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Just getting some thoughts out on the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the public reaction, especially in regards to what is being said about alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner.
  • While I initially cried foul at Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, it’s stupid to say those things before we know what Loughner’s motives and political affiliations are.  Besides, this may not be political at all.  However, the fact that one could so easily draw a line between the shootings and Sarah Palin’s Take Back the 20 campaign, in which she put gun targets on certain districts (one of which was Rep. Giffords’), is distressing.  We shouldn’t let this tragedy pass by without picking up on the political climate that may have – or at least, could have – led to the shootings.  Is it feasible that a map with gun targets and the phrase “Don’t retreat – RELOAD!” (a Palin favorite) could lead to violence of this sort?  Absolutely.  And this is something that Palin and her camp seem to know and acknowledge, considering how quickly she tried to erase any trace of the violent rhetoric.  If one good thing could come out of this disaster, it might be that popular politicos on both sides of the aisle will watch what they say.
  • I’m a bit disturbed at how many people are quick to call Loughner “crazy.”  For one, let’s not blame this on the mentally ill.  Let’s not look at his YouTube page and say, “Oh, he must be schizophrenic, that explains it all.”  Not every person with a mental illness is volatile.  Some – MOST – lead perfectly normal lives.  Saying that his supposed schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or what have you explains his actions is like saying that all Muslims are terrorists.
  • What’s more, if he weren’t a white male, would we still allow him the benefit of the “mental illness” defense?  If he were an Islamic man or a Mexican immigrant, and he (or she) had that very same YouTube profile page, would we still excuse their actions as that of a mentally ill person?  Or would we think that their religious or cultural affiliations were reason enough?  Why is it that we never expect white people to be extremists?  Any non-white person is treated as an extremist and a representative of an entire religion or culture, while a white person is a “fringe character” or a “lunatic.”  It’s a disturbing trend.

 

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To Write Love on Her Arms is a “non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.”  They exist “to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”  What’s funny is that I’m just now finding out about them, despite the fact that I’ve been in and out of therapy for depression for about a decade now.

I appreciate their general message, which is, “You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.”  That’s great.  I’d love to hear that coming from an actual person who cared about me.  But how do they go about facilitating and spreading this message (assuming that they do at all, considering that I never heard a thing about it)?

Well, I know they sell merchandise, so you can buy a shirt that says, “I care about your depression,” basically.  In fact, this is how the organization began, with a group of kids selling shirts to raise money to get therapy for a friend who was struggling with some mental issues.  I think that’s awesome, too.

I’m not too pleased with what I see on their website, though, and what I know about their organization.  I don’t like this trend of commercializing issues, like pink bracelets, shoes, blenders, shirts, dishes, cheese graters, socks, etc., for breast cancer.  It’s great that you want to give to an organization, it really is.  But must you get something in return?  Why can’t we just give to do something nice, to support a cause we supposedly care about?  We don’t need to receive a shirt or a bracelet in return so that we can wear it around and say, “I care that some women get breast cancer,” or “I care that some kids get depressed.”  Where’s the humility in all that? Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, so if you didn’t know already, the senate recently voted 58-41 against the Equal Pay Act which would ensure that women would make as much as men doing the same jobs.  Here are a few facts on what this means:

Amount U.S. women earn for every dollar earned by men: 77 cents

Amount African-American women earn for every dollar earned by a white man: 61 cents

Amount Latinas earn for every dollar earned by a white man: 52 cents

Amount women living in Southern states* earn for every dollar earned by a man: 75

Percent of U.S. voters who in a recent poll expressed support for a new law to give women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace:  84

Percent of U.S. voters who said they strongly support such a law: 72

Percent of Democrats who strongly support such a law: 83

Percent of Republicans who strongly support such a law: 61

Month when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure designed to remedy income gender disparities:1/2009

Bipartisan vote by which the House approved the bill: 256-163

Date when the Senate considered the same bill: 11/17/2010

Number of votes the Senate needed to end a Republican filibuster against the bill: 60

