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The Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said Namascray, Bitches

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My friend Lisa has been asking me to go to yoga with her for going on three years. I did Pilates before and I really rebuffed the woo of yoga. 


I had been so wrapped up in my atheist identity that I left no space for anything that might be misconstrued as metaphysical or a threat to my non-belief. 


But I got to rehab and it was 12 Steps and find a higher power and honestly, my higher power is me! There’s nothing bigger than my own will to do right by myself.


I met Christine. She was our yoga and DBT instructor. Learning to sit with my own thoughts, listen to my own breath, stop worrying about who is checking out my ass in down dog was a very difficult task.


Christine invited me to be completely non-judgemental. With myself and with others. To laugh at myself if I fell out of tree pose. To cry when she touch my forehead during savasana. To feel my feelings and stop attributing those feelings to anything outside of myself, including god or whatever, that I am human and imperfect and that’s okay.


When Amy left and I was so alone, it was yoga class that helped me cope.


I am learning to understand that inner intensity, meditation and emotional literacy within myself is not connected to anything metaphysical if I don’t want it to be.

(Look! I can bloom my tree!)


I’ve got a long way to go. But I believe that this practice is saving my life, well, I believe that my choice to practice and commit is saving my life and is so much more useful than 12 step navel gazing and guilt and shame and war story sharing.


I am grateful for my mat. 

Written by thelittlepecan

May 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I said, “What the Fuck is Up with All this Gendered Sexist Bullshit?”

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I’m sitting on a sofa in the upstairs room newly outfitted with IKEA living room furniture, a sign on the wall that reads “HUMBLE” in the style of an old gas station advert and a weird looking clock that is impossible to read which is really fucking annoying…I had to have my husband ship me a watch because TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

I am waiting for class to begin.  And by class, I mean a 22 year old young middle class white woman who is triggered by Trap Music (the genre, not T.I.’s album with a ‘Z’) is going to speak to me and a room full of other women aged 19-40 somethings about…what?

Ah. Relationships with women. When we are in full blown addiction we will find women to be bitchy and take our boyfriends. I am not straight, but okay.  I never found my friends to betray me in that way, but…

Now we are learning about addictive behavior and…clothing?

I shit you not.

Stop wearing short skirts and Holy Respectability Politics, Batman! Dammit, girls, if you’d just dress like a lady, you probably wouldn’t shoot up so much and get facedownplasteredinthecar.

I bet you’re surprised that there’s research on the gendered ways we deal with addiction, just like there are racialized and sexualized ways…and those things intersect. Insert shock and awe here please.

Cis/straight/middleclass/white men are the bulk of all addiction treatments from AA to Passages. They are overwhelmingly run by that same demographic. And women, who raise the bulk of our children, suffer far greater instances of domestic violence, need assistance (that is often tied to drug testing or treatment completion) from the social safety net more often and experience sexual assault related to drug or alcohol misuse and abuse at astronomical rates are often completely left out of conversations about how best to deal with very specific issues when it comes to addiction. Well, unless they are being drug tested and having their babies taken away by DFCS. Wait, only poor women and WoC?  Okay.  Then we talk a lot about it. Mainly about taking them to prison and chaining them to beds if they are pregnant.

But our skirts, yeah?

In the US, the ‘‘good woman’’ is a gendered construct characterised as one who upholds exceptional moral standards; the good woman embodies an image of sexual purity, trustworthiness and innocence (Harris-Perry, 2011; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004). Some scholars articulate that these images are also racialised, placing white woman as the hallmark image of the ‘‘good woman’’ – a mutually reinforcing construct of sexual and racial purity characteristic of societal ideals of whiteness (Anderson, 2001; Harris-Perry, 2011; HillCollins, 2000). Though scholars have long critiqued these societal ideals of femininity as discriminatory and unrealistic, the good woman image persists as a cultural identity that both women and mene spouse (Hill-Collins, 1990; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004).

It is these gendered understandings of morality that get in the way of good sobriety, of good treatment and of trauma healing inside a facility. Already treatment is viewed as a moral failing, a neo-liberal understanding of individual responsibility with little biological/medical understanding of addiction (See Dr. Carl Hart’s work on addiction) and a pseudopsychologic/sociologic misunderstanding of social and psychological behavior.  Basically, you are bad and you should feel bad.  Jesus can help. Go to another meeting.

And it did make me feel bad. Even though I knew it was bullshit.

I watched girls, young women really, but barely old enough to be out of my Mama range, who had been violently assaulted or engaged in sex work (for which they had no reason to be ashamed) or engaged in sex for reasons they felt ashamed of (for their own reasons that I would honor) already be further shamed by talks delivered by completely unqualified techs with nary a background in women’s studies, addiction treatment, sexuality, sociology…or social work.

