If you’ve gone your entire life without knowing a woman, or any person, sexually assaulted, molested, or raped… kudos

If you have, you understand why they don’t always come forward. You understand why they have nothing to gain from coming forward, and stand only to lose.

Interesting tidbit from history; when Freud was interviewing women with “hysteria” (definition: from the Greek root meaning ‘uterus.’ Originally, it was believed that hysteria and hysterical symptoms were caused by a defect in the womb, and thus, only women could become hysterical), he found nearly all the women with “hysteria” had a history of rape or molestation. Hysteria was essentially PTSD. Outbursts from women experiencing their equivalent to a Vietnam flashback were written off by men as “crazy” and “probably on her period”.

The number of women experiencing hysteria was so many, it startled Freud. He couldn’t believe so many women, from so many backgrounds had these experiences, and just the sheer number of women he saw in his daily life, diagnosed with hysteria. He saw a dark side to society unseen by anyone before; the implication that so many men were committing these acts going unnoticed and without care. He stopped investigating and the effects, causes, and discussion of sexual trauma stay buried for decades.

There are other judges. Pick one without sexual assault allegations. Some say, “But every judge will have some woman come forward and accuse him”. Garland didn’t. Gorsuch didn’t. It’s possible.

But the real fear in America, of this accusation, is that of Freud’s; the unwillingness, and unreadiness, to confront the issue of the sheer volume and scope of sexual assault within our nation, especially that of men against women (in the Catholic church’s case; men against boys), and on college campuses.

“The Walk”

Saturday I was at the tutoring center with the kids doing “the walk” down Skid Row.

“The walk” is when the tutors walk down San Pedro from 7th to 5th and pick up the kids at the Union Rescue Mission.

Normally the walk is very fine and safe, although you do see some wild stuff.

One time on the walk back, outside the Mission was an ambulance flashing their lights, people all in the streets, shouting… and there’s a man standing with his whole face and neck drenched in blood. The kids are trying to get closer, “Whoa, cool…”

One time, there were two guys beefing, yelling this and that at each other. The specifics are irrelevant. The essentials were there though, each one was upset and a fight was about to happen. One guy starts yelling, “You wanna go!? You wanna go”, and pulls a metal sword out of his pants. It was a katana, the kind that sits in the closet of a 15 year old nerd who thought THAT’S what he needs in his life. And, honest to God, the guy getting yelled at, with the sword pointing at his chest, gets that crazy, Denzel, calm before the storm type look, and he’s like, “Oh it’s like that? That’s how it’s gonna be? Okay. Okay… well I GOT A SWORD TOO”, and he pulls out a similar looking sword—AND THEY HAVE A SWORD FIGHT!! And the kids are all like, “Whoa, cool”, and it’s one of those moments as an adult where you want to stay and watch because it is cool, but you have to be “responsible”, and “get them to safety” from the sword fight.

This past weekend was one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever experienced on the walk though. While walking from the Mission to the tutoring center, I was taking the rear of the line, making sure no kids were behind me, and there’s a small group of girls at the back ages 6 to 12. We’re talking about going to see Black Panther later in the day when I notice rapid movement in my periphery. A homeless woman runs a Log-curve right at me, gets two inches from my face, and says, “I swear to god, you touch one of them girls, I will end you”, spittle comes off her lip. She’s pointing fiercely at me without touching me. The rage pours from her eyes and mouth, “I will end you”.

I said, “Ma’am, I would never harm them, and I will make sure no harm comes to them”. She held her finger up at me for a beat, the fire in her eyes dying. She stormed off as fast as she came.

This one girl, hiding in her hoodie, pulls her head out like a turtle, “Oooookay”.

“What’d she say to you Mr. Peter”, a girl in pink asks.

I had to think quick and careful since I knew the woman was most likely referring to sexual assault and didn’t feel the need to go down that road as a volunteer tutor, “She was just making sure your safety came first”, I said.

“You weren’t scared”, asks Hoodie.

“No, I’ve been in intense situations before”.

“Like what”, asks Pink.

“Well, I’ve had a gun in my back. I was in a store while it was being robbed. And I had a man try and choke me out when I stopped him from attacking a woman”.

A girl, with her hair in two poofs, goes, “I can’t believe you didn’t knock her out”.

“I should have knocked her out”?

“She got all up in your face like that. I didn’t know what she was doing, I would have hit her”, says Two Poofs.

“What good would that have done”?

“I don’t know”.

