Creeped Out: the Price of Being a Woman in Public

Yesterday was Pokémon Go Community Day. For those of you who don’t play the game, that’s a day when  a specific Pokémon appears a lot during a three hour period, often in a special colour as well and with an exclusive attack. In short, a day when we meet our friends and spend the day together, catching Pokémon and then having good food and fun together. I went with them for part of the time (I was out for a full two hours, I’m so happy and proud) and quite at the start, the following happened:

I was standing there with my two phones (yes, completely normal for Pokémon players as well), when some random dude approached me:

“Young lady, you’re pretty backwards, even I am more advanced in my usage than you!”

Now, first of all, no strange man in such a situation calls a 40 years old woman “young lady” as a compliment. He was berating me and trying to remind me of my place. Second: I have no clue what he was even getting at. He had obviously no clue what I was doing, but of course thought that he was entitled to explain it to me. I looked up from my phones:

“Excuse me?”

He continued:

“Yes, you gotta tell your phone what to do don’t you know…”

At this point I gasp interrupted him:

“Could you please leave me alone?”

Of course he reacted like any old white guy reacts when being told to leave a woman alone, he started to rant:

“I’m entitled to have an opinion! Am I no longer entitled to have an opinion or what?”

I answered that yes, he’s entitled to have an opinion, he’s just not entitled to my company, so he needs to leave me alone. He repeated something about this being a free country and so on and grumbling left me alone. This happened because now my friends and family, who’d been standing all over the place catching their own Pokémon had by now gathered around me to support me. We’re all pretty sure that this would have gone very differently if I’d been on my own.

I’m pretty sure all women here have had similar experiences. Such harassment has nothing to do with “looks” since I’m a fat middle aged lady. It has nothing to do with “being helpful”, because I obviously didn’t need or want any help. It’s got to do with male entitlement to the public sphere, where women are only allowed on condition of putting up with such shit. And it also shows how this entitlement is framed in terms of human rights and especially the ever favourite “freedom of speech”. That guy thought it was his right to keep bothering and lecturing me, while me telling him to get lost was akin to China mowing down protestors with tanks or something.

YouTube Video: Lawrence Krauss, Jeffrey Epstein, and Firing Your Heroes into the Sun

Yup, losing heroes is nothing new to me personally. Everybody has flaws of course, but Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and many other “Skeptics” and “Rationalists” have really quickly sailed past the “Cape of Flawed Human” through the “Straits of Doubling Down” right into the “Sea of Shitlords” where they finally found their stable and comfortable niche.

What really gets me about the Epstein case specifically – and Rebecca alludes to it in the video, although probably coincidentally – is the sheer arrogance. He had a private jet, he could travel wherever and whenever he wanted for his sexcapades, so he could travel to countries with a lower age of consent. It would still be shitty behavior, but he would avoid doing something blatantly illegal (if he also avoided forcible rape that is). But, as is typical for such rich privileged assholes, he just did what he did in the USA and he was sure he will get away with it because he is rich.

That is the part that makes me angry.

The part that makes me sad is that he did get away with it. Even if he goes to prison now, it is too late and even a life sentence will be thus too short.

Teacher’s Corner: The Girl who Cried Wolf

We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, which, in one version or the other is something adults tell children to warn them about the danger of lying or making up emergencies when there are none. The adults never bother to sit down and think about how fucked up the story and its message are, because if they did, they’d tell it to adults to warn about a different danger.

The boy who cried wolf is sent out to herd life stock, but children aren’t meant to be alone al day, they need company, they need intellectual stimulation, so the kid makes up stories to get people to pay attention to him. When he does so repeatedly, none of the adults asks “but why does he keep calling us, what does he actually need?” I know, the story is supposed to play in olden times when people didn’t give a fuck about the needs of children, but it’s told by adults today so I think the criticism is fair.

Instead, the adults decide to no longer pay attention to the kid at all, with the catastrophic result that we all know, and then the blame is put on the kid and not the adults who failed to keep him safe. This thinking has consequences, and it can have catastrophic consequences here and now. Slight CN for predatory behaviour.

Some kids at our school live in group homes. On Friday, those kids came to us and told us that on their way to school, three men in a red car had bothered them and talked to them and that they were afraid, with one of the girls being in tears. I called the group home to inform them about the incident and make sure the kids would be picked up after school so they were safe. The head of the home asked me which kids were affected and I told him the names, randomly starting with L. “Oh, you know”, he said, “we’re having some difficulties with L right now”. Man, do I know? I see L every day, I know she’s got her issues. “She likes to make up stories”. “I know”, I said, “but H, B and A are telling the same story.”

