The Year of Sexual Misconduct

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It has been quite the year for highlighting the issues of sexual misconduct in the workplace and how we as a society have dealt with it.  As quickly as empires are built, we have found they can crumble just as fast.  Many powerful men have lost their positions as society is no longer accepting the behavior of those who abuse.  The balance of power is shifting and there will be those who will be uncomfortable with it.  As with change, it is either swift or slow, and in this case, it has been a swift blow to many industries, especially the movie industry.  It is a great feat for us to see that change is possible simply by changing attitudes and mindsets and not through the imagined upheaval of the earth. We sometimes do not court change because we have seen no change in so long, but change is here.  However, it is also disheartening to know that it has taken this long for the shoe to drop.  Sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse by any other name has existed for this long because we have let it exist.

Why is it that attitudes are now changing this year when more than 40 women came out to identify Cosby as a rapist just a few years ago?  These were the same allegations we are hearing now, but these women’s stories were dissected and belittled everywhere until a veritable voice spoke up and enabled their right to fight for their cases to come to light.  And still, the shoe didn’t drop.  Sexual abuse was business as usual even in light of this high-profile case.  Women have faced sexual abuse for centuries, but why was it finally important now?  One of the reasons, unfortunately, is that the women’s voices were corroborated.  As with Cosby, Hannibal Burress cemented Cosby’s fate with a joke on stage when many people in the industry already knew about what was happening.  With Weinstein, his downfall came in the form of a New York Times article.  It is not enough that women speak up, but they must also be corroborated to be believed.  It is disturbing that it takes this level to bring to light the atrocities that these women have endured when their own voices meant nothing.  All of a sudden, sexual misconduct was legitimatized and people were allowed to speak about it.  It was no longer a secret shame they were forced to carry.

What this speaks to is a system that is failing these women.  We live in a society that does not speak about sexual assault.  We talk about the prevention of it, but nothing about what to do in the aftermath.  It is an unsavory subject, and as such, we sweep it under the rug in hopes that it will not come up again.  What this does is creates an air of secrecy around sexual assault, causing the victims to be shamed because they are breaking the unspoken rules of society.  Sexual assault is the odd cousin we never talk about at family gatherings because we don’t want to think about it.  When we don’t think about it, we have no idea how to manage it when it dos happens.  The ideas we are living with are arcane and out of date, for they are not helping us in the current climate that we live in.  If we can change how sexual assault is viewed, we can change how we deal with those who serve up these charges.  Instead of dismissing them, we can learn to listen to them and not be ashamed of what has happened.  There is no shame in being raped.  The only shame that exists is when the society that you live in decides that you should not talk about being raped.

The balance of power is shifting and those who are losing power are those who have held it for a very long time. People like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were relieved of their jobs, but with great payouts.  They felt no shame in their dismissals and didn’t even acknowledge their sexual misconduct in the workplace.  To them, it was business as usual and they didn’t understand why they were forced to leave.  When Fox gave them a hefty severance package, Fox was also saying that the sexual misconduct meant very little to them. Sheryl Sandberg warned of a blowback about the #MeToo campaign, and it may not be as pervasive as you’d think it would be, but it will come  For those losing power, they may try to regain it by reasserting themselves in other ways.  Power is a very powerful motivation and when someone tries to take it away, there will be unintended consequences.  As when the government enacted new laws to protect Black Americans, some White Americans saw this as a blow to their power.  What happened was the White protest in America that protested Black children attending their schools, Black college kids sitting at their counters, and marrying into their race, with miscegenation laws still on the books into the late 60’s.

Power is a tricky thing to deal with, but more tricky is how systematic race, sex, and sexual-orientation issues are in our society.  As with race, we ask if there is still racism if we elect a Black president?  Then with sex, do we then equate the same thing; that there is no more sexual abuse of power if we hire more women into higher positions?  The answer to all of these is no.  Abuse of power does not stop simply because we hire people of color or women.  The problem is the entire system.  If you do not overhaul the system, the abuse will still occur.  Yet, even more problematic is how we view the problem.  We view the problems as someone else’s problem: an issue that is touchy and not to bring up.  Sexual abuse if everyone’s problem and not to be hidden away.  When you can talk about it casually, when you can see bold demonstrations of protecting victims in your workplace, and when you can feel confident in opening up about your sexual abuse, then  you will know the issues are being dealt with.  Sexual abuse, racism, xenophobia, and hate crimes will always happen.  The more we are on board with the idea that these things are here to stay, the more we will know that we must develop effective ways to deal with these issues rather than denying their existence.

