I was a late bloomer. I was a tree-climbing, pet-menagerie-loving, book-devouring tomboy my entire childhood. At 14 years old I still had not reached puberty, and I had begun to wonder if something might be physically wrong with me, since most of my girl-friends had been bona fide sanitary-pad-carrying “women” for many years.
When “womanhood” did finally strike me at 15, it hit with a vengeance. I went from stick-thin to hourglass in a matter of weeks, and I had stretchmarks on my new C-cup breasts to show for it.
I struggled a bit with the transition. The sudden attention. And, as I became increasingly attracted to boys, and they to me, I began to discover that my new womanly parts were some sort of an asset.
Still a virgin and halfway to 16, I met a 21-year-old man who shared a house with his brother in my cousin’s neighborhood. He was gorgeous. He was intelligent. He was chivalrous. He was single.
We got to know each other over neighborhood spades and domino games and we traded flirtations, though we both knew he was too old for me.
It was a sweet fall for me. Uninitiated virgin meets worldly, independent, philosophical man-friend. After a first kiss, we decided to be “a couple,” though I made it clear to him that I did not intend to “lose my virginity” until my wedding night. It was the stuff of Disney movies.
We “went steady” for a few months. He picked me up on his motorcycle and took me on mountain hikes and picnics. He wrote me romantic letters and professed his love for me.
He may have really loved me. Or, he may have been grooming me for sex. Arousal is a powerful force, and a body will want what it wants.
But, I was still a child. And, he knew it.
The brief love affair ended in his car one night in my driveway. We were kissing (and suffering from the arousal of it all) and he suddenly stopped and said. “I really care about you, but I can’t do this. I respect you. I respect that you’re not ready to have sex, but I’m a man, and I do want to have sex. I don’t want to hurt you in any way, but I can’t do this.”
And, that was the end of that. I cried for a couple of weeks then moved on to a relationship with a boy my age.
Now, let’s imagine for a moment an alternate universe in which that conversation ended instead with the passionate sexual consummation of our “young love.” Let’s pretend that our subsequent increasingly explicit and adventurous sexual cavorting was captured on camera and displayed to the public as the artistic exploration of an adult man initiating a 15-year-old girl into the physical expression of their “forbidden” love. That, legally, would not be considered art. That would be considered child pornography and my man-friend would have likely been arrested and would now be a registered sex offender.
I suspect a major motion picture about said grown man seducing a child that contains lengthy and pornographic sex scenes would never make it to pre-production, let alone be lauded as artistic.
Which brings me to my admittedly sight-unseen judgments about “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
Here is the description of the film: 15-year-old, Adèle has no doubt : a girl must date boys. Her life is turned upside down when she meets Emma, a blue haired young woman who allows her to discover desire and to assert herself as a woman and an adult. (They left out the part about how Emma is a sexually experienced graduate student in her twenties.)
In the many reviews of this film I have seen online, no one is discussing the age gap between these characters.
Brokeback Mountain was a monumental film about two consenting adults that won accolades for its courage and sensitivity, but had one of those characters been a 15-year-old boy, would that film have been made?
When it comes to sexual exploitation, should it matter that the one doing the exploiting doesn’t have a penis? Does Adele need to be 14 for us to view Emma as a molester? Thirteen? When adult men do this to young boys, a cry for their prosecution is loud and immediate.
Being a woman and a mother of women, and having been a 15-year-old myself, it’s impossible for me to appreciate or applaud a film in which an adult seduces a child–and that seduction is offered up in graphic detail for voyeuristic mass consumption.
Being a woman it is difficult for me to trust the motives of a male film maker whose 3-hour movie contains long segments of what has been described by reviewers as “extremely graphic” and “absolutely not simulated” lesbian sex. (His red carpet walk with the teen women who starred in the film gave me the creeps.)
Not being a lesbian, I ‘m wondering why this film is being discussed all over the Internet (mostly by men) as a “triumph” for lesbians of which to be “proud.”
Please know that I am not being facetious or sarcastic when I ask for help understanding why those applauding this film do not feel compelled to protect the world’s Adeles from the sexual advances of “loving” adults, regardless of whether the adults are male or female, straight or LGBTQ.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: I have not seen Blue is the Warmest Color and do not want to after reading the reviews. I did not read 50 Shades of Grey for the same reason–because, though it is likely to be titillating, my personal preference is to not be “entertained” by the sexual exploitation of innocents (and I don’t want those images in my head forever). This has admittedly influenced my opinions about this movie. I welcome other points of view.
