Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Movie Review: The Woman

I’m not a big gore and horror film watcher, which you might find surprising because I write a lot of darkly disturbing fiction. But I find often in movies, they’re going for the shock factor and splatter more gore than an abattoir. They’re disgusting but not necessarily penetrating, nor disturbing because of the story they tell. Maybe this is why zombies have become so popular. You can heap on the gore, entrails and gnashing of human flesh without much conscience. After all, they’re just undead, mindless animals and the real world has horrors greater than a shambling (or even fast running) zombie.

murder, feral people, cannabalisim, horror, Lucky McKee

Pollyanna McIntosh stars in the disturbing movie, The Woman

When I watched The Woman directed by Lucky McKee, written by horror writer Jack Ketchum, and McKee, I didn’t even know it was horror. I’d borrowed some movies from my neighbor and was just clicking through the unfamiliar ones. Right away I’m thrust into a situation that’s not what I’d call your every day world. Sure it looks like it. Streams, woods and sun filtered through the leaves. Except there’s a filthy feral woman, in tattered rags. These rags cover the essentials and she carries a knife so you know she’s been around civilization at some point.

The official site has the following description of the film: Family man and lawyer Christoper Cleek (Sean Bridgers) must do what he can to protect his family when he comes into contact with a feral woman (Pollyana McIntosh) living in the woods near his isolated country home. Through a series of harrowing encounters Cleek and his family quickly discover there is more to this woman than anyone would suspect and that sometimes the devil wears a handsome face.

This is actually an intentionally misleading write-up. I’ll be giving spoilers so if you want to watch this without prejudice skip to the last paragraph. From the beginning you see this very smiley family man but there is something wrong with the family. At the jarring switch from feral country scene to garden party you see a girl who ignores the boys flirting with her and looks back at another man. You see a man whose subservient wife gets him his drinks. His wife seems timid, his daughter cowed. But you don’t know the situation yet. As the story progresses you get the sense that there is something extremely wrong, yet Cleek seems a reasonable guy who loves his three children, who helps people out and believes in democratic decision making in his family. That is, until they disagree with him. When he goes hunting he finds the feral woman and decides to bag her.

While one could think he wants to help and humanize her his first thought is to keep her captive and of

The Woman, horror, abuse,

Zach Rand as the emotionally broken Brian Cleek

course chain her, hand and foot. Well, we’ve been shown she is an animal and will kill anything to survive…anything. But never is there any thought to calling some city service to help this injured and degenerate being. Cleek’s methods of cleaning her are already brutal, cold and suspect and when his wife questions keeping her he casually backhands her. Intimations of incest are also evident and his son shows a cauterised emotional state that reflects the father’s ideals. There are dogs locked away in the barn, never let out and a growing sense that even the son is damaged.

The males become obsessed with the feral woman. She’s beaten, tortured and raped, and she is unrepentantly hostile. Pollyanna McIntosh’s portrayal is stunning. She is so animalistic that the best acted zombie cannot compare. But she is a thinking intelligent if wild human in this film Her acting was all the more stunning because the actor/model is stunning in real life.

The movie slowly, horrifically spirals into more nastiness, with reveals of just how deep the depravity really goes. The depravity isn’t the feral woman, it is of course the smiling, reasonable Cleek who is really a subjugator of women, a rapist, and more depraved than a beast could ever be. The movie ends with mayhem, murder and some gore. One reviewer said they would have liked it bloodier but I think this made it more realistic.

There were a few things that didn’t ring quite true for me. The feral woman has bangs and if she was cutting her own hair with a knife they should have been more jagged. Otherwise McIntosh is more than convincing as uncivilized. Sean Bridgers as the father is convincing except possibly at the end when a few lines rang as untrue. The concerned school teacher is naively trying to help in the disastrous situation and when she is victimized I felt she gave in too easily and did not fight back when it was her life about to end.

Overall, this was a truly disturbing film that piled one horror on another. There is a comeuppance at the end for those who are the perpetrators and those too weak to stand up to them. This movie caused some outbursts and outrage at the Sundance Festival. But then, that is the sign of a horror film doing what it should. Often they’re filled with gratuitous violence and gore, and far too many women always the victims. The Woman turned the tables on that trope though it starts out that way. It definitely makes you think and shudder.  Yes, there was a bit of gratuitous violence and blood but actually fairly restrained. I’d give it seven blood splats out of ten.

