You Can't "Have Sex With" a Child.

The local news at 11 just reported a sting in my area to arrest men who went to a house to "have sex with" a thirteen year old boy or girl (no women showed up to do so apparently, but this was not mentioned). Naturally I immediately fired off an email challenging this language:

"I'm watching your 11 pm news cast, and I have to point out that it is impossible for a man (or woman) to "have sex with" a child. Any sex act with a child is rape, since they are incapable of giving consent. Please change your reporting language to reflect this important truth. This is not inflammatory language, it is simply accurate. Thank you."

I only saw the news because my dad is visiting. I never watch it when he's not here. Maybe it's my civic duty to watch and send this email every single time rape is described as "sex" whether the raped person is a child or an adult. And it's not "alleged rape" either - a rape has occurred, only the identity of the rapist is "alleged."

I sort of thought I was living in the twenty first century and not the nineteenth.

Also, I have to give a shout out to my neighbor Yolanda. Her daughter Marissa is my daughter Katie's best friend. She went along with us to hold Katie's hand while she had her ears pierced tonight. It was dark when she asked if she could come and I told her to ask her mom, and she asked me to walk her over. She said, "My mom told me not to walk home in the dark alone because of stranger danger and the rapist across the street with a red car." (I think that this is a great rule for a six year old who weighs maybe 40 pounds soaking wet. Adult women should be able to walk wherever they please in the dark, because they can weigh their risks.) I am SO FRIGGING HAPPY that another parent called a "child molester" what he is, a rapist.

Most of my psychiatric social work colleagues object when I call "child molesters" rapists. I think it makes them squirm inside. Which it should. Molestation is a euphemism of the worst possible kind. Rape should not be prettied up verbally so we get comfortable talking about it, especially where children are concerned. I would no more say a child was "molested" than that a woman or man was "interfered with." Social workers are like priests, we hear everything, and it's often not easy to handle the degree of evil some people are capable of.

I have a patient whose dad raped her starting when she was ten and continued until he impregnated her at thirteen, at which point her mother and the courts had to believe her - the DNA matched. (I am bound to confidentiality, but there are so many little girls out there in the same situation that this doesn't break it.) Her dad spent a few years in prison. And I mean less than five. For raping a ten year old over and over, until she was thirteen - well, actually until she was fifteen, because CPS didn't see fit to take her out of the home where her dad repeatedly raped and impregnated her and her mother KNEW, while the trial was pending for two years and he was "free on his own recognizance" as the saying goes.

HINT TO CPS: A scumbag who rapes his ten year old until she is thirteen and gets her pregnant doesn't HAVE any FUCKING recognizance. And then there are parents who sell their three year olds for sex in order to smoke a pipe of crack or ten a day. Social workers hear everything. Sometimes I wish I didn't, but most of the time I'm glad that I'm there to tell, sometimes as the first person the victim/survivor can trust. I feel that my knowing about all this evil does the world good in some small way. I am a witness. I can call the deniers and the minimizers on their horrific shit and the consequences of those cover up phrases and actions. Just to clarify, I don't think rape is "better" when an adult experiences it, not at all. But child rape makes me, universalist though I am (I think of heaven, if it exists, as an ER, where the sickest souls are treated first), hope at times that there's a hell.

Weekly Journal 6 - Second, Less Self Absorbed Version

Writing about liking to sing, however enjoyable, is not what I want to do with this journal, so I'm taking another stab at it. The class discussion stayed focused on respect in different variations. _Crash_ was largely about the need for respect toward one another. Respect can overcome prejudice. Disrespect fuels it. The two qualities are symbiotic, with prejudice leading to disrespect, and disrespect leading to prejudice. One of my clients trains business people about her home continent's different cultures and the expectations and interpretation of behaviors in each. She was telling me about the "eight second rule", which as it turns out is not how long an M&M can be on the floor and still be edible, but a tendency to form our opinions about each other in the first eight seconds. We had an interesting discussion about how social workers and medical workers have to constantly combat that tendency, and how much practice and awareness it takes to do so. This class is helping me explore my biases and prejudices and reminding me that the eight second rule can lead me to places I can't go if I want to be a responsible and respectful social worker.

Weekly Journal 6 - Musical Musings

Actually, who I am is "A person who thinks of what she really wants to say five minutes later when class is over." :)

I recognize that this isn't unique, but it is frustrating even so. The real problem was how many things I like about myself. Coming from where I've come from, that is definitely against the odds. But it is true now, though it wasn't true for most of my life. And recognizing that "problem" was a joy.

I think if I had a do-over I'd say that I am a singer. Insofar as I have religious feelings, I feel them when I hear music or sing. Other things about me have changed a lot, but I've been passionate about music ever since I can remember. Even before I can remember, actually. At 18 months old I started crying when Bach's Minuet in G was turned off in the middle, and my uncle and aunt turned it back on when they realized I was humming it. Earlier on I sang before I talked. I'm told that I did a great playpen rendition of the Doors' "Come On Baby Light My Fire." Also "Chain of Fools." While dancing with the aid of holding on tight to the edge of the playpen because I couldn't stand on my own yet. I used to make up operas starring our fox terrier Charlie and, naturally, myself. Charlie played a supporting role, because I had to sing his part for him. And make him dance on his back legs by lifting up on his front legs. When my little brothers were old enough to replace Charlie, I directed all of us in musicals based on fairy tales like Goldilocks (I got to be Goldilocks AND Baby Bear - I was a bit of a prima dona). Later on we would learn songs on records and perform them for our parents, and we were FINE on Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do." We even choreographed it.

So it isn't a surprise that my mom was embarrassed and punished me for being a "show off." Working class white people in my part of Iowa did NOT embrace the performing arts. It took a long time to get over the shame, but nothing stopped me from singing when I let my guard down, and humming without knowing I was doing it. One time we were at my Great Grandma Ruth's, and she was sick, and I was singing in the next room. When my mom and grandma shushed me, Great Grandma asked them to turn the radio back on and find out who the singer was. Did I gloat inside? You bet I did! Nothing could stop me from listening all I wanted to, though. I could and can listen to any piece of music I know in my head, even complex pieces like symphonies and madrigals. When I was bored in school, I would just listen to whatever was on my internal soundtrack instead of the lesson. Don't worry, our class is too interesting for that!

I didn't have the right kind of voice for classical music or opera, which disappointed me until I discovered Celtic music in college. I was spellbound. And my voice was PERFECT for folk. Song's not in your range? Just transpose it! Which I could do with no effort. This was bad in chorus, but great in folk. And coming from an abusive background, the stories of betrayal and violence and true love and parted families or lovers resonated. Anger frightens me in person, but I can sing about it and kind of process my own feelings. Celtic music lays it all out there, just like blues and soul and gospel, which I already knew about and loved. My college roommate Lavonne and I listened to Steve Winwood's "Bring Me a Higher Love" about three times every day. And sing along with gusto and volume. I'm surprised we didn't break the tape. Or our RA's spirit. At least we weren't as bad as the guy upstairs who decided that he needed to learn to play Wagner's entire Ring Cycle on the recorder. Flat. At every hour of the day and night.

I know that this must seem like a big digression with little to do with class, but after nearly eight years of twins and work, grad school is for ME. I'm rediscovering myself in major ways as well as discovering other people's viewpoints and experiences. I love my twins, and my husband, and my job. But I miss parts of me that I have set aside since late in my pregnancy. Relationships require compromise when they don't require outright sacrifice. These yield high dividends in love and joy.

But oh is it sweet to stretch my wings again.

I think I'll sign up for that Open Mic in January.