Tag Archives: feminism

Her Name was Sophia Marquez (My experience serving as juror for a murder trial).

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Written by Lucy Kidd

 

*Special note – Originally I posted this entry on my other blog, http://patriarchysurvivor.wordpress.com/, however I think that this blog is also an appropriate place for it. *

 

Two summers ago I was summoned for my first jury duty. Since it was my first time I was a little nervous but my friends assured me that I would just sit around all day and  that my name would never get called. I was in the court house for all of five minutes before my name was called, and I was immediately one of twelve jurors on a murder trial.  I wanted to tell the judge about my anxiety disorder and about the fact that I was a rape survivor myself and didn’t know if I could handle the stress of the trial. But I was still struggling with overcoming the shame of the attack and wasn’t ready to share that story. So I made it on to the jury.

The victim’s name was Sophia Marquez. I can still see her face in my nightmares. I can still see Sophia’s sister crying on the witness stand because Sophia had been raped, strangled to death and left naked on the side of the freeway. The accused had no alibi at all, there was convincing DNA evidence and absolutely no reasonable doubt. The other 11 jurors and myself convicted him of first degree murder during an attempted rape (there wasn’t enough evidence to prove completed rape).

Most victims of sexual assault do not get justice, and it’s horribly cruel that a rape victim (or attempted rape) usually has to be murdered for the criminal justice system to even consider prosecution. If Sophia had just been sexually assaulted and left naked but alive on the side of the road she wouldn’t have gotten justice. The statistics are no better now than they were in the 70′s, most rape kits just sit in evidence lockers collecting dust, because the police cannot be bothered to investigate them. I am glad that Sophia’s family got justice for her murder, but most rape/ attempted rape victims will not – their cases won’t even be investigated. And I am angry. I am angry that the district attorneys will not prosecute rapists without media pressure. I am angry that society blames rape victims and forgives rapists (boys will be boys!). I am angry that most rape survivors will not even report getting raped because the police victim blame and slut-shame. I am over this, I want things to change. Women are human beings, and our lives have value. I shouldn’t have to explain this to people, but I do.

Her name was Sophia Marquez, she was murdered during an attempted rape  in Sacramento, CA, and her naked corpse was dumped on the side of a freeway. I will never forget her face, I will never forget her name.

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My Morbid Fascination with 19 Kids and Counting

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I have recently gotten hooked on the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” a program that celebrates the recently popularized “Quiverfull” movement. My partner does not understand how I can stomach even five minutes of watching it, and is prompt to demand a channel switch whenever I dare to watch it in the room with him. I can’t really blame him, as self-proclaimed bleeding heart liberals we are hardly the demographic for which the show is produced. However, I have decided to rationalize my behavior in the name of social anthropological research.

The children represented on “19 Kids and Counting” seem to live perfectly satisfying lives, and I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of their happiness. In the episode that I watched most recently, daughter Jill flew to Nepal with her father to meet a potential suitor. Jill was clearly bursting with excitement about the prospect of meeting the man she fancied in the romantic backdrop of a foreign land, and who could blame her? It really was a romantic setup, and her dad is due serious props for caring enough about his daughter’s happiness to travel halfway around the world for her.

I do not judge the Duggar parents because they have so many children, or their religious affiliations, or their obsession with female virginity, or for their unorthodox methods of educational instruction. In some ways I admire their family dynamic – the parents provide for their children’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs as well as they know how. They teach their children values that are important to them, and it is not at all what I take issue with.

In an attempt to explain myself clearly I’m going to ask that you take a closer look at the episode with Jill and her dad in Nepal. Dad is happy with the arrangement, future boyfriend is happy with it, Jill is happy with it, and the rest of the Duggar clan is happy with it. But what is the cost of this one dimensional happiness? How much intimacy can two people possibly develop under the close observation of a parental figure? I spent most of the episode cringing at the awkwardness of their attempts at intimate conversation. I felt so sorry for the poor guy trying to tell his new girlfriend how much he appreciated her beauty while her dad stares possessively at her from two feet away.

