If Facebook were reality...
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Oh, ABC. Are you void of journalistic integrity also?
On the ABC News website there is an article titled “’Sex and the City’ Made Me Have Sex at 14.” After clicking on the article, the title of the changes to “’Sex and the City’ Fiend: Show Turned Me Into Samantha.” The interviewee, who is now 22, thought (eight years ago) that smoking and one night stands were cool after seeing it on the show. However, she does say that it wasn’t Sex and the City’s fault. ABC just wanted to get us with that sensational headline.
Then, later on, the female author of the article writes, “Sex and the City’ can’t be blamed for creating a generation of sluts.” Nice, ABC, nice.
After Googling the writer, Sheila Marikar, I came across another article she wrote in January 2007. According to this one, “Some Say It’s Ok For Girls to Go Wild,” if your 13 or 14 year old daughter posts pictures of herself online in bikinis and mini skirts, or poses provocatively for the camera, don’t worry! This is the normal part of growing up. Just because they dress, act, pose, and talk in a more sexualized way doesn’t necessarily mean they are having sex, (what about that study that found a quarter of teen girls have an STD?). This quote is certainly a winner:
For parents still uneasy about MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, Broughton said consider social networking sites from a new angle. In an age where the pressure to weigh less and look hot can overwhelm young women, a teen girl posting her picture on the Internet can be seen as having a healthy self-image.
According to this, looking “hot” and getting the supportive approval of others contributes to having a healthy self-image. And what about all the perverts on the Internet who are looking at your daughter wearing barely any clothing? Has the writer thought about them? It seems almost every other story about kids on the web discusses the possibility of molesters, except this one, which is encouraging children to dress provocatively and parents not to worry about it.
The sexualization of little girls is rapidly spreading. If you go into any clothing store, you will notice that the little girls’ clothes are just smaller version of the Junior section. Girls buy Bratz dolls, complete with tons of make-up and short skirts, and mimic the teen celebrities they see on MTV. Companies are selling padded bras for children, as well as a pole dancing kit in the toys section.
I wonder about Shelia Marikar and the editors at ABC News. Does Shelia have a daughter? Does she approve of bikini photos on Myspace? And how could Shelia, who just last year wrote a positive piece on girls flaunting their “stuff” now use the term, “generation of sluts”? Which message is she trying to portray with her “journalism”? Does Shelia have an editor that saw “generation of sluts,” and then approved the story for release? It’s shameful, really.
For further reading:
Interview with author of “The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Wonder what a private conversation between Barack and Hillary might sound like? Well wonder no more! Maureen Dowd goes there. "Barack" to "Hillary":
“Fine, you can have the 3 a.m. shift on the White House switchboard.”
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There is a really great article in the current issue of the Atlantic written by an English professor who teaches at a community college and small private college- colleges “of last resort.” He teaches English 101 and 102, which covers basic college writing and comprehension of literature. He speaks of his students and how they are mostly adults who need a degree to advance at work or to get special certifications, but the theme of this essay is that they can’t write. He feels guilty failing several students each semester, but he must do it because they can’t even grasp the basic ways of writing a research paper. He says that it seemed that one of his adult students never even used a computer before:
Recently, I gave a student a failing grade on her research paper. She was a woman in her 40s; I will call her Ms. L. She looked at her paper, and my comments, and the grade. “I can’t believe it,” she said softly. “I was so proud of myself for having written a college paper.”
She just listed the pros and cons of gun control in a research paper, which is not at all what a research paper is. Her formatting was terrible, her citations wrong if they were even existent, and there was no thesis. For some of my readers who have recently graduated from college, this might seem almost impossible to comprehend, but I totally believe it. I’ve written before that I was a writing tutor at my college for awhile, and I saw it all. I saw students come in and I couldn’t even fathom how they graduated high school without understanding the basic concepts of writing. I’m not saying they needed to be novelists, but students who never learned how to form any argument, how to write a proper sentence and put them into paragraphs that actually make sense in the order they are in.
The fact that so many people cannot write properly (and that so many people don’t even read on a regular basis!), is an issue that saddens me. Writing is, and will continue to be, an integral part in everyone’s lives, no matter your age or profession. Not being able to write clearly and effectively will cost you job interviews, promotions, raises, including things outside of work. If you need to fight faulty charges on credit cards or enter into legal battles there will be something that you will need to write at some point to make your case. And regardless of your education, reading will make you a better writer. It is a fact. You don’t need to sit in a class and be taught formally how to write to be a decent writer, just reading a lot will help.