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The World’s Oldest Profession

prostitute, courtesan, hooker, prostitution, Greek, music

Wiki Commons: courtesan and musician w/client

It’s debatable as the oldest profession, but it’s also true that prostitution has been around for a very very long time. And undoubtedly there were probably forms of prostitution going back to Babylonian times. While there are Sumerian and Mesopotamian texts referring to prostitutes there is still great debate as to whether there were sacred prostitutes who gave themselves away for coin at various temples. There are many references to Aphrodite, Ishtar and Inanna, and Herodotus writes about the temple prostitutes for some of these goddesses, but some scholars debate the veracity of his words.

One thing is certain; as long as we have had men and women, there has been a need or a want for sex. And the trade has been plied in various cultures and various ways for millennia. The ancient Greeks differentiated between courtesans, concubines and wives: “we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to provide for our daily needs, and our spouses to give us legitimate children and to be the faithful guardians of our home.” (Pseudo-Demosthenes) As with this comment it is obvious there were different classes of prostitutes. Pornai were often owned by pimps and therefore either slaves or indentured servants. Then there were hetaera, those we would associate with mistresses or courtesans. They didn’t sell to various customers but would have had a select clientele.

The hetaera could manage their own affairs, while the pornai would have possibly been dancers, musicians and/or women who had to sell themselves to survive because they had no pater familias to protect them. The world of the Greeks was not an easy place for a woman and for her to do anything she needed the protection of a man, unless she was of the select few who could run businesses and own property without a man’s permission (Vestal Virgins were one group in Roman times). Young girls and boys could also have been prostitutes, sold into it or born into it, and the world and culture were different then.

But has it changed much in the world today? Prostitutes who are “owned” by pimps are often still on the lower rung of the ladder, whereas call girls and courtesans rate higher, work with select clients and don’t have to be on the street. There are many people who get into prostitution because they are destitute, on drugs or suffered an abusive childhood (often including sexual assault). But there are some who prefer it, because, like the sacred prostitutes of long ago (some of them), they feel they are therapists, they like it or they enjoy the rewards they can reap, though like any job, work is work. There are those forced into it as child prostitutes. No one, no matter their age or gender should ever be forced to give or sell sex.

But should it be legalized? Yes. To do so would get it off of the streets…mostly (more on this in a minute). Sex workers could be certified, checked for diseases, housed in government brothels (just like cigarettes and alcohol, I can’t see how the government has passed up this opportunity for another vice tax), protected from pimps and dangerous johns. Those on the street would more likely be those underage and the police could haul them and the johns in for consorting with minors. It would literally clean up the streets and keep almost everyone else safer. Of course, there is always a grey area and the laws would have to be explicit as to how the prostitution would look, including laws about minors, people not in control of their faculties (drug addicts) and what is okay. But it can be done and places like Amsterdam and Nevada prove it.

To let outmoded religious beliefs of a few affect the sex trade is yet another case of forcing one’s morality on another. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, then it should be allowed. Let adults be adults and decide for themselves. And let’s do more to protect the numerous women out there so that they’re less likely to end up as a corpse in the woods or on Picton’s pig farm. Keeping prostitution illegal only hurts those who are in the trade and doesn’t even give them a better way out.

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Prostitution Isn’t Going Away

This week an Ontario court struck down a law that had made certain aspects of prostitution illegal, citing that it jeopardized the safety of the prostitutes by forcing them onto the street. (I’m paraphrasing.)  There are many laws about prostitution. In Canada it’s not illegal to be a prostitute but depending on where you are it could be illegal to sell sex, buy sex, live off the avails of prostitution or run a common bawdy house (known as brothel). I think pimping falls under human trafficking laws.

Harper’s government may fight this change because of right-wing religious views, but when it comes down to it, and with William Picton torturing and murdering various sex trade workers, there is strong evidence that sex trade worker lives are jeopardized by these laws. The arguments on both sides have already begun and will never end.

There are those that say that these changes open the doors for pimps and human trafficking. However, I would think there are already explicit laws about trafficking other humans that makes pimping illegal. Others argue that many women are forced into the sex trade, and at an early age, and this is true. However, the laws do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to be a prostitute anyways.

The moment that people started civilizing themselves (and I use the term loosely) by making laws and rules for living in communities, was the moment prostitution began because men could not just take what they wanted. I should point out that various cultures and religions today still turn a blind eye to men taking what they want even if it’s other people’s rights and livelihoods. And as long as we have men on this planet we are going to have prostitution. That means forever.

No matter how one makes laws against this aspect or that of prostitution, or shames the johns or imprisons the sex trade workers, it’s still going to continue. The more laws against it, the more it will be driven underground, but never away. I have a problem with this, like many aspects of laws that are meant to not keep people safe from each other but limit a person’s rights.

