Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Want YOU to Register to Vote

                2012 is an important year in America, as in November we will be electing our next President. There has been election buzz now for about a year and it’s still heating up. You see the ads, the speeches, the debates….but does it really matter? How much of a difference does voting make? Does your vote really count?
                The short answer is yes. Everyone’s votes really do count. The Presidential election in 2000 between Bush and Gore is a prime example. There was a large dispute over who won the election, as it came down to the electoral votes of Florida. There were some issues at the polls with the new Butterfly Ballots.  Therefore the actual winner of the election was unclear. The vote was also very, very close. There was only a .5% margin between Bush and Gore, which came down to about 2000 votes!
                Voting is also an important part in living in a democracy. Think of all those around the world who don’t have the same privileges  as we do, as well as those that came before us and  gave their lives in the pursuit of free elections. Not voting is, quite frankly, showing a lack of appreciation for the rights countless patriots have worked to give us. If nothing else, honor them.
                If you aren’t already, register to vote! This must be done at least 30 days before the election, which means you have until October 6th! You can register at many places public high schools, libraries, The Bureau of Motor Vehicles and office of your counties Board or Elections. Also, make sure you bring proper photo ID on Election Day to the polls, or you will be unable to vote! Most importantly, make sure you research all of the candidates (and not just those vying for the Presidency). Good luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Activism....Say What?

What does activism really mean? How can we assert our own personal values without conforming to the crowd? How can we be ourselves but still a part of the collective? Is this possible?
                I personally see a lot of pressure in the activist community to have an ideology. You have to have some cause/issue you work for or else….what are you really? A crazy hippie? A wanna-be?
                I’m not sure what the real answer is. I don’t know what it really means to dedicate your life to something. At least, on that level. “True” activists are willing to die for what the believe in. They will let nothing and no one stop them. It is often these dedicated people who are responsible for social change.
                So does that mean being that type of activist is best? Or am I using the American value of success to derive that conclusion? What makes someone successful, what are the characteristics of success?
I’m keeping an open mind for now. Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fresh Face Friday!

Fresh Face Friday is a campaign put together by Miss Representation to talk about the media’s relationship with makeup. And more importantly, thedemand that women in our society wear it every day. When is the last time you turned on your TV, went to a movie or opened up a magazine and saw someone without a face full of products? Unless it was an article bullying celebrities who decided to go fresh faced, probably never.
This stuff really affects women. Girl’s self esteem declines by 75% after reading fashion magazines. A study done by the Journal of Consumer Research reported that women felt worse about themselves after viewing advertisements featuring beauty products. Only 2% of women think they are beautiful. 90% of women would change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.   We clearly have problems with our self-image in this country.
What’s to blame for all of this? In large, advertising. Ads are created that purposefully make women feel ashamed of themselves. These advertisements create a void by telling women that without their product, their lives will be miserable, worthless and not even worth living. They’ll never find a man, have a successful career or be able to find happiness unless they have said product. By doing this, there is then pressure created to conform to the companies standards and buy, buy, buy. After all, who wants to a wrinkled up, miserable aging individual? No one!
This is why we must fight back. Tomorrow, we can do just that. For Fresh Face Friday, all you have to do is go make-up free. That’s right; no eye shadow, foundation, concealed or even lip gloss. Then, if you wish, you can take part in the live Twitter party taking place from 12-2PM PT. Tweet @RepresentPledge and/or hash tag #FreshFace to voice your opinion or showcase your own fresh face! This is such a simple way to get involved and express your opinions on what is wrong with the media.  Can’t wait to see you all there!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I think sex education is so important because everyone has a sexuality, sexual identity and sexual orientation. Most everyone will engage in sexual activity at some point in their lives and because of this it important to know the facts and be informed! Sexuality is one of the most personal and beautiful things about us as people and because of this it is vital that we nurture it in healthy ways. As a society, how we view sex is intimately connected to how we treat others. It also is connected to how we relate to ourselves and others.We have to instill the fluidity of sexuality, gender and sexual orientation so that we can create a more accepting and compassionate society. Because of this, it is so important that we are all educated about sexuality as well as our bodies.

The Ethnocentrism of Food Politics

  During last week’s class, someone brought up the Asian (largely Chinese) cultural norm of eating cats and dogs. They expressed disgust and distain for the practice and largely this is the attitude held by Americans towards it. Eating cats and dogs is seen as inhumane. It is illegal to eat dog in 6 states, but as Jonathon Foer of the Wall Street Journal says, “Eating man’s best friend is as taboo as a man eating his best friend.” [1]
Yet, even though it is socially unacceptable to eat dogs and cats, it is perfectly acceptable and in fact encouraged that we consume pigs, cows and chickens. This in large has to do with how we interact with animals; we have domesticated dogs and cats. We keep them as pets, name them and consider them family members. Thus, we have humanized them and tend to view them as worthy of better treatment than other animals.
            Ours is not the only culture to selectively classify animals. The French eat horse but also keep dogs; Spaniards love cows but eat horses1. We see this same phenomenon cross culturally. In the words of George Orwell, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”1 Indeed, this viewpoint is a hypocritical one. This classification is not based on the animal’s intelligence, loyalty, creativity or strength. If we look at American food norms specifically, we see that our hierarchy among animals seems flawed. Pigs are more intelligent than dogs, and they are in fact as intelligent as human three-year-olds2. They are extremely social animals and also have the ability to play video games.
            The main point is that expressing that it’s disguising for those of other cultures  to eat dogs and cats is an ethnocentric one. It compares the cultural standards of Asians to those of America and assumes that the American idea is better. It’s important to understand how relative cultural and social norms, values and beliefs really are. What is sacred to one is unfathomable to the other.
            Morality in this way is highly subjective. There is no universal standard of acceptability when it comes to eating animals. The ideas vary from culture to culture and there is no one right answer. From this then, we can see that Americans criticizing others for eating animals that they domesticate is not relevant to other cultures, as they also have similar notions. Sure, it is perfectly okay to hold the beliefs of your culture and not engage in eating animals that go outside of American norms. It is also okay to love and keep some animals as pets. The problem is when we criticize others for having their own set of values and beliefs. We as a culture must be more accepting of other perspectives and not hold all other culture’s to the standards of our own. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

