War on Poverty

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I’ve been avoiding writing this post. If you read my last post, you’ll remember how I got mansplained about my writing and poverty. The experience has left me a bit shaken and angry (still) while the person who did it still doesn’t have the balls to contact me about it (I sent him a link to my last post). However, I still have something to say and I’m not about to be silenced on the matter. So here we go.

Usually my posts on poverty involve explaining what it’s like to live here. I hope that someone will read it and will gain a bit of understanding and compassion but I realize I’m fighting the wrong battle.

Most people when they fight poverty come from a bottom up tactic. That is, they address all the issues that people living in poverty have to struggle with; homelessness, food security, health care, etc. So, they try to come up with solutions to that will fix these problems with the mistaken belief that it will cure poverty. Poverty isn’t a disease and we can’t treat it that way.

I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this as well but it’s a never-ending fight. You put out one fire only to have three more crop up in its place which requires more solutions and  fixes and more resources and more people to run them and… and… and… From this perspective, it seems hopeless.

Then someone asked me a question. “What do you do if the homeless guy is happy being homeless?” I dismissed it as being silly. After all, who wants to be homeless and fighting for survival all the time? Then I remembered, not all homelessness is the person sleeping in alleys and in doorways.

Alberta is oil country. There are a lot of people who work in rig camps and earn a very good living that way. Usually this is a switch schedule. So, someone might work three weeks up in a camp and have one week off. During that week they don’t live in the camps so they come to the city. Usually Edmonton. Financially it doesn’t make sense to rent an apartment or buy a house if you’re only going to be there for one week out of every month. So they live in hotels or couch surf. Technically they’re homeless but they’re not poor.

But going back to the question, what do you do with the person who’s content to live in the back of a camper or van? What do you say to the person who doesn’t want to be tied down to rent or utilities. They’re out there. Do you force them to live a lifestyle you don’t want just because their current way of living makes you uncomfortable?

It was this question that made me realize that I’m fighting the wrong war. As Jesus once said, “the poor you have with you always.” (Matt 26:11) but that didn’t mean that something couldn’t be done about poverty. The problem isn’t poverty. Running around putting out brush fires makes no sense especially when you’re using methods established decades or even centuries earlier.

The problem is wealth.

I’ve made this point before; Canada is a resource wealthy country. How is it that we have all these resources and still have people starving? How is it we have all this space and still have people living in squalid conditions? Conditions that we wouldn’t let a dog live in let alone a person. How is it that these resources are only making their way to Canada’s top 1% or 2%?

A study was begun in Ontario setting up some people with a basic income. In the short time it ran, it changed their lives. Then Doug Ford, who will forever be known as Captain Shortpants, pulled the rug out and stopped it. No notice and only the flimsiest of excuses. If that doesn’t disgust you then you shouldn’t be reading this blog.

I’ve heard the arguments against basic income. People will squander it, addicts will spend it all on drugs, women will get pregnant just to get more, the list goes on. What it comes down to is those in the “Have” column of life believe that those living in the “Have Not” column are too stupid and too lazy to be allowed more than the minimum needed to survive. Oh they’ve got lots of reasoning for this. I’ve heard that, too. It’s a “keep ’em hungry” mentality. The belief that a poor person will work harder to get what they need if they’re kept poor.

Let’s dump that shit for what it is.

The rate of urban development here in Edmonton is mind boggling. Yet, it’s not areas devoted to helping the poor at all. Downtown alone has seen the rise of luxury highrises at a phenomenal rate in the past few years. Couple that with the building of an arena that still leaves me with bile in my mouth and you have a serious problem.

Forget for a moment that all this development of the downtown area displaces the poor and homeless. For all their hand wringing, Don Iveson and his crew are still NIMBY people. Yes, let’s build the low-income housing. Just not where the good folk can see it or be bothered by it.

All this development does is drive up housing costs which, in turn, drives up rents. Edmonton rents are out of control as it is and there’s been absolutely no attempt to curtail them. Instead we get more urban development and luxury highrises. The thinking is that if the upper crust is happy then they’ll sprinkle their money downward and we’ll be happy that they’re pissing their blessings on us.

Enough is enough.

It is time that we demanded that our politicians start a serious redistribution of wealth in this country. Starting with basic income. We should be flooding Captain Shortpants’ phones, emails, Twitter feed and everything else with the demand that he reinstate it. We should be marching in the streets demanding basic income.

