April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Blue pinwheels
Blue pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you happen to see blue pinwheels in a park or on the lawn of a courthouse this month, they represent every child who has been a victim of child abuse within the last year. It’s a staggering sight and is a reminder of a very sobering statistic.

As a social worker I’ve dedicated the last few years of my career working toward the prevention of pediatric abusive head trauma and volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with foster children in Northern Utah.

In my line of work, approximately 25% of abusive head trauma victims die. Most of them are under the age of two years old. I’m inundated every day with information about babies who are abused, with a quarter of them succumbing to the injuries of that abuse. It’s work that hurts my heart and my soul, but meeting survivors, especially adult survivors, and their caregivers, gives me the strength and inspiration to continue on in this much needed, if not soul crushing, work.

If you’re wondering what does this have to do with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, let me educate you a little. A Gallup poll conducted in 2013 found that 60% of Utahns identify as members of the Church. That would be a majority of this state, but probably the lowest majority since 1847. I know there are many more citizens who no longer identify as members, but were still raised as members or whose family are still members. I would say, having lived in Utah my entire life, that most people either are members, have been members, or have been heavily influenced by the church.

But did you know that 1 in 5 Utah kids will be sexually abused before the age of 18? According to the organization, Prevent Child Abuse Utah, that’s four times the rate of the national average. That would mean, according to the Gallup poll, a majority of those children are members of the church. In every CASA case I have worked on, the families involved all identified as LDS in some way. In Utah, both girls and boys are sexually abused almost equally. Statistics indicate that 54% of reported child sexual abuse victims are girls and 46% are boys. Because of that Utah taxpayers pay approximately $1 billion annually on child abuse. This equates to just over $2.7 million per day for Utah tax payers.

However, most children do not report sexual abuse. In fact, 88% of adults who were sexually abused as children stated they never reported the abuse. It is estimated that only 1 in 10 victims will report abuse. What most people don’t realize, is that 90% of the time a child will be abused by someone in their circle of trust, not a stranger. It’s not the boogey man in the bushes – it’s that trusted person in your life who you thought would never abuse a child.

In the last year we’ve been hearing more and more about men in positions of authority in the Church who have abused either children or people they had stewardship over – people in their circle of trust. Just last week Sterling Van Wagenen was charged with 1 count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in connection with a girl between the ages of 7 and 9, which occurred between 2013 and 2015. Those were the years the Church hired Van Wagenen to produce the temple videos. This was after he admitted to his Stake President in 1993 that he molested a 13-year-old boy that year. Maybe you believe in forgiveness (I do too) but I also believe protecting children should come first before giving second chances to child molestors. If only 1 victim in 10 comes forward about sexual abuse, we can extrapolate from those statistics that for every 1 child that comes forward, there are 9 who are silent. I doubt this boy in 1993 and this girl two decades later were Van Wagenen’s only victims.

The latest statistics show that in 2015 there were over 20,000 investigations of child abuse and neglect. The state population in that year was close to 3 million. During 2015 the rate of child abuse was 10.5 per 1,000 children, and those were just the cases reported to the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Out of those 41.1% were physically abused and 21.1% were sexually abused.

Child abuse happens in every demographic you can think of, including religion. Child abuse is not unique to the LDS Church, but as a citizen of this state and a person who was raised in the Church, the child abuse statistics hit a little closer to home for me. In my position at my non-profit I track all the publicly reported cases of infant abuse in the country and we have seen a rise in infant abuse in Utah since the beginning of 2019.

My purpose in writing this is not to accuse the Church of anything, but to wake up those members who don’t believe child abuse happens in our community. It does. It absolutely does. Unfortunately what I see in LDS circles is a lot of burying of heads in the sand because people are either in denial that child abuse, and especially child sexual abuse, could be a problem in their community. It’s a problem in every community. And when known child predators are being asked to produce videos for our holiest of places, we need to stop and demand better of our leaders. I’m sorry, but we do not have the gold standard in protecting against child abuse in the Church. Just the child abuse statistics in Utah alone prove that.

During this month, I’m asking all of you what you can do to help eradicate child abuse in our communities. The motto for us CASA volunteers is “I am for the Child.” Can you please also be for the child? Can you put the safety and welfare of children ahead of your loyalty to family members, friends, church members, and institutions? In Utah, all adults are mandatory reporters of child abuse. The National Child Abuse Hotline to report child abuse in the United States if 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

And remember, when you see a blue pinwheel on a lawn, know that that precious young person could have been spared abuse, and possibly death, if only one person had spoken up and had been for the child.

