He Seemed so Nice


If you know anyone who is in this type of situation; or if a family member is, give them the 800 number for the Domestic Abuse Hotline:

DomesticViolenceHotline

He seemed super nice at first

It’s true. I’ve known more than one abusive man in my day. Some I knew intimately and some were only acquaintances. You know, just friends of friends. Some men still think it’s ok to maintain friendships with abusive men dontchaknow. At a certain point someone might accidentally let it slip that so-and-so, you know, that guy we party with, you know, maybe tormented or threatened or tried to strangle his girlfriend, and funny thing! I wouldn’t want to hang out with those dudes anymore. How awkward for everyone. “Meghan, Meghan – we don’t acknowledge those things.” “Hey! Buddy never abused me so who knows, right? His girlfriend is probably lying about that abuse.” If you don’t see it with your own eyes you should just assume it isn’t happening and go on with your life, yes? OH those ladies and their nutty stories.

But I digress. My friend Easily Riled wrote a post about the Bedford decision and some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate for the decriminalization of pimps and johns. She pointed out that:

“The appeal judges decided that the Communicating law did not violate the Charter rights of prostituted people sex workers, and represented a reasonable limit on rights to expression.  Because as we know, it is difficult to tell–no matter how much time you have to “screen” some guy– when he’s going to go off on you. Women in prostitution have told us many stories about going with men they knew, regular ‘clients’, men the met and talked with for an hour or so in the bar, men referred to them by trusted friends– who, when alone with them, became violent. And, you know, women often MARRY men who turn out to be abusive– five minutes on a street corner isn’t going to make a difference–he always decides how to behave, she will never have  that control. In theory, then, the communicating law can be used against the men who buy sex.”

One of the more common arguments for the decriminalization of johns is that if buying sex in the street is completely legalized, prostituted women will have more time to asses a client before getting into a car or going to a room with him.

This argument has been refuted by many, including Janine Benedet, who acted as co-counsel for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution during the Bedford trial, who noted in a recent talk that the 27 year old man who murdered Nicole Parisien was seemingly, just a “regular” guy. Andrew Evans was a rugby player and former peer counselor. Benedet noted that he found Parisien through an ad on Craigslist and met her at an apartment of her choosing – an apartment that was being used as a brothel in Kitsilano.

Are these the “safe” indoor brothels people are advocating for? I imagine that Parisien thought this man was “safe”. Turns out he wasn’t. Turns out that being indoors, being able to suss out clientele first didn’t stop Evans from becoming violent when he couldn’t maintain an erection. Benedet added:

“This is a good example of the male sexual entitlement that is quite evident in prostitution. When she didn’t give him what he wanted he turned to violence and she was dead very, very quickly. There was no time for anybody to intervene. A good reminder that just putting things in a brothel or in a woman’s own apartment doesn’t stop this kind of violence.”

So Evans may be spending his life in jail but Parisien no longer has a life.

Devastatingly, these stories are not uncommon – there is something about men who buy sex who seem to think that the women they buy are disposable. Male entitlement is tied to prostitution. Men who buy sex think they are entitled. They believe that their pleasure is more important than women’s lives, women’s health, women’s well-being. Do you think that the man I saw the other day while waiting for the bus at Main and Cordova, who stopped his black SUV at the corner and dropped off a woman limping in platform shoes, steadying herself with a cane, cares about her life? Do you think he wants her life to get better? I doubt it. I doubt any man who buys sex wants the lives of prostituted women to get better. If their lives were better there would be no one left to give him blow jobs on his lunch break.

These are the men we are talking about decriminalizing. Not some imaginary “nice john.” What “nice man” wants women to remain so poor that they have no choice but to service him? What “nice man” kills a woman because he can’t maintain an erection? And what “nice man” thinks he deserves this – that he is owed, nay, is entitled to a blow job? Because he is a man. It is his right. Women are his right. Access to women, 24/7, is his right. That’s what we are talking about when we talk about decriminalizing pimps and johns.

I’ve known a number of abusive men in my lifetime. And you’d never know by looking at them. You probably wouldn’t even know it by talking to them for five or ten minutes (although you do begin to recognize certain traits in certain kinds of abusers – but the smart ones know how to hide it). Sometimes women don’t find out that their partners are abusive until they become pregnant. I can pretty much guarantee that if I had A) gone through with my pregnancy, and B) stayed with the man who impregnated me, the abuse would have escalated. Sometimes women only find out their partners are abusive once their partners get drunk. And hey, sometimes we even get clues early on but sometimes we don’t know they’re clues. Or maybe we’ll ignore the clue. Or maybe the abuser will manipulate us into thinking we are crazy or mess with our heads so that we no longer trust our own instincts. Or maybe we’ll leave. But the idea that women can somehow predict which men are abusive (whether it is verbal, emotional, or physical – and often all these forms of abuse work in congruence) and then avoid said abuse is bunko.