Stop putting out brush fires and start putting your resources where they’ll do the most good. Opening a food bank so the poor can eat for another week solves that problem for that week. Basic income solves a lot of problems over a long term. Canada is a disgustingly resource rich country. Far too rich for this to keep going on.

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Angry

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Today I got angry.

There are a thousand reasons in a day why I will get angry. Pick one. Racism, homophobia, body shaming, poverty, bad Hollywood movies… take your time. I’ve got a while. It’s not as though I go through my entire day angry at the world. I think about the battles I choose to fight very carefully and some of them do make me angry.

Today I got angry.

One of the battles I choose to fight is poverty. Let me reword that. One of the battles I choose to fight is the distribution of wealth because I live in a nation that has an embarrassment of riches while this winter homeless people will freeze to death. It’s a battle I choose to fight because I live it.

Recently I wrote a blog about Edmonton’s housing situation and another on the problem with wealth distribution. Both of them vent my anger rather nicely and I’m rather proud of them. However, they did raise some eyebrows and criticism from someone I respect and admire.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind criticism. I cut my teeth as a writer with some editors who I swear lived on writer’s tears. This, though, made me angry.

This person told me that I should tone down my anger because people don’t want my anger. To be fair, they’re right. People don’t want my anger but it’s not going away because the situation that made me angry isn’t going away. Long before those posts ever saw the light of day I took steps to try to alter the situation through polite discourse and reason.

That worked oh so well.

This person then fixated on a comment I made about people in power using the poor for photo ops. I stand by my statement and I’m not taking it away no matter how uncomfortable it makes people. People in power stay there because they do things like this to fool the populace into thinking they give a shit about the little folks. They don’t. It’s smoke and mirrors and those of us on this side see it for what it is. However, this person told me that “lots of people don’t see poor people that way.”

And that’s when I saw red, Your Honour.

If there is one person out there who can tell me the difference between this statement and #NotAllMen or #NotAllWhites, I’d love to hear it. Start the discussion with a whip and chair, though, because I’m not really in a listening mood.

This person could be right. It’s possible that not all people see the poor this way. However, enough do and if you find yourself using any version of “not all” in any way then you’re part of the damn problem.

So today I got angry and I put on my Don Quixote personality and politely told this person I would keep getting angry at a situation that deserves nothing but my anger.

Tomorrow I will get angry too.

The Housing Crisis as Seen From Below

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There is a new bill up for debate in the Alberta Legislature that would end child-free housing in Alberta. What this means is there would no longer be anymore adult only buildings. This sounds great on paper and, as a matter of fact, Mark Holmgren, a man I admire greatly, advocates for it on his blog post. However, the idea horrifies me and I don’t think people have thought this through completely.

I don’t have kids for a reason and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve said this before in previous posts and, yes, that makes me an asshole. However, that’s not why I’m against this. The only reason this is up for debate in the Alberta Legislature is because kids make for a great photo op and politicians earn brownie points when they look like they’re fighting for kids. Let’s look at the real cost of this bill, shall we? Here I present three real life stories of people I know who will be impacted negatively by this bill.

Lady Grace

I’m going to call this lady Grace because she’s tried to live her life with the kind of grace and acceptance that few attain.

Grace wanted to be a mother all her life. When she was very small she’d play with her dolls, caring for them as if they were live babies. She never resented helping her mother care for her younger siblings. She looked forward to a time when she would have children of her own.

She married a wonderful man and became pregnant right away. Sadly, she lost the baby in the first trimester. Then there was a second. Then a third. Then a hysterectomy. Her husband felt helpless and their marriage didn’t survive.

No one knows the pain of losing a child unless you’ve been through it. Grace battled depression even as she desperately tried to move on with her life. Yes, she could have adopted but she never quite bounced back from those three miscarriages.

Grace now lives in adult-only buildings. Living next door to families is just too much for  her to deal with and can spin her downward into a suicidal spin. Now, though, she may have no choice. So her life is put at risk so politicians can earn brownie points.

Ernie

Ernie was severely and repeatedly abused by his father from a very young age. His father was a sexual sadist who would alternate between beating and raping him. Ernie survived his childhood by running away and eventually getting help to deal with his demons.

One of his demons involves pedophilia. Even though he’s never looked at a child sexually or even thought about it, Ernie is afraid that what his father did to him left him damaged in ways that have yet to manifest. This is one of the things he sees a psychologist for. His biggest fear is that he will turn into his father.

As a result, Ernie lives in adult only buildings. Living next to children is terrifying to him. Whether the world understands it or not, Ernie is trying to keep himself safe. Now, though, he will have to sacrifice his security so politicians can have the opportunity to say they’re fighting for families.