The Senate’s final vote to end the filibuster: 58-41

Number of Senate Democrats who voted against the bill: 1**

Number of Senate Republicans who voted for the bill: 0

Portion of U.S. families in which mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners: 2/3

Percent by which the number of married couples with children depending exclusively on women’s earnings rose last year: 36

Words can’t really express how angry I am about this.  How is it that, in 2010, we are still trying to tell women that they aren’t worthy of equality?  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  But here’s the kicker:  absolutely no Republicans voted in favor of the bill.  Not really shocking, considering that their main strategy nowadays is just to say “no” to absolutely everything the Democrats propose.  What really kills me is the contradictions.  Republicans want to force women to have babies (many of them want this even in cases of rape and incest), and yet they refuse to take the appropriate steps to ensure that these women will make enough money to support these children.  Isn’t this something that Sarah Palin and her Mama Grizzlies, who want so badly to call themselves feminists, should be fighting for?  As Nancy Pelosi said, what will these people who voted against equal wages tell their daughters?  What this says to women is, “You’re not worth it.”  You’re not worth taking a pay cut for, you’re not worth stepping over party lines for, you’re not worthy of equality.  And they say we don’t need feminism anymore.

Info source.

Pic source.

Back in the first season of Glee, oh so many moons ago, there was quite a bit of talk about whether or not the show fell into sexist territory on occasion.  If you’re thinking, “I never heard anything about that,” clearly you weren’t looking in the right places.  People who complained that Glee had a not-so-admirable opinion on girls and women were kind of right.  Terri and Quinn were both lying about their pregnancies (or lack of pregnancy, in Terri’s case) and were uncaring “shrews” towards Will and Finn, respectively.  Emma and Rachel were both “the other woman” in two separate already-established relationships.  Sue was the evil villain of the show.  There was nary an admirable female character in sight, whereas Will, Kurt, and Finn (and Artie, to a certain extent) were (and still are) portrayed as saintly.

I personally didn’t think it was that big of a deal, back in the first season.  I’ll admit, I was a bit distracted by all the flashy musical numbers and the “we can do it!” feel-good attitude.  The show was a little dose of sunshine every week, and for that, I was willing to overlook some of the more serious problems it has.  Most shows have issues with continuity, character consistency and development, tone, pacing, etc., at some point.  Granted, Glee has those problems in spades, but the problems I’m talking about are more social.  Is the show racist at times?  Is it sexist?  Is it ableist?  I think a lot of shows are, but those shows don’t package themselves as repurposed after-school specials, complete with morals and a lesson.  The theme of the show is, “Appreciate the things that make us different.”  Dare to stand out, to go against the “norm.”  That’s why the show gets a lot of attention on that front.

So the question is, why does a show that preaches acceptance and tolerance persist in being intolerant, or at the very least, ignorant of people who are different?  These past two episodes have kind of shook my inner-feminist awake and said, “Neener neener, I’m not playing nice.”  Here’s a brief list of what I take issue with.

1.  Sluts, prudes, and nothing in-between.

Glee never portrays girls’ sexuality in a positive light.  I thought they might, back in the first season (I think it was the second episode?), when Rachel pays a visit to the Celibacy Club and says, “You know, girls like sex too.”  I thought, finally, a girl on television who isn’t a “whore” and isn’t a “prude.”  She’s just normal (not that there’s anything wrong with being a so-called “prude,” but in TV land, some character would have a problem with it eventually).  But no, come this season and Finn’s complaining that Rachel won’t let him get any.  In last week’s episode, “Never Been Kissed,” he said something to Sam, like, “Figures we’d date the only girls in school who won’t put out.”  First off, really?  Rachel and Quinn are the ONLY TWO GIRLS IN SCHOOL who won’t put out?  Seriously, Finn?!  And why would Rachel or Quinn WANT to put out?  So they could be labeled as “sluts,” like Brittany and Santana?