 

 

The Gilmore Girls Effect

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What does minority representation mean in the media?  I was reading through the very scientific comments of Buzzfeed about the revival episodes of Gilmore Girls and someone had asked why there were never any minority characters on the show, and someone else responded that there had in deed been minorities portrayed on the show.  The show itself exists in a vacuum of a Mayberry-esque world, where nothing from the real world affects it, and that is part of the show’s charm, but the idea that it accurately represented minorities is a farce just because they showed minorities.  When you show minorities without any true dialogue about who they are, they just became a stand-in for a white character.  In that sense, you lose who they are as a person.  Not every moment is a teachable moment and not every moment is infused with the minority plight, but if you strip the vernacular, the culture, religion, and habits of a people from a single character, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Many shows today are striving to be better without really understanding why.  They want to be more progressive and will introduce minority characters where there are none to be more inclusive, but that creates a strange dynamic, where the viewer sees these minorities portrayed in a way where they never comment about their race because that character was written without a race.  As such, the representation of the minority is skewed so that many think they have the same exact quandary as the white characters, when this is false.  This is not true of all minorities everywhere, but as a whole, it does affect them.  Thus, the representation of the minority character is not true to life.  Simply showing a person of color does not dispel any myths about race.  Yes, it allows actors of color more roles, but the roles don’t necessarily accurately depict their lives.  As such, the viewer wonders why race must be discussed because the worlds they always view never do.

If a character can be swapped out for a white character in a movie or a show, their race is meaningless.  If they are not culturally portrayed accurately, they are merely a stand-in for someone white.  And some ask then, shouldn’t this be what we should strive for?  Shouldn’t we be color-blind and never think of race?  That would be ideal, however, that can only exist in a world such as Mayberry or the Gilmore Girls, because race is ever present in our society.  We are defined by who we are in our sex, religion, sexual-orientation, and race.  Simply showing these characters without showing what they have to go through ignores their plight.  It also gives the viewer the impression that there is no plight.  This is quite dangerous, because it mutes the voice of the people they are showing.  It is unintentional and without malice, but it harms society nevertheless, because it lulls them into a false equivalency.

 

In Search of a Killer

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I first found out about my cousin’s disappearance from a random post one of my Facebook friends shared.  It was one of those things people like to share without really thinking about who the subject was, and the prettier they were, the more it was likely to to be noticed.  I did a double-take when I really looked at the picture because I realized I knew that missing girl.  That girl was my family.  I had just seen her at another family member’s birthday party last month.  And here was this picture of her saying she was missing.  I was dumbfounded that this was happening.  This happened to other people, but not to us, and we hoped that perhaps it wasn’t true.

When your loved one is missing and you’re faced with the options, you will pick anything over death.  You want them to be missing.  You want them to be stupid and careless like I was once when I was her age, not caring about my parents and making rash decisions because I didn’t know any better.  We thought maybe she was trafficked.  Perhaps she did run away.  Anything other than the idea that she was dead.  It’s hard to imagine a mother hoping that her daughter is trafficked instead of being dead because the first leaves room for her daughter to be alive, and the other doesn’t.  However, when you’re in that situation, you’ll take any  shred of hope that you can hold on to.

As the days slipped away and the circumstances of her disappearance came to light, we realized that things did not add up.  The way she went missing seemed very suspicious as her mother was the last to see her late Wednesday night.  By early Thursday morning, she simply vanished without a trace.  She left behind her phone, her money, and everything else that mattered to her.  It was as if she never existed.  How do you track down a ghost?  Someone who simply isn’t there anymore.  You start to question if you really even knew them.  With each day, we tortured ourselves with the details and re-examined what little we knew over and over until the items themselves didn’t make sense anymore.  How do you make sense out of a life that vanishes into thin air?  What do you have to hold on to except for the memories?

Then we heard the police pulled a body from the Fox River and we waited for what seemed an eternity for the news.  Some of us suspected it was her.  Some of us hoped for the best up until the very moment the words escaped the detective’s lips.  It was her.  There is a strange sense in knowing.  In not knowing, you could imagine she could be out there somewhere, alive. In knowing, we knew that her last moments would’ve been hell.  We knew she suffered.  We knew she was gone.  But we also knew that some families never get their loved ones back, and at least we did.  The investigation is ongoing, but there is a killer out there and we are looking for them.  Who the killer is is anyone’s guess.  It could’ve been herself.  It could’ve been someone she knew and trusted to leave in the dead of the night without her phone.  It could’ve been a stranger that abducted her from her room.