When Jian Feng’s baby daughter was born, he wasn’t just disappointed that the baby didn’t resemble her beautiful mother, he was “horrified” by how “ugly” he found the little girl to be.
Feng was so horrified, he convinced himself there was no way he could be the child’s father–his wife must have had sex with a hideously ugly man to have created such an unattractive offspring.
Feng (a resident of Northern China) took his wife to court to prove that the baby was not his, but was surprised when the DNA test confirmed he was indeed the little girl’s father.
At that point, his wife admitted that she had undergone plastic surgery to beautify her face before she met her husband. The woman’s numerous surgeries cost her over $100,000 and changed her from a person Feng would never have considered marriageable into the beautiful woman he says he fell in love with.
“I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues. Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me,” he told the judge.
Jian insisted that he had been tricked by his wife and the judge agreed, granting him a divorce, and ordering his ex-wife to pay Feng $120,000 restitution for his troubles.
How would you have ruled in this case?
Although I do agree Feng was “tricked” by his wife into believing she was a so-called natural beauty, for him to be horrified at the sight of his own child (who is actually pretty cute) speaks volumes about him. His ex-wife should file a counter suit for being tricked into believing she married a human being.
If I were the judge in this case, I would have agreed with him in open court about one thing: His wife did have sex with a hideously ugly man–her husband. He’s the only ugly person in this sad story.
There is no surgery available for that.
I posted last September about Florida Governor (R) Rick Scott who pushed a bill through the Florida Legislature which required all welfare recipients to be drug tested. He gained Republican support for the proposed law by insisting that poor people on welfare are using tax payers to fund their drug use.
Scott is a conservative Republican billionaire who used $73 million of his own money and the support of the Tea Party to win his governorship.
The scandal here is that there was a clear conflict of interest for Scott, in that he is co-founder of a chain of drug testing clinics and he would benefit financially from the law. And, when 98 percent of the welfare recipients passed the test at a cost of $178 million to tax payers, there was no legislative move to end the testing.
In October, 2011, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven issued an injunction halting the drug testing, finding that a welfare applicant represented by the ACLU who challenged the law would likely win his case on constitutional grounds.
So what does Scott do? No longer profiting from poor folks, he switches his focus to working class government employees by issuing an executive order mandating drug testing for all 85,000 of them.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ruled on Wednesday that suspicionless drug testing for state workers violated the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable search and seizure.
Scott said he would appeal the decision.
Of course, his appeal will be paid for by the very taxpayers whose constitutional rights he wants to trample.
So. Friggin. Absurd.
Why has this guy not been recalled?
SEPTEMBER 2011 STORY:
Florida Governor Rick Scott was so sure people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population, he insisted anyone receiving help from the Department of Children and Families be tested.
Under the sponsorship of Republican state Senator Steve Oelrich, a bill was presented to the Florida Legislature that Oelrich said was, “all about trying to break the cycle of drug dependency and using taxpayer dollars to buy illegal drugs.” The bill passed over objections from Democrats.
In July, 2011, the state began implementing the policy that requires all applicants for temporary cash assistance to pass four drug tests per year, which the applicant must pay for, before any funds can be disbursed to them. If the applicant tests negative for drugs, they are reimbursed for the test. If the result is positive, they are barred from the program.
The results: 98% passed.
The cost to the State of Florida: $178 million annually.
OK, so Rick Scott appears to have been publicly embarrassed after supporting a failed policy that is estimated to cost $5 for every $1 it saves. But, there’s more to the story.
This is the same Rick Scott that was forced out of his CEO position at health care giant Columbia/HCA just before the company admitted to 14 felonies and agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million in welfare fraud restitution. This is the same Rick Scott who somehow (his friendship with George W. Bush, perhaps?) avoided any criminal prosecution in the federal indictment against Columbia/HCA, a company Scott co-founded and led. This is the same Rick Scott who then co-founded Solantic, a chain of urgent care centers that provide drug testing for the workforce.
In his support of the drug testing bill Scott said it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.” Apparently it is not unfair for them to subsidize shady politicians and their business partners.
Scott is a conservative Republican billionaire who used $73 million of his own money and the support of the tea party to win his governorship.
Angel of Tranquility by Christine Munroe
This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect…
…Well, I’m not really sure who gets protected here; maybe you can help me with that.
I know someone who violated a child sexually when he was a teenager. She was 10, he was 19. For the rest of this story I will call him “Snake.”
