Felonious nipples, VAWA & stories hidden in plain sight

A state legislator in North Carolina says women’s nipples are so dangerous they need to be reclassified as a felony.

A Class H felony in the Tarheel State is punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense.

I’m not clear how that works — would a topless woman face a year in jail for two simultaneous first offenses, or would one count as a first offense and the other as a second felony?

In North Carolina, felons are barred from voting during their term of incarceration, parole and probation. So I’m guessing this has less to do with “public decency” and more to do with an attempt to disenfranchise unruly women.

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Tod Kelly’s post on the reintroduction of the Violence Against Women Act  includes some horrifying history — horrifyingly recent history — of domestic violence and assault and the effort to provide legal protection for women.

It’s a fascinating, infuriating (and potentially triggering, please be warned) post. Read the whole thing.

1978. Not 1878 or 1378, but 1978.

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Want your state to sign marriage equality into law? Elect a Catholic governor.

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Speaking of marriage equality, a belated congratulations to Jim Nabors on his marriage to his partner of 38 years.

I hope this doesn’t change the opinion of the many folks his age I grew up around who loved his rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”

William Lindsey notes, though, that Nabors’ secret wasn’t all that secret for that generation. Lindsey recalls a conversation with his mother from back in the 1980s:

“I’ve long known about Jim Nabors,” my mother said, and I was intrigued: How did she know this? What more did she know that I had never heard? How can a culture (in her case, that of central Arkansas) which claims not to know precisely who’s gay, who’s closeted, who’s with whom, really know all of this — while claiming not to know that gay folks exist?

… Stories. Hidden in plain sight.

I think that generation had quite a few mechanisms for unacknowledged knowledge.

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And speaking of William Lindsey — whose Bilgrimage blog is a favorite of mine — I got a chuckle earlier this month after he linked here right after posting an item on the Westboro Baptist Church, resulting in an amusing transposition of names. Two guys named Fred, both Baptists … it’s a perfectly understandable mixup.

Lindsey was endearingly mortified and apologetic, but he didn’t need to be. I don’t mind getting my name switched up with that of Fred Phelps — just so long as no one gets my views mixed up with his.

Plus the Phelps comparison let’s me indulge in that favorite game we evangelical Christians use to reassure ourselves — the Not As Bad As game of Melon Morality. Fred Phelps sets the NABA-bar pretty low, pretty much guaranteeing me an opportunity for self-congratulation.

That’s much easier to think about than being compared to, say, Fred Rogers.

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Yes, really, They Are Coming for Your Birth Control (via Libby Anne).

Seriously, They Are Coming for Your Birth Control.

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During the night I had a vision of a man from Macedonia.

Macedonia, Alabama, that is. He was standing and begging, “Come over to Macedonia and help me — I can’t stop misquoting scripture to advance a right-wing political agenda.”

 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     How far disconnected from reality do they need to get to qualify as ‘really’ ‘crazy’?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Chemical imbalance in the brain. I think. I am not a mental health professional.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    I prefer to think of this story as, If it’s not true, It Should Be.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious,
    barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page
    and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying ‘I don’t need my
    children reading this.’ Never. Ever. However, a story about two women
    exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about
    their children.

    BUUUUUURN. X-D

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, at some point what do you call it when the basis for their actions is a stated intepretation of reality that’s so far removed from the basic plain facts out there?

    There is no choice but to call it delusional.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do not know what the word is, but there has got to be a word that does not suggest that deliberate ignorance of reality is a mental illness, or that mental illness poses the same sort of danger as deliberate ignorance of reality.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m not either, although it was kind of my thing in college. Psychology has a lot of different perspectives, each of whom focus on different interpretations of causes and treatments. Chemical imbalances fall under the biological/chemical perspective and advocates often suggest drug treatments are the key to curing mental illness. I tend to prefer the cognitive/behavioral perspective (some people split these up, but I see thought and behavior as intrinsically linked), so for me, what a person does can be indicative of an unhealthy mind. A lot of the Fox News and legislative Republican folks really do strike me as potentially mentally ill.

    1) Their thoughts and behavior are sociologically inappropriate. They live in a melting pot of various peoples and cultures who have never caused them harm, yet demonstrate groundless suspicion and paranoia.

    2) These feelings cause them acute distress.

    3) These feelings render them almost incapable of dealing with society because of their feelings toward so many members of it.

    4) These feelings lead them to lash out at others, or cause themselves mental or physical harm by refusing to peacefully coexist with them.

    Therefore, in order to reduce their feelings of suspicion and paranoia, they try to minimize the perceived harm others might. Rather than even consider the idea that these people might not mean them any harm, they take legal, legislative, or even illegal action against them. They will do this compulsively, and if steps are taken to prevent them from causing harm to their designated enemies, they interpret this as a sign that their enemies have greater influence and are all the more dangerous. Everything feeds into their paranoia and suspicions.

