I Am Not Your Sword and Shield

A long-ago conversation has been haunting me somewhat of late. One of my friends had gotten into a rather heated argument with a woman who, although never having been through it, thought being raped was the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to a woman.

“No, it’s not!” I said, incredulous. “It’s horrible, yeah, but I can think of worse things. Being murdered, death of a child…”

And, since I’m a rape survivor, my friend thought I’d be a good counter-authority if she ever broached the topic again.

But here’s the thing I didn’t quite grasp in those days: I am one data point, not the World’s Authority. Yes, it’s true: while I think rape is one of the worst, but not the worst, crimes that can be committed against a woman (or any human of any sex or gender, not to mention any sentient creature), I’m just one survivor. I don’t speak for us all. Just because I can think of things that, to me, would be worse than rape doesn’t mean rape isn’t the absolute worst thing that might happen to someone else. It doesn’t mean those who think it is the worst are wrong or irrational for thinking so.

You cannot use me as a shield against their points. You can’t use me as your sword to strike them down.

I refuse to be used. Image courtesy Very Demotivational.

I refuse to be used. Image courtesy Very Demotivational.

Take it further. [Read more…]

Cantina Quote o’ the Week: Dorothy Parker

 Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.

Dorothy Parker

I like spring, I do, but you have to admit this is an excellent description of spring. Birdsong is lovely – except outside your window when you’re trying to sleep. Plants are beautiful and new life bursting out all over is gorgeous – except it covers up the delicious geology. Yes, this quote works for geology. It really does.

Dorothy Parker was a fascinating person. I’ve heard of her vaguely for years – people are in awe of her wit (which was sharp as flaked obsidian, just as beautiful and cruel). She’s this great writer etc. But I’ve not read her, a sad state of affairs I’ll have to remedy soon.

There was evidence Dorothy was going to be a person to watch out for even in her early years, when she was a half-Jewish girl with a Protestant stepmother attending a Catholic school. She said she was kicked out because she persisted in her assertation that the Immaculate Conception was actually spontaneous combustion. She went on to a stellar career in writing. She wrote for Vanity Fair until her obsidian wit cut powerful people too deeply; she worked as an editorial assistant for Vogue; she wrote for The New Yorker from its beginning in 1925. She published poetry, wrote plays and screenplays, achieved success in Hollywood until her politics got her blacklisted. She fought for civil liberties and civil rights for unpopular people; founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, worked for left-wing relief organizations, wrote for New Masses magazine (which was probably partly responsible for her getting branded a Communist and ending up with a thick FBI file). She struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies, bad relationships and injustices, kept writing through it all. And even in death, she helped her causes, leaving her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. foundation, and through this to the NAACP.

And she left us glittering words, sharp and shining, that haven’t dulled a bit with time.

Attention Washington Peeps: Lawyer Recommendations Needed

Some of you may be aware that all is not happy families at my place of business. Now the family is broken, because they decided to fire my manager. Yes, the one who stood by his employees. Yes, the one who had just filed an ethics complaint. And yes, they did it for a reason that is very close to blatantly illegal, if not right over the line.

My manager is, shall we say, exploring options in pursuing legal remedies . He’d like your assistance in finding the right person for the job. Let me know if you’re an employment attorney licensed to practice in the state of Washington, and enjoy the challenge of taking on well-known multinational companies. If you’re not an attorney but have recommendations, we’re all ears. Send your info to dhunterauthor at yahoo.

Thank you for your help!

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The Art of Nature: Dandelion Blooms

We’ve got a love-hate relationship with dandelions, don’t we? If you’ve ever owned a lawn or been around a lawn-owner who gives a shit about grass, you’ve either personally attempted or seen someone attempt to eradicate the no-good very-bad terrible dandelions in it. The circular sprays of leaves seem like particularly wicked saw-blades. Grass-murderer! Lawn defiler! Diiiieeee!!!!

But when they bloom, they’re pretty. You may hate them, but you know they are. They’re beautiful. And who as a little kid in an area with dandelions hasn’t plucked up little sun-hued and sun-shaped blooms and run off with them? Who hasn’t wondered if they have anything to do with actual lions? Who hasn’t breathlessly waited for them to form those perfect spheres of white fluff that we could carefully pick and then blow on with all our might, trying to scatter the seeds with one blow and ensuring the lawn owner will spend next summer tearing their hair out over yet more dandelions?