Caitlyn Xiong was a kind and gentle soul who loved children and wanted to be a teacher.  She hated bullies and wanted to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.  She was an underdog and rooted for people just like her.  She was also very strong-willed and independent.  Although she and her boyfriend had just broken up a few days prior, her mother said she didn’t think she was suicidal.  She wasn’t planning her departure from this earth.  She was planning for a future.  She had gotten a job so she could save money for a car and attend school.  She was on the verge of becoming an adult and reaching her full potential, but that was all taken away from her.  She will never fulfill those plans and we will never see them come to fruition because she was taken.

We are looking for a killer.  A killer of hopes and dreams. A killer of family relationships and bonds.  A killer of possibilities.  Because when she was taken, all of these things were also taken.  What happens to a life that is unexpectedly stopped?  Do the answers also stop?  In reality, what we really need to come to terms with is that once we do finally get the truth, it may come with justice, but no comfort, for it will not bring her back.

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What leads good people to follow bad people and ideas?

When I watch the news and see all that is happening, I wonder how there can still be those who support the President? What can possibly happen so that not another person attends his ridiculous rallies meant to bolster his fragile ego? There are always those hold-outs who astound me, such as the people who continue to defend Cosby in the face of so much evidence.  What leads good people to follow bad people and ideas even when it is clear to so many people how bad these things truly are?  The same reason why cults still exist like The Church of Scientology and why people still fall for nationalist ideals.  When we fall for an idea, a religion, or a person wholly, we tie ourselves into that ,and we feel as if we are denouncing ourselves when we denounce what we have bought into.  Instead, we continue on blindly in hopes that there is a higher purpose, being, or meaning than us.

We tend to make gods out of mere mortals because we like to follow.  When someone gives your life meaning, you will view them as a god.  We want to believe in movements and religions larger than us because we want to belong and feel alive.  These things make us susceptible to those who pander to us because we want to believe in the goodness of others and man.  When we start to believe, we sometimes immerse ourselves wholly and don’t know where the idea starts and where we end.  When this happens, we find it hard to extricate ourselves from things that are no longer healthy.  If we can accept this truth about ourselves, it will be easier to swallow the truth that we have taken the wrong path.  If we never face this truth, we will be doomed to follow in the footsteps of so many that have come before.

R. Kelly and the Cult of Control

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R. Kelly has been in the news as of late due to a Buzzfeed article that details how he allegedly keeps women in a ‘cult.’  I’ve seen comments defending him from either side, some saying that no one batted an eye when Hefner did the same.  Some also argue that these are grown women who are free to do what they want. I agree with that sentiment.  You are free to be in any abusive relationship you want to be in, even if it is slowly choking the life out of you.  R. Kelly has committed no crimes, but morally, he is a reprehensible person who seeks out the companionship of young, impressionable women who he can easily manipulate by using his fame and fortune to leverage control.  There is no law that prevents you from being manipulated, and people confuse manipulation and abuse because the one may lead to the other, but they are not the same.

In my opinion, these young women are being mentally trained to not question their roles in his home.  Is it it a cult?  No, but is it unhealthy?  Yes.  He is using his cult of stardom to wow them and let them know who is the star, but there are no beliefs to be shared.  A cult uses the same strategies to maintain their lambs, but they are not the same thing.  He can be seen as a cult leader because he is charismatic and forceful, but he is not one.  What he is is a man who craves control because it makes him feel more powerful. He enjoys the position of power as did Warren Jeffs, of a Utah Mormon sect that abused his position by having sex with underage girls.  Once again, similar, but not the same.  It’s easy to bandy that word about, but do not confuse the two situations.  R. Kelly is simply a man who uses his position to get what he wants sexually, but Warren Jeffs is a man who uses his religion and position to get what he wants sexually, and religion can easily be eschewed to line up to his benefit.  Religion is a far more damaging agent because it can encompass your whole life and way of thinking.

I do not agree with the fact that these women chose to stay with him, but I also do not agree with the fact that women in the Mormon sect decide to stay within that society, that women all over stay in abused marriages, and that a lot of harm befall women because this is how they are kept from rebelling.  If we keep letting women believe that they are less than, they will keep trying to and not ask for more.  As with manipulators and cults of any sorts, the antidote is to question, for when you start questioning, you start unraveling.  If there is the one thing you teach your children, I hope it is that they always have the right to question.

How to Start a Revolution: The Powerful and the Wrath of the Mob

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The French Revolution changed the face of mankind the social structure of who we are because people were angry and demanded change that was not materializing.  When those in the aristocracy and clergy went along with rules that always favored them in a time of want, those under them rose up and had their heads on a platter.  There will always be those who are in power.  There will always be factions that curry favor and are above the law because of who they are.  There will always be the rich and the powerful, but there is one thing that they cannot escape, and that is the wrath of the mob.  Those who are powerful can escape prison sentences, skirt laws, not pay taxes, and commit murder with impunity, but the one thing they are not above is the anger of the mob.  Remember that when you think you hold no power.