But anyway, I digress. Take a look at the article. I will end with this quote, which I totally agree with:
Reading literature at the college level is a route to spacious thinking, to an acquaintance with certain profound ideas, that is of value to anyone. Will having read Invisible Man make a police officer less likely to indulge in racial profiling? Will a familiarity with Steinbeck make him more sympathetic to the plight of the poor, so that he might understand the lives of those who simply cannot get their taillights fixed? Will it benefit the correctional officer to have read The Autobiography of Malcolm X? The health-care worker Arrowsmith? Should the child-welfare officer read Plath’s “Daddy”? Such one-to-one correspondences probably don’t hold. But although I may be biased, being an English instructor and all, I can’t shake the sense that reading literature is informative and broadening and ultimately good for you.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
In case you haven't heard:
“In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship,” Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote of marriage for the majority, “the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.”
It goes without saying, but this happening in America's most populous state is pretty huge.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A depressing article in the Washington Post about racism that Obama supporters have faced while campaigning for him. People have been using racial slurs towards campaigners, even those who are white. There have been cases of vandalism against his campaign posts.
Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: "It wasn't pretty." She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded:
"Hang that darky from a tree!"
The bigotry has gone beyond words. In Vincennes, the Obama campaign office was vandalized at 2 a.m. on the eve of the primary, according to police. A large plate-glass window was smashed, an American flag stolen. Other windows were spray-painted with references to Obama's controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other political messages: "Hamas votes BHO" and "We don't cling to guns or religion. Goddamn Wright."
Ray McCormick was notified of the incident at about 2:45 a.m. A farmer and conservationist, McCormick had erected a giant billboard on a major highway on behalf of Farmers for Obama. He also was housing the Obama campaign worker manning the office. When McCormick arrived at the office, about two hours before he was due out of bed to plant corn, he grabbed his camera and wanted to alert the media. "I thought, this is a big deal." But he was told Obama campaign officials didn't want to make a big deal of the incident. McCormick took photos anyway and distributed some.
"The pictures represent what we are breaking through and overcoming," he said. As McCormick, who is white, sees it, Obama is succeeding despite these incidents. Later, there would be bomb threats to three Obama campaign offices in Indiana, including the one in Vincennes, according to campaign sources.
People have been using the term "half-breed" and still adamantly believe that he is a Muslim. Even if he is a Muslim, who the hell cares? There's separation of church and state to be upheld in this country, why does anyone's religion matter?
I wonder what will happen when the fall comes, since he will be the Democratic nominee. Will these instances get worse? Although Obama hopes to transcend race with his campaign, there are so many people in this country stuck in the past that I wonder if it is possible for one man to change all that.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I read something over the weekend that so thoroughly disturbed me that I can't stop thinking about it. Here is the post from Feministing:
College student sexually assaulted while crowd cheers
It's stories like these that make me doubt the idea that people are basically good. (Trigger warning)
Melissa Bruen was sexually assaulted on the University of Connecticut campus while a group of men cheered. Even more distressing is that the assault was retribution for fighting back against another man who was assaulting her.
On a weekend night, Bruen was walking home along a campus trail (actually known as "the rape trail" if you can believe that hit), when she was "picked up by [her] shoulders, pinned up against the pole and 'dry humped' by a stranger."
At first I thought it was one of my friends' attempt at humor, until I heard the man moaning.
I hung up the phone, and shoved the man off me. I am 5'5". He was around 5'11".
"My, aren't we feisty tonight," he said.
I was assaulted when I was very young - I wasn't about to let it happen again. When he came toward me, I grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him down to the ground. I held onto his shoulders and climbed on top to straddle him. He started thrashing side to side, but I was able to hit him with a closed fist, full force, in the face.
A small crowd had gathered, mostly men. Now they seemed shocked. I was supposed to have been a victim, and I was breaking out of the mold. I hit him in the stomach, while clenching my legs around him to prevent another man from pushing me off. In all, it took three men to pull me off my assailant.
He got up and ran off, yelling at me, as if I were the would-be rapist.
Bruen started yelling, "You just assaulted me...He just assaulted me." Instead of coming to her aid, a group gathered around her.
Another man, around 6'1", approached me and said, "You think that was assault?" and he pulled down my tube top, and grabbed my breasts. More men started to cheer. It didn't matter to the drunken mob that my breasts were being shown or fondled against my will. They were happy to see a topless girl all the same. I punched him in the face, and someone shoved me into a throng of others. I was surrounded, but I kept swinging and hitting until I was able to break free of the circle they had formed.
