I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability

#whyistayed (trending on Twitter) // Why Janay Rice stayed (Feministe) 

I didn’t want to have a failed marriage at 25 I didn’t want my daughter to think this was ok and normal

I didn’t want to be alone again I didn’t want to be alone in a casket

: Kept telling myself if he didn’t hit me, it wasn’t abuse : Learned I didn’t have to get beaten to fear for my life.

“If you think about what keeps you in a relationship people to your life that are healthy relationships: your friends, your family, your coworkers, all of those components whether it’s money, love, history, you’re related to this person, you have kids with this person because you live together, because they care about you, because they were there for you, etc, etc. All those things are the very same reasons why women in those situations won’t leave. The good things can also be the reasons why you stay in a bad relationships. So it’s not about, ‘Well, she should’ve just left.’ It’s never that simple or that easy if they have children together, if he’s the only source of income in the family, if she has strong religious beliefs about marriage or what it means to be a good girlfriend or wife, all these things, which you can’t really separate out from the others, play a role.”

The Disposable Woman (The New York Times, March 2011)

“It’s these sorts of explicit and implicit value judgments that underscore our contempt for women who are assumed to be trading on their sexuality. A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal. Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.”

“I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability (Feministe, August 2011)

“When we imagine abuse, we envision the act of abusing: the woman crouching on the floor, a flying fist, a sailing kick. Perhaps my remembrance of that time would be different if my abuse had been more prolonged, or more severe, but what I recall from that era of my life is not moments of violence but feeling as though I were separated from the world, swaddled in a thick layer of invisible cloth that I couldn’t ever swat away. I was in a fog.

Which is to say: I was in many ways incapable of helping myself—which, even years later, pains me to say. But there it is: The fog of abuse ensured that my emotions, instincts, and principles were muted; every ounce of energy I had went into my relationship and keeping up the general appearance of sanity. Had you somehow been able to land my healthy, normal status-quo self smack-dab into the worst of my relationship, I’d have gotten out immediately. That’s not how abuse works, of course. Abuse is gradual; abuse is systemic. Abuse changes you; abuse reduces you. Abuse took the me out of me.”

Ray Rice Video Sets Off Barrage of Conversations (audio from NPR’s Morning Edition)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ongoing national conversation on domestic violence that was spurred on by the Ray Rice video, I would encourage you to read the above essays, articles & tweets. Listen to the audio. Take the time to analyze your own reactions. Keep in mind,

“More than one in three women have experienced sexual assault, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.” (CNN)

So when we ask ourselves, “why did she stay?” remember that we’re asking on behalf of our friends, family, and co-workers. These are not “those” women. These are our loved ones.


The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

“[David Lisak] surveyed about 1,800 men, asking them a wide range of questions about their sexual experiences. To learn about sexual assault he asked things like, ‘have you ever had sex with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used physical force?’ When the results came back he was stunned.

All told, 120 men in the sample, or about 6 percent of the total, had raped women they knew. Two-thirds of those men were serial rapists, who had done this, on average, six times. Many of the serial rapists began offending before college, back in high school. Together, the 120 men in Lisak’s study were responsible for 439 rapes. None were ever reported.

Alcohol was the weapon of choice for these men, who typically saw themselves as college guys hooking up. They didn’t think what they had done was a crime. ‘Most of these men have an image or a myth about rape, that it’s some guy in a ski mask wielding a knife,’ says Lisak. ‘They don’t wear ski masks, they don’t wield knives, so they don’t see themselves as rapists.’

In fact they’d brag about what they had done afterwards to their friends. That implied endorsement from male friends – or at the very least, a lack of vocal objection — is a powerful force, perpetuating the idea that what these guys are doing is normal rather than criminal.”

Heard this story on NPR while drinking my coffee this morning and was totally blown away. This is just another example of why talking about rape prevention with men (something traditionally taught to women) is so important. I recently read Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This, a fantastic comic strip that breaks down sexual harassment and includes tips on how men can help prevent harassment from happening.

A program called MVP is taking this idea to the next level.

“MVP, or Mentors in Violence Prevention, matches upperclassmen with groups of incoming freshman. Throughout the school year, the older kids facilitate discussions about relationships, drinking, sexual assault and rape.

Xavier Scarlett, a rising senior and captain of the football, basketball and track teams, says he tries to get inside the heads of the freshman guys he mentors. They talk through various scenarios. What does it mean to hook up with a drunk girl when you’re sober? Would you be letting down your guy friends if you don’t hook up in that situation?

These conversations are tough, often awkward, in high school. A lot of the mentors still haven’t confronted this kind of situation in real life by the time they graduate. But once they get to college, says Iowa State University junior Tucker Carrell, a former MVP mentor, the scenarios come to life.”

I can’t recommend this article highly enough. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, take eight minutes out of your day and listen to it. Then share it with your friends, your co-workers, your kids.

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

“While Mr. [Vincent] Zandri celebrates Amazon as the best thing to happen to storytellers since the invention of movable type, many other writers are denouncing what they see as its bullying tendencies and an inclination toward monopoly.

