Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A New Year's Resolution Wish

A New Year's Resolution Wish
by Angela Smith, HEAL Co-Founder/National Coordinator

Many years ago when I was just starting out I had a job at a shoe store.  When I showed up for my first day at work, my manager (male) advised that he preferred the women who worked there to wear short skirts and low-cut shirts.  I rolled my eyes and wore what I thought was appropriate.  I worked there for a few months.  Every now and then he would ask me again to wear his suggested outfits.  I refused.  He also followed me around on days I wore a dress or skirt and asked me to climb the ladder to straighten high shelves while he watched from below.  I ended up quitting that job and getting a job at a car dealership as a receptionist where my immediate supervisor was a woman and the dress code was business casual.

I find it frustrating when I see women kowtow to the expectation that they dress like "street walkers" to please their employers.  I find it even more frustrating when women claim dressing in a sexually provocative manner, while demanding no one take notice or respond "normally" (as if sexually intrigued), is a matter of "women's liberation".  I find it more a matter of women's stupidity.

I would no more walk into a lion's den dressed in a suit of raw meat than walk into any office or workplace (save a strip club, gentlemen's club, or bordello) dressed in the finest from Frederick's of Hollywood or the like.  This is not because I am "conservative" and believe women shouldn't be able to wear whatever they want whenever they want.  But, I do believe women should understand that wearing sexually provocative clothing inspires sexual attention and to avoid unwelcome attention of that nature they should take precautions unless they are seeking that type of attention. 

My mother and I were discussing this recently and she and I both agreed that women who dress in a sexually provocative manner in the workplace make their co-workers (women and men) uncomfortable.  I personally feel like they are setting me up or adding to the pressure of wearing sexually provocative clothing because they are trying to normalize that in the workplace.  In addition, my mother has seen women use their sexuality to avoid work duties while flirting their way into getting their male counterparts to do the work for them.  This behavior on the part of women who do this creates a hostile work environment for both male and female co-workers.  In addition, wives (girlfriends, etc.) do not appreciate when they walk into the workplace of their spouse (etc.) and find the other employees shoving breasts and thighs in the face of their loved ones.  When I was a receptionist, one male co-worker's wife called on the hour to check up on what things were going on.  Women should respect the insecurities of other women and work to create an environment free from suspicion and sexual misconduct.  Dressing appropriately is one way to address this issue.

If you want to wear a cocktail dress, get a job as a server at a cocktail bar or wear it to parties or on dates.  Do not wear it to work.  I don't want to see newscasters that pull back their shoulders and shake their goods at their male co-hosts while screaming they are "feminists" who don't like sexual attention in the workplace.  I find it absurd on its face and can't help but wonder why they dress the way they do if they are not looking for sexual attention.  I personally feel beautiful no matter what I'm wearing.  And, I think that is the true meaning of being a feminist.  If you need to get breast implants and show off your body while screaming about sexual harassment, then, you seem more confused than anything else.  I don't see you as a feminist at all, but, someone who is atrociously unreasonable and setting up co-workers and others by enticing them to comment so you can build a case against them when they notice what you are "selling/advertising".

I suggest women who are told to dress sexually provocatively by employers take a stand and refuse to participate.  If it keeps up, report them or file suit.  I can tell you wearing short skirts and low cut tops would not have aided me in performing my duties at the shoe store or at any other job I have held to date.  And, I don't believe it helps with feminism or creating a safe work environment for women to dress in what I consider an unprofessional and sexually provocative manner. 

So, ladies, before you get completely ticked off at this article, consider this...  What if your male counterparts showed up to work in "speedos", leather pants (with package bulging), 70's-style dress shirts unbuttoned to their waste or no shirt at all, and imagine it is a co-worker you are attracted to even slightly, would that make work difficult or uncomfortable for you?  Whether you found them attractive or not, I think you would find that manner of dress on male co-workers inappropriate and at times very offensive.  So, I would ask that you not be hypocritical and you dress as you would expect or even see your male counterparts dress.  Meaning, if they dress in suits or fully-clothed without showing off their "unmentionables" or drawing attention to their bodies or specific body parts, maybe you could show the same courtesy and respect and help create a work environment where women and men focus on the job at hand and not how sexy you look or think you may look.

