Jaycee Dugard >shudder< Horror Film?

I was horrified to discover that a low-rent actor/writer/editor/producer by the name of Shane Ryan is planning to make a film about the capture and imprisonment of Jaycee Dugard.

That's right, Ladies, the wonder-boy of such low-class cinematography as:

  • Sex Kids Party (a/k/a The More, the Better)
  • Amateur Porn Star Killer 1, 2, & 3
  • Big Boobs, Blonde Babes, Bad Blood
  • So, We Killed Our Parents
  • Caged Lesbos A-Go-Go

Is hoping to release Abducted Girl: An American Sex Slave through Alter Ego Films, in Spring 2010, according to Sacramento television station CBS13. Even though Ryan's above-noted movies have been described by viewers as:

  • "[W]hat a homemade snuff film might look like with a bit of what the director thinks is artistic" [1]
  • "[B]ad blood feature that is sheer in-your-face violence with a comedic ingredient inserted for your perverse viewing" [2]
  • "The girl is supposed to be 13 years old, who (in their right mind) would find the gratuitous kidnapping, rape and eventual beating of a 13 year old girl entertaining?" [3]

He's "trying to figure out a way to do that so it's not exploitative," he told a reporter from CBS13 in a telephone interview. He also told the reporter, "We want to capture how sad this story is, but also how interesting."

On the film's website, Ryan writes that "this film is not about Jaycee Dugard," that it was in pre-production prior to authorities rescuing Dugard, and he continues with "Instead of doing a movie about human trafficking they instead decided [because of the Dugard case] to focus on just one victim and her captor and explore the idea of what it would be like for an 11 year old to be kidnapped and live in captivity for the next 18 years." He clearly states, "This is a fictitious film we were planning on making with a few friends in hope to make an interesting story," and he also says that this is nothing but the media "cashing in on another Jaycee story."

So, to recap, According to Ryan:

  • This film is not about Dugard (even if a pre-production movie was re-drafted as the direct result of Dugard's recovery)
  • Alter Ego Films is not a porn company (regardless of what they create and sell)
  • The "reporters" are the Dugard exploiters, not his film (while he's gabbing about the film's lack of exploitativeness with the CBS13 reporter and thereby co-opting as much publicity as possible).
Sorry, jackass, you just don't get to have it both ways: Either the flick is about Dugard or it isn't. You don't get to accuse the free-publicity pipeline of being vultures when you're planning to bring a film to market that you admit was significantly altered by the events of the Dugard case because that means your film feeds at that same trough of pain.

If the reporters are the vultures, I hereby call you out for catching a ride on the vulture's wing simply to save the time and effort of walking over to feast on the carcass yourself.

I have to say that I agree with the Dugard family's spokesperson Nancy Seltzer's statement that this project is "breathtakingly unkind."[4]

You, Sir, are a Very.Bad.Man.


The Winds of Change Blow

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

After an extended absence, rejoining you is a pleasure!

I'm a steadfast Third Wave feminist. I've spent my entire life proving to the world (and myself) that I am the equal of any man in anything that I choose to do. Beginning with schoolyard fisticuffs, I fell in love with high school Junior ROTC, refused to marry young, established a career in a (predominately male) technical field, and have vociferously insisted to anyone listening (and those not) that women have value that has nothing to do with creating new life

Adamantly, ferociously, with the crystal clarity that only true passion brings, I have practiced what I've preached. I refuse to cry outside of my own apartment. When I'm frightened, I snarl. When I'm weak, I attack. When I'm paralyzed, I bark orders at others. When I feel stupid, I boast. Full of bravado and vinegar, I dare anyone, everyone, to call my bluff. Intelligent women older than me have told me, "I'm so jealous! You're your own person: You never gave yourself away."

While battling a sleeping disorder that eradicates many useful hours, I've lived my life with what time I have as my own. My responsibilities are with my friends and parents, not with the husband or child/ren that my culture (and well-meaning individuals) say that I am missing.

The only time one of my girlfriends and I are ever catty is when we praise Glory for the fact that we are childless. We revel in the fact that we still have the luxuries of self-absorbtion and non-bowel-movement conversation. We are snotty towards and gossip about parent who don't control their children and parents who have nothing to talk about besides Johnny's ear infection or Janie's latest goo-goo-ga-ga babbling.

We know your little precious is the most amazingly wonderful thing in the multiverse to you, we do, I promise! Really, that's probably the way it should be, but please, dear God, would you just shut up about it?!

"That is just not going to be us, we actually have something to do with our lives," we snark, as if childrearing is relegated to those without the capacity to do anything else. I always felt a bit guilty for snarking about women whose choices have been different than mine, but not enough to actually stop the snarking. I'm positive that there's a portion of the human animal's social need that yearns for validation so much that even self-provided validation will suffice.

I've been proud to use the courtesy title of "Miss," although at the age of 38 people occasionally double-take when I do. My boss says I look 30. I refuse to change my name if I ever *do* marry. I'm not against the idea of marriage per se', but I am still not sure (while having discussed it with my boyfriend) that I am or ever will be ready for such a thing. I'm a fiercly independent, oddly particular, strongly-willed, and reliable overachieving only child who is used to having things her own way.

Let's say that the arts of negotiation and domestic order are not among my stronger points. :-)

I've been an apartment dweller my entire adult life, and I've found myself daydreaming for the last year or so of a permanent home, of putting down roots, of neighborhood block parties in the kind of place where Girl Scouts ring the doorbell to sell their boxes of yummy goodness every year. I've been daydreaming of older neighborhoods, with narrow driveways and old-growth trees, neighborhoods that have 50 years of architectural styles represented in the little houses lining the streets while the larger city sprawled around, creating little enclaves with their own little newletters and residents who know the family name of the house two blocks over who just bought that sweet new Mazda RX8 . . .

This picture never includes a husband or child/ren. I see the garden, I see the porch swing (and the kitty dozing in it), I see the cute white trim around the round accent-lighting windows, I see the kitchen with it's glorious chrome-trimmed appliances, and I see the window-box with custom cushions, begging me to wile away the sunny afternoon with my Kindle . . .

But I never see the other pieces of the house, of that life, and I've assumed that's because I'm not yet ready to see them. I'm not ready to get married, I'm not ready to be a parent, so those pieces are not yet visible to me.

As a result, I've been thinking that I've just been wanting to put down roots, that I'm finally looking for an adult level of security, stability, and serenity. That my kitty and my project house are what I'm yearning for, what I need. I'd come to the conclusion that this was just a larger, albeit more gentle, form of the insistent nesting urge I experience every time that I have PMS.

I realized just last night that I've been wrong. All at once, a thought leapt up from my subconscious brain and burst into my conscious mind with the stopping power of a close thunderclap:

I want a baby.

What the hell happened to me? Who am I to become?


Loss and Life

My friend, Sandra died on October 20th, 2009. I received this news at 12:45 pm via text message. It simply said “Sandra has passed”.

I didn’t know Sandra long. I didn’t know Sandra from childhood. I knew of Sandra’s feelings about her childhood. She shared with me her inward experiences of the pain as well as the sad, terrible and lonely stories from those days. I believe that this makes the child in her more real to me than if I was with her then.

I know Sandra, the brave and tattered little girl who fought injustice, because she placed her in my heart.

I did not know Sandra when she married nor did I know her during her many attempts at being loved by a man......but I knew of her marriages, her lost loves and her experiences of constant abuse, abandonment, disappointment and heartbreak. I know Sandra, the broken, abused young woman who never gave up on love, because she placed her in my heart.

I did not know her oldest son but knew about his life. She allowed me entrance into their world of abandonment and sorrow. She told me of her inability to be the mother she desired to be. I know Sandra the desperate, abandoned lost, young mother who bravely continued to try because she placed her in my heart.

I know from our daily life together, firsthand, the son of her heart, Michael, and learned through careful observation and with admiration of their great love for one another. She blessed me with entrance into her inner world, Into her inner self.....her holy of holies.

I know from her who she was in the past, I knew from her actions who she was in the present and who she was becoming So although I did not know her long, I know her well. She shared with me who and what she desired to be. And I think we will all agree: Sandra desired, above all, to be loved.

Sandra has passed....

Looking back I think how strange it is that three little words represent so much in both the past, now and our future. An entire life has come and gone. My friend, my sister, her existence just...gone.... I am not sure I believe that!

Sandra. Sandra Myles. Sandra Lane. To me, friend and teacher. To me utterly beautiful. I can honestly say when I think of Sandra one word comes to my mind that describes her perfectly:


“Sandra has passed” flies before me.....

Sandra lived her Love Spirit naturally and gracefully. She gave me this love freely as only one who has learned the one of the greatest lesson in life can give. That great lesson is What we desire the most in life is what we are required to give to others. That we give love even when it is not returned. That we give it because we know, often through our own lack of receiving, the importance of love. We give what we desire the most to others.

