If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that I was having Internet issues yesterday morning that prevented me from writing anything of substance. As yesterday wore on, subjects I wanted to write about piled up, even as I also made a concerted effort to get further into my latest book. I watched the latest Lifetime movie, which I reviewed this morning. I watched the latest South Park episode, which I definitely want to briefly comment about today. And I noticed that I was getting shitloads of hits on a post I wrote about British gymnast and commentator Monica Phelps back in December 2020. I searched the Internet to find out what’s going on with her, and now I want to comment about that, too. So here goes…
First– South Park!
Season 26 of South Park just started up, and while I don’t necessarily think South Park is still as funny as it used to be, I do think this week’s episode is pretty damned funny! It was pretty much a treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and their insistence that they want privacy, while they constantly appear in the press. I watched a few good YouTube videos about the episode that sum it up as well or better than I can… Suffice to say, I laughed hard. I enjoyed it enough to see it twice, since I had to get Bill to watch it.
I love how they managed to capture the reality of this situation with humor… but I have a feeling Meghan is not going to like this episode of South Park at all. It’s quite a roasting. Frankly, I think they kind of deserve it, but that’s just my humble opinion.
And second, Monica Phelps…
On a more serious note… Statcounter reported that a whole bunch of people from England and its environs were hitting my blog yesterday. I was surprised to see that, and wondered what it was all about, so I checked the news. Sure enough, there were articles in the Guardian and the BBC about Monica Rutherford Phelps’ husband, 1960s era Olympic diver, Brian Phelps, who ran a trampoline gym with her in England. In 2008, when he was 64 years old, Brian Phelps was convicted of a string of indecent assaults against three children.
Yesterday, it was reported that following the Whyte Review, in which Anne Whyte investigated abuse in British women’s gymnastics, Phelps actually had many more victims who never came forward. Phelps served six of the nine years to which he was sentenced for sexually abusing children. A 52 year old woman, using the pseudonym Emma Webb, has gone public with her story about how she was abused by Phelps. Webb started her training in 1975, when she was five years old. That was when the abuse started. It continued until she was twelve years old, when she stopped attending the Phelps’ gym, Olga.
Webb is working on a book about her experiences with the Phelps. According to the article in the Guardian, Webb doesn’t remember being molested by Monica Phelps, but she does remember the Olympian gymnast as being obsessed about her gymnasts’ bodies. She also wrote that Monica’s favorite gymnasts weren’t the same as Brian’s, and their interaction was “toxic” and “deeply disturbing”. In my blog post about Phelps, I noted the inappropriate comments Phelps made about gymnasts’ bodies in the YouTube videos of her commentary.
Admittedly, my 2020 post about Monica Phelps was kind of a silly one. I’m American, so until I wrote that post after seeing those videos by Ampli Tood on YouTube, I didn’t know who Monica and Brian Phelps are (although I actually lived in England in 1975!). I did find her comments cringeworthy in 2020, but I wasn’t thinking about how utterly horrifying they must have been to the gymnasts themselves, whose parents were probably paying a lot of money for gymnastics training at the Olga facility in Dorset, England.
Emma Webb describes being taken to a basement room known as “Happyland”, where unspeakable things happened to her. The room was decorated with murals of cartoon characters, words written in “kiddie” fonts, and Disney characters, such as Snow White and Seven Dwarves. She writes of flinging every gymnastics medal she ever won into the sea… and not being able to even look at Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, because they were used as rewards.
By 1993, Webb was 22 years old and in an eating disorder treatment program in London. It took intense therapy and great effort to finally explain what had happened to her and begin to heal from the abuse. The Whyte review was apparently a mixed bag for Webb, who was glad to, at long last, see the abuses of British gymnastics finally addressed, yet was traumatized anew by the information revealed. Even today, according to the article in the Guardian, Webb is unable to move on completely. She is constantly triggered by a broad array of things– everything from hearing about the Olympics, to being in an area near the Olga gym, to smelling sweat.
I did find Monica Phelps’s comments kind of funny in a cringey way when I was first exposed to them. Now, upon learning a bit more about what allegedly happened in the gym she ran with her husband, I’m a lot more sober in my appraisal. I wrote in my first article that the comments she made were pretty mortifying. And now I know they were just scratching the surface. I noticed that she was fixated on the bodies of the gymnasts she was critiquing for British sports. Now I know that those who trained with her were subjected to far, far worse…
The Olga facility, now known as Poole Gymnastics & Trampolining Club, is still open today. The official Web site is currently down for construction, but there is an active Facebook page. Although I remain enchanted by the beauty of gymnastics, I’m glad I never pursued the sport myself… and I’m glad I don’t have children to put into it. I say this, even though I know not all coaches are abusers. I just think it’s a very physically dangerous sport to begin with, and having sex abusers in its ranks makes it even more dangerous. My heart goes out to all of the victims.
Yesterday, I watched yet another Lifetime movie. I hadn’t been planning to do that, since I’ve found Lifetime’s takes on certain true crime stories to be overly watered down, too campy, or even disrespectful. However, the subject matter of The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story was especially interesting to me on a personal level. Lifetime has also been upping their game lately in their made for the network movies.
