One Reason Why False Rape Allegation Statistics Are So High

Men, even good men, believe women lie about rape. There’s this myth that runs amok saying that some enormous proportion of rape accusations are just women lying to get attention, or revenge, or to hide their summer fling from mommy and daddy. And they believe it without question.

When male friends toss that grenade at me, I toss it back by asking if they know what the percentage is. “Fifty percent,” they’ll say, or above, depending on which MRAs their stats are coming from.

“It’s two to eight percent,” I say, and I need to remember to never do this when they’re walking or have something in their mouths, because the good ones are always staggered, and they always gasp. “But even those numbers are on the high side.”

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

I don’t need to go in to detail with the good ones. I don’t need to do more than remind them what actually happens to women who report. They realize immediately that very few people would be so motivated by some other factor that they would willingly subject themselves to the hell that is rained down upon rape victims. And then I remind them that while our culture often makes reporting a rape worse than the rape itself, when it comes to male victims, it’s damned near impossible to report at all. And if you’re a trans* person? Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it. Once we have finished that brief survey of Rape Culture Today, the good ones never spout nonsense statistics again.

For those who stubbornly wish to believe that bitches be lyin’, I can point them at studies. I have before and will again. But in the future, I will first make them chew on this “false” rape allegation statistic until their teeth break.

[error]Massive trigger warning for graphic description of violent sexual assault and horrific treatment by law enforcement[/error]

Now, some of them will spit out that report along with their shattered teeth and flap their bleeding gums at me: “That’s just an anecdote.” And that is true. It is just one data point behind the 2-8%. Since we are Good Skeptics™, we know to look beyond anecdotes.

So let me add in a study of police attitudes toward rape victims. It would seem EEB isn’t alone, then. And if we could factor in the victims who never reported at all because of shit like this, that “false” rape allegation statistic would drop like a rock. Since they don’t, the statistics are skewed, making “false” allegations look more prevalent.

Now add the horrific treatment victims experience from defense attorneys who believe they’re scum. I can tell you from experience this can be worse than the rape. It can be a form of torture, and like torture victims, some rape victims will recant just to make the pain stop. Magically, their allegation is now “false.” But they’re no less raped, and the rapist is no less a sexual predator.

Add in the fact that some rapists have the lock on society, and can crush their victims. If their victims had the courage to report, they’ve soon got their buddies to sweep the crime under the rug. And another several ticks are added in the “false” rape allegation column.

Add in children who receive such a terrifying reaction to their attack that they recant just to protect themselves. More “false” rape allegations.

What about victims who aren’t supported by friends and family because many cultures make it easier to believe the victims are filthy, disgusting, crazy liars rather than people suffering from sexual assault? I think you know what happens to the statistics by now.

Add in the fact that some police departments don’t make a distinction between “reports that are actually, genuinely, provably false” and “reports that can’t be prosecuted due to statue of limitations, lack of evidence, or some other reason, but no doubt the victim was assaulted.” Both numbers end up counting under “false” allegations, although a sizable percentage weren’t false at all.

Add in about a trillion circumstances I haven’t remembered to include. Compare that to the enormous number of rapes and sexual assaults.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

The reality is that false rape allegations are a tiny bit of flotsam on a sea of rape. Even if that 2-8% number were accurate, it would still be far too small to use to discount rape allegations out of hand. The fact that even that tiny percentage is inflated by cases like EEB’s should ensure that every decent human being treat victims’ reports as provisionally true. The idea that most or even many rape allegations are false is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. Those who continue to insist otherwise have forfeited any right to be considered good people.

Dr. Phil’s Rape Culture Goggles

Another day, another clueless dude* asking a dumbshit question about rape.

“If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused” Screen cap courtesy Change.org.

I heaved a weary sigh when I got the Change.Org email inviting me to sign the petition advising Dr. Phil that a) answer’s no, you dumbshit**; b) apologize; and c) air a show that advises viewers not to rape people, no, not even if they’re drunk. Not surprised? I’m having a heart attack from not surprised. Dude sods up topic of sexual assault, news at midnight because who’s gonna stay up for this predictable bullshit?