We Are All in This Together

I watched Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC last night and I have to say, I was blown away. That is one feisty, funny, intelligent, thoughtful, sensible man! He knows and understands the principles of democracy. He has such amazing insight on American politics and has a passion to make America a better place. A fair place. A place where anyone can make it and it’s okay to be a woman, non-white, gay, or disabled. A country where fairness, cooperation and honesty get us farther than greed, oppression or bigotry. Where Wall Street doesn’t run the show and the economy isn’t controlled by millionaires and billionaires. Where everyone pays their fair share and takes pride in it. Where, as he put it, we are all in this together!
                It’s important that we all be willing to help one another and have a desire to make things better for not just ourselves, but everyone else who’s struggling. We have to have the heart to understand, the sense to compromise and the mind to listen. We can’t continue doing things as we have been. We can’t keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest in America. We can’t deregulate Wall Street and let them operate laizze-faire. We can’t start wars we have no business starting. We can’t deny women health care services because of our own moral standings. It’s been shown, time and time again that this approach Does. Not. Work. We can’t just step aside when it comes to fiscal policy and step inside when it comes to body politics.  
                A massive part of this whole equation is partisanship. Washington has become a battleground of ideological warfare. Instead of working to find common ground and fixing significant problems, everyone is more concerned with being right. Politicians spend time debating versus implementing public policy. Everyone is more concerned with sticking to their own beliefs instead of working to a compromise.  The middle ground is almost non-existent. There isn’t any room for agreement along opposite party lines and compromise is seen as weakness. This type of hostility is what is creating so many of our governmental problems. Nothing is getting done and no one is happy.
                I think that is why Bill Clinton’s “We are all in this together” is such an important message. We must live it and embody it. Because if we are all in this together, there is no who is left out or ostracized. As one America, we embrace each other’s differences and can appreciate differing points of view. We can discover how to work together to come to compromises, we can create a system built on cooperation and we can become a stronger nation. Together, we can rebuild our economy and make the system fair for everyone. We can create jobs and get out of debt. It is possible and we can do it….but only if we decide to put aside our differences, respect one another and once and for all declare that we are all in this together. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Perfect Feminist

The Perfect Feminist
In feminism, there is this idea that feminists are supposed to behave in certain ways in order to be true to the movement. They aren’t supposed to be “girly” or wear pretty dresses, bright make-up or high heeled shoes. Feminists aren’t supposed to make sacrifices for the men in their lives, they are supposed to not even need a romantic relationship. They aren’t supposed to enjoy women’s magazines or daytime television shows.  Feminists are not supposed to be emotional or show any signs of weakness. They aren’t supposed to cry or scream or look foolish. In short, feminists are supposed to be made of stone.
                These notions about the so called “perfect” feminist are damaging to not only feminism, but to women. They force women into this tiny box of acceptability that most don’t even want to be anywhere near. It forces women to suppress their emotions and feelings and forget their joys and pleasures in life. They can’t enjoy the beauty of romance or the passion of a marriage. The ideas that make up what a feminist is supposed to be ultimately PUSHES BACK the movement.
                We can’t make progress without freedom. Until feminism allows women to be who they are without restraint, we can never have equality. Until the polarization of the sexes ends, we cannot realize an egalitarian society.  Feminism often restricts women in how the behave, just like the patriarchal, oppressive forces they are against! Only it’s worse, because it is disguised behind a mask of liberation.
                Feminism, I am rejecting your ideas about feminists. I will not change who I am in order to wear the label proudly. I will not compromise my ideas, values, pleasures, goals or relationships. I will not bow down to your idols, I will not submit to your matriarchs. I will love men and enjoy my relationships with them; I may even make sacrifices in order to be with them. I may move across the country, I may give up my job. I will enjoy fashion and beauty, embrace them and continue to read Vogue, Glamour and Cosmo. I will scour the runways in search of the latest trends and spend an hour applying my make-up. I will read romance novels and cry when they end sadly and dammit, I will enjoy it.  I will be myself, nothing more, nothing less.  These things you see, don’t make me weak or stupid or a walking internalization of sexism. They make me, me. They also make me perfect. I am the perfect version of myself.  And yes, I am the Perfect Feminist.