Being Human

Human.  Belonging to man or mankind; having the qualities or attributes of man; of or pertaining to man or to the race of man.  A human being.  Not a thing.  A person.  Nowhere in the definition of being human does it reference gender or race or experience.  Nowhere in the definition of being human does it say one person is less than another.  It’s very black and white on paper; if you look like a human, you are one.  But the world, unfortunately, does not work that way.  There are many people who turn their backs, who won’t stand up for what’s right.

Not me though.  I’m a soap-box girl.  I feel deeply and passionately about a few topics, and while I may be afraid to talk about my own, personal experiences, I am not afraid to talk about the topics themselves.  I’m not afraid to talk about discrimination.  Because it’s horrible, and it’s wrong.

Today I heard three statements that were greatly offensive.  That cut me, deeply.  Society should know better.  But instead, ignorance is rewarded.  Topics that have no business being jokes are pushed into every day conversation; people give no consideration to those they may hurt.  They say the first thing that comes to mind with no consideration for their audience.  There are people who use positions of power to force their opinion onto others.

They forget that we are all human.

*

“Abuse is less likely to occur when partners can make each other happy.”

Interpretation: abuse within relationships is the fault of the victim because that victim did not do enough to keep their partner happy.  Had the victim been good enough for their partner, their partner would have been happy and they would not have gotten hurt.  This is a common misconception that many victims of relationship violence have, and statements like this only help to drive that home.

In the first days of February, 2012, Josh Powell of Washington opened the door to his home, informed his children that he had a “really fun surprise” waiting just inside for them, and swept them from the arms of the social worker who was delivering them for visitation.  With a shrug of his shoulders, he proceeded to slam and lock the door in the social worker’s face.  While the social worker stood outside, helpless to stop him, he attacked his two songs in a blatant act of aggression with a hatchet and lit his gasoline doused house on fire.  All three of the Powells died of carbon monoxide poisoning, adding further to the tragedy that had befallen the family when Susan Powell, wife to Josh and mother of the boys, disappeared in 2009.  It is believed by many that Josh murdered Susan, but her body has never been found.

Even though he was the only real suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Powell was allowed to maintain custody of his two boys for nearly two years after her disappearance.  Losing that custody was perhaps akin to losing the last marble Powell had left in his head.  Not seeing any other way to handle things, Powell lashed out and took the lives of both his children and himself.  Powell didn’t hurt his wife or children because they made him unhappy.  Powell hurt his wife and children because he was unhappy.

The important thing to note here is that the boys did nothing wrong.  They were innocent bystanders, literally pulled into the lion’s den.  Susan Powell did nothing wrong.  She was more than good enough.  She was beautiful.

Josh Powell is the only one in this situation who did anything wrong.  He was anything but good enough.

*

“Date rape is frequently caused by alcohol.”

Interpretation: alcohol causes date rape.  By extension then, if a person drinks alcohol and is then raped, it is their fault because they drank.  This statement plays right into the idea that it is the fault of the victim.  They led the rapist on.  They should have protected themselves.  This doesn’t acknowledge the offender at all.

In Steubenville, Ohio, 2012, a teenage girl went out to a party.  But instead of partying by the definition of the word, she was sexually assaulted, dehumanized, and then blamed by her community because she dared to go after the football players who attacked her.  Her town supported the football players because of their ability to play the game and bring notoriety to the town’s team.  This support even stretched to school officials; William Rhinaman, the director of technology at the local high school, covered up for the football players by tampering with evidence and helping them hide the truth.  Sadly, these things are more common place than many people realize.  On CNN, another case from Maryville, Missouri, was featured where in a teenage girl was raped but her county attorney refused to prosecute, saying “there was not a criminal offense.”  The statement that date rape is caused by alcohol does nothing but perpetuate this cycle where innocent women (and men) are put into this situation.

