An Open Letter

Dear Duggar daughters –

I am not here to chide you, or your family. I am not here to pass judgement on what anyone should or shouldn’t have done in regards to what your brother did.

I am here to tell you that I’m sorry. For everything.

I’m sorry he touched you, in the manner he did, without your permission. Regardless of how you dismiss or rationalize it, he should have never invaded your body like that.

I’m sorry that the adults in your life failed you. They failed to protect you, and they failed to right the wrong, after you were violated.

I’m sorry that it happened to you. I’m sorry you had to feel the confusion and shame afterwards. And I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with all your feelings, while trying to put up a united front on TV cameras.

I am truly, truly sorry.

I say all this, as someone who’s been there, minus the TV cameras. Someone who was supposed to love and protect me as a parent, did not. And convinced me it was my fault. This person violated me as well, many times, while I was awake, and aware, and scarred me to this day. He gave me nightmares until my adult years. Because of his actions, I was unable to trust any adult male in my life for a very long time. I thought all men were going to try and treat me as a sexual object as well, even my male teachers.

Like you, I told one day. I’m not sure of the reaction your parents gave you, but the reaction I was given by my adults was not positive. I was called a “lying  little bitch” by a member of his family, who again, said they loved me. This was quite traumatic for 12 year old me. However, instead of my perpetrator being shipped away, I was sent to stay with a family friend for the summer. I went home just before school started.
And like you, it started again.
I told again, but this time the police were involved. But even they questioned me, and pointed out that I was going to “ruin his life”.

Never mind that he had already almost ruined mine.

I was 30 before I started to feel better about myself. I do hope that the therapy your family says they gave you will allow you to have a normal relationship with someone of the opposite sex before I was able to.

I’m rambling, I know. You’re telling yourself that nothing bad happened. It’s not like he raped you, or you were even aware of it. I’m sorry you’ve rationalized things to that point. There are no degrees of this. He violated your space, your body, and your trust.

So in closing, as the story dies from the media,  I just want to say that I hope things are better for you. I hope you’re not harboring any negative feelings about yourself, or what you could have done to stop it. I hope that you don’t occasionally still cower from the men in your life, (husbands/partners included) despite how much you love them. Above all else, you deserve to have a happy, whole life, away from the fear to sleep these feelings cause.

Yours ever sincerely,
Samantha Regina Imperiatrix

The Pagan History of Christmas

Everyone loves Christmas. I mean, really we do. As a society and as individuals we love it, despite the stress, irritation, and weight gain it brings. But what do we know about its origins? Sure, we’re told that it’s the celebration of the birth of Christ, but I know I always wondered what in the hell decorating a tree has to do with Jesus being born? Short answer: absolutely nothing. But there’s more than that, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

Let’s start from the word Christmas, as this is one of the few things about this day that actually does have to do with Christianity. The word ‘Christmas’ is combination of Christ’s mass. It comes from Middle and Old English where it was Christemasse and Cristes mæsse. The latter is a phrase dated back to the 11th century. Now, that brings me to the vile word of Xmas. The current church has seen this word as an attack on Christmas. If they’d do their homework, they see that its not so. In ancient Greek versions of the New Testament, the letter X (Chi in Greek) was the first letter of the word Christ. Also, in Rome, the same letter was used as an abbreviation of Christ. So therefore, Xmas is not an attack against any religion, deity, or holiday, but merely ancient shorthand.

Now, lets move on to the date, December 25th. According to the Bible, Jesus was born in Bethlehem when his parents went there to be counted for census and tax purposes, I believe. It also says the shepherds were watching their herds that night. No where does it make any mention of the date. December is the cold and rainy season in the area that was known as Judaea. Earlier in the bible, it is noted in both Solomon and Ezra that the shepherds were not allowed to take the flocks out at night during winter months, so as to protect the livestock. Also, travel on the back of a mule would have been quite difficult for anyone, pregnant or not, during the harsh winter months.  There is a lot of astrological evidence that is pointed out, but an exact month has not been pinpointed. In researching this, the three months most believed months are April, May, or September. But with the current evidence, it may not be possible to ever truly know the month.

The Roman holiday of Saturnalia shares a lot of aspects with Christmas. Saturnalia was not celebrated on the 25th, but the 17th, and lasted until the 25th, with the feast of Sol Invictus. It was an insanely popular holiday that was an all around good time. The holiday closed schools and people made and exchanged gifts. There were also large feasts in Roman homes, in which everyone was equal. Slaves took part in the feasts, were allowed to gamble, and were exempt from any punishment. In an effort to not be persecuted by the Romans, early Christians did participate in some of the common traditions, such as lighting candles and hanging holly and mistletoe. A celebration of the Christ’s birth was first called by Telesphorous between 125 and 136 AD. In 320, the Pope, Julius I mandated that December 25th was Jesus’s birthday. Finally in 325, Constantine made Christmas an ‘immovable’ feast, along with Easter, and Sunday as the Sabbath.

Probably the most Pagan of all of Christmas traditions (oddly enough, the most popular too) is the Christmas tree. Evergreens were revered because of their ability to survive the winter months. Germans and Scandinavians of the Middle Ages used trees outside their front doors to ward off evil spirits. Some historians date the tradition of lighting a tree to none other than Martin Luther. The story goes that he was walking through the woods and was amazed by the way the light hit the snow on the trees and cut a tree down. He brought it home where his family and he decorated it with candles and tinsel. Some trace it to Saint Boniface (patron saint of Germany), saying that he interrupted a pagan sacrifice and crushed the oak tree they were using with his punch and an evergreen sprang up through the remains of the oak.

