Mythic Mondays – Legitimate Rape

You know, this is one post I never thought I’d have to write. The level of stupid involved in rape culture and the forced-birth movement is pretty bad, but this comment takes the cake.

Todd Akin, a United states congressman AND a member of the House Science and Technology Committee, stated this weekend that rape rarely causes pregnancy because:

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down, But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.”

Apparently, according to Akin, a woman’s uterus knows the difference between rape and consensual sex, somehow, and magically destroys sperm that doesn’t have its paperwork in order. I want to meet the incompetent doctors that he said gave him this information.

Was it Galen of Pergamon? He taught that a woman could only conceive if she’d had an orgasm. He taught this is 150 CE, mind you. While he was ahead of his time in cutting edge anatomy…this was also almost 2,000 years ago. He also was a staunch supporter of blood letting, and of fixing ‘bad humours’, which has been thoroughly discredited by modern medicine. As has the idea that a woman needs to orgasm/consent in order to get pregnant.

Todd Akin, a man who has the power to legislate laws that limit a woman’s reproductive choice, while following advice from a 2,000 year old medical book. Not to mention the fact that this man is on the House Science and Technology Committee. Let that roll around in your head for awhile. I’m not even going to debunk this one, because if you believe that a woman’s uterus knows about consent and can decide whether it should get pregnant or not, then you are an idiot. Todd is an idiot.

The really scary thing? Todd is not an isolated case. There’s plenty of documented occurrences of Republican politicians stating this very thing. These are university educated men in positions of power. Jezebel has a recent timeline of some these incidences. Not to mention that this is one of the core beliefs of the anti-choice movement.

‘Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, on Sunday called Akin’s remarks “flat-out astonishing.”

“That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims …That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women,” she told AP Radio.’
The Toronto Star

There’s also the not-so-subtle undercurrent of what he’s saying: Real rapes don’t get women pregnant. Most rapes are just made up by loose women who can’t keep their legs closed and regret it after the fact. So the estimated 32,000 women a year who get pregnant each year from rape? Lying sluts who are just trying to put an innocent man in prison. Stay classy, Todd.

There’s a petition to get Todd taken off the House Science and Technology Committee. ‘Someone who believes nonsense like this has no part overseeing science policy.’ Says the poster of the petition. Seeing as the man is still living in the dark ages, it might not be a bad idea.

Here’s some good posts on the subject of Legitimate Rape, Todd, and Rape apologists:

The myth that women can’t get pregnant from rape stems from basic assumptions anti-choicers make about women.

The Offical Guide to Legitimate Rape.

Akin’s eager apologists

What Todd Akin Said

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Islamophobia?

I’ve noticed a trend lately where liberal left-leaning atheists tend to shy away in horror whenever someone says anything disparaging about islam. I’ve seen numerous people called racists and islamophobes for saying something that no one would bat an eyelash at if it was said of christians. Frankly, I think it’s gotten ridiculous. The fear of being seen as a racist apparently trumps speaking out against a harmful and vile philosophy that seeks to gain power in our society.

I’ve never personally been called an islamophobe (I’m sure that will change after this post) but I do bristle when I see the label applied to others. Because to me it stinks of a silencing buzzword. In the same way that anti-feminists try to use the words ‘bitch‘ and ‘man-hater’ to end conversations with women.

Let’s break islamophobia down for a moment : islam (The so called religion of ‘peace’) and phobia (intense fear. I would dispute the phrase ‘irrational fear’ in this case). Now what would we possibly have to fear from a religion with such a strong history of violence and aggressive expansionism? How could we hate a religion that refuses to grant half the population even basic human rights? A religion that preaches that you must submit or die. One that encourages lying to nonbelievers to make your religion seem more palatable.

Yes, by that definition I’m an islamophobe.
I have nothing positive to say about this religion. Or any of the monotheistic and Abrahamic religions, to be completely honest. Don’t for a moment think that christianity is somehow kinder and better than islam. Both are violent and irrational at the fundamental level. So this term ‘Islamophobia’? I don’t see the term as being pejorative when applied to someone who’s speaking out against what I perceive as evil.