Me

I live with Nonverbal Learning Disorder. An easy way to understand this is if ADD and Autism had a love child, it’d be NLD. As a result, I often suffer from sensory overload which causes me to try and focus on every single thing I’m seeing and hearing at the same time. Yes, this leads to panic attacks.

I currently live in a family friendly complex and it’s a fresh version of hell daily. Kids screech at volumes best reserved for slasher flicks. Parents yell, bringing up memories of my own abusive home life growing up. I am now doing my best to save up so I can move into a building that doesn’t have children.

Am I selfish? Probably. The truth is I don’t want to have to pay daily because someone else chose to have children. I don’t think I’m out of line here when I say please don’t inflict your children on me.

Conclusion

Should there be more family-friendly housing in Alberta? Hell yes. Then again, there should be more adult only housing. More senior’s housing. More housing for veterans. More low income housing period. However, if we want to look at the truth of the situation, let’s look back to those same politicians who are wringing their hands over a lack of housing for children.

Here in Edmonton there has been a frenzy of development for the kind of neighbourhoods that house the good folks. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Boxy little houses in boxy little neighbourhoods with boxy little people leading boxy little lives. They regulate everything from what kind of fence you can have to what kind of grass you can plant so they can always be assured that housing values will always rise. That way the good folk never have to worry about *that* element in their neighbourhood.

Worse is what has happened downtown. Luxury highrises going up faster than a porn star’s dick. Oh sure they look beautiful and I’m sure they have amazing features and views. The result of these highrises is always the same; rent prices increase in a city where a cheap one bedroom costs upward of $1000/month. Capital Region Housing Corporation is overwhelmed already and these highrises do nothing but cause more strain on an already overburdened system.

Want to know who’s to blame for the current housing problem the poor face? Point your fingers to greedy developers who build faster than they can sell and the politicians who approve those developments while older and poorer neighbourhoods go overlooked yet again. The poor are pushed into those neighbourhoods where crime is rampant until the benevolent politician gods see them and decide to develop them. Then rents rise again and the poor move again.

Eliminating adult only buildings is only going to cause more problems and is just another band aid fix to a problem capitalism and politicians created. There is a fix to this problem but not one politician wants to take a look at it. It’s called the Basic Income Program.

But, fuck it. The poor only matter as a photo op.

One Percent

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All I have are words.

There is a battle going on in society today and I’m afraid I’m woefully underprepared. I would like to say that my mighty lance and fiery charger are armored up and ready to slay the dragons but that would be a lie.

See, the revolution that’s being waged is against the wealthy 1% and they are more than prepared for this battle. They’ve been waging this war since the Middle Ages in one form or another and they’ve had time to sharpen their teeth.

The latest battlefield is Ontario’s Basic Income Project. Oh, I know, so insignificant to that dragon we shall call One Percent, isn’t it? I mean, can they even locate Ontario on a map? Believe me when I say that this battle is more significant than you realize.

Okay, so let’s go back in history for a moment. Once upon a time it was a lord’s duty to see that all the people living on his land were taken care of. Very often he would ride around with his entourage dispensing justice or aid where necessary. In return, the people farmed the land and made the goods that the lord traded or sold. There was a balance. If the lord or king ever failed in his duty or demanded too much of the people, they were happy to replace him.

Let’s just say this didn’t mean a nice, quiet retirement for him.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. Instead of lords and peasants we got governments and people. It should have worked, this system. Everyone has a voice and everyone can be heard but recently it’s started breaking down.

I’m not going to go into the pyrrhic victory that is Trump’s rule. That horse has been well and truly beat. I’m going to talk about the bone-deep weariness I have every time the government shows its ignorance in its duties. The absolute rage I have at those in power using their position to masturbate their egos rather than do their duty. The soul wrenching sorrow I feel at those who must pay the price for the government’s unwillingness to remember what their duty is.

When the Ontario government introduced their Basic Income Project I cheered. At last we were gaining some ground on One Percent. Basic income would mean that the playing ground would finally be levelled out some and everyone could have an equal chance regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or who their daddy was.

But we can’t have that, can we?

See, One Percent does have a fear. That fear is that those people at the bottom of the pile, those who have been repressed and abused for centuries, will finally wake up and realize that the One Percent is no longer needed. One Percent has built a house of cards called Capitalism that relies on certain “truths” of society . It needs the poor to constantly pour money and goods upwards to feed its belly. To keep the feast coming, One Percent has perpetuated racism, fear mongering, hate, ignorance and division. So long as we fight each other, we ignore the true horror that is Donald Trump and Doug Ford and Jason Kenny. So long as we nip at each other’s heels we fail to see the smoke and mirrors act going on.

