Apparently, It’s Still Okay to Rape Women

Apparently, it’s still okay to rape women. It seems to be.

The community of Steubenville, Ohio is in the spotlight after it appears two high school football players raped a 16 year-old girl.

Although rape and sexual assault are a sad fact of life, it doesn’t excuse authorities from not adequately responding to such incidents and doing all they can to prevent future incidents.

In Steubenville, it would appear a mass cover-up of the rape has been blown wide open, implicating school administrators, the head football coach, the sheriff, and possibly a mother of the boy who hosted the party at which the rape occurred as she’s the prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County, in which Steubenville is located.

This is a fairly disgusting case, and as more details emerge, it’s as if the details, themselves, seem to be working to outdo one another in horrific impact.

A few days ago, Anonymous, the online group that seeks justice through hacking, released a disturbing video of football players and friends making jokes about the girl who was raped on the very night of the assault.

The video has gone viral on several prominent blogs, including Jezebel, but hasn’t gained much coverage on major media, at least the extensive coverage it would deserve.

When the head football coach was approached by a reporter covering the story, the coach got in his face and threatened him and his family.

And this is really par for the course on rape and sexual assault in this country. Rapes involving high-profile men (or young men, boys) tend to get swept under the rug.

Recently, a young woman was raped on a public bus in India by six assailants and died from complications. The response of authorities, at least until thousands of protestors took to the streets, was quite lukewarm. Another incident in the country involved a young woman who committed suicide after she was raped and police were persuading her to marry her attacker.

Many Americans look at this and recoil in disgust, saying, “Wow, I’m glad things are much better here.”

Are they?

According to a study conducted in 2010, 1 in 5 women will either be raped or be the victim of attempted rape in her lifetime. 1 in 6 will be stalked during her lifetime.

It’s estimated that 1.3 million women are raped, annually, according to the same survey, which was conducted with help by the Department of Justice.

And yet, just 6.4% of that total were reported to law enforcement in 2011, the latest year for which we have statistics.

So, what compels more than 1.2 million women who have been the victim of sexual assault not to step forward after they’ve been attacked?

Could it possibly be that, based on the way rape is treated in this country, they’re afraid no one will believe them? That they’ll be blamed? That they’ll be ostracized?

This is not a problem of natural yearning, which is about the most bullshit explanation I’ve heard for male-on-female sexual assault.

It’s a problem of our national culture. We have prominent politicians, judges, and political pundits (almost all of them male) saying that if women didn’t walk alone at night, if they didn’t wear such provocative clothing, maybe if they just prayed more… they wouldn’t be assaulted.

Here’s a suggestion: Instead of blaming women for being raped, why don’t we go to the source and blame their attackers, and by extension, a culture that excuses their actions on the basis of “men will be men”?

Why don’t we blame a culture that allows a 16 year-old young woman to be raped and have it covered-up by a community because the local high school football team was involved?

Regardless of gender, regardless of age, we are ALL this young woman. We are all victims of this culture, and it must be torn down.



Christians and Kid Soccer Players



Yesterday, I got into a short spat with Pastor Rick Warren on Twitter. He posted one of his routinely banal Tweets, the kind that go more for the five second, “Oh wow, that’s a great saying!” but mean nothing to people in the long-term. It’s the kind of thing you say that people like but almost instantly forget, and he posts these Tweets quite a bit.

It wouldn’t bother me if the guy didn’t have such a large following, but he does. He’s influential enough that when the President needed someone from across the aisle to give the prayer at his Inauguration, he chose Warren, who is seen as a “cuddly conservative,” the kind of conservative with whom you might disagree but wouldn’t mind hanging out with.

Rick Warren does this on a daily basis. His Tweets are either exceedingly superficial or offensive but not so much that it would inspire boycotts. He straddles a fine line, pandering to the conservative, religious masses but not pissing off liberals too much.

The Tweet with which I took issue was another banal saying about “truth” that is too ridiculous to state here, but it led to me asking him about Evolution. He replied that it’s just a theory, that theories have to be proven, therefore it’s not true, etc.

Warren was pushing the tired argument about fact vs. theory that many Evangelical Christians push without realizing that theory means something entirely different in a scientific context.

I’m not really smart when it comes to science. I slogged my way through college chemistry, and I struggled in physics. I made it through Calculus II successfully, but it was it was pretty damn hard.

I’m not naturally inclined towards science. I say this to emphasize how simple a concept it is to understand the meaning of “theory” in science circles as opposed to the linguistic understanding of the general public.

Even elementary students who are introduced to the Theory of Evolution are able to articulate that theory, in this case, is different because it simply means that something is founded on logical principles tested time and time again over a period of study. This is as opposed to the more speculative use of theory as in, “I have a theory Bob is stealing the donuts in the break room. Here’s why…”

This is a very simple concept, one that I want to reiterate even children can be taught.

And this is what I find is the biggest problem with Evangelical Christianity: It’s not really a lifestyle. It’s more of a hobby.

And I say this as someone who spent four years in Evangelical churches. They’re mostly nice people, but they’re not interested in applying critical thinking. They only care about concepts being handed to them, doing praise and worship, having the social aspect of Church, and some (if not most) do “Bible study,” which really means that they’re just reinforcing what they’re taught by pastoral leadership with a stunted approach to the Bible.

So, what you get is a lack of emphasis on the poor and downtrodden and more of an emphasis on “living morally” or “being accountable.”

This means no sex before marriage, homosexuality is a sin, abortion is bad, men are spiritually superior to women, etc.

You don’t have to really put forth a lot of effort to be an Evangelical Christian. Come to the Church, tithe (if you feel inspired to do so), and accept the “wisdom” of your Pastors without question.

It’s not hard. You can male it hard if you want. You could read a few hundred pages of the Bible daily, meditate on the Word, volunteer in your Church, etc.

