Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of Wrong

(WARNING: This is a post about sexual abuse.)



 "Just this: Violence towards women=Not sexy, Ever."  I posted this status on Facebook last night, and thought I was done.  But apparently I have more to say because I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, still disturbed in my spirit, still thinking about it.   I know men and women who are going to see the movie, believing it to be as advertised.  No big deal. A thrilling, risqué adventure about "grey area" sex between two consenting adults.  Hey, adults are mature, right?  They can handle it.  They can decide for themselves what is right and wrong for them. No harm done by viewing, right?  I totally get that.  A few years ago I may have even gone to see it myself. I'm a big girl and I can make my own decisions about sex, thank you very much. No harm, no foul.

Except, now I volunteer for Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing women and girls out of sexual exploitation.  And do you know how some of those young girls got there in the first place? By being promised a thrilling, risqué adventure of grey area sex, which would earn them lots of money so they could buy whatever they want.  A grey area of sex that got darker and darker and darker until it turned black. And they don't have a choice about the harm being inflicted on them. No choice. So now, I cry FOUL.

I'm told by the good people who do the research that there is a direct correlation between pornography (yes, that is what this movie is, let's just call it what it is) and violence against women. Porn is where it starts. It is the primary reason we have sex trafficking victims.  I'm also told that porn isn't what it was in the seventies and eighties.  It has become steadily and increasingly violent, and the more cruel the images get, the more violent the perpetrators are.  They are simply compelled to act out what they have seen.  It is also true that the average purchaser of this sex is not the gross perv we think he is.  He is a husband, a father, a professional, who saw violent porn, accidentally became addicted to it, and now is compelled to do it. What he can't get at home, he will pay for.

Friends, here's the thing: by watching the movie, we are, by our association with it, condoning and glamorizing sexual abuse and giving a thumbs-up to the men in our society regarding the objectification of and violence towards women. And women, we may not have to pay the price for the confusion this association generates.  As free adults, we can say, "no, thank you."  But someone else will pay the price, and she is between the ages of 12-15 and she is being trafficked, not just for sex, but for violent sex. I guarantee you, she doesn't think this movie is harmless. And either does the woman who has been in an abusive, punishing relationship.

And there are others who will pay the price...

I have a teenage daughter.  By going to see this movie, what am I telling her?  I'm telling her it's  "normal, harmless and maybe even fun"  to get involved with a man who exhibits abusive, controlling behavior and wants to inflict pain on her in the name of love. OK. For the entire fifteen years she has been alive, I have told her that she is precious, special, and should be honored and cherished in every relationship. On one hand I have warned her way from abusive men, and now I 'm going to watch a movie that makes getting involved with one seem enticing?  wait, WHAT?!?

I also have a son, who will be thirteen in a couple of weeks. This kid has had it drummed into his skull, ever since I caught him yanking on his sister's hair when he was 3 years old, that: "we do not hurt other people. boys do not hurt girls. girls do not hurt boys. men and women do not hurt each other. never, ever."

I wondered how this movie must appear to teenage boys, so, since I have one,  I conducted my own research. I wanted to know A) What he thought about it. B) What he would think if his dad and I went to see it.

I called him into the kitchen and told him I wanted to interview him for my blog.  He hadn't heard of Fifty Shades, so I gave him the basic synopsis of the book, which I gleaned from watching the trailer.  

Me: "A man and woman fall in love. The man has certain tastes, which include hurting her while they are having sex."

Cruz: "WHAT??? THAT IS MESSED UP!"

Me: "What would you think if your dad and I went to see the movie?"

(You should have seen his shocked face.  He thought I was asking his permission.)

Cruz: "Welllll, I guess you can if you want to. But at some point you should think about the example you are setting for me."

Then he grabbed another piece of pizza and went back into the family room to watch Ghostbusters. It was a quick interview, but that's okay. He told me everything I needed to know.

To the teenage mind, if mom and dad are watching it, they are condoning it. And if they are condoning it, it must be okay. Also to the teenage mind, it's a very small leap from Fifty Shades to the violent porn they are likely to come across someday, despite our best efforts to shield them from it. And it's an even smaller leap to go from viewing sadistic images to acting them out. Violence, like sex, eventually needs an outlet.

So. A movie about two consenting adults having violent sex? Sure, at one time I would have seen a grey area there. But now I see about fifty shades of

abuse

degradation

humiliation

brainwashing

victimization

shaming

control

manipulation

oppression

perversion

and confusion.

And I see very clearly that if I watch this movie, as a mature, responsible adult who can make her own choices about sex, I won't necessarily have to pay for my decision. But someone will.  My children will pay for it with the confusing signals I am sending them.  And every day, child sex trafficking victims are paying for what adults are willing to label, "harmless entertainment." Suddenly, it's not so grey anymore. It's the glorification of abuse, and it's about fifty shades of wrong.  Abuse is abuse is abuse, any way you color it.

