People like Donald Trump are the Result of Rape Culture

A video from 2005 has recently surfaced in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump crudely brags about sexually assaulting women. While I have provided a link to the video, I will not repeat his words here. After widespread criticism, Trump apologized in a video posted to social media, saying, “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” While these words probably do reflect who Trump is, that is not what I would like to discuss.

I believe they reflect a large part of American culture. They reflect rape culture. Even if they wouldn’t admit it, many Americans are just as guilty as Trump, when it comes to how they treat women. And so as not to commit the fallacy of assuming that sexual assault only happens to women, I’ll say it: men get sexually assaulted, too.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), while sexual assault has fallen 74% since 1993 (an encouraging figure), it still remains high. One in six American women has been sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and the same goes for one in thirty-three American men. In addition, most assaults, 55%, in fact, happen near the victim’s home, and three out of four assaults are by someone the victim knows. However, only around six out of every one-thousand perpetrators end up in prison.

I firmly believe that the only cause of rape is rapists. Even if there are factors that make it easier for rapists to rape, they are still fully responsible for making a fully conscious choice. (That’s not to say victims shouldn’t defend themselves, but that’s another discussion.) Many people believe that the primary way to solve rape culture is to teach people not to rape, but if people can be taught not to rape, then it stands to reason that they were taught to rape in the first place. Who taught them to rape? Well, to answer that question, all you need to do is look in a mirror. The things we as a society value contribute to rape culture, and essentially teach people to rape.

I could talk about how obsessed with sex we are, or how we teach people that their sexuality is the most important thing about their identity, or how we’ve normalized any kind of sexual activity to the degree that even sexual assault is considered normal, or how we excuse sexual assault every time it happens, but I’m not going to. Instead, I would like to point out what I believe is one of the worst, and least thought about, ways we teach people, particularly men, to rape: emotional repression.

Men are taught from the earliest possible age to hide their emotions, or even better, to not have them at all. Men are taught to be tough and stoic at all times, and any display of emotion results in ridicule and social rejection. Consequentially, most men are extremely reluctant to be vulnerable with anyone, including friends, family, and even romantic partners, and socially restricted from intimacy of any kind. However, there is one kind of intimacy they are allowed, in fact, encouraged, to participate in: sex. Sex is the one societally acceptable way for men to be intimate. In fact, men are taught that having sex enhances their masculinity: it makes them more of a man, whereas having less sex makes them less of a man. It’s not difficult to follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion.

Now, does this in any way excuse men (or women) who commit sexual assault? Absolutely not. Not in the slightest. But if we believe rape is wrong, why have we created a society that encourages men to do it?  We should be teaching men to value people and relationships, not sex. We should be teaching them that women are human beings, not sexual objects. We should be teaching them that their masculinity is not defined by their conformity to arbitrary societal constructs or by how much sex they’ve had. If we truly believe that sexual assault is wrong, then we need to stop fostering an environment that encourages it. We can’t have it both ways.

A full discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this blog, not to mention beyond the scope of my qualifications. However, for further reading on these topics, I have provided some resources below.

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005

‘This is rape culture’: After Trump video, thousands of women share sexual assault stories


Get Over It. Men and the Cost of Emotional Repression

Emotional Repression: What Happens When Men Repress Their Emotions

What Drives Men to Rape?

What is Rape Culture?


Autism Awareness: When the World Tells You That Being Different is a Disease

Imagine if the world saw you as a problem. Not because you’ve done anything wrong. Not because you choose to live a certain way. Not because you choose to believe certain things. The world sees you as a problem because you were born a certain way. I am not talking about racism, or sexism, or any of the more well-known forms of discrimination. This one is far more pervasive than those. I am talking about autism awareness. April is considered Autism Awareness Month. Every year, big corporations and so-called “non-profit” organizations such as Autism Speaks pour massive amounts of money into campaigns aimed at stigmatizing, dehumanizing, and eventually, eradicating people like me, people who are autistic. Worse, most of the world goes along with it.

Let me explain. Autism is a neurological condition. People who are autistic are different than people who are neurotypical, which is a word used to describe people with a typical neurology, or, in everyday vernacular, “normal” people. Because of this difference, autistic people and neurotypical people often have difficulty understanding or communicating with one another. Autistic people often communicate differently than neurotypical people. We often learn differently. We often express ourselves in different ways. In addition, we often have difficulty doing things that may be easy for others. In contrast, we may be better at doing things that others have difficulty doing. 