Her very vibration was that of love. She asked for it and extended it with every breath. She was acutely aware that she, that all of us, require love the same way we require air. That without it life was just that. Life. She knew, instinctively, that in order to be ALIVE, to truly feel ALIVE, we must learn the power of giving and receiving love. It is what are all designed to do. She pursued love and her ideals of it with a passion. Always talking and encouraging her version of the “Sisterhood,” always striving to be there for me and for others, always letting me know she loved me, appreciated me and valued our time together. Sandra was the great giver of this pure water and holy water. It poured forth from her and I eagerly, thirstily drank of it.

Through her I learned to speak words of love. To not be shy in saying I love you, to hug warmly without reserve, to give, without fear that which I myself require the most.....Love.

How beautiful it is to me to know that I was blessed by the short time I was allowed to walk in the warm light of Sandra’s life. That I was blessed by her intimate sharing of her spirit. That I was given such grace through knowing the heartbreak and joy of her life. I learned valuable lessons of courage, humility and of life beyond survival. Her example showed me that I could and should ask questions, learn about and change my inner-self. Her ways taught me to listen, embrace new thoughts and ways of being. She showed me how beautiful it was to admit when and where I went wrong, where others had wronged me, and to embrace the truth of my life with courage. I learned, through her private “sisterhood,” to stand in the light of truth and experience joy and not to selfishly hold this knowledge and joy for myself...but to pass it freely forward to all that I meet.

How blessed I am that God brought us together, that we spent part of our journey together. No, Sandra has NOT PASSED. The dust that is her body has passed, but the true Sandra, the everlasting Sandra, the spirit that animated the clay that housed her, is alive and always will be. She lives in me and you, she lives between us, every time we extend or receive love. She is alive and here right now in and around all of us and she is laughing and she is dancing... And she is telling us “I am loved and so are you.”

Ralph Lauren Ad: Wrong on So Many Levels

Greetings to the Ladies Jane!

Today I've stubled upon an odd intersection of feminism and digital rights to share with all of you. My two favorite subjects, rolled into an unlikely bitter pill. This doesn't happen often, so I'm going to enjoy it!

The Ralph Lauren Blue Label ad to the right was originally posted (and commented upon) at the PhotoShop Disasters blog. Apparently, Ralph Lauren objected to said activities and issued a bogus DMCA takedown notice ("bogus" because Fair Use includes criticism).

Since Blogger's policies include automatic removal of content subject to any in/valid DMCA takedown notice, the PhotoShop Disasters post disappeared.

The Streisand Effect immediately came into play, and that's how the outraged feminist in me stumbled upon this advertisement glorifying a soul-crushingly unobtainable female body shape. Thank God for the Streisand Effect, otherwise I would have missed my weekly dose of self-righteous indignation! >only slight hyperbole<
Yes, Blogger also happens to host TJP. As a result, the picture you see to the right is actually residing on a TechDirt server. In fact, because of Blogger's policy to remove any subject of an in/valid DMCA takedown request, all pictures in this post are actually links to files residing on servers that in no way belong to me. I hope those server owners will forgive my poor digital manners because I'm doing this to both prove a point and keep this post alive, not to suck their bandwith.

As for the myriad issues with the advertisement itself, suffice it to say that this is a knuckle-dragging step backwards from the news of recent years that indicates a glacially changing (but changing!) international perspective among swimwear designers, magazine editors, runway model organizers, clothing designers, and a portion of the French fashion industry in the unconscionably thin body types displayed by these industries during the entirety of my lifetime.

Of particular interest is the case of Crystal Renn. In her book Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and The Ultimate Embrace of Curves, she discusses the experience of having lost 70 lbs to land a $250K modeling contract while still in high school. Suffice it to say that while she had that $250K contract, she looked like this:

Eventually, surviving on "lettuce with a side of batshit" caused a break. One day, "something snapped," leading her to quit her agency and move to the Plus Size division of Ford Models. She now shoots fashion campaigns for the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana, and UK clothing chain Evans. This is what Renn looks like today -- Healthy, happy, and the most successful American plus-sized model:

You can read more about Renn's experience and book here and here.

Posting this recent picture of Renn brings into focus the sharp contrast between it and the monstrous Ralph Lauren ad above. I've studied design at an undergrad level, so I can usually figure out what ads that fail were trying to accomplish, who their target market was, even if they missed that target. This ad that someone intentionally altered to glorify an impossible-to-achieve crack-whore/cancer-patient silhouette simply baffles me from a design perspective. I can't figure out their target market except to know with utter conviction that I was not part of it. Because of this atrocious ad, I will never, ever purchase anything from the label, even as a gift.

Note to Ralph Lauren: When your model's head appears larger than her pelvis, you have created a side-show freak, not an attractive living mannequin for your clothes, so you might want to reconsider the message your freak is sending about your product.

Renn is a realistically-shaped, realistically beautiful woman. She looks like someone that I might befriend, someone that high school girls who aspire to be models (like she once was) might one day become. The fact that this woman is considered "plus size" (just look at her!) astounds me.

Renn is the archetypal beautiful, healthy woman. She is what we need to be portraying as beautiful and glamorous to not only our girls but to the never-good-enough half of the adult population that is female. If we're to ever win the fight for the hearts, minds, and souls of our females, we have to practice what we preach, live what we speak, and further what we write.

That we cannot discuss an advertisement (with legal digital supporting material) that doesn't further a corporation's monetary aims without legal bullying (I am looking at you, Ralph Lauren) and without the recourse the law provides (I'm looking at you, Blogger) is a powerful statement about who has the power in this country.

I, for one, do not generally believe that just because Big Money always has the power that it is always right. I, in fact, believe that in the vast majority of cases, the power that Big Money wields is morally (if not legally) wrong. In this case, it is both. Releasing that ad was morally wrong, and submitting a bogus DMCA takedown notice was legally wrong. Since Blogger is complicit in the injustice, PhotoShopDisasters cannot fight back.

We can. Just a little, but we can.

Comment on this post. Tell us how you feel. Drive traffic to this post. E-mail it to everyone you know. Post about it in other blogs that have audiences that care either about women's issues or digital rights, or both. Write a letter to Ralph Lauren, include a copy of the ad. Write about how their ad affects you, personally; women, as a group; and us, as a culture. Write about how their ad is a throwback to an earlier time, and how shamed they should feel. Talk to people: About Crystal Renn, about the small changes we've been seeing in the perspective in the fasion world, about the importance of actual humans as the people we see, not painted stick figures that couldn't possibly be alive. Demand that companies that sell the products you buy use advertising that features people who look like people who could actually exist.

Read. Write. Talk. Demand. Change begins with us.


Ralph Lauren ad: TechDirt
Crystal Renn then:
The Sun
Crystal Renn now:
The Sun

CVS Pharmacy WIN!

Overview: There are several CVS programs/tools that I've become familiar with over the last few years of shopping with them. Over time, I've developed an eye for combining and stacking the benefits of all of them to obtain remarkable savings.

CVS Card: Like a grocery store discount card, the CVS Card allows CVS to track your purchases, but also entitles you to discounts. Such cards enrage privacy advocates, but I think that paying me (in the way of discounts) is fair compensation for using my purchase history as marketing material. The CVS Card comes in key-chain and credit-card sizes, and a telephone number can be tied to it as well (I did not provide mine). I believe only 2 CVS Cards are allowed per household, but different cards can be linked online so that they are treated as the same account (even with different card numbers) so that a household's aggregate spending can be combined.

Extra Bucks: Tied to the use the use of a CVS card and awarded quarterly, these are usable like cash in CVS stores on most products (alcohol, tobacco, and prescriptions excluded). The main source of EBs is a percentage of your purchases, but additional EBs are awarded for filling new prescriptions (or transferring them from other pharmacies), and as after-the-fact discounts on items (buy X, get Y EBs). The EBs are printable online and also print on CVS receipts, so they're easy to cash in once awarded. The trickiest thing about after-the-fact discount EBs is that they aren't always awarded the same way: Some are awarded immediately after a purchase (printing on that receipt), others are held until the quarterly EB award. To be sure of when such EBs will be awarded, the yellow stickers on the shelf underneath the merchandise in question will indicate when the EBs for that purchase will be awarded. EBs do expire, but the expiry date is clearly visible on the EBs (either receipt-prints or online prints).

Circulars, Clip-Free Coupon Books, and In-Store Sales: Like grocery stores, CVS has a weekly circular (available online and in-store) with that week's in-store sales listed, most discounts requiring a CVS card (but no coupon clipping). The clip-free coupon books (also available online and in-store) seem to appear every month or so in addition to the weekly circulars.