This post was originally featured on The Exponent II

Advertisements

To be a Witness

Easter has always been my favorite religious holiday. I relish the messages of re-birth, renewal, and hope that Easter brings. I love the reminder that my redeemer lives. “What comfort this sweet sentence gives!” [Hymn #136]. Jesus may have suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on the cross for my sins, but his resurrection demonstrates that through his Grace I can be forgiven and also live again.

In preparation for Easter this year I am observing Lent. For the past few years of observing Lent I have given up a habit that is very difficult for me; but, I’ve also taken the opportunity to read the four Gospels during these 46 days. Over the last few years I have connected with the verse in John 20:16 that testifies of Mary Magdalene as the first to witness the resurrected Christ.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”  (which means “Teacher”).  (NIV)

This verse never stood out to me until the first time I observed Lent. That year I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting on Easter. It’s no surprise to any Latter-day Saint that Easter is not often a celebrated and special holiday in the church. I’ve attended many services on Easter where Easter was never mentioned. In fact, when I was asked to speak that Sunday, I was given the topic of self-reliance. Being the rebel I was, I decided I was going to speak about Easter so that I could testify of a living Christ. I wanted to be a witness of Him. (I found being given the topic of self-reliance ironic considering Easter is all about Grace.)

Mormons do not worship the cross. We are not interested in the crucifixion of Christ because we believe he paid for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. Because Jesus began to fulfill his mission in the Garden and then completed it when he was resurrected, you would think that Easter would be given much more emphasis in our church meetings.  There are only three hymns in our hymnal dedicated specifically to Easter. To the larger Christian world, Easter is the most important Christian holiday and one that is given much outward displays of ritual and celebration. Easter is the heart of Christianity. Without Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the entire doctrine of Christianity fails.  Jesus has risen! This is the “good news” of the Gospel.

With how important Easter is, I have to wonder why it’s merely a blip for Mormons. There is no observation of Lent. There is no Holy week celebrations. There is no Good Friday services. In most wards, there is barely a mention of the sacredness of this day most Easters. A Bishop and Ward Chorister really have to go out of their way to create a significant Easter program for sacrament meeting.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ apostle were not whom he chose to be the first to witness his resurrected body? Many accounts list “the other Mary” or “the Mother of James” and Joanna as two additional witnesses. The Jewish Law of Moses required at least two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6), a practice that is still in place to witness any saving ordinances for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I have to wonder why Easter is not more significant to Mormons. Is it because we focus more on obedience and works than Grace? Or is it because it was a woman, or three women, who witnessed the resurrected Christ, and not his apostles, that it fails to be more significant to us? Women are never allowed to be witnesses of sacred ordinances in the LDS church. As a mother, I was not allowed to be a witness for my children’s baptism. Blessing an infant isn’t even a saving ordinance, and I was not allowed to be a part of it. Women cannot be a witness to baptisms for the dead or sealings inside the temple, our most sacred place, the Holiest of the Holies. If we embrace and observe Easter and speak about whom Christ chose to be his first witness(es) after his resurrection, will we have to reconcile our doctrine, which keeps women out of performing the duties of a witness?

If Mary Magdalene was holy enough, worthy enough, in a time and place where the status of women was lower than cattle, to be the first person to witness the resurrected Christ, why can’t I be a witness to sacred and saving ordinances? How am I different than Mary Magdalene? Does Christ see the women of the LDS church as fundamentally lacking in honesty and integrity to be a witness to the ordinances that will bring the children of our Heavenly Father back to him for exaltation? And if that were true, why would Jesus choose to make three women a witness to the most important event in Christianity and human history?

This year while I sit in Easter worship services, I’m going to think about and honor those three special women Jesus chose to be the first witnesses to the Resurrected Christ, and know that I can be a witness for Him as well.

Originally posted on Exponent II

I was sexually harassed while working at LDS Family Services #MormonMeToo

I worked at LDS Family Services in Ogden, Utah from 2007-2013 as an Adoption/Birth Parent caseworker. I first started there as a practicum student while earning my Bachelor’s degree at Weber State University in Social Work. I was hired two months after I graduated, and became licensed, because of the great work I did as an intern. I loved the work I did there and the clients I worked with.

