Archive for August, 2012

Legitimate or forcible rape, what does it mean?

August 22, 2012

I keep thinking about the “legitimate rape” comment. What does it really mean?? Obviously it doesn’t make any sense. But I think the meaning of saying it calls into question, first of all, that rape even happens. Or if it does, many are not “legitimate”. What would they be, then? Ones in which women cooperated, brought it on themselves, or simply accused someone dishonestly. It appears that his belief is that many rapes are not really rapes– so that’s the beginning of the meaning.

Then, as you have heard, I’m sure, his next comments brought out some AMAZINGLY STUPID belief that women’s bodies somehow recognize rape semen from a lover’s semen, and this amazing woman’s body rejects the rape semen so she doesn’t get pregnant. WOW! I wonder how much he even knows about his own wife’s body.

Anyway, the MEANING of this second comment, to me, means ignorance, plus some sort of weird “set her on a pedastal” belief about the woman’s body. It’s not just a body, it is a spiritually intuned magically gifted body that can cause itself not to accept a man’s semen. What this represents is still not clear in my mind, but it almost sounds like basis for some sort of weird mysogyny. Some sort of disdain for women as a magical being of some sort. We’re not. We’re just humans, like he is. So don’t put us on a pedestal or treat us in any other way but human. That’s what we are.

THIRD, he then tries to EXPLAIN his comments by saying, what he meant was “forcible rape” instead of legitimate rape. Instead of sincerely apologizing, he stoops to a new stupid low. Now it’s forcible rape. Really? Again, read paragraph one.

Lastly, though I think he should now resign, I also think that the superior outcome would be actual education, sincere consultation, and learning on his part. He could sponsor an open forum on the subject of rape. What is it exactly? How often does it occur in society? And how often does it result in pregnancy? There are many theories about why it happens. It is definitely an act of violence. On the other hand, it is also somehow tied up with sexual excitement, because, not many older women get raped. There is some sort of preference being shown. And then a lot of it is education about alcohol, responsibility even when you or someone else is drinking, on both men’s & women’s parts. But it is NEVER okay. And it is ALWAYS rape. Don’t qualify it into divisions you made up yourself to excuse yourself, make yourself feel better, OR more easily blame those that it HAPPENS TO.

I personally find it dumbfounding that we are having THESE discussions this election. But it shows how gender bias or mysogyny is still rampant, and people spew it forth without thinking.

a quick trek over 6 decades – almost

August 18, 2012

Tomorrow is my birthday. I was born approximately 1:10pm on a Wednesday, 59 years ago. My older brother was 8 years older than me so there was a big space between babies. In fact, my parents had been trying to conceive for probably a couple years, so my birth was greatly anticipated. I imagine the fact that they then had a girl, after awaiting their 2nd child and already having a son, was also a source of joy. Being born in the middle of summer and a Leo, I have an enjoyment of hot weather (although not so great as my husband’s). Over the years, I’ve had my birthday in quite a few places, such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Natl Park or Mexico, since the family was often on vacation. As a kid, I never got an in-school birthday party, but I did get my birthday in fascinating places!

My thought for this blog is to give some very brief thoughts for each decade of my life. I am not as prolific as I used to be and seem to be much more introspective these days. But this sort of occasion seems to merit some musings.

My childhood home was Indiana. Most of my life, in fact, was spent in this state. I have realized, after living a few other places, that there is definitely a Midwestern culture and a Midwestern value system, and I subscribe to it. What is that, you ask? It has something to do with living through the hardship of Winter and smiling at the snow, appreciating survival, appreciating life, taking precautions against the cold that can literally kill you, and knowing the pure joy of a fire in the fireplace on a cold Winter evening. We have been snowed in with our kids for days, more than once. The first time with children was when our firstborn was a few months old. My husband’s parents lived in the house next door and it took 2 days to get out to them. I have realized over time that this teaches you to work through the tough times. The Midwest and Purdue also have their cultural flavor. Hispanics hit the scene big time much later than the time when I was growing up, but they are part of the culture, part of the landscape now. Asians at Purdue are a large population. I grew up appreciating diversity, seeing diversity through my father’s profession and school, if not so much in our own neighborhood. We entertained my father’s international students many times in our home as dinner guests.

My first decade. Memories, to me, revolve around the houses I’ve lived in. My first 5 years were spent close to Purdue. Being a Boilermaker is literally part of my bones. My father graduated from and taught there, I was taken to basketball games probably before I could speak, and I used to go with him to campus on Saturdays, blissfully exploring the Mechanical Engineering building while he worked in his office. There were all sorts of displays of machines of various kinds. One of them was a weighing machine where my younger sister and I could weigh ourselves. It was a big adventure. My sister was born 2 1/2 years after me. One of my very earliest memories is of myself crawling on the floor pretending to be a baby, with her bottle in my mouth.

At age 5, we moved across the river, still in Purdue country but not exactly in the same town. We moved into a much larger 2-story house with an attic and basement. The attic was hot and full of treasures some people might keep in their garage. We kept them in the attic. The basement was a large circular area with cement floor which we used for roller skating. My younger brother was born literally 8 years after me. This completed my 1st decade, then we moved for one year only, to Michigan.

Fifth grade for me was spent in Michigan. My father took a leave of absence and worked for General Motors for a year. He moved the entire family, wife and 4 children by this time, to Michigan with him for one year. Fifth grade was a blast, I had my favorite teacher of all time, lots of friends, joined Girl Scouts, went camping, and lived next door to a tennis court. It was also the year President Kennedy was shot. I remember it very well.

