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Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

Compiled by Carol L.

In the beginning of healing from an abusive relationship, it is very helpful for women (and all people) to know their rights as human beings. This is a strong foundational basis to build upon. Every victim of abuse needs to understand their true value and worth. Below are examples.

You have the right to be you

You have the right to put yourself first

You have the right to be safe

You have the right to love and be loved

You have the right to be treated with respect

​You have the right to be human – NOT PERFECT

You have the right to be angry and protest if you are treated unfairly or abusively by anyone

You have the right to your own privacy

You have the right to your own opinions, to express them, and to be taken…

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Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow!

Isaiah 1:17, NET

The Christian Coalition for Safe Families and other organizations regularly ask the church to step up and do something about domestic violence. Even seemingly small acts like placing brochures about domestic violence in church bathroom stalls can save a life. But what, exactly, a church is supposed to do is subjective, to say the least.

Given that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it would seem that the body of Christ should be at the forefront of battle to end this violence. It is likely the most common…

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In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about any one else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history… That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts.

C.S. Lewis

“When did this become a thing?” I asked myself indignantly. I’d always hoped that as we Gen Xers progress through life, we would grow out of our myopic high school cliques. In high school and even long before, I was appalled at the cruelty kids could show those who were unlike themselves. To be accepted by the cliques, you had to conform, and that often meant dialing down your empathy to outsiders to fit in.

The obvious answer is that it’s always been a thing. The thing being to ostracize, mock, and isolate ourselves from those who are different than us. We find it safer, simpler, easier to coexist with people who look like, act like, believe like ourselves than who have different hair, different brands of clothing, different politics.

In the 2010s there was a disturbing resurgence of high school politics amongst adults. We argued about who started it, with both sides pointing their fingers at each others’ leaders and actions. Now, locally at least, it’s in vogue to treat those of different belief systems as lesser. Simply saying that someone is different from us doesn’t suffice; we might now consider them inferior, as if their faith choices or party preferences make them a substandard hominid.

Those who know me personally know that I have strong views on topics like faith and politics– and there are times when I come down like a thunderbolt on matters of principle. That is the glory of the First Amendment and a free country, that we have the precious right to speak openly and publicly. My beliefs come from a lifetime of hard knocks and a desire to see people unchained from governance, philosophies, and ideologies that limit their autonomy and identity.

Friends know this about me and respect my freedom to do so. They know they are free to disagree. They are aware that my loyalty to them does not depend on their approval of my ballot or latest blog post. I can treat them with respect even when their views are the polar opposite of mine. If the friendship no longer works, we are free to move along. You win some, you lose some, yet those who stick around are generally the ones you’re the most authentic with.

In matters of love, it is imperative that we find someone who shares our values. That is a separate conversation. But in matters of friendship, when in our adult lives, as we ripen and grey, did it become cool to disassociate from those who don’t share our political and religious views? It’s quite normal for our closest friends, the knights of our round table, to share some of our deepest beliefs. Yet why can’t we have friends who share our interests and not our faith or party?

This trend perplexes me. Some of my most cherished friends and family have very different beliefs than my own. We’ve been together too long, or been through too much together, to talk about politics and religion when we have precious time together. We may campaign for radically different candidates and might never set foot inside each others’ religion. We might have moral or ethical reasons for not supporting each others’ stuff. That “stuff” is not what our relationship’s about, though. We love each other as we are and stay off the contentious topics that could divide us. They understand that I’m outspoken about my “stuff” and I respect their right to be outspoken about theirs.

In the Seattle area, being of a certain political persuasion can result in stereotypes, assumptions, and just weird behavior. “Oh you’re one of those,” I’ve heard. I can be having a wonderful conversation, then the other person realizes I’m not necessarily in agreement with their preferred presidential candidate. Suddenly a hilarious and warm discussion becomes strained when I’m “outed.” I don’t see how that has anything to do with the commonalities we share or that it’s even relevant to the conversation. But it’s a thing, a measuring stick that judges our friendship compatibility quotient.