There’s no middle ground.  The girls are either uptight and won’t give their poor, poor boyfriends any sex, or they’re too promiscuous – girls who gain a reputation as “whores,” and can get no real respect from boys or their fellow girls.  Let me assert, there is nothing wrong with having sex, or not having sex.  It’s the show that portrays them in these ways:  it’s healthy for boys to want sex, and for girls to not give it to them.  It’s not healthy for girls to want sex.  For all the promise I saw in this show,  I was proven wrong.  I thought they’d have female characters who weren’t defined by their sexuality in some way, and while most of the girls on this show are multi-faceted (sexuality or lack of sexuality is NOT Rachel’s defining characteristic, for example), there are still some confusing, negative messages being sent out here.

NOTE:  The subtitle on this first entry to my list is a bit misleading.  There IS something “in-between.”  There’s the girl no one wants to imagine in a romantic situation at all, i.e. Mercedes.  Everyone knows that curvy girls can’t get love, duh.  Clearly that’d be gross.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s been a recent outburst of fat shaming lately.  Fat shaming is basically the act of making someone feel like crap because of their size.  It’s always, always been a problem, but what’s brought the added attention to it as of late is an opinion piece in Marie Claire magazine called “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?)”, by Maura Kelly.  Kelly was basically responding to the TV show “Mike and Molly,” about an overweight couple who meet via Overeaters Anonymous.  As Kelly says, “So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”

Okay, so we’re comparing overweight people to drunks and heroin addicts?  Classy.  But it’s not like she’s the only one.  If I had a gallon of gas for every time I saw a Facebook status this Halloween weekend that decried the “fat girls” who dressed in “slutty” costumes, I’d have enough gas to drive my car to a McDonald’s in Buenos Aires.  Did these people ever stop and think, for two seconds, that there’s a lack of store-bought costumes for women that AREN’T “sexy” versions of something?  Or maybe, just maybe, these “fat” women wearing these costumes aren’t ashamed of their bodies, no matter that society tells them they should be?!  We always feel bad for people who are anorexic or bulimic, as we should, but we regard people who are overweight as disgusting.  So people are expected to be somewhere in between, which is difficult.  It requires constant monitoring, which some people just can’t do.  Also, overeating (or binge eating) is a genuine eating disorder.  Sure, there are people out there who simply don’t care about how they look, about their health, and about what they eat.  Some of these people are thin and some are fat.  But there are also people who just feel the need to compulsively eat, just like there are people who feel the need to compulsively NOT eat, or people who feel the need to purge.  We never acknowledge that, though, because we’re too quick to shame them for “making a choice” to be fat.

For easy use, here’s a list of things to remember before you make a fat joke, or write that Facebook status about the fat girl in your sociology class.

1.  It ain’t cheap to be healthy.

Why else would notoriously broke college kids gain that “freshman fifteen?”  They can’t afford to eat healthy.  I personally am broke, and while I like to cook and eat vegetables and try new things that are generally healthy, I’ve recently had to cut back a bit on my grocery spending, and so it’s mac and cheese, soup, Rice-a-Roni, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and pancakes for me.  Would I rather be buying portabella mushrooms to make a light pasta dish, or Asian vegetables for veggie lo mein, or fresh broccoli to make broccoli in brown sauce?  Yes.  But making recipe-based foods is expensive in general, and even more expensive if they require fresh produce.  I eat Lean Cuisines, but I get burnt out on them.  Also, it costs money to work out.  Not everyone can afford a gym membership.  Sure, there are other ways to work out, but gyms are convenient and easy.  Too bad not everyone has the privilege to be a member of one.  Being healthy and eating healthy is a definite class issue.  If people really cared about “fat people” assaulting their eyes, then maybe they should work to provide produce to poor people in some way (grow it and sell it cheap at a farmer’s market, or work at a soup kitchen and help promote healthy eating there), or maybe they should organize free exercise classes, or maybe they could have a few less-privileged friends over for a veggie-filled meal once a week.  I realize that this would be asking a lot, but aren’t we asking just as much of some people to be eating healthy or exercising all the time when it’s just not an option, due to their finances?  If the weight issue in this country bothers you, then perhaps you should turn your attention to the poverty issue as well, and that includes the healthcare issue.