In 2009 I was called into my Adoption supervisor’s office. I believe that he is a good man, but also a man who bought into the patriarchal modesty standards of the church. He let me know that a secretary (or a couple secretaries, I was never sure which) complained that when I folded my arms my cleavage would show. At the time I was an endowed member who wore her garments in the correct way. I also have a larger chest, which is nature-given, by the way.

LDS Family Services

I was shocked that this was being brought up. He told me that the secretary(ies?) were concerned about my modesty. I assured him that I was wearing my garments in the correct way and as long as I’m wearing garments then I am being modest, and professional in my dress and appearance. I was befuddled and confused that fellow women would care so much about my cleavage, and if they were that worried about it, that they didn’t speak to me directly. Bringing my supervisor into the conversation felt like I was being disciplined.

He then went on to tell me that even though we don’t work with them, a lot of men come to our agency for counseling for sexual issues. He said if one of those men caught sight of my shapely body or cleavage, were sexually stimulated, and then went and raped someone it would be my fault. He assured me that he knew I wouldn’t want that to happen.

I was stunned that a man who was licensed in marriage and family therapy actually believed that my body could entice another person to rape someone. I was so stunned I didn’t know how to respond.

Later the next week we were discussing in staff meeting an inappropriate comment the agency director made toward one of my fellow caseworkers. She had gone to Human Resources about it and it became “a thing.” I was so angry on her behalf and mentioned how inappropriate it is for anyone to talk about other people’s bodies in the workplace. I made mention that if anyone talked about my body or my breasts again I would go directly to Human Resources and talk to an attorney (who is my sister, but she’s still pretty amazing and qualified).

No one ever brought up my body, what I was wearing, or my breasts again and I continued to work there for another four years.

Now almost a decade later I regret not going to Human Resources about this incident. It was completely inappropriate to be talking about my breasts in the workplace, but the secretaries felt entitled to because we often discuss womens’s bodies in the church and how they do and do not measure up to our standards of modesty. It was inappropriate for those concerns to be brought to someone in charge of my employment and not to me directly. And it was completely morally and professionally unethical for my supervisor to say that my body or breasts could cause someone else to violate another person.

Discussing my breasts and saying that I would be responsible for rape because of them is sexual harassment. It happened to me while I was an employee of the church by other employees of the church. This is my #MormonMeToo moment.

Cross-posted as a guest post at The Exponent

Sex Abuse, the LDS church, and Utah

The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month .

To say I think about child abuse on the daily wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Currently I am a social worker working on the macro level to prevent and educate against pediatric abusive head trauma. I also volunteer several hours a month as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) with foster children in my community.

As part of my ongoing continuing education as a CASA, I recently attended an in-service training at a local Children’s Justice Center. The CJC is a center were law enforcement officers interview children who have been abused in a safe environment. They use a multidisciplinary team approach to address individual cases in the most effective way possible.

I was at this training the day after the Elder Joseph Bishop scandal broke and rocked the LDS community. At least for those of us who believe victims. I don’t want to get into the specifics of this individual case, only because it’s been written about many times over and I don’t feel entitled to retell Jane Doe’s story without her consent (unlike Mormonleaks).

Every time I learn a new statistic about child abuse, I am shocked to the core. Which is pretty ironic considering I spend more than 40 hours a week immersed elbow-deep in horrific child abuse cases. During the CJC training, we learned that according to Prevent Child Abuse – Utah, nationally 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 and that Utah’s child sex abuse rate is 3 times the national average.

Yes, you read that correctly. Utah has the highest incidences reported of sexual abuse of children per capita than any other state in the United States.

sexual abuse

So, I am not shocked by this Joseph Bishop story at all. Sexual abuse, assault, and rape is an epidemic in Utah. This state claims an LDS church membership of about 60%. That means the majority of the citizens of Utah identify as LDS, so it’s not a hard extrapolation to assume that majority of children sexually abused in this state and the majority of their perpetrators are LDS.

I could probably write a dissertation in which I analyze how our repressive sexual culture leads to sexual abuse, but I’m sure someone has already done it and done a better job.

But I will say, as still a member of record, I am disgusted that the LDS church claims on one hand to have “zero tolerance for abuse” and that they have the “gold standard for protecting against abuse” when for the last decade and a half I’ve been involved in the Mormon feminist movement I have read over 1,000 stories from (mostly) women about how they were abused either as children or adults and were not believed by their priesthood leader, or were abused BY their priesthood leader.

