Posted in commentary, latest posts

I Can’t Stop Thinking About the #SexStrike

Alyssa Milano’s #SexStrike is concerning for a lot of reasons, starting with how only women are centered in the debate. It also ignores an unfortunate reality. It is simply not an option for those in an abusive relationship.

There are many good reasons why Milano’s sex strike sparked a controversy on social media. Unfortunately, much of the discussion ignores how this choice doesn’t play out practically in the real world, and is simply not an option for those in an abusive relationship.

It also centers women in a conversation that must strive to be more inclusive. If you are concerned about topics like abortion, and intimate partner violence, move away from centering women and include others who also deserve to be part of that conversation. We must become allies not adversaries.

Apart from being grossly manipulative, this strike strikes me as naive in how power dynamics work in actual relationships. It reinforces the notion that marginalized bodies are commodities. While sex strikes have been known to work when seeking a specific goal, bartering sexual favors in exchange for recognition of equality strikes me as unattainable.

Likewise, a stance asking marginalized people to fraternize only with those of like mind ignores the reality that “woke” individuals are sometimes not much better than their counterparts. It’s easy to proclaim you are an ally. Actions always speak louder than words. Far too often someone reveals their true colors only after they have attained their goal. Once in an abusive relationship, it is incredibly difficult to get out.

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Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

Of Mice and (Rich) Men, A Sports Story

Rich men play games like spiders while their prey, including ordinary folk, spin endlessly in a web, caught up in the gossamer fabrics of an ecosystem that demands its attention and participation. 

This is nowhere more evident than in the game of football where the game played out on the field goes hand and bushel with the games played everywhere else. The games benefit the rich men the most and their money buys and sells the commodities contained within.

Information and access is exchanged and bought then sold like crank to an addicted audience.  We are incapable of quitting. It is dosed like medication via a network of drug dispensers whose job is to feed the audience in a manner designed to enable and continue their addiction.

I suspect it has always been so with knowledge and information.

Real American Football kicks off this weekend as college football returns. Spencer Hall of SB Nation wrote a beautiful college football preview where he talked about The Mesh offense, how much he loved it and the beautiful efficiency it brought to the game. A well designed and executed offense is an exquisite pleasure to behold. It is the glitz that makes the game turn, and as such is very popular, and lucrative, when it fulfills these requirements.

Yet to make the game work, the foundation one might say, is that the offense be met with resistance and that it be glorious as well. The game would not be fun if there was simply only offense. The defense is as necessary to the game’s survival as the trajectory of a touchdown throw. Neither survive without the other.

Like all social constructs, the game depends on a set of rules, both written and unwritten. These rules boil down to nothing more than aesthetics. They range from uniform requirements, goal post placement, and ball inflation to the ever so popular drug and personal conduct policies. It is the latter that garners the most attention, particularly when major aspects of the game and its rules align, such as in #Deflategate.

Continue reading “Of Mice and (Rich) Men, A Sports Story”

Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

March of the Resistance Podcast Wrap Up

Special Snowflake Sharona is back with another episode of Back Talk with an update on #TheResistance. Then, in our second segment, Sonja Greenfield of NFL Female and XN Sports joined us to discuss the Detroit Lions and General Manager Bob Quinn, whose remarks on Joe Mixon created quite the stir this past week.

First, we gave you an update on that whole Russia thing. We’ve been beating the drum for a while and what happened in our 2016 Presidential Election is the burning issue right now. That Russian interfere in our election occurred with the assistance of highly placed men in the Trump campaign no longer seems in doubt. How far does it extend and does it include women? That remains to be seen.

In our second segment, Sonja Greenfield joined us with an update on the Detroit Lions, statements by GM Bob Quinn and their needs in the upcoming draft. If you missed it, Quinn met with reporters last week prior to the 2017 NFL combine, and when asked about Joe Mixon, he said he was still on their draft board and he was disappointed Mixon was excluded from the combine because of the new NFL domestic violence policy.

As  you may know, Mixon, who played running back for the Oklahoma Sooners, was excluded from the combine after video was released of an incident where he punched a young woman also attending Oklahoma. The blow caused her to strike a table, knocking her out and fracturing her cheekbone and jaw.

The NFL hasn’t always been consistent in its handling of domestic violence and it’s fair to question what it hopes to accomplish with this policy. It is likewise fair to question how Quinn could be even remotely informed on this issue and speak so callously toward domestic violence victims with his indifference to it all. Truly, it speaks to the indifference that both league and teams exhibit that Quinn has neither apologized nor addressed the situation.

The NFL’s new combine policy is vague, having been released through a memo to media but never publicized. I took a look at the policy for Inside the Pylon, and compared his situation to others who were invited. It appears the video was the tipping point for the league though it never specifically said so. More clarification from the NFL on its intended goal would clarify matters for everyone, including teams and domestic violence advocates.