Thing is, Dr. Phil’s not only a dumbshit, he’s a terribly influential one. Oprah merely mentioning she liked a book would send her fans phoning every bookstore in the country with requests for it five seconds later. This is her pet shrink. I’ve no doubt a large contingent of the country believes rainbows shine out of his arse and that every nugget he excretes is pure genius, because Oprah likes him. He’s not just a symptom of rape culture: he’s one of it’s most powerful enablers.

Forget the fact his staff took that tweet down and blurted to some news agencies that they didn’t really mean it like that. The way the question and hashtag are phrased virtually scream to wanna-be rapists, “Yeah, you tap that passed-out pussy, bro! Go forth with Dr. Phil’s blessing, my randy son.***” They tell victims that they totes deserve it if they’re so foolish as to consume a mildly alcoholic drink when not alone in a locked panic room while wearing a burka. I don’t believe that’s what he and his staff intended – I believe it was, in their minds, “a research post in preparation for a show.” Problem is, Dr. Phil and staff had their rape culture goggles firmly screwed to their eyeballs, and it’s terribly hard to see how awful your action is when you’re wearing those. Say it with me, now: Intent is not magic.****

Alexandra at Feministing did the hard work of explaning most all that was wrong with this short, shitty tweet, under the following headings:

1. The tweet perpetuates the idea that rape is blurry.

2. The question is too simple for the problem.

3. The question assumes all victims are women.

4. The tweet focused on offenders rather than survivors.

5. Dr. Phil is concerned with “can” rather than “should.”

If you’re wondering what’s so wrong about this rape tweet, begin there. Me, I’m going to explore what’s wrong with Dr. Phil’s reaction, and his approach to this “very serious” topic generally.

Let’s have a gander at Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, shall we? Surely, the feed that started the outrage will have a fine apology to offer.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil's Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

Dr. Phil @DrPhil

(18 hours ago) Have you experienced abuse by a stepparent? How was it resolved? Reply to @drphil with #stepparentabuse

(15 hours ago) If you have info about missing 15-year-old Erica Lynn Parsons, please call the Rowan County Sheriff at 701-216-8700. bit.ly/DP0820

(20 August) How young is too young to have “the talk” with your kids – and why? Reply with @drphil #pregnanttween

(20 August) Children learn what they live. | #DrPhil

(20 August) Have you ever felt alienated from one parent by your other parent? Reply to @drphil with #parentalalienation

(20 August)  Have you experienced #parentalalienation? Do you know someone who has used their child against their partner during a divorce?

Or, not.

Website?

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

And 2

And 2

 

Erm, nope. Not a single mention on the front page. Dear, oh dear. And it doesn’t appear there’s a newsy sort o’ thing where we can get the latest word on how Dr. Phil Fucked Up and Intends to Fix It.

Let’s search for the word “rape” and see what happens.

Rape search results, page 1.

Rape search results, page 1.

Deary, deary me. Numero Uno, Be on the Show – Know Someone Accused of Statutory Rape? My. It’s a 404 now, but sounds awfully like it was an invitation to MRAs, “ephebophiles,” and other assorted assholes to whine about how unfair it is that Dude’s in jail – sure, he was 45 and she***** was 13, but she looked older! And she was, like, totally begging for it!

Rape culture goggles again, I’m afraid.

Campus Crisis“? Let’s have a look. “Know the safety tips and warning signs…” Judging from the promo video, it’s all about tips to the victims about how not to get raped. Yay, rape culture! Let’s have a look at these “Top 5 Safety Tips,” then, and see.

Okay: “Never Walk Home Alone, Limit Alcohol, No iPod or ATM at Night, Change Your Route and Routine, Give Someone Your Schedule”…. DingDingDingDingDing! We have a rape culture winner! Ladies (cuz you know they didn’t mean dudes), here’s how not to get raped by a stranger! And it’s all your fault if you get raped trying to have a normal life! And special bonus – here’s five ways to retraumatize yourself if you screw up – remember, no conviction, no rape! Remember, girls: it’s not date rape without proof of a date rape drug being used! Also, if his wee-wee didn’t get forcibly stuck in your vee-vee, you haven’t been raped, so quit whining! Whee, rape culture, woo!

Might I suggest a new set of tips?

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON'T ASSAULT PEOPLE.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON’T ASSAULT PEOPLE. Via A Rape Survivor’s Blog.