The abusive man is often quite a popular dude. He is often a pillar in his community. He is often charming and intelligent. I know tons of these guys. They are still invited to parties, to meetings, to community gatherings. The women they tormented are not, of course. Those women are not to be trusted. Those women must hide out or feel ashamed or are ostracized. Or they simply remain silent, never saying a thing. Women who name their abusers don’t always get support and, in fact, they often get the opposite of support. Often they are blamed or they are not believed.

So I’m not convinced that talking to a man through a car window, or over email, or even over the phone will tell a woman whether or not this man might become violent or whether he might call her names or whether he will degrade her. We do know that, whoever these men are, even if they aren’t physically violent, they believe that women exist on this earth in order to provide men with sexual pleasure. It is also clear that men who buy sex from prostituted women are often violent, are often abusive, and are often murderers. Sometimes they are “non-violent” misogynists. But not always. We also know that regardless of whether or not a woman has had the opportunity to chat with a man for five or ten minutes, she will at some point be alone in a car or in a hotel room or in an alley with him, and he may or may not have displayed his violent tendencies within the first five minutes of meeting.

What I’m addressing here is of course the idea that decriminalizing johns will make prostitution safer. Or rather, that it will make johns safer. Because that’s what were really talking about, right? Violent, sexist men? We aren’t really saying that women can somehow predict or avoid violence. We’re saying we need to stop violent men. We’re saying we need to stop normalizing sexist behaviour. We need to stop reinforcing the idea that men have the right to access female bodies 24/7.

In a past relationship I told a man that what he was doing constituted verbal and emotional abuse and that he had no right to treat me in that way – I told him I didn’t deserve to be treated in that way. And you know what he said to me? “It was your choice to stay”. And do you know what that means? Do you know what he meant when he said that? He was telling me it was my fault. He was telling me that there was nothing he could do to change and that since I had “chosen” to stay, I must either be ok or somehow deserve that abusive treatment. That since I chose to live in the same house as him and knew that his behaviour was abusive, it was ok for him to continue to treat me in that way because, in the end, it was my responsibility to stop that abuse from happening. Not his. Of course I did leave eventually but I’ll never forget the feeling of being blamed for my own abuse. Of making it about “my choice”.

This isn’t the only time this has happened. Another time I told some people about a man who was their friend who had been abusive to me throughout our relationship. I had already left him at this point. Do you know what they said to me? “Well, you chose to stay, didn’t you?”

OH choice. Magical, magical choice. If you “choose” to put yourself in a position to be abused, according to our f**ked up culture, it’s your fault. So if women do a bad job of  sussing out johns before getting into cars with them, and those johns turn out to be violent, who is to blame?

The answer is obvious, but based on some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate only for a harm reduction model and from those who want johns to be decriminalized, you wouldn’t know it. There is NO reason to protect these men. There are many reasons to protect prostituted women. These women, most certainly, need to be decriminalized so that they can safely go to the cops if they need to. These women, most certainly, need other options. They need to not have to service misogynists or get into cars with them or go to brothels or hotel rooms with them in order to survive. But decriminalizing johns isn’t going to make those men any safer. It certainly isn’t going to convince them not to abuse women and it certainly isn’t going to convince them that they don’t have the god given right to a blow job at any given moment, so long as they can pay.

cycle-of-violence

Giving Thanks


 

We, in America, are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is tomorrow but I have company coming in for the feast. So I will not be blogging tomorrow. Every person on Mother Earth will be on my mind and in my heart.

 

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I would like to wish all of my American readers a very joyful and happy holiday.

To my readers around the world, I would like to wish you a safe, healthy and happy weekend. May all put aside differences and focus on gratitude and the miracle of being alive. I wish to thank all of my readers for your loyalty and your wisdom as you leave your comments. You have all blessed me greatly.

 

We give-away our thanks to the earth

which gives us our home.

We give-away our thanks to the rivers and lakes

which give-away their water.

We give-away our thanks to the trees

which give-away fruit and nuts.

We give-away our thanks to the wind

which brings rain to water the plants.

We give-away our thanks to the sun

who gives-away warmth and light.

