Pot vs Rape: Punishment Disproportion

Feeling better today.  The dissociation seems to be almost gone.  I was at least capable enough to write the following a short while ago on Facebook, and I think it’s spot-on:

One of my friends posted the following question: “Why do pot smokers do more time in prison than rapists? Serious question.
Hell, most rapists never see a jail cell.”

I’m going to share my answer here, because I think it’s very important that we realize these things.

My first response: “Reefer Madness. Plus the longstanding stereotype that it’s mostly black people who smoke weed. Combine that with institutionalized racism…”

My second, and more comprehensive response:

“I think it has to do with a combination of things:

Male privilege and misogyny, in so many ways. Women get thought of as “sluts” if they enjoy sex or have multiple partners, and get called “frigid” or “prudes” if they “withhold” sex; meanwhile men who have sex with multiple women are considered to be more manly–there’s a reason the women in these instances have been considered as “conquests”…as though it’s quintessentially a male right to “conquer as much pussy as we can get” (to quote Eddie Murphy).

In short, men have been considered superior for many hundreds of years, with women being relegated to secondary and even expendable status, and that still holds true today, no matter how much advocacy women have done (I like to think that the advocacy has done some good, but then I am saddened and angered when I read about another college football player raping another woman). And women are greatly more often the victims of rape than men. So men, the ruling sex, don’t have to care because it’s not something that happens to them as a rule.

(All this points to men as a whole being insecure with themselves and compensating on a vastly widespread and dangerous scale, and I think men need to be able to experience their emotions safely both at home and in school…with classes in the latter’s case beginning very early on, before the hardening and prejudices and acting out of high school or junior high take hold)

Hell, in the US it wasn’t even a crime for a man to rape his spouse until I think 1978. In Ireland divorce wasn’t legal until 1994 I think.

I think that covers why rape isn’t considered a huge deal legally, with regard to punishment length.

The pot thing on the other hand has to do with what I mentioned, but also the perception of “druggies” and “The War on Drugs” (I feel like there should be a trademark symbol after this). I think the war on drugs is racist (just ask Paul LePage about that one), but is also based on the same thing that mental illness is based on: doing illegal drugs or being mentally ill are considered moral failings, still, to this day. There’s plenty of social work history to back this up. The moral failing argument has been made for at least 150 years. Also, I think weed is considered a non-American crop–it’s considered a crop of non-white people, such as the Vietnamese…American boys got a taste of all that green when they were over there. Meanwhile, tobacco is considered fine because white slave owners owned the plantations and made black people work for them. There’s the children angle as well: pot has always been seen as a gateway drug, and there is this image of dealers enticing kids (which they no doubt do)…preying on America’s children. Making pot legal isn’t popular because of this association, and the gateway association with coke, heroin, etc.

I really do think these mentalities are still alive and well today, even if people aren’t aware of them. Pot smokers go to jail for longer because they are consciously or unconsciously considered more of a threat (and because of historical punishment precedents) than rapists (who are, after all, generally all men who are privileged…and often white. Can’t punish white men for getting some, now can we?)”.

It’s a men’s issue (addendum)

This is a verbatim comment I wrote on the TEDx talk by Jackson Katz (I posted the talk and some thoughts on my previous blog post, similarly-titled):

I wondering: do his clients listen to what he says? Getting men to listen when their minds have been programmed to regard this as garbage has got to be difficult. Some of the comments on this talk seem to represent that kind of blowback. So what if Katz is promoting himself and making money at what he does if he’s good at it? The world could use a lot more male emotional health. It’s only parents from my generation who I’ve personally seen allow their sons to feel emotions in healthy ways and don’t instruct (by word or act) them to bury their emotions. It’s my opinion that the burial of emotions can easily lead to violence, particularly with regard to men. It’s no accident that the sex that commits the most crimes and the most mass shootings and bombings is male. Men are still socialized to suck it up and deal and not be emotional and that, when they are emotional and hugging male friends, they somehow feel the need to write #nohomo. Nationally, globally, the majority of men are insecure about themselves and uncomfortable with emotions. Personally I think it’d be great if men hugged each other regularly and shared personal stories/conflicts as women do, and didn’t feel bad about it.