I hate to tell anyone’s story that’s not mine, but I feel like since this story was shared in public and there is no pending litigation regarding it, I’m going to share it here now.

In January 2007 I started my internship as an Adoption/Birth Parent caseworker at LDS Family Services in Ogden, Utah. As part of my internship my supervisor asked me to attend the Adoption Educations classes we were, by law, required to give to our potential adoptive couples. I enjoyed these classes immensely. On the 3rd or 4th week, the teachers of the class organized a birth parent panel, where 4 different young women shared their stories of relinquishing their baby for adoption.

One story especially stuck out to me and still sickens me to the core 11 years after hearing it. When Jane* was a 17-year-old Laurels President in her ward a returned missionary asked her on a date. Jane didn’t want to go, but felt obligated because LDS girls are conditioned never to say “no” to a priesthood holder. On that date, John* raped her. As any good LDS girl has been taught to do, she immediately went to her Bishop and recounted her story hoping that Joe would be punished. Instead the Bishop called her to repentance for being a liar and told her that a returned missionary would never RAPE someone and she must have seduced him. She was not allowed to take the Sacrament for several weeks. In that time she found out she was pregnant and went back to the Bishop. The Bishop parroted to her what it says in the Handbook, which is when an unwed pregnancy occurs every effort should be made for the couple to be married. So, essentially this Bishop encouraged Jane to marry her rapist. She and her parents were outraged and went to their Stake President. The Stake President backed up the Bishop and encouraged Jane and her parents to obey their priesthood leaders or else face eternal consequences.

At the behest of every adult Jane had been taught to trust her entire life, she married the 21-year-old man who raped her. When she was close to delivering her baby, her new rapist husband left her. I guess being a family man isn’t as much fun as raping underage girls. The stress of the situation put her into labor and she ended up delivering her baby. In the hospital she decided, because she had no visible means of support, to relinquish her child for adoption.

I sat there on that cold January night listening to Jane’s story with my jaw agape with total horror in my heart. I went to my supervisor with a total “wtf” look on my face and asked what do we do when as clinicians bishops give our clients completely wrong advice. Not just wrong advice, but damaging, abusive, gaslighting, spiritual detrimental, commands from a place of ecclesiastical authority? He told me he usually calls them and talks to them one-on-one. In my 6 1/2 years at LDS Family Services I talked with many Bishops and more than a few discounted any direction or training I tried to give them because I’m a woman and don’t hold the priesthood.

I actually ran into Jane just last year. We talked about how she is doing 12 years after relinquishing her child and how she’s dealt with the PTSD from both that and the rape. She’s doing well, but not as well as she could be if at any point in her life SHE WAS BELIEVED.

And this is just one in a thousand stories where a victim was not believed by their trusted ecclesiastical leader that I have heard in the last decade. I’ve heard so many that I’m not shocked anymore. I’m not shocked anymore by the patriarchy that covers up abuse and promotes predators within it’s priesthood ranks. I’m not shocked, but I feel so malignantly betrayed. I could tell you several more from people I know personally, but since they were not told in public, but just to me privately, I will not repeat them. But let’s just say, men can be victims of predatory priesthood leaders too.

Recently I had a Facebook friend post a #humblebrag about the “awesome” Bishop in her ward who requires the Young Men (ages 12-17) in his ward to text him every time they masturbate.

Excuse me, what?

IN WHAT OTHER CONTEXT WOULD IT BE OKAY FOR AN ADULT MAN TO ASK YOUR TEENAGE SON TO TEXT HIM EVERY TIME HE MASTURBATED?!

Let me tell you right now, I have a 14-year-old son. If he had a Bishop who required him to text him every time he masturbated, right after I got through throat punching this man, I WOULD CALL THE POLICE. I would report him to child protective services for sexting with underage teenage boys.

THIS IS NOT OKAY THIS IS NOT NORMAL THIS IS NOT OKAY THIS IS NOT NORMAL

I get it my fellow LDS peeps — we’ve been indoctrinated and told that it is perfectly normal for our Bishops to interview us about our worthiness, and part of that is if we are chaste. I’m here to tell you, it is never okay for an adult man to sit alone in a room with a CHILD and ask them about their sexual practices. What if that were their coach? What if that were their teacher? What if that was Bob from down the street (who is basically your Bishop – a random, every day Bob assigned to be your spiritual leader for 5 year)? In those instances you would be horrified and you should be horrified now.

