Sunday, October 19, 2008

And Religion Taketh

Study Finds Serious Mental Illness Often Dismissed by Local Church:
In a recent Baylor study of 293 Christians who approached their local church for assistance in response to a personal or family member's diagnosed mental illness, Baylor researchers found that more than 32 percent of these church members were told by their church pastor that they or their loved one did not really have a mental illness. The study found these church members were told the cause of their problem was solely spiritual in nature, such as a personal sin, lack of faith or demonic involvement. Baylor researchers also found that women were more likely than men to have their mental disorders dismissed by the church.

In a subsequent survey, Baylor researchers found the dismissal or denial of the existence of mental illness happened more in conservative churches, rather than more liberal ones.

All of the participants in both studies were previously diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider as having a serious mental illness, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, prior to approaching their local church for assistance.

"The results are troubling because it suggests individuals in the local church are either denying or dismissing a somewhat high percentage of mental health diagnosis," said Dr. Matthew Stanford, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, who led the study. "Those whose mental illness is dismissed by clergy are not only being told they don't have a mental illness, they are also being told they need to stop taking their medication. That can be a very dangerous thing."
Let's recap, because I know I had difficulty believing this...

* Nearly 1/3 of those talking to their clergy have their diagnosed mental illness dismissed with a wave of the hand. No, that's not quite true... They are first told the medical diagnosis is wrong, then judged for "a personal sin, lack of faith or demonic involvement", and lastly told to say "Hail Mary" so many times, attend religious services more often, submit to the cat-o-nine tails, or otherwise participate in some ritual.

Anyone else feel like comparing today's clergy to B-movie witch doctors?

* The researchers found that women were more likely than men to have their mental disorders dismissed by the church. The sad thing here is that this does not surprise me at all. In fact, I bet the actual numbers/percents would make me mentally ill possessed by demons, with all the physical symptoms, like vomiting.

But perhaps the real kicker here is that those study participants who had their mental illness dismissed were also those in the study who attended church more than once a week, and described their church as "conservative or charismatic." Maybe those "charismatic clergy" just don't think there's enough room in their church for more than one crazy.

The good news here is that the Baylor study found those who had their mental illness dismissed or denied were less likely to attend church. (But many also stated that their faith in God was weakened; that's the problem with organized religion, people throw the deity out with the bath bad waters. However, at least they got away from the real craziness and now, perhaps, can find spirituality.)

A 32% dismissal/denial of mental illness would explain at least part of the problem of people in the pews. But as I've often seen the born-agains and other bible-thumpers prey on the weak, including the mentally ill, as part of their membership drive practices (i.e. convert quotas), I think we would have to call this prey-convert-dismissial-leaving as a serious turn-over problem management should address. Add it to the list of other serious moral issues churches have.

The study was done, in part, because research consistently showed that it is clergy ~ not psychologists or other mental health experts ~ who are sought most often in times of psychological distress. I guess because those with faith assume they can have faith in their clergy; I hope they (again) see the error of their ways.

The moral of the story: Stay on your meds, but get off the organized religion.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

The Flip-Side Of Sex Worker Discrimination

Lingerie model Joy Sartin claimed she kept her money in her bra because she didn't have her purse with her, and she was only offering to pay a traffic ticket with it; but Portland police Officer Cody Berne testified that she offered him the $270 from her bra after he explained her car would be towed because her license had been suspended for drunken driving. The jury found her guilty.

I'm not sure if a Cleavage Caddy would have helped her any.

Joy is called a lingerie model, but she was on her way home from working at Xotic Tan, a strip club. Isn't calling her a lingerie model a bit less than accurate? Oh, wait... Joy's been complaining that the only reason the officer assumed she was proffering a wad of cleavage cash was because of her profession. So that explains the lingerie model title.

What really strikes me in all this mess is this: Joy said "For someone to [attempt to bribe an officer], they'd have to be out of their mind, and I'm not out of my mind. I'm smart and intelligent, and I wouldn't do something like that." But I think all smart, intelligent, sane drivers know that you cannot pay for your ticket with the officer at your car window. Precisely for the reasons involved here ~ anyone can (and will) say anything. So you pay at the ticket paying counter, please, not out your open car window at the site of the ticket. (Or, like I did, hire a lawyer.) No matter how inconvenient it is. But you can't scream discrimination when you in fact are the one offering to bend (over) the rules.

You know I totally support sex worker rights (and those of single parents), but the irony of claiming discrimination against sex workers under these terms is huge. And not lost on me.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today's Delicious Links

Today's Delicious Links


Links for 2008-10-01 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 02 Oct 2008 12:00 AM CDT

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Friday, August 1, 2008

It's Not The Number Of Hats...