What harm would there be if prostitution and buying it was legal? Just think, the government could make money off of it, like it does with cigarettes, and alcohol (also once outlawed). Women could work in brothels or establishments where there was protection from murderer and other abusers of people. The workers could have regular health inspections, as well as the establishment so that the johns were likewise safe and the women were healthy (I use women here as the most common sex trade worker but understand that this can affect men as well). Prices could be controlled. Pimps would be eliminated. Sex on the streets, including the used condoms, and the violence would be lessened. And if a prostitute was found on the street, she’d probably be underage, unhealthy, addicted or something else that would identify quicker a solution for helping.

Prostitution exists and men use it. Some are single, some are married. The ways a person cheats won’t go away if there are laws against it. Legalizing prostitution would protect everyone better and the money the government made through licensing could go back into the system for education, health, addictions programs and other ways to get women out of the trade who are there more by circumstance and less by choice. And courts and prisons could be used for the true crimes.

This is such as win-win situation that I cannot understand why countries don’t implement it, except because of religious views. And the problem with someone’s religious view is that it’s not everyone’s. False morals just don’t make sense to me and if anything this creates a system where resources are used needlessly in the wrong direction, and the government can’t make statements about having wars on crime, even when the crime rate is dropping. Hype for using money where it could be used better elsewhere? Absolutely.

I’m hoping that this case in Ontario might be the first step towards a saner look at prostitution, the laws and the rights of the people involved. Because when it gets down to the nitty gritty, everyone is entitled to live their life how they wish as long as they do not hurt others.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/09/28/prostitution-law028.html

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Best Careers For Criminals

Our world has gone topsy turvy, and perhaps it’s always been this way. There certainly have always been people who used corruption, selfishness, exploitation and amoral behavior to further themselves at the expense of others. These people were usually kept in check, or at least the wholesale rampant anarchy was, so that there is a semblance of society, rules and laws by which the majority abides. And it tends to make living a happier and better experience.

Sometimes we get too many laws, and bylaws and requirements and procedures that muddy our lives in bureaucratic paperwork and hoop. But even so,  we usually know who the good guys are. Then again, if you look at the news we’ve been getting of late it might be hard to tell as the lines blur. I’ve already talked about how the good police and RCMP have had their name tarnished by the criminal, unthinking or untrained actions of other members of these forces. Perhaps, because I live in BC I hear more about this province but the police and RCMP here seem to be particularly bad, tasering people to death, shooting them in the back of the head kicking a guy who is complying (the latest from Victoria), or beating and robbing innocent people. We have hit an age of media that lets these events be recorded more frequently, therefore bringing what may once have been hidden to the attention of the common citizen.

So that’s one career for a criminal. If you like pushing people around, abusing power and generally getting away with murder, become a cop and you can avoid the usual criminal prosecution and just get suspension with pay, a desk job, or a worse, dismissed from your job. But you won’t end up in jail. I wonder if these police forces actually understand how much they’re hurting their own image by past denials and cover-ups. Doesn’t say much against corruption, does it?

Then of course there is the Catholic church. If you’re a pedophile, or some other form of sexual abuser, it’s the best place to be. Doesn’t really matter if you believe. After all, the church has gone through a few evolutions, fabrications and resurrections in its 2000 year history. Some of those evolutions involved banning sex in all sorts of forms by the 12th century and making it wrong for a priest to be married to a woman. Of course, we can try to negate the fact that as animals and humans there is a natural drive to procreate, or what the Church really hates, fornicate.

So in the really sensible repression of sexuality, the Church has helped create its own demons. Who needs hell when the Church houses it within its own walls? First Nations children taken from their homes and raised in residential schools often run by a priest and abused different ways. Choir boys and girls sexually abused. Other children and young teens molested in schools or other places. And one sexual pervert after another, still held in the comforting arms of the Catholic church, protected, hidden and defended. Priests moved from one place to another with not word from the Church to warn parents. No, far better to hide it and then pretend it never happened.

The latest in a string of priestly molesters so long it would probably encircle the globe (if we even knew all the names which you can bet we don’t) is Father Murphy alleged to have sexually abused some 200 boys and the church under Cardinal Ratzinger, the now Pope Benedict, just covered it up. When the religious leader of a very powerful and rich institution helps cover this up you know that the disease that eats at the heart of the Catholic church is deep and possibly irreparable. But then they are only human; conniving, lying, deviant, criminally human.

If I was the antiChrist or Satan, you know where I’d go? Not some dark den of Goths, not even into a lawyers’ enclave. No I would go straight to the church. Who would notice amongst that pack of miscreants. And in fact if I needed an army of darkness, well I could certainly pick the best from the Church’s own clergy.