But the baseline requirements are pretty bare. Show up, agree with us, and other than that, enjoy yourselves.

Evangelical Christianity is a lot like organized kids’ soccer games. You go to practice (though you don’t necessarily have to do so), you go through the motions of kicking the ball (doesn’t really matter if you kick it the right way), you don’t argue with the coaches, you get to play a few minutes, every game…

…and at the end of the season, no matter how bad you played, no matter if you missed half your practices or games, no matter if you stood in the middle of the field blowing bubbles in the midst of the soccer-kicking chaos around you, you’ll *always* get a trophy.

You win just for showing up. You’re told “good job” and get a pat on the back for putting on your uniform and coming to even half the games.

Evangelical Christians don’t have to try, they don’t have to have their beliefs held up to scrutiny, they don’t have to acknowledge that they might be wrong.

They get up, go to work (where religious debates are usually not held), come home to spend time with the family (also, very likely, Evangelicals), watch some Fox News (reinforcing Evangelical Christian culture), and hang out at Church or with friends from Church on the weekends.

It is a powerful bubble. Their beliefs are only challenged if they insert themselves into a situation in which they can be challenged, and unless they’re watching MSNBC or trolling on some online news site, their beliefs aren’t going to be challenged very often.

So, when they watched Fox News over this past year and were inundated with two main themes, 1) Obama is bad and 2) Obama will lose to Romney, of course they were shocked and pissed when Obama won.

Their bubble had been burst. Their trophy had been stolen.

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Death and Dollars


School shootings in the news never get easier to see. If anything, they get harder as you grow older.

I was 12 at the time of the Columbine massacre. I remember feeling as though the air had been sucked out of my school; every teacher seemed gloomier, maybe a bit on edge. It was strangely different for the students. We knew what had happened was wrong and tragic, but for the majority of us, there was little emotional cost. And although I could probably chalk part of that up to the socioeconomic status of most of the students (including myself) giving us more to worry about at the time, I like to think age played a big part in it.

Fast-forward to the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. I was 20, and it seemed very different. The victims were a bit older, save for the professors who were killed. They were my age, and having been an “adult” (whatever that is) for a few years, my experiences with death, or, at the very least, the fear of dying, seemed to color my perception. This seemed more real. The stories were somehow more heartbreaking although I know that can’t be quite right, and so, I attribute it to maturity. The harsh grace of wisdom seemed to unlock tears easier.

And now, this past Friday, the shooting at Sandy Hook. I saw the headline when it first appeared on CNN, and at the time, I thought it said only two adults dead, and that was tragic, but in my mind, I was relieved. No kids. That’s good.

An hour later, I started seeing the statuses pop up in my newsfeed. Sandy Hook. Tragic. Elementary School. I must have seen “Why?” a few dozen times from friends.

I went back to CNN, and I was shocked. 10 kids. No, 15 kids. No, 20 kids. How old? We can’t confirm. Two gunmen? One gunman? Ties to the school? Random?

So many questions and so much heartache. And for the first time, I legitimately cried in the wake of a tragedy like this. I didn’t cry for Columbine. Or 9/11. Or Virginia Tech.

But there I sat, in front of my computer, crying because 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down. And I knew it was wrong not to get as emotional over the adults, but I was crying mostly for the kids. I didn’t know what came over me. Maybe I thought of my 10 year-old sister and 14 year-old brother being among the victims. Maybe I was shocked that someone would go into an elementary school and start shooting.

And then, something strange happened. I got pissed, and I wasn’t yet really pissed about gun control although I was busy away researching it and conferring with friends on Facebook about it.

I was pissed because of the reaction of the media. It all seemed so brazen.

“Hey, I got a great idea. These kids have just witnessed a shooting massacre. They’re only 6-10 years old, but let’s interview them in the heat of the moment!”

And that’s really what it felt like. I know there’s a lot to be said for journalistic ethos, capturing the moment as it unfolds.

But shoving a fucking camera in the face of a kid who just went through that?

There’s a difference between pointing your camera to capture a moment as it unfolds and actively engaging the victims in the heat of the moment.

The news networks didn’t give a shit about capturing heartache. They wanted the clips, 5-10 second shots of kids sobbing uncontrollably, parents wrapping them up and refusing to let go, police officers huddled together in comfort after seeing the bodies, etc.

They wanted clips that attract the morbid fascination of people far from the scene of the crime. They wanted ratings. They wanted the advertising revenue that comes from ratings.

“But Charles, they’re a business. Are they not allowed to position themselves for profit?”

Yeah, but there’s a line, and as vague as that line may seem in peace time, there are moments when most people are onboard, and when an 8 year-old child is crying and in shock from going through something like that, pushing your lens into their mug is just callous. It comes across as bloodsucking and predatory… because it is.

Even the little things about the media’s reaction pissed me off. Some of the news networks had elaborate, cartoonish logos for the tragedy. They looked like movie titles, like I should have been holding popcorn and soda while I watched teachers be interviewed, parents cry, and the President give his speech on Sunday.

It seemed incredibly careless and just wrong.

And then there was Mike Huckabee making his assertion on Friday, even while the school was still swarming with first responders, that, essentially, the shooting happened because God had been “systematically removed from schools.”

This, of course, is bullshit, and Mike Huckabee knows it’s bullshit, and that actually hurt more, that this man who wanted to be our president, who is supposedly a dedicated man of God and moral purveyor of truth and light, actually exploited this tragedy to make an obscene religious statement to grandstand to the Evangelical community.

And I couldn’t believe my ears when he said it. I couldn’t believe in my heart that he had really done what he did.

20 kids, all of them either 6 or 7 (as we would later find out), had each been shot multiple times and several (if not many) of them likely bled out and suffered. Death was not instantaneous.

And this asshole has the nerve to put forth an assertion that I know he doesn’t believe in order to sell more books and attract more viewers to his program.

Guys, I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry for rambling, but I really don’t know how to tie this altogether, and I’m not sure anyone else knows, either.