Yes. It’s a complicated relationship. [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Why We Mustn’t Shut Up About Geology

In case anyone ever asks you why you’re so obsessed with rocks, show them this. And don’t ever hold your tongue. We need to talk about geology.

Really, ultimately, it’s because of things like this:

Shake Map for Cascadia M 9.0 Earthquake Scenario. Image courtesy USGS.

Shake Map for Cascadia M 9.0 Earthquake Scenario. Image courtesy USGS.

Someday, possibly in our lifetimes, the Pacific Northwest will experience the full-rip nine. Every place has its dangerous geology. If people don’t understand it, if we don’t talk about it, no one will be prepared for events like this.

Also importantly, geology is cool.

Men and Work-Life Balance in STEM Careers

A recent article at Double X Science expressed a fundamental fed-upness with the way the media profiles women in science. The problem is the inordinate focus on things typically considered a woman’s work – “however do they balance all that lady stuff and a career?!” Gosh. Oh, and here’s a little bit about the science.

The author suggests a moratorium on mentioning the scientist’s sex, and just focusing on the science. Which is a good idea, as far as it goes – but we’re still living in a world where science is seen as a man’s profession. It’s important that young women who are considering entering STEM fields see that it’s possible to have a career, a spouse, children, and/or hobbies as well as a career, that they won’t have to become single, sexless workaholics to make it in STEM. So, perhaps, a para or so explaining this isn’t the 19th century anymore? A mention might be nice, but nothing excessive, and please talk about the science for the majority of the article.

And give male scientists the same treatment.

Man on bicycle balancing propane tank and watermelon on head = odd.

Seriously. Look at the comments at that post. A huge number of people want to hear from men on how they balance their family obligations and personal time with their careers. Women aren’t the sole caregivers now (right, guys? Right?), and men are starting to try the same juggling act. They need help, support, and encouragement, too. They need to see other men balancing on the tightwire while juggling their obligations.

This gives me the inspiration for a new series, one in which we highlight science men with families and/or complicated personal lives they’re trying to balance. Is that you? Fantastic! Let me know about you.* What are the challenges you face? What works? What doesn’t? What do you wish you could change? How can your STEM career be made more life-and-family-friendly?

The ultimate goal is to achieve actual equality for both women and men. No matter your sex or gender, no matter your situation, you should be able to have your family and career, too. There’s no reason why a STEM career should mean giving up the rest of your life.


*dhunterauthor at gmail, for those not already in the know. Or you can just leave a comment using an email address at which I can reach you. Either way works.

Mystery Flora: A Happy Yellow Spray

Place barely goes to sleep for winter and now it’s up for spring. To be fair, it has been a mild winter even for Seattle, which has winters so milquetoast it panics when two snowflakes stick to the road. Nothing in the Puget Lowlands wastes any time. I found little seedlings happily growing in early January, and now the instant winter’s back is turned, here come the flowering trees.

These lovely, happy little yellow flowers were in full bloom by the beginning of March. There’s nothing quite so uplifting as walking through still mostly-dead vegetation, and suddenly coming upon this spray of yellow blooms reaching up to a brilliant blue sky. [Read more…]

“Rape is not a recreational activity.” Steubenville Rape Verdict Roundup

A near-miracle has happened: two rapists have been convicted of sexual assault. Excuse me, found “delinquent” in a juvenile court. At their ages, had they stolen something more than an intoxicated girl’s bodily integrity, they would have likely been charged as adults – but hey, it’s just rape. Not like they stole a car or murdered somebody, amirite? And, hey, if they learn the appropriate sorry-won’t-do-it-again words, they may not even have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Pretty sweet, huh? That’s actually amazing, considering how few rapists ever get convicted at all.

United States rape statistics. Those numbers should horrify every decent human being. Image courtesy RAINN.

United States rape statistics. Those numbers should horrify every decent human being. Image courtesy RAINN.

[Read more…]