Sad, isn’t it, that these two institutions (law and faith) don’t try to rid themselves, incarcerate or otherwise punish those who have blatantly disregarded the laws. Instead they hide and protect. So this year’s top two jobs for criminals is to become a police officer or a priest. Best place to learn the ropes, to avoid the rope and to have the time of your life at the expense of others. So much for civilization.

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Michael Jackson: Shooting Star

I grew up with Michael Jackson, or his music anyways. But that’s not hard to say for most of us. After all, when a career spans forty-five years, many people can say the same thing.

As the news rolled in, people and media have expressed their shock, that they were stunned. Sadly, I can say I was not. I have said that I expected that Michael would die an early death, like Elvis, than live to a ripe old age. I have called him a shooting star for years, for he is and was exactly that. A shooting star ascends high into the heavens, or so high up that everyone can see that light. But such a bright light eventually comes to an end. As opposed to a star that shines constantly and brightly for eons and then fades out at the end of a long lifetime, a shooting star seems all the brighter for its briefer lifespan, and that it will descend much quicker. The candle burned out long ago, to paraphrase Elton John.

That Michael Jackson was a brilliant musician and stage presence, the greatest pop icon of his time, is obvious by the number of albums he sold and the money he made. It’s irrefutable. That he lived a happy and normal life is arguable. The signs are not so hidden at all that Jackson was a troubled and unhappy individual. Like many of us, I’m sure he had his moments of happiness, but like many of us he was also unhappy with who he was. And he had the money to do something about it.

He was a good looking, handsome black child who grew to adulthood and was still attractive. Looking at those early pictures of Michael, you can see he is still black, his hair curly yet fashionable. Slowly his wide, broad nose, narrowed and narrowed again to the skeletal aberration that it became. I certainly hope that the plastic surgeon who mangled Jackson’s face doesn’t advertise that he did the great Michael Jackson. Of course, Jackson also had surgeries to change the shape of his jaw, his lips, his cheekbones, his eyes until the face does not resemble the earlier Michael Jackson at all. How much plastic surgery is needed for a burn of long ago? Not that much, I would think.

He took to straightening his hair, getting rid of any semblance to the negroid curl. And his skin turned white. It’s said that he suffered from a skin pigmentation problem, vitiligo. On white people this sometimes shows as a darker patch, or a pinker patch of skin. On black people, it shows as white or pinkish skin. This could possibly be true but any person I ever saw who had this condition, where the melanin starts to leave the skin, had it in patches, not an overall and even discoloration. Though it’s possible that he started with this and had a chemical depigmentation performed using monobenzone, to even out the skin tone. He also did not exhibit conditions of albinism, evident by the darkness of his hair and eyes. (The Philipines, as one example, sells many skin lightening soaps.) There are numerous ways listed on the internet on how to lighten your skin tone. Michael Jackson had the money, which gives you the means, to do this to the extreme. Perhaps it started as a pigmentation problem but I believe he went in search of being a white man.

These extreme examples of changing his body indicate how unhappy he was with who he had been born. And proves that money can’t buy you happiness. He was too famous to walk anywhere without being recognized, therefore negating his chances of having normal life experiences. As Michael grew farther away from a normal life (even as a child in a performing family he was more used to spotlight than to family life) it became more unattainable.

Where were the family and friends that could bring him back to center? His family wasn’t a good example as they all lived in the limelight to one degree or another as well. If Michael’s only friends were other stars (as often is the case) then they may have been his yes men, only telling him how wonderful he was, never saying, Michael you’ve gone too far. Or Michael, you’ve got to eat or you’re going to die. But if there were those who tried to balance Michael’s extremes, maybe he just didn’t listen. After all, he was rich and powerful in the music world.

Michael lived in fantasy palaces, with private zoos and was probably happiest when he took his creative genius into the realm of  music where he was an innovator and a leader. I was never that in to pop music but I would argue that there is no better music for teenagers, because pop music is catchy, upbeat and fast enough to engage a young mind. Yet Michael was seen as a god, not as a man. I’m sure he was a romantic icon for enough teens as well.

We have a tendency in our world today to put rock/music stars and movie stars upon pedestals. They are our modern gods. But we (people, the masses) are a fickle lot, that get bored too quickly and demand too much. If our gods slip up, we will pull them down, we ridicule them and we hate them for the fame and money and beauty that we cannot hang onto ourselves. We will pick at their every flaw and as their pedestal crumbles we will hack it to pieces.

And then Michael, the unfathomable recluse who invited children into his palace, was charged with child molestation. Whether true or not, such an accusation is devastating and scarring to the core. It could not do other to a man estranged from a normal life who could only live on the idolization of his fans. Even the supposed three children he had with the rather plain woman (who disappeared from the scene shortly after) were suspect. No matter how a man bleaches himself, or suffers pigmentation problems, they won’t transfer to his children. And black being more dominant than white would show in the features, yet these kids (the few pictures that exist) are more white than anything else, one especially being extremely white.