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

7. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

9. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

10. Don’t assault people.

Rather more sensible advice, targeting the correct part of the population. Shame Dr. Phil doesn’t seem to know about it.

I can hardly bear to look further, but it’s like a gruesome accident scene. Let’s see what Dr. Phil’s got to say about Steubenville. I think I can already tell by the title – Football, Booze and Bad Behavior just screams “those naughty boys will be boys with some slutty girl” – but bennie of the doubtie, they’re always telling me.

Dr. Phil sez, “Where the hell are the adults in this situation? Why isn’t there supervision? Why do they feel so safe that they can talk about this so openly?” Way to go, Dr. Phil. Let’s parse what you’re saying: People have no responsibility not to rape – it’s up to Mommy and Daddy to stop them cuz boyz will be boyz, amirite? Oh, and the real problem is the fact the boys felt cool bragging about it – rapists naughty children should show some decorum.

Joyous. Dr. Phil’s on the same page as this prosecutor. Gee, I wonder why rape victims are reluctant to report?

And my gosh, those poor friends of the accused in the last few paragraphs! People are being meeean to them, just for standing by rapists their buddies! (Death threats, assuredly, are not okay no matter who they’re aimed at. Neither is erasing the victim and perpetuating rape culture, Dr. Phil.)

Looking through the rape search results, the impression is overwhelming that Dr. Phil is your typical male middle-American asshat. Male rape victims are almost completely erased, as if they couldn’t possibly exist. Rape is pretty much stranger rape, unless it was some dude actually drugging a chick he knows (alcohol doesn’t count), or someone like an evil relative or family friend preying on the kiddies. Date Rape = girl drank too much, boys couldn’t help themselves, guess you’ll know better next time, eh, sweetheart? Rape victims are responsible for protecting themselves against rape, but heaven forfend we tell rapists not to rape! And then he marvels at the number of college men who don’t think rape is rape? Oh, puh-leez.

Dr. Phil: you’re part of the reason people (not just men!) are unclear on the concept. You’re a huge part of the problem.

the-fail-is-strong

So, yeah. Well past time he did something to set that right.

Petition’s here. And do feel free to tweet Dr. Phil. The more people telling him this shit must stop, the better the chances he’ll realize it’s time to remove the rape goggles. Let’s hope he can do better than some skeptics we know.

 

 

*Sometimes dudette, but most often a certified dude.*

*Paraphrase.

***Don’t talk to me about women also being capable of rape – talk to Dr. Phil.

**** Those hard-of-understanding people might also wish to try reading this succinct explanation as to why intent is not, in fact, magic.

*****I know, I know, but in Dr. Phil’s world, there is no xe, only she. And possibly he if the details are salacious and the teacher hot enough.

 

[notice] Hola, new commenters! Please do peruse the comment policy thoroughly before you expend valuable time sharing your thoughts. Or tl;dr: I reserve the right to drop asshats in the trash without a second glance. Bad behavior elsewhere will also get you instabanned here. Not an asshat or someone who’s been kicked out of other places for bad behavior? Then you’re probably cool. Thanks for reading![/notice]

Some Essential Reading on the Sexism in Skepticism Debacle

I’ll tell you something, when I haven’t been wrapped up in my geology research, I’ve been on a roaring boil. I’m fed up with this shit. I’m through with people who think women are objects to do with as they will, and people who think inability to consent is consent (pro tip: it is not, and if you have sex with someone who is unable to consent, you’re a rapist). I’m done with people who think preventing rape and sexual assault is a woman’s job rather than placing the burden and blame where they belong: on the people who assault. I’m tired of the little shitstains who think this is all a bunch of silly drama and do their level best to shut the victims up. I want these disgusting fucks out of my community. They don’t belong in civilized spaces.

No one should have to put up with this outrageous fuckery. And I’m appalled that self-declared rational thinkers are so very terrible at thinking through something as simple as this, and coming to the conclusion that hey, you know, this shit has to stop.

I’m so damned grateful to the women who have come forward and the bloggers who refuse to relinquish the atheism and skepticism communities to the predators.

There’ve been some blog posts over the last few days I want to draw your attention to, in case you missed them. They’re necessary.

In no particular order, then:

Greta Christina’s Blog: Harassment, Rape, and the Difference Between Skepticism and Denialism – UPDATED and  Why We Need to Keep Fighting.