    Being that I prefer cognitive/behavioral therapy over others, my ideal treatment would be to somehow integrate them into community activities with the people they hate and fear to show them that these people live perfectly ordinary, healthy, harmless lives just like they do. I don’t believe in stigmatizing mental illness, just in trying to find an outcome which makes the affected persons happier and healthier.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    These people are also lying about and slandering history. The view that marriage was for love and companionship was already mainstream in 18th century Europe. And it was extremely widespread before that, as shown if anyone bothers to read… oh, any fiction or poetry at all, go back as far as you like. In the early Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was at the forefront of making sure that marriage was something entered into willingly, chosen by both parties involved, and took a stand against parents who wanted otherwise.

    The view of European society has always been that marriage is for love and companionship, along with building a household and working together in it. Anyone who’s flipping sides now is going against centuries of Christian history, and trying to bring back something that never actually existed except for some parts of the aristocracy in some time periods in some regions.

  • Lori

     

    and that the purpose of the display was to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the person under 16.   

    So if the 18+ year old nipple-shower says that she did it for her own sexual gratification and didn’t care about either arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the under-16 year old gazer she’s in the clear?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Silly Lori, women don’t have sexual desires! That would presume women can be subjects of our own lives. We all know women are solely objects to be used by the proper men in the proper way. Any woman who pretends otherwise by faking that she can control her own sexuality is Sick and Wrong and must be Punished.

  • Rae

    I grew up in NY, where they addressed the double standard between women’s and men’s nipples by simply making it legal for a woman to go topless anywhere that a man can legally go topless. 

    So, while it’s rare (I can remember seeing it 2-3 times in my 20-ish years of living there?) and mostly either done in protest, or out where it’s more rural and there’s not so many people to see, you definitely do see it from time to time. 

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Really big digital handcuffs.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     “But what about the CHEEEEEEELLLLDREEEEEEN?”, I’ve found, is actually code for “I have no idea how to impress my homophobia upon my children without them realizing I’m a bigot.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    So if the 18+ year old nipple-shower says that she did it for her own
    sexual gratification and didn’t care about either arousing or gratifying
    the sexual desire of the under-16 year old gazer she’s in the clear?

    Well obviously they can’t take the word of an accused felon! Besides, we all know that if a woman is wearing anything more revealing than sackcloth, she’s obviously “asking for it”.

    I mean, what conceivable purpose could a female nipple serve OTHER than to sexually gratify a man? It’s not like they produce baby food or something!

    Wait, what?

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    And I challenge all men in North Carolina to keep their own aureolae out of the public eye in protest.

    I think I can throw in my actions to back this one up–retroactively, even, for some years now!

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    My breasts are not, and never will be, used to produce baby food, and they still serve a very important purpose other than sexually gratifying my husband. Namely, sexually gratifying me.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    I grew up in NY, where they addressed the double standard between women’s and men’s nipples by simply making it legal for a woman to go topless anywhere that a man can legally go topless.

    I think approximately “every woman I have ever known” has told me they would not want to do this–and not for reasons of shame so much as physics. (and the less well-endowed always told me that that makes little or no difference, too)

    Which would, I think, explain the rarity.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’s not the point. The point is, double standards are inherently problematic, and double standards based on sex or gender are inherently wrong. Also criminalizing public display of female nipple risks turning a breastfeeding mother’s slip of the blanket or of the baby’s mouth into a criminal act.

    I admit to curiosity about how the criminalized female nipple bit plays out with a trans man.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    I thought “Which would, I think, explain the rarity.” would clarify I was just going for some dry humour (as Rae mentioned this didn’t happen very often). I qualified “not for shame” to clarify that it was a practical decision, not a further indication of internalized double standards.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    The bible makes it clear that life begins in the womb?

    Um… doesn’t life begin long before that? Like, in the sperm and the egg, separate? Should that be what’s protected? Or just the sprerm?

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, no–protect the eggs! That allows even MORE control of uterus people’s lives!

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    OF COURSE!!

    And, just to be on the safe side, it should be considered a felony if a woman masturbates, because then eggs can spill out, amirite?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think it works that way, but then, I’m not a republican senator, so I don’t really have the necessary expertise. 

    Though I think if the woman is masturbating to a rape fantasy, her body has ways of shutting that whole thing down.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    So if the 18+ year old nipple-shower says that she did it for her own sexual gratification and didn’t care about either arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the under-16 year old gazer she’s in the clear?

    But…that actually does seem really messed up, under-16 or not. Trying to gain sexual gratification from a stranger without any interest in their desire for it?