If you dress thinking "sex sells", then you are selling sex whether overtly or covertly.  And, you may want to re-think that if you want to be respected in the workplace by both men and women with whom you work.  If you dress appropriately, then you will have a better chance at winning any sexual harassment suits you may have based on unwelcome conduct because you won't have co-workers (male and female) thinking that you kind of brought it on yourself to some extent.  It is unreasonable to ignore social norms or professional expectations and demand the world act exactly as you expect, particularly when your expectations are wholly unreasonable and somewhat delusional.

If your boss demands you wear sexually provocative clothing, refuse.  If you think wearing sexually provocative clothing is totally appropriate in every possible setting, then you have a mental problem, in my opinion.  My dress code is mostly about comfort and appropriateness for the occasion.  I hope women will start thinking when they dress and men in positions of power will receive refusals when they demand women dress for sex in the workplace.  It is my understanding everyone loves a little mystery, so, dressing fully-clothed can still be beautiful, fashionable, comfortable, and appropriate for everyone involved.  Please consider dressing appropriately as a form of self-defense against unwanted and unwelcome sexual attention and make it your resolution to avoid creating a hostile work environment by refusing to participate in the continued objectification and sexualization of women in the workplace.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Corey Feldman and What's Wrong with the Corey's Law Petition

Corey Feldman and What's Wrong with the Corey's Law Petition
by Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder

First, let me say I believe Corey Feldman was a victim of exploitation and abuse as a young child actor.  I have compassion for all such victims and wish justice for everyone who has been harmed by exploitation and abuse.

I do believe Feldman has engaged in unethical conduct and exploitation of young women over the years and I find it personally difficult to reconcile my support for Corey the victim with my frustration with his actions as an adult towards his former "angels".  Mara Moon (a former Corey's Angel) reports he physically, emotionally, and verbally abused her regularly.  [See: http://ccreports.ca/2017/12/09/exclusive-former-coreys-angel-mara-moon-speaks-out/]  I find it very difficult to balance supporting victims who become perpetrators, especially if it continues over a long period of time with multiple victims and no remorse or regret for the harm caused to others.

I was willing to set aside my annoyance with this whole situation for the sake of hoping that justice may finally be served.  And, I will say I believe Judy Haim and Corey Haim over Corey Feldman regarding what happened to Corey Haim and who is to blame.  In addition, after many comparisons I have seen a lot of inconsistency in Feldman's claims.  All of this has led me to believe he is not the best person to bring this issue to light. 

All that said, I was initially going to support the petition for "Corey's Law" [you can view and sign it now at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/coreys-law] , but, being a legal researcher I wanted to check the language of the petition before going forward with that.  I've repeatedly met with federal legislators who have repeatedly informed me that much of what needs to be done to protect children and youth from exploitation and abuse MUST occur at the State level.  So, I wanted to check the federal laws and statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors. 

Guess what?  There IS NO FEDERAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS on federal prosecution of kidnapping, sex abuse and sex crimes against children and youth.[1] [18 U.S.C. § 3299]  So, a petition to create a new law extending the Statute of Limitations is unnecessary and superfluous because such crimes that meet the federal requirements for prosecution can be prosecuted as long as the victim is still alive or within 10 years of the crime, whichever is longer.

So, what are the federal requirements for such prosecutions?  "Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with [a minor]..." can be federally prosecuted.[2]  [18 U.S. Code § 2243 - Sexual abuse of a minor or ward]  So, if there is a private detention center holding a federal contract housing undocumented (or citizen) minors where they have been raped or assaulted, then, the federal government can prosecute, for example.  But, when it comes to crimes committed in local or state jurisdictions, it is those jurisdictions that set the Statute of Limitations.  So, in the case of Corey's law, you would want it to be initiated in the State of California (or any individual State) in order to eliminate or extend the Statute of Limitations.  Corey's Law's petition says they want to extend the federal Statute of Limitations indefinitely.  However, there is no Statute of Limitations on this type of crime at the federal level and therefore the language of the petition is virtually meaningless when it comes to any federal reform, since no federal reform is needed on this particular issue.  What we need is State reforms and this is why HEAL has been working on our State Action Plan for many years with some successes around the country.  The legal language that should be used if looking to eliminate the statute of limitations should be the language set forth in the federal statute.  Alaska is one state that already has no Statute of Limitations on sex crimes against minors.[3]  So, their existing Statute can also be used as a model for California or other states to adopt.  And, HEAL Illinois' campaign for reform includes a petition specifically citing Alaska's law in asking Illinois to make the needed reforms which could be used as a template for actions in other states.  See: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/illinois-general-assembly?source=c.tw&r_by=10225086