I just recently watched Lifetime’s take on the story of Gwen Shamblin Lara, the late Christian diet guru who was killed in a plane crash in May 2021. Lifetime did a fairly good job with Gwen’s story– even recruiting Jennifer Grey to play the starring role. Lifetime has also been scoring the talents of legitimate 80s and 90s era movie stars to star in the network’s films. Judd Nelson and Moira Kelly both come to mind as people who have been on the silver screen and took roles in Lifetime movies.
When I saw that Lifetime had made a movie about late sex pest and serial killer, Richard Marc Evonitz, I was interested in seeing how Lifetime would handle that story. I previously mentioned, in my earlier article about Evonitz’s horrific crimes against then 15 year old Kara Robinson, that Evonitz and I had both lived in two of the same areas. I grew up in Virginia, and from May 2002, briefly lived in Fredericksburg, a city very close to where it was later confirmed that Evonitz raped and murdered three teenaged girls in the 1990s. He was also potentially linked to at least two other rapes and abductions in the Fredericksburg area.
I also lived in Columbia, South Carolina for three years, as that was where I attended graduate school. Evonitz was born and raised in Columbia, and in 2002, had just recently moved back there from the Fredericksburg area. So we could have potentially crossed paths at some point, although I highly doubt Evonitz would have posed much of a danger to the likes of me. He was clearly interested in young girls, whom he obviously thought wouldn’t challenge him. He was dead wrong about Kara Robinson, who famously outwitted him and escaped, then helped the police solve what had been cold cases in Virginia.
Evonitz had a habit of approaching young, unaware girls in their own yards and swiping them. That was how he’d come into contact with Robinson on June 24, 2002, when she was visiting a friend’s house. While her friend was taking a shower, Kara was watering the flowers in the front yard. Evonitz pulled up in a car, addressed her in a friendly way; then he grabbed her, and pulled a gun on her. Within a minute, Evonitz had stashed Kara in a Rubbermaid container, while Kara’s friend remained completely oblivious. For the next eighteen hours, Kara was held captive by a man who very likely would have killed her, if she hadn’t kept her wits about her and managed to escape.
I already knew the story that Lifetime was going to be presenting in The Girl Who Escaped. Since I wrote a blog post about the crime in 2021, I was fairly familiar with most of the actual facts of the case, too. I didn’t have especially high hopes for the Lifetime treatment of this story, since I have noticed that Lifetime movies are usually pretty simplified due to time constraints and the apparent trend of giving serious topics a snarky twist. I am somewhat surprised and pleased to report that I think Lifetime did an okay job with Kara Robsinson’s story.
Kara Robinson is played by 24 year old Canadian actress, Katie Douglas. It blows my mind to think that Douglas, who was not even four years old when this crime occurred in June 2002, is playing someone nine years younger. However, I think Douglas mostly pulls it off, mainly because she appears to be tiny, and very young. Brown haired and brown eyed Katie Douglas doesn’t otherwise really bear much of a physical resemblance to Kara, who has blonde hair and green eyes. But I suspect most people who watch this movie won’t really know that much about the real case, so the fact that Douglas doesn’t look that much like the real Kara probably won’t matter to them.
As I mentioned before, I knew about this case because, when it happened, I had only just moved out of the Columbia, South Carolina area, to Fredericksburg, the place where Evonitz had just moved from. I thought the coincidence was very creepy. The summer of 2002 was a really bad year for crimes against young girls, anyway. June 2002 was also when Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, as well as a number of younger girls who, sadly, did not survive their attacks. In October of that year, the Beltway Snipers were on the loose, and they struck Fredericksburg. I was definitely on high alert regarding true crime in 2002.
Kara’s mother, Debra, is played by New York City bred Cara Buono, an actress of whom I am unfamiliar. Debra, and Kara’s father, Ron (Paul Essiembre), were separated at the time of Kara’s abduction. When Kara suddenly vanishes and Debra calls Ron to ask him if Kara is with him, Ron is initially annoyed and tells her to just have Kara tell him anything he needs to know. But then Debra tells him what happened, and he says he’ll be right there. I may be mistaken, but I think that might have been the only time Ron is shown. I know– time constraints are an issue– but as usual, Lifetime focuses heavily on the mother-daughter connection, as we see Debra sitting by the phone, wringing her hands over her daughter’s disappearance.
The role of Marc Evonitz (he went by Marc rather than Richard in real life) is played by Canadian actor, Kristian Brunn. I had never seen Brunn before, but I thought he did a good job playing Evonitz– although again, he didn’t really look much like the real person. One of the things I’ve noticed in Lifetime movies is that the men who play the criminals who prey on young girls aren’t always convincing. Brunn is very creepy and menacing. I could see him realistically as a predator, although he doesn’t really do that much in the role, except to force Kara into the Rubbermaid container, tie her to the bed, and threaten her with a gun. He also watches her in the bathroom.
Again, since this is a Lifetime movie, there isn’t much realism in what actually happened. The movies always begin with a trigger warning (a good thing, I think), but most of the triggering events are more implied than explicitly shown. In this movie, we see some light bondage gear that is very briefly used. So Brunn had to come across as menacing in the way he spoke and moved. I thought he managed to convey those qualities pretty well. Imagine if he was in a movie in which he could really demonstrate those menacing qualities with realistically portrayed violence. I’d probably have nightmares.
