The Sexualization of Summer

Preface: This is actually something written by my 13 year old daughter. In class they have been listening to some of Rick Mercer Report’s rants and as an assignment they had to write thier own and keep at the minute mark or just under. They will be filming their rants and compiling them together as a class.
I always encourage my kids and try to teach them as much as possible. I’m sure like most parents I have my moments when I question how effective my parenting is not just as a mom but as a woman…a guide. This is a short piece but it’s yet another small piece of evidence for me that I’m not doing as bad as I think I am sometimes.
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Girls Going Wild In Red Light District

Most of the women express that prostitution was not their career of choice. In a 1998 study, 88 percent of the prostituted women surveyed stated that they wanted to leave the sex trade industry. The majority of prostitutes interviewed believed that selling themselves was their only alternative for survival. Further investigation showed that these women shared similar circumstances that led them to prostitution. Many came from dysfunctional homes, had few friends or family members who cared about them, and were drug addicts or alcoholics. Arrest and contact data indicated that most of these women were between 18 and 29 years old. Unfortunate situations and poor choices made them vulnerable.

Most of the women described their path into the sex trade as a boyfriend transforming into a pimp or a girlfriend becoming a prostitute. A man recognized the woman’s situation and gained access through affection, compassion, and a promise to care. He became a companion who listened, understood, and shared the desire for a better future. The new beau quickly made an offer—leave with him and he would take care of her. She left for a better life. The man quickly moved her to another county or state. Once relocated, the partnership transitioned into an abusive domestic relationship. The man dominated the woman and controlled where she stayed, when and what she ate, what clothes she wore, what she did, and when she did it. Even if the woman could call for help, she had no one to rescue her. The man told her that they needed money and that she would have to earn it. People see a pimp as someone who obtains customers for a prostitute. The reality is that they use manipulation, threats, and violence to keep these women from leaving. They depend on the women they recruit into prostitution. These men use mental, emotional, and physical abuse to keep the women generating money. Out of fear or a desire to be cared for, hookers protect their pimps. The men abandon women who are unable or unwilling to provide any more revenue. Most prostitutes recognize their actions as illegal; however, a substantial number of them truly are victims.

Pimps use various control methods to keep the women working the streets. Many of the prostitutes spoke of daily physical abuse, emotional dominance, and lies about caring. These men burned the women with curling irons, strangled, and punched them. They told the prostitutes that their families would be ashamed of them for being a hooker and that no one else would care for them.

Alone and removed from family and friends, these women have no money and depend on their pimps for food, shelter, and clothing. Human sex trafficking victims equate to modern day slaves. The research findings supported the argument that “The most insidious and common pattern appeared to be young women being convinced to exploit themselves for the financial benefit of someone else. Betrayals by the people closest to prostituted women appeared to be only the first injustice in a path . . . rife with violence, degradation, and extreme physical stress.”

After close analysis of prostitutes and their situations, several police departments instituted a new approach where it viewed prostitution as possible human trafficking. The recognition, rescue, and aid of these victims became the most important tactic in addressing the problem.

Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them. – JERRY FALWELL, Crossfire

To Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be the One Who Says It Out Loud

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I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone-tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted.

I have three boys ages 5 and under. I’m not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter and chaos. I was that person for years and years; the pain of infertility is stabbing and throbbing and constant. I remember allowing hope to rise and then seeing it crash all around me, month after month, for seven years. I am working on another post about infertility that will come at a later date.

But right now, in my actual life, I have three boys ages 5 and under. There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week, when Isaac told my sister-in-law that, “My daddy has hair all over.” Or when Elijah put a green washcloth over his chin and cheeks, and proudly declared, “Daddy! I have a beard just like you!” Or when Ben sneaks downstairs in the morning before the other boys do, smiles at me, and says, “Daddy and Ben time.”

But there are also many moments when I have no idea how I’m going to make it until their bedtime. The constant demands, the needs and the fighting are fingernails across the chalkboard every single day. 

One of my children is for sure going to be the next Steve Jobs. I now have immense empathy for his parents. He has a precise vision of what he wants — exactly that way and no other way. Sometimes, it’s the way his plate needs to be centered exactly to his chair, or how his socks go on, or exactly how the picture of the pink dolphin needs to look — with brave eyes, not sad eyes, daddy! He is a laser beam, and he is not satisfied until it’s exactly right.

I have to confess that sometimes, the sound of his screaming drives me to hide in the pantry. And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, I compulsively eat chips and/or dark chocolate.

There are people who say this to me:

“You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!”

I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to hold them under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little.

If you have friends with small children — especially if your children are now teenagers or if they’re grown — please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it’s not true, but because it really, really doesn’t help.

We know it’s true that they grow up too fast. But feeling like I have to enjoy every moment doesn’t feel like a gift, it feels like one more thing that is impossible to do, and right now, that list is way too long. Not every moment is enjoyable as a parent; it wasn’t for you, and it isn’t for me. You just have obviously forgotten. I can forgive you for that. But if you tell me to enjoy every moment one more time, I will need to break up with you.

If you are a parent of small children, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can’t believe you get to be around these little people. But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:

You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do. She’s obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.

You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they’d be put in prison.

You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise.

You are not a terrible parent if you’d rather be at work.

You are not a terrible parent if you just can’t wait for them to go to bed.

You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.

You’re not a terrible parent.

You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.

One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are oversaturated with information about the kind of parents we should be.

So, maybe it’s time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to raise the next president who knows how to read when she’s 3 and who cooks, not only eats, her vegetables. Maybe it’s time to embrace being the kind of parent who says sorry when you yell. Who models what it’s like to take time for yourself. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.

So, the next time you see your friends with small children with that foggy and desperate look in their eyes, order them a pizza and send it to their house that night. Volunteer to take their kids for a few hours so they can be alone in their own house and have sex when they’re not so tired, for heaven’s sake. Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they’re doing a good job. Just don’t freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we’re botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they’re older.

You’re bone-tired. I’m not sure when it’s going to get better. Today might be a good day or it might be the day that you lost it in a way that surprised even yourself.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You’re not alone.

This post originally appeared on The Actual Pastor.

Just Keep Swimming

I know that you cant ever really be ready for unpleasant events, that’s what makes them unpleasant right? The fact they literally knock your feet from right under you. You end up landing on your ass, might sit there and lick your sore spots a bit but goddammit you get up after and shake that shit off. No sense in lamenting yourself or waiting for things to pass on their own, just keep going. Somebody close to me has been telling me recently that no matter what I just have to go on with my life…well yea, life doesn’t stop for anyone or anything does it? Often times we end up watching it run circles around us because we literally sit in one spot and just watch it go as we brew in whatever hurt, bitterness or disloyalty was inflicted on us. You can’t let life bring you down, you have to grab it by the reigns and take control of that bitch! Life does what you want it to, especially yours…YOU CONTROL YOUR DESTINY. Sure, I believe in God. I believe that there are consequences to all the choices we make, good or bad, but OUR choices nonetheless. I don’t believe God is as omnipotent as they make him/her/it out to be. The best thing we were given was free will, it’s the harshest and most beautiful quality we have as a species besides the ability to love. So take charge, keep going and never stand still.

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I am not a graceful person.

I am not a Sunday morning or a Friday sunset.

I am a Tuesday 2am,

I am gunshots muffled by a few city blocks,

I am a broken window during February.

My bones crack on a nightly basis.

I fall from elegance with a dull thud,

and I apologize for my awkward sadness.

I sometimes believe that I don’t belong around people,

that I belong to all the leap days that didn’t happen.

The way light and darkness mix under my skin has become a storm.

You don’t see the lightning, but you hear the echoes.