Abuse


Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book was good, but it wasn’t. That may not be obvious since I rated it so low. Firsts tackled some tough subjects, but it didn’t really do so in a great or helpful way. I honestly wonder if it may have done more harm than good. The intention of the author, much like the intention of the main character Mercedes Ayres, was probably a good one at heart, but, as the proverb goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Good intentions cannot fix what is truly wrong with this book. I understand the attempt to soften the approach people take to cheating and slut-shaming, but it doesn’t actually achieve that. Instead, it pushes those stereotypes even further and dismisses criminal behavior as seduction and bad parenting. Luke is portrayed as the former boyfriend, while the behavior described is clearly sexually abusive. He groomed Mercedes before forcing her to perform oral sex on him and before eventually raping her. Charlie’s actions are not really any better. Filming a person having sex without their consent is illegal. Trying to physically force someone to have sex with you is illegal. Attempting to blackmail someone over their sex life is, you guessed it, illegal. But the author chooses to say that Charlie was trying to “seduce” Mercedes. No, that’s not seduction. Those are acts of sexual violence. Kim is an emotionally abusive and emotionally & physically neglectful mother, and Mercedes’ absentee father who decided to punish Mercedes for her mom’s decisions isn’t much better. Kim is portrayed as a slut and a bimbo who only cares about spending the ill-gotten gains of her ex-husband. It’s the kind of storyline that you might get from websites run by “men’s rights activists” and MGTOW. Faye is the supposed-to-be-subtle-but-really-isn’t cautionary tale. Zach is the night-in-shining armor. Angela is the good girl, the girl with the patience of a saint and who is let back into Mercy’s life too easily. Mercedes is the fallen girl/girl gone bad who takes on the sins of all those involved & is nearly ruined in the process. She is constantly obsessing over what side she should show others, which is something that a lot of people feel, but it was never really addressed in the book. Yes, there’s the whole, her mom screwed up how she thinks about sex, beauty, weight, etc., but that’s not enough to explain why she is so hyper-critical and why she is convinced that she is unlovable. And if you’re going to spend a whole book tearing down the main character’s self-esteem, then you need to spend more than a couple of pages making her act like she’s all-better all of a sudden. Sometimes it came across as preachy. No, wait, it always came across as preachy. The sex lives of most of the characters in the book are regularly criticized. Angela, Mercy’s BFF, is super-religious and pushes her faith onto everyone. (There are even Bible verses that are quoted and referenced.) Her sex-negative attitude only pushes Mercy to hide her actions. Kim’s antics seem to push the idea that adultery leads women to even more vice-filled lives. Mercy’s internal dialogue about how many guys she’s had sex with pushed the idea that girls & women who have ‘too much’ sex might be seen as used up goods. The outcome at school for Mercedes pushes the idea that women and girls have to be punished for being sexual. When Mercedes describes how she feels about sex and intimacy, even when she sometimes thinks she’s attracted to Faye, it’s almost like reading a pamphlet on sex addiction. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the way that her pseudo-attraction to Faye was handled. I know that with sex addiction, a person might engage in sex with people that they aren’t really attracted to, but the whole “is she going to kiss me” thing that existed through most of their interactions was just shrugged away toward the end. I didn’t know if Mercedes was only thinking about Faye that way because she really doesn’t understand relationship boundaries or if she might not be as heterosexual as she eventually felt the need to declare she was. Sex addiction or figuring out that you’re LGBTQ might be an interesting topic to cover in a novel, but it needs to be addressed in a better way. Come to think of it: all of the issues that are described within the book need to be addressed properly. In attempting to counter the sex-negativity that people, especially women and girls, encounter in their lives, the book actually pushed an even more sex-negative outlook. The book essentially normalized sexual violence, parental neglect, and shaming young women for being interested in sex. That’s why I don’t think I could ever truly love this book. It almost seemed like a book I could like until it became clear that it was just another in a long line of anti-sex books with ambiguous attitudes toward abuse and sexual assault. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. View all my reviews