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    No. No. It HAS to work that way. It says so in Song of Solomons.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, not quite that ignorant. What should be a felony is menstruation. Someone who’s menstruating is obviously not someone who’s pregnant. Can’t criminalize it for women not having sex, of course, that would suggest that being female is criminal, but women having sex with men and not getting pregnant from it, ban that shit.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Every time a woman’s vajayjay bleeds, another baby dies.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    1) Their thoughts and behavior are sociologically inappropriate. They live in a melting pot of various peoples and cultures who have never caused them harm, yet demonstrate groundless suspicion and paranoia.
    2) These feelings cause them acute distress.3) These feelings render them almost incapable of dealing with society because of their feelings toward so many members of it.4) These feelings lead them to lash out at others, or cause themselves mental or physical harm by refusing to peacefully coexist with them.

    Actually, I would take issue with those points.  

    On the first, yes, their thoughts and behavior are sociologically inappropriate in a wide enough social context, but to avoid unpleasant conflict they narrow the social context that they inhabit.  They move in social circles in which their thoughts and behavior are generally accepted and encouraged and shared, other people will prop them up and make them think these things are appropriate.  

    This segues into the second thing, about them feeling distress.  With a lot of them, they are happy.  Surprisingly so.  Actually disgustingly so, considering some of their behavior from an outside perspective.  Because they exist in a social context that supports them, they have no reason to feel bad.  When someone from outside their supporting context calls them out on their bullshit, they see this as being an attack on them, and some are genuinely confused as to why other people are upset, and will react with (to them) justified hostility.  

    The third point is pretty much already covered.  In a broad context, it does make it difficult for them to interact, but in their own sheltered context they have no reason to care.  For a lot of them, they are perfectly happy where they are, they are living the good life, and they do not want to change that.  So what if other people are suffering?  They have their’s, so screw you.  

    On the forth, I will agree that what they are doing causes harm to others.  But if they are doing well, they do not see it as causing harm to themselves, they stand to lose more than they stand to gain by letting other people get their’s too.  Granted, other people’s needs might outweigh their preferences, but they still do not want to let go of their preferences just to help someone they do not care about.  

    All that having been said, I do still think that this is a mental issue.  This kind of mentality traps them, makes it harder for them to understand.  And you are right, it does damage other people to let them go on thinking this way.  The rising tide does lift all boats, but not when all boats share the same anchor and some on the crew refuse to let us haul it back up.  

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m not sure a community of enablers necessarily counts as the same kind of social functionality, and even among them, their discussions will frequently return again and again to all the untrustworthy and dangerous people, but your point is well-taken. One culture’s mental illness is another culture’s version of normality.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I guess the issue is that the mental issue is self-enabling.  It selects other enablers to be around, and the more enablers there are the more calcified the issue becomes.  

    It is not so much an individual mental issue as it is a sociological one.  That said, there are ways of treating it.  For example, higher levels of education seem to reduce the degree of authoritarian mentality (and this is not just a correlation, tests done before and after such education show it has a difference.) Likewise, living in a very diverse social environment will reduce those tendencies, as will knowing people from well outside their self-selected social group.  

    The hard part is actually cracking the enabling “bubble” of self-isolating people.  That self-isolation makes a lot of them resist such attempts to treat it.  You see parents pull their kids out of public schools and only send them to sectarian higher education, if at all.  You see them discourage interaction with the other, or only encourage interaction in a way that is more likely than not to add to alienation.  An institutional solution might work with government mandates for education limitation on community self-selection, but the same people we are trying to treat are likely to vote vehemently against such treatment.  

  • SergeantHeretic

    Fearlessson, that explains why the uberrich uber cons aren’t real big ones for joining the military. In the U.S> Military there is too great a risk of a sociological bubble burst and the danger is too great that the subject could become a real self actuallized empatic person.

  • Lori

     

    But…that actually does seem really messed up, under-16 or not. Trying
    to gain sexual gratification from a stranger without any interest in
    their desire for it?  

    Yes, it’s totally messed up. I consider exhibitionism and voyeurism involving people who didn’t explicitly agree to look or be  seen to be unethical owing to lack of consent.

    My point was that the wording of the law is really, really stupid.

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    Ah, but Achuah was inserting some interpretation, as the actual wording is here:

    Unless the conduct is prohibited by another law providing greater punishment, any person at least 18 years of age who shall willfully expose the private parts of his or her person in any public place in the presence of any other person less than 16 years of age for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire shall be guilty of a Class H felony.

    While it doesn’t explicitly state that it is only the desire of the non-minor that shouldn’t be aroused/gratified, it doesn’t at all imply that it’s only the minor’s desire that is at issue. Not really even sure where that interpretation came from.