Marketing E-mails & CVS Website: Like most other on-line retailers (and make no mistake, CVS is an online retailer as well as brick-and-mortar), you can register on the website to receive weekly marketing e-mail. If you register a CVS Card online as well, you can review/print EBs, weekly circulars, clip-free coupons, and create/print shopping lists. I am on their e-mail marketing list, and I receive printable coupons via these e-mails (my favorites are the $2 off $10, $4 off $20, and $5 off $25, seeming to arrive every 4-to-6 weeks). Product-specific coupons arrive by e-mail as well, and I can't remember receiving more than 1 e-mail in a given week (unless the second e-mail was one of my favorite coupons, that is!). NOTE: The in-store and online discounts are often different. Below is today's in-store WIN, but I've accomplished the same sort of WIN with website orders, too.

CVS Website Edu-Quizes: This seems to happen roughly twice a year. You take a less-than-5-minute quiz on a health topic, and at the end you can print a $5 off $25 coupon. You don't even have to answer the questions correctly! The last two quizzes were about the importance of refilling and taking prescriptions on time and about the flu shot.

In-Store Coupon Kiosks: Like the price-checkers at Target and Wal-Mart, these price-checkers will print coupons if you scan a CVS Card instead of a UPC. I scan mine on every single visit.

Today's Extraordinary CVS WIN:

16.99 OptiFree Express Saline, 2-pk
            (in-store sale 14.99 + 2 Extra Bucks awarded immediately)

4.79 Gold Emblem Roasted Almonds (in-store sale 3/$10)
4.79 Gold Emblem Roasted Almonds (in-store sale 3/$10)
4.79 Gold Emblem Roasted Almonds (in-store sale 3/$10)
12.49 Maxwell House Coffee (in-store sale 6.77)
9.99 Ferreria Hair Color (in-store sale 7.99)
9.99 Ferreria Hair Color (in-store sale 7.99)
7.69 CVS-brand Acetominophen Arthritis (i.e. extended release) (in-store sale $5)
7.69 CVS-brand Acetominophen Arthritis (i.e. extended release) (in-store sale $5)
4.99 Repelle hair-color stain shield

Total, Non-Discount (off-the-street retail): $84.20

-2.00 Extra Bucks from Saline purchase, completed separately first
-2.00 2 off 10 Gold Emblem Nuts coupon printed from in-store kiosk
-2.00 2 off 10 pain reliever coupon printed from in-store kiosk
-2.50 Clip-free manufacturer's coupon for Maxwell House coffee
-5.00 5 off 25 from online flu-Shot edu-quiz, computer-printed
-5.00 5 off 25 coupon from marketing e-mail, computer-printed
-9.00 Extra Bucks from previous purchases, printed on previous receipt

Discount Total, Extra Bucks, Kiosk/E-Mail/Edu-Quiz Coupons: $27.50

-2.00 Saline, CVS Card
-4.37 Nuts, CVS Card
-5.72 Coffee, CVS Card
-4.00 Haircolor, CVS Card
-5.38 Pain reliever, CVS Card

Discount Total, CVS-Card-Required In-Store Sales: $21.47

Total Spent on Today's Discounted Purchase: $35.23

Total Savings: $48.97

Ring Around Society

Sexuality is coextensive with power; one is one’s sex and, not the other.

Sex is produced within service of social regulation,and in control of sexuality.

Sex conceals and unifies artificially.

We all fall down.

Juridical model presumes power and sexuality.

Power only subdues and liberates sex fundamentally.

Sex is recontextualized with in sexuality.

We all fall down.

Notion of sex brought fundamental reverse,representation of power relationships to sexuality is invert.

Latter, not essential or positive to urgency.

We all fall down.

Sexed body not in need of deconstructions,sex to be subjected to social regulations.

Sex regulative and a power knowledge regime regulative; sexual regulation is refute.

Disappearance of sex, though intelligible.

We all get up again.

~Olga Cisneros

My Man's Been Crack-a-Lack'n!

My man’s been crack-a-lack’n and now he’s in the jail.
His hair is all crazy and he says it’s really hell!
He needs some commissary!
He needs some money, please!
My man’s been crack-a-lack’n and now he’s prayin’ on his knees!
He says he’s really sorry! He says it wasn’t him!
He tells the judge he’s not the same. “No, really Judge, it’s not a game!”
My salvation's REAL!
My man’s been crack-a-lack’n but God’s delivered him!
He’s been washed as white as snow from that crackin’ sin!
If the judge will let him go, if he’ll only set him free!
When he gets out he’ll stay straight; just you wait and see!
My man’s been crack-a-lack’n.
And now he’s in the pen.
He’ll hang out and speak of God until he is set free.
Within two months he’ll be right back,
because he’ll run right back to crack.
His salvation's real!!

~Barbara Rhyne-Tucker

The Taker of Innocence

She stepped on the grass, still moist from the morning dew, the dried leaves beneath her feet made small crunching noises with every step she took. The sky was a majestic blue with a few white clouds and the sun peeking through offering the beginning of the heat that would permeate throughout the day. Dressed in a white and yellow dress, ruffled socks and black patent leather shoes, her hair swept up in two ponytails tied with ribbon, she was the vision of innocence. Led by the hand they continued their walk to their secret place, a place where he would sit her down and tell her how special she was.

His name was Sam and he was her uncle, everyone’s favorite son, brother and best friend. Sam had a charisma about him that melted everyone he met, he could do no wrong and his touch was truly recognized as golden. Nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, they all adored him and always poured the accolades his way. A sharp dressed man, a connoisseur of all that could be considered the finest, a collector, a giver and a taker.

He took her innocence, that little girl with the ponytails and the wide eyes. Her desire to be loved and shown affection was her downfall. He preyed upon her, showered her with little tokens; he was the big bear of men that always was ready for a hug, a tussling around on the floor, a piggy back ride, a game of hide and seek.

Her mind blocked the beginning of time; she had no recollection as to when it started, but the memory of being under the covers with him as they lay on the sofa in a seemingly adult pose. Like spoons in a drawer they laid side by side, he stroked her hair, her shoulder; slowly his hands moved under the covers and found their way between her legs.

At the age of five she had the knowledge that what was happening was wrong, it felt good, the touching, the closeness, the sweet nothings whispered in her ears. She was beautiful, she was special, she was his favorite, he knew what he was doing, was she his first victim, was someone else before her in the same spot as she was, hearing the same words, being told she was the one, the special one.

As they continued to lay there under the covers they were interrupted, her look at the intruder was one with a plea of help from her round big tear filled eyes. He was commanded to stop and let the girl out from under the covers. SHE knew what HE was doing. SHE knew. And just like that she was rescued from HIM.

A couple of years passed, a call in the middle of the night came with the news that Sam had been killed. That little girl felt a sense of sadness, but beneath that sadness came another feeling, a much stronger feeling. Relief, relief that he would no longer be able to touch her, touch anyone else. That little girl knew she wasn’t the only one; there were other little girls younger than her. She often wondered who else he touched in that special and loving way. She would never know, that was their untold secret.

Her joy at his death cost her dearly, a price she gladly paid with tears. When she was unable or unwilling to show the proper emotion of sadness at his passing she was punished. That big leather strap came at her, not once, not twice, but many times, each time it came in contact with her bottom she was commanded to shed tears, the tears finally came, but not because she was sad. The tears came from the pain being inflicted upon her. And just like that her walk along life as a victim would begin.

~Ruby Cantu

Back-to-School Shopping Lesson

Long before “Tax-Free Weekend” became a component in our Back-To-School ritual, my mother used the August clothes-shopping ritual as an object lesson in fiscal responsibility. This particular lesson was probably the most valuable financial lesson she ever taught me.

I spent most of my time growing up poor. With the few exceptions of particularly lucky years sprinkled throughout my child- and teenager-hood, back-to-school meant endless hours sifting through used clothes at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army supplemented by sifting through trash bags of hand-me-downs my mother would bring home from neighbors/co-workers or my father would pick up near Dumpsters. The vast majority of cash was usually spent on actual school supplies: Paper, pencils, pens, and folders. Even though my mother would stock up on the actual supplies, taking advantage of the once-a-year sales, I often didn’t have the “required” school supplies.

In fact, here’s the 2009-10 list of Eighth Grade school supplies for the district from which I graduated high school, with the items I would not have taken with me marked with *. The bracketed comments are mostly things my mother would say:

      *2 packages of notebook paper (to be replenished throughout the year)
      *6 spiral notebooks [You’ll get one 5-subject and deal with it.]
      *3 brad folders with pockets
      *2 pocket folders
      *12 pens (to be replenished throughout the year) [You get five, and if lose ‘em, you deal with it.]
      *1 package of highlighters [Use the map pencils.]
      *2 packages of map pencils [You only need one, and you don’t need the big one. Five colors is enough.]
      *1 hand-held pencil sharpener [There’s one bolted to the wall in every classroom. Use them.]
      *1 personal hand sanitizer [No one outside of the medical community even knew what this meant when I went to school.]
      *1 stretchy book cover [Use the ones the school gives out. I don’t care what the list says.]
      *1 composition notebook [Here’s another brad folder. Put notebook paper in it. Don’t look at me like that, we are NOT the VanAsterBuilts!]
      *1 package of graph paper (1/4” quad-ruled) *1 spiral set of 3x5 index cards [Here’s a rubber band to hold these normal index cards together. You don't need the fancy ones.]