Is it the same as racism? No. Because because being a muslim is not a racial thing. It’s a religious thing. You choose (or are brainwashed or bullied) to be a muslim. I could be a muslim–Okay, I’m lying. I have self respect and a fundamental need to seek out answers with evidence and not fairy tales. Not to mention the fact that I’m a woman and this is not a religion that has any tolerance for women. I’ll never be a muslim. But the point stands, anyone from any cultural background from anywhere in the world can choose to buy into this silliness.

Islam is not a race it is a religion. The fact that the majority of muslims are ‘brown people’ has more to do with the fact that people almost always choose to stay with the religion they were raised in. It’s relatively rare to convert to a completely foreign religion. Both religions were born in the desert and are utterly incompatible. So they had to part ways. Christian families moved north, muslim families stayed south. Correlation does not imply causation. Skin colour does not predict religion.

The most unfortunate thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that by standing by my right to find fault with islam, and I maintain that there’s plenty of fault to find, the people most likely to agree with me are the racists. nowhere was this more evident then during ‘Everyone Draw Mohammed Day‘. A day of protest condemning the threats of violence from muslims against anyone who dared to make a representation of their beloved prophet.

I agreed with this support of freedom of speech. I agreed to protest anyone trying to silence us with fear. I participated. I drew my depiction, a rather bland portrait of a bearded muslim man. Hey, it wasn’t about art, it was about principle! Most of the other drawings were, well, vile. It became more about vilifying brown people than focusing on islam or Mohammed. I participated a second time: it was a worse parade of racism. I did not participate in 2012. The people participating drew sikhs and hindus and muslims and called them all Mohammed, because to them brown people in turbans are all the same anyway. The original meaning had been too badly corrupted and the protest had been stolen by racists.

I recognize that racists revile islam. But as I said, they don’t appear to be able to tell the difference between any person of colour in ethnic attire. This is not the same thing as specifically calling out islam on its faults. In fact, the two couldn’t be further apart. I’d be amazed if those tea-bagger style racists knew the first thing about islam. For those that do know about the ‘religion of peace’ and who choose to shine a glaring light on its ugliness, have at it! This is not something that should have other atheists turning on them in horror and accusing them of racism. It’s a dishonest accusation, or an ignorant one. And I can’t help but feel it may have more to do with fear than with reason…

Here’s some awesome smack talk from my favourite islamophobe, Pat Condell. He totally nails it.

Mythic Mondays – Jesus Hates F*gs

That’s right: Figs. Jesus hates them. It’s an unreasoning and petulant hatred too, according to the bible.

Matthew 21:18-22
King James Version (KJV)

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’

Jesus sees a fig tree, has a complete conniption when he realizes it’s not in season and has no fruit for him to eat and smites the tree. He then writes out a cheque for free fulfilled prayers which his ass never quite gets around to cashing. This is a totally rational reaction to a tree…if you’re a five year old throwing a temper tantrum. He totally wasn’t acting like a spiteful asshole teenager at all. I’m thinking the son of Yahweh needed some serious anger management counselling.

And then there’s this bit:

Jeremiah 29:17 KJV ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.’

That’s some serious righteous rage, right there. I don’t believe it’s ever been explained why our man Yahweh and his son Jebus have such a hard-on for persecuting figs but they were never big on explanations or…logic.

Or… did you think the title of this blog post referred to something else?

Well, good luck trying to use Jesus to justify homophobia, there’s nothing to back it up in the bible. At least not in the New Testament.

In Leviticus it states that a man cannot lie with a man as he would a woman. Which apparently lets lesbians completely off the hook. This divine wisdom is, of course, right beside passages that threaten hell for wearing mixed fibers, planting more than one crop in a field, having a rounded hair or beard cut, eating pork or shellfish, or having a tattoo. Which most christians are so super careful not to do. So clearly this rule about making sure lesbians don’t have sex with men must be pretty important right?

