This Woman’s Worth…

The Poster Children For Sending A Bad Message...

The Poster Children For Sending A Bad Message…

Over the last few years, the National Football League has been trying to attract women by having breast cancer awareness games, and fun events, like my friend Tashyra Ayers’ “Female Football Frenzy” benefit for the American Heart Association.

But it’s going to take a lot more than a bunch of guys wearing pink gloves and shoestrings in October and an appearance from a hunky wide receiver at a benefit to get the taste of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s latest move out of women’s mouths.

On Thursday, Goodell announced that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice would be serving a two-game suspension for abusing his fiancee’, now wife, Janay in an Atlantic City hotel in February. He’ll also be paying a $58,000 fine and getting some counseling. He’ll also lose more than $500,000 in game checks.

(Or as I like to call it, his Petty Cash…)

“This league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public, and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game,” Goodell said in a letter he sent to Rice telling him of his suspension. “This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

This is a strongly worded letter…for a two-game suspension..


But in some light of some other punishments meted out by the league on a few other, not as blatant offenses, I’m a little confused.

So let me get this straight.

In the NFL, killing dogs as part of a dogfighting ring, the offense committed by New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick, gets you first suspended indefinitely, suspended for four games once you’re reinstated, and earns you the permanent enmity of a whole lot of misguided pet lovers.

Shooting yourself in the leg at a nightclub, the offense that put former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress on the hot seat, gets you suspended for four games.

Taking a fertility drug in hopes of helping your wife get pregnant, the faux pas that has Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis riding the pine, gets you suspended for four games.

But decking your fiancee’ in a casino hotel, dragging her into an elevator and making her sit through a press conference that probably made Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa say “Damn! That sucks!” costs you four games and about $500,000.

No wonder Janay Rice looks like she hasn’t got a damn left to give. If I don’t stop scratching my head so hard, I’m gonna need stitches.

Now from everything I’ve read about Ray Rice, the whole “beating the snot out of my significant other” thing is out of character.

But my guess is that it’s not as much “out of character” as it was “finally got caught”.

According to the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, one-third of all women who have experienced a severe instance of domestic violence will experience another similar event in the same year. African Americans also make up one-third of the intimate partner homicides in the country.

I would be willing to bet my last dollar that Goodell took none of what I just mentioned into consideration when he made his decision.

Now let’s be honest here. The NFL has got a whole lot of issues. In addition to the whole “One of our teams is named for a racial slur” thing, the NFL has a culture of sexism bordering on misogyny.

There, I said it. And I meant it too.

From the cheerleaders for my beloved Oakland Raiders being forced to sue for their pay to the rather ridiculous hygiene rules placed on the Buffalo Bills’ pom-pom wielders, what women have to put up with to be involved with football makes my feminist skin crawl.

And don’t even get me started on the beer-and-testosterone-soaked shenanigans in the stands. Or the way that players use women like napkins. Or the fact that the marriage vows for most of the players should have written on an Etch-A-Sketch.

But if the league is serious about getting women (and their money) into the stands to keep the billions flowing in, it can’t afford to add “tolerance for domestic violence” to that mix.

Because like a woman who’s had enough, we’ll get up and walk away.

You Don’t Own Me…








Overprivleged asshole in BMW


Nice car…for an asshole…

You don’t own me,

I’m not just one of your many toys

You don’t own me,

Don’t say I can’t go with other boys…

You’re not gonna find a whole lot of Lesley Gore on my I-Pod. In fact, the version of this song that I found myself listening to after reading about Elliot Rodger’s “Cute, Blond Girls Don’t Like Me, So I’m Gonna Kill Everybody” rampage on Memorial Day Weekend in Isla Verde, California was the version performed by Dusty Springfield.

But that song came immediately to mind when I saw some of the reactions to what he did….and the justifications he gave for doing it in a manifesto that you won’t catch me linking to or quoting here.