The rest of the cast mostly consists of actors portraying police officers. Robert Nahum plays Richland County Sheriff Jim Price. He reminded me of a much kinder and gentler Lou Gossett Jr. The Lexington County Sheriff, Dale Stephens, was played by Santa Claus clone, John B. Lowe. Kara Robinson lived in Lexington County, South Carolina, but Evonitz lived in nearly Richland. Therefore, both sheriffs were involved in this case, but according to the movie, they treated Kara differently. Sheriff Price treated Kara like an adult, with respect. Sheriff Stephens, conversely, treated Kara like a little girl and made a point of calling her a victim.
This movie made a point of showing that Kara Robinson was a heroine on many levels. First off, from the very beginning, Kara made a point of staying as calm as possible and keeping her wits about her. Viewers see her contemplating escape, then catastrophically imagining what would happen to her if she failed. Still, she made a point of remembering everything she saw. When she was in Evonitz’s apartment, she noticed things like hair in the hairbrush, magnets on the refrigerator with the names of Evonitz’s dentist and other healthcare professionals, and the many critters who were Evonitz’s pets. She stored all of that information in her mind until she managed to free herself from the restraints Evonitz had placed on her at bedtime. He made a surprisingly dumb mistake in the way he secured her, thank God.
Because Kara had remembered so many details, a custodian at Evonitz’s apartment complex was able to tell the police exactly which apartment he lived in. The police searched the premises and were able to uncover information that led to Spotsylvania County police in Virginia connecting Evonitz to the rapes and murders of 15 year old Kristin and 12 year old Kati Lisk, as well as 16 year old Sofia Silva. Meanwhile, Evonitz was eventually cornered in Florida, where he cowardly shot himself in the head rather than face justice for what he did. Evonitz ultimately denied Kara her day in court, but at least he will never rape and murder again.
Elizabeth Smart was one of the several executive producers of The Girl Who Escaped. I remember she interviewed the real Kara Robinson, now known as Kara Chamberlain, and a mother to two boys. Kara was a police officer for some time before she got married and became a mother. She is now a public speaker who has a very impressive Web site. Below is an interview she did with E!.
I do think it’s interesting that some women who are victimized by men eventually turn their experiences into careers. Elizabeth Smart probably wouldn’t be doing what she does if she hadn’t been abducted by Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. Kara Robinson might have been attracted to law enforcement regardless, but I see that now she makes a living speaking about her experiences. Then there’s Katie Koestner, who was date raped at the College of William and Mary in 1990 and makes a living speaking at college campuses. Those are just a few women who have used the crimes perpetrated against them as springboards to their life’s work. I don’t judge them for doing that. It’s one way of taking back their lives and not allowing criminals to take more from them.
One other thing I’d like to mention before I close this post. They never really mention that this case happened in South Carolina. You don’t hear the southern accents from that area, nor was it filmed in the Columbia area. They do show a very shabby apartment complex that would have been like where Evonitz lived, but the interior of the apartment was much too “Pottery Barn” and upscale. I think if the set had been less posh– even if it was just Evonitz’s apartment matching the exterior– that would have made the movie more realistic and less campy.
Overall, I think The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story is pretty decent for a Lifetime movie. I’ve definitely seen worse by them. On the other hand, it IS a Lifetime movie, so it’s pretty formulaic, and there is a slight element of camp. But at least they found a guy who is convincing as a villain. So, if you’re inclined to watch this flick, I hope you will… and let me know how or if you liked it in the comments!
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m very grateful that my parents weren’t really into religion when I was coming of age. Yes, I did go to church when I was growing up, and my parents were/are lifelong Christians, but church wasn’t the center of our lives. Well… except maybe the musical part of it. My mom was a church organist, and my dad was always in the choir. But while I never had a long chat with either of them about this, I get the sense that neither of them were into the musical part of church solely because of their devotion to religion. My dad loved to sing. My mom loves music, too, and she was/is a talented musician. Being able to play the organ was a nice side job for her– another source of her own money, besides running her own business.
Consequently, I grew up in a mainstream Presbyterian church. I won’t say there were never any tears at church, because there were. But that was mainly due to being bullied by my peers, not because I was exposed to some creepy youth pastor or being asked inappropriate questions about my sexuality. On the whole, my parents didn’t force me to attend “youth groups” or engage in activities with youth pastors. Once I was old enough to work, they quit forcing me to go to church at all. I never had to deal with a young, charismatic “man of God” who did things like hand out stickers like the one below:
TheWashington Post shared an article about 35 year old Cory Wall, a now former student pastor at Fairview Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Greer, South Carolina. According to the Washington Post, Mr. Wall has “been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership while it conducts an investigation.” The church has also put out statements on its website and on Facebook indicating that Wall “acknowledges that he made a poor decision and a mistake by making a sticker available that was offensive to some…”
Um… “offensive to some”? Really? This is a man who was working with impressionable adolescent girls and felt it was appropriate to hand out stickers mimicking the “I <3 hot moms” social media trend. I think it was offensive to the vast majority. I’d also love to know who made these stickers. What kind of company would manufacture such a product? Obviously, that was a unethical company that values making money over decency. Although– I suppose there could be legal adults who <3 youth pastors, too. Still, what are the odds that the person ordering these stickers is going to be handing them out to soccer moms? I’d say the chance of that happening is pretty close to zero.