We are nowhere near being able to distinguish the brains of addicted persons from those of non-addicted individuals. Despite this, the ‘diseased brain’ perspective has outsized influence on research funding and direction, as well as on how drug use and addiction are viewed in society. Dr. Carl Hart

Even though:

Your risk of experiencing intimate partner violence increases if you are:

  • Poor
  • Less educated
  • An adolescent or a young adult
  • Female
  • Living in a high-poverty neighborhood
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol

I sat and listened to this talk and then an activity whereby a fictional woman on a fictional island is fictionally coerced into having sex with a man with more power and resources than she in order to go to the other fictional island where her fictional fiancè is located, who proceeds to abandon her and shame her for her rape and she is then rescued as a distressed damsel by a third man all while her mother encouraged the entire scenario.

I later found out that the worst person in the story according to the LICENSED ADDICTION COUNSELOR was the woman–for a lack of integrity.

These two instances happened on the same day, back to back.

I’ve been sexually assaulted in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been coerced into sex in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been RAPED UNDER THE INFLUENCE A NUMBER OF TIMES.  I’ve also been violently assaulted by a loved one in the context of addiction and I’ve had my mom counsel me to “carefully consider my options” when it came time to probably leave. I’ve had horrific and shameful encounters with women friends in the context of addiction. I’ve been blamed for all of these things as a woman and as an addict/alcoholic by any number of people throughout my time in that world.

So. Yeah. Triggered. Sobbing.  And attempted to make some kind of headway with the head of program direction…but, you know, as an addict/alcoholic my word really didn’t mean shit. As a victim. As a survivor. AS A FUCKING SOCIOLOGIST.

“What can you do to gain knowledge in these situations?
Honestly, I dunno you ignorant fuck, what can you do to protect your clients from further trauma and respect the knowledge we have as experts in our own lives and hey these degrees that are costing me three times your fucking yearly salary?  Yeah?

Okay no then.

I heard the words slut, bitch, and whore more times than I can count and I don’t mean in a take back the night wild hairy underarmed feminist kind of way either.

I listened as male clients inspected the bodies of female clients, who touched them inappropriately, who bragged about having sex on property with young women who were clearly vulnerable and had limited opportunities for non-sexual physical contact (more on that and the rampant queerphobia later).

I know of at least two women kicked out for what amounted to specifically labeled gendered behavior that was not allowed and women shamed for not being ladylike and women who relapsed immediately after their discharge.

There was only one group who regularly “succeeded” and I’m not even sure we can call it that.

Source Material

A. J. Gunn & K. E. 2015. “Intra-group stigma: Examining peer relationships among women in recovery for addictions.” Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. 22(3): 281–292.

Babcock, Marguerite L and Connor, Bernadette. 1981. “Sexism and treatment of the female alcoholic: a review.” Social Work. 26(3):233-238. 

McKim, Allison. 2014. “Roxanne’s Dress: Governing Gender and Marginality through Addiction Treatment.” Signs: Journal Of Women In Culture & Society 39(2): 433-458.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

The War on Christmas Pt. 1

It’s that time of year again; cold weather (icky), pretty lights and the inevitable questions about the hypocrisy of nontheists celebrating Christmas.

Why don’t we play a little game of Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes? (This is also known as “empathy” to the rest of the world.)

Let’s imagine that it’s somewhere around the third century A.D.  Christmas as a feast is just beginning to be popularized (give or take, let’s not get caught up in details here.)  Lots of other celebrations happening around that time and let’s imagine you’re a Christian.  Not exactly the popular kids on the block, ya dig?

Now, let’s imagine that your Pagan neighbors see you preparing for your celebration and being the know-it-all majority members that they are, one of them takes it upon himself to holler across the way,

“Hey, don’t you think you’re just acknowledging your true belief in <insert random Pagan Roman god here> by plunking your little ‘feast’ right smack in the middle of Saturnalia?”  Damn dirty heathens.


“No.  This is about Christ.  <Insert genuine reasons for separate celebration here.>”

“Huh.  Seems hypocritical to me.  Why don’t you pick a different day/time/season to celebrate your made up completely invalidated ‘religious’ stuff if you really don’t believe in our religious stuff?”

I bet it sucked to be the minority then just like it sucks to be in the minority now.   But, there’s a reason we get peppered by questions like these as non-believers, just like I’ll venture new Christians got peppered by annoying neighbors 1700 years ago.

Hegemony:  The desire to keep the status quo.  It is the goal of instilling the belief that the interests of the majority are automatically the interests of everyone.  However you can convince those with the least power (read: small, powerless minority groups) that this is true keeps power right where it sits.