The next year we left our Michigan home and returned to the same house we left in Indiana. However, by age 13, we were moving again. My father came home one day and said, “Well, where would you like to go, California, or Pennsylvania?” Little did we know, he was looking for a new position and took it from Drexel Institute of Technology, now Drexel University. We moved to a suburb of Philadelphia.

I again made friends, attended schools, living the first year in Germantown PA, and then another suburb. To make a long story short, my life there was drastically changed forever when my beloved father died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 50. My mother, distraught and lost, moved us back to Indiana, the place she knew, the place where my father’s sister lived and my mother’s parents. I was 16.

By age 18, I was getting married. I met my husband, the man I am still married to now after 40 years. This decade ends with our wedding, two years at Ball State University, and his being drafted, another change which through our life goals into oblivion for a number of years. My husband had a deeply felt belief that this war was wrong. He applied for and received conscientious objector status. This meant you still got drafted, but served 2 years in a hospital or some other public service venue. In fact, it was the end of the Vietnam war and hardly anyone was being drafted anymore. But he was. And he was pulled out of college.

After his time of service was over, we moved back to our hometown looking for jobs and no longer in school. During this decade, our 20s, we began having kids. Our firstborn, a daughter, Jasmine, was born when I was age 24. My father’s mother died that same year. Our second, another daughter, Leah, was born 2 years and 3 mos. later. At the end of this decade, I was having our firstborn son, Jamal, at age 29. These years were filled with promise, filled with joy and discovery, and we were the poorest we’ve ever been our entire lives.

The decade of our 30s was the 1980s. Suffice it to say, the economy flopped. Bad. My husband lost middle management jobs more than once. We were managers of an apt. complex, then moved from there into “an old house we thought we would fix up”. It was an absolute wreck, and we lived there for the next 11 years. I had a miscarriage in 1984, then our fourth and last child was born, a second son, Levin. I was 32 years old for my last child’s birth. The boys were both born AT home, with midwives assisting. We’ve always looked for the natural child birth way, and see child birth as a natural life event that, in most cases if there are absolutely NO early warning signs, goes perfectly well. With 4 children and very little money, you don’t go out often, and it certainly would not have paid me to go to work. I was a stay at home mom for 11 years.

In 1995 we started a grocery store business that eventually also flopped. When our youngest was a year old, I went back to work part-time. This eventually became a full time job, at Purdue University Libraries. AL was working various management jobs and also became the high school soccer coach, turning it into a varsity sport and a VERY successful team. He manages youth well, they relate to him well, and he became a soccer coach as well as a father figure and life coach for them as well. We took in two kids as foster kids during these years, each one for a little over a year. The end of this decade has us both working and active in our community, still very poor.

Our 40s. I worked at the library for the next 16 years, actually spending enough time there to earn a little retirement check which they owe me for the rest of my life, by the time I quit. At some point, I went back to school. It was very easy for me to leave the library, attend a class, and return, staying later to make up time missed. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a back to school process that would just continue on until I completed a Phd, 10 years later! I finished my bachelor’s in 1996, at age 43.

That leaves my final decade of life, up to now. Our fifties. I completed my Master’s at age 47, took almost a year off and then returned to complete my PhD classes. In 2006-07, I felt free to take a one-year visiting professor position in northern Indiana. Looking back, this was not wise, because although it earned me the most income I’ve ever earned in a year up to that point, I did not finish my PhD as planned, and had to quit totally at the end of that year, not work, and just write. I sat down to the computer in April 2007 and wrote out the final chapters day after day after day. It is THE hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. People did not expect me to ever finish — except my family. Without my family’s support, I would not have finished. Students I had entered graduate school with had all left. Students who had come in AFTER me had left. My committee and major professor were wondering if I’d ever do it, and were losing faith in me finishing my goal. I knew this was it, I had to do it now, and I was not about to have come THIS FAR and not finish. So I knocked it out of the park. There were so many battles along the way I cannot even explain, but each one was overcome.

In the summer of ’08, I started applying for permanent teaching jobs. I got 3 interviews and 2 solid offers. I took the one that was tenure track. In Fall of ’08, we moved to another part of the country and I started my job. In October, I returned to Purdue to defend my Phd thesis. In Dec. 2008, on the coldest day of the year, I graduated. I got 4 tickets to the ceremony so my husband did not attend so that our four children would be there watching their mom. What a historic day.

Moving to the south away from my daughter and grand kids in Indiana, and son & his wife in WI, was SO difficult, I cannot begin to convey that. However, after looking for a job in Indiana and not finding one, you have to complete the dream and take a job in your field. And that is what I did. My husband was willing to follow me to my job. As of now we’ve been here 4 years and have 4 publications. The biggest heartache of my life is still being so far away from so much family. Our consolation is that one daughter & her family live also in the south. We now live in 5 different states, with each child in a different state and us in a 5th. We try to visit and take one vacation together per year.

In the middle of this 5th decade, in 2007 my mother died. To spend her last 5 days of life with her and watch the change along with my younger sister and brother, was a blessing that can never be taken away. Two years later, I was also blessed to be with my older brother when he passed.

I have to say, looking back, we have come a long way. I cannot imagine that I am close to living 6 decades. We raised 4 children and they each have a college degree. Two are working in the field they studied and two are not. We have four super grandchildren, 3 boys and 1 girl. Looking forward to the future. I see more grandchildren in my future. 🙂