The summer before my Eighth Grade year was happened to be in the middle of a lucky stretch. Both of my parents had decent jobs, and money wasn’t as tight as usual. My mother saved every dime she could for four whole months to give me a great experience: back-to-school shopping for new clothes. New! Hot damn, here we go!

My mom, at the last minute, decided use new clothes shopping as a learning experience. As we sat at the Waffle House across the parking lot from K-Mart, we made a list . . . Shoes, check. Underwear, check. Socks, check. Jeans, check. Shirts, check. Barrettes and ponytail holders, check. Light jacket for fall, check. Backpack, check. Belt, check. Winter coat, hat, gloves? After-Christmas sales.

All set? Good.

Then she handed me what seemed like an un-Godly amount of money and said these words to me . . .

I think you’re old enough to do this on your own. Remember, what you buy now, you’re stuck with for the rest of the year. Be smart. If in doubt, don’t buy it.

I was stunned. I had no idea what to do. I shoved the money in my pocket, keeping it in my fist and my fist buried so deeply in my pocket that I almost pushed my shorts down, as I blindly wandered across the parking lot to the front doors of K-Mart.

What I sight I must’ve been! That I never thought to ask her whether she watched me go and look back two or three times is a shame. She died before I thought to ask.

I’ll spare you the details of a prospective Eighth Grade girl’s first solo shopping expedition. Suffice it to say that by Christmas Break I was crying for a hell of a lot more than just winter gear . . . I’d either not bought enough of one thing, or too much of another, or cheap versions that fell apart or shrank so much as to be unwearable because I had no idea how much I needed of anything or what might constitute a good purchase or a bad one. I bought things that didn’t match, didn’t fit, and didn’t hold out.

By the time my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I’d already been borrowing her socks for two months and had stolen her work-worn oldest jeans, cut them off at the knees, and hemmed them myself. Years before workman-chic became the rage, I’d pulled my dad’s ruined light-blue uniform button-ups out of a trash bag, had a friend draw pictures over the stains (with a black Sharpie, the only kind then!), and covered his company patches and embroidery with music band logos from other people’s torn-up concert t-shirts salvaged from another Dumpster.

Needless to say, all I wanted for Christmas was, “Clothes! And you’re coming this time!” Christmas break was a thrift-store bonanza. And good God, was I was happy for the opportunity. I never went shopping with her again, for anything, without paying close attention and asking so many questions that she would eventually have to give me “The Look” to shut me up.

We didn’t have uniforms in public schools back then, so there was no “financial assistance” to purchase back-to-school clothes during the other years when we really could have used it. I wonder what kind of changes going to “uniform schools” would have made in my life, if any at all


Help Needed

Hello Janes!

As you may have noticed we’re slow lately. Very slow. We need your help to keep going! We need all of you readers out there to send us submissions!

Please, consider writing something up for Jane, send our link to your friends and family and encourage them to do the same. You’re needed to make the Jane Project an active and positive place for women.

The Jane Team

Trafficking, Truth and the Abuse of Texas Prisoners

The incarceration of addicts and many other non-violent is Human Trafficking in its’ lowest form. Money is being made, billions of dollars through “legal means”. Prisoners in Texas work in these camps for no pay, in businesses that profit from the goods or services produced. They have no choice, they are held captive. They routinely are tortured, beaten raped, abused …

I want to let you know why I was sent to prison before you read this. I want you know what crime I was guilty of. I was in a car with many people and we were pulled over. The police officer found a miniscule fleck of crack cocaine on the floorboard where I was sitting by spraying the carpet with an agent that renders this drug blue. The piece they found was no bigger than the head of a pin. Texas sentenced me to six months state jail for this heinous offense that in other states would not even warrant a misdemeanor charge. Texas deemed it felonious…
I was, admittedly, an addict. I know I needed help. What I was not is a criminal. I am now drug free but I must tell you I will never be free from the memories of surviving a corrupt and dangerous system that exist to profit off the flesh of the addicted, the poor and the broken.

Arriving at Plane State Jail

After being held for twenty-four hours in a freezing, over-crowded Harris County Jail cell, we were roughly hand-cuffed in pairs and loaded onto one of the many Texas Department of Correction buses. We bumped endlessly down the road to, what my imagination and several had told me, Hell. I watch the familiar scenery of my forty years fly by through the meshed window, mourning the beauty of the sunrise and thought “will I ever see my home again?” As we moved into unfamiliar scenery I began to doze off, not only exhausted from the ordeal of the holding cell, but needing desperately to escape the reality of my existence. I pulled my coat warmly around me and gratefully tumbled into the arms of Morpheus.

I woke when the bus came to a stop. We had arrived. This was the infamous place that stole your name and reduced you to a number. This was the place where you could just as easily die at the hands of an inmate as at the hands of a prison guard if you made a wrong move. This is where I would be spending the next several months of my life and I was deeply afraid. The Constantine barb wire that ran endlessly around the fences might as well been wrapped around my very soul.

I stepped off the bus carefully so I didn’t trip the woman they had cuffed me with. I felt tender towards her and was especially careful to be gentle. She was of a simpler mind than me and often appeared confused and lost. One of the prison guards freed us from our handcuffs. She looked at me with swollen, tear-filled eyes and simply wandered off to the sidelines. Then, unbelievably, we were ordered to take off our coats. As I obeyed, I was immediately knocked senseless by a huge gust of icy wind. Even though I had tried to brace myself against the impact of the wall of cold, my breath caught and my tears of pain and fear froze on my face. I watched helplessly as they took each woman’s coat and threw them back on the bus. Fearfully I watched two male prison guards with shotguns pace back and forth in front us, screaming obscenities at various women. As I watched what little warmth left in my body escape as frozen breath, I thought, “This is me. This is all that is left of me and even IT is leaving me, freezing and dying in this terrible moment. The guards forced us to stand on a line beside the bus. I watch in wonder as more buses arrived and more women stood bleak and coatless beside their bus. Over one hundred arrived that day.

After about half an hour in this frigid, surreal reality, we were allowed to enter the large steel and cement structure that housed the yet unknown prison administrative process, inoffensively called “Intake.” While the building itself provided little relief from general cold, it did shield us from the bitter winds. I was unprepared, though, for the emotional and psychological effects this process was designed to inflict.

“Intake” was both terrifying and humiliating. Already under tremendous physical and emotional strain, we were required to form a long line and strip naked in mass. Many of the women cried out loud, others wept silently, all covering their bodies as best they could from foreign eyes and to guard against the bone chilling cold. Most of us looked down and away in shame. Concentration camp movie scenes had nothing on this. As for me, I stood erect, stepped out of my clothes and folded them neatly, laying them at my feet. I quietly comforted the young girl beside me who was close to hysteria. I made eye contact with other women to show them quietly that they need not be ashamed. “Stand up straight, keep your head up, this is only a moment and it will be all right” I whispered to the weak and to the fearful. Some actually did, others managed a small smile, crying, but still a smile. I think I needed it more than they did.
The female guards picked up bras and panties, dropping each set back at the feet of the woman to whom they belonged after a thorough inspection. A tall, thick prison guard commanded us to take our orange county uniforms and throw them into a pile across the room. All of us naked, many still crying and as always, freezing, we complied and reformed our pathetic tear-streaked line on a long wall. I began to notice that all the guards had on very warm coats, while we were naked. Another heavy-set one began to scream at us to stop covering ourselves. That it wasn’t THAT cold. She stood face to face with several girls and leaned in so close she almost touched her nose to theirs and shouted for them to stop crying. She shouted into their eyes that they were no good stupid bitches. She shouted into their hearts that they deserved what they got. She shouted into their souls that they were so bad nobody loved them anymore. I watched in silent horror as this evil being shouted these wounded, broken spirits into Sheol. Several broke down and became hysterical, but still she forced them to stand up and look at her by threatening them with a night stick and stun gun. She bellowed to all of us that we needed to be afraid, that we belonged to the State of Texas now and she could do whatever the hell she wanted to us. We all stood stock still, arm at our sides, the basic need to warm ourselves lost to the terror of this woman. As if staged, suddenly, one very young girl fell to the ground in a seizure. I moved to help her but was shoved roughly against the cinderblock wall. Every offender looked on in horror as the naked woman-child convulsed violently on the floor. My attention was riveted to her painfully contorted face and sightless eyes as they moved in and out of view. I watch in horrid fascination as she skittered across the icy floor. I silently prayed for her as she unknowingly performed this strange and terrible dance, each part of her private self exposed then gone, exposed then gone. The only sound echoing through the room was the THUD… THUD… THUD… of her head striking the cement floor. At last, mercifully, her body lay still. The terrible drumming stopped. The prison medics arrived and dumped her unceremoniously unto a stretcher, her battered body twisted, arm under her back, legs askew and head lolling partially over the side. I noticed there was no blanket to cover her. Were they going to transport her to the hospital exposed like that for everyone to see, I wondered? As they carried her out a back door, an older female prison guard walked up to the stretcher and gently covered the girl with her own coat. Bless this woman I silently prayed, bless this woman for her compassion.

