First up, a quick lesson in hashtags and trending topics. On Twitter a lot of the 140-character tweets are finished with a hashtag, with it’s # the hashtag will often be the punchline to your joke, a sarcastic add on or categorize and add a subject to your tweet so like-minded tweeters can find you too.

Sometimes hashtag games spring up, and become trending topics. For example right now a popular one is #dearyoungself in which someone will start their tweet with the hashtag and write a (sometimes) witty comment.

These trending topics are somewhat monitored by the powers that be at Twitter, #JustinBieber has been banned because it was trending for days on end. This can happen with a lot of pop culture references, like Twilight, Team Edward, etc. Just because they don’t need to be on our list of trending topics for days on end. Others will be banned because of their political or religious nature, over the weekend #fuckWashington was banned and in the past hashtags about marriage only being between man and woman were banned.

Over the weekend one offensive hashtag was allowed to trend for a considerable amount of time. #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend stayed up on the trending list for a few hours, if not a whole day. I didn’t click to read the posts but I’m sure they were exactly what you’d expect and probably done by the same naive idiots that come to Chris Brown’s defense whenever he does or tweet’s something stupid(daily).

So people can’t say #FuckWashington, even though from what I gather they’ve screwed up the whole economy but #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend is ok?

No, no it’s not.

1 in 4 women is a victim of abuse at some point in her life. 1 in 4. I will venture a guess that it’s much higher than that, since that’s just reported cases. I’d be so bold to say 3 in 4 and depending on whether you’re looking at just physical or also emotional and psychological, I’d almost say it’s at 4 in 4. It’s that serious.

It’s not just abuse by your boyfriend, it’s family, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, random people on the streets, etc. It’s prevalent everywhere.

But until people recognize what abuse is, then people aren’t going to realize that silly hashtag games, joking around about beating women or glorifying it in popular culture is offensive. Not just to us with uterus’s, but everyone.

What is abuse? Glad you asked, because you shouldn’t have to wait until it hits you across the face before you seek help. I wont even try to paraphrase, here’s some great information from Vancouver Coastal Health.

Types of Abuse
Any act(s) of violence or rough treatment causing injury or physical discomfort. more
Any sexual behavior directed towards a person without his/her full knowledge and consent; i.e., sexual assault, sexual harassment, or use of pornography. more
The misuse of a person’s funds and assets; obtaining property and funds without his/her knowledge and full consent, or in the case of an elderly person who is not competent, not in his/her best interests. more
Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. more
Other forms of abuse
Medication, Violation of civil and human rights, and Spiritual. more

Regarding Psychological Abuse:

Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.

This is sometimes called emotional abuse. Some researchers refer to it by formal terms such as “chronic verbal aggression”.

Psychological abuse can make the person feel “less of a person”. It diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. Abused people often find that psychological or emotional abuse is the most hurtful form of abuse. 

Psychological abuse includes behaviours such as:

  • Name calling,
  • Yelling,
  • Insulting the person,
  • Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to them,
  • Imitating or mocking the person,
  • Swearing at them,
  • Ignoring,
  • Isolating the person,
  • Excluding them from meaningful events or activities.

Psychological abuse also happens when the adult is excluded from decision making when the person is capable and wants to be included (in other words, “making decisions for them”), and depriving them of their rights.

Justice Canada includes these as some examples of psychological abuse: (3)

  • Threatening to use violence
  • Threatening to abandon them
  • Intentionally frightening them
  • Making them fear that they will not receive the food or care they need
  • Lying to them
  • Failing to check allegations of abuse against them
  • Insulting, swearing, or name calling
  • Making derogative or slanderous statements about them to others
  • Socially isolating them, or failing to let them have visitors

The Vancouver Coastal has some great resources for recognizing abuse and helping friends or family who may be suffering. I also highly recommend this article from Glamour.com about their Tell Somebody campaign. The stats are from the US but it’s just as important in Canada.

Admittedly, helping a friend can be tricky because you don’t know what their reaction will be, but speaking from experience, it’s important even if the results are not what you hoped for.


