The Reason Brock Turner’s Story Has Consumed Me

Never has a story so consumed me the way Brock Turner's has. This is why.I don’t remember a time when a story has fully consumed me the way Brock Turner’s story has. Whenever my brain has a free time it defaults to thinking about it. Thinking about the act itself. Thinking about the victim. Thinking about the judge’s verdict. Thinking about the outpouring of righteous anger that has washed over the world in response to everything that has happened and everything that hasn’t.

My heart keeps asking me “why has this affected you so much? Why is this different from all the other devastating stories of tragedy?” and I think I finally have a complicated answer.

It has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that white privilege and male privilege exist. They are no longer an abstract concept to be debated in college classrooms. They are very real, very tangible entities that have ruined Brock Turner’s victim’s life. Whereas I always knew these atrocities existed, I remorsefully never get them much thought. Now, though, after reading about how a rich, white man sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and was given barely a slap on the wrist as punishment, I can no longer live a life thiinking these privileges aren’t impacting the world we live in, the world my children are growing up in.

This victim’s letter to Turner has also had a profound impact on me. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I don’t know anyone personally who has been raped. I’ve never been exposed to the entire arc of the story. The rape to trial to verdict. Brock Turner’s victim opened the eyes of all of us to understand exactly what happens to a woman who comes forward and faces her accuser. Her letter made the whole story so much more real and sad and infuriating. A story that could have easily been buried by mainstream media was brought to the surface and remained there because we can all feel her emotions and understand that this is a human being who endured all this. A living, breathing, crying, pained human being.

And this story has drastically changed how I will raise my children. Of course I have always planned on talking about consent with both my daughter and son, but this story has made this future talk to be of the utmost importance. It is vital that my daughter know that no one is allowed to touch her in a way that she does not consent to regardless of what she is wearing, how much she drinks, if she’s by herself or at a party. No one is allowed to touch her unless she says it’s okay and if someone does, she must know that we as a family will do everything in our power to ensure that she is taken care of and justice is served.

And it will be drilled into my son’s head what consent is, what it looks like, and what it does not look like. He will be taught to respect women, to protect them if they need protecting, and to save them if they need saving. He will also know that should he ever commit such a heinous act, neither me nor his father will tell the world it was just “20 minutes of action.” Rape is brutal, life-altering assault and will never be defended because it could have a “severe impact” on him.

Brock Turner’s story is everywhere and I am thankful for that. It has forced me to confront my fears, my uneducated thoughts, my parenting. I know it’s easy to tune it out, to scroll past the headlines, but I implore you to keep reading about it. It is only through seeing, reading, feeling what happened that we can make a change.


Her Son Had 3 Unexcused Absences So She Got Arrested

Her Son Had 3 Unexcused Absences So She Got ArrestedThe day before Mother’s Day, Julie Giles, was presented with a warrant for her arrest.

Was it for drugs, theft, murder?

No. It was because her son, who is on the honor roll, had missed too many days of school.

The Screven County School District allows students to have only six unexcused absences during the school year. Giles’ son had 12. While she was able to procure doctor’s notes to explain three days of those 12, that still put her over the six-day allowable limit.

Why couldn’t she get doctor’s notes for the remaining sick days?

According to her Facebook page, she “cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick.”

In essence this mother’s crime is being conscientious enough to keep her son home when he’s ill, but also unable to afford a doctor’s visit every time she has to do so.

Having grown up on the poorer side of the financial bell curve, and failing to have insurance for much of my younger years, I never saw the doctor when I was sick. Thankfully I was never ill enough to truly warrant it, but the fact remains that my mother most likely would also have found herself in ankle shackles while having her mug shot taken if these rules applied back then.

Kids get sick. A lot. They are walking, talking, sticky germ magnets. It’s part of childhood. All of that socialization and playing in the dirt sometimes leads to illness. As parents, we know the right thing to do is to keep them home and coddle them while they watch Netflix on the couch so they don’t infect their fellow classmates. But now we have to take them to the doctor every time they get a fever or sore throat so we don’t wind up in jail? Who has the time or the money to do that?

Giles didn’t. And now she’s paying the price—with money she still doesn’t have.

You can read more of the story here.

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 photo credit: Juguete via photopin (license)

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl’s Insecurities

A video on Buzzfeed prompted me to check out the online store for Forever21. I am way over the age of being allowed to set foot inside the establishment, but the video gave women’s reactions to some of their graphic t-shirts and I had to know what all the fuss was about.

What I discovered was an array of shirts which seem to be painting young girls as sexualized, uncaring, insensitive, and dimwitted buffoons. I am appalled at some of the slogans being marketed towards young women. Below are just a few that turned my WTF meter to 11.

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

So either you can be creative or you can be in love. Really? Turn on the radio, read a poem, watch a movie, and it is clearly evident that love can actually propel creativity to new heights. Seriously – what does this mean?