That was enough to convince him and they sent somebody to pick up the kids. Now imagine a world that was the exact same, except that H, B and A were with their families. In which L had been the only child those men in the car bothered. A world in which her story had been treated as “the girl who cried wolf” and they had left her alone without protection. Because she’s a kid who is in a difficult situation, who likes to make herself seem more important by making up stories.

So, dear adults, here’s the real morale of the story: When a child says they’re in danger, you run. If a child has made up stories about danger 99 times, you still run when they cry danger the 100th time. And then you sit the fuck down and think long and hard about why the kid is making up stories and you talk to the kid and try to find a way for them to deal with their issues that does not result in fake alarms. You do NOT handwave away a report about predatory men because of who made the report. If you want to talk to children about why making false alarms is bad, tell them that they’re wasting the time of the rescue services and that this may be dangerous to somebody else who is in real danger. The story about the boy who cried wolf is a story about adults failing their duty to keep children safe, so if you want to keep telling it, tell it to each other.

Remember Montreal

As chigau pointed out, it’s been 29 years since the École polytechnique massacre in Montreal, yet the story is all too common almost 30 years later. A white man who thought the world owed him a certain place went out to kill women, because he thought they were taking what was rightfully his, denying him his due.

While the event shocked not only the Canadian public, the ideology that led to it is far from eradicated. From Elliot Rogers over the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High to Alek Minassian killing women in Toronto, the pattern of entitlement and violence continues. And these are only the cases that make headlines, the cases where the victims were more or less randomly chosen. It doesn#t even get into the thousands of cases where men kill their (ex) partners or just a woman they hardly knew for turning them down.

And whenever these cases happen, the discussion is the same: mental illness is blamed*, women themselves are blamed. It’s a well practised dance around the violent misogynist mass murderer in the room.

This is why on this day of all, I have no moment of silence, but loud anger. For all of our sisters who have died and who will still die at the hands of men who think they are owed the world, and at the words of those who always have more empathy for the murderer than his victim.

 

*Before somebody feels the need to mention that X, Y, and Z had a history of mental illness, spare yourselves the time, I’ve got none for that discussion. While mental illness may make it easier for those men to turn to more extreme actions, it didn’t instil a hateful ideology into them and no mental illness ever forged a gun.

Teacher’s Corner: Burn the whole fucking system to the ground

Some days you just can’t even. You realise that the so called “free world” is so utterly cruel that you want to cry. Instead, you try to mitigate the harm it is causing.

One of the most marginalised groups in Europe are probably the Roma people. Even though they were just as prosecuted by the Nazis as the Jews were, this is apparently no reason to protect them today. The are still prosecuted, suffer pogroms and basically nobody cares. They have no future in their “home countries” and when they migrate, they suffer even more discrimination. For example, they cannot seek asylum in Germany, because, well, reasons I guess, and since they are often from non European Union countries, they cannot simply settle either, or get any welfare payments, except for the basic child subsidy.

We have a couple of Roma kids, and many of them live in absolute poverty. They live in homeless shelters, they live in run down houses. It is often difficult to talk to the parents, because we need an interpreter (thankfully there is a charity that works with us). therefore we often don’t even know what the problem is. One kid only came to school sporadically. She’s 11 years old, has lived in at least three different countries, can hardly read or write and is often sick.

Well, it’s not that the family didn’t want to send her to school, they send her whenever they have money for the bus. Oh, and they don’t have health insurance, so they cannot send her to the doctor, but if she feels ill it’s probably, because they have no food left. But if she fails in school, leaves without any qualification, marries young and has many children, it will of course be blamed on their culture. You know, because “those people” are like that.

Now that we know we can try to mitigate the effects. Get her a bus ticket, ask her if she’s had breakfast. The bus ticket is paid by a charity, the breakfast is something we just do among us teachers. Even if we can help her, what a poverty of humanism does this reveal in one of the richest countries on earth?

Teacher’s Corner: Come for the stress, stay for the misogyny!

It’s an open secret that female teachers often have a harder time than male teachers*. Not because we’re worse teachers, but because society tells kids, especially those assigned male that men have to be respected and women not so much. This is especially obvious when there are serious clashes, like it happened today.

