Trump tried to troll Michigan's Secretary of State on voting laws. It didn't end well for him.

In a now-deleted tweet, President Trump engaged in one of his favorite pastimes on Wednesday—accusing another elected official of committing a crime on Twitter.

This time, the object of his accusation was Michigan's "rogue" Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson. The crime? Trump accused her of "illegally and without authorization" sending absentee ballots to 7.7 million people in her state. He threatened to withhold funding to Michigan saying, "If they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!" (Ahem, is "voter fraud" a proper noun, sir?)

Benson responded to Trump's tweet in the best way possible—she fired back with facts and a reminder of her name.


"Hi!" she wrote, with a wave emoji. "I also have a name, it's Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia."

Jocelyn Benson/Twitter

The president was roundly called out for being so inaccurate. Trump partially corrected his previous tweet two-and-a-half hours later, only adding the word "applications," but but still falsely claiming the mail-in voting broke the law.

The president seems hell bent on making people believe that mail-in voting is "ripe for fraud" and that making it easier for people to vote by mail is somehow beneficial for Democrats. Let's not forget he voted by mail in Florida in March. Or that Washington and Oregon, who have had all-mail-in voting for years, both have Republican Secretaries of State overseeing their elections. Voter fraud, despite claims to the contrary, is a statistically insignificant occurrence—and a bipartisan one at that.

Benson, again, responded with the facts. And again, she reminded him that she has a name.

"Hi again," she wrote. "Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority & responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right - just like my GOP colleagues are doing in GA, IA, NE and WV. Also, again, my name is Jocelyn Benson."

Benson insisting that President Trump call her by her name may seem like a small thing, but it's not. In fact, it might be the most powerful part about her responses. The president has a habit of not referring to women he doesn't like by name, instead making up childish nicknames for them or simply omitting their name altogether. It's a power play of sorts—one that Benson expertly diffuses in her tweets to him.

As political historian Heather Cox Richardson pointed out on Facebook:

"From Moby Dick's famous beginning 'Call me Ishmael' to the fear in the Harry Potter books of calling the evil Voldemort by name, invoking someone's name makes them a power to be reckoned with. In this case, a woman doing her job, insisting on reality that interrupts Trump's narrative, repeatedly demands that he use her name.

It's a powerful moment. At a time when senators and government officials appear to have ceded their power to Trump, it is ordinary Americans like Jocelyn Benson, ordinary women like Jocelyn Benson, who are standing up to him. 'Hi!' she wrote. 'I also have a name.'

Indeed she does. That's exactly what the president is afraid of."

Strong, smart and self-respecting women who don't peddle "alternative facts" are Trump's kryptonite. He doesn't know what to do with them, other than attack them with false claims and nicknames. In the space of two tweets, Jocelyn Benson managed to not only correct the president's falsehoods, but also show that she's not going to let him play that game. It's ridiculously unfortunate that government officials have to battle lies from the president on Twitter, but since that's how he's chosen to communicate, that's where it has to happen.

Of course, Benson's office also issued official statements on the matter, because despite appearances, governance is not actually done over Twitter. The Department of State wrote:

"President Donald Trump's statement is false. The Bureau of Elections is mailing absent voter applications, not ballots. Applications are mailed nearly every election cycle by both major parties and countless advocacy and nonpartisan organizations. Just like them, we have full authority to mail applications to ensure voters know they have the right to vote safely by mail."

We need to see women standing calmly and confidently in the storm, providing factual, low-key fierce rebuttals to the blatantly false accusations that keep flying from the president's fingertips.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
True

In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."