In warning others that homosexuality is a sin, this guy (in the photo in the left) is going to hell for having a tattoo…and prolly wearing mixed fibres too. He takes his bible really seriously when it’s backing up his chosen form of bigotry. Ignores it elsewise. Credibility…gone. I just hope for his sake that he’s not a fan of Fig Newtons too.

Secrecy Is Not a Valid Counter to Fear, Lies, and Shame.

Apparently Ontario is no longer allowing the whack-job forced-birthers access to abortion statistics. I have mixed feelings about this. You see, Ontario is no longer allowing access to abortion statistics for anyone. The Ministry of Health stated that “Records relating to abortion services are highly sensitive and that is why a decision was made to exempt these records.” when interviewed by the National Post.

The decision to keep Ontario abortion statistics from the public is not without precedent. B.C. has a similar law in effect and has had it since 2001, according to an article in the CBC:

Section 22.1 of B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act makes abortions the only medical procedures taking place in hospitals that are subject to secrecy.

The law was brought in back in 2001 after staff at some abortion facilities were targeted in violent attacks by anti-abortion groups in the 1990s.

Ah, yes. Those violent pro-lifers. The ones who are willing to murder people in order to make their point about how pro-life they are. Life is sacred, let’s go bomb a clinic! Way to stay true to your message, guys.

Kelly McParland, a dude with a serious case of ‘what about teh menz‘ syndrome, poor understanding of feminism, and a bone to pick with women having choice, wrote a commentary of the Ontario situation today in the National Post. With typically inflammatory and dishonest language, McParland compares abortion to incest, rape, and honour killings. Compares the murder of doctors to the ‘violence against the unborn’. False equivalencies all. And not a new tactic for McParland. Because integrity and truth are not something that anti-choicers appear to value. Shocking. A white middle aged dude with a high sense of entitlement and not much apparent respect for women deciding he knows best how we should make decisions about our bodies. I’m sure that’s never happened before. But it’s easy to dismiss his article because, well, it’s not very well written. I mean it’s a great test piece if you’re looking for logical fallacies and hyperbole, but that’s about it.

Getting back on the topic of secrecy in health statistics, I do, as I said at the beginning of this post, have mixed feelings about this. While I can see the very real threat to the safety of health care providers, I also have to wonder how you can keep statistics about a publicly funded medical procedure away from the tax paying public. Shrouding this one legitimate medical procedure in secrecy is only adding fuel to the arguments of the very people you consider dangerous in the first place. Face it, people are much more likely to protest if they think there’s a government conspiracy at hand. By making an exception in transparency only for abortions we’re lending credence to the ‘conspiracy theory’.

“It’s not an ideological issue… It’s health care provided by OHIP, so I fail to see why highly sensitive applies so drastically and dramatically in this one regard,” says Andrea Mrozek who is a spokesperson for the anti-abortion Institute of Marriage and Family. It irks me to have to agree with someone who works for a cause that uses lies, fear, and shame to make their point. It especially irks me to know that a group working with such a cesspool of morality may actually have the moral high ground in this one small instance. In fact, it makes me feel very unclean indeed.

Personally, I’m thinking the stats should be out there for all who request them. Just like any other healthcare stat. Secrecy puts us on the same moral level as the anti-choicers and that’s not something I’m comfortable with. Those who prefer choice don’t need to use lies and fear and shame. We have science and we have truth. Let’s stick to that and not stoop, please.

As for the safety of the healthcare providers, that’s a serious issue. Threats and incidents of violence against women’s clinics need to be taken much more seriously. Don’t let this shit escalate. Stricter laws and stronger enforcement against the criminals who would use terrorism and violence would go a long way to protecting those who work in clinics. Whereas secrecy is just provoking the protesters and making the terrorists feel even more righteous in their violence.

Just Because It’s a Rodeo Does Not Mean There Has To Be a Shootout At The Corral.