Michael Jackson’s life had become a circus, the star on its descent. The millionaire who owed millions. When I recently looked at a progression of pictures of Jackson through his life and I saw how thin he was (not just slim, but very thin) I knew he suffered an eating disorder as well. This fits in with someone so desperate to change into someone else. Anorexia starves the body on all sorts of levels. Not enough nutrients to feed the muscles or the organs and then those organs must work harder. Anorexics, unless they try to seek help and recover, often die of heart attacks when the strain on their hearts become too much. It really was inevitable.

Michael Jackson may have had other conditions too; it’s not clear. But one thing that is, is that he was fighting his body his whole life. To be so gifted and die so conflicted. Could most of us ever hope to shine so brightly? Could any of us fear to burn so painfully? I feel sad for his life, that he couldn’t have loved himself more. Michael Jackson joins the other shooting stars, the famous who died suddenly before their flame burned out naturally: Jimmy Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, River Phoenix, Princess Diana, John Lennon and many others.

Reports are saying that he died of a drug overdose or a cocktail of deadly proportions. Not really a surprise. Jackson was reportedly addicted to painkillers (Vicodin, Demerol, etc.)  since the face burning episode. Put on top of that, the numerous surgeries and his anorexia and you have a collapse just waiting to happen. A bit of a star’s standard way out, whether planned or accidental. This shopping list of pharmaceuticals does support my theory of a man disenfranchised and unhappy with the way his life continued to unfold. So he closed the book.

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Media Creates Paranoia

I was talking with a few people at work today and it came up that one woman has a 12-year-old daughter who is just ready to start walking to school, as opposed to being driven. She said they let you know when they’re ready to walk. I sometimes pass a school in the mornings where there are numerous cars with parents dropping off their children.

When I was a child, at the tender age of six, my mother took me to school the first few times. My next older sibling was six years older and in a different school so she couldn’t take me. After about a week I was on my own, wending my way through blocks and blocks to school. That school was well over ten blocks away.

In the winter, outfitted in multiple layers and big, clunky boots, I would trudge through Calgary snows to get to class and get out of the snow suit, or tights and pants and toque for the classroom. I was late every day for over a week because I just couldn’t make it through the snow faster. My teacher said to tell my mother I was late.

But I still walked to school. My mother didn’t drive. My father often worked out of town and people just did not drive their children to school. It could be argued that people have to go greater distances but we were far enough away that it took a child over a half hour (maybe it took an hour) to get to school. It was at least a mile.

Junior high and high school were all about the same distance as the elementary school and yet we continued to walk it, winter or summer. No one was abducted. I don’t think anyone was even hit by a car. People didn’t drive as fast, roads weren’t as crowded. Perverts didn’t lurk around every corner. I don’t know of anyone who was killed by any means while I was in school.

And speaking of perverts, I bet most parents would quote safety from murderers and abductors as their number one reason for driving their child to school. Probably safety from traffic and then distance would rate as second and third reasons.

Interestingly, we were mature or responsible enough and given the freedom (told to) go to school on our own as children. Parents didn’t watch our every move. We weren’t given cell phones, we weren’t given cars (only a very few kids in high school had cars). The maturity hasn’t dropped in thirty years yet the responsibility level has risen, so what has caused the overprotective nature of parents and the dependence their children now have on them to do everything for them?

Fear. Fear of murder, of sexual abuse, of abduction, of traffic injury, of succumbing to the elements. Overall, the incidence of murder and child abduction hasn’t increased in thirty years. However, driving children to school has. Interestingly, in the US, even the rate of pedestrian-traffic accidents hadn’t increased, but 50% of children injured by cars were hit by parents or other students driving. And school zone speed limits are often exceeded. I see this every time I’m driving through a school or playground zone at 30 km and I’m passed by 90% of the cars.

The increased driving can be partly attributed to the fact that more parents work and fewer stay at home with the kids, there are more cars so that each parent may have one, and media. We now have radio, newspaper, internet and TV. There are more channels and you can get news 24/7 and the same news repeated. And repeated. And repeated. In fact, not only do the news channels repeat and update us several times a day on the same dire crime, they now go into long talk shows and reports and interviews and research on a particular phenomenon.

With the inundation of events, these murders and abductions move to the forefront of our thoughts. Parents hear the details of a horrific child abduction and murder, where the body was found, how the child was murdered, the search and rescue attempts, the hunt for the murderer, the sorrow of the loved ones, and the trial with all the horrific details again. It becomes one never-ending circle, a parent’s worst nightmare and it feels so close.

