ORGANIZATIONS & CAUSES NOT BENEFITTING A CONVICTED RAPIST NAMED BROCK TURNER

Dan Turner, the father of convicted rapist and former Standford University student, Brock Turner, has started a legal defense fund on behalf of his son. According to the Dayton Daily News, the account created at a local credit union is still active.

The younger Turner was convicted of three felony charges last week after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a fraternity party in January 2015. He was then sentenced to six months   in county jail, but is expected to serve no more than three with good behavior

Oh, and a female friend blames Brock Turner's conviction on campus drinking and political correctness and his father cried to the internet about how his sweet little convicted rapist of a golden boy can't enjoy his rib-eye steaks anymore because dealing with consequences is probably a new thing, maybe. And there is a petition to remove Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who also is receiving support from the a gay, feminist defense lawyer. Also, I don't care what his father says but "twenty minutes of action" amounts to a third-party admission of guilt because if he's referring to drinking, 20 straight minutes of drinking anything without a break is actually called drowning.

Are we all caught up now? Good, because we are done with this bullshit. The Turner family and their little legal defense fund for their son is all the motivation we need to do good where it is needed most (and that would be anywhere but Brock Turner's legal defense fund.) I asked blog readers to share their favorite causes and charities and I am sharing them with you because anger is a wonderful motivator to stand up and speak out. I did. Pissed off at this whole situation? Use that energy to make a difference to a cause that speaks to you.

 

ORGANIZATIONS & CAUSES NOT BENEFITTING A CONVICTED RAPIST NAMED BROCK TURNER

 

  • Cleveland Rape Crisis Center - Founded in 1974, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center provided necessary services to the victims of sexual assault.
  • Black Mamaba Anti-Poaching Unit - The Black Mamba APU is the first all women anti-poaching unit, who operate within Balule Nature Reserve.
  • WomensLaw.org - Provides direct links to various nonprofit organizations benefitting both female and male victims of domestic and sexual crimes.
  • Take Back the Night - The foundation seeks to end all forms of sexual violence.
  • EndExtinction,org -  San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy Program empowers people to help save species from extinction in a number of ways.
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center - Offers free and comprehensive services to survivors.
  • Arachnoid Tumor Surgery Fund for Gracia Hinojosa - A Houston mother raising money for her own brain surgery.
  • RAINN - The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence network.
  • DoD Safe Help Line - Operated by RAINN, the Safe Help Line is dedicated to providing services to military members that have been victimized. 
  • Kidney Transplant Fundraiser for Victoria Bright - A North Carolina woman is raising money for her own kidney transplant.
  • Art for Change - The organization uses art as a catalyst to encourage the advancement of progressive social change.
  • Gofundme for a Family in Need - A Tennessee couple is fundraising to cover costs related to medical issues.
  • Zac Brewer FTM Transgender Surgery - NYT Best-selling author, Zac Brewer, is raising funds for female to male top transgender surgery. There are T-Shirts. 
  • Meagan's Medical Expenses - A medical fundraiser for a single mom who has been unable to work for a year.
  • #20MinutesofAction - Twenty minutes can change rape culture and stop an assault.
  • Climb Out of the Darkness (Team Massachusetts-Concord) - The world's largest event raising awareness for maternal mental illnesses like Postpartum Depression, OCD, and Psychosis. The first link is a general donation and the second helps raise our team numbers but directly benefits the nonprofit.
  • Save Sarah - Family & friends of 17-yr-old Sarah are raising funds to legally win her freedom from the Christian boarding facility where her parents sent her to "pray away the gay."
  • Cheer Season Fundraiser: $1 raffle tickets to help a young girl and her team for the coming cheer season
  • Friends of Maddie - Assists families that are suffering financial hardship after losing a child by providing them with monetary grant. 

That's what I've got. Thank you to those who submitted your causes. Please feel free to add your own in the comments. 

 

Beautiful in Black & White: My Experience with the 4th Trimester Bodies Project

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

It started with a request to sign a copy of my book. She'd be in the same state, after all, and seeing as how I only live four hours north, maybe I could meet up and we could take a few selfies together to prove we'd inhabited the same physical space after years of conversations in 140 characters and status updates. 

"Of course," was my response. No matter that I would be the one driving the four hours. When you're this far north, hotel rooms and rest stops are just real life if you want to maintain contact with real life. Besides, Target and Starbucks don't exist where I live. If I want you to like me in person, I'm not about to ask you to make a first impression while navigating around Amish buggies and breaking for moose standing in the middle of the roadway. If I had stopped there, if nothing more had come out of my mouth, maybe signing a book and laughing over bad camera angles would be all that had happened. But I didn't. I kept talking. "Maybe I should get naked for you, too."

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos/ Book by Ashlee Wells Jackson.  Click here to purchase.  