“Isn’t what just happened the best possible outcome? No one got hurt. Everyone is safe. Nothing mean was said…”

“But she disrespected you”, says Hoodie.

“She didn’t disrespect me. There’s something about my look, or the image of me with you kids that lit something inside her which lead to her compulsion to come and say that to me. She wasn’t angry at me specifically, she was angry at something in her past or in her mind and she was throwing her anger on to me”.

“I don’t know. I still think I’d have hit her”, Two Poofs says.

“Okay, let’s say I hit her. She would 100% begin attacking me back. Now we’re in a fight. One of us is bound to get hurt, they’d never have me back as a tutor, and worst of all, one of you might get hurt in the process. Aggression when met with aggression leads to aggression. Only when anger is met with a calm and controlled demeanor is when everyone wins. When someone jumps up to 10, you have to drop down to 10 to create the balance, and bring it back to zero. It’s really just math. The other scenario, where I hit her, nobody wins”, by this point we’re near the tutoring center’s door. “See? We’re already here, talking about what happened, when we could have been back there”, they look back, “fighting for no reason. We’re instead here”, I point my feet at the ground, “about to eat cereal. I say that was the best outcome”.

I hold the door open for them and think. I pause them right before I let them in, “In fact, my only regret is that I didn’t refer to her as ‘Miss’. Women her age hate being called ‘Ma’am’”.

The Rise in Mass Shootings…

Someone posted the rise in mass shooting over the last 30 years correlates with the decrease in parents disciplining their children, a loose association at best. If you’re going to look at arbitrary associations over the last 30/40 years then the rise in mass shootings would also correlate with…

The stagnate wages of the average American, the ever burgeoning gap in income inequality, the rise of mass incarceration, the rise of money allowed to influence our elections, our democracy slowly slipping into oligarchy, the resurrection and tolerance of white supremacists/nationalists/kkk/nazis, our ever sliding standards in education (especially around math and science), our tolerance for teaching creationism in 14 states as fact in our school systems, and the general increase in the notion that “personal beliefs” are comparable to the laws of thermodynamics (i.e. anti-vaxers, Hobby Lobby, etc.)…

It’s almost as if an increase of social injustice and the allowance of hateful ideology combined with economic depravation, lower education, rising sensation of existential hopelessness, and easier access to guns over the last 30 years has lead to more mass shootings.

Or you know, maybe it’s cause we don’t beat the shit out of our kids anymore. That answer is simple, I’ll give you that.

Don’t Rape

No one’s ever told me not to rape.

That’s weird. That’s very weird.

No one’s ever said to me, “Hey, don’t rape anyone”.

I’ve been told not to touch the thermostat. I’ve been told not to talk to strangers. I’ve been told not to stare at people in wheelchairs. Not to touch the stove, not to eat before swimming, not to have more than one soda a week, not to hit my brother, not to hit my sister…, but never once, “Hey, don’t rape anybody”.

I think it’s weird, that I was allowed to grow up in a community with friends, family, parents, teachers, priests, bosses, boy scout leaders, the whole gambit of moral authority figures, and never once, did anyone tell me not to rape.

I think it should be said to young men and women. Explicitly. Don’t rape.

People often push back on this idea saying, “Peter, it goes without saying”.

I don’t think it does. If it went without saying, it’d go without being. But since it exists, I think it should go with some saying.

“But Peter, no one ever had to sit you down and tell you not to steal and not to murder”.

Are you kidding me? You just named two of ten laws I had to memorize as a child. I was sat down and told not to murder, not to steal, not to lie, not to disrespect mom and dad, not to say god in public, or worship cattle… I had to memorize ten of these commandments. I had to take quizzes on them. They were spoken about in church, I discussed it with family, in fact, they’re listed outside some of our nations’ courthouses in honor of some of the first and most important law to “man”.

And you know what, all that memorization, contemplation, and discussion made me less prone to commit such acts. Why? Because when the situation arose, I was mentally prepared with the voices of many loved ones that I shouldn’t steal, curse out god’s name, have jealous thoughts, etc. given the opportunity.

Again, I don’t understand the push back on the topic of speaking to children about rape during the sex talk. You may deem it an awkward conversation, but I think it’s even more awkward explaining to children why 1 in 6 women in America have been raped or attempted thereof. That’s 58 million women. An endemic. And that’s not even including other forms of sexual assaults.

So why not talk about it? What’s the harm? Why not take away every excuse a perpetrator has to commit such a crime?