From household names to deeply obscure scribblers, authors are inflamed this summer, perhaps more deeply divided than at any point in nearly a half-century. Back then, it was the question of being a hawk or dove on Vietnam. Now it is not a war but an Internet retailer and its unparalleled grip on the cultural machinery that is provoking fierce controversy.

At first, those in the publishing business considered Amazon a cute toy (you could see a book’s exact sales ranking!) and a useful counterweight to Barnes & Noble and Borders, chains willing to throw their weight around. Now Borders is dead, Barnes & Noble is weak and Amazon owns the publishing platform of the digital era.”

Excellent breakdown of the Amazon controversy. Why should you care? Because Stephen Colbert said so. Seriously, though – Amazon is a giant, and we should know who we’re buying cheap e-books from. (Not to mention every other household item; I’ll admit to buying bulk toilet paper, toothpaste & shaving cream, too.)

Interested in learning more? Fresh Air did a great interview with Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store, entitled One-Stop Shop: Jeff Bezos Wants You To Buy ‘Everything’ On Amazon. 

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted (Apr 2014)

“There’s one group of people that is universally tarred and feathered in the United States and most of the world. We never hear from them, because they can’t identify themselves without putting their livelihoods and reputations at risk. That group is pedophiles. It turns out lots of them desperately want help, but because it’s so hard to talk about their situation it’s almost impossible for them to find it. Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half talking to people in this situation, and he has this story about one of them.”

I was one of many thousands (millions?) of Americans stuck in traffic last night driving home at the end of a holiday weekend. Luckily I had plenty of episodes of This American Life to catch up on, and this segment especially was one I had to share with you. I would encourage you to try to listen to this even if (especially if) it makes you uncomfortable. Because it definitely made me uncomfortable, but I’m better for having heard it.

Nina Mitchell: The Great Escape

Nina Mitchell: The Great Escape

I started reading Nina’s essays on The Hairpin a few years ago, and I was immediately fascinated by the story of a 26 year old woman who wakes up one morning, realises she’s had a stroke, and knows her life will never be the same. She also wrote a longer piece for The AtlanticWhen I Was 26, I Had a Stroke: The Escape, but the link I’m sending you to here today is actually an audio file, taken from The Moth. It’s Nina telling the story of her stroke, in her own words, and listening to her talk about that time in her life (over 10 years ago now) is both moving and also very, very funny.

Finally, I encourage you to check out her blog, Mindpop, where she still posts regularly.

A Toast Story

A Toast Story

At first, Carrelli explained Trouble as a kind of sociological experiment in engineering spontaneous communication between strangers. She even conducted field research, she says, before opening the shop. “I did a study in New York and San Francisco, standing on the street holding a sandwich, saying hello to people. No one would talk to me. But if I stayed at that same street corner and I was holding a coconut? People would engage,” she said. “I wrote down exactly how many people talked to me.”

The smallness of her cafés is another device to stoke interaction, on the theory that it’s simply hard to avoid talking to people standing nine inches away from you. And cinnamon toast is a kind of all-purpose mollifier: something Carrelli offers her customers whenever Trouble is abrasive, or loud, or crowded, or refuses to give them what they want. “No one can be mad at toast,” she said.

Carrelli’s explanations made a delightfully weird, fleeting kind of sense as I heard them. But then she told me something that made Trouble snap into focus. More than a café, the shop is a carpentered-together, ingenious mechanism—a specialized tool—designed to keep Carrelli tethered to herself.

I first heard this wonderful story in an episode of This American Life. [Sidenote: If you’re a fan of good storytelling, you need to be listening to This American Life. Like right now.] It begins as a complaint about how toast – like cupcakes before it – has turned into overpriced artisanal nonsense. So the writer goes on a journey to find the beginning of the trend, and he stumbles upon this amazing tale of perseverance that I dare your heart not be warmed by. Let this make you happy today.

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp [via Marketplace]

In politics and in the news, a lot of focus is put on the many Yolanda Ballards of America. Whether they deserve the food stamp money they get. What they spend it on. Whether they abuse the system. Those were the kinds of questions clinging to recent debates in Congress over funding for food stamps. But throughout those debates, which resulted in more than $8 billion in cuts to the program over the next decade, one subject got relatively little attention: what happens to those food stamp dollars after people like Yolanda Ballard swipe their EBT cards and the money becomes store revenue.

Last year $76 billion flowed from the U.S. Treasury to people’s food stamp cards. That money then flowed into the revenue streams of about 240,000 stores across the country, all of which have been approved by the federal government to accept food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You can look at SNAP as a government subsidy with two lives. First, low-income people enrolled in the program get financial help to buy food. Then, when they swipe their EBT cards at the checkout counters, the government pays those stores for that food—which is, of course, being sold at a profit.

So it seems worthwhile to pay attention to how this “second life” of a food stamp subsidy works. There’s just one problem: A lot of the information about how stores benefit from food stamps is confidential.

SO FASCINATING. However you feel about food stamps and government aid, you should read this article. I learned a lot listening to the segments on NPR and I’m so glad I am able to share them to you via Slate.

You can – and should! – also read (or listen to) Part 2, “Save Money. Live Better.” Part 3 is yet to come.