Writing and blogging at so many sites, having so many projects, it's an awesome mind-f*** some days. Who am I? Where am I? OK, so I always know who I am; but let's be honest, I have a life, duties and several gigs outside of being Gracie Passette.

Gracie is not a persona; but once a sex worker, even if not always a sex worker, you'll either always have a double-life issue or end up simply denying your past. I can't, won't, do the latter; but often I have to compartmentalize my own life into "sex worker" and "non sex worker".

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that much of my life is spent censoring those experiences for the safety of myself and others. Most of my energy, however, is spent trying to diffuse the essence of me into palatable chunks for others ~ and trying to find peace with that.

My thoughts, attitudes and beliefs have been shaped by my experiences, naturally. But unnaturally, I am often unable to defend my passionate stance with evidence because it would be troublesome. It makes for a weak argument, even a weak conversation; so on those occasions I avoid such conversations.

Such muzzling is a choice to protect those in my circle who could be hurt because of my actions. Such consideration & respect for others has little reward other than the self-knowledge that I've taken one for the team. Such love and respect, however, feels disrespectful to myself. I know why I do it; but chafe at the notion that I should have to. Murder and violence are more acceptable than any intimate transaction I've ever had, personal or professional. And I find that more horrific than I can express today (without getting too far astray).

Sometimes I envy those who have one blog/site/project. All the sides of themselves (that they care to share) are in one place; mine are compartmentalized into an array of blogs/sites/projects. It's not just the marketer in me (who, because she's been busy marketing, has had little time to post her thoughts on the process) which arranged things that way; the anthropologist in me knows that such organization is needed for those who are far more able (or willing) to compartmentalize themselves that way.

While I cannot separate my thoughts on human sexuality from my politics, my feminism from my spirituality, my business smarts from my knowledge of what is human in society, many folks prefer such things.

Cult of Gracie started because some regular columnists at Sex Kitten were less than comfortable discussing politics &/or religion at the site. Fearing my strident and opinionated views would be the only views presented & therefore somehow (mistakenly) attributed to "all Sex Kittens", I moved them to their own home. People in the adult industry don't want to dig through erotica, sex how-tos, and personal narratives regarding sex to get to the marketing tips ~ even though such discussion could very well help their business. (Conversely, the people who read erotica, sex how-tos, and personal narratives regarding sex, would be wise to know how their consumer rights are diminished, threatened, and their minds, perhaps, manipulated.) Etc. etc. etc. (And when I work for/with other groups, my own personal views may need to be expressed elsewhere so that I am not appearing to speak for the group ~ or become a space hog with my constant blitherings.)

Because others desire such compartmentalization, even the ability to be linked to by others is affected. Many who link to this blog or to Marketing Whore would not, could not, link to Sex Kitten. Which really is rather absurd when you realize that all the sites have credibility simply because of who I am, what I've done, what I've learned from my experiences, and, most definitely, the opinions I've gleaned from synthesizing it all. But the fact remains: People prefer things neatly compartmentalized.

These are all very practical choices. Choices, like those to remain silent to protect family & friends from bad things & thoughts, I consciously made. But there are days...

Days when I loathe it all. Loathe myself for doing it.

It's not (just) the number of hats vs. time (for that is worth mentioning), but the dilution or diffusion of myself which I despise.

I am not, nor ever will be, as simple as any blog header or columnist profile may suggest.

And my professional Gracie Passette resume isn't even all of me.

When I think of this, I tell myself that many people have the same problem ~ to some degree or other. And just when you'd think that would end my pity party...

It only makes it worse.

I see how women especially live lives in tiny little boxes, keeping or presenting neat & clean versions of themselves to protect and serve others, never really being able to show all their sides ~ letting them reflect upon themselves and upon their own inner light as one big sparkling, multifaceted diamond.

My aversion to such dimming-down of women was largely a part of why I started SK; we shouldn't have to hide/repress/deny the reality of our sexual selves ~ not to be a good daughter, wife, mommy, employee, consumer, or citizen. We are who we are ~ every last bit of it. And we should not have to deny ourselves that.

On days like today, I feel that I am doing just that. I can call it "practical", "considerate", "savvy", "appropriate", or whatever else I like... But I still feel like a hypocrite.

It's not the number of hats I own or even wear; it's that I don't acknowledge them all. Each remains cloistered in a place, a costume, a situation... Relegated, not celebrated.