She asked for it

There are a few sites I read everyday, Jezebel.com is one of them. They’re owned by Gawker Media.

They ran an interesting article last week about what women wore when they were sexually harassed, the point being that most women are dressed as any other woman in North America when this happens. The most popular answer was wearing jeans, debunking the myth that women who are harassed are “asking for it” through their choice of attire. While the article is short, it is an interesting read if only for the comments. I’ve picked out two below that I enjoyed and posted them here, basically because they got me thinking and in fact still have me thinking several days later. Thought I’d post them here so I don’t have to keep going back through the comments to find them again.

The first is from a guy, who makes a great analogy between men and bees. I always hate when women get down on men for a few small idiots among the bunch, it makes us look worse than those particular idiots. This guy summed up the argument for “all men are assholes” brilliantly (and btw, men could be replaced with women and assholes could be replaced with bitches quite easily):

This is how, for example, bees get a bad reputation.

See, almost all of the bees are out doing their bee thing, gathering pollen and flying around and gathering more pollen. They do their job, then come home and have a beer or whatever.

But then there are those other bees. You know, the ones who are all, “hey, that’s a nice-looking flower over there; I think I’ll go buzz around it and see what’s up,” only it’s just a person wearing a Hawaiian shirt or some lady’s hat. But they persist in trying to find a place to land, unaware that this particular “flower” just wants to have a nice lunch or a drink with some friends.

So the dumbass bees just fly around and around, and get swatted away in frustration, and nobody’s happy. The natural reaction isn’t “oh, this particular bee is an asshole.” It’s “bees are assholes.”

Not all bees are assholes. But the ones who are, ruin it for all the rest of the bees and the flowers.

The second comment that caught my eye was this one, an open letter to guys who like to blame the woman with the ol’ “she asked for it” line.

Dear Dudes*,

If you only read one sentence of this entire post, read this one: the ONLY time I am ever “asking for it” is when I do, in fact, ask for it.

I assure you, this really does happen, but here’s the part where you seem to get confused: it happens on an individual basis, and only with– call me crazy!– specific people to whom I am attracted and have engaged me in some way.

Oh, that reminds me– I’m totally onto the fact that it’s not really about how I look at all. I know you do this because you’re bitter about women and feel entitled to the attention they aren’t giving you and have opted to go about trying to get it in the crudest and most ridiculous way possible. Well, get over it. You’re not doing yourself any favors by behaving like shit smells in front of everbody, are you? Being a creeper never got anyone laid, so put on your big boy pants, accept that nobody’s ever going to love/hate you as much as your mommy did, and grow the fuck up.

Felt good, didn’t it? Now, moving on . . .

Every woman is different (no, really!) so there’s no universal way to guarantee I or any other ladyperson will be attracted to you. (Plus you’re not actually entitled to that– reality, ow.) I can give you a really great jumping off point, though: be respectful. That’s it. Even if she’s not into you, bro, she has friends! Respect is attractive. That’s why even my booty calls drive me home and kiss me goodbye, and that’s why they get called again.

I know you can do better than yelling “Can I have some p****?!?” on the street. No you fucking can’t when you’re acting like that!!! Stop being lazy, because if you want my attention without dire consequences for your ego, you’re going to *have* to do better. Still doesn’t mean I’ll fuck you, but I promise not to humiliate you.

Good luck!

~Katie Did.

*Not all of you need to hear this, but that being the case, I know your manners and general common sense will encourage you to support me in addressing those who do. Also I’m super happy to have so many of your type as friends!

You can find the first comment here.
Comment number two is here.

Abuse is so funny

Last year I went off on Chris Brown a lot, in this blog, on twitter, on facebook, no mercy for him. And why not? He beat the crap out of Rihanna to the point where she nearly died and was given 180hrs community service and 500 days probation. Hardly a sentencing worthy of the crime. He then went on  to every show and pretended like he was sorry, but his actions off television showed that he doing these interviews to get some publicity for his album (which luckily did not sell well at all).