Every group in power has the core interest of staying in power.  What better way to do that (besides killing off dissenters) than to convince those who are not in power that it’s in their best interest to keep the powerful right where they are?  There is none.

So, if a powerful minority can create a large base majority and then convince them that questioning belief makes them not only ungodly but also un-American, you can bet that’s the road most travelled.  That the trail blazed from day one in Capitalist Christian America.

This base majority has power as well, though, not the kind that movers and shakers are interested in having.  I’m not talking about a powerful majority politically.  I’m talking power where it counts to everyday individuals.  At home.  In communities.  Amongst friends, neighbors and co-workers.  The type of power that fuels peer pressure and bullying.  That type of power in a majority base can get you whatever you want.

I have to believe that all the crap given to non-theists has a spark created somewhere far away from individuals who are mostly good in their everyday lives.  I always look for the sociological factors at work.

Are people questioning the way I live my life because they genuinely just love to give me a hard time?  Maybe.  There are plenty of folks on the interwebz who love to do things like that.  But, surely the people who are close to me, who love me and want what is good for me have little or no interest in just being jerks.

No, the reason that those people feel justified in telling me I’m a hypocrite for celebrating a secular version of a religious season (cause holidays means more than one) is because in questioning me, they reinforce themselves.  Sucks.  But, it is also a pretty basic human trait. You have to keep instilling the idea that the majority knows what’s best for everyone and you have to strengthen that idea in the majority as well.  A good way to do that is to pick apart the idea that other concepts of best interest might also be valid.

Just because something is in the best interest of those holding the reigns (heh, or Black Friday sale prices) doesn’t mean it’s in the best interest of all of us.  I know. It’s a fearful prospect to think that the breakaway population might be on to something and so, the name calling or assumption making comes and we are peppered like the third century Christian just wanting to live her life how she wants without being forced into some Pagan default.

And as I’m writing this and wondering if I’m even making sense, PZ Myers comes through for me once again by posting a quote from Archbishop George Pell (Sydney) that just rolls this up pretty nicely.

“A minority of people, usually people without religion, are frightened by the future,” he says. “It’s almost as though they’ve … nothing but fear to distract themselves from the fact that without God the universe has no objective purpose or meaning. Nothing beyond the constructs they confect to cover the abyss.”

The minority isn’t frightened, Archbishop.  I think we might be the thing to be fearful of.  Freedom of thought can be a real bitch.

 

 

Let the War Begin! [C’mon, y’all will laugh, I swear.]

Written by thelittlepecan

November 29, 2010 at 12:00 am

Posted in atheism, faith

A Word on Tolerance. Well, Several, Actually.

I fancy myself a pretty open-minded individual.  I like civil rights, I’m a big fan of free speech and I personally think the United States Constitution was a great start for securing those things for a budding nation.  When I’m studying groups I don’t understand or want to know more about, I think I have a great capacity to tolerate whatever crazy ideals the members of that group may have and I try very hard to honor their humanity without compromising my own.

But, there’s one thing I can’t stand, I won’t stand and certainly in my personal life I absolutely will not tolerate.  Intolerance.

Liberals get bagged as very wishy-washy when it comes to things like this.  I hear that right-wing stand-by “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” often as the go-to for pointing out that open-minded tolerance of all types of views and opinions basically makes us spineless.

I think I may agree.

See, we’ve gotten so used to touting ourselves as lovers of everyone that when people start spewing hate all over the world, including our schools, even from those in charge of education, we sort of throw our hands up in the name of free speech.  Or go the opposite way and start threatening people or their families, which is pretty abhorrent behavior.

Then there’s this guy, Andrew Shirvell who used to work in the Michigan Attorney General’s office but was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court.  Conduct in the form of an anti-gay blog.

I’m not advocating that we start policing folks for taking advantage of their Constitutional right to be a jackahole (similar to whack-a-mole) at all.  What I am advocating is that we stop allowing people the space in our personal lives to be hateful.

I used to really try to let everyone have a say on my social networking pages.  Then someone posted something really anti-GLBT.  I was mortified.  I was worried that my gay and lesbian friends would see that and think that I was okay with someone posting things like that on my page.  So, I started deleting.  Then I started deleting “friends” who could only drum up happy talk for other types that only believed like they do.  I am not the United States and my personal life is not a democracy.

Bishop Spong (who is one of the few religious heroes I have) has done amazing work changing minds and lives inside the Episcopal Church.  He recently wrote a sort of manifesto (and again, I’ll thank my friends in Religious Roundtable for the heads up on this one) basically refusing to engage in the debate of intolerance anymore.

“Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.”

You can read it in its entirety here on Walking With Integrity.