Finally, it’s fair to ponder exactly what the Lions, and Quinn, wish to know. Truthfully, they probably do not care. They want to be able to tell their fans they did their due diligence just like Seattle did with Frank Clark. If they draft him, they will trot out people who will vouch for Mixon so that appearances will be kept.

They will tout the suspension which kept him out of school for a year, and that he learned from his mistake. They will likely say it was a one time deal, but it was not since Mixon had another alternation just last year for which he was suspended one game.

It will cause a stir for a bit but that will die down and fans will buy his merchandise and forget it ever happened, if they ever even cared at all. Such is our attitude toward the violence women experience every single day.

Unfortunately, for women, it’s never just a one time thing that goes away after all the bruises fade.

You can listen to today’s podcast here.

Posted in commentary, latest posts, Sports

Hey Bob Quinn Sorry My Pain Inconveniences You

Hi Bob Quinn, I’m Sharona and I want to tell you a love story. You may not care and judging from your latest comments about Joe Mixon you probably don’t care. I’m still going to tell it to you because our stories are important and maybe it might help you understand why your comments were bush league and why I wanted to throat punch you.

This letter is also for the NFL which professes to care about violence against women yet won’t come right out and tell it’s 32 member teams that maybe drafting a known domestic abuser is something we frown upon and perhaps you should not value money over morals. Or maybe not it’s hard to tell if the NFL really does care about these matters.

I wish you didn’t have to care about violence against women but only because I wish it were not still a thing. Yet, as we know just from the NFL combine alone, it’s still a thing. Per NCADV, one of three women will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The latest estimate indicates roughly 45% of NFL fans are women (they are also people too but I digress.) As they say, numbers don’t lie.

You might ask what that has to do with my love story? I was 30 years old the first time I took a fist to the face from a man I loved and who professed to love me. You might ask what I did to deserve such treatment which is fair because society always asks women what they did to deserve the abuse that gets handed down to them every single day.

I committed the high crime (and misdemeanor?) of wanting to move on with my life after leaving this relationship. I accepted a date from a fella who seemed nice. We were at a restaurant eating dinner before going on to do something else. Perhaps a movie I no longer remember. I would ask him but he vanished faster than you can say Speedy Gonzalez after what happened next.

The man I had been dating showed up. There was a scene. It was not the first. It would not be the last. There were tears and I was asked to abandon this date and leave with him. I refused and the next thing I know a fist hits me on my left cheekbone and I am literally seeing stars.

The blow fractured my cheekbone though I didn’t know it at the time. I only knew a pain far deeper than the physical reality of the moment. I knew a pain you can only know when someone you loved and trusted commits an unspeakable act of violence toward you.

They say pain goes away and bruises do fade yet some damage is permanent. The damage done to your soul is hard to heal but sometimes the physical pain has a way of sticking around too.

A few years later, I am a new associate working for a law firm in downtown Nashville. I have my head down grinding hard because that’s what you do when you are a new attorney. Also, because I was trying to hide from people who might ask why the left side of my face is all swollen and grotesque. Yet, you can’t hide forever.

I had been called upon by a partner a few weeks earlier to make a court appearance for him. Makeup can’t hide everything not even residual damage from a blow that happened two years earlier. I wore my glasses and arranged my hair as best I could to hide the swelling. I hope I was successful. At least no one said anything. What should have been a big moment was lost in dealing with it all.

To this day it still happens. The left side of my face will just randomly swell, and while cold compresses help only time makes it go away. I don’t know why it does this. Oh, I consulted a doctor when it started happening. He was a very good doctor but he had no solutions. Also, I will never forget the look on his face when I told him what was happening and why. It was that look you get that says so much.

Why didn’t you leave? Why did this happen? Why didn’t you just placate him? What did you do to deserve this? Why are you telling me this?

I’m telling you because it’s important. I’m telling you because it still happens. I’m telling you because you value Joe Mixon’s ability to carry a football down a field of grass over the damage he did to a young woman. I’m telling you because women matter too and I’m tired of men like you acting like we don’t.

Pain doesn’t always heal. Chicks don’t always dig scars (not when they are our own) and you know what? Faux glory doesn’t really last forever.

Posted in latest posts

#Repost My Complicated Story of Love

** This is a re-post of an article I wrote a few years ago.

I am a domestic violence survivor.

I sit here and stare at those words and marvel at how easy it is to write them. It took me a long time to admit it even to myself. I hate the words domestic violence and not just because I suffered through it. Allow me to explain as I tell my complicated story of love.