Still lined up against the chilly wall, naked and freezing, we stood utterly lost in our own horror. The screaming guard demanded that we turn to face the wall, squat and cough. We did so one at time as she slowly passed each one of us. Stand up end over at the waist and spread your butt cheeks was the next command. We each in turn performed this most embarrassing task while a brutal rubber gloved women inspected our most intimate parts with a flashlight seeking contraband. Being forced to display ones’ self, regardless of our feelings, to a power that would cause us harm if we refused, was like being raped. Finally, what we thought must be worst, was over and we were allowed to turn around and put back on our bra and panties. Relief spread through each one of us as we covered ourselves in haste. A few even cracked a quiet joke here and there and others giggled gently.

We walked in line into a nearby holding cell to wait for processing, clothes and coats. We sat on steel benches in our thin panties, the freezing cold relentlessly assaulting us. When we attempted to huddle together for warmth, we soon learned that this was against many as yet unknown prison policies. There was one particularly nasty guard, constantly screaming that we would go to “the hole” if we continued to “touch each other.” She used the words “fucking queers” quite often in our direction as she happily paraded back and forth in her warm down coat, hat, gloves, and winter boots.

We waited like meat in cold storage as they called us out one by one. Each girl would walk up to the metal desk and a box of their personal items was presented and dumped aggressively on the table. Each thing was held up by the guard and as the woman looked longingly at it she was told she could not have it. They asked if she wanted it thrown away, mailed home or someone could pick it up at visitation. Pictures of children and lovers and letters all hit the garbage with regularity when woman confessed over and over for all to hear that she had no money for stamps to mail it home, that she had no home to mail it to, that no one would be visiting her.

Many, many women watched helplessly as what little they had left in the world was thrown unmercifully in to the trash. After each was stripped of any and all personal items that arrived with them from county jail, they were handed an official looking yellow paper that declared that they are now chattel of the State of Texas and have been renamed offender number such and such. At that time each was advised to memorize it, because no longer did you have a name, you were a number.

My turn finally came and I stepped to the metal desk. I watched gratefully as they boxed up my personal letters and photographs, my art and my poetry. I had the money to mail them home, I had a place to mail them to and I had a mother who would visit me regularly. I felt nothing but resolve as they handed me the horrid yellow paper that took away my name. Only after all of us had been reduced to offender were we led away to our temporary housing assignment. I marched along in this silently long bitter line of hopeless, nameless women. Our hands clasped behind our back, heads down and eyes forward, as prison procedure demanded. All I could do was wish that I could shove my hands in the pocket of the puke green coat they provided me during intake that was riddled with huge holes with all of the stuffing pulled out. And pray as our ill-fitting plastic sandals slapped out a haunting rhythm that echoed through my head like a march of the living dead.

Written by: Barbara Rhyne-Tucker

Edited by: Rhonda McLearen

Abuser Psychology?

When it comes to abusive relationships, I think I understand the psychology of the victim, and how the abuser ends up psychologically cornering the victim into not leaving (or delaying leaving).

What I don't understand at all is the psychology of the abuser. Maybe I'm missing the piece of my brain that such behavior appeals to, but I can't understand why abusers do what they do, especially the escalation process.

So, understanding that much of the Jane community has lived and/or researched such things, I address this question to you:

Can someone explain or offer insights into the psychology of the abuser in abusive relationships?

~Jo Jane

A Christian Take On Gay Marriage

I came across this post the other day on Facebook: “Support the Constitutional Amendment to Protect Marriage: This is a group for everyone who believes that marriage, as a tradition and as the fundamental bedrock of society, should be preserved as between one man and one woman and a constitutional amendment.”

….hmm….interesting….I thought so innocently I clicked the link that mysteriously appeared on my home page and read the first comment: “ugghh what are we gonna do with all these gays?” WHAT!?! Who is this guy, Hitler? “Amen to that!” writes the next person. Oh Lord, gay bashing Christians, what have I stumbled on? Surely people don’t confuse the rights of gays to marry as a Christian issue? Most people just need more rational information to make the right choices, so I decided to set them straight.

So I thoughtfully type: “Oh my! Same sex marriages are an important legal action to ensure the rights of both parties are honored in the event of legal and civil matters. It is not about Christian marriage, it is about legal rights and lawful representation.” A small little voice inside of my head warns me, but with a click of mouse I hit “send.” I dismissed the voice and now am smug and satisfied that I have done my civic and Christian duty to show these people the truth.
In just a few seconds my inbox alerts me that I have mail, then more mail. What’s this about? There are seven or eight emails about comments in response to mine. Oh joy, enlightened people, all voicing their intelligent agreement! Eagerly I go to the first email and am instantly slammed into an unexpected storm of hate.

“Adam and Eve!!! Not Adam and Steve!!!” declares the first post. Cute, I think, but over-used. I knew I should have listened to that inner voice. The next guy comments “One man one wife Gods law. And no one gets away with breaking Gods law, NO ONE!” What kind of statement was this? Does this person view God as their personal hit man? What a hater! The next guy writes “Amen!” Amen? Amen to what you moron? Aggravated but still hopeful, I continue to read: “Barbara is misguided!” I’m misguided! You’re the misguided one mister! I move to the next one. “Barbara, same sex legal rights are what’s important, not same sex marriage. Use your brain!!!” Use my brain!?! That is what I said in the first place, freakin’ weirdo! What’s next - the crazy lady in every crowd who cries hysterically “What about the children?” And next, “rights? So will they have the same right as having/adopting children? How will the child understand having two dads, moms? How will the child introduce his "parents" one day? Meet my dad and err...dad?” THE CRAZY LADY HAS ARRIVED!!! “Marriage wasn't invented by the legal system, Barbara; it was made as a covenant between a man and a woman by GOD!” What kind of statement is that? I suppose when God brought Eve to Adam he had a contract and a minister? Then Leslie says: “couples of same sex already have those rights Barb. No need to have more. The word "marriage" is an all-important concept, not a must for health insurance, wills, or estate inheritance, etc. The main reason some gays need to have a "marriage" is to remove the meaning for Christians worldwide and to include an "anti-Christ" life-style into its meaning.” OK! If gay couples had the same rights why is there such a drive to legalize gay marriage? OK, NOW WE HAVE THE ANTI-CHRIST THING - when all else fails it must be SATAN! It can’t be that you’re a brain dead idiot with the thinking capacity of a plant! “This nation is founded on CHRISTIAN BELIEFS and in those is NO GAY LIFESTYLE. I ban same sex marriage... god made Adam and Eve - not Adam and Fred - or Eve and Mary....If we allow same sex marriage to be legal what’s next - allowing civil rights to pedophiles? Heaven forbid! Why should we allow special rights based on who you have sex with? This is not a racial issue!” WHAT? First, capitalize God if you love Him so much; second, what do gay rights have to do with child-molesters? I doubt upholding gay rights will lead to pedophiles having the right to marital bliss with children. Yep we’ve got it all here with this loony-tune! God, Children and Country…Oh! Let’s not forget the oh-so-clever word play on Adam and Eve. And I don’t even understand the need to bring up racism. God help me, I think I am having an aneurism!

Really angry now, I read the next one. “De una costilla ...Hombre y mujer nos creĆ³ Dios... para complementarnos y uno al otro expresar lo mas sublime su amor.” I have no idea what this says, so in my mind I decide it says “Barbara, you are brilliant! I will never be the same after reading what you wrote. I was, until I was blessed with your words, an anti-gay terrorist who has taken many innocent lives. Because of you I have decided to give my immense fortune to support the legalization of Gay Marriages. As soon as I post this I am turning myself into the police. You are indeed a truly beautiful person”. Lost in this fantasy, I read on. “Barbra your prolly a faggot yourself.” Bastard name calling closet queen! “Judgment is bad and yall r being partial against gays god says to love everyone equally just talk to them about god and don’t shun them” Thank you Emily! The next one declares “You are all a bunch of Bigots” Tell it! Looking for more light I find “I am for a man and woman marriage but ya’ll are treating them like they r things and not human beings who have feelings.” Amen! Then dreadfully; “AIDS is a gift to mankind from the gay community! Homosexuality is sin and the wages of sin is death!” This one sickens me. I take a breath and move on: “I don't mean to sound bad, but God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. People need to get there bible and read and get to know the Lord before it’s too late. Sorry to friends that are. They already have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. They want the title of marriage because they think that with it will come social acceptance for their perverse lifestyle.” Did she really just call an entire section of society perverts? She must be Southern! “They are perverted, bless their hearts, but we should be nice anyway.” My exasperation is mounting again…“Marriage: the institution and process that should precede parenting. This should be protected from being slandered and altered so as to fit the political and/or financial desires of other unnatural influences.” So couples who choose not to have children or are unable to have children should not marry? What sense does that make, you dense person! Every whack job in the country is on this thread spewing hate and intolerance and they think I am the misguided one?!?! Idiot! Jerk! Hater! I’ll show you gay bashers!