Similarly, there are times I’m deep in a jocular dialogue with those who are closer to my political beliefs, but then I’ll mention a cause I’m passionate about and lose them. Some of the causes I’m most involved with tend to be considered more “the others'” causes– such as animals and nature. Inwardly I’m thinking, “I’m sorry, why do I have to be exactly like you to be worth your time?” I never thought I’d see this dynamic escalate as I veer towards middle age. It’s like High School, Part Deux.

I love a good debate. Not an argument, but a reasoned, logical, articulate back and forth that fleshes out the fundamentals of an issue. I don’t mind intelligent debate with friends when the primary goal is to understand each other rather than change each others’ minds. However, when is the last time you saw a true Lincoln-Douglas exchange on a political stage? Instead, candidates attack each other personally– “moron!” “putz!” “bastard!”– rather than offering rational explanations of how they will try to fix current affairs. In like manner, we emulate this, attacking people personally instead of explaining our values and convictions. It’s spreading. It’s scary.

Why ostracizing those different from ourselves is so serious is that it could cause a new civil war. It’s certainly caused a social chasm in the Seattle area. This isn’t being a doomsayer, this is calling out the reality of what this growing problem could cost us. If we turn on our family and friends for not being our clones, we’re lost. If we cut off communication because someone doesn’t vote the same, we’ll become even more suspicious of them. If we are a member of a non-religious or non-political organization or circle of friends, and start bringing politics and religion into it, we could shatter the group and its mission.

We all belong to organizations or circles of friends that share our values. That’s where our values are affirmed and we can fight for what we believe is right. But those are not the only islands we should live on. We’re part of a larger community, state, country that must hang together or assuredly will hang separately as Ben Franklin said. If people in my historical circles begin to associate only with those who agree with themselves politically, for example, we’ve just cut out some of the strongest advocates of preservation. We lose our effectiveness. If a cultural organization, united because of descent from a particular ethnic group, starts making one side of the political spectrum or the other feel unwelcome, the group could lose its under 50 crowd and become obsolete.

We have Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and all manner of venues via which we can blare our steadfast convictions to the world. I do. Those I like and love know they can take it or leave it. I love sharing my reasons for not giving up no matter the odds and why I believe in a life after this. I want them to have hope and know that nothing is impossible. It is not a requirement for my friendship or devotion, though. No one at a holiday meal has to plow through a 2500-word diatribe on my defense of Civil War monuments before we eat. It is not relevant to the occasion. If politics and religion do come up, then I believe in equal air time. If it becomes a one-sided bashing session, one may tactfully switch topics and redirect those present to a more joyful subject.

You can be passionate, outspoken, contentious, outraged, and risk public ridicule while doing so without being a jerk to your friends personally. I fear that being able to exercise one’s rights while maintaining relationships with those who disagree is becoming a lost art. We can value what we have in common, what drew us together in the first place, and not discuss the topics the knives come out over when it’s not necessary.

Some of the men and women I most admire don’t share my politics or religion. I admire them because of their expertise, their kindness, and very often, their outlandish humor. Being in their presence makes me more joyful and more knowledgeable. Their positive qualities help others be better human beings. Why would you not want to be around funny and smart people? Because they voted for the other guy? I understand maintaining certain ethical boundaries with others and severing toxic relationships. But in general, why can’t you go grab a cold one and kick back with someone who voted for the other guy?

Life would be very boring indeed if we limited our interactions to people who looked, talked, or voted like ourselves. Being exposed to other viewpoints challenges me to improve my rational defenses of my own “stuff” as well. Friends can offer constructive criticisms, help us practice empathy, and aid in building bridges to be able to mutually problem solve with people who aren’t like us. If one of Washington’s five volcanoes blows, I’m not going to run solely to those who worked on an initiative with me, I’m going to seek out the best qualified people to help my community survive.

We can hold to our values, fight for our freedoms, and still cherish diversity in our friends. A true friend knows us as we are and enjoys what we have in common. We have geek culture friends, workout friends, church friends, service organization friends, book club friends, foodie friends, slow stroll in the woods while discussing existential crises friends. We have friends for all reasons, all seasons. Plus those aforementioned morons and putzes and bastards might be the best cycling partner or the most well-connected advocate to advance your ministry to the homeless.