The media needs to take half the blame here for being too focused on the dark, dire and depressing. When various statistics for most Western countries indicate drops in all sorts of crime including those against children, consider if you’re coddling your child too much. Will the next generation hide in the cocoons of their homes and condos, only interacting through virtual media, too afraid to talk to anyone? I’m worried that it’s already happening, perpetuated not by crime but by the fears of it.

US report on kids walking to school and crime incidences since 1969: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/then_and_now.htm

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Auctioning Virginity

A twenty-two-year-old woman in the US plans to auction her virginity to pay for her college education. She hopes to get a million dollars for it. Ebay wouldn’t touch this so the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal Nevada brothel is fronting it.

What we get down to in the most basic sense of the action, is prostitution. Whether you’re selling sex on a street corner, in a brothel or on the internet, it’s still prostitution. I’m all for legalizing prostitution (like Nevada and Amsterdam) as it would solve many problems, especially if there were state-regulated brothels. Just some of the problems that could be eliminated, controlled or cut down on (in relation to prostitution) are no pimps, drugs, street crimes, women being abused and murdered, litter from condoms, johns being harassed and making neighborhoods unsavory, as well regular health check ups to keep STDs at bay, and keeping underage boys and girls out of the business.

But what I’m not for is such blatancy of prostitution and if this woman is for real and hasn’t already lost, given or sold her virginity (if I was a bidder I’d ask for a certified doctor’s note that she is a virgin), that she’s using the money to pay for her education. Okay, I actually don’t mind someone making money from their body to pay for education but a million bucks and the attention seeking advertising? I know education is expensive and that a masters or doctorate can run a person up to $100,000 (in Canada) but a million means she’s hoping to cash in on her experience. Well, why not? People should make a profit at their jobs.

So what we have is really in-your-face prostitution. This woman says it is empowering for her, but let’s look at what is really going on. A woman, a female, selling not just sex, but selling virginity. We already have this age-old problem of women being treated unequally because of their gender and physical strength. Though men can be raped, there is a far higher percentage of women raped by men or otherwise sexually abused. We have cultures that denigrate women to this day. There are cultures or religions that hurt women (or even kill them) if they aren’t virgins at their marriages. Yet, the men have no such onus nor a way to prove whether they’re virgins or not because they don’t have hymens.

In this sense, this woman isn’t doing something that’s empowering but perpetuating the double standard of a woman’s virginity being different/other/special and needing preservation or a higher price/dowry put upon it. It says that a woman is still property and should be in pristine condition for a man, no matter where he has been or dipped his wick. If we keep flagging such gender differences as virginity, we’ll continue to have gender intolerance and prejudice.

But let’s look at another part of this–the outright creep factor. Some lithe young thing is auctioning sex and virginity to some unknown bidder. The type of guy who is going to clamor and slaver over deflowering some young woman and bid maybe up to a million bucks is not going to really care much about who she is or if he’s gonna give her a good time. A guy with that kind of money isn’t going to be a cute young college guy. In essence, this woman could be deflowered for money with a crude rapelike thrust. Nice. Or say, a bunch of guys throw money together, or the winner owns a couple of sports teams. She could become the employee benefit: sign up and get a free ride.

But hey, she’s paying for her education and planning to do a masters in family and marriage therapy. She may well need it before she can ever get married. That is, if this isn’t all just a ploy to do a masters thesis, to see what people do when someone offers to auction their virginity. I’m just glad I gave my virginity to my equally virginal boyfriend, who I loved at the time. But then, maybe I’m just sentimental.

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSSP12411420080911

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Forgiveness & Betrayal

Well, it’s come up because of my recent post on eating disorders. Could I forgive my father for what he did to me?

Let me say that my father abused me and my older sister, who had to deal with a lot more for far too many years. Such abuse leaves emotional scars that can sometimes never be corrected. It sets you back on the path of life, if nothing else, taking one much longer to achieve what emotionally happy people can. If there’s one thing I’ve learned very strongly over the years: what you give your children will be what they give back in years to come. If they are abused in any way, chances are they won’t succeed in some area, that they’ll be petty, mean, abusive, unstable, wounded, or worse. Some will become criminals. We’re lucky in my family that none of us strayed too far down that path.

Forgiveness is something I can grant many people who have done me wrong. I’ve been betrayed a couple of times in the last few years. Betrayal is one of the worst things a person can do to me. It hits at a fundamental level of trust. These betrayals caused such distress for me that I no longer do many things in the arenas where those people are. I lost the love to do so. I’m probably ready to return to some events, but others, it will never be the same.