That is exactly what Ford and his crew are relying on.

Ford is hoping we will be too busy being outraged by Melania’s coat or the next trumpite being an asshole to really do anything about the removal of the Basic Income Project. The Basic Income Project represented a real weapon in the fight against inequality and he’s hoping we won’t notice when it’s removed.

We are in the middle of a revolution and it’s now we need to fight. This revolution is taking place online and we cannot allow One Percent to win. We have to keep fighting and taking back our ground.

So use your social media to fight. Write blogs and post videos. Phone and email Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod even if you’re not in Canada. Let them know we’re not giving up. Let them know they have an obligation to their people.

Don’t let One Percent win.

We Can End Poverty

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A tree in Edmonton full of fall foliage

Remember this link. It’ll come in handy at the end of this blog.

As we head into fall, we come into a season where the emphasis is on family. With Thanksgiving (in Canada) about a week away then Christmas, people will start thinking about all the wonderful things they’ll be doing with family. Thoughts of turkey or ham with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and those little tiny cabbages I really hate will be dancing through people’s heads. We’ll think about sharing a glass of wine or six with our siblings, thinking about all those holidays growing up and watching nieces and nephews play with our children. When the weather gets cold outside, we’ll be warm inside surrounded by love.

Then there’s those who have no family or are estranged.

There’ll be no presents or turkey or memories. I don’t mind, personally. I chose this path and believe me when I say I’d rather be at home by myself watching old movies than enduring another abusive night with my sister. I’d come away from those holidays wanting to jump off a bridge. For those who think I’m exaggerating, I spent the week after my last Christmas with my sister crying hysterically and contemplating suicide. Turkey isn’t worth that.

However, this isn’t about me.

Many homeless people are going to be alone during the holidays, struggling to find a place to sleep and enough to eat. They don’t have a family to have turkey with or share memories with and they need your help. There are things you can do that take no time or effort on your part but make a world of difference to someone who has nothing.

For example, I always carry those little dollar store gloves in my purse during the winter. They’re not much but they offer some protection against the cold. A friend of mine knits scarves all year and gives them to shelters. She can’t knit anything else but it helps. There are senior’s facilities that ask for donations of wool. Knitting and crocheting helps keeps elderly hands agile and the products are often donated to shelters or schools.

Do you have an apple tree in your yard that you complain drops apples on your yard and is a pain in the ass to clean up? Maybe you planted too much zucchini in the garden this year and are going to throw out what you can’t use. Take those apples and zucchini and whatever else you have leftover and take them to shelters or the Food Bank. Fresh fruit and vegetables are always needed and welcome.

As you pack up your summer clothes, some are inevitably never going to be worn again. This is a great time to clean your closets and donate your clothes and such to places like the Bissell Centre.

So what happens if you do these things? One more person gets to eat. One less homeless person freezes to death on the streets in Edmonton’s winter. More than that, though, you help yourself. The amount of money that places like the Food Bank and the Bissell Centre require just to make ends meet is huge. If they had fewer people depending on them, they could allocate their resources better.

There’s more than that, though. Instead of having to feed, clothe and house people who are unable to do it for themselves; you create a new workforce. People previously unemployable due to a lack of a fixed address, suddenly become employable. Guess what? Employed people spend money. They boost the local economy by buying things. So instead of being a drain on society, they contribute to society. There’s a lot of hidden talent within Edmonton’s poor that’s going unused.

Do you know there’s more benefits to ending poverty? Children who live in poverty do poorer in school than children who don’t live in poverty. If you don’t eat, you can’t think. That’s just common sense. So you invest in a whole generation of kids who may go on to do great things and give them chances they may not have had before.

Remember that link I posted at the top of the page? Well, click on it now. These are good people trying to do good things. There are those people that will tell you that there will always be poverty and we can’t do anything about it. I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Edmonton’s mayor, Don Iveson, has made a commitment to end poverty in Edmonton. Edmonton is the capital city of the wealthiest province in Canada. We have a lot to be proud of and if we end poverty, it will add one more thing to the list of Edmonton’s pride. All it takes is working together and I’ve never seen a problem yet that Edmonton can’t overcome. We’re not afraid of hard work and we can pull together, we’ve done it before. Let’s help our city end this problem.