The Digital Cuttlefish: Feelings And Actions.

Pharyngula: I think the SFWA might just be awesome and What? Responsible, intelligent youtubers? INCONCEIVABLE!

Almost Diamonds: What Is Not in Dispute and How Many Do We Lose?

Butterflies and Wheels: Your various cleverations and No, the system does not work.

Lousy Canuck: Sexual harassment accusations in the skeptical and secular communities: a timeline of major events.

Black Skeptics: Predators Beyond Belief.

Skepchick: If you don’t like rape, don’t get raped DUH, The Good Old Days, and Atheism, Sexism and Harassment. The Price of Speaking Up.

Daylight Atheism: Disillusionment and That Was the Wrong Answer, CFI.

 

I’m sure there are many more, but these are most of the posts that have helped clarify my thinking. Hopefully they will be of some use to you as well.

I’ve not yet finished exploding. Stay tuned if you like watching Dana unleash the Smack-o-Matic SuperDeluxe 9000. I’m polishing it as we speak.

We Were Too Forgiving

So you may remember when DJ Grothe accused certain skeptic women of scaring other women away from TAM, and destroyed the goodwill of many in our community. Former supporters ceased supporting TAM, but most of us were willing to give James Randi the benefit of the doubt. Some of us even tried to meet our obligations to TAM, and suffered for it.

And many of you probably remember when Ron Lindsay got up in front of a room full of skeptic women, at a conference for skeptic women, and insulted them thoroughly. Then he took to his official blog and attacked Rebecca Watson rather viciously. Then he failed to apologize. CFI took an inordinate amount of time to issue a statement that amounted to “suck it.” But when Ron finally got round to apologizing, we forgave him, and most of us cautiously supported CFI again, despite the fact the Board had failed to take appropriate action.

And now, this. And this.

unacceptable

It’s too much.

My opinion is only my own, but I believe we have been too generous. We’ve forgiven too easily. And we’ve shielded reputations, failed to name predators, failed to demand substantial change. Our community has suffered for that failure.

We just wanted to be reasonable.

We need to internalize this truth: the reasonable thing to do is to demand abusers and harassers be held accountable for their actions. The reasonable stance is to demand that the leaders of the skeptic community apologize sincerely when they’ve harmed women, and make necessary and substantial changes in addition to that apology. The reasonable request is to require that organizations take measures to appropriately respond to harassment and abuse perpetrated by their employees, or speakers and attendees at their conferences.The reasonable stance is to say that this behavior will not be tolerated within this community, and if you are proven to engage in it, you are no longer welcome in our organizations and at our gatherings. And it is reasonable to expect those who fail to appropriately address misbehavior to step down, or if necessary, for their employers to terminate their employment.

It is reasonable to withdraw support from organizations that fail to live up to these standards.

It is unreasonable to tolerate the status quo, to protect big-name predators because they are big names, or to expect the victims of predation to suffer in silence.

It’s also reasonable to give people and/or organizations a chance to correct their deficiencies (although obviously this does not apply to those whose harassment was egregious, or if they assaulted or abused another person). It may even be reasonable to give them a second chance to get it right.

But it is far from reasonable to give them a third chance.

We cannot be expected to accept excuses, explanations, and lukewarm apologies indefinitely. Nor should we be expected to endure indefinite inaction. We cannot tolerate abusers remaining comfortably anonymous and allow their victims to be gagged.

We cannot continue to support organizations like the JREF and CFI, who have gotten it so egregiously wrong so very many times.

Here is what I believe should happen now:

Women in Secularism 3 should be moved from CFI to Secular Woman, American Atheists, or another national organization that has proven it can be trusted on these issues.

Those who speak, write, or volunteer for JREF and CFI should decline to continue doing so.

Employees of those organizations who are not okay with how these serious issues have been handled should be assisted in finding other employment if they choose.

Those who donate their time and/or money to these organizations should cease all support immediately.

Does this seem harsh? It’s meant to be. We’ve already given them first, second, third, fourth, and umpteenth chances. Despite the good they have done, they have proven they will not adequately deal with harassment and abuse. They’ve made their choice.

It’s time for us to make ours.