Still, such betrayals are forgiveable. On one level I know that one person did what she thought was right, no matter that she was influenced by someone else. The other person, well, she had always been self-serving and I should have been wary. In each case I thought I was friends with these people but friendship means different things to different people. I can forgive them that they had a different viewpoint and that they probably didn’t think they were betraying me. It doesn’t mean they’re friends anymore or that I like them (I may or may not in the individual cases.) but I can forgive their actions as not having meshed with mine.

I cannot and not sure I ever will be able to, forgive my father. He abused and betrayed a fundamental role as father. He never showed remorse and never tried to communicate. When I went into art college, he told my older brother he would pay my way through college. I said, “I can’t be bought and if this means he wants to see me, then he needs to stop drinking and see an counsellor. Then I’ll accept and see him.” I never heard anything else on that front and I paid my way through college.

Someone who knowingly and repeatedly does harm to another is, to me, beyond forgiveness. Sure they may have been shaped by their childhoods but they know what’s right and wrong. Should I forgive the sociopaths that kidnap, torture and murder someone? Forgive them because they know not what they do? Unfortunately they know very well what they do. They hide it because it is wrong and they get off on it. How should I forgive that?

Some day, like I said, perhaps someone will explain forgiveness in a way that I can grant it. But to me, to forgive is to accept. I can’t accept the self-serving heinous actions of people who murder and rape. My father is dead and that’s a blessing. I’ve done a fair amount of work to get myself to a stable and contented space. Sure I still have anger to deal with and I’m working on it. But some people aren’t so lucky in their lives.

Like I said above, nurture your children well. Love them. For the foundations you give them today will help them succeed tomorrow.

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Eating Disorders and the Forbidden Food

I grew up with an eating disorder. It’s not that I wanted to be a super skinny creature after seeing too many anorexic models and movie stars. I didn’t want to layer myself in cushions of fat to keep the world at bay. Really, to this day, I don’t know what my reasoning was but I know I had no control.

The background is that my father sexually abused my older sister and me. That leaves a lifetime of scars. I don’t have statistics before me but I know in the past that I’ve read that something like 80% of people who were sexually abused have eating disorders. Cause and effect.

For me, it was a bit of a different style. I wouldn’t starve myself, but I would binge, but never throw up. I was missing that second half of the bulimic equation. Mostly, from such an unbalanced diet, I would get diarrhea and purge that way. Anorexics and bulimics might take Ex-lax or stick their fingers down their throats to vomit. Mine was more natural. I tried the throwing up thing once and couldn’t do it.

No one ever binges on lettuce or carrots. It’s sweets and carbohydrates; junk food and fatty foods. I was put on a diet by the doctor when I was about 12 (my eating disorder began around the same time). I remember nothing of what I was supposed to eat, except sneaking down to the freezer in the basement and pilfering cookies. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I would buy candies from various stores. Like an alcoholic, I would try to not hit the same store twice in case they started to recognize and judge me. I never had any change in my purse because I used every spare cent for sugary crap.

Once I was going off to dance class. (I was living with my boyfriend but I hid my sweet secret from him too.) I had a bag of smarties (or something similar). I threw it in the dumpster when I left for the class but when I came home, I dug it out, ashamed but unable to stop myself. No one knew I had this eating disorder. It was a dark secret, a terrible stigma. When I moved to Vancouver it continued, in my home, when alone. I ate normally in front of people.

I tried diets several times. But my pattern of not eating much and then binging on a full bag of cookies, a box of chocolates, a carton of ice cream, continued. Diets worked to a degree, until one year. I tried Weight Watchers and gained in the first week. I hated myself. I weighed 175 lbs, more than I’d ever weighed, I was single but all my friends weren’t, and I’d fallen in love (accidentally) with a man who couldn’t love me. I nearly became an alcoholic, recognizing that abyss only when I was hanging over it by a thread.

Finally desperate enough, I went to my doctor and said, “Some of my friends think I have an eating disorder.” She said, “Which friends?” I said, “Well, me.” Then she asked if I’d been sexually abused and I burst out crying, while at the same time I sat there and watched myself cry, feeling odd and disassociated with my reaction. She sent me to a psychiatrist who specialized in eating disorders. He asked me if I’d been sexually abused and I had the same disassociated reaction. At the end of that first session he said my eating disorder had nothing to do with being sexually abused. ??WTF? Then he put me on various meds like Prozac and Fenfluramine, and then Fluvoxamine when the first didn’t work. He promised that I would lose weight. I never did.