It just hurts.

The Truth About Cadet Blake Page and Why West Point Is Not Anti-Atheist


On Monday, the Huffington Post published an article written by soon-to-be-former Cadet Blake Page, entitled “Why I Don’t Want to be a Graduate of West Point”.

In the article, which I encourage you to read by clicking the hyperlink, Page writes that Atheists and Agnostics face discrimination at the Academy on a number of levels, and thus, he is resigning to protest proselytizing in the military.

This is actually not true. I used to attend West Point and was in Page’s class (2013) for two years. Although I do not personally know him, we have some mutual friends, and I have talked to many of them about this.

Here’s actually what happened: Page is not a stellar cadet. That’s not a crime, of course, because many folks who don’t do spectacularly at the Academy go on to have great careers in the military as phenomenal leaders.

The problem with Page is how badly he performed. He failed multiple leadership positions, and this semester, the Academy intended to separate him for medical reasons related to mental health.

Mental health is a serious issue, and shouldn’t be taken lightly, so please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say here.

Page was going to be separated but instead asked to resign, which Academy officials accepted out of grace. In turn, Page went behind their backs and claimed the resignation was done to protest Christian Fundamentalists at the Academy, which is a whole lot of bullshit.

I posted an open letter on Facebook to explain why Page is completely in the wrong in this. Here’s the full text:

Hi Blake,

I’m pretty sure we don’t know each other. My name is Charles Clymer, and I’m a former member of West Point’s Class of 2013. I am a former classmate of yours.

I read your article “Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate” on the Huffington Post on Monday. Initially, I decided to ignore it since a) I reasoned I didn’t know all the details of your experience, and b) It’s been 18 months since I last wore a cadet uniform, and I felt this would really get in the way of moving on from my time at the Academy.

However, over the last few days, I’ve had more time to consider the article, and I must say that I can’t help but chime in with my two cents.

As I could not find you on Facebook, don’t know your e-mail, and wish to do my part in setting the record straight, I’m posting this as an open letter as well as sending it to the Huffington Post. I doubt they will publish it or that this will be widely read, but I’ll take a shot and see what happens.

First, I feel I should admit to you that I’m a Christian, and I’m sure that at least some bias comes with it when analyzing this situation. I love Christ, and I want to establish that as a way of being honest before I continue.

With that said, I’m fairly certain that if you were to ask any of our classmates who know me, they would all probably say the same thing: that I’m an aggressive, outspoken liberal.

At the Academy, I didn’t shy away from controversial topics. I tended to voice my opinion quite loudly on the injustice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the limited career options of women who serve our country in uniform, and what I feel is a very broken system of addressing sexual assault at the Academy and in the Armed Forces in general (among other things).

I say all this to let you know that I was never a “typical” cadet and that the opinion I’m about to give you shouldn’t be dismissed on the rather lazy theory that all (or even most) cadets are mindless, conservative drones.

I’m angry and disappointed with you over this article, and I say that as someone who very much supports the separation of Church and State.

I believe religion belongs in one’s private life, and apart from certain, limited allowances for those who have a faith they practice, government employees should never be given preferential treatment and upon such instances, leaders who allow that to happen should be counseled and/or punished.

With that, here are the reasons my blood pressure has somewhat risen over the last few days when I think about your situation:

1. I never, not even once, witnessed, heard about, or even thought it implied that non-religious cadets face discrimination of any kind at the Academy. I saw widespread homophobia and sexism but never any negative sentiment towards those cadets who identified as Atheist or Agnostic. In fact, the closest thing I ever observed that looked like a pro-Christian bias were the few cadets who believed Islam is evil, and that was a very small fraction of our class. The vast majority of Christian cadets treated non-Christian cadets with respect insofar as their beliefs are concerned.

And I should again point out that I spent the better part of two years calling out homophobia and sexism when I saw it, and it wasn’t as though I was “known” for being a Christian in our class. I didn’t exactly spend my free time in Christian-based organizations or attend church services, regularly. I did sing in Gospel Choir for a few semesters but never heard any sort of anti-Atheist remarks during my participation with them. They treated everyone with respect, regardless of faith, gender, or sexuality.

My point is that, try as I might, with all my stereotypical, sensitive liberal feelers in tune, I can’t remember ever seeing or hearing about negative experiences of Atheists, Agnostics, or other Non-Christians at the Academy.

2. I am not thrilled with your sweeping indictments of the Corps. In your article, you paint a picture of Atheist and Agnostic cadets walking around with targets on their backs with harassment coming from both their fellow cadets and the commissioned officers appointed to guide us through four years of leadership development. You make it seem as though a cadet who openly identifies as an Atheist or Agnostic is viciously torn down.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Logically, one can’t prove something doesn’t exist, but as a person who prides myself on maintaining honesty in regards to how minorities (of any kind, including spiritual) are treated, I can say with confidence that are you are either blatantly lying or, at the very least, being incredibly misleading with how you represent the Academy’s religious environment.

3. You have failed at least two leadership details of which I am aware. For those not familiar with USMA’s leadership system (included in the Academy’s ‘military pillar,” one of three for grading purposes), a cadet, starting sophomore year, is given charge of other cadets, every semester (either directly or indirectly), and usually during two summers during their time at the Academy.

You have to do pretty bad or have some extraordinary circumstances to fail a detail. I can understand failing one. Shit happens, and sometimes, you have an incompetent rater (supervising cadet) who fails you for petty reasons. Failing multiple details takes effort, the kind of dogged determination to go your own way (and not in the good sense) or be so completely careless or incompetent that those above you can’t justify your performance with anything higher than an “F”. Failing a detail usually means you have to repeat it, which takes another semester at the Academy or some generous leniency on the part of the senior leadership (commissioned officers) observing your progress.

