Friday, April 24, 2009

An NY Times article on the suicide of two 11-year olds who faced bullying

I liked this paragraph:

"Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom - the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can’t be undone."

I think it's also sad that there are people who believe that because overcoming bullying (or toxic parenting) can make a kid stronger, the bullying or parenting is justified, even though they will not explicitly say this. "Tough love" is what they say, among other phrases. Thankfully, the author is not one of these people.

Read the whole article, "Two Little Boys"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is LGBT acceptance enough to ensure that a parent is non-toxic?

Alice's mom in L Word, "if you did looked prettier you'd probably have a girlfriend by now"

Probably done to show the equal nature of mom-daughter relationships among gays straights. Points for equality. Lose points for embracing this aspect of mother-daughter relationships.

This is toxic parental criticism, mother-on-daughter crime. "I know why you don't have a husband by now" is just as wrong as if you replaced "husband" with "girlfriend" or "wife".

Gay children should not have to endure toxic treatment as a "thank you" to parents who didn't condemn them specifically for their sexual orientation. Condemning your child for ANY false or minor reason, is toxic.

Of course, I would want to research the general trends for how LGBT-accepting parents and non-accepting parents compare on general toxic behavior/attitudes. It's possible that LGBT-accepting parents are, at least, less toxic than non-accepting parents. Being less abusive is still abusive, and thus still unacceptable, but it does show that people who grow up with the idea that their future child should be accepted are less likely to be toxic.

And that's a great start to beating this social disease.

Good quotes from an author condemning the virginity-as-a-must culture

Jessica Valentini, author of Full Frontal Feminism, has written a new book called The Purity Myth.

Got the quotes from this link.

"It’s time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they’re sexually active."

"So what are young women left with? Abstinence-only education during the day and Girls Gone Wild commercials at night!...the message is the same: A woman’s worth lies in her ability — or her refusal — to be sexual. And we’re teaching American girls that, one way or another, their bodies and their sexuality are what make them valuable."

"Whether it appears in a story about a man killing his girlfriend while calling her a whore or in trying to battle conservative claims that emergency contraception or the HPV vaccine will make girls promiscuous, the purity myth in America underlies more misogyny than most people would like to admit."

"When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens (though the preferred words are undoubtedly more refined — think 'virginity' and 'chastity'): if we have them, when we’ll lose them, and under what circumstances we’ll be rid of them."

"Some of us get unnecessary plastic surgery — down to our vaginas, which can be tightened, clipped, and 'revirginized' — in order to seem younger."

"And don’t be mistaken about the underlying motivations of our moral panic around the hypersexualization of young women. [boldface by Mysterious Vortex] It’s more about chastity than about promiscuity. T-shirts sold in teen catalogs with 'I’m tight like Spandex' emblazoned across the front aren’t announcing sexiness; they’re announcing virginity. The same is true for 'sexy schoolgirl' costumes or provocative pictures of Disney teen pop singers. By fetishizing youth and virginity, we’re supporting a disturbing message: that really sexy women aren’t women at all — they’re girls."

On politicians' belief in the purity myth:

"Virginity fetishism has even made its way into politics and legislation. In 2007, Republican South Dakota representative Bill Napoli described his support for a ban on abortion that allowed no exceptions for rape or incest by relaying a (quite vivid) scenario to a reporter. He explained under what circumstances the procedure might be warranted: 'A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated.' [boldface Mysterious Vortex]

I found this moment so telling: Napoli couldn’t help but let his misogyny and paternalism seep into his abortion sound bite, because, to him and to so many other men (and other legislators, for that matter), there’s no separating virginity, violence, and control over women’s bodies. When it comes to women who are perceived as 'impure,' there’s a narrative of punishment that underscores U.S. policy and public discourse — be it legislation that limits reproductive rights through the assumption that women should be chaste before marriage, or a media that demonizes victims of sexual violence. And, sadly, if you look at everything from our laws to our newspapers, Napoli isn’t as far out of the mainstream as we’d like to think." [bface, MV]

Check out Jessica Valentini's book, The Purity Myth

She ended this article with a hope for a "new morality" where women would be judged morally on their character not what they do with their body. But for anyone who thinks that her views are now have consensus among the public (who has pre-marital sex 95% of the time, since the 1940s), stay grounded with these blog comments.

Dialogue is what you do when you can't escape or remove a tyrant

Dialogue is toted a lot by progressives, therapists, and anyone who wants to stop the chaos that comes with fighting. It is prescribed on only as an anti-dote to literal war, but also the metaphorical, but still aggressive, wars of words like the abortion debate, the gay rights debate, etc.

We shouldn't underestimate the pain and damage caused by fighting, whether by words in the home or punches in the street. Fighting of any kind causes damage to all involved. But I would say this fact is not necessarily enough to justify the end of fighting.

We know there are dictators in the world who oppress their people. Castro, Kim Jung, Saddam (now dead), the Taliban. We know that they will not be stopped or changed by words. Really the sensible and only solution is to remove them from power. So why talk about dialogue?