In a temper, I type an onslaught of corrective advice to these brainless people who have nothing better to do with their time and whose IQs are obviously not high enough to contemplate issues weightier than “Amen!” Just before I made my opinion permanent for all to see the Spirit moved in me, quietly, and said “read what you wrote Barbara”. So I did. Well, I reasoned, it isn’t very good and it IS a bit strong, so I calmed down and wrote: “-David...I thought that is what I said....Same sex marriage is one step that ensures same sex rights. It can be very complicated and expensive in regards to legal issues. Legal Union - is this a better term? It would simplify things for them, not to mention it honors their right to love and be with whom they chose. -Leslie, again I say...this is not a Christian issue. This is a matter of legalities and rights. The New Testament sets the stage for forgiveness, tolerance and the power to repent if we choose to follow Christ. Only Christians are expected to follow the path. Our government was indeed built on a moral code that Christians adopted as in "Thou shall not kill," etc., but it is not built and founded on Christianity. It is built and founded on the freedom to worship and live without overbearing government interference. Our government is not meant to force us to be Christian, it is meant to serve ALL the people. It is meant to make certain we all remain free and are able to live our lives within a safe and secure homeland. Gay and lesbian unions threaten no one. They hurt no one. Your theory says Catholics (since some Christians do not consider them Christian), Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, etc must live for and worship Christ. It seems to me you are asking government to take on the job of The Holy Spirit and that is idolatry - worshipping a false God and not trusting in Our Savior. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. ”1 John 1:8“ But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger . When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7””

A new post pops up: ““1 Corinthians 6:12; …you may say, "I am allowed to do anything." But, I reply, "Not everything is good for you." And even though "I am allowed to do anything," I must not become a slave to anything. Believing the lie that anything other than marriage as one woman and one man is ok is allowing yourself to become a slave to the world and the way the ….” Clearly she is not listening. I should never have thrown scriptures in! Then another; “Romans 12:2, …do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Scriptural arguing, how I hate it. No one becomes enlightened when the only desire is to win. Blane comes back with: “And then Jesus said to the woman "go and sin no more." The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. You make some very good points Barbara but the fact of the matter is to re-name marriage as a civil union or legal union just washes down the importance of marriage. We already have a divorce rate of higher than 50 percent. Make no mistake; I know that it’s no better within the church. As a society we don't see marriage as sacred or worthwhile. We need to protect the sanctity of marriage and keep it one man and one woman. And I am not judging anybody, that is not my job, it’s God’s. History repeats itself...Rome, Sodom and Gomorra....you get my point. If we don’t turn from sin and turn to God, He will take care of it.” Some very good points Blane, but your argument is still lame although I hold respect for you and your approach.

Calmer now, the Spirit again is moving in me. So I carefully type “Thank you Blane for being gentle yet corrective...You leave my heart open to consider what you have so correctly and peacefully shown me. I am not suggesting we change the reality of Christian marriage, which is a holy covenant between God and the Man and Woman…I am saying why not develop another way, other than “marriage” that allows gay couples to protect themselves and to be “legally recognized” as a “legal couple.” There are millions of marriages that are not Christian yet are legal. There are millions of unions made outside the churches. These are legal agreements, not Godly covenants. Non-Christians cannot operate under the same laws as we do. They are not capable because they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelt. Until they do, they cannot make the same walk as we do. God will judge, this is certain, but He asks me to let Him make my life an example of Him and His love. Can I do this if I am busy judging others? Am I the example Christ calls me to be when I treat people harshly and with disdain and hate? If my intolerance repels them, am I doing what God calls me to do? Love conquers evil. No, this is not what Jesus would do.”

A few minutes later the first comment on my post comes up “It is a very Christian matter...we have stayed silent too long. Prayer taken out of schools, God removed from whatever they wish, and so frankly, America is no longer a nation under God but a nation needing God. When do we stand and say enough....without God we will fail and rampant sin will get worse and then what? I have a brother who got married to his partner in California and he has disowned me cause I told him it is wrong. Sin is sin. If you murder you go to jail....that is a sin in the word of God. Homosexuality is clearly defined by God also. Read your word.” I have yet to meet a silent Christian!!! No wonder her brother hates her. She is a legalistic ass! The next: “gays are sick and wrong.” Here we go again! And bigots are stupid and offensive! Bracing myself against the rage, I read “Gays pay taxes too - that they do not have the same rights as heterosexuals to legal union (which is defined by the state as marriage) is discrimination. There needs to be compromise here - heterosexuals need to lead the way to a fair outcome that allows homosexuals the same rights & homosexuals need to lay off the "marriage" moniker so as to not offend religious beliefs. The solution, marriage becomes only a religious union & the states change the word "marriage" to "legal union" in the law books. Would this satisfy everyone? No - but it would be fair & less contentious.” I then post “I think I'm in love with Russell...” Finally, oh Praise God, finally, a really smart one appears. “I agree with Barbara on this one!!” Nuff said! I logoff, still angry but feeling slightly vindicated!

To blow off the last of my steam (and to further confirm my rightness in this matter), I made many phone calls to friends and family with much ranting and raving about ‘those narrow minded Christians.’ During those phone calls a voice rises up in me and asks gently “what are you?” I kept pushing it way to vent my anger and sense of injustice. Finally when my overblown offense abates, the voice becomes louder, gently asking me again “What are you?” This quote comes to mind: “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it hits me - I am a hypocrite! This terrible insight goes straight to my heart as THE TRUTH ABOUT ME. I am angry with myself more than the people who commented. How can I preach tolerance when I myself am intolerant of people who do not share my views? The level of judgment in my internal dialog while reading the comments of those people frightens me. The very foundation of my Christian walk begins to shift immediately. Then, once again, the Spirit lovingly tells me “Well done.”

Written by Barbara Rhyne-Tucker
Edited by Rhonda McLearen

Loss of Life

This is the first part of a series of articles about my life as a survivor of domestic abuse. I want to share my story but writing it takes a lot out of me emotionally. Therefore I will be submiting in segements. My hope is to show the stages in which my abuse happened so that even one person out there can understand how and why this happens to women. The stigma that the abused suffer is just another blow.

Black-haired Jane

When you smiled at me that night with that fox's face I believed that you were the man who truly understood me. I believed you were a man. It was your wit and easy smile that lured me in. All these years later people still ask what I saw in you and its taken me all of these years to sort through the dust and remember that. I was very young and I was searching for something I didn't even know I sought. I wanted to belong, to be secure, to be loved by a man who didn't want my body or my sex or just to be seen with me. I was attracted to the fact that you were confident in yourself and that you didn't seem to notice my breasts or my youth. You spoke to my eyes and seemed to appreciate the intellect that I prided so much in myself. The people around you seemed to appreciate you and I never thought that just under that calm facade lay a beast, waiting to strike...

When I married you it seemed no one was happy. It made it easy for you to villanize the people closest to me and push them from my life. They didn't understand our love and if they didn't love you, I shouldn't love them. The ones who loved me most and tried the hardest to make me see the truth were the first on the chopping block. I easily fell in line with your plans to dominate my life. I believed myself to be a strong and worldly woman, I could never do something I didn't want to do. You decided we would move away from the bad influences in my life and I was the farthest I had ever been away from my family and friends. My loved ones were out of the picture, all that was left was the two of us. My ideals were slowly being stripped away, my deepest most heartfelt beliefs; belittled, crushed, maimed and eventually, lost. As the months passed you took many things from me, even the little things were deeply felt but I was so lost and scared and now isolated from the people who cared for me I simply gave in. You burned my "inapropriate" clothes, threw out my makeup; you took my books. I was forbidden to read my writings to anyone but you.

I became pregnant.