You see, Rodger felt that because he was a 22-year-old virgin who had never been kissed (his words, not mine) that he had the right to go around throwing drinks at men of color who got the cute, blond girls who wouldn’t give him the time of day, filling a Super Soaker with orange juice and shooting it at happy couples sitting in the grass at parks, and ultimately killing six people and wounding 13.

I can only imagine how many times he got the crap kicked out of him for all of that drink throwing. I can also imagine what a royal terror he would have been with a case of 2 liter bottles of Coke at the Kanye West/Kim Kardashian wedding. Too many blonds with Black dudes. So little time…

Now I’ve dealt with entitlement a lot over the last few years. As an adjunct professor, a media arts teacher, and as a plain, garden variety woman, I’ve heard the words “I deserve” so much and in so many different ways that if I had a nickel for all of the embodiments of that particular two word phrase used to assault my ears and sensibilities, I could retire. Comfortably. And become George Clooney’s neighbor in Italy.

But it’s the sense of male entitlement that seemed to come streaming out this weekend that put the Lesley Gore/Dusty Springfield classic in my head.While we talk about the sense of male entitlement that allows rappers to grab their crotches and call for their “bitch”, we tend not to talk about the kind of male entitlement that led Rodger to become a drink throwing, Super Soaker shooting, mass murdering Manzilla.

So that’s what we’re gonna talk about.

And don’t tell me what to do,

And don’t tell me what to say,

And when I go out with you,

Don’t put me on display, ’cause

You don’t own me,

Don’t try to change me in any way

You don’t own me,

Don’t tie me down because I won’t stay…

It seems that Rodger had an issue with women putting him in the “friend zone” in favor of men that he viewed as less than the “supreme gentleman” he saw himself as.

In his world, somebody needed to feel the wrath for that…

“You girls have never been attracted to me,” he said. “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It is an injustice, a crime.”

Now let’s keep it real for a second, shall we, because I’ve heard this complaint from more than a few so-called “nice guys” and “good dudes” in my life.

I put the following on my Facebook page on Sunday:

“Okay, let’s think about this a minute.

If I had a nickel for every man who has stuck me into the “Friend Zone” since I started noticing boys, and I’m including the guys wanting to stick me in the “Friends With Benefits Zone”, I’d have been able to quit working about 15 years ago. If I add the guys who decided that I was only “friend” material in favor of a girl who ended up putting them through a rash of crap, I could have shaved off another five years. But while I’m pretty sure that many of the menfolk who are my Facebook friends see themselves in my remarks, and you should, I never felt like I was so entitled to you that I felt justified killing you and all of your kind. Most women don’t.”

And that’s kind of the bottom line, isn’t it?

Most women would accept their space in the “Friend Zone” with as much grace as you can muster when you get your heart broken. She may not return your calls for a while. She may block your Facebook posts or even unfriend you. She might even decide that since being your friend means having to sit and watch you be affectionate to someone who isn’t her, it might be time for her to make some new friends. It’s not that she doesn’t care about you anymore, it’s that she’s (a) protecting herself and (b) doesn’t want to be the dour one in all of the pictures.

(Heck, when the Girl Your Mama Warned You About turns out to be, well, the Girl Your Mama Warned You About, she’ll even listen to you when you cry. You’re gonna have to take some snark with that shoulder, and when she thinks you’re strong enough to hear it the phrase “I told you so” will come out, but hey, nothing in life is free…)

But if it’s a choice between killing you and going shopping, most of us are hitting the mall because we realize that we’re not entitled to you.Women are pretty much taught early on that we’re not entitled to much.

(And besides, we’ve probably gotten a hold of your credit card number so when you see the $1,400 Louis Vuitton bag charged on it, don’t say you weren’t warned…Just kidding…I think…)

But let me get back to my point here, which is while we don’t like rejection, we can take it.

Sometimes, because even the “nicest” guy often feels he’s entitled to a girl and that this girl is somehow deficient if she doesn’t return his affections,  you can’t. And that becomes problematic.