    Restructuring ([...] any person at least 18 years of age who shall willfully expose the private parts of his or her person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire in any public place in the presence of any other person less than 16 years of age[...]) might be helpful, but Achuah’s interpretation doesn’t really bear  out with the wording at all. Indeed, your suggested alternative seems pretty clearly covered.

    Of course that, then, befuddles me, as it seems, then, that we ARE suggesting that this IS an actual issue. If we see female nipples/aureolae as sexual (and obviously we do in this culture, for good or ill), then isn’t this contextually not weird at all?Maybe the inspiration is stupid (also, coming out of Asheville, that kind of surprises me, but not exactly…that’s a weird town) but the way it’s dropped into the law is just expanding a “don’t flash people” law to include a part of the body that or culture has long since deemed falls into the category of things one shouldn’t flash nonconsensually. What is the problem with that–barring any underlying issues of the cultural decision about nipples that led to it–then?

    I mean, seriously. Okay, no, it’s not easy to prove “for the purpose of…” but it’s not as if we’re going to throw out all exhibitionist restrictions on the same grounds, no?

    (I will say: yes, it’s way easier for breasts to be accidentally uncovered than it is for anyone’s genitals in most situations [ie, not swimming], and that could make it REALLY hard to be sure of someone doing it by accident vs. intentionally and liking the idea that it seems “accidental”…so there could be issues there)

    I don’t know, I was nodding in agreement till I hit your comment and thought, “Wait, that doesn’t seem unreasonable,” and, as the law is written, it isn’t at all like what Achuah said.

  • AnonymousSam

    It possibly grew out of the recent Asheville Go Topless and Slutwalk events (having trouble tracking down which came first, the bill or the events). Local government doesn’t like the message, so they try and curtail the ability of the protestors to send the message they want.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     There’s also a non-zero chance of them getting shot, which I think _might_ be more important.

  • Rae

    Well, I’m a woman, so I’m a bit familiar with that, lol. I think the biggest factor is simply most women not actually knowing that it is legal for them to be topless.
    But another thing is that in NY, every couple years in the summer it’ll get up to 102 and the humidity will be an ungodly 70% or something like that. And, since NY’ers don’t tend to like temperatures above 75 unless there’s a beach involved, I know a few women who’ve told me that the physics aren’t as uncomfortable as the heat and sweat.

  • Tricksterson

    I was thinking of somehow combining it with Thelonius Monk to somehow create a drag queen jazz musician.

  • Tricksterson

    The term Carries mother used was “dirty pillows”

  • http://vovinyl.blogspot.com/ FangsFirst

    Well, I’m a woman, so I’m a bit familiar with that, lol. 

    But not one I know personally! I wasn’t sure if my sampling might have been some aberration, or what have you.

    And yeah, I could see the heat and sweat putting a damper on such plans, especially in the NE (seeing how moving to the SE changed perceptions of “cold” and “snow” to ridiculous levels, I can imagine an equivalent perception of “heat” following suit. But I hate 80+ in NC, so what do I know?)

    It possibly grew out of the recent Asheville Go Topless and Slutwalk events (having trouble tracking down which came first, the bill or the events). Local government doesn’t like the message, so they try and curtail the ability of the protestors to send the message they want.

    Yeah, that’s why it’s surprising and also not. Asheville is a town that WOULD(/could) have a “Go Topless” or “Slutwalk” event, but they also seem to elect idiots for some reason. I also go up there and feel intensely uncomfortable as there’s this ultra-rich-yet-DIY aesthetic in downtown that makes me feel wildly out of place. But, hey, there’s some cool record stores.
    (But West Asheville has a better one!)

  • AnonaMiss

    Personally, I would almost never wear a bra if it weren’t for the stupid social double standard of “if a woman’s nipples are poking through her clothes it’s scandalous, but if a dude’s nipples are poking through his clothes, no comment.” My breasts aren’t even that small, I wear a 40B. (Cup size equivalent to 38C, 36D, 34E, or 32F. Bra sizing is weird.)

    But then, when I took karate throughout puberty I didn’t feel the need for a chest protector, was totally fine with taking blows straight to the breasts. So maybe I have crazy boobs of steel, or killed off my breast pain nerves while they were still developing, or something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Icis-Bokonon/100002578907868 Icis Bokonon

    I have trouble fearing a movement, whether they have a ‘birth control movie’ or not, when they can’t tell a possessive pronoun from a contraction.

    ice9

  • Dan107

    Since we’re banning things that make 12 year old boys snicker, we’ll all be in trouble when they get around to felonious public farting and poop jokes.

  • Dan107

    The guy that wrote this law, always runs water in the sink while peeing, because he doesn’t want anybody to hear his pee splashing in the toilet.  It’s called Sonicourine Delusion.


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