I didn’t know about it until recently when the now grown girl that he targeted (I’ll call her “Angel”) told me what Snake did to her. Some might euphemistically refer to what happened as “child molestation” because of Angel’s age at the time, but I will call it what it is.
Angel said she never told. She’s not completely sure why. She was a little girl who craved affection, and when Snake began paying attention to her she thought the attention was a good thing. He was a close friend of the family. She thought it was safe to hug him. To sit on his lap. She didn’t know he would turn into a reptile. After he violated her she felt ashamed. She was too ashamed to tell.
Over the years Angel’s and Snake’s families remained close. She saw Snake at social and religious functions—many of them held at her own home. He acted as if nothing had ever happened. He laughed and barbecued and Pictionaried with Angel’s mom and dad. He even electric slid at Angel’s wedding.
One day, Snake actually apologized to Angel for what he’d done. This was after his own daughter was born. Angel accepted his apology and buried the secret that much deeper.
There is a sad reason why, after so many decades have passed, Angel finally told me about what Snake had done—she and I recently learned that a young man we both know, “Worm,” “molested” a little girl we both know, “Dove.” This happened to Dove almost twenty years ago, and like Angel, Dove didn’t tell. Like Angel, Dove tried to heal her injury on her own.
And, these two women have something else in common.
Worm is Snake’s son.
Dove was 11 when then 16-year-old Worm violated her. Dove was not the first little girl (and was not the last) Worm abused. Several adults in Worm’s family (including his father, Snake) were aware that Worm had raped a young family member months before he targeted Dove.
I’m told Worm was “reprimanded” for what he’d done to his cousin, but no therapy was mandated and the police were not called.
To make matters worse, not one of the adults who knew what Worm was capable of thought it wise to warn Dove’s parents. If they had, Dove’s injury would have been prevented. Dove says she knows of at least two other little girls he victimized as well.
Worm is now a grown man, married, respected in the community, with children of his own.
Worm, like his father Snake, acts as if he did nothing wrong.
Over the years, I have genuinely loved, laughed, barbecued, Pictionaried and prayed with both of these men and their victims. I have warmly hugged them at social and religious events. I have trusted them with my own children. Now I must question all of my grown daughters to determine if they were sexually abused in this family’s home? I feel violated.
Should I alert the unwitting parents of other little girls who spent time there? Are there other now-grown women who have kept painful secrets buried like Dove and Angel did? Is my use of the monikers “Snake” and “Worm” (instead of using their names) yet another violation?
I can’t come close to imagining how Angel, Dove and the other survivors feel and have felt over the years. All this hugging and praying and laughing and pretending that these little girls were never injured. How complicit in their injury we all must seem.
Some might say this is all water under the bridge. Too much time has gone by. The statutes of limitations on these crimes have long expired. How does discussing this now add value? What good can come of bringing this back to life?
What good can come of burying crimes against children? What healing or caution or justice is there in that?
I am not writing this out of a call for vengeance. I acknowledge the possibility that one or both of the men in this story committed those crimes as teenagers and never re-offended as grown men. Perhaps they received therapy and/or prayed to God for healing and forgiveness–and perhaps they received that from Him.
What if these men continue to struggle with an impulse to have sex with little girls? What if the fact that their secrets are still “safe” make all of our daughters the opposite of that?
Does it add insult to the survivors’ injury when years pass and men like these are viewed as great family men and/or admirable members of their communities—even as some of their victims are struggling as adult women to find moral footing under the weight of their unattended shame?
I wonder how many reading this tragic story have survived a similarly tragic one? How many were left unprotected and vulnerable while the names, reputations, and secrets of abusers were safeguarded? How many have had to face their perpetrators over and over again at religious, social and/or family events?
I wonder how many more children must be inflicted with these devastating slow-healing wounds before we find the will, courage and methods to address this issue more openly and proactively in our families and in our communities? How can we work together to preserve our children’s innocence?
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind’s most basic duty to protect the innocent. –James T. Walsh
Snake and Worm, if you recognize yourselves in this story, please know that I cannot keep your secret. For legal reasons I won’t name you here, but I will warn parents whose children might be left in your care and I will speak frankly to you about this when our paths cross again.
If we have learned anything from the Sandusky crimes (and the many adults who knew something was very wrong, but did nothing) it is that SILENCE does not protect children. The awful combination of shame, silence and secrets is like a magic serum that makes sexual predators indestructible.