When my partner and I were dating we shared an emotional intimacy as well as a physical intimacy. I do not believe that there exists the possibility for real intimacy on a chaperoned date. The way a person behaves in front of a group is decidedly different from the way they behave when they are alone with an intimate partner. Certain personality traits don’t come to surface until after a couple has let their guards down. Sometimes it takes a heated argument for someone to reveal their true personality.

I remember this one argument in particular that my partner and I had at the beginning of our relationship. We didn’t know it at the time, but this argument would set the tone for every future argument in our relationship. At some point in the argument he started to raise his voice at me. I became very quiet until he asked me what was wrong. I told him that “yelling” was an unacceptable way for him to address me. (My father had yelled at me often as a child and as a result I developed an anxiety disorder.) I made it clear to my partner that I would not tolerate that behavior in relationship. He agreed to this new boundary in our relationship and it has never again been an issue. Somehow I doubt that my partner and I could have established this boundary during a conversation chaperoned by my father.

Maybe Jill really does enjoy being submissive to men and is genuinely looking forward to being a domestic slave for her husband. If that is something that she honestly wants then more power to her, she deserves exactly what she desires from her relationship. I think the crucial question is “how does she know what she wants?” How does Jill know to choose between an apple and a pear if an apple is the only fruit she has ever tasted?  The Duggars have crafted a perfectly secure fantasy world for their children. Because Jill has never been exposed to alternative lifestyle choices she can only rely on the tunnel vision made possible by her life inside a manufactured fantasy land free from all challenges and all conflicts. A sugar-coated virgin princess culture cannot prepare this poor girl for the real challenges she will face in her marriage. Will her parents be just as warm and fuzzy toward their daughter if she comes home with a black eye because she married a man who excluded his “problem with anger” from the courtship equation?

The Duggar girls seem perfectly happy when they are being interviewed on t.v. They are also perfectly interchangeable and wear perfectly vacant smiles that cannot hide the retardation of their social development. My husband and I are expecting our first baby this summer. When she is born I will encourage her to grow into the kind of woman she wants to be. If she wants to be a powerful executive, than I will encourage her in that. If she wants to be a-stay-at-home mom with a quiver full of children, than I will encourage her in that too. Her life will be more challenging than the life of a Duggar daughter, because she will not be forbidden from experiencing all that the world has to offer outside of a sugar-coated fairy tale.

If You Give a Guy a Cookie, He’s Going to Want a Blow Job to Go with it.

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By Lucy Kidd

If you have ever been a young woman working in any job ever, than you know as well I do that women are expected to pay a special price for our financial autonomy. This price is different for each individual woman and each job, but we have all paid that price at one time or another. And you know exactly what I’m referring to, that one coworker who hovers two inches away from your face while working on a project, or that other one who stares at your boobs while he’s talking to you. One time I had a coworker ask me for a ride home because his car was “in the shop” (later I found out he didn’t have a car at all), and then insisted that I come inside his house with him to see his new kitten, even after I tried to make excuses to leave. Of course when I finally relented and we got inside he tried to kiss me, and when I tried to leave after rejecting him he blocked my path to the door and tried to convince me not to leave. After that incident occurred, his harassment of me at work heightened, and he actually started to say sexually explicit things to me when no one else was around. For example, he would say things like “I know you want me,” and “you like looking at my ass don’t you?” Eventually I tried to quit that job because his harassment got so frequent and continued to escalate in severity. My supervisor asked me if I wanted to quit because of sexual harassment, and I was surprised because I had told her nothing about it. She said that everyone already knew how I was being treated and she didn’t want to quit because of it. She insisted that she would take of the situation.

Her idea of “taking care of it” turned out to be holding a staff meeting that included everyone except me, and making the announcement that anyone who was harassing me needed to stop immediately. Yep, that is how she dealt with it. Naturally, the harassment escalated even more after that, and I ended up having to quit anyway. I was only 19 at the time, and it didn’t occur to me to sue the hell out of them, and losing that source of income was a brutal blow for me as a full time college student.

I learned very quickly at the tender age of 16 (when I got my first ever job at a movie theater because my supervisor “liked my picture”) that putting up with a certain amount of sexual harassment was expected of me and my female coworkers, and like everyone else I would just have to take it.