I don’t know what the answers are. I know that sunlight is the best antiseptic and we need to expose the rampant child sex abuse and also sexual assault and rapes that happen to LDS people if we ever want to clean it up. For those of you who want me to just shut up about this I will tell you one thing – you are only as sick as your secrets (the church being the “you” in this scenario) and I refuse to be sick with anyone. And I will never shut up when a child needs protecting.

The last two weeks I have sat and reflected about Joseph Bishop and the coverup of him being a sexual predator by the LDS church and all the other stories I know, and the stories I don’t know, and am so glad that four years ago I made the decision to never to return as a practicing, believing member of the LDS church. And I’m debating about whether I will stay as a member of record lest I be complicit in this tolerance and acceptance of abuse. I can tell you that none of my children will ever have the experience of being sexually abused or assaulted and will go to a Bishop to be blamed, shamed, and not believed. THAT will never happen, and I’m so eternally grateful for that.

My dear LDS friends, you can no longer point fingers at Catholic Priests,

You can no longer point fingers at the FLDS,

You can no longer point fingers at the archaic notion of a rapist in the bushes,

You can no longer point fingers at any group as the one with the problem of sexual abuse in their ranks.

The LDS church is also the problem.

And it should end now.

It will end when you rise up and demand that your leaders act like the Men of God you believe they were called to be.

To report child abuse in the state of Utah please call 855-323-3237

To report child abuse in the United States please call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.

 

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not going to betray my heart and sacrifice myself on the fires of your expectation.” –C. Ara Campbell

Photo by Natalie Grono

C Ara Campbell

The Perfect Mom

You know that mom you see at school drop-off every morning? The mom whose hair is perfectly coiffed, her makeup is always done, her clothes are stylish and expensive, she may or may not work outside the home, her children are always perfectly dressed and perfectly behaved, and she volunteers at every school function? She never shows up to school drop-off in her sweats, messy bun, yesterday’s makeup, the baby’s spit-up on her stretched-out and holey t-shirt, while slugging down as much coffee as her system can take. Nope, not the Perfect Mom. Her life seems perfect and she makes it seem so effortless, and you wonder why you’re not that mom.

I’m not that mom either. I don’t even think that mom is that mom.

Parenting is hard. Full stop. End of sentence. It’s hard. I often think of the slogan that the Peace Corps © uses about how they are the toughest job you’ll ever love and it relates to how I feel about parenting. It’s so hard, and overwhelming, and exhausting, and taken me to the limit of all my extremes, and yet I fiercely love all of my children so much that I would die for them.

Perfect mom

I’ve been there in the trenches with my kids fighting to ensure them the best future possible. I’ve been there at 2:00 a.m. when they were sick and throwing up on me and sleep was an elusive fantasy. I’ve been there when my child struggled to read and I had to fight for her to get all the educational help she was entitled to. I was in the trenches when my kids were bullied by the neighbor kid whose parents took no responsibility nor tried to correct their child’s behavior. I’ve been in the trenches when my kids struggled with school assignments, friendships, Scouting, sports, music lessons, growing pains, sibling rivalry, on and on, ad infinitum.

Sometimes I’ve fought those battles with a dirty t-shirt, underwear I’ve worn for days, and stained sweatpants on. Sometimes I’ve fought those battles in a pantsuit and power heels. And sometimes I’ve fought them with a sweatshirt with the school’s mascot and a simple pair of jeans on.

The point is, as a mother I was willing to fight those battles for and with my kids no matter how I looked, felt, or was perceived by the other parents at school.

That mom who we think is so perfect and must have a problem-free life, is fighting those battles for and with her kids too.

We can never know the inner workings of anyone else’s life. I do know that everyone else that I see on the street, in the grocery store, in line at the Post Office, and at school drop off has a life that is as vivid as mine. They all have people they love deeply, worries that weigh on their heart, and hurts so deep it’s amazing they got out of bed and participated in life that day. Their lives are just as real and important as mine.

So when I see the Perfect Mom with her perfect hair, makeup, clothes, children, and life at school drop-off I try to remember that her life is just as hard as mine. Maybe some things in her life are easier for her than they are in mine. And maybe in some ways my life is easier than hers. I’ll never know. We’ll never know.

So in the meantime I’m cutting my fellow moms, wearing a power suit or a pair of sweatpants, some well-deserved slack. Including myself.

Thank God my husband is too compassionate and egalitarian to criticize this “Day Without a Woman” strike – AKA another day where Matt Walsh is woefully wrong

[A response to this.]