Truth is the only kryptonite.
There are two things the American masses can’t seem to get enough of, revisionist history and vampires, so, hey, why not mash up the two and make a quick box office buck?
Enter film maker Tim Burton (yes, thee Tim Burton) and his just released bright idea, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a re-imagined version of our 16th President as a hatchet-wielding, freedom fighting abolitionist on a quest for vengeance against the blood-sucking, slave-eating Confederate vampires who murdered his mother.
I’m guessing the film is as over the top as it sounds, which is probably why critics have mostly panned it; but, I can’t actually speak on whether this flick has any redeeming qualities, because, out of respect for Harriet Tubman, I will never see it.
(Yes, thee Harriet Tubman)
If you know even a little bit about Araminta Harriet Ross Tubman, you know that she stands as one of the greatest human beings who has ever inhaled oxygen on this blue marble we all call home.
No, that is not an exaggeration.
Harriet Tubman is a super hero’s super hero.
If you don’t know much about her, we’ll just place the blame for that squarely on the educators who cheated you. If you don’t learn more about her after today, there will be no one to blame but you. Google is, after all, the great equalizer. Or, you could read “Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People,” which is (at the time of this posting) absolutely free on Amazon.com
It is really difficult for me talk or write about Harriet Tubman without being overcome with emotion, because, even though I know many, many details of her life story (a story that is beyond amazing), I am painfully aware that the details I DO know are but a tiny fraction of all that this woman was, all that she saw, and all that she suffered so that others might live in freedom. Gazing at her picture both inspires and shames me; I am reminded of how much I have not done in comparison to this woman’s breathtaking life of service.
Born into slavery c. 1820, Araminta “Minty” Ross was forced to perform hard field labor from the time she was a small child. She witnessed several of her siblings being sold off to other owners (never to be seen again) and she once heard her mother, Harriet Greene Ross, threaten to split open the head of anyone who tried to sell her remaining children. That threat (which worked) was Minty’s first exposure to the idea of “resistance,” but it would not be her last.
Minty was permanently disabled at age 13 when she refused to help an overseer catch an escaping slave. The overseer threw a heavy metal weight at the fleeing slave and it missed and struck Minty in the head. Her owner allowed her two days to recover from the trauma, after which she was forced to work the fields with blood from the wound dripping down her face. She suffered with epileptic and narcoleptic spells for the rest of her life as a result of the injury.
Minty eventually married a free black man named John Tubman and adopted her mother’s name, Harriet, as her own. Never contented to be a slave, Harriet Tubman soon began plotting her solo journey North to freedom. Though her husband threatened to turn her in if she tried to run, Harriet escaped to Philadelphia where she established a base of operations and dared to return to the South twenty times to lead hundreds of souls to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman famously never lost a passenger–a feat she attributed to a pistol at her side and direct communication from God.
Never captured, Tubman eventually served as a spy and nurse during the Civil War, became a suffragette after slavery was abolished, established a home for the aged, lived to be 93 years old, was buried with full military honors and has this inscription on her headstone:
“Servant of God, Well Done.”
So, when filmmakers start messing around with this woman’s legacy, those who love and revere her are definitely going to sit up and take notice.
What we notice about this Burton film is that somebody (Casting agent? Executive Producer? Director?) decided it wasn’t important to portray Harriet Tubman as the dark-skinned daughter of Africa that she most definitely was.
Harriet Tubman (left) & the actress cast to play her
Tubman’s direct ancestors are believed to have been of the Ashanti tribe from what is now Ghana, West Africa. She was not “mulatto” and she received none of the advantages during her life (literacy, freedom, income, protection) that might have come from being mixed with the slave master’s blood.
Harriet Tubman’s dark skin is central to her story as a black American woman, and anyone who knows and respects the history of Africans in America would know that.
Which raises the question…
Why was Jaqueline Fleming even in the running for this part? (I get why she took the role, but it is lost on me how she could be cast here.)
Casting a movie is never haphazard. Casting agents are like character chemists who are responsible for connecting the audience to the actors and the actors to one another. Their expertise is generously compensated, and their track records are what get them gigs. A quite prolific casting agent, Mindy Marin, cast this movie, though she may not have had the final say in how Harriet should be portrayed.
But someone did. And someone decided she shouldn’t be so black. Someone decided Harriet Tubman should look less like herself and more like Jaqueline Fleming, and that someone had a reason which is left open to speculation.