As usually, the matter at hand was pretty unimportant. During class one boy put a handkerchief in front of his mouth, like the bad guy in  western. I told him to put that thing away and that if I saw it again that day I’d confiscate it. As the bell rang for recess, he had that thing in front of his mouth again and I told him to hand it over, which he did. But the hanky wasn’t his, but a classmate’s, who now protested loudly. Now, since he knew what would happen if I saw that thing again and still lent it to his classmate, I saw no reason to hand it back there and then. I told him he could pick it up after the 6th lesson, as it is usual in our school when we confiscate things. I had momentarily forgotten that they only had 5 lessons that day, but before I could correct myself, he yelled “are you fucking kidding me?”

I told him that I had just been about to correct myself, but for that disrespectful yelling, I would stand by lesson 6. Now, many of our students have problems with the difference between owning something and possessing something and the right to use something. They keep thinking that us taking stuff away from them for a defined period of time is theft (sadly many parents think the same). So the kid tried to threaten me with calling his mum who would pick it up for him! I called his bluff and invited him to do so. After lesson 6, because then I would have time to talk to his mum.

At that point he yelled the German equivalent of “go fuck yourself, bitch!” Well, he got part of what he asked for, I called his mum and told her to pick him up because he could no longer participate in school that day. I still have the handkerchief.

What was kind of surprising was my internal reaction. I’m used to a lot. Again, I work with kids with many issues in a neighbourhood with many social problems and I don’t take their shit personal. If they yell at me I usually shrug my shoulders, wait until they calm down, tell them about the consequences and move on. And I’m also not angry with that boy. He actually apologised and I accepted it, but for 5 minutes, I was completely shaken. Not because a kid had yelled at me. Or insulted me. But because for those words that cause a gut reaction in me and many other women, because we know that they are so often accompanied with violence. Because they are meant to put us into our place, to make us afraid. Just for a moment he succeeded. And there are no equivalent words that would do that to a man.

 

*Exceptions apply. I once had a male colleague who had serious problems with a class with whom I went along fine. One of the boys in his late adolescence chose that particular colleague to have his dominance fights with.

Thank goodness he found the culprit!

Pope Francis

Source: Wikimedia

Remember when “liberals” praised Pope Francis for being so progressive? Our lovely progressive Pope had to deal with some nasty issues like priests massively raping kids for decades and of course he promised to do whatever he can. So you’ll be glad to hear that he’s found the culprit.

The Devil.

Yes, you heard right. The Devil. The literal horns and hooves devil, who did it to undermine the Roman Catholic Church.  Oh, wait, did you think that the abused children were the victims here? You could not be more wrong! The real victim here is the church.

What an elegant way to absolve your horrible abusive institution from all the moral blame, especially those poor priest who were obviously under satanic influence.

Teacher’s Corner: I hate parents

Obligatory #not all parents, but if you’re one of those I don’t hate, we probably hate the same people.

I basically have two types of special needs kids: kids with learning difficulties and kids with socio-emotional difficulties. The later group can basically be divided into three groups: kids whose issues stem from their environment and past, kids whose issues are medical (ADHS, autism spectrum, …) and both. Which is why I hate parents.

With this new system of inclusive teaching we can do a lot for these kids. We can give them leeway in a way that wasn’t possible, often with me acting as a calming influence, taking them out of the context that is causing the conflict, spending the time somewhere else. Some kids write their tests alone with me in a room because for them it’s important to keep talking. That way they don’t disturb their classmates and don’t have to waste their energy on keeping quiet.

Those things are great, but they are only ONE part of a complex issue. I am not a psychiatrist, I cannot prescribe drugs. I’m not a therapist, I cannot do behavioural therapies or talk therapies or whatever*. And most importantly, I cannot change their homes. Some parents will simply refuse to see how big their kid’s issues are. We’ve got one mother who is convinced that her son is a little genius. He scored 122 points in one subtest of an IQ test! Sure, he refused the parts where he was expecting to perform poorly, and even if you believe in IQ tests, 122 isn’t exactly a genius, especially not when it’s that one peak. She therefore firmly believes that her son isn’t actually a kid with the emotional development of a three year old who is still suffering from the abuse that happened to him as a three year old. Her son is just way too smart for us and plays with us. She also believes that she can tell us how to run the school. Charming.

Another mother’s hobby is to threaten the teacher, because her darling innocent boy whom I saw chasing another kid through the school building and had to physically prevent from hurting that kid badly is being unfairly picked on.