An off duty cop named Walt Wawra from Kalamazoo (No, I didn’t make that name up) and his wife from Michigan are vacationing in Calgary. They’re walking through a park in Calgary in the daytime and are approached by two young men who ask if they’re going to the centennial celebration of the biggest event in the city. You know, the Calgary Stampede.

Wary Walt apparently panics, assumes they’re vile thugs and tells them rudely to go away. He then laments that he didn’t have a gun on him. You know, to defend himself from these obviously aggressive lunatics who DARED to menace he and his wife. (I’m not making this up, I swear!) He wrote a letter to the Calgary Herald, complaining about it:

I recently visited Calgary from Michigan. As a police officer for 20 years, it feels strange not to carry my off-duty hand-gun. Many would say I have no need to carry one in Canada.

Yet the police cannot protect everyone all the time. A man should be al-lowed to protect himself if the need arises. The need arose in a theatre in Aurora, Colo., as well as a college campus in Canada.

Recently, while out for a walk in Nose Hill Park, in broad daylight on a paved trail, two young men approached my wife and me. The men stepped in front of us, then said in a very aggressive tone: “Been to the Stampede yet?”

Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz: Officer’s comments reflect cultural divide between Canada, U.S.

We ignored them. The two moved closer, repeating: “Hey, you been to the Stampede yet?”

I quickly moved between these two and my wife, replying, “Gentle-men, I have no need to talk with you, goodbye.” They looked bewildered, and we then walked past them.

I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.

Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know – it’s because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.

Walt Wawra, Kalamazoo, Mich.

The original letter is here, at the Calgary Herald.

It sounds like a hoax, right? The Calgary Herald assures us it is not.

My first impression is : ‘Dafuq?!?’ followed by ‘Bloody lucky thing Wistful Walt didn’t have a gun, or two young men might have needlessly died.’ Keep in mind this man is apparently a cop. If he’d been at home, instead of being a tourist, he’d have been packing. This is a man who makes snap judgements about people all the time. One who’s allowed to carry a gun. Yikes.

And here’s the kicker: The two aggressive men who accosted Whinging Walt and his wife were handing out free passes to the Stampede. No wonder they looked ‘bewildered’ at Worrying Walt’s strange reaction and general rudeness. I’m sure they had no way of knowing that if Wonderful Walt had had it his way, they’ve have been threatened with a handgun for their presumption to offer tourists free stuff! Honestly, the nerve of those guys.

I’m not the only one who thinks Wacky Walt from Kalamazoo is a nutter. There’s a hashtag on Twitter that’s devoted to his keen perceptive skills and excellent judgement called #NoseHillGentlemen.

As for Officer Wawra, it seems he’s wisely chosen to go into hiding and wait for the media storm to blow over. Good choice. A better choice would have been to do so BEFORE becoming a laughing stock.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the best argument for gun control that I’ve seen yet. We’re quite happy knowing only cops and crooks have guns in our country, Officer Wawra, if it means over-reacting gun happy folks like yourself do not. I feel safer already.

Mythic Mondays – Depression is caused by being too strong

I’m seeing a lot of people post this sentiment on Facebook lately and I’ve had to sit on my hands to avoid commenting. It shows up as a status update or as an image file with the quote on it. And inevitably the order that if you’re not a horrible sociopath who doesn’t care about anyone but yourself you’ll share it on social media. Because that’s how chain letters work nowadays: Guilt. I’m not passing this one one and I’ll tell you why.

First, I’d like to preface by saying that Depression and Anxiety disorders are something I’m familiar with. Intimately familiar with on both the side of the caregiver and of the person who is suffering from these disorders. So this is not me casting stones at those with mental health disorders. That would seriously not be cool. I’m all for education and better understanding of mental health issues. That’s the point. Misinformation really doesn’t help anyone. Even if it’s misinformation that’s designed to counter other seemingly more harmful misconceptions.