Mob mentality is not always great as it can lead to unjust lynchings, mass hysteria, and general havoc, but it can also bring about revolution.  The anger of the mob is what elected Donald Trump and that means it is not something to be ignored.  It may not always be right, but we must acknowledge that there is much power there and that it transcends those with money and high positions.  The French Revolution brought about many modern changes, but it also brought the death of many innocent people who were swept up in the search for equality.  Sometimes, in the fight for equality, you forget that the people you oppose are still the people you should fight for and infringe on their rights.

If we are to progress forward, there must be anger from the mob, because for so long, the elite rich have taught us not to envy them their ‘earned’ pay.  That we are not to question what they do with their money because they have worked for it, and as such, we have bought into this idea because we decry those who misuse five hundred dollars of food stamps, but do not bat an eye when the Koch brothers’ PAC gave  $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, who then  spent $65,000 on independent expenditures in support of Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has sparked many protests across Wisconsin.  Or how about a private concert thrown by David Bonderman that cost $7 million?  How is it that we have been conditioned to be upset about poor people who misuse their government allowances, but not the millions of dollars that are wasted on lavish parties and politics? Where is the outrage?

If they keep your outrage at bay long enough and tell you that you can’t be upset at them because they have actually ‘earned’ their money, they hope you will direct your anger about your situation else where and blame those who supposedly do not work for their keep and are asking for hand outs.  When you do that, you keep the revolution at bay and won’t go after the rich and powerful because you believe that they get away with everything all the time anyways. So you start to believe that they have a right to spend their money as they please because they ‘earned’ it, while you barely survive paycheck to paycheck like a large majority of Americans.  How long can you live like this until you realize that the power of the mob is stronger than the power of the rich?  It has taken down kings and men of God alike, and it will fuel a new revolution.

 

Analyzing Trump’s Twitter Posts

 

Trump’s often erratic Twitter posts give insight into what kind of person he is. Oftentimes, people give him more credit than he is due because they don’t fully understand the writing errors he makes.  As a graduate with an English degree, I myself have made many mistakes, but usually, these mistakes are because I didn’t proof-read my writing or because I am careless.  In analyzing Trump’s writing, it is clear that he does not have a good grasp of proper writing techniques and instead, is writing how he speaks. This leads to many misunderstanding who he is and what he is speaking about.

In this post, he capitalizes the word ‘leakers’ needlessly because that is how he would naturally speak that phrase.  If he were speaking, he would put emphasis on that word, but he doesn’t understand the context it provides in the written form. This may be because he is not familiar with the written word and how it differs from the spoken word.

In this post, he is using quotation marks to try to undermine what he is speaking about.  If capitalization was the moment he tries to emphasize a word, quotations is the moment is trying to be sarcastic.  As you can see, it does not translate well in the written form once again.

In this post, he is using a hyphen that is not needed, but I believe that if he were making a speech, this would be the moment he would pause for dramatic effect.  As it is, the hyphen does not make much grammatical sense where it is now.

In this post, he speaks in the third person. When someone does that, they are usually distancing themselves from a part of themselves.  He often speaks in the third person, which some people infer to as a grandiose sense of himself, which may be.  Personally, I think a person who believes in himself that much would always refer to themselves in the first person to give themselves credit for a deed well done, but if they are referring to themselves in a third party, I believe they know some semblance of truth and are fracturing who they are to distance themselves from that other person.

In this post, you can see he uses a lot of adjectives to describe something he is speaking about.  This is usually done when someone is exaggerating.  When you exaggerate, your words also show it because you need qualifiers to convince even yourself of what you subconsciously know is incorrect.  When you actually start to believe in the hyperbole that you espouse, your judgement begins to cloud and suddenly, there is no gray anymore, but rather just the black and the white.

What you can discern through these posts is that he is unraveling at the seems.  You can see that he does not fully understand the written word and how others perceive it. Because he cannot see how others perceive him, he is stuck in a bubble of his own making, where he makes his own truths and qualifies them himself.  He is, however, acutely aware of his detractors and makes many remarks to defend himself in the face of their opposition.  When that happens, he sees himself as the victim, for he cannot fathom what he did to bring it on himself.  In conclusion, he does not hold himself responsible for anything and is always in search of things to either qualify himself or to bring down someone else in order to quality himself even more.