Yesterday was the “Day Without A Woman” strike. The idea was that women were supposed to abandon their jobs, their families and their household duties for the day in order to protest how we elected a man to President who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and how even in 2017 women are still unequal in this country.

As was the case with the Women’s March in January, most of the people involved in this demonstration are VERY sure why they’re involved. They saw their country elect a man who said he could grab their genitals and get away with that, and it makes them feel unsafe, unrepresented, and just plain mad as hell. From my conversations with my fellow feminists who either supported or participated in this strike/boycott/it seems most of them KNOW that they’re speaking out against very real and lived INEQUALITY.  When asked how they’re unequal, they are able to articulate very compelling reasons from their lived experiences of all the little ways every day in which they are marginalized, oppressed, ignored, abused, misrepresented, and devalued by modern society. So for once men have to pick up the slack for women instead of the other way around.

The organizers of this protest had concise, consistent, and articulate messages about what they aimed to accomplish yesterday and their goals for the future. Those goals are very connected to women’s issue’s because women’s rights are human rights.

The official unity principals, which serve as the foundation for yesterday’s strike, include a women’s right to access reproductive health care and have her and her doctor make decisions, not conservative asshats with a blog, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant and refugee rights, and environmental health. It’s clear why these issues were included in the Day Without Women platform because women are affected by every single one of these issues every.single.day.

A few thoughts on today:

1. Serious, productive women have to put up with inequality every day even though they don’t have time for that nonsense

Women do most of the unpaid work in this country, whether that’s raising families or caring for their aging Baby Boomer parents, and are expected to do that work with very little support from their male partners WHILE ALSO WORKING A FULL-TIME JOB.  Because men have the option to opt-out of this work because they know the women in their lives will pick up the slack, ensuring their lives will continue on basically as normal for the most part. When you get the feminist mom demographic to go on strike, you really are grinding the social engine to a halt because feminist moms are raising their children, participating in activism, carrying the loads for their families, and working outside of the home, and boy howdy, do they know how to organize and get shit done.

Days like yesterday make me even more thankful for my husband, who grew up in a generation and religion steeped in patriarchal control and he still rejected gender roles and has chosen to be an egalitarian partner and committed father with great enthusiasm. My husband can’t even say the word “feminist” without feeling so grateful that he has was raised by a strong woman, was taught how to respect women by his father, is the brother to some strong-ass women, is married to a tough-as-nails woman, is raising two daughters to be strong women, and raising two sons to reject patriarchal control and respect the hell out of women.

When I asked him what he was doing to commemorate “A Day Without Women,” he told me he was going to wear red to work, support the women in his office who would like to participate in the action, and donate to causes that directly impact the lives of women. He’s far too much of a grown, mature, adult man, to denigrate women, to mock their protests for more rights, and not support every woman’s effort to gain more equality. And thank God for that.

My recommendation to any young woman discerning marriage: ask your prospective husband how he feels about modern feminism. If he laughs, RUN FOR THE HILLS. The last thing you want is to be married to a misogynist who expects you do all the emotional labor in your family, raise your children with little to no support, while he reaps all the benefits of your hard work and never has to lift a finger. Praise Jesus.

2. This once again benefits the women it’s supposed to help.

Fortunately in the education system, mature feminist Baby Boomers make up a significant percentage of the staff at many public schools, particularly on the east coast. That’s why some of the biggest school systems in America shut down yesterday to accommodate the hundreds of feminists who value their equality and know that fighting for their rights means they are fighting for the rights of their students as well. Again, women’s rights are human rights.

Unfortunately because of lazy and sexist men and their harmful, non-family oriented policies, thousands of working mothers, many of them low income, will be forced to call out of work or shell out money for childcare. The women who would have liked to participate in yesterday’s events and who couldn’t afford to take part in them, will be the ones who pay the price, because men sure as hell won’t. The Patriarchy will keep humming along as normal, oppressing our nation’s women by enacting laws that take away women’s reproductive rights, marginalizing the already oppressed, taking away the rights of trans women to use the bathroom, paying women of color even less than they pay white women, refusing asylum to refugee women, failing to protect women who are currently experiencing domestic or sexual violence, manspreading and mansplaining, while misogynist, conservative men sit in their Ivory towers looking down at women complaining for not using their inside voices like the nice ladies to. As usual.