Poor Little Girl

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Alison Redford looking up at ceiling as she resigns from office

Alison Redford

I am sending out a call to all Albertans. To the left is the iconic picture of Alison Redford during her resignation speech. I want everyone who reads this blog to take this picture and caption it.

Why?

Redford’s contempt for the role to which we elected her continues to grow to unbelievable proportions and we Albertans keep putting up with it. There’s no answers coming out of either the Legislature or the PCs. Alberta’s journalists are trying to do their part, asking questions that need to be answered but that’s only a small part of the equation. Our elected officials should be rattling their cages in response to her disappearance.

However, she’s not really gone, is she?

Nope. We know exactly where Redford is. She’s in Palm Springs. So Redford calls sick into work and then plays hooky. Okay. We’ve all done it. Turned a three-day weekend into a four-day one, take a quick trip out of town, maybe party a little too much. If you really want to play the sympathy for the devil card, Redford was probably humiliated by her bum’s rush out of the Premier’s office. A few days away from work is good for a bruised soul.

Even if that’s the way you want to go, enough is enough. We Albertans are still footing her paycheck. If I, or any other Albertan, screwed up at work so phenomenally that we got demoted then decided not to show up for work, we wouldn’t have a job. So why is it that Redford still has her job and is still pulling in a paycheck? From Palm Springs yet.

So let’s see, while Redford suns herself in Palm Springs and licks her wounds, homeless in Alberta worry about where they will sleep tonight. While she plays a round of golf and works off her stress, children go without meals. And while she enjoys her rest, Alberta non-profit organizations strain to keep those living in poverty from drowning under the weight of needs they can’t possibly meet. Businesses raise their prices so they can pay taxes to cover her paycheck. Needed infrastructure goes ignored so that money can be diverted to her paycheck.

But that’s okay. The poor girl needs a vacation.

That’s why I ask all Albertans to take the above picture and caption it. Post it to your social media, letting the Alberta Legislature know how you feel. Perhaps if this gets turned into a meme, they’ll listen. Gods know they haven’t listened to anything else.

Mutilating the Labia

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I had my first sexual experience when I was six years old. A female friend and I were curious and played several rousing games of “what does this do?” I don’t regret that early experience, it allowed me to realize that my body can make me very happy. I know now that I’m an anomaly and not many other girl children do this. Apparently, though, parents will rarely bat an eyelash if a young boy is caught masturbating. It’s met with some giggles and blushes but that’s all.

This childhood memory makes me realize the difference between male and female behaviour and what is acceptable or not. The difference isn’t in our thinking or roles in life, it’s in the control we have over ourselves and who we are as people. Men who control their own destinies are seen as powerful and virile. A woman who tries to control her situation is seen as a controlling bitch, she is derided as a harpy and can be called butch. A man can be strong in the boardroom or in the bedroom yet a woman is expected to be the pure mother figure by day and a whore by night in the dark behind closed doors. Still there are those who question feminism’s validity. As though feminism is simply out to destroy their life or make the work environment difficult.

So I thought about some of the things that women in our country have to endure. I’m not taking this outside of Canada. Heck, I won’t even take it out of Alberta. I wonder if men would endure the same things. So let’s do a little switchup. Okay?

Bullying

Women aren’t bullied, are they? Women are the bullies. Damn. We expect those blonde jokes to stop but they’re so funny. So here’s the turnaround; a man goes in to work and the first comment he hears on how his female boss likes how tight his new pants are. When he makes a comment that he’s uncomfortable, she slaps him on the ass and says, “oh, can’t you take a joke?” He files a complaint with his human resources department but the boss is only given a slap on the wrist. Instead, he’s offered a chance to move out of that department. Forget that he’s spent five years in his current position and his boss has only been there for two but HR says this is for the best; change or leave. After all, they have to keep everyone happy. Besides, the boss did mean it as a compliment and is he so sensitive that he can’t take it?

Pay

Equal pay for equal work, right? By and large, women are paid far less for the same job men do. As a man, you automatically earn more for the same job as a woman. So, men, how would you like to do your current job but take an almost 25% pay cut? Yes, women earn around 75 to 80 cents per dollar men earn. Oh and that job your currently doing? Let’s add a few more duties but you’re not getting a pay raise.

The Old Boy’s Club

Think this is gone? It isn’t. In many companies, meetings are held on the golf course. Well, women golf, too, right? They do but they are less likely to be invited along to one of these little events. So let’s turn this around. The CEO is having a spa day and has invited three of her female managers. You, a male manager, expressed interest in going but she says you’ll be bored and she’ll grab a coffee with you some other time. Not a likely scenario? Think again.