Date rape isn’t caused by alcohol.  Date rape is caused by some asshat not being able to keep it in their pants.  Whether the victim has been drinking or not, they don’t deserved to be raped.  Nobody deserves to be raped.  It’s a violation of everything that it means to a human being; it’s a taking away of something that the victim can never get back.  It’s a domination of one person over another that should never be allowed to happen.

It’s not okay.

*

“Gays wouldn’t need to marry if they could just cohabitate.”

Interpretation: gays just need to live together; they don’t have any reason to get married.

Imagine, if you will, your partner or child has been in a horrible accident.  You rush to the hospital and do everything that you can to make sure that they are okay, up to and including making medical decisions that are in their best interests.  You are involved; you are included.  You have power in what happens next for your loved one.

Many LGBT couples in committed relationships don’t have that right.  In many states, they can live together to their heart’s content, but they can’t make medical decisions on behalf of their partner.  This differs from a husband/wife relationship in that a partner could be forced to watch their partner on life support with no legal grounds in which to make medical decisions.  Where a husband/wife relationship gives both people the option to make decisions, many relationships on the LGBT side of the spectrum lack this right.  And that’s not all.  In Florida, a lesbian woman lost her partner in a car accident and was then forced to give up the children they had raised together because she was not allowed to legally adopt them.  A gay man lost his partner of several years in the 9/11 attacks, but was not allowed to collect any federal aid because he was not allowed to obtain a legal marriage.  Cohabitation, while effective in some ways, does not give people the same rights as a marriage.  To reserve marriage as something special, something that only “a certain group of people” can obtain, simply isn’t fair.

LGBT people aren’t asking for special rights, or rights that put them above others.  They just want to have the same rights as everybody else.  They want to make decisions for their loved ones; they want comfort and ability.  They want to be with the person that they love.  To say that they have no need to marry is simply offensive.  If you love someone, you love someone.  That’s just that.

*

Human.  Having or showing the positive aspect of nature and character regarded as distinguishing human from animals.  Subject to or indicative of the weaknesses, imperfections, and fragility associated with humans: a mistake that shows he’s only human; human frailty.  The definition of human in no way references gender, race, or experience.  When society blames the victim or denies people the rights that they are meant to have, the person in question loses their sense of being human.  And that isn’t fair.  No one should have to feel that way.  No one should be made to feel like they are less than anyone else.

I read an interesting concept on this phenomena:  If someone is stupid and leaves their car unlocked, resulting in things getting stolen from within it, does anyone say “Let’s not punish the thief?”  No.  Because it’s cut and dry.  Theft is wrong.

So why isn’t rape wrong?  One person forcing another to commit sex acts against their will?  That’s less than car theft?  Why isn’t abuse wrong?  Why isn’t discrimination based on race and gender wrong?  We’re all human; we’re all people despite the way that we look, act talk.  Despite who we love.  Nobody should be treated any differently than everybody else.  Everybody should have the same rights.  But the world doesn’t work this way.  People are ignorant.

I just don’t get it.  When speaking, we can never know who our audience is.  People don’t understand that.  It’s impossible to know the background of the people you’re talking to, the things they have been through.  And there are so, so many things.  Everybody has a story.  Everybody has a thing that hurts.  Like the news story I read yesterday, overweight people, old people, drug users, lonely people, eating disorders, rape victims, abuse survivor, LGBT…et cetera, et cetera.  Everyone has a thing.  And making fun of or alienating a person in ANY form based on these things is just simply NOT okay.

Abuse, of any kind, is wrong.

Rape is wrong.

Discrimination is wrong.

It is wrong to make fun of the overweight, to make fun of the underweight, to make fun of the lonely girl who sits in the corner.  It is wrong to make judging comments about something or someone just because they are different than us.

To joke about people, to casually pass over them in conversation like they don’t exist, like their experiences are trivial, as if it’s the fault of the victim or the person simply because of who they are, says that these things are okay.

Let’s make these things not okay.

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