So, yeah, I’m gonna do that, too.  There aren’t always two sides to every story.  Sometimes there’s just right…and then there’s wrong.  I feel confident, even arrogant, that I’m on the side of right, on the side of human rights, so yanno, if you don’t agree, feel free to not engage with me about it, either.  I won’t tolerate intolerance.  So.  There.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

When in Rome?

Through one of the Muslim women in the religious debate group I moderate, I found this beautifully written article on CNN.com about a journalist who decides to don the niqab in order to better understand and, let’s face it, infiltrate the culture on which she is attempting to report. It is an inspiring piece about meeting others where they are instead of always expecting people outside of Western culture to come to us.

But, that’s sort of where my positivity expires. As a Western woman, I get social “breaks” that women in Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia rarely get. And, pardon me, but that’s still not enough. I’ve been exchanging dialogue with Muslim women on a regular basis for four years now. They are intelligent, sincere, and compassionate women. They have theologically sound arguments that often make me stop and say, “Hmm.” But, I’m still coming back to the fact that, no matter how much I try to understand another culture, religion or basic way of life, I cannot with any honesty say that I think mandating a woman to cover anything so that she can be treated as if she is not standing right in front of you is liberating. At all.

As a matter of fact, I find it demeaning and what’s more, I find it disheartening that, just like conservative  Christian women feel they are showing strength by submission, these Muslim women feel empowered by giving up one of the most empowering thing we possess; our facial expression.

When I was 21, my mother took me on a trip to Spain. This was pre-9/11, by just a couple of months and part of our tour included a day trip to Morocco. No one went out of their way to get me to cover my hair, or cover my skin, or anything. I wore a long skirt because I was aware it is Muslim dominated kingdom, but I really didn’t think all that much about it. I got a few wayward glances, but nothing too out of the ordinary for an American girl in a foreign country. I didn’t cover my hair, hell, I didn’t cover my arms.

Now, I suppose, given that the amount of knowledge and culture I now posses, greatly exceeds that which I had 10 years ago, I’d probably try to be more aware of my surroundings. I may cover my hair and arms…if doing so didn’t raise my internal body temperature by about a billiondy degrees.

I understand that in order to find common ground, sometimes we need to adapt to others rather than expecting them to adapt to us. Though, I wonder if Gena Somra at CNN could have better shown solidarity with her host country by donning the niqab during the first part of her trip and then removing it several days later to show solidarity to the women of Yemen in a small act that may reveal to them that, yes, they too can take control of their lives and for a small moment, show the men who would interacted with her that she was the same, covered or not. As for those who systematically ignored her while she was covered, well, they’d have done the same either way.

I think people ought to be able to do what they want. Mostly. If a woman wants to cover from head to toe, in a free society (or at least as free as we’ve come to be in our history) then I suppose that’s on her. But, in societies where this is the norm, expected or part of the religious based culture, freedom seems to be an idea without much reality. I appreciate Ms. Somra’s act of decorum and humility, but I think it falls flat in the face of women’s rights.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Bringing Faith back to the Democratic Party

So, it’s election season again.  The pandering to every voting bloc by every candidate has me more than a bit squeamish and November 2 can go ahead and hurry up.  I’ve made most of my decisions and it’ll come to no surprise  that they’re mostly liberal candidates.
One candidate that I’m particularly supportive of has made the promise to “bring faith back to the Democratic party.”  I was so disappointed.  Not disappointed because I have a problem with people and their faith, but disappointed that once again, it all comes down to whom you pray and, more importantly,  that you pray, period.

I’m a good person.  I pay my taxes (though, often not on time), I volunteer, and I try to make poignant social commentary that hopefully opens eyes and hearts and fires up passions about injustice.  I try to be a good mommy, a good daughter, a good sister, a good girlfriend and a good student.  I make good grades; I help old ladies cross the street.

And I don’t believe in god.

I’ll pause for the shock to die down.

The party that’s supposed to be for equality, social justice and brotherly love…what could be more faithful than that?  In the United States the non-believing population is anywhere from 1-15% depending on which poll you like.  The chances of the Democratic Party not having faith in god as a whole is well zero, actually.
Which makes me ask:  Why do we need to bring faith back to something that’s already full of it?
While we’re on the topic, why does it even matter?  Is my vote not as important, my volunteer work or campaign canvassing not as useful? I don’t need my party to have faith; I need my party to work for the good of the citizenry it proposes to stand for no matter what any of them believe in.

I never thought the Left would make me feel like less of a citizen because of my religious ideals.  I guess I’m still too idealistic to realize that it’ll be a good long while before the godless are good enough.

Written by thelittlepecan

October 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Christian, election, faith