I remember what it was like to be 14. That was not an easy year for me. Between hormonal fluctuations, growth spurts, and metamorphosing from child to teenager, I remember a lot of tears during that time. Fourteen year olds need mature, understanding, compassionate, and stable adults leading them. At my most generous, I could describe Mr. Wall as being extremely tone deaf. At the worst, maybe he might be someone akin to Josh Duggar. I hasten to add that I don’t actually know if he is that bad– but it does seem to me that handing out stickers like these to girls makes him appear predatory.
I know some people might conclude that Wall is definitely a “dangerous pervert”. I can’t come to that conclusion simply based on what little I’ve read. I would need to know Wall before I could make a judgment that serious. He might just be very immature and socially delayed. However, given that he was studying for a leadership position in a very large church, and was presumably choosing to work with children, he definitely shows a lack of good judgment and character. He’s clearly not ready to work with the youth.
I used to live in South Carolina, and I grew up in Virginia. I have also lived in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. I know church is a big deal to a lot of people in the southern states. It’s a huge part of the culture. It seems like some people down there think the more pious and churchgoing a person is, the better their moral character is bound to be. These folks invariably vote Republican, too, which is definitely not among the more “Christlike” of American political parties. They talk about morality and family values, being “decent” and clean cut, and working hard for a living. But then behind closed doors, there’s a lot of dark, creepy, illegal, and abusive behavior toward which many people turn a blind eye because these are supposedly men of God. It’s especially egregious when this is done to defenseless children, many of whom are easily manipulated, threatened, charmed, and victimized– particularly by “cool” adults who, for their own perverse purposes, make them feel admired, appreciated, or loved.
I have no doubt in my mind that if someone hadn’t tweeted about how gross these stickers are, being handed out by a “youth pastor”, it probably wouldn’t have been addressed. Because, as I pointed out above, apparently no one was actually supervising Mr. Wall, the “student pastor”. If he’s a student, he ought to be monitored, right? And then weeded out, if he can’t pass muster… or does really stupid shit like this. Imagine what would happen if a pediatrician gave out “I <3 hot kiddie docs” stickers. Or a teacher gave out “I <3 hot teachers” schwag. Or hey, what about a babysitter passing out “I <3 my hot babysitter” merchandise? It would be deemed completely beyond the pale. And this youth pastor is supposed to be a man of God? Sounds to me like he’s looking to be “worshiped” and “idolized” by young girls who have been conditioned to pray and obey, and have probably been “slut shamed”, to boot. It’s a recipe for abuse.
Some people are saying that Mr. Wall should go to jail for handing out these inappropriate stickers. I am not yet ready to go that far. I mean, if he’s done something besides handing out gross stickers that indicates that he’s really not safe in society, then yes, send him to jail. It could be that he needs counseling, and to be steered away from work with young people, at least at this point in his life. On the other hand, if a person is already 35 years old and they don’t know how yucky this is, I don’t know if there’s much hope to hold out for their reform. Someone probably should, at least, check out what he’s viewing on the Internet. I hope Mr. Wall will consider a new career path.
This morning, as I was looking at my Facebook memories, I remembered that six years ago, Jan Crouch, wife of the late televangelist Paul Crouch, died. Paul and Jan Crouch, you might recall, founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, a religious channel that appears on a lot of cable networks around the world. Back when Bill and I first got married, we were pretty broke, and I used to watch TBN for fun. There was some really crazy stuff on that network. That was also where I first encountered Paula White, who later became famous for being Donald Trump’s “spiritual advisor”, and current wife of Journey songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Cain. Paula White is pretty extra, but so were the Crouches, who often made me laugh.
In the above two videos, beneath Paula White’s “queen bee dance”, Jan Crouch is dancing and whacking the tambourine with the late Roger McDuff, who always reminded me of a Q-Tip. But even if I find Christian faux country numbers creepy, I have to admit that at least his songs made me laugh. And so did Paul Crouch, as he spoke of “doctrinal doo doo” and “shooting people” who get in God’s way.
A lot of people say and do a bad things in the name of religion. Whether it’s doing a ridiculous queen bee dance, singing a song about Jesus “coming”, or claiming to be a “little God”, these folks who appeared on TBN and preached to shut ins and bored housewives like me were spreading some stuff that really stunk to high heaven. However, as messed up as this stuff is, it doesn’t compare to the Preacher Boys podcast I watched yesterday, in which the host, Eric Skwarczynski, talked about a preacher at a church who got up and confessed to committing “adultery”.
The pastor’s victim, now a woman approaching middle age, bravely got up (at 9:33) and confronted the pastor. She reminded him that he “took her virginity”, and did abusive things to her. But here he was, “confessing to adultery”, minutes after the “flock” applauded when he introduced himself. And instead of comforting the victim, the people in the congregation are quick to “forgive” Pastor John Lowe. The woman who was his victim left the church with only one or two people comforting her. What gives? These people are Christians? Why don’t they care about the woman who was this man’s victim, when she was just a teenager? Why are they falling for the “pastor’s” line about how he’s a “victim”? In his mind, the teenager was a temptress, and it’s her fault he raped her… but he doesn’t admit to rape. He calls it an “affair”.