To the Boston Bomber(s)

You’re a fucking coward, whoever you are.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you’re a domestic or foreign coward, or a single coward or many. Doesn’t matter. I don’t need your name and your back story to know you’re a fucking coward. Only cowards plant bombs where innocent people and children will be out enjoying a race. Only cowards run away so they don’t have to deal with the aftermath of what they’ve done.*

You’re a pathetic little shit. No decent human being thinks bombing civilians is a great way to achieve their agenda.** I don’t give two tugs on a dead dog’s dick what your agenda is. It could be some liberal end-all-wars-and-free-healthcare-for-all agenda, the same one I root for, and I’d still call you a despicable rat-fucking coward. Blowing up people watching a marathon isn’t the way to go about it. It’s what ineffectual, cowardly losers do. It’s what people without the courage of their convictions and lacking the fortitude to stay the course do.

And you know what? I’m willing to stake cash money you’re religious. I don’t care what your religion is. If you think your god approves of what you did, you’ve either got a sadistic shitlord of a god or you’re completely fucking wrong about its agenda. Being as gods are products of our own minds, I’m pretty sure it’s option A. You’ve created something just as bad as you. Congratulations. You’ve proven you don’t belong with the rest of the human race. We’ll find you, and we’ll excise you like a cancer.

I’m anti-death penalty, but I’ll tell you: that stance is hard to hold when it comes to despicable cowardly little shits like you. But I hope you don’t get put to death when we catch you, try you and convict you. I hope you have to rot away in a tiny concrete room. I hope you spend so many years there that most everyone forgets you. I hope you live to understand how little you matter, how much better off the world is without you. I hope you live until your conscience comes calling, and tears you apart from the inside. There are worse things than death, and I’m not a good enough person to prevent myself from wishing them upon you.

I hope the people you ripped apart with your cowardice get justice. I hope every single one of them haunts you, waking and sleeping, until the end of your days.

I’ll cry for your victims later. Right now, I just want to make you this promise, coward: your life is over as of this moment. We’re coming for you. We can never set this right, but there will be a reckoning.

 

*Suicide bombers are twice the coward, because they don’t stay to face any of the consequences, not even seeing their victims on the evening news and risking that stark moment of humanity when they realize they’ve done the worst possible thing, and will have to live with the blood on their hands for the rest of their pathetic lives.

**No, I’m not letting America off the hook for its drone strikes. That’s cowardice, too.

Hey, Richard Dawkins! Women Aren’t Invisible

So stop treating us like we are.

Really, you only seem to notice women when you can use them to conveniently bludgeon religions. You’re super-concerned about how women are treated in the Muslim world because Islam. You call the Judeo-Christian god a “misogynistic…bully,” because hey, great point of attack, amirite? So women might get the idea you’re on their side, but when it counts, when we’re fighting against sexism and misogyny in the atheist community, you “Dear Muslima” us. When it comes to abortion rights, you’re more for pigs and parasites than you are women. You don’t see us, actual human beings with fundamental rights to bodily autonomy and respect. You see a rhetorical device. And you don’t even seem to be aware you’re doing it. I hope you’re not. I hope you’re not the kind of man who would deliberately erase a woman from the picture. But unintententional or no, that’s precisely what you’re doing.

How the religious right (and, later in pregnancy, Richard Dawkins) view pregnant women. All they can see is a fetus.

How the religious right (and, later in pregnancy, people like Richard Dawkins) view pregnant women. All they can see is a fetus.

Do you know who else erases women? The right-wing anti-abortion fanatics. They’re more thorough about it than you are, but you’re no slouch. I mean, look what happened when a woman tried to correct you on the fetuses-feel-pain thing:

You can see the full tweet stream, with awesome commentary, courtesy of Znikki at Storify. I encourage you to read the whole thing, because it is particularly relevant that Znikki sent actual scientific studies to correct Dawkins’ position and he ignored both her and the studies while responding to her husband.

Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why your eyes would edit out a female so easily. Oh, I’m certain you treat the women you know quite well, and you believe in equality and all that. You’re at least willing to grant a woman control over her body up until that mythical point when a fetus comes to feel pain, which is better than the anti-abortion zealots who banish women from the equation from the get-go, but you still have trouble with seeing women as complete, autonomous human beings. Your gaze slides right past them to the fetus parasitizing them, or the male they’re married to. Perhaps you should stop and ask yourself why that is.