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

The subtext being, “But you wouldn’t know that by how I dress.” I guess smart girls can’t wear crop tops. Sorry ladies who express their personalities through fashion—if you want to be taken seriously, you better don a muumuu.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

This cute script says “Trouble Maker.” Why should young girls ever consider being a trouble maker let alone advertise it? This is a clear play on teenagers’ need for acceptance and feeling like if they’re the “bad girl” they’ll be respected or popular. Despicable.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

Risque: adjective. “Slightly indecent or liable to shock, especially by being sexually suggestive.” Because that’s a message that should be marketed to young ladies.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

This one confounds me. Is the wearer saying she’s gross or that the person reading it is gross? I know this is supposed to be cute or something, but it just reads like a cry for help from an insecure young woman who needs to be built up, and offering this shirt to her does the exact opposite.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

I believe the defense of this shirt is that the clothing itself is the fancy little number—like the new little black dress or something. But come on. Is anyone going to look at, or buy, the shirt with that intention? Absolutely not. All too much these days skimpy clothing and the idea of being “sexy” is thrown at girls because supposedly that’s how you get attention or affection and this shirt only exacerbates the problem.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

“Likes” = love. False love. Ladies should not be told, even inadvertently, that doing things for “likes” is a worthy reason to do things.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

Everything a hormone-battling young girl feels is intense and deep and difficult to bear. Therefore we should just tell her to avoid her feelings, not ask for help, and instead find solace in material things.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

Sexualization and aggression all wrapped up in one black shirt. That’s exactly what I’d want my 15-year-old telling the world.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

Evidently the way to a young woman’s heart is with a burger and a compliment on her exterior beauty. No need to tell her she’s smart or creative or inspirational. Nope. Just “pretty” with a side of fries will do.

 

Forever 21 Is Preying On Young Girl's Insecurities

The pièce de resistance. This was my mantra through my angsty teen years when all I wanted was for someone to tell me they did care about me. Now young women can just wear this shirt to divert everyone’s attention from the fact they really need someone to listen to them.

I understand these shirts are meant to be cute and trendy, ironic and funny, but they just make me sad that my daughter is growing up in a society where young women’s insecurities are being preyed upon for the all mighty dollar. It’s just wrong and unconscionable and flat-out disturbing. Shame on you, Forever21.

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All pictures taken from Forever21.com

To the Mother in Baltimore

photo credit: Toasty via photopin (license)
photo credit: Toasty via photopin (license) Text added by me

To the Mother in Baltimore,

I saw the video. Everyone has seen the video. Everyone is posting it and tweeting it and talking about it.

I want to say thank you for doing your job as a mother and doing it well.

When you saw your son taking part in the destruction of a community you did what you had to do. I don’t condone violence against children, but your son appears to be approaching the age of full-grown manhood. In that case, I think you did the right thing.

You reminded your son you can still beat his butt when he’s acting childish.

You berated him for his unacceptable actions.

You attempted to remove his mask in order to make him show his face and take responsibility for what he had done.

You did everything you could in those few moments to remind him that you are his mother and he was most definitely not making you proud.

I admire the fact you took action.

I admire the fact you showed him who’s boss.

I admire the fact you wouldn’t let him hide.

I admire the fact that you were probably petrified he may wind up arrested, injured, or dead, and you did what you felt was necessary to keep him safe.

I admire the fact that, from what I’ve seen, you love your son and desperately desire for him to be an upstanding citizen in society.

You don’t know me. We’ll never meet. But I wanted you to know that, as a fellow parent, I’m inspired by you. I’m proud of you. And I think you’re a damn good mom.

If you’re not sure what video this addresses, you can see it here.

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New Mom Blog! Platform! Times Are A-Changin’!

Happy Monday, dear readers! I’m equally pleased and anxious to announce a little change on this old blog homestead. It’s still going to be here and it’s still going to be written by me, but the content is changing just a bit.

Let me take you behind the curtain…

So I’m writing this book. Currently I have about half of the manuscript finished and am taking a short break from it in order to work on a book proposal in hopes of getting an agent who will hopefully get a publisher to take it on which will hopefully make me rich and famous. Or maybe make enough money to pay off our student loans before we die. Or something. That monetary part is a little fuzzy.

A big part of the proposal, and my writing career, will be expanding and growing my platform which is essentially my fan base: people who like me, like my writing, spread the word about the blog, the book, etc. The book I’m writing is a compilation of humorous essays on parenthood. Because the book, and probably forthcoming books, are on that subject, and those are the readers I want to reach, it makes sense for my blog to reflect that as well. I want readers of my blog to buy and enjoy my book,  and I want readers of my book to read and enjoy my blog.

All that to say tonihammer.com is going to be evolving into a mommy blog where I’ll share funny stories about my life, my kids, and how I survive on five hours of broken sleep a night. I want you to get to know me and what I’m about and where I’m going. I want us to be friends. Won’t you be my neighbor?

I’m really excited about this change and this journey and sharing it all with you. I hope you decide to come with me down this new path.