It’s a men’s issue.

“What about all those boys? What about the young men and boys who have been traumatized by adult men’s violence? You know what? The same system that produces men who abuse women produces men who abuse other men.”
–Jackson Katz, in the TEDx talk posted below

This, obviously, can easily and justly be applied to the mass shootings and bombings all over the earth. And since men are far and away the ones committing these atrocities (as well as the everyday sexist behavior), it greatly behooves us as a nation (as a world, really) to help see that men aren’t abusing other men. Men’s emotional health (or lack thereof) affects everyone, and Mr Katz is correct in that a new culture of normalcy where saying/doing sexist and violent acts is not right. Since men do in fact rule much of the world, their emotional health is extremely important; if we’re still producing men who abuse other men, the cycle will necessarily continue.

Mr Katz helps me feel better about calling out those who engage in sexist (or racist, bigoted, etc) behavior/speech. I do think that if I speak up I might get attacked, but at least I will have spoken up. My own sense of fear is greatly exaggerated in general, but perhaps not in this case. I don’t know.

I have no idea how what Mr Katz is saying will ever come to fruition (particularly on the national level from men in power), but if we don’t speak up it *certainly* won’t come to fruition.

Dreams (or, How Do I Truly Live?)

The tags on this are gonna be fun.

Ok, where to begin on this fully-sleep-deprived morning (getting zero sleep has never happened to me before).  I guess I need to purge this out on the blog before I go rest.

My dreams generally fall into 2 or 3 categories.  The halfway fun category involves me kindling light sabers with my breathing (it doesn’t always work) and/or having a Gandalf/Dumbledore type mentor following me and protecting me (hmm…daddy stuff?). The more common ones however involve me fucking up, through no fault of mine–being blamed for something that is utterly unreasonable or simply factually wrong.  And there’s almost always a girl(s) in there somewhere.

Example: Two nights ago I dreamt I was at Ithaca College (I’ve never been there, but my brain simply knew it was Ithaca), and I couldn’t find my classes, my books, my schedule, and the place itself was a massive labyrinth of distractions: dark corridors that led downstairs into cobwebs, or up into dorm-like areas; cliquey areas I felt insecure in (though I felt insecure most of the time as it was), indoor campfires…it’s like the whole place had no electric lighting and was built in the Middle Ages (complete with serving wenches serving beer I cannot drink in real life due to health problems.  And yes I play too many RPGS).  I was frustrated and didn’t know where to go.  Once I found a place to go, something became my fault, and none of my protests mattered even though I knew I was correct.  As usual, this grew into me futilely shouting obscenities and death threats…when I could get the words out.  This type of dream, maybe 65% of the time, comes with this wonderful feature: the louder I try to be, the more choked I am, the less air passes through me, the less I can actually form words.  It’s like someone is clamping over my mouth and twisting it, yielding gibberish.  Quiet, inconsequential gibberish too, since I can’t seem to put air behind what I’m saying.

That’s the second type: college/high school setting, not knowing anything, getting accused and reviled, becoming mostly verbally paralyzed.

The third type is quite similar to the second type, only the setting is work.  95% of the time, it’s Borders, even if it’s not recognizable as such (again, I know it’s Borders in the dream).  Somehow the POS terminal isn’t cooperating, I can’t type, or I’m not doing something right, and then I get accosted so hard that I quit in a fiery rage and try to destroy everything around me.

And then there are the girls that show up probably 90% of the time, in the latter two types. I say “girls” and not “women” because that’s how I grew up saying it.  To me “women” feels stuffy, “girls” feels playful and young.  That might be unfair, and I take care with my distinctions when discussing the sex with others, but that’s simply the semantics that have always felt comfortable to me.

(Why I feel the need to defend myself on my own blog…So cognizant of potentially offending someone.  I hate it.  I hate it because it extends into me censoring and censuring myself, as though I don’t deserve to live and be happy.