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos/ Book by Ashlee Wells Jackson. Click here to purchase. 

There was a chuckle in response. Or, I think there was one. I'm a writer. I hear the rhythm of the voice writing the words that would be spoken if the conversation was a spoken one. I fill in the blanks with facial expressions, uuhhhmmm's and ahhhh's, and the blinks that take up the space around the words I hear in my mind. She chuckled when she read my sentence about getting naked; eyes twinkling, probably. She knows my sense of humor. We've known each other a few years now, at least. "Maybe not naked," she said. "Just down to your bra and panties." 

"Only if you buy me dinner first," I shot back. And she chuckled again and I laughed out loud because I actually did Laugh.Out. Loud. I detest the LOL acronym. I know for a fact my sister never LOL's even though every single text she sends indicates otherwise. When I Laugh.Out.Loud, I actually am. Otherwise, I am merely SWMWME (Smirking While Smiling with my Eyes) or LIMH (Laughing Inside My Head). LOL is like the push up bra of the Facebook world. We all know you're selling us more than you've actually got, so let's drop the act and just call it what it is, okay?

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

It was all in fun. No commitment. Just banter. But then she said "YES" and I knew the yes wasn't about the dinner joke but about the me getting down to my 'chonis thing because, it turns out, my friend, the famed Ashlee Wells Jackson of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, had an opening for her Portland, Maine, shoot, and she was sending me a contract to sign and ... and ... 

Holy...

Shit. 

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

This is what happens when you make a habit of pushing your own boundaries using thinly-veiled sarcasm. There's really no commitment because a No in response to your Maybe I could can be brushed off as a joke and no one gets their feelings hurt. A Yes still comes with an automatic Out because I was Totally Kidding and can quip about how I never let a date get to third base before the third date, at least, because I have fucking STANDARDS. There's alway a moment of pause when the Yes happens. The window of opportunity to wrap my arms around the Thing I Probably Really Want to Do But am Totally Terrified Of is small. Generally, it's understood that I am verbally agreeing, all semblance of general smartassery lost, because Shit Just Got Serious, y'all. 

I'm signing the contract before I have had a chance to process the ramifications, not because I'm an idiot, mind you, but because posing for a shoot in your well-endowed bra and Lane Bryant panties is scary shit, indeed, even for an outspoken body image activist like myself. If I even stop to think, just for a moment, I'm going to Come to my Senses and say But I was Joking and tell the Ashlee's in my life that they'd better give that  open slot to someone else cuz I'm not about to put All of THIS on the internet -- not when my every day is Spanxed and layered and carefully pieced together so as to maintain some semblance of containment and purposeful form. 

Photo credit: Laura Weetzie Wilson

Photo credit: Laura Weetzie Wilson

 

Even after signing the contract, though, I toyed with the idea of backing out. Eliana didn't know it yet, because I needed to come to terms with the Actual Doing before I got her all jazzed up about a mother/daughter photo shoot with a famous and celebrated photographer, but she would be there, with me, celebrating herself as she is next to the mama hoping she was brave enough to do the same. I wrote a book about accepting the bodies we have right here and right now, the scale and Other People's Expectations be Damned. I have a website celebrating our bodies and ourselves in every possible way (which I suck at keeping updated because the aforementioned book takes a lot of time to write and edit and promote upon publication). I am outspoken about my struggles with mental illness - anxiety, depression, ADHD - and my eating disordered past and ever-present body image issues. Once it's a part of your story, it always will be. But until now, I've been able to hide myself behind words and stories that painted pictures for readers to relate to and see themselves in. 

I’m not important enough for media coverage. No need to find the most flattering dress for my shape to talk about my work on daytime TV. No magazine spreads to hope the PhotoShop Fairy I usually hate sprinkles her fairy dust over to maybe make a few bulges here and a few inches there smooth out and disappear. 

 

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

This is real. Black and white. No tummy-controlling undergaments. No bullshit. 

Period. 

It’s everything I stand for and nothing I’ve been brave enough to make happen. 

Until now.

Before packing up the overnight duffle and looking for a hotel, I told The Husband about the shoot and asked him to check out the 4th Trimester Bodies Project site, and waited for his response. I wasn’t looking for permission, mind you, but maybe I’d been hoping for an excuse to say no. “My Husband is being a giant asshole about this whole thing and I’d just rather not deal with the drama” is way easier to say than “Yeah, I know this is exactly what I stand for, but let’s pass on this round because I’m scared shitless that I won’t see myself as beautiful, okay?” But he only waited for me to tell him why I had directed him to the site to begin with because he knows me and simply nodded when I told him I had been invited to participate in the project. “You know I’d never stop you from doing something like this,” is what he said. So I was left with no way out but through my fear and self-judgement, booked the hotel room, gassed up the truck, told the excited little chingona-in-training what we were doing and why, and listened to her sing Eliana Mercedes Originals all the way to Portland about celebrating our bodies and loving who we are.