As the woman is trying to confront the pastor, people are telling her to sit down and be quiet. And other men are yelling that they need to hear from their pastor. Then we hear a woman yell about how the woman was sixteen, and was complicit. Amazingly, they then yell, “We love you, pastor,” as the woman walks out, almost alone, while people gather around the pastor and “forgive” him.
This is coming in the wake of Josh Duggar’s sentencing. There are still people who claim Josh was “framed”, even though there is overwhelming evidence that he’s a sick predator. Why are religious people in certain evangelical sects so quick to forgive the sins of the pervy men in their midsts?
This morning, as I was eating breakfast with Bill, I ran across a Twitter feed posted by a guy named Nathan Ryan, who related the story of going to an evangelical church camp during the summer of 2002. That was just after 9/11, right around the time when Al Qaeda and ISIS were ramping up in the United States. This dude tweeted about how, as an object lesson, he and fellow campers did an activity in which they were accosted by men in ski masks, holding fake guns, and forcing them to choose between loving Jesus Christ and dying, or denouncing Christ and “living”.
🧵 Since we’re talking about guns and religion, buckle up and let me tell you the absolute most bananas thing that ever happened to me at church camp. It was summer 2002, right after 9/11, and Evangelical religious fervor was hot, hot, hot. 1/
The first of a shocking series of tweets by Nathan Ryan about his experience at a evangelical church camp… click the link to read the whole thing.
“If you’re found by a ‘gunman’ you need to decide if you believe in Jesus or not. If you say you don’t, you get to ‘live.’ If you say you do, they will ‘kill’ you and you’ll get to come back to the chapel, which is heaven in this game, and reunite with your fellow believers.” 9/
So here, we have a belief system where children are taught that they will either be violently killed for their religious beliefs, or they will eventually go to Hell. And we have a faith system where men who rape teenagers are given a pass, while their victims are told that they must forgive, be silent, and cover themselves up, so that their brothers in Christ don’t “fall” to temptation.
Of course, it’s not just evangelicals who do this stuff. I’ve written a lot about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I don’t like. One woman on Twitter, responding to Nathan Ryan’s tweets, posted this about the Mormons and her experience being raised LDS…
Holy fuck. I was raised Mormon, and at one teen activity we were given tickets to “spend” at a fair set up in the cultural hall. In the end the lights shut off and a booming voice informed us we would be sorted into kingdoms by the amount of tickets we had left. (1/2)
And since I was having fun spending tickets on “worldly” things (that were tame as hell) I got sent to hell. For yeeeeears after that I was always vaguely anxious in darkened movie theatres, thinking this would be the time i would get judged, doing the wrong thing. Fucked up.
All of this stuff is mind blowing to me. I grew up in the mainstream Presbyterian USA Church. The worst things that happened to me at church was being bullied by some of my mean spirited classmates from school, and being bored as hell during church services. No one ever tried to scare me with stories about being blown up by Muslims, nor was I ever asked any questions about my sexual habits. I was never shamed about the way I dressed or told that I was “tempting” members of the opposite sex. And, although the creepy neighbor who used to show me men’s magazines did attend our church, that abusive habit had nothing to do with religion. Religion wasn’t used to abuse me, unless you count my being forced to attend church.
But now, we have evangelicals in bed with our government leaders. And they have managed to indoctrinate a lot of people into thinking that submitting to these abusive churches is the only way to “save” America. Have a look at the tweet that followed these stories…
Here’s another tweet from someone who was abused during church camp in the 1990s.
Similar experience in the 90s. Took us to the mountains for 2 weeks, kept us hungry and left out tables of food scattered around the compound from the “devil” as temptation for a bunch of starving children. Then they would celebrate us not eating it by destroying it. We’d cheer.
I actually worked at a Presbyterian church camp during the summers of 1993 and 1994. None of this weird shit went on where I worked. Kids played games like “Capture the Flag” and “Barnyard”; they went on hikes, bike trips, and canoe trips; they sang songs and attended devotions and vespers; and they made S’mores or homemade ice cream. It was a lot of wholesome fun in a truly beautiful setting. I’m still good friends with a number of people who worked with me during that time. I feel fortunate that I never had the toxic and abusive experiences some of these folks on Twitter have had.
I don’t have any need for church anymore. It doesn’t mean I’m an atheist. I do believe in God. But I don’t believe in going to churches, because there are too many that have turned abusive and sick. What I mostly took away from church is basic understanding of the Bible and exposure to a lot of church music, mainly because my mom was an organist, and my dad was in the choir. I think if I had a child and they experienced church the way some of these people have, it would absolutely mortify me. That goes double if I ever exposed an innocent child to the likes of Greg Locke, who is an absolutely vile person and a totally fake representation of a “pastor”.
Remember when “pastor” Greg Locke said that you can’t vote Democrat and be a Christian, because supporters of abortion are “Baby Butchers”? 8/ pic.twitter.com/gAbc0UWFLX
“You CANNOT BE A DEMOCRAT AND A CHRISTIAN!”, according to dipshit “pastor” Greg Locke. He needs to be arrested.
This is what we have in America now. This is what some people regard as “religion”. A lot of it is really sick and perverted. Greg Locke hates Democrats and calls them “baby butchers”. But he doesn’t have a thing to say about the gun toting conservatives who scream about their Second Amendment rights, as more kids die in their classrooms. These folks care about money and controlling women, people of color, and the poor. And one way to do that is to force women to give birth, which keeps them occupied and impoverished. Greg Locke is the same man who cheated on his ex wife with her former best friend, then cried about it on Facebook.
