Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's Not Easy

Kara Danvers Discover that it's not easy to be a heroin the upcoming premiere of Supergirl 2015 DC Comics 

It May Sound Absurd

The Song "It's Not Easy" is a homage to the legacy of Superman. I heard it last week, but as it echoed through my mind, I thought of real live people who heroically take on the dirty task of speaking out against crimes of humanity such as rape. One of the things I like about previewing the new "Supergirl" series is that having abilities doesn't always work for you. A hero, much like an advocate, might sit in their apartment and count the cost. They wonder if what they're doing makes sense. Sometimes the things that can cripple worst that radioactive rocks are words. A friend of mine who is a professional therapist, admonished me "don't let their words take up rent in your head."  I'm reminded that if someone can reshape your narrative, then they don't have to do anything else. 

  But Don't Be Naive

Growing up in the 60's was a time before comics were cool. They were for young boys who love to read stories of the improbable. I was hung up on superheroes like a lot of my generation. But it was taboo to read them anywhere but in your bedroom. And they were considered brain damaging foolishness. In silence, I thought about the idea of being able to fight for truth and justice. I loved stories of men and women who could help the powerless, protect the weak, and fight crime and evil.

An array of Superheroes came into our homes in the 50s-70s (L-R) Lynda Carter deflecting bullets as Wonder Woman
George Reeves had the honor of being the first to leap tall buildings as Superman with girl reporter Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane, while Adam West,
Yvonne Craig, and Burt Ward offered up comic book Camp as Batman Batgirl and Robin. 2015 DC Comics
Of course this was all pretend. Little boys tied towels around their necks making swishing sounds like from "The Adventures of Superman TV show." Or they pretended to be like Batman and Robin. My Mom was so sick of us jumping around yelling "Biff! Pow and Zowie!" But that was our entertainment. We pretended to be the good guys. But then of course other things took their place eventually. Besides, real life heroes were suppose to be cops, firemen, lawyers, and elected officials. They kept our town safe. We out grew of comics to the extent that you could not find anyone to admit they watched camp shows like Batman on television.

Comics and Superheroes are out of the proverbial closet now. It's big business, partially because the characters are a little more 3 dimensional, moody, dark, and the stories have almost a soap opera feel to them where the good guys don't always finish first. But as silly and corny as Superman, Batman, and even Wonder Woman was, I was always fascinated with their untouchable sense of valor and not backing down from that old sense of right and wrong.

Even Heroes Have the Right to Bleed

Advocates against domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, are just ordinary people with an extraordinary sense of social determination to see injustice, stand up, and call it out. They could be doing anything with their lives rather than speak to a truth that should be as obvious as the sun rising and setting. Some are advocates because something horrific such as rape, was their experience. Others are perhaps because of something that happened to a loved one.
The Royal Military College Of Canada
I'm reminded by my own experience of being an advocate, That it's not easy to be me. But this isn't about me. Just recently I read several articles from our Canadian neighbors to the north. In an effort to change the mindset of the cadet's attending the Royal Military about the ever increasing tide of sexual assault and harassment which plagues the prestigious academy, Julie LaLonde, a professional educator, was asked to give a
presentation on the subject. This was a well planned presentation with power point images to give the young men and women food for thought.

Educator and Advocate Julie Lalonde
Little did Julie realize, she had walked into a den of misogyny, as her presentation was pelted with "Whistles, catcalls, and laughter, from young cadets who would were suppose to be the the brightest and best. Julie says that she absolutely believes that she was sexually harassed by the Military College of Canada.
"The thing's I heard at the Royal Military College of Canada scared me, to think that people had those attitudes about women, about sexual violence, about their role as bystanders-"  -CBC News May 22, 2015
 Now I only know Julie through Twitter, but it's my guess, this wasn't her first rodeo, and the toxic atmosphere must have been pretty bad to take her by surprise. To be fair, some cadets did give push back to the stupidity, but apparently it didn't do much good and the harassment continued, which must have felt like an eternity.  The dressed up RMC rowdies yelled things such as "women who drink too much enable their own rape." As long as I live I don't think I'll ever get use to that narrative.  I've seen that in print, but to get an earful of it must have been stifling. They continued to argue about the "consent factor."  Apparently some of them like their women fall down drunk. To some thinking; an intoxicated female should be fair game, thus making the "Yes" thing null and void. Somehow, their "Game of Thrones" mentality continued as they doubled down on the harassment.  "I might have paid attention to you if you weren't a woman and a civilian." one cadet said, as he gave Miss LaLonde a slow looking over. Shaken as any of us might have been but apparently still undaunted, LaLonde refused to let the behavior go unreported. You'd have to wonder why it took 5 months for the college's Brigadier General Meimzinger to convey an apology.
Much to her credit, Julie continues to speak out with her presentation, as well as side-step ignorant misogyny on Twitter. The crude remarks continue obviously as an attempt to take her out of the fight that many of us as advocates endure.

You Can All sleep Sound Tonight

Superman dispatches justice to a domestic violence crimnal
in Action Comics 1 June 1939
As a kid, I thumbed through comics of imaginary characters who could grab bad guys and toss them in jail. In fact, in the very first Superman story back in 1939, he dispatches a wife beater! That's a pretty mature subject matter for the times. Today the heroes are flesh and blood people, who give their voice to and leadership against, crimes such as rape, harassment, domestic violence. and child abuse.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
These are people like Victoria Sanders, Retired Col. Don Christensen, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Zerlinda Maxwell. Kate Weber, and others who won't quit. It's not easy to be and advocate like Rosie Palfy, Terri Youngs, Monisha Rios. Linor Arbragail or Julie LaLonde.

Their special powers are: forging new laws such as the Military Justice Improvement Act, teaching and reaching society with the truth about rape in film documentaries, such as "The Invisible War," and "The Hunting Ground," and Miss Brave World."  writing blogs and books, like  "Missoula" and "Silence No More," or maybe
giving their voices against rape and sexual assault on the Internet, as well as the media. These are
Amy Zering Kriby Dick and the cast of The Invisible War
just a short list of the people who are on the side of advocacy for victims and survivors.

So thank you Julie LaLonde and all of you who speak for others. I know that it's not easy. But hopefully you know that you are needed and appreciated by many out in society and
in neighboring counties like Canada. Stay strong!

Special Thanks To:
@Deja1422   @Veracrusin and @RosiePalfy for flaging down news items and your on going support