Abuse

Well, guys, don’t worry; this one’s an equal opportunity game. Men are just as likely to be abused as women in a domestic relationship so this not one I’m going to do a switchup on. However, there is more societal pressure on a woman to “make things work” in a relationship. A woman is supposed to be caregiver and homemaker and if the relationship falls apart, there are movies and books pointing to how it was her fault. How she failed as a woman. This one is a toss up, though.

Cultural Expectations

Okay, this one’s a problem. There are cultures in the world that have practices that we, in Canada, have decided are wrong. Yet, Canada has a large immigrant population and these practices come to this country so I’m going to do a switchup here. Men, you are four or five years old when you are taken to your uncle’s home. There, you are stripped of your pants and underwear and lain on the kitchen table. Perhaps your limbs have been tied spread eagle to the table. A gag is placed in your mouth so you can’t scream or make noise. Your uncle takes a sharp knife, may even be a utility knife, and he begins cutting the foreskin off your penis. He then cuts the rim under the cap on your penis off and makes a slice down the length of your penis. This scar will grow in such a way so that getting a full erection later in life is impossible. To finish things off, he then sews your testicles in place. If you survive this little “operation”, you will then be an asset to your family. Forget about completing school. Getting married is more important. While you won’t be told to quit school, you also won’t be encouraged. Forget telling your teachers. It’s drilled into you every day that this is family business and family comes first. You will then perpetuate this horror on your sons.

Poverty

Okay, men, here’s your switchup. When you got married, she was the woman of her dreams. Then, after the wedding, something happened. It wasn’t obvious but she changed somehow. She was more distant, drank more, was less involved in you. One day, she went out to get milk for the baby and just never came back. Now you have three children and no skills to get a job. With a toddler, affordable childcare is a nightmare so being away for eight hours a day is not an option. The biggest surprise is finding out that all your savings, your RRSPs are all gone and your  credit is maxed out. Welcome to bankruptcy. Next you realize you have to feed the kids so you go to welfare. Humiliated and frustrated, you dance through their game just to feed your kids and give them a life but daily you feel the weight of just living pressing down on you until you simply give up. You go through a series of women, hoping to find a mommy to your babies but the next is worse than the last. You don’t know how to make it on your own but you can’t seem to make it with anyone else. Your kids resent you for driving daddy away and depression is your daily companion. You don’t even try any longer. Heck, it’s enough that you even put on pants during the day.

Rape

This one is just for you, guys. You’re a teen boy and you go to a party. Like the other kids, you have a few too many and pass out on the couch. At one point you wake up and realize you’ve been given a Viagra and girls are hopping on you like you’re a pogo stick. To top it off, there’s someone filming. It hurts and you want them to stop. Not one is using a condom. You go to your parents who take you to the police the next day. Then comes a series of doctors examining you, blood tests for STDs and pictures of marks. Then, you go on your Facebook page and there you are in all your shame. Someone has uploaded the video of you being raped multiple times and now the entire school, including the teachers, has seen it. Instead of being supportive, everyone blames you. They say you liked it. That you wanted it. Your friends want nothing to do with you and school is a nightmare. The girls responsible hang outside your locker, pressing against you and rape you verbally over and over. In desperation you and your family reach out to the media and your story gets out. The school, though, can’t allow these girls to be vilified. They’re the school stars and the school needs them. So the school hires its own public relations person and they put a new spin on it. Now you’re not only the villain in school, you’re the prick out to ruin these innocent girls’ lives. When you try to complain, start your own social media campaign, you’re told you’re playing the “victim” card. Forget college. They won’t touch a hot topic like this. Your family is forced to move but your shame goes with you. The outcome of the trial? The girls are found guilty but of a misdemeanor. They won’t spend any time in jail and when they’re 18, their record will be clear. One girl has had an offer for a free ride from two colleges.

Men, you tell me that you’d put yourself in any one of these positions and not want things to be better. You tell me that any of this is a reasonable situation for any woman to expect to happen to her then tell me that women are not allowed to fight back. Yes, there are Oprah Winfreys and Michele Obamas in this world and thank the gods for them. However, there are far more nameless, faceless, voiceless women who are beaten down by a system that expects them to be the perfect woman. They want the mother whore to satisfy every need. Heaven help the woman who embraces her inner wild child, for she is the wanton slut and open to shaming.

It is not the women who have taken control of their lives that we need to fight for. It is the woman in the shadows who cannot speak for herself that we need to give tools to be able to stand on her own.

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