It’s been quite a year on The Sin City Siren. Here’s the first post, of two, featuring the top 10 SCS posts of 2013. Enjoy, and catch numbers 5-10 tomorrow!
1. When anti-choice terrorists tried to silence an assemblywoman, #fierceflores was born:
It’s not surprising that one of the biggest stories of a surprisingly controversy-packed legislative session — aka #fierceflores — tops the list for 2013. The comprehensive sex ed bill, AB230, was already burdened with controversy when Assemblywoman Lucy Flores told her abortion story for the first time publicly, citing a lack of sex education as a prime culprit for her teen pregnancy. (Indeed, my coverage of that April 1 hearing was actually the 10th most popular post of 2013, but it seems like cheating to separate that from what happened next.) Flores, the first Latina member of the Assembly, suddenly found herself at the center of a huge uproar about abortion — including receiving threats of violence against her person. Regular readers know what happened next; I took to SCS and took on the anti-choice bullies who sought to use threats as a form of terrorism against an elected official (and by proxy, anyone who tells their abortion story). And with that, the #fierceflores meme — one that is still used to identify Flores on twitter — was born.
2. Oopsie! NBA player Jason Collins touted as first gay player of a pro sport:
It was a big year for high-profile coming out stories. From Oscar-winner Jodie Foster to former Huxtable Raven Symone to GMA’s Robin Roberts, 2013 was a big year for people to publicly say, “Yes, I am.” Of course, The Siren is all about living authentically and applauds the bravery it still takes in 2013 to come out. (And, by the way, I support those who prefer not to come out, too.) The sports world offered some trailblazing coming out stories from athletes all over the globe (including politically charged Russia). One such story was NBA player Jason Collins, who was touted as the first active player of a top pro sport to ever come out. No offense to Collins, but he’s not the first pro player to come out while still actively playing. While I support Collins’ coming out story, I reminded the media of the implicit sexism in highlighting the coming out stories of male gay athletes as important while minimizing (or just plain ignoring) the significance of out female athletes before them. The post got traction when sports writers from around the country agreed with me and shared it widely (thanks!). After all, every coming out story deserves respect. Every coming out story matters.
In the heat of August, SCS intern De’Liza Galimidi and I launched a week-long campaign to talk about slut-shaming and related negativity toward sexuality, empowerment, and desire. In the white woman’s parlance, that usually comes down to being called a slut, but it takes many forms (ho, bitch, hoochie, fast, etc.). The campaign, called SLUT RIOT, featured a diverse panel of guest writers, including the perspective of a sex worker. We might not have answered the problem of slut-shaming, but we started a conversation that continues, as many of those posts still get hits every day. Perhaps we’ll start another RIOT in 2014 to take it to the next level!
4. Rape culture keeps killing it, literally:
One of the hardest subjects I tackled this year was the insidious nature of rape culture. Perhaps no story more poignantly illustrates the sad state of affairs regarding rape culture and the experiences of rape survivors than the death of Retaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Canadian girl who killed herself after relentless cyber-bullying from her rapists. She moved. She quite social media. And they still came for her, through friends and by influencing public opinion against her. Her rapists published photos of their crimes. And while authorities shrugged it off, Parsons spiraled into what would become a deadly depression. It would be easy to say that Parsons’ story was a singular example. But then we saw the reaction to the Steubenville rape trial verdict. And that trial was largely goosed by the activism of the hacker collective Anonymous, which also intervened in the case of 14-year-old Missouri girl Daisy Coleman who accused a football player of raping her and then tossing her, incapacitated, onto her frozen front yard to possibly get hypothermia. Then her house was mysteriously burned down after she reported the rape. The fire and the alleged rape was promptly ignored by Sheriff Darren White. It’s a sad state of affairs when vigilante justice is the only justice for rape survivors. I’m thankful that Anonymous is on the case, but even they have limits. They can’t investigate and act upon every single time the criminal justice system ignores the cries of rape survivors — because there are just too many times that the system if failing rape survivors. That’s the sad truth. We need a system overhaul and a real cultural conversation about rape culture. Because the saddest news of all is that there are Retaehs taking their lives every single day.
5. RJ columnist calls Hispanic girls “easy” and insinuates sex with yours truly:
One of the weirdest aspect of the comprehensive sex ed bill debate was the very public crossfire. In the age of social media, politicians, pundits, parents, and people of all persuasions lobbied and vented in the public sphere. One of the strangest spectacles was a back-and-forth between me and disgraced Review Journal publisher Sherman Frederick. On Mother’s Day, Sherm published an op-ed in which he grossly misconstrued comments by Hispanic lawmakers about how taboo it is to talk about sex education within their culture. Then he called Hispanic girls “easy.” I kid you not. I don’t normally write rebuttals or responses to conservative fuckwit op-eds like Sherm’s. But in this case, it was an opportunity to not only shame a public figure for spouting racist bullshit, but to educate people on what the comprehensive sex education bill would actually do. The following week, Sherm wrote another op-ed about the sex ed bill, wondering if it would teach kids how to have “transgender sex” or turn them gay. (Eye roll.) I responded by making fun of Sherm’s deep lack of knowledge and his potentially harmful scare-tactics. By this point, I was done with him and his op-eds. It was clear he was baiting me and those who think like me. Enough was enough. Then he took to twitter and insinuated that I either wanted to have sex with him, or that, perhaps, I had already had sex with him. Wrong on both counts! Even though I knew he was baiting me, I decided to answer the gross “jokes” because women have to put up with that and much worse on a daily basis. That’s sexual harassment and even though Sherm is not my boss anymore (he was publisher when I worked at the same company), it was still a tactic designed to silence me by insinuating that I am a whore (see why we needed a Slut Riot?). You don’t get to call me a whore in front of the whole world. I’ll stand up for myself and every other person who has to deal with that misogynistic bullshit all day long, twice on Sundays.