So, when you state in your article that you could have made it to graduation in May, you’ll have to forgive me if I express a high degree of skepticism. I’m simply not buying it.

Accordingly, here’s my theory, and I’m quite confident in it: the Academy just wasn’t a good fit for you. It’s tough. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have great success in life if you don’t graduate (either through resignation or separation), but it’s not for everyone.

Instead of cutting your losses and admitting it’s not a good fit and likely separation or simply working harder and seeking out the help you need to get through it, you decided to co-opt an issue (that’s usually controversial) as a front for your own failings. Rather than be separated for your performance, resigning in “the name of religious freedom” has provided you the opportunity to save face.

Well, that really pisses me off. You have managed to smear most of my former classmates (and friends) as well as the faculty and other commissioned officers at West Point by using an issue that is very important to me in order to make yourself look good.

You have made exactly the kind of ethical decision that the Academy’s Honor System is designed to prevent.

Not to mention you’ve made West Point look incredibly unfavorable to promising Atheist and Agnostic applicants who could be great officers. someday. We need those kind of young people to lead the next generation of Soldiers, and you’ve effectively deterred some (if not many) of them from continuing the application process.

Less importantly, your conduct is something I find personally insulting. I had to medically separate from the Academy because of health complications at the end of our sophomore year (illnesses I’m still dealing with), and I would give anything (absolutely anything) to be back with our classmates and preparing to be the kind of officer who takes care of the young men and women assigned to him or her, to not worry about OERs (job performance reports essential to promotion) but put my Soldiers before myself while still accomplishing the mission.

You had the opportunity to be that kind of officer, and if I am to believe that you are so passionate about religious freedom in our military, it completely goes against common sense that you would resign “in protest” rather than be the kind of officer who does those things you wish to see be done.

So, no… I don’t believe your story for a second, and I’m angry that you’ve managed to insult the institution and everyone in it, lie about your experience, and exploit an important issue (separation of Church and State) for your own long-term gain.

And just so we’re clear, before it even happens, don’t dare compare yourself to Katie Miller, the cadet who resigned in 2010 in protest over DADT. I absolutely do not speak for her but she resigned because she was literally being forced to lie about her sexuality in the professional arena, and being at the top her class, she had a great deal to lose. You have neither the personal justification or the “professional loss” to paint yourself as a martyr, so don’t. It makes you look ridiculous.


Charles Clymer

Former Member, Class of 2013

This open letter circulated around my former classmates until it finally reached Page, who posted this comment in response:

Well written, but like many others, ill-informed.  The OpEd in the Huffington Post was certainly vitriolic, but without understanding the intent, audience, number of people represented and my personal circumstances, you lack enough understanding of the situation to give an authoritative response just yet.  We can talk if you’d like, or if not you can watch the rest of the story come out over the next couple of days.

Of course, Page is once again lying here. At first, he was resigning in protest of the Academy’s supposed (and completely false) Christian bias against non-Christians.

Then, in an update by the Huffington Post, it was that he was due to be medically separated for depression and anxiety.

This has done considerable damage to West Point’s reputation. A quick Google search will show how many news sites and blogs have picked this up.

And as a liberal, this makes me quite angry because of how audaciously Page has lied about his experience and the circumstances of his “resignation” by using an issue important to those who believe in the separation of Church and State.

Please don’t believe this guy. He is completely bullshitting to save face for his failures at the Academy, and I fear it’s going to have a long-lasting impact on West Point’s reputation if he’s not held accountable for his actions.

Dear Texans, a few things to consider before you decide to secede from the United States…

I’m not talking to all Texans (or even the vast majority of Texans); I’m talking to those folks who have recently started and signed a petition for the Great State of Texas to secede from the United States of America.

To be fair, citizens in all 50 states have started similar petitions in the aftermath of President Obama’s reelection over Mitt Romney, but Texas is the first to reach the required 25,000 signatures on the White House’s direct petition site, which guarantees them a review of said petition and a response from the Obama Administration.

And, I say this as a former (and mostly proud) Texan myself, Texas is far more in need of this blog post than any other state with such a desire to secede. They are solidly conservative, a hotbed of Tea Party shenanigans and have a Republican governor that, most of the time, seems to be asleep at the wheel and whom Texans have elected to that office. Three times.

So, my Texan brothers and sisters, here are some facts to consider before you pull the plug on this “Grand, Noble Experiment” we call America:

– Since 2003, Texas has routinely received more in Federal funds than it has paid in Federal taxes by an annual estimate of around $60 billion. The state is projected to spend about $80 billion over the next two years in General Revenue funds. These are separate figures, but think of it this way: Texans are profiting $60 billion in Federal funds, next year. That’s about 75% of the state’s budget. Who is going to pay the tab for the shortfall? Texans will actually have *higher* taxes if they secede.

– Do you like your Border Patrol keeping all those pesky, hard-working Mexicans out? Yeah, that’s a Federal agency. Goodbye, border protection.

– Do you like a military that protects you from harm and defends your freedom? That’s also Federal, and your Texas National Guard units are significantly funded by the Federal Government. That’s yet another expense to tack on to your incoming bill for secession, not to mention the cost of setting up viable centers to train your Soldiers. Good luck with that.

– What about exports and imports? Do you realize that Texas actually *lacks* robust companies in many industries? What are you going to do when materials necessary for your survival fail to arrive because you cut off ties with the rest of the country?

– What about foreign policy? You do realize Texas is a running gag in much of the world ever since Pres. Bush took office, right? How do you plan to quickly set up relations with other nations?

– Here’s a big one: What if Mexico (rightly) believes it could overpower and annex you? Who’s going to be there to help you out? Last time, it was us. (No, really, take your happy little asses over to Google and look it up.)

And these points are just for starters.

Please think about those and get back to us, and by the way: We’re keeping Austin. You can’t have it.

The March to “President Hillary Clinton”


If you’re reading this post, you decided to make a small sacrifice in the hope for a generous payoff.