If this doesn't ruin your day, I don't know what will. Though I have to say, I'm grateful to Bruen for sharing her story. Given how prevalent victim-blaming is, writing an article about your assault is no small thing.
What's truly incredible about this story is how it really dismantles the idea that teaching women to protect themselves (via self-defense, specifically) is truly effective. As Melissa points out, "Bruen did everything that she was supposed to do, but instead of being hailed a hero for pummeling someone who sexually assaulted her, she was further assaulted for her trouble." (Make sure to read Melissa's full post by the way.) This isn't to say that I think women shouldn't learn self-defense or fight back against assault - on the contrary, I think they should if that's what's best for them. But it's not an answer to rape culture (in which a crowd of people can stand and fucking cheer as a woman is being assaulted) - and that's what we need to be fighting back against.
Again, big kudos to Bruen for - as she puts it - "get[ting] a few good swings in." Not only against her assailants, but against a culture that would have her silenced.
I'm so disgusted I can barely form the words to express it. How can any man do that to another human being? What if she were any of their girlfriends, their sister? How can ANYONE in a country so advanced as ours act this way, under any circumstances?
As the writer from Feministing points out, she did exactly what she was "supposed" to do in that situation- fight back. But it wasn't enough, and teaching women self-defense isn't the answer to ending rape. Check out the post on Feministing, along with the over 100 comments it has received.
Friday, May 09, 2008
If you’ve entered a public space since 2001, you know what it’s like to be near someone who has their Ipod too loud. I notice this more now that I’m a commuter, and am always surprised at how blatantly inconsiderate people are with their music. I’m not talking about the people who have their volume just loud enough that you can tell they have music on, I’m talking about the people who play it so loud that you can make out every word, syllable, grunt, beat and note that plays. So loud, that you yourself can dance with clear rhythm (if you have any rhythm, obviously) without even putting the buds into your own ears. Those people, man, how do you sleep at night? With a constant ringing in your ears, I’m assuming.
Although I’m still surprised by how people can be so disruptive with their own music, it’s even more interesting that no one ever says anything to these people. People on the train will sit next to someone blaring their music for an entire hour, even at 7am. I’ve seen this happen so many times, and not once has anyone tapped them on the shoulder and said, hey man, can you turn it down? I wonder why no one ever does- do people feel they are invading the others privacy by letting them know they can hear it? Do they not want to bother the music listener, even if that means enduring the entire Sound of Music soundtrack through every stop on the New Jersey coast line? (I’m not making that one up.)
Today, however, someone finally opened their mouth. Getting on the elevator in my building, there were three other people. One younger gentleman had his headphones blaring some Top 40, and an older gentleman said, “It’s a little loud, don’t you think?” Both of the men were standing behind me, and I actually felt myself getting a little embarrassed for the older man for asking! Almost as if I couldn’t believe he was asking him to lower his music. I guess I’ve just grown so accustomed to people being rude that people trying to alter their behavior is now what’s most shocking to me. Thinking about it now, I should have applauded for that old man.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Rebecca Traister gets it exactly right, once again:
This is but one of the problems with how we treat developing female sexuality in this country: With every Barbie, every Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, every music video and every new style of miniskirt and tube top made in junior sizes and worn on "Hannah Montana," we send the message to young girls that their job and their worth as young women will depend on their ability to look and act sexy, preferably while mouthing words they don't yet understand about virginity and purity. Then, when they get to an age at which they might exhibit feelings or behaviors related to actual sex, we castigate and censor them...
Family values -- as defined by Walt Disney, the church, the Republican Party or anyone else -- do not include a father's ownership of his daughter's body or sexuality, or his treatment of her sexuality as his property or financial or personal resource.
If you have any interest in the health care debate, there was an excellent article posted on The New Republic site yesterday discussing John McCains recent plan. Bottom line: it's not so good.
Feeling angry everytime you go to the pump? Find yourself breaking the bank to fill your tank? Maybe considering selling some organs so that you can continue to fuel your Hummer? Well, there is some good news! Exxon Mobile has just reported a profit of 17% in the first quarter of this year! Phew! It’s good to know someone out there is making some money.
Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, said earnings for the first three months of the year rose to $10.9 billion, or $2.03 per share, up from $9.3 billion, or $1.62 per share, a year ago.