If that sounds to you an awful lot like normal human experience, that is because it is. Autism should be considered normal. Everyone is different, and autism is one of those differences. People always have to work to understand each other and accommodate each other’s needs. It is just part of being human. We are all different. However, many people do not believe in other people’s right to be different. As a result, they believe autism is a disease, or a disorder. They believe autism is something to be cured, and that autistic people are inferior to neurotypical people. 

There are many ways that this plays out. One way is the kinds of therapies that large organizations such as Autism Speaks recommend for parents of autistic children. One of the most popular therapies, Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA, is mistreatment at best, and child abuse at worst. In fact, I would refer to ABA as psychological torture. It is done in the name of making the child “indistinguishable from their peers” by forcing the child to stop behaviors that are considered abnormal and do behaviors that are considered normal. The parents are usually lied to by the therapist, told that the child will not be able to succeed in life unless they can “fit in.” The therapy consists of using punishments and rewards to coerce the child into behaving in a way that is considered normal by the therapist. The therapies are non-stop, and are usually recommended to be forty hours a week. Because of the grueling, exhausting nature of the therapy, and the complete lack of privacy and rights for the child, people who have been subjected to ABA often develop post traumatic stress disorder later in life.

In addition, autistic people are not seen by society as fully human. This is most evident in cases of tragedy involving autistic people, especially the incredibly tragic, and tragically not uncommon scenario in which an autistic child is murdered by their parents. In news stories about such incidents, all of the sympathy goes to the parent, who is often portrayed as driven to the end of their rope by the “burdensome” autistic child. The article will often ask the readers for “understanding” for the murderous parent. The child, on the other hand, is portrayed as subhuman, unable to make their own decisions, and someone whose life was so terrible that it was a mercy that their parent ended their misery by killing them. Even if autistic people did lead miserable lives, it would still be wrong to kill them. However, the truth is that autistic people do not lead miserable lives, and if they do, it is not because they are autistic. While it can be difficult to raise an autistic child, (it can be difficult to raise any child) that is never a justification for murder. Autistic people are people. We have the same rights as everyone else, including and especially the most sacred and foundational of all rights: the right to life.

However, even to people like me who never went through therapy or were the victim of abuse, autism carries a stigma. People treat us differently than they do other people. We are patronized, looked down upon, and generally ignored. It’s harder for us to get jobs. It’s harder for us to make friends. The rest of the world sees us as a burden, as problems to be fixed.

So, this April, and any other time for that matter, please do not go along with those who wish to silence, marginalize, and destroy us. We don’t need people to simply be aware that we exist. We need people to accept that we are people, to accept that we have rights, and to respect our rights. Autism does not speak, but autistics do. Not always with actual speech, but with whatever method of communication we use. Do not listen to those who claim to speak for us. Listen to us. 

Giving Up our Right to Privacy Does Not Make Us Safer

Most people who have been following the political cycle recently, and many who have not, are probably aware of the court case involving Apple and their refusal to create software that could allow them to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook. Even some of the presidential candidates have weighed in. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both declined to take a side in the debate. Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump believe that Apple should comply with the order, with Trump, who apparently thinks he is running for king and not president, going so far as to say he would force Apple to comply if he were elected. Marco Rubio stated that Apple should “voluntarily comply,” but also warned of the possible dangers if they do. Former candidate Rand Paul, on the other hand, said that Apple should not be forced to comply.

Specifically, what the FBI wants Apple to do is to create two different kinds of software. Farook’s iPhone 5c is locked with a four-digit passcode. If entered incorrectly enough times, the phone will lock down and the only way to restore it is to reset it to factory settings, erasing all of its data. The first piece of proposed software would eliminate this factor, allowing codes to be entered indefinitely. The second piece would allow a computer to enter thousands of codes at once. If both were implemented, the user could unlock the phone and recover all of its data without knowing the passcode.

What’s interesting about those who are defending the FBI is that they argue that if created, this software’s use would stay relegated to a single phone. If history has proven anything, it is that no weapon ever created has ever been used only once, and before you accuse me of calling the proposed software a weapon, please realize that yes, I am absolutely calling it that. Once Apple creates this software, there will be no going back. It would reverse decades of Apple’s progress in creating almost impenetrable encryption. Any hacker who got their hands on it could unlock any iPhone, even remotely, and steal someone’s information. However, that’s not the worst danger. The worst danger is that the government will use it to spy on citizens. If the software is created, this danger will become an absolute certainty. The government already collects emails, Internet records, and phone records from citizens. Does anyone really think they will not do the same with iPhones?