I think that if being a Christian means that I have to associate with people like Greg Locke, I’d rather not be a Christian. But, for the record, the Christ I learned of in my church going days, embraced the poor, the sick, and the disenfranchised, and operated for peace, compassion, and love. More and more often, these days, we’re seeing some churches turn very toxic and abusive, which leads people down a path away from Jesus Christ. What a shame that is.
This morning, I got a private message from someone who read my recent rant about pro-life men who make me want to hurl. I was surprised to get that message. As of this morning, that particular rant only has four views. However, it does have two likes, which is somewhat unusual for my blog. My posts, by and large, don’t get “likes” very often. 😉
The person who wrote to me indicated that she felt my post was “poignant”. I thought that was an interesting observation. Maybe it does seem poignant, though, that a middle-aged woman who has always had the right to choose would be so disgusted by men with “pro-life” attitudes. Very soon, the risk of pregnancy for me, personally, will no longer exist at all. So, if Roe v. Wade does get overturned, it won’t matter too much for me, at least not in terms of whether or not I would be forced to bear children. If the United States turned into an actual Gilead, as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, I would either be a wife or a “Martha”. Or maybe I’d just be a “working stiff” who wears grey. The bottom line is, my actual purpose– according to some men– will soon cease to exist. But, you know, even when I was still young, a lot of men didn’t think I was fulfilling my “purpose”. They probably felt like a vagina was wasted on me.
As I was reposting the two book reviews I added this morning, I watched the latest episode of Fundie Fridays on YouTube. The host, Jen, had a guest named Mickey Atkins on the show. Mickey is a social worker, like I would have been if I hadn’t become an “overeducated housewife”. The two of them were discussing Lori Alexander, aka “The Transformed Wife”. Lori Alexander, for those who don’t know, is a very controversial figure on social media. She believes that women’s sole purposes for being is to make babies and be housewives. I don’t generally pay a lot of attention to Lori’s posts, because I disagree with almost everything she says or writes, and I generally don’t think it’s productive to pay attention to her dumb comments. However, sometimes, when she says or writes something that is especially offensive, I will take note of it. I do casually follow Fundie Fridays, as well. I don’t watch it every week, but I do watch often enough. So, even though I think The Transformed Wife shouldn’t have a platform, I decided to listen to Jen and Mickey talk about her this morning as I multi-tasked.
Listening to this video led me to look up things I have written about Lori Alexander. In the process of doing that, I ran across some old posts on my original blog about related subjects. It occurred to me, as I was reading, that men who “concern troll, and “fat shame” women, are a whole lot like the pro-life men who make me want to hurl. They REALLY have a lot in common. And, I also realized, that whether or not they know it, a lot of pro-life men and fat shaming men are probably motivated by the same thing… the desire to have sex with, and ultimately control, women. I think a lot of men are, deep down, offended by women who don’t do what society expects of them.
A lot of men think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty, friendly, agreeable, and sweet. They think it’s her role to be willing to have sex with them– and only them. She is to turn them on and, when she gets pregnant, be willing to have their babies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the man will feel like he needs to stick around and help raise the babies. It’s only that to be “good”, a woman is to be attractive and appealing. A smart woman with an opinion– especially if he doesn’t think she’s attractive– is offensive to a lot of men. And women who get pregnant, and then decide to reject the pregnancy, are repulsive to certain men.
Notice that I specified “certain men”. Not all men are like this. My husband, Bill, is not like this at all. He’s a kind, supportive, loving man who doesn’t mind that I’m overweight, opinionated, and often unlikable to other people. Bill loves me for who I am, not what I look like, and not just for my sex parts. I realize that I am extremely lucky, too. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I did. My husband is an absolute gem.
But I know from my past life, and even incidences from my current life, that not all women are nearly as lucky as I have been. Every once in awhile, I run into a guy who seems determined to remind me of what they think should be my place. I see them do it to other women, too. They firmly believe that women are here to entertain them, satisfy them, attract them, and serve them. They aren’t here to be someone in and of themselves.
So how did I come to this conclusion? It started with a post I wrote on my original blog about a group called “Overweight Haters, Ltd.” Back in 2015, a woman named Kara Florish was riding on The Tube in London when a middle-aged male stranger placed a business card on her lap.
The man quickly got off at the next stop and disappeared in the crowd, leaving Kara sitting there, stunned. Kara posted on Twitter, commenting:
“I am not upset myself. I am smaller than the national average and not exactly obese, but this is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence and eating disorders. Please tweet and share this if you are also outraged. Plus – to the person who wrote this card, go back to school, you can’t spell ‘beautiful’.”
I didn’t actually write about this incident until several years later. Florish wasn’t the only one who got a card from this vile group. In another article from The Guardian from 2015, it was reported that another commuter, a man named Sean Thomas Knox, witnessed a woman getting one of the cards. According to the article:
“Young man just got on train at Oxford Circus, gave printed card saying YOU’RE FAT to overweight girl. He jumped off. She read it, [and] cried.
“Am 99.9% sure this wasn’t staged. She didn’t even realise I was watching at first. Her stunned, desolate reaction was very real. Then tears.”