No little girl ever grows up dreaming of dating or marrying an abuser. Instead, we are taught the fairy tale. Girl meets boy. Boy is rich, handsome, charming, successful and your father loves him. Girl falls in love. He proposes, they marry and it’s happily ever after. A perfect storybook tale about love.

Once upon a time, I thought I had that fairy tale. He was all of the above. The kind of guy you could take home and introduce to your parents. The sort of fella your parents would instantly love. Oh yes and mine sure did. A perfect storybook about love.

Except, it wasn’t ever perfect. Now, a few years later, I look back and see the warning signs. He didn’t want to hang out with my friends and even considered them an imposition on him and our relationship. Isolation is the first step in an abusive relationship because it takes you away from anyone who might call the game.

I was fortunate enough to be in school so physical isolation wasn’t going to work. School involved a lot of critical thinking and interaction which also proved helpful. I resisted the isolation and noted how he particularly resisted being around family as well. I’m close to mine so that was a problem.

Questions began to plague me about our relationship but the charm would turn on and he would do nice things. Take me to nice places and treat me like I was special. I stayed for three years.

Then came the summer leading into my final year of school. He made me feel guilty for taking a job away from him. He made me feel guilty for wanting to take a trip with my friends before that final year and the real world began. I might not be yet ready to admit this was abusive but I wasn’t going to live in guilt.

I ended the relationship and then my real hell began.

To say he took it poorly would be an understatement. To say the next several years were hell would not be an overstatement. Even now I marvel at the details and wonder if anyone would ever believe the entire story. Recounting every episode would fill a book. Maybe someday I will write that book but for now I will be brief.

At no point during our first three years together did physicality every come into play. After I ended things the situation escalated. There were late night car chases as I would try to escape the stalking. There was an altercation at a restaurant because I dared move on and go on a date. After After I was forced to explain the situation to my poor date, he ended the evening. I never heard back from him. I don’t blame him.

As bad as it was, it certainly could have escalated further if not for one major incident. He showed up the courthouse where I was working. The resulting scene was bad enough for a court officer to follow me, and him, as I attempted to walk back to my office. He wanted to talk to me and it didn’t matter that I asked him to leave.

The court officer walked up to see if everything was alright and he left. The court officer walked me to my office where now I had to explain the situation. I was advised to go to the police. I didn’t. In fact, I never went to the authorities at all. I was fortunate enough to have resources available to contact if I had any problems.

In the meantime, I was being counseled and encouraged to move. I decided that was the right course and so I did. It took a while to find me but he did and showed up at a new employer. This time however it would be different.

This time it hit too close to home for him. He couldn’t continue to show up there because word would finally get out. Publicity was to be avoided at all costs.

A gradual detente set in and I am free from most interaction now and have been for a while. I rarely speak on that time even with those closest to me. To this day, I haven’t shared the full details of what happened with anyone. The reasons why I haven’t shared them are complicated.

I never officially went to the authorities, never sought a restraining order, and protected his reputation like it was my own. My feelings about it are complicated as well. His mother and sister asked me not to do it. They were trying to protect him. I understood because I had that emotion too. You protect the ones you love and I loved him.

How can you love someone who hurts you? God I wish I had an answer to that question. At times we are all going to hurt someone we love. A harsh word here, a broken promise there and you have hurt feelings. We are all conditioned to be a forgiving society. Everyone makes mistakes right?

He wasn’t always the bad guy. He did nice things for me. He did incredibly nice things for others. He was a loving son and brother. We had moments so exquisite it took my breath away.

Human beings are complicated.

Women are conditioned to be silent about so many things. Our societal history is composed of women being told not to stand up, speak up, rock the boat or talk back. Recall sugar and spice and all that’s nice? Women especially don’t talk about unpleasant personal things. On the surface everything must be perfect.

I didn’t tell because I wasn’t sure I would be believed (even though I had plenty of witnesses). I didn’t want to hurt him or his family. I wasn’t sure I could withstand the onslaught of scrutiny that would ensue. I just wanted to get away and live in peace.

Do I regret now not ever going public? Yes I do. Yet, I don’t fault the younger, scared and overwhelmed version of me. I knew how hard it would be to challenge a system overwhelmingly stacked against me.

This is why I dislike the words domestic violence. Hidden problems cannot and will not ever be solved. Call it what it is and this a violent act conducted against a family member or someone who is intimately associated with you. The term domestic carries the connotation of a private act that must never see the light of day.

The only way to eradicate a problem is for it to come to light and be dealt with after a full examination of the facts. Far too often the debate about violence against women excludes the viewpoint of those who have personal experience with it. That has to change and the only way it can change is to make it public and acknowledge the issues.

Domestic violence. Personal. Hidden. Misunderstood. Silence.