So, let’s speculate:
Perhaps the closer a woman of African descent is to looking like a white woman, the more palatable she becomes to the audience.
And when a woman of African descent is darker-skinned it seems we are more comfortable if she stays in her place.
Removing Harriet Tubman’s pigment for the purpose of making her more “palatable” to an audience is called E R A S U R E. Distorting Harriet’s image so that it can no longer serve as an example of heroism to the successive generations of brown girls who resemble her is called E R A S U R E.
Erasure must be socially sanctioned if it is to be effective.
So, don’t sanction it. In honor of a great black American woman who devoted her life to freeing slaves and being of service to her fellow humankind, please do not support this film.
“I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” -Harriet Tubman
And, if it’s not too much trouble…
…contact the film’s producers to let them know why:
@20thcenturyfox @bekmambetov @SimplyBurton
Bekmambetov Projects, Ltd.
11600 Dona Alicia Place
Studio City, CA 91604
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Attn: Scott Rudin
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Set a timer and lie back on the couch for eighteen minutes and you will realize what an eternity that would be if someone held you down for that long while ripping your face apart with their teeth.
Equally, if not more horrific, is the thought of being that individual who spent eighteen of the last few minutes of his earthly life chewing the lips, nose, cheeks, forehead and eyeball off of another human being’s face.
Bad things happen in this world that are seemingly inexplicable. They happen a lot. But for some reason, this bad thing has really freaked me out.
I’m thinking that if even one of Rudy Eugene’s family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances said something like, “Yeah, we really saw this coming,” or “He was always a nutcase,” it wouldn’t make this story any easier to know about, but it would at least make it fit somewhere in that mental box that holds my ideas about how unfathomable evil comes alive in a person.
I don’t know where to put this.
Police at the scene said they suspected “bath salts” (a hallucinogenic designer drug that can result in erratic and violent behavior) was the cause of Eugene’s sudden cannibalistic rage. But, those closest to him said he only occasionally smoked marijuana and was not known to indulge in any hard drugs of any kind. Friends say Eugene felt guilty about his marijuana use and had been asking God for the strength to quit.
And, speaking of the Lord, the last time Eugene’s girlfriend saw her man, he was on his way out of the house holding a Bible in his hand.
Yovanka Bryant told reporters she was not aware of any mental illnesses her boyfriend may have had and said she only saw him smoke marijuana once. Although his ex-wife Jenny Ductant says she ended their brief marriage in 2007 due to increased violence from Eugene, and police had to intervene when he verbally threatened his mother in 2004, Bryant’s reputation among friends, family and coworkers is that he was a “really nice guy.” His girlfriend says she “felt safe” with him. She insisted he was trying to grow closer to God and said that they watched a Bible ministry television show in the mornings and read the Bible and the Koran together.
He had attended a Bible study with his friend Bobby Cherry less than 48 hours before the incident:
“His last words to me were that he wanted to get his life right and that he wanted to get closer to God. And he wanted to stop smoking pot. That’s it…It had to be some sort of drug that somebody must have slipped on him, because Rudy wouldn’t so much as pop a Tylenol pill.”
Eugene left his girlfriend’s house in the early morning hours on the last day of his life, but not before planting a kiss on her lips and saying, “I love you.”
An hour after he left, he called her cell phone. “He called me and told me his car broke down. He said, ‘I’ll be home, but I’m going to be a little late.’ Then he said, ‘I’m going to call you right back.’”
He never did.
What on earth happened in the next few hours that would cause this man to brutally attack 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, leaving the homeless man clinging to life with 75% of his face missing?
I’m hoping the police were right. I’m hoping they do find evidence of “bath salts” in Eugene’s system. I’m hoping his death and Ronald Poppos’ tragic injuries might serve as a warning to those who think there is anything “recreational” about messing around with synthetic drugs. I’m hoping that there’s a reasonable explanation why someone whom family members describe as “happy,” “kind,” “generous,” “spiritual” and “loving,” would suddenly behave like a vicious, ravenous animal.
I need a box to put this incident in that doesn’t leave me wondering if the human beings in proximity to me and my family–human beings whom I depend on to remain relatively sane, normal and predictable–are capable of this kind of sudden, unforseen and inexplicable evil.
Until then, I’ll be giving a lot of folks that suspicious side eye.
Note: Experts on facial reconstruction say Ronald Poppo faces a lengthy recovery, including months of treatment to rebuild his features. He remains hospitalized. A fund has been set up in his name by the Jackson Memorial Foundation.