All beings on earth: the trees, the animals, the wind

and the rivers give-away to one another

so all is in balance.

We give-away our promise to begin to learn

how to stay in balance with all the earth.

—Dolores La Chapelle

 

The joy of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The joy of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Heading for War


Istanbul (CNN)One of the world’s most volatile regions was roiled further Tuesday when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey said it hit the plane after it violated Turkey’s airspace and ignored 10 warnings.

One of the two pilots was killed in the air by fire from the ground, according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti. The fate of the second pilot wasn’t disclosed.

Meanwhile, a Russian marine was killed on Tuesday during an operation to rescue the two pilots, who were flying an Su-24 warplane in a combat sortie, according to RIA Novosti.

Turkey and Russia exchanged bellicose language after the downing of the plane, raising fears in the international community that the Syrian conflict could spiral into something wider.

The Russian plane was dealt with because it “did not answer our warning,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

ISIS isn’t present at that border area, but Turkmen were there, Erdogan said. Anyone who bombs that area attacks “our brothers and sisters — Turkmen,” Erdogan said in Ankara. Turkmen are a Turkic-speaking, traditionally nomadic people who live primarily in Central Asia, but a small minority of them can be found in the Middle East, primarily in northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

Namaste,
Barbara, the Idealistic Rebel

Sunday Afternoon


I spent the day cooking and baking, in preparation for Thanksgiving.  I do my best cooking when there’s Rock’n’Roll on the stereo, so I thought I’d share a couple of the tunes that get me cookin’!

Namaste,

Barbara the Idealistic Rebel and Chief Chef

 

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A Dose of Reality About Syrian Refugees


My sister found this on Facebook, posted by an Immigration Lawyer named Scott Hicks. It does a wonderful job of explaining why pretending to be a refugee is the LEAST attractive, MOST difficult method for terrorists to get into any particular country, and into the United States in particular.

Please read this and tell me how denying entry to those fleeing for their lives makes us safer?  Tell me how it makes us anything more than fearful bigots?  Tell me how it makes ISIL weaker, when their ultimate goal is turn the world against all Muslims, so Muslims have nowhere to go but to ISIL?

Scott Hicks

November 19, 2015 Edited ·

Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.

I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.

The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.

First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.

Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.

We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.

First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.

Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.

Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.

At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.

Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.

Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.

Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.

The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

Daytrip


Saturday we took a day trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was lovely and we set out for Bat Cave, NC which was a lot of fun and then we drove to Black Mountain and went to the Light Center. I have been there often but it was Amy’s first time. It is used for healing and meditation. Then we drove into Black Mountain and had dinner and drove home to Arden.

It was such a lovely day and even though most of the leaves have dropped there were still bits of color. Here are some of the pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them.

 

The Light Center. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The Light Center. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

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A lovely day on the parkway. Photograph and copyright  by  

                     Barbara Mattio 2015           

                                                                              

The day is beginning to end. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

The day is beginning to end. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

A flat stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

A flat stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

Chapel in a little knoll. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Chapel in a little knoll.
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

Losing the light. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Losing the light. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

North Carolina is the evergreen state and I am really glad there are so many here. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

North Carolina is the evergreen state and I am really glad there are so many here. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

 

Photograph  and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Some areas still have a little bit of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Some areas still have a little bit of color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

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  Bat Cave NC is very old. There is the cave and the bats come out at night and  they feast on mosquitoes in the stream. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio   2015

 

 

 

Bat Cave's general store. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Bat Cave’s general store. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

 

The bat cave store is filled with many oddities that I haven't seen since I was a little girl. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The bat cave store is filled with many oddities that I haven’t seen since I was a little girl. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Local color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Local color. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

 

 

 

The brooks are all running full. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

The brooks are all running full. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Stand by Me


 

 

 

One

Speak your truth.

Listen when others speak theirs, too.

when you let go of fear, you will learn to love others;

and you will let them love you.

Do not be afraid of dying.

But do not be afraid to live.

Ask yourself what that means.

Open your hearts to love, for that is why you’r here.

And know that you are, and always have been One

with Me and all who live.

— Melody Beattie, author

 

 

 

 

Let us be united;

Let us speak in harmony;

Let our minds apprehend alike.

Common be our prayers;

Common be the end of our assembly;

Common be our resolution;

Common be our deliberations.

Alike be our feelings;

Unified be our hearts;

Common be our intentions;

Perfect be our unity.

—Rig Veda, Hindu

 

All people united in One World living in peace and harmony.

All people united in One World living in peace and harmony.

 

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