Monday, April 06, 2009

Sexual Assault Awareness Month - No Food Today, Sorry

If you tuned in today then you are listening to Evil Stig in Today's Kitchen Music. And if you are wondering if that isn't Joan Jett that you hear, yes it is. This is one of my favorite albums of all time. Top Five. I fear I may wear this CD out but thankfully this disc is still available, for now.

Evil Stig is The Gits spelled backwards. They were a punk band on the Seattle scene in the early 90s, on the verge of making it big. Then in 1993, while walking home, the lead singer Mia Zapata was brutally raped and murdered. At the time there were no leads. The band got together with Joan Jett on lead vocals and began a benefit concert tour to raise money to fund finding Mia Zapata's murderer. This CD was released of that work and proceeds from its sales also went to the search. I'm pretty sure I bought it when it came out in 1995. Thank God, thanks to DNA, the murderer was finally found in 2002 and convicted in 2003, ten years after. Now I believe sales of the CD go to benefit Home Alive (though I think when I bought it part went to RAINN but maybe that was another CD).


I can't tell you why sexual assault bothers me so much, why it makes me so angry, makes me grit my teeth, even send me into a rage. I have no personal experience with it. I've never been touched by it directly, only third or fourth hand. But it makes me seethe. I imagine my eyes turn just like Anakin Skywalker's did in Revenge of the Sith regarding the subject.

It's on the short list of things that make me hate. There is just too much ignorance and too much apathy regarding sexual assault and domestic violence (I don't separate the two). People just don't give a shit. When we moved to Bainbridge I was gung ho about getting involved in the community. I wanted to make a difference. So Dinah and I both joined the Decatur County Family Connection group. Because of my deep seated feelings I immediately felt compelled to join the Domestic Violence Task Force committee of Family Connection (I was briefly chairman of the task force, cut short only because we moved). It was an eye opening experience.

Things moved slow as they often do in committee work, especially when you only meet once a month. But I felt like I was getting involved. We met and worked with the Stepping Stone house which was a half way shelter for women recovering from substance abuse. We tried to help the Halycon Home which was the local domestic violence shelter. We put awareness inserts in student report cards about child abuse. We sponsored some town hall meetings about problems at the high school level. We had a rally for awareness (since we left there has not been another rally, sad).

What I found was people didn't want to hear about these problems. They didn't want any light shown on these issues. Bringing attention to it was criticizing what a wonderful community we have here and we just don't like what you are doing. No one from the city government wanted to participate in our task force. No one from the city police department would participate. The churches all refused our invites. Not a single one of the largest employers in the county would participate and certainly not make any donations to help us fund our projects. Not even the hospital. I should point out that we had excellent support from the county government and the county sheriff's office. Go figure.

I was the only male on the task force. I think that summarizes a lot of the problems with domestic violence in the country. We are still a male dominated society and my belief is that as a whole, males don't care. I remember telling the director for Halycon Home that if it was a shelter for battered men, she'd have no problem with funding. No one disagreed.

I used to believe that ignorance led to fear and fear led to hate and that education would solve all the problems. Bainbridge taught me that there is no cure for ignorance. You can educate as much as you want but you can't change the ignorant. I witnessed people supporting a community leader who sexually molested a teenager. I witnessed a community that believed that if you were raped and were dressed provocatively you deserved it. I witnessed a community that supported a high school teacher who slept with one of his students because she was 16 and knew what she was doing. And those are just the ones that made the paper. And no matter how much I railed against this ignorance, nothing changed.

When we moved to Blairsville I didn't seek out a similar group. I'm still too sick to my stomach and discouraged. I don't think I can do it again. I need to find another way to get involved though but the task forces and working with the general public aren't for me. But I don't know how. I just can't spin my wheels and not make a difference. There has to be a better way. I wish I had influence, like celebrity status or wealth, then maybe I could move mountains.

Which brings me to the past election. I really didn't want to see Hillary Clinton as president but there is one reason I did. If she were president, then I would try to get one of my dreams accomplished. In our society we treat murder as the most heinous of crimes; it has the steepest of penalties, 25 to life or the death penalty. It's not the worst of crimes. Sexual assault is the vilest, evilest of all crimes. With murder the victim is dead, the suffering is over. Sure friends and family have a burden to carry but the crime is done and the victim doesn't have to endure. Not so with a sexual assault. Rape/assault/molestation is carried for life. The damage never goes away. The suffering endures. Maybe over time it eases and the pain is less and the memories duller, maybe, but it is still always there. Just like a scar. And not only does it affect the victim but also everyone the victim knows. And the crime will have impact of some type on everyone the victim will know in the future. Behavior changes, relationships change. Life changes, emotions change. Personality changes. Murder seems rather benign comparatively speaking.

But the penalties for rape and sexual assault are a pittance compared to those issued for murder. The penalty for rape in Georgia is 25 to life with parole eligibility. That's not more sever than murder yet the crime is clearly more severe. By the way in Georgia rape is defined as being only perpetrated by a male on a female victim. Ponder that for a while. What about the penalty for a younger victim? We feel better about calling it molestation even though it's still rape. Now the victim, being younger, has to carry the scars of the crime for an even longer period of time. And being younger and more innocent, the trauma can be even greater. Should not the penalty be even more severe? It's not.

So if Hillary was president I would try to push for maximizing the penalties for sexual violence at the federal level to be more severe than than for murder. I want minimum of 35 years, no parole. My belief is that as long as our government is dominated by a male majority, it will never happen, but a female president would be the trump card that might make it happen. I just don't know how to push it.

Damn this is a disjointed rambling. I get that way on this subject. I get too worked up. My apologies for not being better structured in my writing.

If you don't know it April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Please, support a domestic violence awareness organization. Sexual assault and domestic violence are together the most insidious problem we have in this country that no one knows about. These groups work to at the minimum bring awareness to the cause all the way to fighting for the rights of victims. Support a local group, a local shelter or a national organization like RAINN. Please don't forget about it this month and try to do one thing proactively to help fight for the cause. Thanks.


Brook said...

Irony-I had no idea that April is SAA month. I have just grilled the Big Girl and they have not this month-or ever in her memory talked about sexual assault in any of its ugly faces.
The South, the Deep South a heck everywhere. People have no desire to actually see anything around them.
I have heard however-reliably-that sentenced child molesters are the most preyed upon inmates in prisons. You may not agree in general, but specifically it has been demonstrated that there is no cure for pedophilia, and I personally feel only death rids the Earth of this vermin.
I'll be posting again on this topic.
Thank you for bringing to my attention something I should have been aware of.

Huff Daddy said...

No, I do agree. And I don't have a problem with the death penalty as long as guilt is certain. You can't take that back if your wrong. However, I think 35 years in general population might just be a more perfect hell for them.

I also feel along the same lines, once a wife beater, always a wife beater.

Brook said...

D and I refer to it as recycling and if we-through taxes and what not-didn't have to support their sorry asses for 35 years in these corporate run(for profit)prisons we have today I'd agree.
And yes, I agree about the wife beaters.

Huff Daddy said...

Yes, but I think the problem would self rectify. Like Dahmer. :)

Huff Daddy said...

Good for you for talking to your daughter. That's more than most parents do.

Brook said...

I know-I really don't get it either. We know a person(3 guesses)who doesn't mind his 14 yr old daughter going to a LATE night movie with a 17yr old. And they do not really talk to her. She(the girl)thinks I am a meanly strict and just plain crazy.
But she likes my hair.
Irony at it's best!