The controversy surrounding the tree goes both ways. There was a period, specifically during Cromwell’s rule in England, and in the early colonial days of the US, when all usual Christmas celebrations were banned, for being “too pagan”.  To some very fundamentalist Christian sects, the tree is forbidden by Bible and should not be used or celebrated at all. Some of these sects may not celebrate Christmas at all. Cities that have public trees have seen challenges because some secular groups see it as a symbol of Christianity, and renamed the community tree a holiday tree.

Another favorite part of the holidays is gift giving. There are few joys like finding presents for the ones we care about, and watching them enjoy it. The biblical story is that we give each other gifts because the Three Wise Men brought presents to Jesus, shortly after his birth. While this may be the case, gift giving around this time of year pre-dates the birth of Jesus. One of the main tenets of the Roman festival of Saturnalia was exchanging of gifts. Much like today, children were given toys, and other gifts were given depending on the social status of the parties involved. Some gifts would be as simple as pottery or combs, or others as elaborate as slaves, jewelry, or perfume. The Romans would even attach small poems and verses, like a version of early greeting cards.

In conclusion, what Christmas was then, and what Christmas is now, aren’t much different. People getting together, eating copious amounts of food, exchanging presents, and all-around merry-making. Nowadays our holidays are a bit more commercial and the decorations start after Independence Day, but it’s all for the sake of traditions. Traditions are one of the few things that every civilization in recorded history have in common. So whether you believe yours are from the Romans or the Bible, hold them close, and hold them dear. They are one of the most important things we have.

An Open Letter to Male Gamers

Dear Male Gamers –

Seriously guys? What is wrong with you?

You’re better than this. And this.

On what planet do you think its okay to talk to another human being like that? I’m assuming you have mothers, and how do you feel about someone calling her a “slut”, a “cunt” or making jokes about raping her for expressing her opinion? What if it was your aunt? Or your sister? Or your daughter? Or would that be alright, if you disagree with her too?

I can answer those questions for you. It is never okay under any circumstances to speak to a woman, or person like that. Just like an other human being, women are just that, humans. We are not just baby-makers, “sammich-makers”, or there for your aesthetic pleasure. We are integral parts of nature and society. Women make strides to improve our world every day. We are as capable as men. We are forces of nature. And we will be reckoned with.

“But, women don’t play as much as men!” Well, WHY SHOULD THEY?! Would you want to play with other people when you’re going to be demeaned like that? Seriously, if you were met with derision and inhumane comments, for expressing a fact or opinion, would you want to play? I doubt it.

“But Sam, I don’t like it when people talk like that, but if I say something, I get made fun of also.” So your option is to just sit back and do nothing? That’s a piss-poor excuse. You stand up for people. That’s what a community does. And if you speak out, you will inspire others to do the same. We can change things, if we really want to. It just needs to start with one person. One voice, sticking up for someone else.

I really enjoy playing console games, and having spent years in the gaming community, I know you’re better than this. You are a highly intelligent group of people and are better than this misogyny. If you want to be taken seriously as a force in the entertainment industry, you’ve got to stop this behavior. You cannot alienate an entire demographic of consumers and expect to make it as a business. Developers will make games for women, with women characters. Women will play them, and games with male protagonists.

So push back all you want. Call us whatever you want. Women aren’t going anywhere. Rise above this. I implore you to prove me right. You are so much better than the links above, I know it. Change your words, change your attitudes. Leave a better gaming community for your daughters.

Love,

Sam

A Rant

I am bisexual.

It’s taken me over thirty years to be able to say it out loud. Its been a hard realization to make and it felt great to tell my family. Most have been okay with it so far. Some still don’t know.

I got married in my early twenties to a man who I wasn’t able to discuss it with. I discovered during conversations that he would not have been accepting of it. So I buried it down again, where it had been since the first time I kissed another girl in high school. After my marriage fell apart, I began dating a man who was accepting of it, but only thinking he could use it to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Needless to say, that relationship fell apart.

Since then I’ve realized some other things as well. I still can’t be out. Almost every male dating prospect that I’ve mentioned it to have immediately assumed that my sexuality is again, something for his sexual fulfillment. Apparently being a bisexual female means automatic threesomes with the men I date and my female friends or random women I meet. I can tell you with certainty that it does not.

However, the gay community isn’t much better. Some women won’t engage in a relationship with bisexual women, since we might still be interested in men. Also, we’re seen as fence sitters. With both communities we’re seen as “confused” and told “to make up our minds.”

Maybe its just my post-modern attitude, but why should I have to pick one gender? I. Like. Both. I’m not an indecisive “fence sitter”. I like men. I like women. Plain and simple. As I’ve heard recently from two family members while telling them, I’m going through a “phase, probably spawned from my background of sexual abuse” and its my “decision to live how I like” as I got an eye roll. This is not a phase. This was not a decision. This is how I’m wired.

With all the arguments of gay marriage in the news lately, I hear the phrase “Love is love.” And it most certainly is. But love is not bound by gender. I should be able to love someone of either gender, without being ridiculed by the homosexual or heterosexual communities. If “love is love”, why am I still being held to antiquated standards? Why must I decide to love one or the other? What’s the point of having cake, if you can’t eat it too? Like every other person on the planet, why can’t I decide who I love, bound only by my feelings and not someone else’s standards?

It’s insane to me that by coming out, I still can’t be completely open about my sexuality. The gay community still doesn’t fully accept me, but neither does the heterosexual community. To lesbians, I might leave them for a man. To heterosexual men, I’m a guaranteed three-way. So here I am, being who and what I am, but still ostracized. We’re making great strides as a society, but my friends, we still have a long, long way to go.