Imagine how bland and colorless life would be if only the Republicans were allowed to go to restaurants with you, or the gym was only open to Democrats, or only Libertarian friends were allowed to call you at 2 in the morning when they had a startled-from-their sleep-level epiphany about their third to last passionate romantic entanglement. It’s also noteworthy that those whose “stuff” we disagree with often have the deepest scars in common with us, be it betrayal, abuse, or abandonment. Survivors come in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, there are limits to what we can tolerate and I am not equating all values or belief systems. There are many dangerous people in this world as well, people who take advantage of our kindnesses and good deeds. We can and should pay attention to that gut instinct that tells us we are playing with fire. I am saying that we can practice a little more respect and empathy for those around us. We can be strong advocates for our causes and still be able to work with those with differing views.

The bottom line is that we can have friendships that are founded upon non-political and non-religious interests. It may not be fashionable to do so, but we will become an increasingly polarized and suicidal nation if that keeps slipping away.


Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This last weekend KOMO News aired a jarring special report about the state of Seattle. KOMO’s Eric Johnson rightfully called our region’s many illegal encampments what they are– dens of addiction. He pointed out that homeless people in general do not live in their own lawless filth; addicts do.

There is nothing compassionate about allowing addicts and the mentally ill to wallow in dangerous and unsanitary conditions– or expecting the general public to tolerate it. Local leaders seem strangely disconnected from the harsh environmental and public health and safety problems that the Seattle area’s tolerance of addiction causes.

This sparked another train of thought on Seattle culture. It’s not just Seattle that’s dying, civility in Seattle is dying. There has been a radical change in local culture in the last couple of decades that has natives feeling like aliens in their own city. Perhaps this decline in civility is universal. Perhaps we, the human race, have become too comfortable, too self-absorbed, to the point that life has become all about us, a collective narcissism.

Hang around our region and you will hear talk of the Seattle freeze. Locals like to debate if it’s real, and no matter what they decide, I hear the same locals discussing bad driving, road rage, rude behavior, and social stigmas. It’s clear that as our population has changed with the influx of high tech workers and money, creating enclaves of people who only associate with like people, we have become more distant from our neighbors, more suspicious, more aloof. Call it what you will; this is not the Seattle of 20 or 30 years ago.

Allow me to give some examples. At Christmastime I was thrilled to have family here from out of town. We went to the Pike Place Market, a couple of us wearing festive holiday hats. We were openly jolly and took some great photos at the Gum Wall, pig statue, and other spots. At the same time we noticed that in the midst of all the holiday festivities most people were quiet, reserved, even morose. We noted that those we did connect with were inevitably from other states.

Jogging over to Westlake we happened upon a young man in a loud holiday hat and told him it was good to see someone else in the holiday spirit. 20 years ago, there would have been a spark of recognition, like “my people!” Instead, he was embarrassed that we spoke to him and said something rude. We were taken aback and at that point began to discuss this very topic.

You might have heard of North Dakota nice. I’ve been shocked at how open and friendly people are in that state. I’ve encountered similarly nice people in Montana. Upon arriving at one store in Grand Forks, a man exiting the store took three steps back and held the door open for me. I thought he was going to flirt but he kept going. I was stunned and asked a friend what that was about. That’s North Dakota nice– people have good manners there. I told her that rarely happens in Seattle; men barge in front of women and show almost no interest in chivalrous (or even just plain polite) acts.

In a North Dakota bar I talked to people I’d never met before, like a happily married farmer, for hours. We found some common ground and carried on like we’d known each other for years. Immediately upon contacting the owners of an ancestral property, I was invited over. Two hours later I was having lemonade with them in their kitchen. One has since passed on, but I still keep in touch with the other. These are not things that happen much in Seattle. You’re not invited to sit with a group of strangers or welcomed like family.

In the greater Seattle area many people react with great discomfort or coldness if you merely speak to them at the grocery store. They will often just ignore you as they paw through their phone. Instead of saying “excuse me,” they will walk right between you and the shelf, or grab something from directly in front of you. It’s like you’re not even there. Sometimes I’ll say, “oh excuse me, am I in your way?” just to call attention to the fact that they are literally right in my space. This also happens in the grocery line as the person behind you breathes down your neck and bumps into you.