Now, what about California?  Commencing in January of 2017, the new law in California eliminates the Statute of Limitations on prosecuting sex offenses.  So, the problem has been solved in California for now.[4]  Activists in California will want to keep an eye on this issue and make sure that if a new Statute of Limitations is imposed (none now exists), that it protects the rights of victims and understands the trauma that results in delayed reporting which has previously resulted in failure to prosecute due to past statutory constraints. 

So, what can Corey do?  Well, if he successfully proves that he named names of evident abusers in a report to the proper (LAPD) California authorities before his 40th birthday and that he filed a complaint against those abusers willing to press charges before his 40th birthday, then he may finally see justice served.  If he did not file an official complaint prior to his 40th birthday, then he may not get justice given the state of the law leading up to his 40th birthday in California.  However, if he discusses it with an attorney and can prove that he asked to file some complaints or press charges but was refused by law enforcement, he may have a civil suit against those law enforcement agencies.  Given that it has been 24 years since the 1993 interview with law enforcement, it may once again be too late for even a civil suit for malfeasance against those agencies.  And, that is likely his only option given that he is now 46 years old and under the old law, he needed to come forward before his 40th birthday in California.

Alas, all of the above paragraph is also moot.  Because, when Feldman was interviewed by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff''s Office and reportedly "named names", law enforcement told him he needed to file those reports in Los Angeles County or with the LAPD because the crimes were in that jurisdiction, NOT Santa Barbara County.  Feldman admits he never followed up by filing complaints or reports in the proper jurisdiction.  So, he cannot now claim that he was denied access or no one would listen to him because he was told to report in the proper jurisdiction and chose not to do so.  You can see the evidence of all of this by watching the video here: https://youtu.be/llEUEg_F-YE.  [Please do not assume this is an endorsement of that entire video or channel.  But, Feldman clearly states he was told by the SB Sheriff to file reports in LA County, the proper jurisdiction and he clearly says he never followed through with doing that.]

I would suggest any individuals who were victims while a ward or minor in federal custody or assaulted while on federal land/property, immediately report those crimes to the FBI.  You can find reporting resources at http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm.  If the crimes against you do not meet requirements for federal prosecution, you will need to file complaints and press charges against those that harmed you at the State or Local level and depending on jurisdiction, you may or may not see justice served.  This is why we ask that you become smart activists and actually know what is needed before creating petitions and taking action so you don't waste your own time and everyone else's. 

HEAL actually researches everything before we create any petitions or organize any marches/protests/campaigns.  Because, we don't want to waste anyone's time, especially our own.  So, we hope you will become a smart activist too, if you are not already, and use your mind more than your emotions when deciding how best to advocate on any issue.  A good primer for new and/or confused activists is HEAL's free e-book available at: http://www.heal-online.org/activism101.pdf. 
Become better informed citizens and vote like an activist.  These are the two most important things you can do towards improving things in the US.  And, they require some effort on your part that doesn't involve self-absorption, throwing parties or events to celebrate yourself, or emotional pleas for money and praise.  We can change things when we understand how and take the right actions.  HEAL has proven this to be true.  So, it is up to you to decide whether you want to be a poser or a hero.  If you choose hero, you can organize with us or ask for our assistance for your independent campaigns by following the guidelines at http://www.heal-online.org/solidarity.htm.  Godspeed.

[1] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31253.pdf (page 5)
[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2243
[3] http://codes.findlaw.com/ak/title-12-code-of-criminal-procedure/ak-st-sect-12-10-010.html
[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/28/495856974/california-eliminates-statute-of-limitations-on-rape-cases