This idea that being strong for too long leads to depression seems to me to play into old stereotypes of (especially) women having ‘nervous breakdowns’ because they just couldn’t take it anymore. There’s a whole lot of unnecessary baggage and negative connotations that are bound up in the idea of people having ‘breakdowns’. It’s not a mental image that I’d want to promote. Horses have ‘breakdowns’ at the racetrack ; we euthanize them. There’s enough negative imagery and misconceptions surrounding people who suffer depression. We don’t need to pile anymore on by using hyperbolic and emotionally charged terms that are deemed obsolete by the medical community anyway.

Secondly, I’m going to focus specifically on Depression disorders, but a lot of what I have to say works for Anxiety disorders as well. I’m doing this to keep this blog post at a reasonable length. I realize that a common misconception that people have of depression is that it’s something you can shrug off. That it’s something that teenagers exaggerate about to the point of making light of it ‘My parents just told me I can’t use the car until I pay for gas and now I’m so depressed!‘. That you’re sad about something and you need cheering up. That you’re overreacting. That you need to get over it. That you’re weak.

The best description I’ve ever gotten for depression was hearing one sufferer describe it as ‘painting the world in water colours using a black brush’. You don’t just shrug off depression because it colours everything you do and everything you see. Nothing shows through with the vividness it ought to have. You may find yourself crying and when someone asks what’s wrong you honestly reply ‘Everything. Nothing. I don’t know’. Depression isn’t about being sad because you lost something dear to you (although that may be a trigger). It’s so much bigger than that.

As a sufferer of depression you may find yourself sleeping most of the time, not eating enough or eating too much. Gaining or losing weight respectively. Your personal hygiene may have taken a noticeable turn for the worse as your fatigue rises and your morning ritual of ablutions becomes far too much effort. Work productivity drops as you find you can’t concentrate…if you’re able to drag yourself in to work. Activities that you once enjoyed are no longer enjoyable and you have random and/or undefined aches and pains. You’re irritable and may lash out at people when they try to console you. There may be a sense of hopelessness. Even knowing that your problem is depression, you don’t know how you could ever manage to get through it, so what’s the point in trying? You know you can’t get over and you know this because you start realizing how worthless you are. It may even lead to thoughts of ending your life to escape the physical and emotional pain that you’re experiencing. Those pains are real.

“Depression is such cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying with concern. Just the slow erosion of the self, as insidious as any cancer. And, like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience. A room in hell with only your name on the door. I realize that every person, at some point, takes up residence in one or other of these rooms. But the realization offers no great comfort now.”

Martha Manning, Undercurrents (1994)
author/therapist who has dealt with major depression

We haven’t yet pinpointed what causes depression. Like so many other issues that involve the brain, this is one where much research is still needed. This is why the firm statement that we know what it is and turning it into a bragging point of how awesomely strong you are annoys me so much. Experts currently believe that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors. So your Family History, Brain Chemistry, Hormones, Coping mechanisms, stress levels, and environment all play their parts in the game.

We know that if you scan the brain of a person with depression it will appear differently than that of someone who is not suffering this disorder. So yeah, it’s a real thing that we can see with science. What we don’t know is why. We know that if you’ve suffered depression once there’s an increased chance that you’ll suffer it again. We know that women suffer depression about twice as often as men. Women have the additional triggers of monthly hormonal fluctuations and postpartum issues to deal with. This makes it a gendered illness, and unfortunately means it’s less likely to be taken seriously.

One of the most common theories is that depression is caused by an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain. What backs up this theory is that drug treatment with those neurotransmitters (Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, for example) appears to treat the symptoms of depression in many people. The scary thing is that I had to use the words ‘appears to treat‘. We still aren’t totally sure why modern anti-depressants work and finding the right one or combination of drugs can be a hit & miss affair.

I think the most important thing about understanding depression is accepting that it is an illness, that it isn’t your fault, and that there are treatment options. You probably can’t deal with this all by yourself. You’re gonna need some outside support. You can find your way out if only you will reach out for support. Although the journey may not be an easy one.