The same is true of our driving habits. Many Seattle drivers have a horrific habit of following too closely. If you can’t see my rear tires, you are too close. That is a rule of thumb all drivers should follow. But as Dave Barry said, we all believe we are above average drivers. We all think we can continually creep up on the car in front of us in gridlock and never hit them. Yet many someones hit many other someones every day and the whole freeway gets backed up as a result.

Left lane campers are a tremendous problem around here too. The left lane, by law, is for passing. If someone wants to go faster than you, you need to move right and let them by. I wish the Washington State Patrol would make this their emphasis because one 50 mph slowpoke in the passing lane can slow down 405 from Lynnwood to Renton. These people generally refuse to move no matter what you do to get their attention. Most seem oblivious. Some might be self-appointed speed control patrol. Who knows. But you need to stay out of that lane if you’re holding up traffic no matter what your motivation.

In the past couple of years I’ve noticed an alarming number of people on our local freeways who drive far below the speed limit even when there are optimum traffic conditions. This often happens in the carpool lane. This almost never happens in the far right lane. They can literally slow down the freeway for miles. It’s very dangerous. Similarly, many drivers go far below the speed limit up hills or can’t maintain a consistent speed, then go 10 over down the hill when the speed limit has been the same the whole time.

Many mornings I find myself behind Stardrunks. These drivers operate at erratic speeds and/or weave back and forth. Suddenly, upon the appearance of a Starbucks, they’ll slam on the brakes, make a death-defying right turn, and only signal after they’ve begun the turn if they signal at all. Being behind people who haven’t had their triple grande mocha can literally be like being behind a drunk. They will also make sudden lane changes to make the quick turn into the Starbucks. If I were in another town I’d ask what’s in the water. In this case I marvel over the power of that joe.

Ah, turn signaling… a dying art. People in these parts seem to forget that there’s a little lever coming off the steering column that can be activated with a quick flick of the wrist. Law requires them to signal before changing lanes, turning into a side street or driving, and merging. Using the turn signal is important for their safety and others’. But thanks to an all-consuming laziness or apathy, using turn signals to announce your intentions is going the way of the dodo. They can’t be bothered. Or they’re too absorbed in some piece of technology inside the car to care what goes on outside the car.

Speaking of merging, I have personally asked the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol to start PR campaigns that throw out Driver’s Ed 101 tidbits on social media. People here can’t merge. RCW has long said that when a lane is ending on a highway drivers need to signal and yield to those in the lane that is continuing. But there are various theories as to what we’re supposed to do, which ultimately results in traffic slowing or stopping as everyone hits their brakes while getting mad about who’s supposed to be merging where.

(There has been legislation introduced to make zipper merging the law– you alternate one car from each lane. If that changes, WSDOT and WSP need to go all out educating the public on the change.)

I mentioned speeding. I’m not a “do the speed limit or else” type. I am aghast at the reckless speeds I see every day– 55 in a 35, 40 in a school zone. Two days ago I saw a man slow down for a red light, then he decided his time was more important and he chose to go right through the intersection anyway. Not the first time I’ve seen this lately– it’s the third time. Stop signs seem to have become optional, particularly on the Eastside. Come to a full stop at a stop sign in Bellevue or Kirkland and you can be honked at. Instead, people choose to blow right through them or just slow down a little and keep rolling. It’s not a pause sign, it’s a STOP sign.

Don’t even get me going on roundabouts– it seems we have both extremes in operation at these delightful donuts. Some people are thoroughly confused by them and will just stop, sitting there stupidly until someone honks at them. Some gun it and blow through these without regard for others. I’ve seen folks drive right up and over the landscaping in the middle. This is another piece of Driver’s Ed 101 our state agencies could be explaining to the masses but all I get is silence.

Shopping and driving are where frequent encounters with rudeness and indifference occur. Another arena for sick and selfish behavior is in our homes. Despite civil or city noise rules, without regard for others’ health, kids, pets, sleep, jobs, guests, babies, or right to quiet enjoyment, people crank up their TVs and music to movie theater level at all hours and live like it’s Wrestlemania. I have been through hell with such people. I’ve been repeatedly threatened when I exercised my rights and pointed out that their chaos does not belong in my living space.