I kind of dropped the ball later in 2009 with two big abuse cases and I’d hate for people to think I’m not an equal opportunity hater.

Let’s get this straight, 1 in 4 women experiences abuse in her life. When I’ve mentioned this to people in the past they’ve said they believe this number is too high, on the contrary I believe it’s too low. 1 in 4 women report the abuse that they receive, others simply deal with it on their own, put up with it, leave the person doing the abusing or worse kill themselves. Why don’t women report  it? A lot of it has to do with shame, worries that their partner will just become more abusive if she tells or often they don’t realize it’s wrong. Another reason is that abuse isn’t always apparent by the bruises on your face or body. Emotional, psychological and mental abuse are another huge problem in society that often gets left untreated and unreported since the scars aren’t visible for all to see.

Abuse isn’t always in the conventional “love” (use that term ever so loosely) relationship, but also between family members, friends and acquaintances.  When you look at all these conditions I’d almost venture to say that 50-75% of women experience some form of abuse in their lives.

On Christmas we saw another famous person, Charlie Sheen, decide that violence was the answer. He pulled a knife on his wife, physically attacked her and threatened her. Both were apparently over the legal limit of alcohol at the time (before noon) and allegedly both have had substance abuse problems in the past, but none of this should take away from the fact that he pulled a knife on her and threatened her…. with their two sons in the house. Sheen was arrested and released later on Christmas Day. His wife is now trying to soak up some of the blame, most likely a PR stunt orchestrated by his team because he can’t really handle any more scandal on his record.

Now cut to this week when he returned to his brilliant TV show Two and a Half Men (which by the way, can they please cancel? I feel it’s abusive to make the viewing public have to suffer through such terrible television) and cast and crew were discussing their holiday’s, when it was Charlie’s turn and someone asked him “what did you do for the holidays?” he reportedly answered “I met Kobe Bryant’s bail bondsman”  (via RadarOnline).  Oh that Charlie Sheen, such a funny guy, abusing your wife and threatening her with a knife is hilarious. Try and incorporate it into an episode, you may actually someone laugh for once.

The next recent incidence of celebrity domestic violence is going to be met with some groans…. Elin and Tiger Woods. This whole Tiger Woods scandal started on the evening of the US Thanksgiving. Tiger was apparently backing out of his driveway at 2am when he hit a tree and Elin supposedly saved him but smashing the back window of his SUV and dragging him out. It doesn’t take an idiot to see that this is so far from the truth.  Tiger apparently suffered facial lacerations, but further reports show that he most likely had his front teeth knocked out, and a broken facial bone, all which he was treated for in a Phoenix hospital immediately afterwards, which is why he wasn’t available to talk to the highway patrolman (via The Province).

This all brings up the important question, what about when the abuse is the less common, woman towards man, is that still abuse?

Yes. She took a golf club to his face! Granted, people will argue she had good reason to be mad, I mean he has cheated on her with at least 14 women. But violence isn’t the answer. You cannot say it’s ok for some but not for others, and you cannot argue that she had  better reason that whatever motivates any man to beat a woman, in his mind it may just be enough of a reason.

Unfortunately after the incident Saturday Night Live took the same route as Charlie Sheen and decided to make a joke of it. They ran a sketch in which Tiger (played by Keenan Thompson) held a press conference explaining what happened, his wife (guest host Blake Lively) stood in the background as Tiger held up signs that said “help me” and used classic abused woman excuses like “I fell down the stairs” when explaining his injuries. All this was used for laughs, because once again, abuse, especially women on men, is hilarious.  (Jezebel ran a great article on the SNL Skit)

The point is, violence is not funny. Famous people, whether they like it or not, are in the spotlight, they can’t just sweep their actions away with a joke or by ignoring the facts. They need to realize that while they’re role models for some they also screw up, but it’s their actions proceeding their mistakes that are the important lesson to their fans and viewing public.