Some people argue that they need to know citizen’s private information in order to keep us safe. If we can’t preemptively stop terrorism, they argue, people will die, and how will we know who the terrorists are without searching people’s private information and finding out? The problem with this argument is that not only have no terrorist attacks ever been stopped in this way, but the right to privacy and being left alone is a fundamental human right. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says that in order to search someone’s property, a warrant needs to be issued by a judge on probable cause that a crime was committed. People need the right to live their lives freely without government intrusion.

However, there is also an argument to be made from the First Amendment. Apple has contended that being forced to write code they disagree with violates their right to free speech. Should Apple be compelled to do something they believe is wrong?

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated that, if necessary, he will take the case to the Supreme Court, and that possibility seems extremely likely. For the good of the country, let’s hope they make the right decision. The rights of every American hang in the balance. 

Inside Out


My rating: 5/5

Over the years, Pixar Animation Studios has proven that it is one of the most daring and original production studios in Hollywood. Despite the fact that their most recent films do not fully live up to that reputation, their latest film, newly out on DVD and Blu-Ray, proves that their best days are not yet behind them. Inside Out is a stunningly smart and original story that combines exciting action and humor with deeply moving pathos and drama, creating a film that ranks with the best of Pixar’s classics. The film is set inside the mind of an eleven-year-old girl named Riley, and the characters are her emotions, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear. The emotions live in headquarters and basically guide her through her daily life. The interactions between what the emotions are doing, what happens in Riley’s mind, and what happens to her on the outside are nothing short of brilliant. The cleverness of the film considerably ramps up after Joy and Sadness are accidentally stranded outside headquarters and must find their way back. Try as they might, the other emotions simply cannot keep Riley emotionally stable. Most of the film is about Joy and Sadness’s journey back to headquarters, and their adventure is probably what will most appeal to kids about this film. It is fun, exciting, funny, and expertly paced. Adults will appreciate the humor and sophistication of the story. All the voice actors are excellent as well, the standouts to me being Phyllis Smith as Sadness, and Lewis Black as Anger. What I like best about this film however, is its originality, from its setting and characters, to its conflict and resolution. I cannot give away the details of the latter, but suffice to say that the climactic scene is one of the most moving scenes I have ever seen in a recent film. The film takes the idea of emotions and executes it in the best way possible, and it does so in such a way that both adults and children can enjoy it. The animation is beautiful. The plot balances fun and adventure with depth and maturity. It will make you laugh and cry. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and force you to think about what you have seen. Inside Out is truly like nothing you have ever seen before.


Release Date | June 19, 2015

MPAA Rating | PG (for mild thematic elements and some action)

Director | Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen

Distributor | Disney

Steve Jobs


My rating: 5/5

I honestly cannot imagine what the world would be like without Steve Jobs. As I write this on my MacBook, with my iPod in my pocket and my iPad next to me, it is easy to see his impact on the world. But beneath his public persona of brilliant innovator who invents the future, what was Steve Jobs actually like? Who was he, really? What motivated him to change the world? The creators of the film Steve Jobs, a dramatized examination of the titular technology mogul, try to answer these questions with one of the most intriguing, thought-provoking, and entertaining films of the year so far. A compelling and fascinating character study of an influential figure, Steve Jobs is a dynamic showcase of brilliant writing, acting, and directing. While leading actor Michael Fassbender may not look like Jobs, he absolutely nails the role, giving a performance that is equal parts calculating genius and tortured antihero, a corporate dictator who hides his flaws and vulnerabilities beneath an exterior of steel. He powers his way through the film, completely dominating every scene with his formidable presence. The rest of the cast is excellent, as well, especially Kate Winslet as Jobs’s assistant, Joanna Hoffman, and a surprisingly good performance from Seth Rogen as Jobs’s former partner Steve Wozniak. Of course, a great actor is nothing without a great writer. Once again proving himself to be one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood, Aaron Sorkin (who won a much-deserved Oscar for his work on The Social Network) has crafted a screenplay that is as cuttingly sharp as it is electrically energetic. Structured into three acts, each set at a different product launch, the script is less focused on what Steve Jobs did as it is on who Steve Jobs was. As a result, it may leave some viewers behind, especially those who were hoping for a more documentary style approach. However, anyone else should be more than satisfied. Adapting a script like that for the screen is no easy task, but director Danny Boyle pulls it off with élan and visual stylishness. The cinematography is impressive, the editing is smooth, and the music by relative newcomer Daniel Pemberton is an elegant balance between classical-sounding orchestra and more modern electronic elements. However, the remarkable craftsmanship of the film only complements its complexity. Here we do not see the Steve Jobs most people think of. Here, he is a charismatic and innovative dreamer who built a digital empire, and an egotistical driver ready to steamroll anyone in his way in order to achieve his goals. Anyone wanting a typical, inspirational biopic will be disappointed. For everyone else, however, Steve Jobs is a unique and brilliantly crafted masterpiece that will surpass your expectations and make you think about it long after you have left the theater.