For those that are dealing with loved ones who are depressed, the important thing to understand that you can’t take someone else’s depression personally. You didn’t cause it. You can’t cure it. Their irritability is likely a symptom of the illness. An illness they may not even realize they have. One of the tricky things about the brain is that it sucks at diagnosing problems with itself. You can nudge someone in the direction of getting help, but it’s something that should be done gently. The fact that there are so many negative emotions and ideas balled up in the phrases ‘mental illness’, ‘get help’, ‘see a psychiatrist’ means that you need to choose your words very carefully.

So, like last weeks post on Dream reading, this myth is the result of people claiming to know more than we actually do and trying to pass their opinions off as fact. The difference is that this one can actually contribute to harmful misconceptions.

For further reading on Depression (or to check to make sure that I’m not full of shit) :
The National Mental Health Institute
Depression Hurts
Help Guide (Depression)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

What Free Speech Does Not Mean

One of the most common arguments you’ll see from the ignorant on any number of a variety of topics is the ‘It’s free speech’ argument. Lately I’ve seen this with the Daniel Tosh Rape joke scenario, the We-Need-Moar-Guns-To-Stop-People-From-Shooting-Theatres debate, the Chik-Fil-A We-don’t-hate-gays-but-donate-to-anti-gay-groups debacle. And numerous other ridiculous situations that I have a hard time imagining anyone would want to defend.

Usually, the ‘It’s Free Speech’ argument is said completely without irony and without an understanding of what it actually means. It’s like people think it’s a ‘get out of argument free card’.

What free speech means:

That you are free to voice your opinion without government interference.

That’s it. Full stop. That’s all it means. Here’s what it does not mean:

That you are free to say something remarkably stupid without receiving criticism.

As I’ve said on a previous post : ‘No one is above critique. See that’s the flip side of the ‘Free Speech’ argument that so many seem to draw like a gun. Yes, you can say stupid things…and then I can verbally tear you a new asshole for it.’ If you try to tell me I’m not allowed to criticize something you’ve said…you’ve just committed the ultimate hypocrisy in asserting that your Free Speech somehow outweighs mine.

That I have to listen to what you have to say.

MRAs (Male Rights Activists) may rant and rave and froth and foam to their heart’s content. And they do quite frequently. I’m not interested and I’m not listening. My brain can only handle so much unreasoning hate and pure stupid. In no way have I taken away their rights by focusing my attention away from their fecal flinging. I won’t pull you off your soapbox…but I have the right to walk by without stopping.

That I have to provide you an opportunity to voice your opinion.

I believe this is part of the FreeThoughtBlogs vs Thunderf00t comedy. He was given a blog space by them…they realized he was only there to shit disturb…they promptly removed him. No Free Speech was taken. As a presenter or organizer, I don’t have to allow you the stage. As a webmaster I don’t have to give you a blog. As a blogger, I don’t have to let you write a guest post and I certainly don’t have to allow your opinions in the comment section of my personal blog. I’m not the government and I’m not censoring you. I’m just not giving up my space for your opinions. Get your own damned blog. I hear there’s this place called WordPress that gives them away for free!

That I must continue to support the person who is exercising their free speech.

For example, if I choose to boycott a business because they are vocal in their bigotry, this is not infringing on their free speech. They chose to voice their opinion. I chose not to support it. If, as another business, I choose to sever our relationship, this too is not taking away the rights of the first business. They chose to voice an opinion that may not be well received by the masses. There are consequences in that.

That the listeners must agree with the speaker.

Have your say. Try to swing me to your perspective. Don’t throw a temper tantrum and accuse people of stealing your free speech when they don’t instantly bow down to your demands or agree with you. Be an adult, for chrissakes. Or by all means, flop down in the mud and throw your temper tantrum. It gives us fledgling bloggers something interesting to blog about. And by ‘blog about’ I do mean ‘mock relentlessly’.