You know what? I had to ask myself the same thing. Yeah, really. Even thought I’m a woman, I had a distressing tendency to fall for sexist tropes and erase my own gender from the picture. Good people brought me up short and forced me to reexamine certain of my assumptions. It wasn’t easy, but it’s easier than treating half the population on planet Earth as if they’re no more than incubators and rhetorical devices.

But I get it. I’m not being facetious: I really do get it. It’s hard. You’re a male, you’ve not got the anatomy necessary to ever be at risk for pregnancy. You don’t spend all day every day trying to avoid becoming a rape statistic. It’s hard to walk in other people’s shoes, I grant you that. So here’s a little thought exercise to help you out:

A fanatical Jain sect gains ground. One of their major beliefs is that killing parasites is murder. That sect controls nearly every aspect of the culture you live in. They support political parties and influence the laws of the land. You can’t escape their influence. And some of their ideas regarding parasites are pretty scary for anyone who could become infested.

  • The most radical ones say you can’t take medicine that would kill or evacuate parasite eggs before they implant.
  • Even the milder Jain sects say you must allow the parasite to mature within you, no matter how burdensome. Some make exceptions for life of the host, but in practice, hosts (that’s possibly you!) have died because doctors refuse to remove the parasites – even though not doing so means both the parasite and the person dies.
  • Many Jains think parasites are a consequence of fun activities such as swimming, and you should just accept the risks. If you don’t want to get a parasite, don’t go swimming. Oh, and refrain from eating most food, too. It’s your own fault if you eat food that hasn’t been completely checked for parasites, and end up having to host one.

Would you allow Jains to force you to carry parasites? Or would you fight them for control over your own body with everything you’ve got?

And how would you feel if a member of your secular community, a leading light, stood up and said, effectively, “Well, the Jains are wrong about forcing you to carry a parasite before it reaches a certain stage of development, but after that, parasites should not be removed. They can feel as much pain as an adult farm animal, therefore they should be allowed to grow.” How would you feel if that leader placed a parasite’s pain above your own, never even considered your pain as part of the equation - when that leader is immune to parasites and will never, ever have to face carrying one himself?

I doubt any of this will really get through to you, Richard. For you, it’s a thought experiment. For me and other uterus-bearing humans, it’s a distinct possibility. And we really don’t need men such as yourself coming along and throwing in with the make-pregnant-humans-invisible crowd, even partially. We’re fighting a hard enough battle without your misguided and flat-out wrong input.

I do hope you eventually take a moment to consider the fact that no other human beings are regularly forced to give up their bodily autonomy to have someone attached to and feeding from them for nine months. If you would refuse to have a person coupled with your body for an extended period of time, even to save their life; if you wouldn’t go into surgery today to donate half your liver or a kidney to an utter stranger who doesn’t even have a self-aware brain yet, much less the same hopes, dreams and plans that you do, why do you think you can blithely tell women to suck it up and give birth to a parasite? Pain is a ridiculous measure to go by. You’ll call me an absolutist, and think yourself superior for being otherwise, but I’m drawing the consequential line in a different place than you. I’m drawing it where the parasite is no longer physically attached. Then we can call it a baby. Then we can say that its life has equal worth, and that it must be cared for, if not by the birth mother then by someone else. Before that, all that matters is the person carrying it. That person can no longer be erased. Not by religious fanatics, not by social conservatives, and certainly not by you.

The whole picture is quite different, isn't it?

The whole picture is quite different, isn’t it?

Image badly modified by moi. Original here. Look, I’m no artist, m’kay?

Before you comment, read the policy. Know it. Respect it. Be aware I haven’t any patience with people who can’t see women, so if your comment erases women from the equation, elides important details, or in general annoys me, you won’t get through. There are some things not up for debate. Women’s status as full human beings is one of those.

Interesting Times II

Here’s the news we’ve all been waiting for: the results of the investigation. Huzzah! After running their cherry-picked* interview statements past Legal and HR, the most that management could manage was a counseling notice for insubordination. As far as punishments go, it’s like a slap on the back of the hand and a giggled, “You naughty girl, stahp!” I’m wondering if that’s because Legal said something like, “WTF? Are you trying to get sued for millions?”

