What Really Happened: Infidelity and Accountability

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Disclaimer: I have not followed the entirety of John Edwards “scandal” and trial and mistress-gone-wrong saga. I know the gist and frankly, that’s all I need to know for what I would like to discuss tonight.

Disclosure: I thoroughly enjoy The View. The opinions, banter, chaos, and humor amongst these women is very entertaining to me. To be honest, I am sad I do not get school vacations anymore where I wake up and can watch Ellen — which I’ve been told has taken over Oprah’s spot — and The View, with a little Nate Berkus in between. ahh okay sorry for the tangent… I swear my disclaimer and disclosure are related!

Today marks another momentous event in the John Edwards saga. Rielle Hunter, Edward’s mistress.. I’m sorry, the mother of his love child, Quinn, released her memoir What Really Happened to tell her “truthful” side of the story. Hunter appeared on The View and rightfully so Whoopi, Joy, Barbara, Elizabeth, and Sherri asked her some pretty tough questions. You just have to watch to really get it…

Now for those of you who know me or simply read my blog, you may know where I am going. If not, I’ve done a horrible job at getting my point across. Joy Behar brings up the fact that Rielle saw John Edwards in a hotel and said “You’re so hot.” Joy follows up with

“You said [to John Edwards] ‘you’re so hot’… Isn’t that asking a guy to be unfaithful to his wife when you come onto him like that?”

No. She was not necessarily asking him to do that — I say necessarily because only Hunter knows her true intentions and perhaps that was her intention but we cannot assume that. Telling a guy — or girl for that matter — that he/she is hot does not constitute an open invitation to cheat on his/her partner or spouse. The fact that Joy asked that completely takes all accountability off of John Edwards here. Women CONSTANTLY make comments very similar to “you’re so hot” to men in the public eye. Sit on Twitter for a day and follow tweets to Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, or Leonardo DiCaprio. But if any of them go on to cheat on their partners/spouses, they cannot and should not be able to fall back on the excuse “well he/she said I was hot.” John Edwards has a brain, a heart, and a conscience. He should have taken the compliment and went on with his life. But he chose to cheat on Elizabeth Edwards. Now, I am NOT by any means trying to paint a picture of Rielle being a victim or without accountability because she was equally responsible in this affair. But I do not not appreciate a respectable and prominent TV show host framing in such a way that says if a woman calls a man hot, he has an “in” to cheat on his wife.

Rielle Hunter tried to frame her story in a very similar way with one of her responses to Elizabeth Hassleback’s question about whether Hunter thinks that the now deceased Elizabeth Edwards did something to push his husband to cheat on her. Rielle had some word vomit and avoided her truthful answer of “yes” by uttering something along the lines of their marriage wasn’t good so yes some of her behaviors led John to Rielle. No Rielle. John Edwards married his wife, made vows to his wife, and promised her forever. If things were not working and the marriage was not happy or healthy, he could have filed for divorce and ended those vows and promises. But he chose not to. Elizabeth Edwards did not force her husband to cheat on her. Elizabeth Edwards did not force her husband and Rielle to have unprotected sex and conceive and give birth to a child that they then lied to the media about on several occasions. Elizabeth Edwards did not destroy John Edwards political career… he did that all on his own.

Lastly, Rielle honey… ya can’t diss a woman who suffered and died of cancer all while her husband’s personal life, affair, and love child came out for the entire nation and world to read about because you slept with him knowing full well that he had a wife and children. And ya can’t follow it up by saying you don’t believe in infidelity. I get it — you wanted to have your voice heard in this truly twisted and disappointing story of you and Johnny boy, But your voice was just dismantled and discredited when you insulted Elizabeth Edwards in your book, blamed her, and tried to paint yourself as a saint who is against infidelity. That, Ms. Hunter, is What Really Happened.

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Pride!

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I have always been and will always be a supporter of gay rights. It sounds bizarre for me to even have to say that — DUH, yes I think that homosexuals, who are as human as the next guy, deserve the same rights that I do as well as the same rights as my neighbor. Ugh, I even hate that I have to put it that way “…homosexuals deserve….” No, HUMANS deserve. Their sexual orientation should NOT factor into the rights that they are granted. Who they fall in love with, sleep with, are attracted to, hold hands with, etc. are none of anyone’s business. If Bill Clinton can have an affair and remain President, if Britney Spears can be married for 55 hours and then disregard her vows and annul the marriage, and if Kim Kardashian can be married for only 72 days and turn her pre/post wedding life into a reality TV show, then why the hell can’t same sex couples exist with the same damn rights?