Children added a whole new demention to my loneliness. I was so broken that being a mother to them was something I was incapable of. Knowing I was a bad mother further pushed me into depression. You had become distant and cold and your rules were absolute. Visits with my family were limited when I was able to go. I had a set time to see them and when I was there I was so anxious and worried about going over my time my stomach would do backflips and I would always leave early. They worried about me because they could see the damage this life was doing to me. I was pale with dark circles under my eyes, my hair was falling out, I was severely overweight, unkempt, I had unexplained bleeding episodes, blood from my nose, blood up from my throat. I was slowly dying and the instinct to save myself had long since abandoned me.

Eventually there was pushing when things didn't go your way. You would roughly shove me in arguments. Into walls, over furniture, onto the floor, once down a flight of stairs. "It's not like I hit you". But, you did, didn't you? Day after day, week after week, year after year, I became a worthless nothing. I was stupid, naive, ugly, a bad mother, a worthless wife. I was crumbling.


Eventually, I got away. That's a story for another time but know there is always hope.

People often say things of abused woman like "She deserves that treatement if she chooses to stay". I hope to show them that NO ONE chooses a life like mine was. Abuse is almost always a systematic breakdown of one's true self. Your self-preservation instincts are ground down, your self-confidence is stripped away. You are left in a place you could never had imagined you would be. No one meets a man and thinks to themself "Wow, he's completely insane and hateful towards me. It's love!"

About the Murder of Steve McNair . . .

Quite a while back, an upper-middle-age black gentleman (I'd put him close to 60) and I were chatting at the office about the Michael Vick case, shortly after that story first broke. At one point during the conversation, he stopped, looked around, lowered his voice, leaned toward me, and said in earnest,

"When you get out of the ghetto, you've GOT to leave the ghetto behind."

The statement rocked me, but not for a race-relations reason. I thought his statement profound because the idea behind it is universal.

Regardless of what one tries to bail, one must actually bail if he wants it truly and forever changed. Whether it's an abusive relationship, a drug addiction, being poor, co-dependency, alcohol, or even just a toxic group of friends, one can't dabble in the past and still get out.

I couldn't help but recall this conversation, and the getting out means leaving it behind concept, when I read about the murder of Steve McNair. I'm not trying to equate the horror of actively participating in a dog fighting ring to being the victim of murder. I'm trying to say that when someone "makes good," once he's achieved the fame and the money, he has to be even more vigilant in his personal dealings than before the good fortune (or just rewards for hard work) arrived because fame and money often cause things to spin completely out of control.

Michael Vick lost his empathy and his freedom. Steve McNair lost his marriage vow and his life.


And You Thought YOUR Room/Office-mates Are Jackasses!

I'm not really sure who's the bigger jackass on this one . . .

The person who's ignoring the need to clean up after themselves or the one who wrote this note, the likes of which we've ALL had the urge to write at some point . . .

The phrase "Let's call him Frank" has just entered my personal vocabulary as a snarky statement on unhygienic matters such as this.

Here's a hint for SkyNet.

As always, click through for the original, larger version.


I am full of unmitigated rage!

I am full of unmitigated rage at this very moment! If I am told by one more fucking medical professional that proper CPAP compliance is 100% effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), I might just smack him.

I sleep for crap. I have moderate OSA. This means that, untreated, I stop breathing 30-50 times per hour while sleeping. My personal numbers indicate that I stop breathing roughly every minute and a half. (That means that my brain stem wakes me, almost to consciousness, roughly every third minute, so that I can breath.) This means that my REM onset is dramatically delayed, and, if it occurs at all, it occurs during an earlier stage of sleep than it should and is not as effective as it is in everyone else. As a result, I constantly display the mental and physical symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Consider all of that for a few moments before I continue. Untreated, I wake up, just to the brink of consciousness, once every third minute the entire time I try to sleep.

I talk in my sleep because my REM isn't occurring during the correct phase of sleep. I walked in my sleep as a child. I'm not 100% sure I don't still do so occasionally. As a child, every morning began with my mother dragging me out of the bed, with me screaming and crying and begging to stay in the bed. My friends, family, and partners have known for years that I'm a "Ripley van Winkle" because when I'm not sleeping, I'm a temper-laden ass-kicking Tasmanian Devil. I was unsuccessfully treated for depression (through both talk and pharmacological therapy) for years before I swore both off.

Saying that "I've never had a good night's sleep in my life" is an epic failure in describing the magnitude of what I've dealt with on a daily basis ever since I can remember. Even with CPAP therapy, today, I have to allow 10 hours for sleep, that means 11 for wind-down and wake-up. Approaching 40, I'm beginning to develop health problems that I am positive are provoked by my physiological inability to sleep. I'm petrified of dying from an apnea-induced heart attack like so many untreated men in their 50s do.

I've quit college twice because of falling asleep at the wheel. I've been the only person "laid off" of jobs. I was publicly demoted from my only leadership position. I'm the smartest person I know, and the hardest worker I've ever seen, but the lack of the degree I can't manage to get, my unreliability at getting to the fucking office on time, and my emotional instability (read: temper) have crippled my career advancement.

I've had two general-anesthesia surgeries to complete three procedures on my nose, septum, and sinuses. These surgeries made my CPAP more effective, but it hasn't fixed me yet. All of my mental and physical sleep-deprivation symptoms are improved, but not gone.

The fact that I've even been diagnosed with OSA is odd because it's unusual in women. The fact that I'm overweight doesn't help because weight loss supposedly treats OSA almost as well as CPAP compliance does. The medical people don't seem to want to understand that I struggled with this daily as a child, not to mention when I was 5'6" and 120 lbs. They just keep saying, "Lose weight." I've been trying, but it's damned difficult when a lack of quality sleep leaves you constantly sluggish.

I can't seem to make any of the doctors, except one single pulmonologist who I honestly think doesn't know what to do with me, understand that if I'm a female with OSA, maybe something else is odd? Maybe? Only the pulmonologist will admit that OSA isn't 100% effective, but he has no answers. Oh, and a sleep technologist (puts the squid bits on your head during a sleep study, of which I've had 6) admitted it, too, but she's not a doctor, so she can't treat me. Oh, and my boyfriend doesn't believe it anymore, because he's seen me snore and apnea while I was wearing my mask.

And again today, I get told by an ENT surgeon who can do the surgeries (pulling tongue base forward, uvulectomy, etc.) that "CPAP is 100% effective when the patient is compliant."

Check it: My goddamned boyfriend is a medical professional, and he says that I am the most compliant patient he has ever seen. Whether it's taking antibiotics on schedule and to completion, performing painful wound cleanings at home, going to follow-up visits "when I feel fine," or anything else, my mindset is this: Why pay these people a ton of money to tap their education and experience just to ignore their guidance? What's the likelihood they're going to do their jobs (healing me) effectively if I don't do my part?

Just like everything else medical, I do what I'm supposed to do with my CPAP. I clean my equipment. I replace comsumables when needed. I pack it carefully and take it out of town on road trips, like a pet. I take it in for calibration every so often. I wear it every single time I sleep, even for a short nap. I do all of these things hoping against hope that somehow, after almost 10 years of compliance, it will give me the Holy Grail which I seek -- A.Good.Night's. Sleep.

And again, today, the backhanded "It's your own fault."

So, I hereby scream from the rooftop of The Jane Project, to every single person in the entire medical establishment who will look me in the face and tell me that the fault is mine, that I must somehow be non-compliant:

Fuck you.

I have this daydream where I win the lottery, the big lottery, and I have billions of dollars to play with. I will then track back every single medical professional who has ever said "CPAP is 100% effective when the patient is compliant," or some derivative of that statement, and pay them to sit on the left side of a conference room.

On the right side of the conference room, I seat the three medical professionals that have admitted to me that CPAP is only 99% effective when the patient is compliant.

Then I stand in front of them all and say, "You, on the left, go try and accomplish anything (anything!) with 11 hours a day taken from you, and the other 13 full of Benadryl. Just for a weekend. I dare you. See how I feel, learn what I deal with every.single.day. Remember that that's what I deal with every day when I know for a fucking fact that I do everything any of you has ever said to me. Then, all of you, hook me up to whatever you want, and watch me sleep. Watch my compliance. Listen to me. See what happens. See what I can't tell you. Listen to the man who's slept beside me more times than I can count, listening to me breath for more hours than anyone should have to. Listen to him, because he knows more than you do about me. Then, all of you, leave your preconceptions about what the textbooks say at the door and fucking fix me, and the rest of my money is split amongst you with an extra share going to the three on the right for actually knowing what they were talking about and for believing me."

Thank you all for listening.


The Nature of Jesus and the Point of Christianity

Something that's bugged me on and off for a few years now is a theological question upon which I'd like to receive Jane input . . .

What is the appropriate name/label for someone who generally believes in the teachings of Jesus and tries his best to follow them, but who cannot for the life of himself buy into the physics of the literal Resurrection? Someone who can't bring themselves to believe in the joint divinity/humanity of Jesus, and who thinks the Holy Ghost concept is strictly symbolic?