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

As we stood in the dressing room at Lane Bryant (because I’m not about to drop my pants for the world unless it’s in brand new undies, my friends), Eliana joked with me about third boobs and very solemnly pointed out the styles of panties and bras she thought fit best and so those are the ones I bought. I mentally patted myself on the back for taking the emotion out of the dressing room and replacing it with logic and reason. My audience was watching my every move and I wasn’t about to taint every future dressing room experience with tears and squished face disgust at what perceived flaws. My todays are building the foundation for her tomorrows, after all, and while I may be far from perfect, I’m working with what I’ve got. 

“Mama,” she asked me while trying on her black leotard at our last stop before we checked in for the night in Portland, “What’s so hard about celebrating our bodies? All we have to do is appreciate what we have.”

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

Photo credit: Pauline M. Campos

These are the words I remembered and held onto that night, because I didn't sleep. They are the words I remembered when I stood before Ashlee in nothing but a bra and panties the next day. The words I held onto when she pointed the camera at me and asked me why I was there during the pre-shoot interview. 

“What made you want to participate in this project?” she asked me.

I looked at Eliana, waiting patiently to join me for the session. She smiled at me because she knows I am not as brave as I say I am, and that’s okay. 

 

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jacskon

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jacskon

Looking into my daughter’s eyes, I responded. “Because perfection is photo-shopped. Because self-acceptance is reserved for the finish line. Because you can’t step on the winner’s podium until after you’ve proven your worth until after you’ve stepped on the scale. Every day, I wake up ready to teach myself love the me that I see again. Because this little girl is my reset button. 

Because there was no reason that wasn’t an excuse to say no and every reason that matters to say yes.”

And then we did it. We smiled and we laughed and we posed and celebrated our way through every shot and then again while working with Ashlee to select the image used for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. There was a headshot. There was a safe image. And then there was the one where I wasn’t shielding myself with my daughter’s body because I’m the one that’s supposed to be on the frontline helping her find her way, dammit. That’s what you see. This is who I am.

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jackson

Photo credit: Ashlee Wells Jackson

We signed books for each other at the end, as planned. We hugged and smiled and selfies and hash-tagged because we don’t know when we will see each other again. I didn’t even make her buy me dinner. 

Later that night, after hours on the road in between errands on the way home, I saw the status update in my Facebook stream indicating that Ashlee had tagged me on her fan page. There were no tears. No self-deprecating tearing apart of the self I saw standing next to the future I am raising. “Look, Eliana! It’s us!”

“We’re beautiful, mama!” She squealed with pride. She beamed. She looked into my eyes, waiting for me to answer the question she would never dare to ask.

“Yes, baby,” I smiled back and met her eyes because I know this will be one of the moments she look back on as she grows and I need her to see that I believed the words I was saying are true. “Yes we are.” 

Cinderella: The Dust Destroyer

I'm sitting in my room at the Drury Inn & Suites in Columbus Ohio, taking a short break from repacking to blog. #NaBloPoMo is A Thing, and I'm trying like bloody hell to make this Thing happen, so that means blogging is back on the priority list...like it used to be when Twitter was for Actual Conversation and Feminist still was confused as a proper noun defined by the average person as One Who Burns Bras and Hates Men. 

You know, the good ol' days. 

Tomorrow marks the end for the second annual #365FeministSelfie #SelfieCon - my first, even though I've been an on-again, off-again participant in the ongoing photo project. And I've enjoyed myself immensely. I have words to share, stories to tell, and photos for the visual eye-candy we all like to see with the narratives we lose ourselves in, but my brain is fried, so the good stuff waits for after I get home and sleep for 30 ba-jillion hours while recovering from travel. But blog I must and blog I shall, so I'll share a little story about the little girl that inspires me daily to be and give the best of myself to and for myself and those I love. She's impressed the hell out of my newly adopted #365feministselfie family, and reminded me once again how incredibly lucky I am to be able to share these life experiences with her by my side. 

This is what happens when you tell her it's time for chores.

The fashion bandana she reserves for these occasions is a must.

The skater dress Not Bought On Clearance becomes her apron.

Cue cards are too cumbersome so she becomes both Star of the Show and Prompter...

..."and now you're re evil step-Mother and step-father"

and

"What am I supposed to do now?"

and

"No, mom, you have to tell me to vacuum more evily, because that was too nice. I'm not buying it"

and

"Are my wicked stepsisters at the spa again while I'm stuck here cleaning?"

And

"Of course, Dear Child, for we must stick to the story line, mustn't we?" 

It's all part of the dialogue. This is normal in our home and for this, I am grateful. 

And why not? Putting on your game face and becoming Cinderella the Dust Destroyer is the only way to clean.