Today I had the great pleasure of being one of the nearly 1 million spectators of the 2012 Chicago Pride Parade. Words cannot describe how amazing it was to see tens of thousands of people march for 4 hours — yes, it was a 4 hour parade — with so much energy, confidence, and pride. Watching the LGBTQ community and it’s allies share today was very powerful and it showed what community and togetherness can really accomplish. I could not help but think of how far we have come. Still, there were anti-gay protestors throughout the parade route and the Huffington Post covered a story today from Moline, IL where a lesbian couple wanted to use a historic banquet hall as their wedding venue and the manager told them they could not

“Because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, then, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them enter into or celebrate that sin.”

It really breaks my heart that religion  is the primary institution preventing people from obtaining and exercising their rights. The rights that they deserve. It also breaks my heart that IL only recognizes Civil Unions — yes, I know it’s a big deal that we even do that and I appreciate that — but Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Patrick Quinn marched closely to each other starting off today’s parade. Rahm even looked up at us in our apartment and shot us a peace sign (see photo below). Quinn held signs boasting his leadership as Governor. They had smiles on their faces. Rahm ran over to the spectators and hugged a few women cheering his name. He even fist pumped as he rounded the corner of Belmont and Broadway as if to say “HELL YA I am an ally of the LGBTQ community,” which don’t get me wrong he probably is — for the most part. But he is co-existing in a political world where we cannot universally accept and grant all rights to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Quinn has only legalized civil unions. The sign in the photo below really describes it best — separate is, in fact, NOT equal. I hope the passion, confidence, and pride that echoes the streets to this very minute replay in Quinn & Rahm’s heads tonight and for days to come so that they work together to support all rights for all people in Chicago and the state of IL.

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Another Casey Anthony Verdict on Our Hands? Let’s hope not.

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In the past 2 weeks I have graduated with my masters and started a new job. I had family in town and then friends and then “surprise” guests from London for two days. Needless to say, life has been a little cray cray lately but in a good way. Given that I constantly have been on the go, I have been behind on my blog-reading and news-following. But I have not forgotten to occasionally check the status of Jerry Sandusky’s case. I think I am more nauseous and horrified now than I was when the news broke — and the outcome hasn’t even been determined yet.

Jerry Sandusky’s case epitomizes my confusion that someone would ever want to or could ever be a defense attorney. I’m certain they don’t sleep at night. I mean, right? Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s attorney, has an argument that literally makes me gag. He is arguing that Jerry is the victim and that the 8 men who have come forward — now 9 as of today with Sandusky’s adopted son disclosing that he was abused too — are prosecuting him and ruining his life. Amendola is arguing that Sandusky was a very generous man who just cared about charity.

Does Amendola think these things? I mean, I can’t imagine he genuinely believes a word of his own closing arguments. But he doesn’t have to — defense attorneys are all about strategy, especially when it’s pretty damn clear their client is guilty. Amendola’s goal is to deadlock the jury and then fight for acquittal. I get the fundamental principle(s) of our criminal justice system and I understand that every one has their right to due process. But had Jerry Sandusky been an average guy who wasn’t a very prominent figure from one of the most notorious college sports teams in the nation, his attorney would have likely advised him to plead guilty and avoided a trial. Well, I would hope that is what an attorney would do. I know, I know — innocent until proven guilty — but COME ON. And this verdict is not being decided by unbiased jurors — most of them are from State community and some even know Sandusky directly. Yea, how is that legal? Talk about high profile case rules here.

I mean, the evidence is strongly against ya, Jerry. There is documentation at Penn State reporting inappropriate behavior. There are witnesses. The victims have been so strong and articulate and given very accurate depictions of the abuse that they endured — both on and off the stand. Jerry Sandusky is the epitome of a serial pedophile. It really breaks my heart that Amendola is stealing the media with his quotes about how great of a guy Sandusky is. These men have come forward under very stressful and traumatic circumstances. Their stories have not been isolated in some small town or within an unknown court room somewhere — like so many child abuse cases are — but instead they have been all over the news for months. Penn State students publicly rioted when Paterno was fired in defense of him with no consideration of the victims. They have had to relive the victimization that occurred several years ago.