The long, exhausting 2012 Presidential Election is over, and, like the vast majority of Americans (myself included), you’re enjoying the wonderful two-year break before the 2016 campaign starts getting warmed up in the press after the 2014 midterms.

In essence, you could probably die happier if you didn’t see another political ad or listened to talking heads shout inane talking points over each other or see yet another passionate political status from friends on Facebook (friends like me).

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and politics is a never-ending battle in the debate over right and wrong. It’s not really a sport or a game but a long evolution spurred by a war-like exchange of ideas and concrete policy.

The 2016 Presidential season has already started, and Hillary Clinton has quickly emerged as the dominant front runner for the Democratic nomination.

In a poll conducted of likely Iowa voters, last week, Clinton took an incredible 58% of the vote with Joe Biden placing far behind with 17%.

A poll of New Hampshire voters, conducted around the same time, showed an even greater chasm: Clinton took 60% with Joe Biden in second place with a mere 10%.

Let me repeat: When presented with the most buzzed-about candidates (Andrew Cuomo, Elizabeth Warren, Deval Patrick, Martin O’Mally, Cory Booker, etc.), Hillary Clinton resoundingly defeated all of them and a sitting (and mildly popular) Vice President with overwhelming majorities among Iowa and New Hampshire voters.

You might be thinking, “Fine, Charles, she did well among Democrats in these polls, and she might very well secure the nomination, but isn’t this same Hillary Clinton that Republicans despise? How do you expect her to do well against someone like Chris Christie in the general election?”

This is a reasonable point… until you look at her popularity among Americans, now.

Over the last four years, Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating has never fallen below 60 percent, and it’s currently around 66 percent, 14 points higher than Barack Obama and around the same against Mitt Romney.

The “Hillary Clinton of the 90s” is no more. Sure, she undoubtedly has enemies among conservative voters, but other than Michelle Obama, Clinton (and her husband) are the most popular political figures in America and among the most respected in the world.

As long she maintains this record streak of phenomenal PR brilliance, Hillary Clinton should march into the White House on January 20th, 2017.

Of course, there are some who believe she isn’t qualified, which is about the biggest load of bullshit I’ve heard in a while.

This is a person who spent eight years as her husband’s closest adviser, eight years as one of the most visible U.S. senators in the country, and the last four years as an extremely popular and skilled Secretary of State.

Need I mention her obvious smarts? She’s a graduate of Yale Law School and easily one of the most brilliant legal minds of her generation.

Her resume is matched by none in the current field of potential candidates for the Democratic candidates, except for Vice Pres. Joe Biden, and increasingly popular as he is, he’s nowhere near her in stature.

You might be thinking, “But hasn’t she said she doesn’t want to run?”

Yes, repeatedly, and yet, she seems to be making all the right  moves for a run. She has declined to serve a second term as Secretary of State, and for good reason: She would have to resign to launch her campaign, and that would be political suicide. So, of course, she’s going to do only one term.

“But what if she really does want to retire?”

That’s very hard for me to believe. She is known for her legendary ambition, extraordinary abilities, and most importantly, her resilient compassion for issues important to her.

Hillary Clinton is not going to say “no” to leading the world’s most powerful country.

And even if we put aside all that, we have to look at the symbolic importance of a such a moment. For the first time, a woman would be the President of the United States. She would be sending a message to every woman and girl in this world that they are just as capable as men to be truly great leaders and a message to those sexist souls on this earth that women really are equal to men.

I believe that, regardless of gender, Hillary Clinton really is the best person to occupy the Oval Office in January, 2017, and I believe she will be one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had.

It’s just icing on the cake that she’s a woman, and I am absolutely fine with the glass ceiling finally being shattered because it needs to be shattered and in a way that leaves no doubt that gender should not define a person’s greatness.

If this sounds like I’m saying a Hillary Clinton presidency is inevitable, it’s because I am.

Hillary Clinton will be the 45h President of the United States, and personally, I can’t wait for her to take office.

What Last Night Means for Us



I plan to write about my experience in Ohio over the last several days, soon, but today, I want to write a short post on what exactly last night’s election results mean for America.

It means a president who has endured the most inane onslaught of bigotry and ignorance over the last four years has prevailed in a dominating Electoral College victory due to the will of the American people.

It means gay Americans will be permitted to marry in three more states, and of all four state referendums on the matter, those who believe in full equality for gay Americans have prevailed in each one.

It means when politicians make ignorant comments on rape and women’s rights, they will be defeated.

It means that, very likely, we will soon have a liberal Supreme Court for the first time in decades.

It means that we will finally have an openly gay U.S. Senator.

It means the Tea Party will continue their fade into obscurity.

It means that those who tried to characterize my generation (folks between 18 and 30) as apathetic or disenchanted with the President were proven absolutely wrong when we came back even stronger in our support for Obama than in 2008.

It means women won huge victories in the fight for their equality, and this means we all, regardless of gender, are better for it.

It means we are even closer to having full marriage equality for the United States.

It means our national and global economies will continue to improve under the liberal policies that saved them from the brink.

It means an eloquent, progressive leader was chosen over the dishonesty and childishness of a fraud.

It means liberalism was given a stirring endorsement.

I means I’m relieved, it means I’m happy, and it means we shall continue moving forward to a brighter day.

My Response to Author Donald Miller on Gender Equality

Don Miller is a Christian author who wrote my favorite book on the faith: “Blue Like Jazz”. The honesty, poignancy, and recognition that it’s going to take a different approach to attract people to God is what has made me consider Mr. Miller to be one of the most important Christian figures, today. In his book, which is an account of his spiritual journey, much of which was spent at the not-so-Christian-friendly Reed College in Oregon, gives an eloquent call for reasoning among those Christians who seem to believe fear and fire and brimstone is going to save people.