3. The men married to women need to step up.

Many articles have been written over the past week explaining what men can do to support yesterday’s strike. As it turns out there was and is a lot they could/can do. They can pick up the slack with childcare. They can support  the women in their office if management tries to punish them for their participation. They can march with them and provide security against the men who wish to enact violence to them. If they’re attorneys, they can provide their legal services for free to those women who were arrested for protesting. They can teach their sons and daughters about consent. They can not grab the genitals of other women just because president trump bragged about it. They can speak out whenever a sexist joke or story is told. They can listen to their wives when they tell them about their experiences with inequality AND BELIEVE THEM even if they have never experienced it themselves. These can and should be doing these things today and every day. Sadly, a depressingly low number of men will not do any of these things even though patriarchy hurts them as well. Even sadder, is when women denigrate the work of other women by criticizing their tone or tactics, etc. because women are the gatekeepers of patriarchy and the only real way to have power as a women is through soft power.

Mothers should be supported in self-care and filling up their own well so that they can continue to care for their families. This is called maternal feminism. If that means leaving their family for a whole day as a political statement, what a wonderful role model she is to her children in standing up for her rights.  Workers usually go on strike because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that their employer is oppressing them. If you’re going on strike from your family, is that because your children and husband are oppressing you? PROBABLY. Why isn’t your husband supporting you more? Why are your children expecting you to do everything for  them? Why isn’t every member of your household responsible for the upkeep of that household? Why isn’t your partner being a better parent to your shared children?

I’m so glad that my  husband isn’t a Matt Walsh type. It makes me feel pangs of by-proxy-embarrassment for his wife for allowing their children and herself to be disrespected in this way.

What can a husband do for a wife who wants to go on strike from the family? PICK UP THE FREAKING SLACK. He can show that he is committed to being a better partner by being a leader in changing his actions to be more respectful, accommodating, and supportive of his wife.  He can be a man, in other words.

4. YOU AREN’T EQUAL. DON’T EVER STOP UNTIL YOU ARE.

Women need to absolutely and 100% protest for equal rights because they still do not have equal rights.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been passed after 40+ years.
  • Women still make remarkably less on a dollar than the men, and even less if they’re a woman of color.
  • Only 3% of rapes are ever prosecuted and just last year rapists like Kobe Bryant were lauded as heroes because they can put a ball in a basket good.
  • Women cannot hold positions of ministry in many churches.
  • Rapists can sue their victims for custody in most states.
  • About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence, and 75% of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship.
  • The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.
  • Women pay more for common household items than men to. Just ask your shampoo bottle, shaving cream, BIC pen.
  • Women are underrepresented in government. Only 20% of Congress is comprised of women.
  • Women are in the minority in business, accounting for only 17% of board members and 15% C-suit executives, and 5% of CEOS at Fortune 500 companies.
  • Women are the minority in news media.
  • Women still shoulder more of the household burden, much like Matt Walsh’s poor wife. Working moms are more likely to be saddled with childcare duties than working fathers, even if both spouse work equal hours. And they’re also more likely to bear the burden of doing chores around the house.
  • Female soldiers face alarming rates of rape and harassment.
  • Young women experience inequality in high school sports.
  • Retired women are twice as likely as retired men to live in poverty.
  • Women of all age are more likely than men to live below the poverty line especially single mothers with deadbeat ex-spouses who don’t pay child support.
  • In STEM fields, women make up less than 30% of employees.
  • Human trafficking is a crime that vastly affects women.
  • Women suffer the worst when poor water quality and sanitation is jeopardized because of menstruation.
  • There is a luxury tax on tampons, which if you didn’t know, are a necessity not a luxury.
  • 1 in 5 women in the United States have been victims of sexual assault in their lifetime compared to 1 in 71 men.
  • 1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime compared to 1 in 18 men.
  • 1 in 4 college women are being sexually assaulted before they graduate, forcing them to delay their education or drop out of school, while schools participate in cover ups. We have an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.
  • Women face rampant discrimination and harassment in the workforce, like being kept out of leadership roles or certain fields entirely, not being properly accommodated or supported while pregnant or after giving birth, and sexual harassment is a major issue is non-female dominated fields.
  • Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

[Statistics sources here, here, here, and here]

Feminism is the only thing that has ever offered help. This, perhaps more than any other reason, is why everyone should take feminism seriously. Especially today and every day thereafter until there is gender equality for every woman and girl.

Feminist are out there fighting for everyone’s equality. Please join us.