When this all came about months ago news stories were boasting about how this is good for child abuse prevention because it highlights that this is a serious problem happening to children and that children should be able to come forward. The first victim to testify said he didn’t tell anyone when the abuse was occurring because he knew no one would believe him because it was Jerry Sandusky. He was right — thus people saw the acts happening and did nothing about it. I see how this can be positive for child abuse prevention in a really twisted way, but honestly, I don’t think it is going to be beneficial. Not after the way the trial has been reported and the efforts made by Jerry’s defense attorney to disregard all victim testimony and deadlock the jury. I hope these jurors are smarter that and can remove the political hoop-la around Sandusky & Penn State football and recognize that many people were traumatized and victimized and left to deal with it on their own for many years. I am scared to death that Amendola played his defense-attorney cards right and Jerry will walk. I don’t think we can handle another Casey Anthony verdict.

For the sake of Sandusky’s victims and all victims out there — PLEASE do not believe that Sandusky is a good man and meant well.

 

Sex Traffickers or Victims?

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A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook of a recent story covered by CNN about teenage girls (15 years old) being arrested for sex trafficking in Ottawa, Canada. He posted it because he was shocked that they were arrested because to him, they sounded like victims. Another person commented disagreeing that they are victims and arguing that they kidnapped, beat, and forced other teen girls (13-17 years old) into prostitution and therefore should be convicted. This subsequently sparked a debate on Facebook following his link about whether they should be arrested or not. I weighed in a little on the Facebook debate, but I wanted to elaborate here.

Because the girls who were arrested are teenagers, not much is being released about them due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. What we do know is that they are being charged with a laundry list of offenses: human trafficking, robbery, sexual assault, abduction, etc. Also, we know that they were using social media to lure in victims. So that is what we know. What I want to discuss is whether they should be charged and convicted of these crimes.

My quick answer: probably not. Young girls are trafficked into the commercial sex industry in every state and nation in the world every day. Pimps and traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to lure young, vulnerable girls into the sex industry. Girls are beaten, threatened, raped, and given drugs to ensure that they comply and stay in the industry. Many girls are homeless or runaway youth who have no where else to go. Pimps often make the girl believe he is her boyfriend and that he loves her and wants to take care of her. Young girls do not have a choice when entering the sex trade.

But these girls that I am referring to are the ones being forced to sell themselves for sex. The girls in this Ottawa case are allegedly the traffickers, not the girls in prostitution. Well, that’s what the media has led us to think because they have been criminalized right from the start. What the media has not considered or discussed is that young girls are trafficked into the sex trade all of the time and then forced to lure other girls “like them” into the industry as well. Who are they forced by? The same pimp or trafficker that forced them into the industry. I know what you’re thinking — why would the pimp/trafficker force her to do his work? Because he does not want to get caught because then his prostitution ring is destroyed. If he puts one of his victims in the “leadership” role to recruit other victims, then he is safe and he can continue to collect the money and run the “business.” When she gets caught — she may not be convicted or may receive minimal sentencing, so he can lure her back in when she is released. Or if she is convicted and receives a sentence, he has plenty of other girls that he has control of that he can put into that role. It happens all of the time.

The news articles claim that as far as they know, the teenage girls are working alone — they do not have a pimp or trafficker controlling them. This is an absurd thing to believe as fact right off the bat. What 15 year old girl is going to start a sex trafficking ring alone — with no influence from anyone? That is NOT what 15 year old girls do. Furthermore, the teenage girls were using social media to recruit victims — meaning that they did not have to be the ones on the computer just as you don’t know, for certain, that I am the one writing this blog. Technology is a tricky thing — its pretty easy to hide behind a computer screen and claim you are someone that you are not. That’s the trick of pedophiles. I am not saying that that is what is happening in this case — because minimal information has been released — but we should not argue with certainty that these teenage girls are working alone given what we know about the sex trade.