It’s not, he argues; compassion, understanding, personal actions over public words, and the realization that issues of faith are not as black-and-white as many Christians would believe have made Mr. Miller popular among folks outside of the Christian world and–I would imagine–has played a significant role in many people accepting Christ as their Savior.

That being said, Mr. Miller recently wrote a blog asking the question: “Do women want to be treated like men, or do women want to be treated equally?”

I should note that Mr. Miller very much supports equal pay for women and the same opportunities for women, but he also seems to be under the impression that many women wish to be treated in exactly the same way their male counterparts are treated, and this puzzles him

Honestly, I can understand his point-of-view. I don’t agree with it, but I see where he’s coming from, which is far more than I can say for the Pat Robertsons of the world, and it’s why I like Don Miller so much: he’s a Christian commentator who is honest about his views yet invites discussions (not necessarily debates) about them.

Now, Mr. Miller posed this question to women, but I can’t help taking a stab at it. I feel like the more reasonable individuals are calmly discussing this, the more we’ll all come to understand each other.

First, let’s identify an important piece of Mr. Miller’s post that is either not realized or simply not acknowledged: there is a difference between personal relationships and professional (or public) relationships. With the vast majority of human beings, there is a difference between how they wish to be treated among friends and family and how they wish to be treated in professional or public settings.

Are you going to go up and a hug co-worker on a random work day? Probably not. Are you going to do the same to a random person in public? Not very likely.

But would you do the same to friends or family? Possibly.

Now, replace that behavior with gender-based etiquette, and for many men, there is no difference. They’ll hold doors, watch their language (or jokes), pull out chairs, and other chivalrous behavior for women in any setting. I’m not saying all men do this, but many men do this.

And among friends and family, this isn’t necessarily wrong, but in a professional setting, this kind of behavior draws a clear line between the men and women in your workplace, and it sends a message to many women that they are different and not in a good way. The whole point of chivalry is honoring women but, at the same time, protecting them because as the “weaker sex,” they supposedly need protection and constant honoring.

Again, I don’t think all women feel this way, but I believe many do. They notice men are more fraternal towards each other, and this leads to questions about office politics and whether or not Jack was promoted over Jane based on ability or the simple observation that Jack is far closer to their boss because there is no gender barrier between them.

Many women feel (and I agree with them) that sexism can be beneath the surface, significant but imperceptible to both men and women. There are men who believe in equal pay and equal opportunities for women, but subconsciously, still see women as inferior to men in competence, leadership skills, etc., and this is evident by the well-meaning but often insulting manner in which men treat men as opposed to how they treat women.

Think about this way: Most people treat kids differently than they do adults. We tend to be more accommodating and compassionate to children. We’ll often be physically affectionate to kids (a hug or a pat on the head) that we barely know. I think this is our way of expressing to children that we’re not a threat, that we’re trying to comfort them, that we recognize the power we have over them.

But would you trust a child over an adult to get something done? Almost never.

When men act chivalrous towards women, a similar message is conveyed: “I am not a threat to you, I see you as worthy of protecting, and when push comes to shove, I’m probably going to give that promotion to men, for whom I don’t need to open the door.”

Mr. Miller also asks, “As women, do you want for men to say you’re beautiful? Because if we treat you like men, we will never say you’re beautiful. We don’t really care. And we won’t make you feel small or special or precious, either. We won’t protect you because, quite frankly, you need to protect yourself or you’re a wimp. Do you really want us to treat you like men?”

And I think I can answer this one fairly confidently. The vast majority of women I’ve seen discuss this (and I read up on this quite a bit) say they DO NOT want to be protected or become the object of physical discussion in the workplace.

I’m sure there are women who love compliments like this when they’re working, but most women see it this way: The only reason they’re wearing makeup, nice hair, and good clothes is that they’re expected to do so, that a woman who neglects these things or doesn’t use them isn’t respected in the workplace.

That kind of sucks, huh? If they act feminine in the workplace, they’re not respected like their male colleagues. If they don’t act feminine, they’re not respected like their male colleagues.

I think most women want to be treated like men in the sense that they don’t want the fact they’re women to get in the way of their job and recognition for their efforts. They’re tired of having to put on makeup to get respect, and when they’re deciding what to wear to work, they have to straddle this fine, ridiculous line between being perceived as a “shrew” and being perceived as a “slut.”

And I can hear it, now: “But women are promoted because they look sexy!”

People, I’m sure that happens, but compared to instances in which appearance works against them (in either direction), those situations are insignificant.

I should also mention that some women are uncomfortable when men do chivalrous things for them in the workplace. Even if it’s not at all intended, in some instances, the behavior comes across as predatory.

Now, that’s the workplace. Personal life is a different ballgame. I personally try to treat women equally in both professional or personal settings with some exceptions (for example, I’ll compliment male and female friends if I like their fashion, and I open doors for people outside of professional settings, regardless of gender).

But some women do prefer for the men in their personal lives to treat them chivalrously, and hey, that’s their prerogative.

Finally, although this is probably a blog post by itself, I should mention that the concept of spiritual leadership as defined by gender tends to permeate the workplace, as well. Many Christian men (and women) believe that men have a higher spiritual authority, that men are natural leaders and therefore, should always take the helm. Though I believe in many situations when this is not intended, men may favor other men over women for jobs because it’s been ingrained in their minds that men make for better leaders.

Some folks will point out that it’s clear to observe men are stronger leaders than women, and they believe this is natural.

Let me ask you this question: If you threw an average 8 year-old into a high school environment, wouldn’t you say it’s likely they’re going to have far greater difficulty building and maintaining equal relationships and becoming leaders in that setting?

Most women are conditioned to be followers in our society. They’re showed Disney films with princesses being saved, taught that fashion and makeup are more fun than Tonka trucks and toy soldiers and sports, and they’re pushed to believe that men are the stronger sex by these examples. And most men, of course, are pushed to become the stronger sex.