The answer: We can't get rid of them in any way close to the ease that we might dream.

Shooting any of these guys in the head will not magically create a non-tyrannical government in its place. The vacuum left by Saddam's death was filled by groups fighting for power with every intention stepping on rights of other groups OR if they are not intentionally going to step, they will UNINTENTIONALLY step because they firmly believe, with a 100% certainty that will never change, that what they believe is "right". This is how toxic parents and many other perpetrators of injustice work: they have good intentions, but they also have an unchangeable worldview that confuses wrong for right, cruelty for kindness, and toughness for love.

These people can articulate very well their good intentions. Always expect a mission statement to be positive and bright. What happens when you look past it?

If we could wave a wand and replace all these monsters with a good, non-tyrannical government that will serve their people, would we waste indeterminate years on "dialogue" to gain some measure of "progress" with tyrants who are proud of what they believe and have no will to change?

Surely we would wave that wand. But since this magic is a dream, and we don't want to start World War 4 (or another Iraq disaster), we have to throw our efforts at dialogue, spending hours on speechwriting to convince the public that talks will accomplish "something" even while we all know people who have the beliefs of tyrants will not be changed.

Those of us fighting our toxic parents don't need to worry about military casualities. We're not asking for weapons or violence of any kind. We don't necessarilly even need money. We just need the social support from people who are capable of believing the RIGHT things.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Parents condemn pre-marital sex. A 17-year old daughter must educate her autistic younger sister

Got to love how conservative religion and parental toxicity go hand in hand. But the daughter finds advice from RH Reality Check,

Check her story, and the good advice given: How can I give my sister sex-ed?

on how to deal with parents:

  • "You might also want to share some of the information and books on sexuality and autism with your parents...Their discomfort with sexuality and them being very conservative about it is going to be an issue, for sure, but it seems possible to at least get on the same page about her safety ...And I'd say that kind of information is what's really critical, anyway, and that you can likely sneak in some pieces about pleasure and identity in that stuff under the radar."

  • "I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure how you can really do completely on the down-low, particularly when it comes both to protecting yourself AND not having things your sister says result in your parents freaking out with her, which could obviously impact her negatively. But if that is what you wind up having to do, I'd see if you can't find someone you know will be supportive of your efforts who your parents respect to call on if you wind up caught in the act, as it were, and need some support."

In short: So it sounds like give some info to parents, stress concern about safety, and find a supportive adult that can get their parents ear (or some of it).

Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dealing with mixed feelings and refusing to accept that which can't be changed

I'm sure many of us, no matter where we are on our separation journey, have had positive feelings towards our toxic parents. Sometimes we may wonder if we can make them stop saying this or that, perhaps get some change. I think investing ourselves in changing our parents is a lot spent for little results.

I think we need to accept that our parents cannot/will not change, but at the same time refuse to ever find their behavior and personality acceptable. How do we do that?

The answer is an unwritten one, and we discover it each day in how we act, think, talk to ourselves, talk to others, or avoid certain conversations. I think that some conversations are not worth having, because you can't change what people believe, unless there is some other real (not imaginary or wishful) evidence to suggest that they might hear. But the problem is, we are often taught that we should believe people are willing to hear, not because of known evidence about the person, but because it's the good thing to believe.

This is the moralistic fallacy, opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. The moralistic fallacy is when people derive an "is" from an "ought" - in other words, because it would be good to believe that people can change, we can assume people can change. Assumptions are only useful if they are based on facts, and this one is not. It is based on what we ought to believe, because we should "give the benefit of the doubt", "give our parents credit", or "assume the best of people (especially our parents)". All mantras we are taught we should believe, regardless of what observations, and a lifetime of experience, tells us.

I'm not saying kids don't misjudge their parents. Some if not many do. Kids can devalue their parents the way toxic parents devalue their kids. I'm not advocating that sons and daughters in general have an accurate view of their parents, but I am advocating that many of us do, and that view is a clear-cut description of abuse throughout our lifespans, even if the mantras try to push us to "assume the best" of them.

I think some of the problems children of toxic parents have is the mantras - recycled from catchphrases to sit coms of dysfunctional families that " deep down love each other" - confuse the son or daughter from seeing their parent in the evil, cruel light that is the truth. It is an image that contradicts the "honor your mother and father", "sacrifices your parents made", "they do it out of love", "they love their children more than life (but their only human)", etc, etc.

It is a tough road to find people whose brains have room for the realities we have to tell. The mantras create such conceptual frameworks across the brainspan, that our facts and realities might cause an adverse reaction similar to that of the wrong blood type or a non-matching organ. Let's not forget the brain IS a physical body organ, and all our body organs and systems can only take so much accommodation.

The road goes forth. My dad's coming home for the lunch. It might mean some self-control. It is good that I've evolved as much as I have. Also good that American University has accepted me ;)

Now I wait for the other schools, and I wait for more good news...