There’s a hashtag that’s been burning up Twitter since the shootings on Friday called #YesAllWomen. Tweets launched under this hashtag talk about the various ways that male empowerment has meant bad things for women. Stuff like “no” being thought of as a starting point for sexual negotiations instead of the declarative sentence it is; being catcalled on the street and getting called all kinds of things when you say “Don’t talk to me like that!” and the fact that I have to protect myself from being raped because for some reason you as a man were never taught that “taking” what you want from me without my permission is against the law.

The men viewing the Tweets from this hashtag fall into three pretty distinct camps:

*The men with daughters who are saddened to see that women go through all this. They are ready to whip their sons into shape around these issues if they haven’t already and in addition to whistles for their wives and daughters, they have also bought a 9mm Glock pistol that they have no problem using if you mess with any woman they love, from Mee-Maw right on down to that cousin who claims to be putting herself through college by twerking…..

*The men who see Rodger as a guy that might not have done this if he had used their method for picking up women…more on that later…and

*The men who think that these killings and the reason Rodger gave for them should send the following message to women: “Be nice to us…OR ELSE!!”

I don’t tell you what to say,

And I don’t tell you what to do,

So just let me be myself,

That’s all I ask of you…

I learned something this weekend through the coverage of the Isla Verde murders.

Apparently, there is a Pick-Up Artist Community. Who knew? I didn’t even know that people still did all of that “Here’s my manual on how to pick up women in bars” kind of stuff anymore. I guess it’s because I find myself laughing my ass off at these over cologned, tight pants wearing, driving my fancy car back to my Mama’s basement freaks of nature as they approach anything that moves and a few things that probably never did.

But apparently they do. And more than a few PUAs, an abbreviation that I heard on an episode of “The Closer”, but never thought I’d actually hear in real life, weighed in on how lives could have been saved if Rodger had learned how to up his “game”.

“Until you give men like Rodger a way to have sex, either by encouraging them to learn game, seek out a Thai wife, or engage in legalized prostitution—three things that the American media and cultural elite venomously attack, it’s inevitable for another massacre to occur,” said Roosh, a poster on the “Return of Kings” website. “Even game itself, as useful as it is on an individual level, is a band-aid fix upon a culture which has stopped rewarding nice guys while encouraging female whoring to benefit only the top 10% of alpha males, all in the name of societal progress. Game is a tiny release valve on a cultural pressure cooker where meaningful relationships have become sick, fractured, and unfulfilling compared to the time of our grandparents when traditional sex roles existed. Game may not have led Rodger to find his dream girl and live happily ever after, but it would have given enough results to stop him from killing six innocent individuals and himself. Until you allow and encourage all men to get sex by some means, these massacres will be more commonplace as America’s cultural decline continues.”

(What I do for this blog…)

And because there is a Pick-Up Artist Community, there is an Anti-Pick-Up Artist Community. Again, who knew?

Rodger was a part of the Anti-PUA sect. In fact, he was a frequent poster to the site PUAHate…

But while they call themselves haters of PUAs, a lot of their rhetoric was as misogynist as the stuff that Roosh feels the burning need to share with us. In fact, a poster on PUAHate’s Reddit page (the PUAHate site and Twitter feed itself have been shut down), asked “Will American women become nicer as a result of today’s events? People in New York were nicer after 9/11…”

And then there’s this conversation…

“It’s ridiculous that people keep accusing Elliot Rodger of being a misogynist and bellyaching about how misogyny and violence towards women is so horrible. Out of the 7 people who died, the majority (5) were guys. He killed his two roommates and whoever the third guy was, and then he killed a random guy on the street and then he killed himself. If anything, the stories should be about how dangerous it is for men out there.”

“Yes. That’s how society is. If an event happens in which 1000 men die and one woman’s hat is blown off, it’s an attack on women. Never mind the penis-havers. They’re barely even human. Remember, in any disaster: “women and children first” to safety.”

Wow. I’m amazed that women aren’t beating each other up for the chance to get with you guys!

If I’ve noticed anything in the Age of Obama, and believe me there’s been a lot for me to notice, it’s that we’re real close to being the America that the late Gil-Scott Heron talked about in his classic “B-Movie” where we’re decrying women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights as “all wrong”.