And then I started working a contract job for one of the big wireless carriers, and for the first several months I floated on a sea of blissful co-worker harmony, and I was so grateful to feel safe at my desk job. Hell, I could even talk about politics with the male feminist coworker who sat in a desk next to me. I had it made in the shade. That was until one of the supervisors in my department started to take a special interest in me. It started out very innocently, when I had brought a bunch of cookies to the office one day and offered him one. And everyone knows that when you offer a guy a cookie, he’s going to want a blow job to go with it, because clearly that is the natural progression of a professional relationship. No, he did not literally ask me to blow him, but here is what happened next: He escalated our relationship by sending friendly emails asking innocent questions about my job. That was fine. It should have stopped there, but it didn’t. A few days later he walked up to me in the break room and asked me if I was looking at engagement rings online. I told him yes, and asked how he knew that. He said that our work computers were monitored so nothing is private. I felt embarrassed talking about my engagement with him when I wasn’t officially engaged yet, but I assumed his inquiries were innocent and in good fun. I thought nothing of it when he teased me about my ring hunting, after all it was just play banter between coworkers. I tried to think nothing of it as he asked a barrage of personal questions about my relationship with my boyfriend. He stared at my breasts during our entire conversation but again,  I thought nothing of it.

Then the next day he sent me an email asking me if I would like to have lunch with him. A little red light bulb started flashing in my subconscious. Even though his past flirtations had only been implicit, I felt hesitant to continue a relationship with him outside the safe walls of our office. Luckily, subtlety has never really been my strong suit, so in my reply email I expressly asked what his intentions were with this lunch. I specifically asked him, “would this be a work lunch, a friends lunch or an ulterior motive lunch?” With his response he confirmed that I had asked the right question. He got very defensive, and insisted he was just trying to be friendly, and that I was over-analyzing the situation. I suddenly worried that I had offended him, and began to worry about whether or not my job was in jeopardy. I imagined having to go home and explain to my then boyfriend (now husband) that I had lost my job because of feminist paranoia. He was a supervisor, he was a supervisor for my entire department. Shit.

I decided to check in with my immediate supervisor to she what she thought of the situation. I told her that he asked me out to lunch and I just needed a second opinion. As I was explaining my predicament she stopped when I got to the engagement ring conversation. “He knows about your browsing history on your computer?” She asked. I assured her that I knew I shouldn’t have been looking at personal sites online and that it was my fault. She did not look amused, and informed me that he had absolutely no legitimate reason to be going through my browsing history, apparently I was incorrect in thinking he was one of my supervisors. She informed me that he must have gone out of his way to look into my browsing history and that his work had nothing to do with the work I was doing. She continued to assure me that he had no power to fire me. She seemed completely bewildered as to why he would have gone through my private internet browsing history. That was the biggest relief.

After our conversation I felt like it would be inappropriate to have lunch with him, so I didn’t. I asked another coworker if they thought the lunch invite was fishy and he immediately informed me that I was just one of many young women this particular supervisor had expressed special interest in. Apparently he had a long history at this company of hitting on very young women in the office. Well, that settled it.

A couple days later the H.R. rep dropped by my desk. She asked for me to forward her all the emails exchanged between Mr. male supervisor and myself. She insisted that  I did the right thing by coming forward and that she was taking care of it. I felt encouraging to not be told I was just “being dramatic” or “overreacting.” This woman believed my story and she actually supported me. It was incredibly reassuring to have someone believe me.

After this incident happened Mr. male supervisor became very cold towards me. He would often find excuses to walk by my desk and glare at me. My coworkers joked about it but I was legitimately scared he might take revenge on me and I became hyper-vigilant when walking to my car after work.

Several weeks went by before I brought up the subject of Mr. male supervisor with one of my coworkers. He smiled at me and said, “You know that guy got demoted right? He’s not a supervisor anymore.” I grinned wickedly and suddenly felt powerful. I had been harassed at work and management had actually taken it seriously. I knew I would be enjoying this feeling of vindication for a long time.