Some things really are just black and white. 

Amy


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy 2015, everyone! I hope your holidays were Merry and Bright... mine were especially bright, as we celebrated in sunny Hawaii.

 Sunset on Waikiki Beach

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Like father, like daughter

New Year's Eve celebration - fireworks on the beach!

We had the time of our lives hiking, snorkeling, surfing (Steve and Savanna), boogie boarding and basketballing (Cruz) and reading on the beach (me).



I am back in the writing groove now, putting the finishing touches on my Dad's book, and I appreciate any prayers you can send my way as I continue to tackle researching and writing about the Vietnam conflict and my Dad's experience in the Hanoi Hilton. 

For those of you in the Healing and the Gospel course, class resumes January 11th.  We have sure seen some amazing miracles in this last year, and as we begin a new session, I am filled to overflowing with Biblical HOPE: the excited anticipation of  coming good

If you have not yet taken the course, now is a great time to jump in... all are welcome and we are open to new visitors any time! Here is a verse that sums up the class:

...and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9.2)

Love and blessings for an exciting year ahead,

Amy

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Book - Captain James R Shively

Hi All!  Just popping on to say I have not disappeared off the face of the planet... I am busy writing, writing, writing and very much looking forward to my next book: Captain James R. Shively, an Exceptional Man, an Extraordinary Life. As many of you know, my step-dad was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, and was shot down over Hanoi, and subsequently imprisoned for six years.  The Lord laid on my heart about two years ago to write my Dad's incredible life story.




I am listening to the tapes my Dad made with a reporter before he died and I am shocked - there is so much that he never shared with us.  His story of survival is fascinating.  It is a triumphant tale of courage, strength, hope, and eventually, freedom.  He was only twenty-five years old when he was captured.  Here is an excerpt:

Welcome to the Hanoi Hilton

            He saw it from far away as they were driving up. The building, or rather, series of buildings, was immense.  It sat on a vast, tree lined property right in the heart of Hanoi, and from a distance it could easily have been any other governmental structure. As the truck got closer, Jim noticed the main building  was a whitewashed French Colonial with green shutters and louvered doors. He suddenly felt like he was on a Hollywood movie set, and half-expected some French foreign legion guy to walk out and greet him.  But as the security gate opened to let them in, the compound took on a sinister appearance. Rows of razor wire lined the top of the buildings, along with shards of broken glass.  The gate swung open, and the truck drove through it.  It slammed shut behind them with an eerie finality.  Jim felt instantly trapped.  No one had to tell him–he knew exactly where he was.

            Built by the French in 1896 to imprison Vietnamese rebels, the complex had been officially named, "Maison Centrale," or "prison," but eventually Hỏa Lò had earned itself another name–"Hell Hole." The prison lived up to its moniker by anyone's standards. Inside it's concrete walls, thousands of Vietnamese had been stripped and crammed into its dirty holding cells, sometimes twenty-five to a tiny room, and held captive by their oppressor.  Either clamped into iron stocks or chained to their bunks, they received little food or water.  If not eventually beheaded, they were many times left to live chained-up, and die in their own excrement.

            The North Vietnamese had learned about captivity, starvation, and methods of torture the hard way, and now they were putting that knowledge to use against their current enemy. By the time Jim arrived, he had already heard about the prison, referred to sarcastically by American military as the Hanoi Hilton. No one knew for sure who had started the nickname, but the first soldier to write it down had carved "Welcome to the Hanoi Hilton" on the handle of a pail by way of greeting the next visitor. Now it was Jim's turn to be ushered into the infamous, and by all accounts  nefarious, living quarters.

            The guards hoisted him off the truck and strapped the blindfold back on.  With his hands still tightly cuffed behind his back, they led him through a series of hallways and doors, making a big show of locking every door behind them loudly, with heavy metal keys.  Jim knew they wanted to intimidate him. Jim had the impression that they were taking him down to some basement, because it smelled musty and dirty, but he didn't know for sure. He just knew it was dark and dreary. They eventually entered a room. The guards set him down on a low wooden stool and took the blindfold off, and then left him alone. He took a look around. The room was menacing. It was all concrete–concrete floors, concrete walls, with just one bulb hanging down from the ceiling, providing scarcely enough light that he could see a table in the corner, and iron bars and u-bolts against the wall. A wave of fear went through him but he pushed it aside. He looked up and noticed there was a hook suspended from the ceiling.

            He had always enjoyed architecture, so he decided that to take his mind off things he would study the construction of the walls instead. He noticed that instead of smooth concrete, it looked like someone had taken plaster and just spread it out in handfuls, giving the walls a rough, egg-carton like appearance. He found out later it was to deaden the sound.

 I will keep you posted on the release date. 


Bless you!
Amy

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