I read that back to myself, and rather obviously this way of thinking has many of the same roots that my dreams have)

Anyway, girls.  I haven’t been in a serious relationship in a good many years, and have had sex extremely rarely, and have never actually enjoyed sex though I want to (*that* topic is something that I’m not getting into in this post.  Too much shame involved right now). In dreams sometimes the girls are those I worked with (not solely at Borders), sometimes they are women I fell for and had fallings-out with, sometimes they are unknown to me. And often I touch them, yet if they protest, even if I know I’m dreaming, I will stop because it’s upsetting to me.  I don’t want to hurt anyone.  “But it’s a dream!” my mind sometimes says.  But it doesn’t matter, I stop and I feel bad for touching them.

I find the interpretations of these dreams to be pathetically obvious.  They are manifestations of the following: a childhood squelched, where it was unsafe to feel or say anything (it was even unsafe to say nothing or even agree with the person picking the fights.  I’m not going to name the person who picked the fights every single fucking day.  However, the tags might hold a clue…).  No one ever soothed me when there was shouting, fighting, broken bones, cops called…no one ever told me I was ok.  No one ever showed me it wasn’t my fault. (There’s psychological evidence that indicates that, in absence of an explanation, a child will often take on the blame him/her/themselves).  This, in addition to be told explicitly all the time “you’re selfish” and that things were my fault (when they weren’t, they were HER fault, the bitch), resulted in my internalizing just about every negative thing I could possibly internalize about life and myself and my place in the world.  The only semi-safe place was my room.  I say semi-safe because I witnessed beatings in there, in my sanctuary, in the only place I felt remotely comfortable.

Alone.  I wanted everyone to leave me the fuck alone.  I was so emotionally wrecked that I was one of those kids who fantasized about shooting his high school up.  Now, I was a coward, I didn’t have access to guns and didn’t know how to go about getting any, and anyway I was a coward who was afraid of EVERYTHING except his own bed.

All the childhood stuff happened, as far as I can remember, from birth through about 15. Fifteen was when the bitch went off to college and she wasn’t in the house anymore.

I expect I’m rambling now, but do you see all the fuel for the dreams? Emotional unfulfillment, self-blame (in the dreams, someone always blames me instead of me blaming myself), sexual frustration, major self-esteem problems, PTSD, depression, anxiety….a family that, in short, could be counted on for one thing: to fuck me up.  Actually, two things: we never lacked for money or material stuff, but I’d have traded that for a loving father.

So now you see the other part: How Do I Truly Live? My interest levels in a lot of things are quite small because 1) I’m just about always afraid of them, and 2) I don’t love myself.  If I don’t love myself, it really mutes enjoyment of anything.  Hard.

No wonder I spent the last 8-10 years getting drunk all the time.

So I need to live, but don’t know how.  Or, I need to live and perhaps know where I might start, but the fear can be so great that I rush to the toilet a lot.  (This is my blog, I had diarrhea, deal with it).  Somehow I have to overcome this and take smalls steps.  But the steps seem large, and all the steps produce enough anxiety for my abdomen to hurt.

But I’m still here.  Which probably means one or two things: 1) I’m still a coward when it comes to suicide–I’ve had suicidal thoughts many times in the past, but in the last decade no actual plan to go about it; 2) I, somewhere buried inside me, have hope for myself.  If I truly had no hope I think I wouldn’t be here.

But I need to live.  I’m not living.  I’m existing.  I don’t know what’s fun (outside of video games), I’m not terribly social anymore–some friends have decided to go on with their lives without me (activating my abandonment issues, regardless of their reasons for moving on, which I usually don’t precisely know), or otherwise I have told them to get out of my life because they became poisonous to me.  It really feels like I have no close friends.  I know I share some things with others, but I see people talk about “besties” and I sure don’t have those anymore: one of them was passive-aggressive repeatedly with me so I told her I was done with us, and the other I’d fallen in love with and couldn’t emotionally cope with her being with another guy (it was like reopening a wound every single time I talked with her).

This blog is entirely too fucking long.  In my blear I have no idea if this is coherent or even if I covered everything I wanted to.  But there’s always other days.