Why not sit every child down in their sex talk, make eye contact, and directly, explicitly say, “Don’t you ever rape anyone”. That can lead to a whole larger conversation about the subject of sex and sexuality, but at the minimum that sentence must be uttered.

By talking about it more people with think about it. By thinking about it, there’s more mental preparation for when a sexual situation arises where a new layer of caution will reside as individuals second guess brash moves in wondering if the act they wish to commit is fully consented to or in an appropriate region of activity.

Now, as I referenced earlier to religion benefiting me with a more morally inclined conscious, I do not want any praise going to religion on the topic of rape. Nowhere in the entirety of the Torah, Gospels, or Qur’an does God communicate himself, to his prophets, “son”, or messenger and archangel Gabriel (who in turn spoke with Muhammad) that people, and women in particular, should not be raped.

“Why”, you might be wondering. Why wouldn’t God, this “all-loving”, “all-knowing” deity explicitly leave out that detail when going into such banal detail as to not plowing with a donkey and ox yoked together and to not… cross dress [Duet, 22:5]…

The answer is all three Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian, Islam) consider women property.

Again; all three Abrahamic religions consider women property. This is clearly read in Exodus, “You shall not covet thy neighbor’s house; you shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbors”.

What a curious word; belongs. It’s never explicitly said that women are property, it’s implied at the time, it was common knowledge women were things; objects to be owned, traded, and stolen. The definition of property is “a thing or things belonging to someone”.

In the same way you can own a book, car, or desk, and how if you own it, you could rip up the book, smash the car, chop up the desk, and no one could tell you different because that is your property that you own. In that same respect, that’s why it’s never mentioned in the bible or qur’an to not rape women. Rape implies the exertion of will power over someone and the notion that sex is a consenting act between man and woman which can be violated if treated like a one-way street.

But how can you rape your property? How can you abuse an object you own? How can you violate the will of a will-less entity? Why mention in Leviticus not to have sexual relations with and/or sodomize an animal, yet still exclude women on the rules of sexual restriction, and make it a sin to act upon them without consent?

[Credit must be given where it is due. The greatest irony of Islam is that of the three Abrahamic religions, today it is chided the most for being anti-woman, yet it is the only one to mention women as people and grant them rights involving testimony, inheritance, etc. But still, God does not take the time to tell Gabriel, to tell Muhammad, to tell his followers as the last prophet, directly and explicitly, “don’t rape women”, given a host of other teachings Muhammad is to pass on]

“But Peter, times have changed”, but the word of God remains the same. Humans, with our adaptation to an exponentially changing environment, have had a wonderful burst of enlightenment, moral and ethical progress in the last few hundred years, but that is all credit to the evolution and insight of human rationale. The word of God is from his mouth and law to his peoples. No amount of human rationalization can change what is recorded as his saying.

Religion is the foundation on which all patriarchy rests, and where the roots of rape, rape culture, and the objectification of women begin. It is here, at the temple steps of religion that feminists should begin their discussions on the dismantling of the patriarchy. The slights against women from religion are numerous and you have to read no further than the first book of Genesis where Eve, the first woman, is depicted as a trickster and a liar, attempting to access the fruits of knowledge and cursed for disobeying God the father (a man), while at the same time being made of a man’s rib, making her inherently less than, not only God, but the only other talking mammal she knows.

The story of Adam and Eve is part of all three Abrahamic religions as well as a part of Creationism which is taught as fact at schools in fourteen states in America as of this writing. We teach our children that God created women to be less than men and we wonder why women get less respect and acknowledgement everywhere from the bedroom to the board room.

It’s a psychopathy to be sure.

If we as feminists truly wish to dismantle the patriarchy, might I recommend starting with the dismantling of religions first, as religion and patriarchy are one and the same.

The battle is a virtuous one to be sure, as we are no longer fighting male chauvinists on Earth, but a celestial one as well.

Perhaps together we can twist God’s arm enough that he adds an eleventh commandment to his people, an explicit and direct one; don’t rape.

Adaptation of German Law Strafgesetzbuch Section 86a: A Letter to My Representative

Dear Representative Gomez,

The hatred and bigotry of the Nazi party is no secret. The values and core rhetoric espoused by their group since it’s inception is of disgusting, wholly un-American values.