Review: Firsts


I was told tonight that the reason that people don’t donate to my GoFundMe is that I’m a douche. My douchiness is an apparent result of my defense of Twitter friend who was being attacked for his lack of tweets after that friend had challenged this other dude over his hostile attitude over a Teen Vogue article that said Trump was gaslighting America and was endangering American democracy. BREAKING: Dude with 20k tweets thinks he’s hot shit for having 20k tweets, so he lashes out at a teen magazine. Seriously, bro? https://t.co/mWtZ69XfTo — Janet Morris (@janersm) December 11, 2016 In response to my tweet, he decided to call me “Super Girl”12 and to follow that up with mocking of my GoFundMe fundraiser. At first, it didn’t seem like he was making fun of me, but it became obvious rather quickly. BREAKING: Dude with 20k tweets responds to 257 Tweeter because no one @ ed him and Super Girl arrives. https://t.co/W8qRSAdVKd — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 JUST IN: Super Girl needs help with her house. Go fund her? https://t.co/LGVJp7sC41 — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 JUST IN: Super Girl is human. And flawed af. But eager to spread the news of her house needing repairs. More at 6. @janersm pic.twitter.com/iKv6Ywubfu — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 He decided that I don’t understand how he feels about Trump, because apparently no one suffers like he does. He decided that I was acting like a child because I was defending my friend. He had nonsensical retorts that only contained insults and attempts at gaslighting. He continued his wrath against the crowdfunding campaign because it upset him that much. Again, attacking people on the Internet while pleasing for their help is counter productive. https://t.co/1kGEm9mKy9 — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 Janet, if you want help … this ain’t the way. https://t.co/BBkuXuHRU7 — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 What sounds like gas lighting is you interjecting yourself and then liking your gofund me tweets. Tbh. But you do you, boo. https://t.co/Zxco6ba6CB — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 And better fund raising platforms, tbh. @janersm — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 And he just went to 100% bizarro: Blocked. Auto Insurance scam. https://t.co/aFiddzYlB1 — James Brooks (@hannibalsbuffet) December 11, 2016 In my first tweet, I was snarky, just like he had been to my friend.3 In subsequent responses, I was trying to be understanding about why a middle-aged man might be raging out against a teen magazine for running an article. That was what I was doing as he decided to disparage me and my GoFundMe campaign. When I tried to explain why I was doing the campaign, he just kept acting like an asshole. I would but I’m on a fixed income because I’m disabled, which is why I needed help repairing my house. You know that think you mock me over? https://t.co/IHzu3DrEvC — Janet Morris (@janersm) December 11, 2016 Of course in his performance tweeting, he didn’t tweet things that might make me look like a marginalized individual. It was obvious that his tweets were meant to get him attention or sympathy from his followers. It seemed ridiculous to me that he made the insinuation that any person who wants to raise money so that they can have roof over their head that doesn’t leak or a floor that isn’t the actual foundation of their house has to play this Susie Sunshine character. I’m not allowed to express my opinion or defend my friends because I’m poor & need help. That’s a lovely message to share. Maybe he’s right. Maybe that’s why I’ve literally only raised $20 for the repairs.4 I mean, I know he only said it because he was being bitchy and an asshole, but there’s that little part of me that thinks that maybe he’s right. Maybe if I weren’t me, people would actually help out. I followed all of the advice websites gave for making the campaign successful and it still wasn’t, so maybe it is just me. Maybe I deserve this, but it’s still pretty fucked up that someone tells another person that.5 Why do people suck so much? He doesn’t realize that calling a person a superhero’s name isn’t an insult. ↩He also doesn’t realize that Supergirl is one word. ↩A person who had been following him, which he would have known if he looked at my friend’s bio. ↩The biggest chunk of money came from the selling of Nana’s house. ↩Not quite as fucked up as the two death threats in the last 3 days that I’ve gotten from Trump supporters, but close. ↩