I’ve reached a point that I don’t believe human beings should be allowed to live in adjoining units unless soundproofing between units is mandated by state law. I know many people who’ve had to deal with disgustingly loud and uncivilized neighbors. The property managers or owners will rarely enforce the rules and the cops don’t like to be involved in civil matters. So law-abiding working folks, excellent tenants, are expected to just tolerate the madness no matter what damage it does to their lives.

Just tonight I had a neighbor’s guest block in my car. It could have been innocent yet I was sadly not surprised by the response. Instead of moving their cars, such guests will say they’ll just be a minute (soon 10 minutes) and then I’m stuck. In this case, I politely told the guest that I might need to leave later and asked her to move a bit. She snapped at me, saying I should have parked somewhere else if I needed to get out. That’s not the point; the point is that she’s blocking my spot. She did move and I put a road cone in front of my vehicle to protect my spot. As I told a friend, I would never dream of being that rude to someone in their own home.

(P.S. The road cone disappeared that night and has not been seen since. So now it’s okay to steal as well?)

Every day. This is every day in Seattle now. “I’m more important.” “My time is more important.” “What I want is more important.” That’s how we shop. That’s how we socialize. That’s how we drive and park and live. Every day idiotic daredevil driving endangers the lives of others and sometimes takes lives. Every day we move a little farther back from human civilization into some sort of relational Dark Ages. The really sick part is that we’re getting used to it, “oh, that’s just Seattle now.”

No. I don’t accept that. I don’t like that some people only associate with people who look like them, or have expensive hair or clothes like them, or believe what they believe. We used to celebrate what we have in common; now it seems like Progressives can’t be friends with conservatives and Methodists are avoiding the Mormons. We’re Americans, people, a diverse bunch with a common heritage, language, and culture who are supposed to be able to work together to preserve the republic regardless of our differences. Instead our brains are filled with a constant barrage of taking head rhetoric that wants us to look at each other funny and deprive others of their constitutional freedoms when their thoughts aren’t our thoughts.

Seattle is a paradox. Elected officials like to trumpet our alleged inclusiveness and diversity while openly ostracizing and ridiculing viewpoints that aren’t as narrow as their own. Those who disagree can be called haters, racists, bigots. There is no respect for viewpoints outside of the same myopic “tolerance” that is turning this city into a giant Superfund site. Is it any wonder that the larger culture reflects these deep chasms, this distrust, this gaslighting and crazymaking? It reminds me of high school, where the “cool kids”– generally the rich jocks– acted intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us when they were neither. If some did condescend to speak to the “others” it was usually because it was on a topic important to themselves. Or to put them down.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, may I suggest saying something kind to a complete stranger instead of shunning them? Or helping the woman struggling around the store on crutches? Maybe returning a cart for an old man or thanking the bagger and the cashier? What about finding out the name of the man selling Real Change even if you have no interest in the publication? Could we say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” use our turn signals, drive like there are other people on the road, and park within the lines? Is that so hard? We all learned this; somewhere along the way we’ve decided we’re too good for it. Or we’re too busy. Or manners are only for the peons.

Let’s break this freakish, frigid, nasty rudeness and oblivion that has a stranglehold on our city. Every time we decide we’re not going to practice basic manners or good driving we’re taking another brick out of the edifice of human civilization. This is how you lose a civilization. These little offenses become larger offenses. The larger offenses become the new normal. We become so exasperated with what’s normal that we too are sucked into the void of incivility. Zombies create other zombies. We’re better than that.

We might never become North Dakota nice or have Montana manners. We might never address our elders as Mr. and Mrs. or sir and ma’am. We can practice human decency and choose to maintain a conscious awareness of how our actions affect others. I know some of you will point out the influx of other cultures and the number of out-of-staters (ah hem, Californians) who have moved here. Formerly outside influences can change a local culture, for better or worse. I’m highly concerned about the lack of value people from outside of Washington place on our local environment, especially our wildlife and trees. But if locals hold the line and maintain some semblance of normal, we can not only preserve what’s good about Seattle but help make those manners, objectiveness, and kindness normal for our new neighbors as well.