There are enough valid constraints to me being who I am. Just being a woman in this country which, while it celebrates its self-proclaimed liberation of women in Iraq, denies me & my sisters adequate health access, fundamental rights to control our own bodies, and true equality should be enough to make me stand up and scream, "I am who I am! Every last bit of me!"

But instead, I find myself folding, compartmentalizing, dividing, diluting, diffusing myself... When does trying to stay neat & tidy for the sake of others go from practical & considerate to undermining & abusive?

If I cannot wear all my hats at the same time (to try to do so would be spiteful and as uncomfortable as it is impractical), how do I manage to show them all off?

Or is this all rather like asking how to be a polite activist.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

"One Brief Moment Of Strange Inconsequential Irrational Belief"

High school is our last chance!

To sell beach towels for the marching band?

To deal with all elements of society as equals. Before being branded and shuffled off to the work and education society has deemed appropriate for us.
From Dorothy Gambrell's Nature's Doomed Adolescents, a Cat and Girl cartoon.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Republicans Suffer From Dementia & Can't Understand Satire

First republicans were actually using comedian Steven Colbert's satirical works to push their agendas, and now ABC reports that the Minnesota Republican Party's released a letter, signed by a whopping six GOP women, attacking comedian Al Franken who is running for United States Senate in Minnesota.

Eight years ago, Franken penned a column for Playboy called "Porn-O-Rama!" in which the former Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he takes part in sexual acts with humans and machines.

"While you may attempt to defend your writing as satire, we hardly find anything defensible about your finding humor in your desire to have sex with women or robots that look like women simply to give yourself a good time," the Minnesota GOP women wrote in the letter. "This column is at its worst, an extreme example of the kind of disrespect for the role of women in society that all of us have fought our entire lives. At best, it is the disrespectful writings of a nearly 50-year-old man who seems to think that women's bodies are the domain of a man who just wants to have a good time."

"Denounce this article and apologize immediately," read the letter.

Sheesh. And they say feminists have no sense of humor...

Perhaps too many republicans suffer from frontotemporal dementia and therefore cannot process sarcasm. (It's funny because it's true.)

Meanwhile, for those suffering from a poor sense of humor, an dementia-induced inability to recognize sarcasm, or a fundamental ignorance of humor ~ including satire ~ and its historical use as social protest, the Franken camp's response (via ABC) should help clarify things a bit:

The Franken campaign said the Playboy column was written as a satire.

"Al had a long career as a satirist," said Jess McIntosh of the Franken campaign. "But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there's nothing funny about that."

You don't have to be an Al Franken fan (though I am) to love the "he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator".

Maybe a little remedial reading, via the links here, would help those six GOP ladies... Or lobotomies. Hey, Dr. Katherine P. Rankin, do they do parahippocampal gyrus lobotomies for the sarcasm impaired?

Related: In the New York Times article on sarcasm, Dr. Rankin is quoted as saying, "I bet Jon Stewart has a huge right frontal lobe; that’s where the sense of humor is detected on M.R.I."

And now you know how to spot all the smart funny people (who are happy to see you). Bet there are few bulging lobes in today's republican party.

Then again, they are rarely happy to see me.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Corporate Johnson, You're In The Middle Of An Unjust War... What Are You Going To Do Now?

According to ThinkProgress, Baghdad is to get a ‘Disneyland’ style amusement park:
At the cost of nearly $500 million, a Los Angeles-based company is “developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum.” The park “is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.”
In short, the plans include nearly everything hated about the west.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Quote For Today

Wisdom from Gloria Brame:
Consider this irony: as a sex-worker, you don't just hear about vigilant anti-sex prosecutors and family-values-touting pastors -- you suck their cocks.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Masks To Unmask

Evan Bryner, a 22-year-old Anonymous member who has become a grassroots leader in the group, is apparently shown here in a photo taken at a March 5th Project Chanology demonstration. According to ASU Web Devil's Christina Caldwell:
Bryner insists his personal problem with Scientology is not with the Scientologists themselves, but with the thought that a follower of Scientology has to pay to learn more about the church doctrine and its stories, he says.

"If someone wants to be a Scientologist, I have no problem with that," Bryner says. "Freedom of religion is a guarantee in this country — as long as Scientology is seen as a religion. If there's one day that it's not, then they lose that freedom."

Losing the status of "religion" in the eyes of the IRS is Anonymous' ultimate goal in taking on Scientology. Currently, Scientology is recognized as a religion and a nonprofit organization, therefore the church does not have to pay taxes.

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