So, we arrive in high school when a woman decides she wants to be the CEO of a major company, someday or perhaps, an Army officer, or president. Not only is she already years behind in developing leadership skills, but she’s dealing with the fact that all those environments require some understanding of male culture to get ahead, AND she has to overcome her own sexuality.

Talk about getting dealt a shitty hand.

So, she has to work extremely hard, harder than the men competing for the same spots, and there’s no guarantee she’s going to get there because even if she works harder than anyone else, she’s still a woman and will be saddled with this belief that men are better leaders than women.

No, this isn’t a “natural thing.” This is society self-reinforcing ridiculous stereotypes made up by society.

So, this is why many women would like to be a man. It would be difficult, but they wouldn’t have to deal with all this bullshit that comes simply for having different genitalia. They would actually get a fair shot from a gender standpoint.

I leave you with this quotation by Rebecca West: “I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

A Story About a “House”

Ashley is a 27 year-old woman who inherited several acres of land around 11 years-old when her parents tragically died in a car crash.

Her grandparents lovingly raised her but didn’t have much in the way of wealth. This land is all her family was able to give her. They showed her how to care for it, how to safely use it, and rightly taught her that this is hers and hers, alone, but expressed hope that she would have the opportunity to share it with someone she really loved and build a house on it, someday.

Over the years, Ashley made sure to care for the land, learned about land regulations and taxes, built a fence, but also took time to enjoy the property. Every now and then, she would invite someone she was dating to have a picnic with her. Sometimes, she would drive out to her property and gaze at the stars. Life was good.

One day, a friend asked if he could drive her out there, so they could have a picnic. She usually saved something like this for men she knew well, but he came off as trustworthy and both were adults (and therefore, supposedly knew how to treat each other with respect), so she thought it would be fun.

The two friends hopped in a car and drove out there. They pulled into the driveway up to the gate to the property. Ashley got out of the car, walked over, took her keys out, and was about to unlock it when she started having second thoughts. For whatever reason, she wasn’t sure she wanted to have a picnic.

She walked back over to the car.

“Listen, I’m really sorry to do this to you, but I don’t feel good about having a picnic, today. It just doesn’t feel right.”

“Well, we drove all the way out here,” he responded, angrily. “You can’t have me drive this long and then decide you don’t want a picnic, after all.”

“Look, I understand you’re angry, but this *is* my property, and I’d rather you just take me home.”

Her friend fumed as he sat behind the steering wheel. After a few moments of silence, he pulled out a gun and ordered her out of the car.

“Stop! Please don’t shoot me!” she pleaded.

“Do exactly as I say, and you’ll live,” he replied.

He made her unlock the gate and then, get in the driver’s seat, keeping the gun aimed at her the whole time.

“Drive us into the property, and don’t say another word.”

Slowly, she drove down the gravel path about an acre into her property before he made her stop.

He had her get out and tied her to a nearby tree. He also decided that he wanted to do more than just have a picnic. He was going to build a house. It was an absolutely insane thought, but he wanted to make sure he left his mark and demonstrated the power he had over her.

But he also knew the people who knew her were going to wonder where she was, and he didn’t want to invite scrutiny. He figured he had only a day or so to do what he wanted before her friends filed a missing person’s report.

Inviting several of his friends over, they spent the next 24 hours working on this house: they laid the foundation, put up a frame, and started working on fleshing it out. Periodically, she would grow desperate in her binds and scream for help, and he or one of his friends would respond by smacking her across the face and telling her to be quiet, or they’d kill her.

They worked as fast they could and were enjoying themselves but came to the obvious realization that there was only so much they could do in 24 hours. The small, one-room house only had the concrete foundation and a scant frame in place.

He and his buddies said goodbye to each other, and he drove back to the town after forcing her into the trunk. Pulling up to her apartment, he opened up the trunk, and looked down at her.

“If you say anything about what happened, I’ll kill you. Besides, no one is going to believe I took you hostage and tried to build that house. My reputation is too good.”

He drove off into the night, leaving her soul crushed and dignity shattered. However, she pulled herself together enough and told a close friend what had happened. Her friend convinced her to report it to the police, and overcoming a great deal of obstacles in the justice system, she bravely managed to have him arrested and charged with kidnapping and invasion of property.

Because of the man’s reputation, no one outside the police believed her. The evidence was abundant, but it took a while for others to come to the conclusion that she was telling the truth.

Meanwhile, there was still that “house” on her property. She simply couldn’t keep it there because of the memory associated with it, and having it finished was just too costly and risky to her quality of life and health.

So, she decided to have it torn down. She couldn’t afford to do so, but fortunately, there was an organization dedicated to helping people who are taken advantage of and volunteered to help her in this hour of need by removing the entire “house” themselves.

However, before the organization could do this, a group of men heard about what was planned and drove over to her apartment to dissuade her from having this done: a politician, a pastor, and an “average joe type” who was respected in the community.

After she offered them coffee, the four sat around the coffee table in her living room, and the politician quickly cut to the chase.

“Look, Ashley, we’ve been getting a lot of complaints about you tearing down this house. Some have even called for me to get a law passed that would prevent this sort of thing from happening.”

Ashley was stunned.

“But this is my property! Shouldn’t I decide what to do with it?”

“We don’t believe you should have control over this house. It’s already been started and should be completed. To do otherwise would be a waste.”

“I didn’t even build it! I was kidnapped by these men and forced to watch while they did it. How is this fair?” Ashley cried.

“Hey, we know it’s not fair,” replied the pastor, “but this is your chance to turn something negative into a positive. To us, this seems to be God’s will.”

“It was God’s will that I was kidnapped and tied to a tree while these horrible men built this so-called “house” on my property?” she asked, incredulously.

“And we’re sorry about that,” the pastor replied, “but every house is precious to God.”

“This isn’t even a house; it’s one bedroom,” she said.

“A house is a house, no matter how small,” the pastor shot back.