Seattle is dying, Eric Johnson. I agree. But not just physically. Our civility is dying. There is a cultural rot. A spiritual stench. A loss of human empathy and emotion. An acceptance of narcissism as the new normal. I am superior to you. I need to get somewhere faster than you, therefore I am justified in risking your family members’ lives in traffic. I already know what’s best so there’s no point in listening to you. I have no regard for your feelings, your personal space, your pain. You, by the very nature of your political and religious beliefs, are inferior to me and I want nothing to do with you. You don’t look like me, you don’t drive a car like mine, you clearly are not on my level.

No. No no no. Let’s stop this. It is a cancer. It is a blight. Choose to say one kind word today to someone in public and we can all start rolling back this red tide. Ignore the divisive power-hungry politicians. Tune in, be aware, be objective, be different. Let’s coin a new phrase– Seattle Civil. We might not all be comfortable with outgoing and gregarious greetings or stepping out of our social comfort zones. But we CAN– WE MOST CERTAINLY CAN— be civil to our neighbors. They are not ghosts, they are not “lessers.” They are every bit as real and human and vulnerable as we are. Speak to them as if they matter. They do. As much as you do.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

Vince Lombardi

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.


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If you have survived abuse, you’ll likely remember many times that your abuser tried to make you feel unstable, unworthy, crazy, and weak. While nowadays this is commonly referred to as crazymaking, it is also called gaslighting.

The term gaslighting comes from the 1940 British movie of the same name. While the abuser in the movie had a material motive for his behavior, most use gaslighting as a means of maintaining power and control in general.

The movie Gaslight is the American version of Gaslighting that came out in 1944. Viewers have historically been split as to which is the better movie, but both are worth a few hours of your time.

Knowing the tactics abusive people use is critical to helping their targets to safety. As I’ve long said, initiative, intelligence, and insight is threatening to the immoral and insecure. Let’s continue to shine a light on the behaviors of sadistic and narcissistic people and know their head games even better than they do.

Gaslighting (1944) can be watched here.

Gaslight can be seen on YouTube, below, and also rented on YouTube if that link is ever removed.

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Shattered_Mirror_2_by_wolfrain319

If a woman is looked upon as an object, without feelings, life, soul, or thoughts, then it is easy to ingest images of her that defy her humanity. She is not a woman — a living creature with human attributes. She is merely a body, a vacant, empty, vessel intended to contain the needs of others — preferably men — and her body, which is the most desired aspect of her existence, perfect, lithe, smooth and hair-free, is open for interpretation and domination.

-Marina DelVecchio, The New Agenda

In an era in which human beings claim to be ever more enlightened and concerned with justice, the manner in which violence against women is depicted on television, on the internet, and in movies has never been more graphic. In fact, our society has become so desensitized to this that it’s generally considered a normal part of our entertainment. We’re so accustomed to seeing women belittled, berated, beaten, raped, and murdered that we might feel nothing but a vague ambivalence as we watch our favorite shows, be they true crime, fantasy, sitcoms, reality, or comedy.

In 2014 a group from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology published a study, Contribution of Media to the Normalization and Perpetuation of Domestic Violence, in the Austin Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. They pointed out that domestic violence (DV) is “becoming more prevalent in social media as well as academic literature. Based on the astonishing prevalence rates of DV there are good reasons to consider this issue an epidemic.” The researchers go on to say that, “DV continues to be normalized through its comedic portrayal via news outlets, magazines, advertisements, and television shows.”

This study highlighted various contributing factors to the prevalence of DV in the media, including video games, cultural and family values, religious tradition, advertisements, and the news. In particular, they discussed how DV is portrayed through humor, and how this too desensitizes us to the seriousness of what is, truly, an epidemic. They offer statistics to illustrate just how vibrantly alive and well this violence is. Additionally, they make a fantastic point that all of this desensitization and joking leads to DV being underreported—and therefore victims are underserved.