Release Date | October 23, 2015

MPAA Rating | R (For language)

Director | Danny Boyle

Distributor | Universal

Dear Americans, Can We Please Focus on Real Issues of Racial Justice?

A video of alleged police brutality has been making the rounds on social media recently. In the video, a black female student in a South Carolina school is aggressively pulled from her chair by a white police officer and thrown to the ground. She had been using her phone in class, was asked to hand it over, and refused. She was then asked to go to the principal’s office by several people and refused every time. Then, the police officer was called. He told her to get up and she refused, so he aggressively forced her out of the chair and onto the ground. The officer is now under investigation. While the officer was definitely too rough on the student, this is obviously not a case that warrants national attention. Racial inequality is a problem in the U.S., but this is not what it looks like. This really should not be such a widespread story, but it is.

While this video has been widely shared and discussed, there are numerous cases, in fact, whole trends of social injustice that nobody seems to care about. For instance, on the subject of black students being mistreated by police, people do not seem to care about the victim if the victim is autistic. Last fall, an autistic black sixth-grade student named Kayleb Moon-Robinson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for kicking over a trash can. Then, when he struggled against a police officer who grabbed him, he was charged with felony assault of a police officer. His case is still pending. While I would expect there to be national outrage over this, the story was not covered by major news networks or spread by many people other than autistic groups and communities. That is a disgrace. Apparently, people’s lives don’t matter if they are autistic. If you need more convincing, here is a story about an autistic woman being held against her will in an institution. Here is a story about an autistic man who was murdered by a police officer. Neither have any kind of national attention.

However, it is not just autistic lives that apparently don’t matter. Unborn lives, and particularly unborn black lives, also apparently do not matter. Black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than white women, and even though blacks comprise only 13% of the population of the U.S., they account for 37% of all abortions. Other relevant statistics are that 69% of pregnancies among blacks are unintended, compared to 40% among whites, and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has 80% of its abortion clinics located in minority neighborhoods. Rather than trying to ascertain why this racial disparity exists and come up with a solution, most people deny it is even a problem and allow the murder of infants, especially black infants, to continue unchecked.

Blacks are also disproportionately affected by poverty. In a 2012 study, it was found that 27.2% of blacks are in poverty, compared to 9.7% of whites. During the Great Recession from 2007-2010, the median black household’s income fell 10.1 percent, compared to 5.4 percent for white households. In the aftermath of the recession, the unemployment rate for blacks rose to 15.9%, compared to 8% for whites. In addition, mobility for blacks is about twice the rate of whites. 62.9% of black children whose families were in the bottom fourth of all families by income stayed there as adults, compared with 32.3% of whites. A mere 3.6% of black children from the bottom fourth made it to the top fourth, which is about one-fourth the rate for whites.

Now we get to the criminal justice system. While I believe that most police officers are not racist, it is undeniable that our justice system disproportionately affects blacks. The U.S. has the second highest incarceration rate in the world (second only to the tiny country of Seychelles). Blacks make up 40% of the U.S. prison population, even though they only make up 13% of the general population. Whites, on the other hand, make up 39% of the prison population, and 64% of the general population. 450 whites per 100,000 are incarcerated, as opposed to 2,306 blacks per 100,000. Now, some people will say, (in fact, I have said it myself) that in order to prove that this is a problem, one must prove that either most blacks being incarcerated are innocent, or that whites not being incarcerated are not innocent. However, even if our justice system were perfectly enforcing the law and convicting all criminals while acquitting all innocents, and there is a lot of evidence that it is not, one would still have to ask why more blacks are involved in crime than whites. Any way it is examined, it is an enormous problem.