After World War II, in an effort to combat the spread of objectively evil ideology and actions, Germany passed “Strafgesetzbuch section 86a”, which prohibits the distribution or public use of symbols of unconstitutional groups, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting outside of the contexts of art or science, research or teaching. This law makes such gestures, salutes, symbols, and speech punishable by law with fines and/or jail time. Only a week ago, two Chinese tourists were arrested in Germany Saturday after they performed a salute praising Adolf Hitler. America should show it’s great ally solidarity in such clear-cut efforts to make it known words and actions of hateful, violent, and genocidal nature will not be tolerated in a modern society.

The events witnessed in America this past weekend are some of the most disturbing I’ve witnessed in my time alive. The globe knows the Nazi organization to be composed of entirely backward thinking, non-scientific, amoralistic, and, specifically, violent individuals without an ounce of humanity within them.

Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. Both of my grandfathers gave their lives to America’s fighting forces to prevent the very spread of what we see today. The allowance America gives to let such a party exist within its own borders is a slap in the face to every American WWII veteran.

One may argue, as it often is, that Nazism is free to express themselves under the guise of First Amendment rights; it’s a freedom of speech or expression. Incorrect. As a person of government you probably know full well there is no pure freedom of speech. We have laws concerning speech against libel and slander which prevent the spread of lies and erroneous attacks on individuals and their character. Nazism should be restricted and punished as such. Nazism does not express or cherish free speech, it is freedom to violence. Violent ideology leads to violent action and it is time as a nation we say no more.

There should be nothing controversial about this stance. Some might challenge you to limiting their freedoms, as I’m sure some made the case taking away the “right” to own slaves was a limit to freedoms as well. Allow such nonsense no more. There is no place for these archaic thoughts in a 21st century, and it’s time the American government took a step Germans so easily have.

My request is the drafting of a law similar to Strafgesetzbuch Section 86a, in which violators are greeted with jail time, severe fines, and, hopefully, mandatory psychoanalytic rehabilitation.

We may never fully root out the tree of hatred and bigotry, but as Americans, we as individuals, and you as the government who represent us, should make our best attempt to stymie the growth of such weed with all available resources, every time it sprouts its head.

Thank you for your time.

A conscience citizen,

Peter Banachowski

A Diplomatic Shift

If the fight against terrorism means 44 dead children in four weeks, America needs to rethink it’s strategy.

122 ISIS fighters were killed in the same time meaning America’s actions read as, “3 dead ISIS fighters are worth 1 dead child”, never even comprehending that 1 dead child probably generates 3 new, future ISIS members. We’re in a constant cycle of generating future terrorism for ourselves.

Ideologies can’t be bombed or shot. They’re a kind of mental tunnel vision, only broadened through experience, education, and compassion.

War is to the country as torture is to the individual. It doesn’t work in achieving the goal. The US Government’s own research has validated this point saying the best way to get something you want from someone else is “rapport building”.

Without America taking the role of leader in an international, diplomatic shift, we’re bound for more of the same, and Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” plays on repeat in my head.

Talk To Your Son About Rape

Growing up, a male, in Small Town, America I had many authority figures in my life. Fortunate was I to live a life with authority figures of parents, older siblings, extended family, teachers, priests, boy scout leaders, etc.

Of all those people, of all their teachings, of all their advice and guidance, not once did a man ever sit me down, look me in the eye and say, “Don’t you ever rape a woman”.

As an adult male, it fascinates me that we let such a short sentence with such an important message, go unspoken. In America alone, a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. In the amount of time it takes boil water for tea, microwave a bag of popcorn, or watch your favorite youtube video, a sexual assault occurs in America.

In Canada over 1 in 3 women has been sexually assaulted.

In Denmark only 1 in 5 reported rapes results in a conviction.

In Egypt 96% of women have suffered genital mutilation.

In Ethiopia 60% of women have been subjected to sexual violence.

In South Africa a woman is raped every 26 seconds.

In China marital rape is not criminalized.

In Pakistan over 1,000 women per year are victims of “honor killings” after being raped.

In the United States 17.7 million women have been raped.

The facts and figures go on and on. Country after country, it is beyond clear the size and scope of rape, rape culture, and a society’s underwhelming reaction to rape could be defined as a psychological pandemic.

There can be no finger pointing, “Well at least we’re not like them”, “They live so differently from us”, “It’s their cultural thing”, “It’s part of their religion”. This problem extends far beyond any one country, culture, or religion.

When I was taking courses on becoming a teacher in college, my favorite lesson came from a professor who’d been a grade school, middle school, and high school teacher, and was now a professor with a PhD in behavioral science and education. She would tell us, “There’s no point in bringing up an issue, complaint, or defect if that’s all you’re going to do. Anyone can point out what’s wrong. As a teacher, you must always provide a solution, or start the discussion towards a solution. One conversation is a spiral down, and the other reverses the course, tending back towards the positive”.