Domestic violence can be portrayed as exciting, romantic, and sexy, with couples “needing” to fight so they can have passionate make-up sessions. Some TV channels targeted at particular cultures often portray teary-eyed, emotional women playing second fiddle to demanding macho men. This dynamic can also be seen in America’s long-running soap operas, with high drama ping-ponging between characters and constant tension and betrayal. As Lucy Lopez of the Sonoma State Star pointed out last year, the movie Suicide Squad (per the original comic) shows prison psychiatrist Harley Quinn being brutally tortured into becoming the Joker’s abused girlfriend.

Similarly, Dr. Wind Goodfriend’s 2011 Psychology Today blog post outlines how the Twilight series sets fans up for abusive relationships. It glorifies the awkward girl with low-esteem being enticed and isolated by a forbidden man. If you’ve ever read Sandra L. Brown’s Women Who Love Psychopaths or How to Spot a Dangerous Man, you’ll easily recognize how the Edward-Bella dynamic could be very dangerous in real live even if it does make for an intriguing story.

More recently, the HBO series Game of Thrones has made sexual violence even more mainstream, showcasing marital rape, incest, the gang rape of a minor, and other brutal sexual assaults. While the show’s creator points out that rape is just as much a part of history as war, even longtime fans of the show began to question the value of actually depicting and watching such acts. Over and over, women on this show have been viciously assaulted, causing some to label the series medieval rape porn.

As of mid-2015, Michelle Jaworski of The Daily Dot said that there were 50 rape acts and 29 rape victims in Game of Thrones to date. The books the show is based on contained 215 rapes and 117 rape victims. The recent Twin Peaks revival revisits the story of a teen raped by her father for years and then brutally murdered by him. Supposedly she was “too strong” for the evils that wanted to consume her, escaping them through death—as if that were her only out. Themes of incest, sex with minors, and other women’s murders are woven into the Twin Peaks mythology, which also contains likable, entertaining characters and storylines. Despite its selling points, it always seems like someone’s sick sexual fantasies are lurking underneath.

Back in 1985, five years before Twin Peaks debuted, The Center for Media Literacy and UCLA’s Neil Malamuth discussed the rise of sexual violence. They found that sexual violence had negative effects on a significant number of people, potentially increasing the likelihood of attacks and warping children’s sexuality. Thirty-two years later, we still debate whether ingesting violence via the media has any effect on our real world behavior as we deal with a whole new level of crime and terrorism including school shootings. Domestic violence in all forms is thriving. Presentations of it on the screen just get deeper, darker, and more disturbed.

When a program or movie portrays a story of an abused or assaulted woman getting revenge or seeking justice, we seem to accept vivid portrayals of her victimization as just part of the story. True crime shows often include these portrayals. Some call this crime porn; we don’t intend to watch pornography, but the depiction of the crime in the show might as well be. We also laugh along with countless sitcoms and adult cartoons that show dysfunctional relationships in which men and women often nitpick, threaten, and insult each other. Arguably most of our country believes this negativity is to be expected in a relationship.

PreventConnect has an amazing list, Movies, documentaries, and video clips related to Violence Against Women, that includes fictional movies on the topic and many educational shorts designed to prevent it. A quick look at this collection shows how glaring the problem of violence directed at women, including domestic violence, still is. I challenge you to watch at least one of these shorts every day for a week without altering your regular viewing schedule. The gruesome reality of how saturated our programming is with harming women will begin to stand out—even to those of us who already believe we have an acute awareness of the issue.

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Originally written for a newsletter before the Weinstein scandal broke, but all the more relevant now.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

 

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angel-and-moon

What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts. –Arthur Conan Doyle

Standing in the accelerating sleet last night, the pinks and blues and purples burst above us like the Space Needle was imploding in the most beautiful way.

2017… a new year, a new start, a chance to make things right. That’s what the New Year is for, correct? A giant reset button that lifts our spirits and refreshes our souls?

As I made my way through the mass of revelers and vehicles that leached out into the streets from every corner and crevice as if the city was a giant washcloth being wrung out, reality set back in. New year, same problems, even new problems.

Most of the world has more serious issues– I need to keep mine in perspective. But that doesn’t make them any less real, and one thing I don’t like about having problems is that it impedes my ability to help other people solve theirs.

This night is always a good night to forget about our challenges for a while and just feel alive. I needed that; I did that. As I went on to my next activity, though, I thought about how many of our efforts to feel alive please the body for a few hours but aren’t good for the soul.

