matociquala: (criminal minds pentiss and reid back)
[personal profile] matociquala
So let's talk about Charles Ramsey and Amanda Berry (and Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight).

Let's talk about the fact that Amanda Berry is a hero, and that she rescued herself, her daughter, and two other women from a horrible situation.

Let the record show that she did what she had to do, and if she hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

Because the media seem to want to cast her and the other women only as victims, and that narrative is a lie.

Let's talk about the fact that Charles Ramsey is a hero, too. Because he saw a person obviously in distress, and he acted. And the fact that that person was white and female, and that he was black and male, living on a job as a dishwasher, and that his police record would be brought up afterward, definitely entered his consciousness; and he did it anyway. Because he saw a person who needed help.

That does not decrease his heroism. It increases it.

Let the record show that he did what he had to do, and if he hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

And Ariel Castro might be getting away with it for another fifteen years.

And now I'm speaking here as an abuse survivor.

That Mr. Ramsey allegedly has a record for domestic violence is not beside the point; it is the point. It's people who abuse other people, and it's people who help other people. And people can learn better, or make a mistake one time and do something to repair it another.

Ramsey doesn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Berry didn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Michelle Knight was a hero when she delivered Ms. Berry's baby daughter, with no experience and no support, and she doesn't have to be perfect for that to stand, either. Gina DeJesus has no doubt done some pretty heroic stuff in the last ten years or so as well.

Our absolutist cultural narratives do nobody a service. People do not have to be perfect and blameless to be worthy of respect and admiration; they only have to be trying.

And one of the effects of that absolutism is to tell survivors who are not perfect and blameless (and who is, and who who has been abused can see themselves as perfect?) then they are somehow villains too, or responsible, or that they bear guilt for what they've suffered.

Another effect is that people who are capable of making a change may not, because they are scared of how they will be perceived if they aren't perfect.

***

(As for Mr. Ramsey's drug charges: if you don't understand the interplay of race, class, and drug-law harassment, I suggest you do some reading, and understand that middle class suburban white people can get away with a lot more than some black guy from Cleveland.)
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Date: 2013-05-09 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wldhrsjen3.livejournal.com
YES. Oh, yes.

Date: 2013-05-09 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morning-glory.livejournal.com
Eloquent and succinct and truth spoken with cutting clarity. Thank you for speaking up and speaking out.

Date: 2013-05-09 01:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 01:26 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
"People are allowed to become better people" is one of this year's mantras around my house.

But even when they don't, they're allowed to do better things occasionally. And unless it's someone actually close to us, we don't always have to know which it is.

Date: 2013-05-09 02:38 pm (UTC)

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From: [identity profile] xiphias.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-05-09 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2013-05-09 01:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] supergee.livejournal.com
Love it, blogging it. And congrats on the Locus nominations.

Date: 2013-05-09 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
thank you.

Date: 2013-05-09 01:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greylistening.livejournal.com
If I didn't believe that an imperfect person can still do SOMETHING, I'd never do anything.

Date: 2013-05-10 10:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elisem.livejournal.com
This. Yes.

Date: 2013-05-09 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saraidh.livejournal.com
Yes, this.

And while this isn't related to Cleveland, it's a pretty awesome example of heroes in places you might not expect. http://www.leaderpost.com/news/Bikers+offer+support+child+abuse+victims/8302200/story.html

Date: 2013-05-09 02:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 02:30 pm (UTC)
horuschilde: (Default)
From: [personal profile] horuschilde
You said it far more clearly than I could have.

Date: 2013-05-09 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cluegirl.livejournal.com
Yes, and yes, and yes.
In the crisis response/counseling field we wind up seeing people -- heroes -- at what is often the worst time of their lives. We see them falling apart in the wake of their heroism, we see them lashing out in helpless rage now that the true source of their pain is not looming over them, and we see them turning to destructive things in order to express the pain and terror that hasn't stopped now that the moment is gone.

But they are still heroes, BECAUSE they are still people like any of the rest of us.

And also I must say, given the number of long-term kidnapping victims that we have seen winning their way to freedom in the last decade, I'm having some serious squick moments, thinking of these kidnapping incidents in terms of mice or roaches -- that we must be seeing only a fraction of what's truly there.

Date: 2013-05-09 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Yeah. This.

We don't all have to be stone-faced, butt-chinned Doc Savage clones.

We just have to do the best we can.

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From: [identity profile] thatpotteryguy.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-05-09 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2013-05-09 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quennessa.livejournal.com
This is why I haven't been able to watch the coverage. Entirely this victim narrative. No recognition of the incredible act of agency Ms. Berry took to effect their escape. No recognition of Mr. Ramsey's willingness to be vulnerable and help.

Nobody's perfect. I'm just grateful beyond words that she succeeded. That he helped. Who cares about anything else? Nothing else matters.

Thank you (again) for this. You're on fire this week. :)

Date: 2013-05-09 02:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
"Be vulnerable and help."

That's it exactly.

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Date: 2013-05-09 03:09 pm (UTC)
madrobins: It's a meatloaf.  Dressed up like a bunny.  (Default)
From: [personal profile] madrobins
What you said. Over and over, what you said.

Date: 2013-05-09 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fledgist.livejournal.com
Absobloodylutely.

Date: 2013-05-09 03:34 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rparvaaz.livejournal.com
Beautifully said. Well said.

Date: 2013-05-09 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] barry-king.livejournal.com
Our absolutist cultural narratives do nobody a service.

Hear, hear.

Date: 2013-05-09 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfmoon-mollie.livejournal.com
Yes. This.

thank you.

Date: 2013-05-09 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coffeeem.livejournal.com
I am overwhelmed with thoughts. But they all come down to, "That's 100% correct."

You don't suppose the Washington Post or somebody would run this essay, do you? Because these things should be said where the news directors of the world will read them.

Date: 2013-05-10 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennykay79.livejournal.com
I would love to see this essay in a major outlet. I vote for submitting it.

Date: 2013-05-09 04:38 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kateelliott.livejournal.com
Well said.

Date: 2013-05-09 07:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-09 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fledgist.livejournal.com
A hero (or heroine) is a person who does their job under the most appalling and stressful conditions without thought of remuneration or reward. That is all.

Date: 2013-05-09 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Or sometimes something that isn't even their job, but is just the right thing to do.

(no subject)

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Date: 2013-05-09 07:56 pm (UTC)
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