In Case of Extreme Bitchiness (of Another Party)



I write a lot, not as much on here as I used to, but I still write a lot. For better or worse, most of the writing tends to be on Twitter, though sometimes it is on Medium or Tumblr. Occasionally, there’s a Facebook post thrown in there. Can you digress in a first paragraph? So Twitter is a major platform for me to express myself. Sometimes I make pithy polls. Typically, the polls get between 2 and 20 votes. Lately, they’ve gotten a few more. When I responded to a person claiming that the Hamilton cast’s rebuke of Mike Pence was a vicious attack, the popularity of my pithy poll was easily attributed to Elon James retweeting it: Which is more vicious:@Sanrenkay @elonjames @maggieNYT — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 19, 2016 Last night, I stumbled across this response on Medium by Tom Steele to a post on New York prisoners being allowed (on average) 11 pads or tampons per month for use during their periods: One has t0 wonder if there is more to this story. 2.8 pads per woman per week, if I read that correctly, is 11 per month which seems like a lot. Some women would be expected to need less and it is hard to imagine many women needing more than that. I fully support providing the basic hygiene products required, like food, clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels, tampons, etc… I responded with an explanation of why 11 is an unfathomable number of pads. I followed that up with a screenshot and a pithy poll. Raise your hand if you have ever needed more than 11 pads or tampons for a period. pic.twitter.com/fA38Oeq222 — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 30, 2016 #period #periods #livetweetyourperiod #feminism #reprohealth (please RT) During your period do/did you typically go through: — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 30, 2016 I thought the maximum number of votes would be about 20. As of this moment, there are 8,937 votes in that poll. My mentions have been filled with stories by people who have (or have had) periods of all sorts, whether they’re long, short, or regular in length; heavy, light, or medium in flow; or occur regularly or irregularly. I’ve learned about supportive friends, clueless relatives, and how many people are frustrated by how little they’ve been taught or that they know about their own bodies. I understand all of that because I’ve experienced some of it, and because I’ve seen others go through similar struggles. I’ve gone through moments where I was excited because so many people were sharing their stories1 to moments where I just wanted to throw my iPod at the wall because so many people were sharing their stories. I wanted them to feel free to share them. I love the joking. But I’m confused about how to deal with all of it. When people ask questions, I want to be able to answer them. When they say something funny, I want to be able to laugh with them. When I empathize with something they’ve been through, I want to express it. I’m worried that I’m being rude if I don’t respond. I’m also worried that all I will ever be talking about again is periods. I know it’s only been like 24 hours, and that this will die down. But this experience is just a bit mind-blowing. I worry that Mr. Steele, as annoying as I find him, will be harassed. I worry that there might be other repercussions, and I feel guilty about that. It’s a little weird when I wanted a boycott over his reaction to emotional abuse and bullying, but I don’t want him to have any personal suffering over this stuff.2 He seems like he would be the kind of guy who would laugh this sort of thing off, and maybe he will. Or maybe he’ll learn a little from it. I can hope that’s what will happen, but I will always worry about the possible negatives because that’s what I do. I worry that maybe his Christmas vacation will be spent trying to ruin my Christmas dullness. As I typed that paragraph, 34 notifications piled up on Twitter.3 This is new. This is different. This is weird. This is life with social media…and I really need to learn to stop doing my pithy polls. When Mara Wilson shared it, I fangirled out. Gayle Forman commenting about it made me fangirl a bit, too. I think I have all of her books. ↩What I truly want from both is for him to learn the facts and not promote ignorance. ↩Oy with the poodles already. ↩

Accidentally Popular


My father’s anger issues are something that I’ve mentioned a few times over the years. Whatever is causing the dementia/memory issues seems to have made those issues even more prevalent. Any time that my mom opens her mouth, he yells at her. She could be talking to me and he will snipe at her. He’s thrown things. He is mad over everything and convinced that the world is out to get him. I can’t talk him down. I used to be able to be the voice of reason between the two of them, but his rage gets worse when I try. That rage has had ongoing consequences for me. He grabbed my right wrist months ago and I had some pretty bad bruising; it’s still weak and painful, and it pops when I move it. I told my therapist, but I refuse to get it checked out by a doctor because I know that they might have to report it to cops.1  My mom told me that it would be better if, when he’s acting out, I didn’t say anything to him about it. If he does something, we don’t confront him because the blame falls on us–even if it doesn’t involve us in any way. I thought he was scary before all of this, but I never knew just how bad he could get. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I keep making excuses for him because I know that even though he’s always had anger issues that something else is making him like this. This isn’t my dad. This is like my grandfather and I don’t want my dad to be like that man. I want my dad to be himself again. I want him to talk to his doctors about what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling; and I want him to be honest about his symptoms. He has lied to them and that’s impeding his treatment. I want him to let one or both of us talk to his doctors. How are they going to know about the rage? How will they know about the anxiety attacks he has every week when he goes to the grocery store with my mom?2 How will they figure out what’s going on in his head if he won’t tell them? Mom tried to ask him what she could do because she’s trying to figure out how they can get along. He doesn’t want her to try because he doesn’t think that anything will make their relationship better. In other words, he wants to be angry with her and take out all of his anxiety & aggression on her. This isn’t healthy and it isn’t right. I just want things to be better. The code of ethics for a social worker prevents her from sharing the information. ↩He won’t let her go with me instead of him. ↩

Tales from the Angry Side



1
If you’re near Greenville, consider boycotting @B937AlltheHits or @HawkAndTom for Tom Steele’s normalization of harassment and abuse. https://t.co/eLWfjkVktF — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 14, 2016 Two weeks ago, radio “personality” Tom Steele told an online acquaintance that his generation believed in the myth that “sticks and stones” wouldn’t actually cause you harm. As someone who was emotionally abused and bullied, I called bullshit. I also made a small suggestion that people in his market boycott his show. Over the weekend, after I’d all but forgotten about the whole thing, he decided that it was time to fight back. I’m going to keep a running total of how many insults he manages to throw my way. @janersm @B937AlltheHits Ahh, the last resort of the upset liberal – squelching free speech. That's what got you into this mess. LOL — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 @janersm Trying to stop free expression through financial threats is exactly “trying to squelch” free speech. You live in pretend-world. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Before he challenged the tweet, my boycott statement had no likes or retweets. Those only started afterward. Even by his own admission, my “boycott” was unsuccessful. So the “financial threat” is nonexistent, or it was before he decided to draw attention to the “boycott”. Also, it is absolutely hilarious to me that I’m trying to squelch his right to free speech. As I told him last night, boycotts are an expression in the free market of speech by consumers. Insults so far: 11 .@janersm Debate is free expression. But you attempt to stop the speech from occurring. That’s NOT a form of free speech. It’s suppression. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 He’s correct that debate is free expression, but he’s incorrect in suggesting that boycotts are a suppression of free speech. He’s allowed to say whatever he wants. Consumers get to decide how they want to respond to his words. .@janersm I don’t try to shut you up. Just debate, see the difference? In your world you are right and everyone else isn’t allowed to speak. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 He actually didn’t try to debate. Ever. Anyone who attempts to debate him is accused of whining. It seems to be his go-to thing. Insults so far: 22 @janersm I never said that. You either didn’t comprehend or are deliberately misrepresenting it. That’s ok. Have a nice life. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 This is what we call gaslighting. You’ll notice similarities between this sort of response and the response of Donald Trump when people quote him. It probably isn’t surprising that Mr. Steele is .@janersm You’ve made your point. Clearly it isn’t a good idea to post on medium because you risk boycotts from anyone who disagrees. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 My point was actually that it’s not okay to be an asshole or push the “sticks and stones” narrative. .@janersm You do have the right. But trying 2 boycott is suppressing free speech. Debating the issue is FINE! Making others shut up is not. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Which is why he wants to make me shut up. .@janersm You tried to. You didn’t like what I said, instead of debating, you immediately tried to use a boycott to make me stop speaking. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Actually, my first reaction was to discuss it with him. We did go back and forth on Medium, then I didn’t hear from him again. I made the tweet over his willingness to normalize abuse/bullying. Trying to go the “sticks and stones” route is going to turn off anyone who has any understanding of the impact of emotional abuse or bullying on the human mind and body. He shouldn’t be surprised that someone didn’t respond positively to his remarks. Surely it isn’t the first time. .@janersm Just because it’s not successful doesn’t mean it isn’t an attempt 2 make someone stop speaking because u don’t like what they say. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 In other words, the financial threat by me wasn’t real, but he needed someone to yell at because he was angry over something in his life.3 @janersm I did not normalize harassment or abuse. You just don’t understand plain English. Some people are too stupid to argue with. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 Yes, he did normalize it. And he’s about to continue to normalize it. Insults so far: 445 .@janersm Instead of boycotting, why not ask them to read your lame article and my response and judge for themselves? I think I know why… — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 It wasn’t actually my article, it was Kiva Bay’s and it was awesome. Insults so far: 56 @janersm I observed that. I didn’t encourage it. I’m fat and ugly. I made that clear. I said get over it – like I did. I’ve tried 2 explain. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 I tried explaining to him again that the main issue was with the “sticks and stones” aspect. He may have gotten over the bullying, but he still seems to have anger issues. @janersm A generation of people who make mountains out of molehills. That’s my point. You won’t even hear when I try to explain it. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 Like responding to a weeks old tweet? Oh wait, a millennial didn’t do that. @janersm I didn’t justfy it. I told u what my dad told me. IGNORE them. Don’t GIVE THEM POWER 2 hurt u. They ONLY have power if u give it. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 His dad was wrong. @janersm […]

Sticks and Stones and Hawk N’ Tom


If you’re looking for a charity to donate to, I’ve included links to the donation pages of the charities listed under each category. Most of these originally were posted as part of my 2016 holiday wishlist. Abuse and Sexual Assault 1in6 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence RAINN Animal Rights ASPCA Antisemitism ADL Capital Punishment National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Civil Liberties ACLU Disability Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Environment/Science Clinton Foundation EarthJustice GreenPeace NRDC Union of Concerned Scientists Human Rights Human Rights Watch USA for UNHCR Women’s Refugee Commission Islamophobia CAIR Journalism ProPublica RSF LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign Lambda Legal SPLC Trevor Project Poverty Alabama Arise Clinton Foundation Racism Black Lives Matter Mexican American Legal Defense Fund NAACP and its Legal Defense Fund SPLC Reproductive Rights/Feminism Center for Reproductive Rights Clinton Foundation EMILY’s List Guttmacher NARAL National Abortion Federation National Organization for Women Planned Parenthood She Should Run Women’s Refugee Commission If you have any suggestions for this list, please let me know.

Charitable Shortcuts



After watching Audrie & Daisy, I seriously hope that Darren White loses his bid to be reelected. I know documentaries don’t always give you the full picture, but it’s clear that he doesn’t respect rape & sexual assault victims. This is one Democratic candidate I would never vote for, and a race where I’m actually hopeful the Republican wins. His bias was clear. Daisy Coleman deserved more from his department. He failed her. He failed the people of Nodaway County, and the bullying & vandalism that took place after her rape is proof that he is also unable to keep the peace in his community. He does not deserve to be a law enforcement officer anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he will lose. If the people of Nodaway County and Maryville can be so hateful toward a rape victim based upon who raped her, then they might not even care about the miscarriage of justice by Darren White. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and elect Randy Strong. I hope they do.

I Hope the Nodaway County Sheriff Loses