Knox described the man who handed over the card as a “hipster.. smartly, trendily dressed” with a beard. “Perhaps it was a piece of conceptual art,” he tweeted
“It lasted a few seconds, but the card in that photo [Florish’s] is the same card I saw, in the girl’s hand. And her shock was real.”
I’ve seen a lot of comments fat shaming men leave for women online, too. They often couch their opinions as “concern” for women’s health. But, when it really comes down to it, I think men are less concerned about health as they are their own sex drives. A lot of them seem to think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty for them, so they will want to have sex with them. And then, once they have sex, if the woman gets pregnant, she should want to have the baby. To not have the baby is to reject the man. A lot of pro-life men simply can’t deal with that kind of rejection. It’s a terrible assault on their egos. Notice, too, that a lot of pro-life men– especially those who are religious– also pressure women to be pleasing to them and pretty, but not sexy or, heaven forbid, slutty. Slutty women end up as handmaids, you know… or they work at Jezebel’s. 😉
Think I’m way off base on this? Consider something that happened to me back in February 2018. I read an article about a woman who had given birth to a baby girl she named Parker. The woman then left the newborn infant outside in the cold. Parker later died. Her mother was arrested and charged with murder, which was eventually reduced to a conviction of manslaughter. She was sentenced to nine years in prison.
For some reason, a man decided that the comment section was a good place to rail against abortion, even though this story had NOTHING to do with abortion. He pointed out that had the mom aborted Parker, people would be applauding her choice. A lot of women responded to him, including yours truly. I dared to tell him that I didn’t think men really needed to chime in on this issue, since it’s never their lives or health on the line when someone gets pregnant. A few days later, I got a private message from someone who was looking for advice on apartments in Alsace. After I responded to the PM, I noticed I had another one from a “stranger” named Jason. Jason wrote this to me:
Interesting that Jason, who is presumably “pro-life”, doesn’t realize that I used to be someone’s developing fetus. And yet, he felt the need to invite me to commit suicide. Sadly, when I complained about this to Facebook, they said there was “nothing they could do about it.” However, I’ve been “on restriction” all month for writing a comment that referred to “dumb Americans”. Go figure.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that I enjoy being referred to as a “cunt”. It’s not a nice word. And no, I don’t like it when people call me “fat”, because I know that’s basically akin to “ugly” in some people’s opinions. Nobody likes to be insulted. On the other hand, I am already married to a wonderful guy who doesn’t think I’m a “fat cunt”, and would be devastated if I died. But this comment did make me realize that Jason must be very, very frustrated by women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and would happily deny men, both access to their cunts, and respect for their views.
You see, my guess is that Jason isn’t gay. He probably really enjoys having sex with women. And a lot of women have probably denied him sex. At the same time, he’s presumably here because some woman had sex and got pregnant. He probably passed through his mother’s “cunt” when he was born. So he actually owes everything to a cunt, doesn’t he? But he thinks that, as a man, he should have power over women. A woman who tells him and his male brethren to STFU is very threatening and offensive. So he calls me a vile word and advises me to kill myself. Makes a lot of sense, right?
As a woman, I have been sexually harassed by men, even though I don’t think I’m conventionally “beautiful”. It started on the playground when I was a little girl, when little boys would try to make me give them some “sugar” (I grew up in the South in the early 80s, and that was a euphemism for kissing). It continued as I got older, when bigger boys would grab me and try to touch me or kiss me, and when the neighborhood pervert, who referred to himself as “The Home of the Whopper”, showed me pornography. Then, it continued when boys would make comments about my body– negative or positive– or try to humiliate me with cruel jokes and pranks. In college, I remember meeting a guy at a party, and within a couple of hours, he was trying to stick his tongue down my throat. I was shocked and horrified, and I asked him to stop. He then proceeded to treat me like I had given him blue balls or something.
I got harassed when I lived in Armenia by men who exposed themselves to me. It happened three times that I can remember. I was lucky. I knew a woman who was harassed and violently assaulted. She had to go into the hospital. On a trip to Turkey, a man felt my legs as I tried on shoes that I desperately needed. Another man grabbed my breast when I was trying to find a bathroom. Not two hours later, when I was changing clothes, a different man came into the dressing room, called me “sexy”, and asked me to come with him. The female friend who was traveling with me was also harassed, although she wore men’s shoes and had shaved her head. The trip, which was mostly amazing, culminated when we got stuck on the border with Georgia and the customs manager propositioned me. And no, I wasn’t looking sexy. I had on shorts, a t-shirt, and wore no makeup. He still wanted to have sex with me… and, of course, that was ALL he wanted. He thought I would give it to him, because I’m an American woman, and women from the USA are supposedly “loose”. I was a virgin at the time.
A couple of years later, when I was back in the States, I worked at a country club. One of the members, a guy named J.J., was notorious for hitting on all of the women who worked at the club. It didn’t matter if the female he was targeting was a minor who was still in high school, or if it was the matronly dining room manager who was in her 60s. None of us were spared his attentions. One day, he followed me into the linen closet, which unfortunately was in the men’s locker room. Thinking the locker room was empty, I had gone in there to get tablecloths and napkins. He cornered me, and tried to paw at my breasts and kiss me. It was absolutely appalling, and yes, I said “No”.