One can also claim that these girls are 15 years old and they know right from wrong — they know that kidnapping, beating, and forcing someone to have sex with someone else is wrong. I agree to some extent that they know it is wrong. But another thing that we know about child sex trafficking is that the majority of victims have experienced child abuse and many are homeless. So it can also be argued that these girls could have come from a life of abuse and they think that treatment and behavior is normal. Furthermore, if they do have a pimp or trafficker controlling them, they are being forced to kidnap, beat, and force other girls to have sex. Their lives are likely being threatened if they do not comply. Also, the pimp/trafficker could have convinced her that they were in love and she would do anything for love. Or she is now dependent on her pimp/trafficker for food and shelter, so she has no other choice. These are very plausible situations that these teenage girls may be facing.

The Sergent in Ottawa was quoted saying that he is shocked that such young girls are the criminals here. His shock stems from the fact that he cannot believe teenage girls would do that. My shock is that he is in shock. These things happen all of the time. Every day. In Canada. In Chicago. In rural America. In Thailand.  Everywhere. These situations are complex. The public as well as law enforcement, social service providers, and lawyers are not well educated on the realities of the sex trade that I have briefly discussed here. The silence has to be broken and these realities must be exposed so that we can properly address this severe social injustice plaguing society.

 

Equal Pay for Equal Work. Or Not.

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Every Republic Senator voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act today. What exactly did they vote against? They voted against barring companies from retaliating against workers who inquire about pay disparities. They voted against helping female employees sue for punitive damages in cases of paycheck discrimination. They voted against employers being required to show that any wage discrepancies are based on genuine business requirements and are related to specific characteristics of the position that are not based on gender.

So we’ll remain in a world where women make 77 cents to the dollar that men make. I am greatly disturbed that it is 2012 and I am writing this blog. I can already here Rom-ster and his staff now — “it’s just another shiny object being dangled for distraction during this election year.”And this war on women is just some more propaganda for Obama.

Of course it’s political — but that is no excuse. It’s political because big companies are in the pockets of the GOP and these companies do not want their wages disclosed to their staff because they know they’d be bombarded with law suits by female employees. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY), the Minority Leader, second highest contributor is JP Morgan. In 2006, JP Morgan had a lawsuit against them: Quinn v. JP Morgan Chase & Co. Also, John Cornyn (R-TX) is the NRSC Chair and in the chief fundraising position for members of their own party in Congress. His third highest contributor is JP Morgan Chase & Cop. Mr. Cornyn’s top industry contributor is lawyers/law firms. The salary discrepancy between male and female lawyers is very large. I could go on and on pointing out clear incentives for GOP to vote against equal pay for women.

The ways in which policies make it onto the agenda and the way decisions are made by political leaders is extremely sickening. Senators will only vote if some wealthy dude’s hands are in his pockets.

It is SICKENING. It’s a simple concept really: equal pay for equal work. But that is way too hard to comprehend for conservatives because they have a really hard time leaving their egos and testosterone at the door and siding with equality for women. Respect for women. Fairness for women. I am in a profession that is primarily made up of women and yet, the few male counterparts that I work with are getting paid more than me. My partner will always be making more than me because he is in the advertising/management consulting world — a primarily male profession. Families are struggling because women are not paid well. Single mom’s are slipping into poverty at exponential rates because they continue to be paid less than their male counterparts.

The GOP has been in it’s prime over the past six months to a year. I have no rights to my uterus, vagina, nor do I have a right to be rightfully paid for the hard work that I do based on my experience, education, and skills rather than the fact that I have breasts that males like to stare at instead of working. I hope every male Republican Senator has to sleep on the couch tonight, but I know this is not true because there are many women that are okay with being less than equal. It is terrifying. That’s all I can say.

Every time I am in line — rather it’s at the store, coffeeshop, or grocery shopping — I am going to turn around to the guy behind me and ask him to pay — chances are he’s making more than me. Maybe that’ll get guys heads out of the sand and help them stand up for their mother’s, sister’s, daughter’s rights. Maybe, just maybe.

 

Test Post: Blog Lovin’

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I have been in search of a good blog reader because I am slowly becoming obsessed with blogs — whether it’s politics, fashion, food, or photography, I love reading blogs. Now that I am graduating from grad school and I am figuring out what real people do in their spare time… I am very excited to start reading blogs regularly. So the blog reader is Blog Lovin’ and you should all check it out!

In order to claim my blog, I have to post a link in one of my posts. So I’m using the ‘test post’ to do just that. Hoping for some more followers!

 

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3772147/imafeministnowwhat?claim=ga3xqd8ru88″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>