Since the early followers of Jesus were simply Jews who followed an eccentric Gallilean preacher and the Gnostics (an early Christian sect) thought that God's divinity shone within us all, is it possible to have a modern interpretation of Christianity that does not involve the divinity of or the literal physical resurrection of Jesus?

I've asked this question of intelligent people over the years who are well-educated in at least one Christian denomination (some in several). The interesting answers I've received over the years include:

I don't know what to call him, but he's not Christian. Jesus is nothing if not the Son of God.

An apostle.

The whole point to being a Christian is that your path to Salvation is given, not earned. To profess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus was born in the flesh died on the Cross and, most importantly, rose from the dead to ascend to Heaven to take the right seat next to the Father is Salvation. No man may enter Heaven but by accepting Christ as their Savior, and any other interpretation is disinformation.

We'd probably call him an Episcopalian. ;-) Seriously, such a person technically still wouldn't be any sort of Christian. Belief in the Resurrection of Christ as a historical event is an entry requirement. He'd be closer to some Jewish splinters than a Christian of any sort. If you want big-tent Christianity as a warm fuzzy blanket of humanism and optional belief in the tricky bits, go US Episcopalian, not Anglican.

A secular theological scholar.

Anyone interpreting the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Bible as simply some sort of New Age-y handbook of how to be a good person or some Ghandi-esqu guru instruction manual about being nice to your fellow man is dramatically misinterpreting the larger point of the Bible. There is no Salvation without the Resurrection. They go hand-in-hand.

An agnostic.

There's always been a healthy amount of room in certain parts of the Church for people who don't eat the dogma right up without a side of crow. I firmly believe that God loves nothing more than a doubter, and it's documented all throughout the Old and New Testaments -- from Job to Doubting Thomas. This is probably where we inherited our very human need to say, "I told you so!"

The very nature of Christianity involves the fact that no other religion has a "risen" Saviour. It is not a "works" based message -- You can't do anything to Save yourself. Only faith in Jesus Christ, who, through the power of God, was raised from the dead, can you be Saved.

I believe there is a higher power that we mere mortals will never understand, but if such power exists, why would it care whether we worship it or not? I do know darn well that whether I am happy / sad / rich / poor has nothing
to do with God.

As you can see, there's a dramatic variance among American Christians (not all do to sectarianism) as to the answer to the root of my above question:

Is it possible to have a modern interpretation of Christianity that does not involve the divinity of or the literal physical resurrection of Jesus?

I'd welcome your interpretations, thoughts, comments, and discussion.


Hair Coloring & a Likely New Use for Chapstick

My current psychology is evident in my hair. It grows longer and then I hack it off with seasonal frequency. Every few months or so I color my hair from a drugstore box of dye. I'm an old pro at dying my own hair, short or long, having done it with varying frequency since I was 14. Some years I'd do it every four-to-six weeks for root touch-ups, other years it would be dramatic color changes every few months.

In high school, my friends called me "Jane of the rainbow hair" because I had below-the-shoulder hair and wouldn't always focus on full-coverage during dramatic color changes. I called my sometimes four-color streaking "trailer highlights." Eventually I cut it all off and died the stubble platinum blonde. I bust out laughing now when I think of it.

Today I colored my hair again. Since I was going darker instead of lighter, I knew I was going to have to circle my hairline and cover my ears with Vaseline so that my skin wouldn't stain. My main irritation with using Vaseline is that it's a bitch to wash off -- I sometimes have to resort to dishwashing liquid to cut through it if I use too much (and I usually use too much because I've seen other women who stained their skin, and it just looks nasty). Needless to say, my face, ears, and neck do not respond well to dishwashing liquid.

The other irritation about using Vaseline is that, when I try to put it around my ears and the sides/back of my neck (i.e. places I can't see), it's difficult to get the Vaseline right up to the hairline and not on the hair. I've screwed it up both ways in the past -- I've had both lines of skin staining and lines of undyed hair around my hairline. Neither is great, but at least I can dye my hair again to fix the undyed hair.

When I bought my box of dye this time, I saw a new product. Called +Repelle, it bills itself as a product that keeps skin-staining from occurring and is very easy to wash off. It was in a small tube, and the instructions were straightforward: Apply it around your hairline and on your ears, color your hair, and wash it off when you wash out the dye. The cost? $5.00 @ CVS. I bought it.

The +Repelle worked as advertised: Easy to apply, easy to wash off, no skin staining.

While I was applying the +Repelle, the idea that it applied like a soft Chapstick occurred to me. That makes sense -- Vaseline, Chapstick, and +Repelle are made of the same sort of stuff (as far as my hair-coloring needs go). I'll use the rest of the stick of +Repelle, and after it's gone, I'll try normal Chapstick heated in a glass of hot water.

After all, a stick of Chapstick is a lot cheaper than +Repelle. :-)

I'm really proud of this find, and I'd love to know about yours. Do you have any tricks, tips, or alternate uses for common items?


ADMINISTRATION NOTE: The Jane Project does not agree with or participate in blogola. Brand names listed in any post are for clarity and information only and should not be considered editorial endorsement.

Woman "Not Guilty" should Son Rise from the Dead

Baltimore, MD -- A former religious cult member has agreed to an unheard-of plea deal: She has plead guilty and will testify against four others in the starving death of her 1-year-old son but reserves the right to rescind her plea if her son rises from the dead.

Ria Ramkissoon, 22, a native of Trinidad, is the prime witness in the Maryland's case against Queen Antoinette, 40, who purportedly lead the now-disbanded One Mind Ministries religious cult out of a Baltimore row house. Prosecutors allege that Antoinette instructed cult members, including Ramkissoon, to deny the child, Javon Thompson, food and water as punishment for the child not saying "Amen."

Prosecutors allege that Antoinette, believing that Ramkissoon would be weak and feed the child or give him water, instructed Javon be given to another cult member who followed her food-and-water-denial instructions. After the eventual death of the child, the cult members prayed over the body and the mother danced around it. When that didn't succeed in raising the child from the dead, two cult members purchased a wheeled suitcase in which to carry the child. Ramkissoon's attorney said that the cult believed that the child could be raised from the dead at a later date if they could carry the body with them. The cult moved to Philadelphia and asked a men they'd befriended there to store their luggage, and police found the body in a shed behind the man's house.

Javon's father, Robert Thompson, did not attend the plea agreement hearing due to illness, and is reported to have been incarcerated at the time of Javon's birth. Court documents indicate that Ramkissoon joined One Mind Ministries after Javon's birth. Ramkissoon left her parent's home with her 7-month old son, joined the cult, and moved into their house at the age of 19 because (according to her attorney) she didn't want to work or go to school but wanted to raise her son full-time, in Christianity, and the cult offered her this opportunity. At the time that Ramkissoon joined the cult, it had approximately a dozen members. Reportedly within the cult, cell 'phones and discussion of one's family were banned and marijuana smoking was common.

Prosecutors are charging Antoinette and three other cult members with child abuse resulting in death and first-degree murder. In a March 30 hearing, Ramkissoon plead guilty to the first charge (abuse/death) and agreed that she will testify truthfully against the other four. Should this occur, the prosecutor's office will recommend sentencing comprised of release from jail, a suspended 20-year sentence, five years probation requiring mental health assistance (including "deprogramming" treatment with a specialist in cult behavior). Sentencing is currently sheduled for August 11.

A prosecutor's office spokeswoman said that, regarding the child rising from the dead, the fine print of the plea agreement states, "This would need to be a Jesus-like resurrection. It cannot be a reincarnation in another object or animal."
"She [Ramkissoon] certainly recognizes that her omissions caused the death of her son," Ramkissoon's attorney said. "To this day, she believes it was God's will and he will be resurrected and this will all take care of itself. She realizes if she's wrong, then everyone has to take responsibility ... and if she's wrong, then she's a failure as a mother and the worst thing imaginable has happened. I don't think that, mentally, she's ready to accept that."
Ramkissoon's attorney also said,
"On one level, she certainly is competent to stand trial, because she does recognize that as far as her legal entanglements are concerned, this is a grand-slam resolution for her. On the other hand, she's still brainwashed, she's still delusional as far as the teachings and influence of this cult, and she certainly is going to benefit with professional help and deprogramming."
The current disposition of the four other charged cult members: (Leader) Antoinette, Trevia Williams, and Marcus Cobbs are currently incarcerated without bail. Steven Bynum is, for some reason, free on his own recognizance.

Source documents available for review.


Now I can Say Nothing

First, they came for the "child molesters," but I was not a child molester. So I said nothing.

Then, they came for the "terrorists," but I was not a terrorist. So I said nothing.

Next, they came for the "conservatives," but I was not a conservative. So I said nothing.

Finally, they came for the "middle class," and I found that I am middle class. Now I can say nothing.