The two glared at each other while the politician stepped in to calm everyone down.

“Relax, everybody. I’m sure there’s a way we can convince Ashley to keep the house,” he said.

“It’s not even a house! It has a rickety frame and a foundation!” she yelled.

“Houses begin at the foundation!” yelled the pastor.

“Oh, yeah? How old is your house?” she inquired.

“Well, it was completed in July of 2000, so we’ve had it for 12 years,” he said, calming down.

“You mean 13 years. It took you nine months to build it. I remember,” she said.

“We don’t count the time it takes to build the house,” he asserted.

“Why? Is that because it’s not a house at the time?” she asked, derisively.

The pastor sat there, pissed. The average joe jumped into the conversation.

“Ashley, you’re a good girl. Don’t you think—” he began

“I’m a woman, not a girl, and even if I was a girl and not good, it would still be my property and my choice to decide what to do with this house,” she said.

“It’s not the house’s fault, you know! If you hadn’t been wearing summery clothes, that guy would never have wanted to picnic with you,” said average joe.

“So, what then? Are you saying I deserve this because of what I was wearing?” she asked.

“You’re damn right you deserve it!” joe shouted. “If you’re not selling, then don’t advertise.”

The politician sought once again to calm everyone down.

“Ashley, we’re not even still sure someone can build a house on property that isn’t theirs,” said the politician.

“What the hell does that mean?” she asked.

“Well,” the politician said confidently, “land has a way of shutting down houses before they can be built in the case it’s someone who shouldn’t be building.”

“That makes absolutely no scientific sense,” she retorted.

“I disagree. After all, I am on the town’s science board,” he replied.

“I can’t even afford this house,” she said, emphatically.

“We’ll help you pay to complete the house,” said the politician, “but after that, you’re on your own. We’re only pro-house while it’s being built.”

Ashley rubbed her face in her hands, rubbing her forehead in frustration.

“I’m going to tear down the house, and you can’t force me to do otherwise,” she stated.

“Ashley, there are a lot of angry people who don’t want this to happen,” said the politician.

“Why do they care? Do they live in the area? It’ll be done in a few hours. There won’t be that much noise,” she said.

“Well, actually, no,” said the politican,”they don’t live in the area. They don’t even own land.”

“So, they have no idea what I’m going through?” she asked.

“Well, technically, you’re right, but–” he replied.

“But nothing. This is my land and my choice, and I’ll tell you something else: Even if I built the house and decided not to see it through completion, it would still be my choice because it’s my land. Not yours.”

Ashley, with a few friends who were there for emotional support, brought the helpful organization to her land to have the house torn down. Near the entrance were dozens of protesters, all of whom were holding signs and/or shouting insults.

She got out of the car and led the organization to the gate.

“House destroyer! Bitch!” cried the protesters as they held up signs with pictures of houses that had been destroyed.

“This is America,” said one of her friends as they walked to the gate. “How can they be okay with individual liberty and freedom from government intervention except when it comes to having personal autonomy over one’s land?”

“I don’t know,” replied Ashley. “I just don’t know.”

A License to Rape

In 2005, the last year for which I could find official statistics on this subject, 174,420 women were sexually assaulted or raped, and over 99% of those cases involved a male perpetrator.

Fortunately, this number actually points to a “per capita” decline, in which the rate has fallen from 2.4 victims per 1000 people in 1980 to 0.4 in the present day. This is obviously good news, but rape and sexual assault against women are still huge problems in America that have yet to be adequately addressed.

If you’re a rational human being, this statistic is of great concern, but fear not: prominent men (and some [very, very few] women) have spent a lot of time on this problem, and here is their suggestion:

Stop dressing so provocative, ladies.

Never mind that there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence to suggest a correlation between clothing and rape.

Never mind that sociologists and psychologists have identified, over and over, that the main motivation to rape is demonstrating power, not because of a clothing catalyst.

Never mind that women are raped when wearing sweatpants or military uniforms or baggy jeans and a t-shirt or even tattered, dirty clothing typically worn by the homeless.

Basically, this is yet another attempt to blame women for allowing themselves to be raped. If only they could dress modestly, this wouldn’t happen as often, amirite?!

Of course, that’s interesting because thousands of men are tragically raped and sexually assaulted, every year, and I never hear them being blamed for what they wore, probably because anyone with half a brain realizes that suggestion would be absolutely moronic. If a man wore only underwear in public and was tragically raped in a back alley, there would be no assertion that he deserved it due to his lack of attire. And yet, women are often blamed for the sexual violence they encounter because they wore a “slutty” outfit.

It reminds me of an article written by a Christian commentator, several years ago, on this subject. He wrote approvingly of his father having a saying on women in sexy clothing:

“If you’re not selling, don’t advertise.”

How cute.

Of course, this also pisses me off because the argument makes the claim that I, as a man, am unable to control my sexual appetite and urges, that men just can’t help themselves when they’re around short skirts and stilettos. It’s as if these folks are giving me a license to rape if I’m around women wearing sexy clothing.

You might be thinking that’s going too far, that’s it’s not fair to characterize this theory as promoting rape.

Well, what else is it? 170,000+ women are raped and sexually assaulted, each year, and apparently, it’s because they’re wearing erotic attire, not because the perpetrator is an asshole seeking to express power and increasingly encouraged by a society that treats women as second-class citizens.

So, here’s a question for you geniuses who believe in this shit:

What is appropriate clothing for women to wear outside the home?

What kind of outfit serves as rapist repellent?

Maybe we should cover a woman’s entire body so that only their eyes are visible. I hear that’s working really well in some Muslim countries where women are still raped (and later punished for it, but that’s a post for another day).

We need to get away from the absurd notion that women are in any way to blame for being raped or sexually assaulted. The victim is never at fault and suggesting otherwise on some bullshit theory that grown men just can’t control themselves because of clothing is childish at best and criminal at worst.