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I just read this article analyzing the recent Mel Gibson hoopla and how the media (and our society as whole) has reacted to it.  It’s a great opinion piece, and you should read it, but I’ll go ahead and summarize.  If you’ve been paying any attention to the coverage on this whole situation, then you may have picked up on them emphasizing Mr. Gibson’s racist remarks.  Many say that he was let go by his agency because of the racism.  From the article:  “The claim is that Gibson screamed at his then-girlfriend that the way she dressed meant that she deserved to be raped by a pack of ‘n—-rs.’ The so-called ‘n-word’ is so totemically powerful that no one will even print it, and its use has finally placed Gibson beyond the pale:  his own agents issued a statement saying that no one in Hollywood would touch him with a 10-foot pole. Because of his racial attitudes.  But what about the (alleged) threats and assaults against his then girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, who claims that he broke two of her teeth, and attacked her while she was holding their baby? Those are mentioned in passing as ‘misogyny’ or ‘domestic abuse.’  Objectionable, maybe, but not enough to end a Hollywood player’s career.”

It’s undeniable how true this is; Charlie Sheen has come under fire numerous times for his abusive treatment of his girlfriends and spouses.  Does it keep him from having the most-watched sitcom on television right now?  No.  Roman Polanski had a gaggle of celebrities come out to support him after his recent arrest, and that included a number of female celebs.  Clearly raping a young girl is wrong, but if it’s an “artist” doing it, well, that might be excusable. Read the rest of this entry »

Ever since this picture of Keanu Reeves sitting on a bench, eating a sandwich and looking morose, hit the Internet, the “Keanu is sad” meme has taken over.  And it is hilarious.

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Sarah Palin has been talking a lot about feminism lately, which is ironic as she is about as far away from feminism as one can get.  Why?  Well, for one, she’s anti-Choice.  I’ve heard it said that you really can’t consider yourself a feminist and be against abortion at the same time, and I’d agree with that.  One can see abortion as an unfortunate occurrence, sure, but if one wants to deny a woman her basic right to choose, then one clearly doesn’t want women to be completely free.  Instead, Palin and her ilk portray their anti-choice stance as being “feminist.”  They argue that taking away a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body will merely make women stronger.  It’s empowering for women to make the hard decision and become mothers (or give birth and hand the child over to someone else), so we might as well just take away their choice altogether.  Faux-empowerment by force, one might call it.

Secondly, Palin seems to have an issue with the unequal wages of men and women in the workplace, and by “issue,” I mean that she doesn’t take what I consider to be the clear feminist standpoint on the topic.  Instead, she supports a party and candidates (like John McCain) who flat-out oppose any legislation that would guarantee equal wages for women.  They don’t want to force businesses to pay extra if they don’t have to (always for the big businesses, those guys are).  Their opinions are nothing short of antique.  As Jessica Valenti writes in her recent column in the Washington Post, “The fake feminism of Sarah Palin,” “When members of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum argue against efforts to address pay inequity, they say the salary gap is a result of women’s informed choices — motherhood, for example — and that claims of discrimination turn women into victims.”  If all claims of discrimination turned women into victims, then we wouldn’t be wearing pants, voting, attending college, or working outside of the home.  “Oh, don’t campaign for the right to vote.  That just makes you look like a victim.  You’ll look weak.”  What a ridiculous notion.  Another ridiculous notion is that all women make informed choices such as motherhood (and, remember, if Palin had her way, motherhood wouldn’t be much of a choice).  Not all women choose that path, and if they do, who says that they should always be the one taking off time to raise a kid, and putting their careers on hold?  Men do that sometimes – in Britain, they recently fought to earn paternity leave from work – and this idea refuses to reflect that.  Clearly some time would have to be taken off to actually have the child, but no more than would be needed for major surgery, a situation that a person of either sex could find themselves in.

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