Especially when some rich guy, or a Black guy with a bunch of Ivy League degrees, blows the lid off of your privilege.

I’m young, and I love to be young,

I’m free, and I love to be free,

To live my life the way that I want,

To say and do whatever I please…

There seems to be a trend toward putting people in “their place” these days.

But here’s the thing about putting people in “their place”. Usually, its them who decide what that place is.

When Michael Sam kissed his significant other after becoming the first openly gay man drafted into the National Football League, he was saying that the NFL is my place, and this is the person I want to share this moment with. If you have a problem with it, kick rocks.

When the moving vans brought Barack and Michelle Obama and their family into the White House six years ago, they were saying, to paraphrase Diana Ross, “It’s our house, and we live here…”

And when a woman tells a man like Eliot Rodger that she’s not interested, she shouldn’t have her life threatened, or have to pay with her life for that.

Because, and I say this to the PUAs, the PUAhaters, and all of the arrested adolescents who believe that you have a right to any woman you want, you don’t own us. You never did.

It’s 2014. I thought that you would have picked up on that by now….

I leave you with the sounds of Dusty Springfield…

A Table Made From Pain

The place setting for Bryan Keller. In March 1993, domestic violence took him away. He was 6-months-old.

When you go to a convention, any convention, there is always a marketplace or exhibit space where you can buy things, get books signed, listen to speakers, be regaled by sponsors, and otherwise connect with fellow participants.

The Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where I spent most of my Friday, is no exception. The conference, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary this year, is a place where women can connect with each other, learn and be empowered. In addition to workshops on everything from starting your own business to work/life balance, participants were treated to speeches from Judge Glenda Hatchett (yes, THAT Judge Hatchett), and former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

(Clinton’s got her presidential candidate haircut and pantsuits workin’…I’m just sayin’…)

Between Hatchett, Albright and Clinton, I got a chance to go into the exhibit space for the conference. I walked past a lot of booths designed to get me to buy stuff, got to meet Judge Hatchett, and told the folks at Independence Blue Cross that their advertisement “Live Fearless” was grammatically incorrect, something that’s been bugging my fellow journalists and copy editors for a minute.

(By the way folks, it’s a national ad. The local representatives say they can’t correct it. So it goes out as “Live Fearless” despite the fact that it bugs us. I tried.)

After walking past various book signings, the booths of sponsors like QVC, and some of the nicest jewelry I can’t afford, I started to walk past what I thought was a display table for a china manufacturer.

Upon closer inspection however, I saw that it was more than just plates. 

There were pictures. Pictures of women. Pictures of children. Pictures of families in happier times. Trinkets and stuffed animals. It made me kind of curious.

As we approach the Holiday Season, we start to think about holiday dinners and whom we’re looking forward to seeing at the table as the turkey and cranberry sauce are passed around.

But we also think about who isn’t there. While we don’t mean to, we think about the empty places at our table. We think about the people we loved who used to fill those seats. The smiles we only see in pictures now. The loss. 

That’s what this exhibit, “An Empty Place At The Table” represents. It represents the memories of those who were lost. The women. The children. The futures.

All lost to Domestic Violence.

“Empty Place” was created in 1993 by the Women’s Resource Center. The Center, which is based in Scranton, Pa., serves about 2,000 people in Susquehanna and Lackawanna Counties who are trying to get out of domestic violence situations every year, according to Carol Shoener, the Center’s economic advocacy director. It was a response to a two-week period in which three people lost their lives to domestic violence, she said.

“These place settings represent real people,” she said. “The families came to us and created the place settings. Some of the people represented we worked with personally before their death.”

The place settings focus more on how the person they represented lived, rather than how they died, something that gives the families connected to them a chance to heal, Shoener said.

Alicia Ann Smith loved the great outdoors and was planning to join the Army…

In some cases, it gives those who would otherwise go unremembered and unmourned a respect they may have otherwise not received. The person represented by this place setting was a Jane Doe…

But if you’re a longtime reader of The Mad (political) Scientist, you know that I gravitate to the stories of children who have been failed by those whose job it is to protect them. The picture at the beginning of this blog is the place setting of a 6-month-old child who was lost to domestic violence.