And then there are the ones who simply don’t care. You implement checklists, systems with rewards, you write into their homework notebooks like every day and they will simply ignore it. The kid hasn’t had a pen to write with for 3 weeks? Who cares?**

All of this makes me very angry. Not because it’s exhausting to deal with those kids. It is, but I get paid for it and in the afternoon I go home. I’m angry because when those kids go home nothing has changed for them. Their chances are getting smaller with every day they’re not getting the support they need and that their parents are denying them, and our hands are bound because without the parents we can’t even get the school psychologist to talk to the kid. And it makes me even more angry when I see how their peers are doing who are getting that support. Surprisingly, often those kids do best who are in group homes because their responsible adults can deal with all of that without having their own lives and decisions challenged. I just wished that parents would leave their own vanity at the door and work for the good of their kids as well.

*Though a big part is actually listening.

 

**Yes, I know many parents in our school are poor. But just giving the kid a bottle of water to drink instead of a soda would both free enough money for a dozen pens a month and do the kid some good.

10 Plants: Bulldozed To Death.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

In this June 17, 2015, file photo, marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. | Photo: AP Photo / Jim Mone.

That’s right: Confronted with a small-scale illicit marijuana grow on public land, the [Pennsylvania] State Police deployed a helicopter and the on-scene bulldozer and managed to kill their target. But that’s not how the cops tried to spin it.

Brought to you with utter disgust and contempt, contempt for fucking cops, who seem to be good for only one thing: murder. Contempt for the puritanical, colonial bullshit which is a complete blight on Amerikkan society.

You can read all the sordid details here.

I’d Prefer Abe Simpson…

The 72 year old Tiny Tyrant finally went there: “Get offa my lawn!” Just for the record, if there were desperate, frightened people standing on my lawn, I would do whatever I could to help them.

Source. You can see other choice responses at RawStory.

Alternative Bullshit.

Fool’s World Map: ‘Stultorum Infinitus est Nemerus’ G201:1/43. Source.

I was reading a post at Pharyngula about the “Intellectual Dark Web” idiots, and came to an abrupt halt over these sentences:

There is also an irritating but genuine grain of truth deep beneath the layers of whining. Campus leftists and their allies in the media are often no more open to alternative perspectives than the New Republic white male elite of two decades ago; they can behave badly too.

This was my comment in response:

I came to a screeching halt in front of this disgusting apologia. The rest isn’t worth my time. This is utter bullshit, there’s no “irritating, genuine grain of truth” there at all. “Alternative Views” is nuspeak for the same old evil bigotry and discrimination that people keep trying to resurrect. Sticking an “alt” in front of these old chestnuts doesn’t change a fucking thing. I can’t even say just how much I’ve come to loathe the word alternate, thanks to all the immoral, evil, toxic assholes embracing it, as if it heralded new ideas. All the whining is because people recognize their crap for what it is, and they aren’t interested in hearing it, or providing a venue for it. It’s about damned time, too.

Let them fucking whine, but don’t be trying to sell their shit as some sterling truth that’s truly new. Farrell should be smacked for writing such idiocy.

This is an ask, an ask to consider their brave, “new” views, which are exactly the same as the very old views, which place almost all people firmly in the inferior camp for one reason or another. It’s pushing the colonial mindset with its genocidal bigotry, the same old fucking bullshit people have been fighting against for much of history. There are always more smug bigots than there are thinking, accepting people, because bigotry is easy. We all live within frameworks of institutional and systemic racism of some sort, here in Ustates, it is the framework, and has been from the start. Just getting some people to even see that framework is a serious, brain-breaking chore. That framework makes it very easy to slide into bigotry, it’s a very comfortable fit for many people, and some of them just insist on justifying their “alternative, radical” views. Those views are not alt-anything, they are as old as the hills, and firmly status quo mainstream. They are not radical, they stink of the banality of evil.

These are people who are waving the Persecution Banner, while pulling down obscene amounts of money, most of it from bigoted fans who are stuffed full of aggrieved entitlement. These are people who are so damn desperate for power, they will say anything, and do anything for a chance at real power. I suspect at least some of them are laughing their arses off on the way to the bank every month, but this does not make them less harmful. They embrace obscurantism while smiling and claiming “science” backs them up. They want to be seen as great leaders, carrying the one and only torch of knowledge, only they understand enlightenment, and that enlightenment is in silencing and oppressing those deemed inferior, dismissing the hordes of the great unwashed with a faint wave of a hand. Bring up the days of the gentry to them, and you’d no doubt hear a chorus of wistful sighs.

It’s all bullshit. It’s not even alternative bullshit, just the same old centuries long song. There is not one alternate thing about it, not one truly new view, not even a hint of originality. These are people who long for the bad old days, and cry at every opportunity because they can’t have that.

Bullshit. Piles and piles of bullshit.