The counselling of course was nil and I’d go to his evening sessions with all the skinny anorexic models and me. At least I hadn’t known someone who died from their disorder, like they did. One thing I had never felt when eating was full. That mechanism had malfunctioned and I would only feel full when I’d binged so I never stopped eating soon enough. The medications, which made me somewhat zombie like to my friends, did not aid in losing weight, but did in fact seem to bring in that mechanism of feeling full. A year later, frustrated with the lack of progress with this doctor and with the unending pills, I just quit both. What I found was that I could now eat and feel full. Something had changed.

A year or so later my doctor asked me how I was doing, did I still binge? And I said, yes I did. She asked me what I considered a binge and I said eating two or more chocolate bars in a day. She told me everyone does that once in a while. What I then realized was that it had never mattered how much I ate but how I felt when I ate: I hated myself for having no control and then I would be was out of control.

I sometimes still get that feeling and it scares me when it happens. I unfortunately still have a sweet tooth, but I eat way healthier, and don’t have to eat all of something. If I’m depressed I tend toward hiding under chocolate. I have to watch that. I might have suffered less and had fewer sensitivities to foods now had someone given me the right help early enough, had my father not scarred my psyche, had I not been ashamed.

I was talking once with friends and the subject of comfort foods came up. I couldn’t name one, because for me, there had never been comfort in food. Just trauma, guilt and self-hatred. These days, I can take comfort in a few foods, like Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, but I never feel I can let my vigilance down because that eating disorder is still just around a corner.

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Polyamory: I Love You and You and You

In the poly world there is polyamory, polyfidelity, polyandry, polygyny and polygamy. Yesterday I talked about the last three. Mostly I talked about polygamy and its use in religion, or under that guise for older men to take women like chattels and often to abuse young girls.

Because of this, there are laws against polygamy. At one time there was probably as much if not more behind the morality of it than the fact that women were were being abused. And maybe in some areas, and some religions and in some economies it was necessary and worked well and everyone preferred it that way. I’m sure if you asked most FLDS members they would say they prefer it the way it is. And if there really were a surplus of women it means that they would have the security of a home and a protector. If a woman was not desirable for certain reasons in our society, there is a guarantee that she’d still find a mate in this polygamous setting. Most extreme religions or fundamental sects seem to hide a more sinister side and keeping women dressed in old fashions, at home, constantly pregnant, well…that’s close to my idea of hell.

But there is another side to polygamy. It’s more commonly called polyamory, loving more than one person, or polyfidelity, being faithful, or committed to more than one person. It’s common enough in North American society but still under the covers, so to speak.

Because of marriage laws, there is no multiple marriage and in many cases three or four people may all live together but none be married. In other scenarios there may be a married couple where one or both have another partner, girlfriend or boyfriend who doesn’t live with them, but in some cases may. It may be that several people date, but all live in their own places. The permutations are endless.

I have known a man who lived with two women. When they left him to form their own relationship, he ended up with two more women. I’ve known a married woman whose boyfriend moved in with them. I know three married couples, where the man from couple A is dating the woman from couple B and the man from couple B is dating the woman from couple C, and the man from couple C is dating the woman from couple A. The woman from couple C is now pregnant by the man from couple A plus has her own children with the man from couple A.

All three couples live separately in different cities. They maintain fairly good healthy relationships with their spouses as well as their other lover. It’s complex but everyone has a choice in all of the above mentioned relationships. No one is coerced and it’s much more honest and up front than cheating.

How successful are poly relationships? As successful as monogamous marriages. Which means, some work and some don’t. I don’t know if any stats have been done on such relationships because many people keep them secret, fearing reprisals from friends, families or jobs. There is still a strong conservative, Christian element to North American society and disapproval and misunderstanding keep most poly people quiet.

As far as I’m concerned, you can love whoever you want and as many as you want. As long as no one is hurt (no rape, abuse, coercion, etc.), and full knowledge and communication is used, then it’s no one else’s business. This is the other side of the coin to the widely used “polygamy.” Since polygamy means more than one marriage partner and in most cases there are laws against that, then trying to outlaw how many people a person can love and live with gets more nebulous. In the case of polyamorous relationships, religion is most often not a factor though a person’s spiritual or religious beliefs may include or not be against such relationships.

There is already legal discussion that to charge someone for polygamy would not work because they could claim it as part of their religious freedom or rigths. Charging someone for sexual or physical abuse is much more straightforward in the courts. Like I said, the poly world is complex but not all of it is injurious.

For another look, Donald Kingsbury once wrote an award winning, science fiction novel titled Courtship Rite. It’s now out of print but can still be found. It looks at a different world where the society practices ritual scarification and the ultimate perfect relationship is seven people. This ideal is rarely attained and everyone must date anyone being brought into the group marriage. A fascinating read.

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