If we as a nation are going to solve our real issues of injustice with regards to race, we need to focus on those issues. Demonizing the police and using criminals like Michael Brown as examples of victims of brutality does not lend any credibility to this cause, nor does it help solve real issues for real people. The highly publicized cases, such as the recent video I mentioned at the beginning of this article, almost always involve people who are breaking the law or not cooperating with the police. I do not say this to minimize actual police brutality, but to say that solving these issues involves looking at the big picture, not just assuming that all police are racist or encouraging citizens to riot or even murder officers. We will only start solving these issues when we are able to accurately assess them and rationally deal with them, which means reforming how our justice system is run, getting rid of government policies and taxes that keep businesses from hiring poor people, examining societal trends that cause people to turn to crime, implementing better training for police officers, abolishing abortion, and looking at how to increase rehabilitation for former prisoners. Instead of inciting people to violence against the police, many of whom are innocent and simply trying to do their jobs, we need to work toward real solutions. All black lives (and all other lives, including police lives) matter. Not just when they trend on Twitter. Not only when they are reported by the media. All lives always matter. It is time we recognize that and act like it.

The Inevitable Consequence of a Fundamentally Flawed System

“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.” – Proverbs 17:15

I’m sure by now most people know about Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky who was recently jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. I’ve already seen countless arguments online about the case. While some people are on her side, most people say that even if she disagrees with doing it, she has to either issue the licenses or resign. She is not above the law, they say. I agree with that sentiment. No one is above the law. There is just one small problem. She was not actually breaking any laws. Now, I know what you are thinking. “Of course she was breaking the law. The Supreme Court ruled that she has to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.” Yes, that is true. They did. There is just one small problem. They never had the authority to make that ruling in the first place. Now, I am not an expert, but I have read the Constitution. According to the Constitution, only Congress has the authority to make laws. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the laws, make sure that the laws are constitutional, and if they are not, to strike them down. In the ruling about gay marriage, Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court did not strike down any laws. It did not even make a ruling about any laws. It made a ruling about a lack of laws. The Supreme Court cannot declare that a law must exist. It can only rule whether laws that Congress passes are constitutional. But, as everyone knows, there were no laws against gay marriage. Any two people could form a partnership and call it marriage. The government would not have stopped them because it was not illegal, nor should it have been. But, of course, nobody wanted the right to marry. What they really wanted was for the government to recognize their partnerships as marriage. They wanted to create a law, not strike one down. Whether anyone thinks this is a good idea or a bad idea (more on that later) is beside the point. Feelings and opinions have no place in the Supreme Court, or in a Kentucky court. My opinion is not relevant. Neither is anyone else’s. All that matters are the facts. The Supreme Court cannot make laws. It can only strike down laws. Therefore, the Supreme Court did not have the authority to force states to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Only Congress has the authority to do that by passing a law. Therefore, clerks are not obligated by any law to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. That means that Kim Davis was not breaking the law. These are the facts. They have no opinion, no feelings, and no bias. They do not care if people agree with them. They simply state reality. Based on the facts, Kim Davis must be released from jail. She was not breaking the law.

Now, even though it has no relevance to the case, I do have an opinion about it. I think this proves that the government has no right to legislate anything about marriage at all. Marriage should be completely privatized. That way, everyone could live according to their own beliefs and convictions, without making others compromise their own. What people do behind closed doors is their business. Not mine. Not the government’s. Every time the government gets involved in something in which it has no legitimate business, it messes it up. So, if someone asked me if Kim Davis should be allowed to refuse to issue marriage licenses, I would say yes, because the government should not be issuing marriage licenses in the first place. What is happening in Kentucky is not only an obstruction of justice, it is the inevitable consequence of a fundamentally flawed system.

A postscript: There is one other point I should mention. This may seem harsh, but I have to say it. The same people who argue that Kim Davis must be subject to the rule of law are the same ones who are silent about other lawbreakers and actual human rights abuses. Planned Parenthood has been murdering unborn babies and selling their body parts. (To those who say the videos are edited, you can watch the full, unedited videos here.) The mayor of San Francisco defies our immigration laws. Black Lives Matter protesters murder and encourage the murder of police officers. An autistic woman is being held against her will in an institution. Black disabled children are thrown in jail for no reason other than being black and disabled. These are real people with real problems. People being killed and having their human rights trampled on. Do we really care more about a clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses than innocent people being abused and killed?