I pointed out the problem, I listed several statistics from various organizations which track these statistics and facts, now here’s my solution…

If you are a father, talk to your son about rape.

Explicitly tell your son to never rape a woman, or anyone, or anything else for that matter.

The idea sounds simple enough, right? Isn’t this obvious?

It is not.

I personally was never told not to rape anyone, of the hundreds of men I’ve asked from cities and states all over the United States, from close friends to random strangers in bars, not one man I ever met was told not to rape. Not before or after the age of 13.

If your son is old enough for the sex talk, he is old enough for the rape talk.

I once proposed the problem and solution to a girl I was on a date with (I know, weird topic matter, this is who I am though), and her reaction was one of defense, “But it just goes without saying”.

As if the subtext of her comment was, “We don’t need to do that, everyone just knows”.

Not only is this clearly not the case, but I was shocked at her immediate rejection of my idea as something not even worth trying.

Of course the psychology of such acts has many other developmental reasons such as environment, no solid base in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a thirst to quench some mental or physical void of power or control…

My concern here though, is a very practical, simple solution, which anyone who reads this could enact, AND is a solution I have yet to see enacted.

Why not try something that has never been done? Especially something so very cost effective? The most it will cost any family is a half hour to an hour of time. There’s no tax increase, no purchase of equipment, no need to travel anywhere… just a simple conversation between father and son—heck, why not bring in the mother and other siblings? Why not have one big sit down and talk about the subject of rape together as a family? Why not exchange the discomfort of an uncommon conversation for lower sexual assault statistics?

For too long, women have been objectified by men. When I used the word objectify, I mean to say women are no longer considered human beings by the man objectifying them. Women are stripped of their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and basic human rights.

India’s Daughter is a documentary on Netflix about the 2012 gang rape, and ultimate death of young, medical student Jyoti Singh. When interviewing the men who gang raped Jyoti, (which after six men conducted the act, her intestines were pulled out through her vagina, and her entire body disposed of on the side of the road where she died in a hospital not too long after), the rapists and defense attorney’s involved often compared women (overall) to diamonds, gems… flowers, “A flower on the street will be trampled, but a flower in the temple will grow”.

The analogy here was not cute and of admiration. This reasoning implies a woman needs protection. A woman needs to be kept safe and sheltered. It implies a woman on the street by herself will get what’s coming to her for being out past a certain time, dressed a certain way, or accompanied by someone other than a male family member. But–if she were to stay home and remain indoors, she will not be raped, and in fact, this is how best for women to prevent rape (which is also not true as marital rape is also a large problem in impoverished India).

[If you have any doubt of the psychology of such men, please watch India’s Daughter]

This line of reasoning and line of thought is a psychopathy where one human being either cannot, or will not, recognize another human being as an autonomous individual.

This is an ideological problem.

This is a problem of ideas which reside in the minds of men.

This is a mental condition (which is also at the root of racism and xenophobia among others) which should be treated as a mental illness. If a human looks at a human and doesn’t see a human… that’s a psychological and mental illness.

This is a problem as old as written word, both literally and figuratively.

The oldest evidence I ever discovered of such reasoning was a huge blow to me mentally and faithfully. It came from the Catholic Bible my mother gave me.

Growing up I was told by my parents, my priest, and my children’s bible that the tenth commandment was “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house”, where the adults broadly explained to me, philosophically it meant, “Not to be jealous of other people’s things, be satisfied with what God gave you”.

Directly from my adult version though, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour”, Exodus 20:17.

This is not to besmirch a holy text or offend a religious group; it is simply a quote from the Bible. If one is to read any Bronze Age text involving traditions, culture, or law, one will be quick to find most societies, all over Earth at the time, viewed women as a kind of livestock, as objects, as possessions for the use of their owner. Women were (and in some places still are) bargaining chips under the contract of marriage to be exchanged for other goods and services such as livestock, land, or an upgrade in class status.

That is why in the Old Testament and New, in over 1,300 pages of God’s literature and law for well over one billion people of Earth, God himself does not outright tell his people “don’t rape”.

This is The Patriarchy at its zenith.

How do we begin the end of such an atrocious mind set? Of such an abominable and deplorable act? By talking about it with our children.

The conversation must start, and it must start early.