Breaking Dishes

Confession time… I love Rihanna. I have such a girl crush on her. Her clothes are sometimes bizarre, but they work on her. She’s got awesome fashion sense and I love her music. “Good Girl Gone Bad” is still frequently played on my iPod two years after the release of the album.

So this whole Chris Brown/Rihanna thing. Apparently he beat her. No one has confirmed it yet, but the fact that we haven’t seen either since the incident and she hasn’t come out to support him or to deny the rumors pretty much confirms that she is the victim in question.

It’s a horrible situation. No one- no one -should have to deal with that. Rumors have it that she got peeved at him after reading a text which insinuated he was planning on getting with some other girl that night. Other sources say she’s a jealous girlfriend… but guess what, none of that could ever condone his actions. You do not hit a woman, it’s as simple as that.

What perhaps makes me even more upset is that some celebrities are starting to stand up for Brown. WTF?

Terrance Howard said in an interview:

“It’s just life man,” Howard said of the situation. “Chris is a great guy. He’ll be all right. Rihanna knows he loves her. They’ll be alright. Everyone has just got to get out of their way.”

Excuse me? She knows he loves her? They’ll be alright? They better not be alright. She better not think that’s love. Do not stick up for this man, this is completely unacceptable behavior.

Rapper, T.I. told Carson Daly:

“Yeah, I spoke to him today. He cool, you know. I guess he a little concerned about the situation, but he’s still the same Chris. Hey man, you people gotta remember, we celebrities and we entertainers but we still human. All of us. Don’t expect us not to make mistakes ‘cause we will.”

I can’t believe I’m about to agree with Perez Hilton, but since when is hitting a woman a mistake? Since when is that considered something that is “human.” He’s concerned with the situation? He’s just concerned with how it’s affecting his image, his publicity and album sales? Both Milk and DoubleMint Gum have dropped him as a sponsor and a radio station in Pittsburgh has stopped playing his music. I definitely support the action to stop playing his music. While I do understand that we should assume innocence until proven guilty, the lack of denial by either side plus the astounding evidence against him tells me that he is most likely guilty.

Chris’s wardrobe guy says:

“Chris is all right. He’s a good kid. He feels very bad that something like this has happened.”

Another friend says:

“You can tell everybody that Chris really feels bad about the whole situation, about it coming out the way that it happened, the way he went about it, the way she went about it … it’s just a wack situation…not as bad as everybody is trying to gas it up to be”

He feels bad something like that happened? Don’t do it! This just makes it sound like he feels bad that it was publicized, that he was caught. He’s upset that it was made public and has ruined his image. What pisses me off the most is the line that the source was upset with how she went about it. Ok, maybe it would have been best for them if it wasn’t public, but what it sounds like is that it was as if the police shouldn’t have gotten involved, that she shouldn’t have done that. If we’re to believe the reports of the extent of the injuries she received he deserves everything coming to him. It’s not as bad as what it’s made out to be. Abuse is bad, it doesn’t matter if the result is a small bruise or a reported split lip and swollen eye, it is always bad. It is never, ever deserved.

Ugh, don’t these people have publicists that can tell them you don’t stick up for an abuser?

I hope Rihanna breaks up with him. I hope she doesn’t put up with this. The situation sucks, but I hope she’s able to use it to draw attention to the horrors that happen to women on a daily basis. We often assume that abuse has a face, that it’s not those who could have the world at their feet, such as Rihanna. I hope that she uses this to open a dialogue to get more women to speak up and hopefully stop the occurrence of violence against women. As for Brown, I hope he is used as a poster boy for an abuser. While I don’t really know what he is known for other than his remix of Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Jordin Sparks’ “No Air” and for dating Rihanna, apparently he is pretty popular among the kids. I think this too is also an opportunity to show us that the abuser is not always what we may think he looks like. While it’s a crappy situation on both sides, I think this is a jumping off to open a discussion with young men and woman what is and is not acceptable and how we should be treating one another.

VDay is an excellent organization with a goal to stop global violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues.