slut-shaming


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


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



“You know how I don’t like to describe people or the things they do as evil? What she wrote was truly evil.” That was how I described Amanda Lauren’s essay describing an ex-friend’s life with schizoaffective disorder and that friend’s death to my mother. I had already ranted to my father and complained on social media. I couldn’t tell my mom that this total stranger was happy her mentally ill friend was dead. I knew that if I told her that that I would break down. Each time I’ve thought about what was written, I’ve had to stop myself from crying or screaming or begging to be taken to the hospital because my mind starts going down the all too familiar path of my-friends-and-family-would-probably-be-happy-if-I-died-too. It was probably a path that “Leah” was familiar with as well. There was always something about her that wasn’t quite right. Lauren’s essay is narcissistic drivel at best. Her friend wasn’t living up to a standard that she expected of her, so she wrote her off. She could justify this lack of understanding by saying her friend failed her.  “Leah” didn’t clean her house, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” didn’t have steady relationships, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” was a cam girl, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had delusions, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” pursued her crush and failed in a job Lauren secured for her, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had body image issues, so she was undeserving of respect.  It didn’t stop at her friend’s failures. The friend’s parents also failed her. Because “Leah”‘s parents didn’t magically cure their daughter of an incurable disease, they failed their daughter and failed Lauren because now she had to deal with their daughter’s erratic behavior. Every struggle “Leah” went through was actually harder on Lauren because the world is apparently all about her.1 Lauren’s lack of compassion was horrid, but her choice to use a platform like xoJane during Mental Health Awareness Month to publish a tale highlighting her ignorance was almost worse. This is a month when mental health patients, caregivers, advocates, and healthcare providers try to educate others. It’s a month to become more considerate of the day-to-day struggles for mentally ill people. Lauren and xoJane could have explained what schizoaffective disorder is, how it impacts people who have the issue, and why they behave the way that they do. They could have explored the actual suffering of “Leah” and not focused on the self-involvement of Lauren.  I can’t understand how a parent would let their child go on like this. Clearly, she was suffering and severely ill. If her disease were physical, would they have let her deteriorate to that point? Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic illness. It is sometimes considered a spectrum disorder because it involves overlapping symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. It is not as well understood as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression because it isn’t studied as often and is less common; it is seen in 0.3% of the population compared to 1.1%, 2.6%, and 6.7% for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, respectively. It isn’t well recognized by doctors or therapists; a lot of patients with it are diagnosed with a mood disorder or with schizophrenia first. It impacts men and women at the same rate, but, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, men typically develop it earlier than women. It can be treated, in most cases, by self-management, medication, and therapy, but people who have it are at risk for substance use disorders, suicide, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety disorders. Schizoaffective disorder is caused by genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, stress, and drug use. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar and depressive. If the person has mixed or manic episodes, they have the bipolar type; otherwise, it’s the depressive. Unlike other situations, it’s actually better to have the bipolar type. Having it is less likely to result in suicide than having the depressive type. It is considered by some mental health professionals to be more severe than mood disorders, but less severe than schizophrenia.  Because it is classified alongside schizophrenia as a psychotic disorder, it is more difficult to find providers willing to treat it. And treatments may be harmful to patients. Or they may not work.  In my case, I have had many therapists “pass me off” to colleagues. I have tried multiple antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. I’ve had many that didn’t work. Most have caused weight gain, including two that caused gains of fifty pounds or more. I’ve had seizures as a result of one medication. I’ve had a variety of less severe reactions to others. I even developed a temporary medicine-induced case of hyperthyroidism. Eventually I was switched to a high dose of an antidepressant, somewhat regular therapy, and self-management.  I will always have this disorder. My parents can’t make it go away. Medicine can’t either.  But I can cut people like Amanda Lauren out of my life. She thought “Leah” was toxic because of her issues, but, from my perspective, it was Lauren who was toxic. Yes, there were negative behaviors exhibited by “Leah”, but she was only behaving that way because of her illness. What was Lauren’s excuse? Why was she so petty, so judgmental? And why did she feel the need to cast herself in the role of victim? Why does she feel no shame in her words?  I don’t understand how one person can be so selfish, petty, and cruel. As those are personality traits that can be traced back to parenting, I wonder why her parents let her attitude deteriorate to this point. Shouldn’t they have done something before their child became this remorseless beacon of hate? Photo credit: Cameron Bathory via Visualhunt.com / CC BY Updated: May 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm: Changed link to essay to one from archive.is as the Google cache link has updated to the “apology” by Jane […]

Defined Parameters


2
After getting the notice that UAB was closing their OB/GYN office in Huntsville, I sent a request for a first available appointment for an annual exam. You know, the exam that I was I could schedule in October…when they cancelled my birth control consultation without informing me and told me that I could either pay them $90 that I didn’t have if I wanted to get my birth control that day or schedule an appointment for an annual in October and get it then. Obviously, I should have fucked up my finances even more and paid for the $90 appointment because I got this response to my request: Unfortunately we are no longer scheduling annuals due to the closure of our office next month. Your last one was 10/14/15 so you can have one at any time. I show you have Human insurance and MC. You should contact Human for a list of preferred providers. Once you find a new Dr you will need to sign a release form for your records. Feel free to call if you have any questions Needless to say, I was not amused. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I was pretty pissed off, so I fired off this response: I understand your office is closing, but this appointment is important and time-sensitive. I went off the Depo, then was rudely told my birth control consultation appointment was cancelled when I arrived for said appointment, and was told that day that I would need to wait until my annual exam at your office to get the birth control prescription. Now you’re refusing to schedule the exam? This birth control prescription is to keep my anemia in check and prevent me from having to undergo infusions. I’ve already had some bleeding because it has been so long since I had my last Depo. And I’ve already started having early signs of the anemia popping up. If I am even able to find a local doctor that takes the Humana & the Medicaid, it will probably be 2 months for me to get in, so I would appreciate you making an exception in this case…especially since part of this predicament is on you guys in the first place. Yes, it’s manipulative. Yes, it’s abrasive. Yes, all of that was necessary. The reality of their office closing on short notice is that it’s putting lives in danger. I know that they still have pregnant patients that they need to see, but they also have cases like mine where birth control is a life-saving medication and they have people who may have diagnoses of cancer delayed by months because they had to transfer their care to another doctor. I am so sick of doctors and their employees acting like routine appointments are unimportant. They may not seem to be important to some patients, but they are actually very important for others.1 And it will take a while to find a doctor who takes my insurances. It always does. Right now, I can’t even get the physician finder on Humana’s website to work. Once it starts to work, I can’t even guarantee that who they list will even taken the insurance.2 What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to let my health get worse? Am I supposed to just pretend like all of this bullshit, douchenuggetry, and dumbfuckery is acceptable? Fuck that. This is my life that they are messing with and they don’t have a right to jeopardize it. I shouldn’t have to sit here and wonder if I’m actually going to get medicine that I need in time to avoid infusions. I shouldn’t have to worry that lately I’ve been cold on hot days and that I’ve been paler than usual. But this is what I have to worry about when medical offices and insurance companies decide to make arbitrary decisions that endanger my life. I know that neither the office nor the insurance company are intending to harm patients by making these decisions, but that is what is happening/can happen when they cut off proper healthcare. Actually, they’re very important for all of them. ↩Humana has a tendency to list people who don’t accept their plans and not list ones who do. ↩

I Need That Appointment



Four percent of websites are considered pornographic; a much smaller percentage than most expect. Many people like the websites while many others hate them; and some who claim to oppose them enjoy them privately.1 I know that they’re a touchy subject2 for a lot of people, but I want to know what you guys think of them. Do you approve of porn? Have you ever viewed it? Do you think that it objectifies the actors? Are people who view porn complicit in any abuses that may go on in the porn industry? Has the industry done enough to prevent things like sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, and STDs on set? Does viewing porn contribute to issues like pornography and/or sex addiction? Does viewing porn make it hard3 for people to relate emotionally to others? Does it encourage dangerous behavior in its viewers? Or is controversy related to porn exaggerated? Can porn be empowering? Josh Duggar ↩Pun intended. ↩Another pun. ↩

Daily Debate: Oct. 7, 2015


1
Late last week, I rescheduled my appointment with the UAB OB/GYN clinic to get my Depo Provera shot on Tuesday to Thursday afternoon at 2:30.1 I asked that the nature of the appointment also change, since I had done some reading and found out that Depo Provera increases the chance of bone loss. I was told that since I wasn’t dude for an annual visit until October 15 that I would have to make it into a birth control consultation. I said that was fine. On Thursday afternoon, I was in a pretty good mood. I knew that it was possible, if the doctor took too long or there was some unexpected wait going on, I was going to have to stay at the clinic longer than usual because my mom had a dentist appointment, I still felt relatively optimistic. That should have made me nervous, but it didn’t. I was even joking around. 2:16 pm: Craving coffee on the way to a birth control appt while wearing a short strapless dress. Clearly my LDS conversion didn't take. — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 That changed after I started signing in. 2:33 pm: Well, that's just great. If you're conservative you probably need to unfollow me right now because I am fucking pissed off. — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 The receptionist started by saying that someone should have gotten in touch with me. She asked if I was on Medicare. I told her I had Humana Medicare and Medicaid. She said that the Business Office had told them that Medicare wouldn’t cover my birth control consultation. I thought that there must have been some misunderstanding. Medicare has never denied a birth control consultation that I’ve been to, including the ones that I went to when my gynecologist was trying to come up with a treatment for the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, but my hormones weren’t taking to the ring or the Seasonale or any of the many hormonal birth control methods that I tried. And I knew that, as a Medicaid patient, there shouldn’t be a rule against birth control access.2 I asked if she could appeal it and she said not today. That might seem like a perfectly reasonable statement for her, but I’m on a clock. Depo shots are only effective for so long. And once the progesterone has gotten out of my system, my dysfunctional uterine bleeding or, more specifically, my menometrorrhagia3 will act up again. I will bleed for days, weeks, or months on end until my iron stores are depleted and my anemia comes back with a vengeance. Birth control is life or death for treatment for me. Even if it weren’t, denying access to it would be wrong. So I started drafting tweet after tweet of how horrifying the situation was. 2:34 pm: I arrived for my #birthcontrol consultation appointment & was told insurance won't cover it. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare (1/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 I get to wait a month until my annual exam. My Depo will wear off in the meantime. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (2/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 I will start bleeding. My anemia will get worse. My overall health will get worse. (3/31) @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 All because there's a magical little rule that says I can't come in before my annual (4/31) @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 exam to switch #birthcontrol methods. A switch I was making because Depo increases risk of bone loss. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare (5/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 As a person with joint issues & a vitamin d def., bone loss isn't something I need. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (6/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 It's ridiculous that I've never run into this rule before. I've taken bc off and on @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (7/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 for 20 years, and half of those have been on #Medicare & #Medicaid. I've had bc consults in that time. @HumanaHelp #birthcontrol (8/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 I asked the receptionist if it could be appealed. She said not today & acted like this @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (9/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 rule was something she'd never heard of, but she also wouldn't get call anyone @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (10/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 from the business office for me to ask. She also claimed they tried to tell me. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (11/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 Kinda funny since they didn't call & didn't email. How hard were they *trying*? @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (12/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 So, when did this rule come along? Why is my health allowed to be put in jeopardy? @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (13/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 Are other women being forced to go w/o meds? Are they on meds that could hurt them? @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (14/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 How many low income patients are being denied basic healthcare? @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (15/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 Believe it or not, not all #birthcontrol is safe or effective for all people who take it. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare (16/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 Patients deserve to be able to find the one that fits their needs. Why deny us that? @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (17/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 They said that to get the prescription, I'd have to pay for a $90 office visit today. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (18/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 IF I HAD $90 TO SPEND ON AN OB/GYN APPOINTMENT, I WOULDN'T BE A PATIENT THERE. @HumanaHelp #medicaid #medicare #birthcontrol (19/31) — Janet Morris (@janersm) September 24, 2015 It's […]

Some Days Even My Lucky Rocketship Underpants Don’t Help