And… I have also been fat shamed by men. It started with comments from my father, who would tell me that no man would find me attractive (he also didn’t like my outspoken personality and vulgar language). He would touch me and tell me I had “fat” I needed to lose. Sometimes, he called me names, like “hog”, or referred to me as “retarded”. As I got older, some men would body shame me. It happened a lot in Armenia. I would get stopped by strangers on the street trying to sell me Herbalife, or they would flat out tell me I was “fat”. But it also happened in the United States, or on vacations. Regular readers of my blog might remember when I wrote about the man on SeaDream I who was surprised by my pretty singing voice and said to Bill, “Now I can see why you’d love her.” He made similarly disgusting comments about women, revealing the attitude that he felt like it was a woman’s duty to be beautiful and available to him. And if she wasn’t those things, he could call her a “fat cow” (he literally referred to his late wife in this way– she had just died of breast cancer).
Some men, especially in the military community, are very offended by smart, opinionated women, especially if they’re considered “fat” or not pretty enough. I’ve gotten tons of shit over the name of this blog by men in the military community, as well as some rather clueless women. One time, a military man commented on a blog post I wrote that was shared on Facebook. He wrote, “Ugh. I hope she at least has children.” WTF, guy? I responded that I didn’t have children, and I would be very happy to tell him why I didn’t, if he really wanted to know the gory details.
Frankly, I think it’s probably a burden to be really attractive to men. I remember another incident, back when I was in my late 20s and thinner and prettier than I am now. I was at a bar, and one of my co-workers, who was slim and pretty, was dancing to music. We were friends, but hadn’t come to the bar together. A guy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him, and he asked me if my co-worker was with anyone. Obviously, he’d spotted her and wanted to meet her, presumably because she was very attractive. But instead of asking her, he approached me, the less threatening “fat friend”. I think I told him that we hadn’t come together and if he wanted to talk to her, he should man up and talk to her. I’m not her “fat friend”, there to help some guy score.
Lori Alexander, who thinks that women need to stay home and pump out babies for their husbands, also fat shames women. She says that it’s a woman’s duty to be pleasing to her man. And if her man thinks she’s too fat, she needs to do something about it. And she needs to let him have sex with her, no matter what… even if it happens while she’s trying to sleep or isn’t feeling well. In that sense, I guess she’s in agreement with famously pro-life mom, Michelle Duggar, who told her daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” to her new husband, Derick. The year after the public heard about this advice, the news came out that Jill was one of four of the Duggar daughters who were molested by their eldest brother, Josh. We all know where Josh is right now. Mr. “Pro-Life” father of seven is currently sitting in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for receiving and possessing images of child sexual abuse… and some of the female children being abused were in diapers!
So yeah… I don’t think guys who would deny women the right to bodily autonomy are interested in protecting babies. A lot of those guys wouldn’t bother to stick around if a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, and they certainly don’t want more of their paychecks going to providing social welfare safety nets. These guys– Josh Duggar especially– use women for their own gratification and then condemn them as “sluts”. They are repulsed by women they see as sloppy and out of control, whether the lack of control is regarding food or sex. And so, if you pay close attention, you see that a lot of fat shamers and pro-life males respond to women in very similar ways. They have a LOT in common!
I think, deep down, most of these pro-life, hyper-religious, fat shaming guys are obsessed with sex, and controlling women. They hate that a woman has the power to do something they can’t do, and a lot of them are offended when a woman has the nerve to have a vagina, but doesn’t “do enough” to be attractive. Or, worse, she’s attractive, but denies him access to her vagina. Or she gives him access, but then doesn’t want to accept the grand gift of his sperm, which created a developing fetus. Remember… the vast majority of us owe our lives to a woman and her vagina.
I’ll leave you with one last anecdote. A couple of days ago, I read a Facebook post about the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, which was released when I was 15 years old. A lot of people forget that the reason why “Baby” has to learn to “dirty dance” is because Johnny Castle’s partner got “knocked up” by Robby, the asshole waiter. She had an illegal abortion, which made her very sick. The poster pointed out that the film was a reminder of what could be at stake if women in the United States lose access to abortion. One male commenter wrote this:
What is the script was flipped? What if Robby was a loving caring father that wanted the baby, but Penny knew that if she had the baby, her life would change, and she didn’t want that? Robby would have no legal say in it, and would be forced to see his child killed. Not all guys are douchebags. And not all women are angels. If a person, male or female, doesn’t think they can handle being a parent, then don’t take the risk of it happening.
Naturally, I had to respond. I didn’t even address the fact that this dude used the term “douchebag”, which is, in and of itself, a very offensive and sexist pejorative. Who uses douchebags? It’s not men who use them; it’s women. And, in fact, we aren’t repelled by “douchebags” so much as what comes from using them– the residual nasty smelling stuff from a woman’s private area. It’s the “waste” that is repellant. Personally, I consider the term “douchebag” to be akin to calling a woman a “cunt”, but since that was the term the guy used, I went with it in my response to this hypothetical “loving, caring father” who would be “crushed” that his child would be killed by heartless Penny.
If you don’t understand that it wouldn’t be Robby’s health or life on the line, and you think another personshould be compelled to stay pregnant for someone else’s sake, then yes, you ARE a “douchebag” (not that I would use that term). Guys who want to be fathers should find women who want to have babies with them.
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