I’m vastly amused. Disappointed, but amused.

Where do we go from here? Well, my two ethics complaints (one for my manager’s legally questionable termination, and one for my legally-questionable suspension) are still in play. They have a counseling notice I refused to sign (politely! Wouldn’t want them to think I was being insubordinate or anything!). I have a disciplinary action against me that gets the union’s foot in the door for a grievance. What they seem to be doing to me is trying to stretch a tripwire across my path, since shutting me up has proved to be such a spectacular failure. What I’m doing is hopping right over it with a grin and a whistle. What do they have? A very weak sauce. What do I have? A heaping helping of wasabi – a documented pattern of behavior that looks for all the world like retaliation. Oh, honey.

I have also got a hostile work environment. I feel ganged up on and targeted. I have coworkers who are either terrified or despairing – but after what happened to me and my manager, the terror and despair have begun to turn into a righteous outrage. People are tired of living in fear. They’re uniting to make things better. And it is beautiful.

Still. It should never have come to this.

Under the microscope, I shall continue on my quest to improve working conditions, with my union and my co-workers at my side. We won’t be stopped.

Meanwhile, my manager has only just begun to sue.

Stay tuned.

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.

*I say this because witnesses who were standing right there who happened to be my peers were, oddly enough, never interviewed. One of them is my friend and a union steward, and lo, she was never called upon. Interesting coinky-dink, that, and leads to the strong impression that this investigation may have failed to meet the minimal qualifications for totally unbiased. Color me shocked.

Interesting Times

So Friday was a bit of a strange day. It started with management splitting up my former manager’s team and parceling us out other managers. It continued with me filing an ethics complaint because of my concerns over the legality of his firing. It concluded with them suspending me with pay “pending investigation.” Investigating what? They wouldn’t say. Not to me, and not to the union steward. Why did they suspend me, then? They said they were investigating to find that out. True fucking story. What they appeared to be doing is getting me out of the way while they attempted to find something they could use to intimidate me into silence. That’s certainly how it seemed.

That impression intensified Monday, when they tried to intimidate me with some pretty weak tea. Alas for them, witnesses witnessed, and they have nothing. They ended up returning me to duty after a brief attempt at silencing me about the whole affair, which I nixed by pointing out that such attempt is very possibly illegal and I would have to seek advice, after which the request changed from silence to “discretion” with a quickness. They’re still “investigating.” I have no way to be certain, but it looks very much like a spirited attempt at retaliation, boys and girls. This appearance is creating what we in the business call “a hostile work environment.” This could lead to Very Interesting Times, indeed. I’m certainly finding them fascinating so far.

I’m not ready to tell the whole story just yet. I have certain avenues I’m pursuing, and shall hold my tongue publicly until I have professional legal advice. I will, however, make the observation that both my manager and myself found our jobs threatened or ended just after filing ethics complaints. I believe that fact will prove to be of some interest to various parties going forward.

Thank you, those of you who forwarded the names of attorneys. That will be very helpful to both my former manager and myself, and possibly others.

A few things I want to make sure are crystal clear:

1. I don’t want you to worry about me (this means you, Mom and Dad!).

2. Please don’t die of curiosity. I know this is all rather vague, but depending on certain outcomes, it may not be vague for long.

3. I’m fine. Seriously, fine. I was prepared for this eventuality, and I have time now to prepare even further. So see #1

I may at some point need to hold out the tip jar. You’re under no obligation to fill it if so, but anyone who can help when that time comes will have my undying gratitude and possibly swag. I’ll do me best to make it worth your while. And I beg your patience in advance, because there may be some days when I have to neglect the blog in favor of working on this stuff. Hopefully, it won’t last long.

Wish me luck, my darlings.

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.

Sign to Save Amina

So here’s a thing that shouldn’t be happening: a young woman posts a picture of herself topless with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has been kidnapped “for her own good” and condemned to death by a cleric who thinks boobs and defiance are terrible things to display.

There is a petition here for those who would like to inform her government that neither of these things are at all acceptable. International pressure may help protect and save her from harm.

Also, April 4th will be the International Day to Defend Amina. Maryam Namazie has many excellent suggestions for doing so.

Let’s help make this shit stop.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.

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.