Unfortunately, his wasn’t the only place setting dedicated to a child. Sheena Marie Jones was 7, liked Mickey Mouse, and was a Royal Reader…

And then there was this picture…

“Three years ago in July, these boys were killed when their Mother’s partner set the house on fire,” Shoener said. She and her other son survived, but she was injured in the fire and spent a great deal of time in the hospital. She was able to create these place settings just this week. This is the first time they’ve been displayed.”

Before I walked completely away from the table, I walked around it again so that I could check out all of the place settings. 

One of them looked, well, familiar. It was the set of plates with octagonal bowls that I bought at the Wal-Mart in Horseheads, N.Y. I used them for my place at 4051/2 N. 4th St. in Elmira.

It was the set of plates on which I used to serve dinner for the man I was seeing when I lived there.

I met him at work. He seemed very nice. He sent me flowers, something no one had done for me in a while. I thought it had the potential to be something special.

But as time went on, I started to find out some stuff that bothered me a little.

He was a little possessive. No, I take that back. He was a lot possessive. In fact, when I made the decision to move back to New Jersey after my father died, he told me that my Mom didn’t need me at home as much as he needed me there.

That was a red flag. A big one.

But there had been smaller ones that in retrospect I shouldn’t have brushed off.

There was the “you need to stop hanging around your friends because you should be with me all the time” thing.

The rape charge that my friend the Police Reporter discovered when doing one of those “I’m looking out for you because this guy kinda gives me the creeps” background checks.

The threats that this friend got when he discovered that I had this information and from where I’d gotten it…something that led to my friend buying a pump shotgun.

The harassing phone calls. The night he showed up uninvited at my Mom’s house in Jersey….a variety of things.

But what made me decide that this was a manifestation of a problem I didn’t want to get any deeper was I went back to New York to visit him for the last time. We went on a day trip and I had a really good time.

When we got back to his house that night, I made dinner. I didn’t have something I needed to finish the meal, so I borrowed it from a neighbor. It’s what neighbors tend to do for each other if you get along at all.

His reaction to that scared me. He didn’t hit me, but because I feared he would, I grabbed a knife. 

When I’ve gotta do that, it’s over. I don’t even think I waited to get back to Jersey to break it off. I did it from a phone booth on the Pennsylvania Turnpike…near Scranton if I’m not mistaken.

While I had a support system that gave the the strength to get out of a bad situation (and an older brother that could have made the solution permanent without leaving a trace), not everyone does. If your abuser is your sole source of financial support and you’re so beaten down emotionally that you lack the strength to leave, getting out can seem impossible.

And in some cases, even if you leave you’re not safe. The thing that has always made me scratch my head when it comes to Orders of Protection is that the only way that they can be enforced is if they’re violated.

That. Does. Not. Make. Sense. Especially since you have to survive a violation to report it, and not everyone does….

If you’re being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. If you’d like more information on the exhibit “An Empty Place At The Table”, contact the Women’s Resource Center at 570-346-4460.

In Search of Consistency

Sure Dr. Kermit Gosnell deserved national attention. But so do the New Orleans Mothers Day shooters. Let’s get it for them…

The man in the picture above, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, is on his way to jail for the rest of his life.


Normally, I would put an exclamation point after that yay, but when you’re talking about a man who is going to be in jail for the rest of his life because he killed babies born alive in cold blood because he didn’t want to give back the money that their mothers paid to have their late-term, unplanned pregnancies aborted, an exclamation point doesn’t seem quite appropriate.

I last wrote about Dr. Gosnell, and again, I’m only calling him a doctor because the Associated Press Stylebook demands it, in 2011 when he was indicted on four counts of first degree murder (for killing three babies that were born alive by snipping their spinal cords) and one count of third-degree murder for killing one of his patients, Karamaya Mongar.). Mongar came to the clinic for an abortion and wound up dying in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania of cardiac arrest after being administered anesthesia by either a high school student or Gosnell’s wife, a hairdresser, I can’t remember which.