We are masters at temporarily numbing our pain without digging down to the root cause of why we continually engage in self-destructive behaviors. Eventually these flimsy fixes we fashion to avoid processing the larger issues will fail. It might take decades, you might get away with avoiding your demons most of your life, but they will catch up to you.

Why? Why do we persist in doing things that devalue ourselves and seemingly ignore the fact that in the end we have to answer for our choices? This is not judgmental; I include myself in this analysis. And I was reminded as I pondered this that we don’t know who we are. Or we don’t care.

We are born. We learn pain. We try to find love. We find flawed human beings who are selfish and hurtful. Some even take pleasure in harming others. The enemy of our souls exploits our weaknesses and tries to convince us we have no need for God. Our bleeding hearts scar over, our walls go up, we keep a good face on but inside we withdraw farther and farther into the desolate labyrinth of prison cells that our life experiences have built for us.

This was never God’s plan for us. It’s still not His plan for us. I write this as someone who feels like I’ve had every reason in recent years to walk away from Him. The losses have been repeated and immense, the physical toll brutal and embarrassing. I understand as well as any why people feel betrayed by God and ask why He can allow such terrible things to happen, especially when you’re trying to be true to His ways.

In the beginning we walked with God in the garden. Then we met a deceiver who convinced us we could be our own gods. And our race has largely been stuck there ever since– doing our own thing, hurting and killing each other, destroying our souls. As C.S. Lewis astutely noted, all of human history, all the crazy things we’ve done, is an attempt to find something other than God to make us happy.

Do you know what gives me hope in those moments I feel like I’ve taken yet another shotgun blast to the chest and my internal organs are hanging out in shreds? I am His child. He has a solution for every sickness, a plan for every problem, a miracle for every mountain. Tonight might be the darkest night of your life but He’s awake and working. He has unlimited resources. And He’s going to make a way.

Some who believe in Him will tell you to be a good little doormat and to just be glad it’s not worse. Don’t listen to them. He has no intention of keeping us stuck in the same mud until we drown. He might allow us to make our own bad choices again and again until we hit rock bottom and wake up, but you are a child of light, not of mediocrity. You are a victor, not a victim. You are a purposeful creation of the force that not only made this universe but exists beyond it.

You might say, “you don’t know what I’ve done.” That goes both ways. You don’t know what I’ve done either. But I know He offers forgiveness and has had a plan for your life since before you were born. If you ask for His help and make an effort to live His way, He’ll start showing you the path you’re supposed to be on. Chances are He’s already given you some clues, but you feel too afraid, unworthy, or used up to go for it.

Our modern culture has no use for God except in times of tragedy. It’s become so very normal to believe that drinking, drugs, sex, sports, fashion, money will solve our problems. They mask our problems. They are Band-Aids. One more shallow relationship, one more beer, one more pair of designer shoes– no. Those just prolong the inevitable. You will still wake up one morning with the realization that your life could have had a deeper meaning. You might be 30, you might be 90, but it will come.

If you know who you are– His child– your life has that deeper meaning. You were not designed to function on your own and fuel your part-body, part-soul amphibious self with the things of this world. You were made to run on God, Love Himself. The more you realize this, the less you need the Band-Aids. It can be so hard to believe this when parts of your life have been like a horror story. I get it. Yet every time I choose Him instead of the Band-Aid, I am making it more possible to overcome my problems. This is because I’m surrendering my way to His, and He knows better than I do.

This is my challenge to all of us in 2017. Will we choose to believe that He has great plans for our lives and the best is yet to come as sons and daughters of the Most High? Or will we keep doing the same things over and over hoping that this time the outcome will be different (it won’t)?

New year, same problems as yesterday. Life didn’t magically start over during the fireworks. But you are most powerful when everything looks hopeless and lost and you choose to believe anyway. When life gets out its baseball bat again and beats you senseless, get upFight back. When temptation comes, remind yourself that you’re better than that. When people who don’t know your whole story judge you, remember that they don’t know but God does.

You are His child. He wants the very best for you. Remember who you are and what He has promised, and you will be happier, healthier, and more able to love and be loved.

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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