(In any case, neither was a doctor…)

I remembered looking through the Grand Jury report and seeing the bodies of babies frozen in jars, stuffed into boxes, and jars filled with little babies feet (why he saved them, I don’t know…). The clinic itself was so filthy that if it were a restaurant bathroom, not only would I not be eating there, a picture of the place would be put on the restaurant review site Yelp! so that no one else would either.

He got convicted on three counts of first-degree murder (for the babies), one count of third-degree murder (for Mongar), and a myriad of other offenses, none of which included being a total douchebag, unfortunately.

Thankfully, he decided not to appeal, thus saving the taxpayers the money needed to execute his dumb ass. Sure, we still have to feed and clothe him, but we don’t have to pay what would surely be some massive legal fees as he appealed his case, so that’s a win. He’s been sentenced to three life terms, which at 72 actually means maybe 10 years max.

I’m pretty sure that’s not enough. You kill three babies because your greedy ass doesn’t want to give up the money you’d lose because these five to seven month pregnant women have changed their minds about terminating their pregnancies, I’d like for you to do a lot more time. In a small cell. With a dude named Raheem. Who just lost a child.

But since this is the best I’m gonna get, okay.

Now the Gosnell case became a national cause celebre’ for anti-abortion activists who thought that the proceedings should be televised on C-Span so that they could get on their soapboxes and say “See! This is what happens when you give women the right to an abortion! This is what all abortion providers do!”

(That’s not the case of course. But why let the facts get in the way of some time honored scare tactics?)

So to shame the national media into coming to Philly and covering what was essentially a local story (because we local reporters doing our jobs was just not good enough), these activists and their media partisans got together and demanded that the Gosnell trial be a staple on networks like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others.

They got their way. And that’s okay. It’s not like what Gosnell did wasn’t going to end up on Investigation Discovery at some point. But I can’t help but think that the hearts of these folks were so far away from being in the right place here that it’s ridiculous. You want to make abortion illegal. I get that. But you also want to make making sure the child stays healthy, gets educated, and is allowed to live without the fear of someone rolling into his or her elementary school with a Bushmaster rifle for target practice next to impossible.

Which is why I refer to you as Pro-Birth instead of Pro-Life. If you were Pro-Life, you’d want to make sure that all these kids you want to force women into having by restricting their access to birth control and making abortion so hard to get that they have to go to butchers like Kermit Gosnell had what they needed to truly live. Instead, you want to see them born…so that you can tell them to go kick rocks.

Now I know that some of you are looking at that last sentence and want to tell me I’m wrong.

I’m going to give you a chance to prove to me that you’re not exactly what I said you are and it involves your favorite thing: forcing the news media to focus on what you want it to focus on through fear and intimidation.

On Mothers Day in New Orleans, a second-line parade was going in in one of the neighborhoods in the Seventh Ward. Folks were enjoying their day out, celebrating Mom, checking things out.

Then, this happened…

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Happy Mothers Day! It’s time to start shooting up a poor neighborhood in New Orleans!

By the time the three people who went all OK Corral on this Second Line parade got done, 19 folks were wounded, some of them critically.

And believe it or not, it went unnoticed by a lot of people, many of them hard core news junkies like myself.

So here’s your assignment: make this go viral.

Now the video above would tell you that a story about this has been done on MSNBC and good for them. But it probably would have escaped their notice as well were it not for the fact that it happened in MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry’s neighborhood.

Need some incentive? Two of the 19 victims clinging  to life in a New Orleans hospital are 10-years-old. You know? Kids?

And you all like kids, dont’cha? You may not like to feed ’em or make sure their teeth aren’t falling out or make sure they know how to read, but you do like ’em, right?

Then man your phone trees. Call your representatives. Get on CNN News Director Jeff Zucker’s nerves…

Oh, wait. That’s right. These kids were shot with a gun.

And people getting shot with a gun means we might have to talk about gun control, right? Can’t have that can we?

That’s what I thought.