Monday, January 21, 2013

coffee break

I want this on a t-shirt.

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings" Response

So, I read my friends post on feminism, and while I understand many of the points she is trying to make, and more importantly, where she is coming from with them, I have to disagree on several points. Specifically, that women deserve to be paid less because of maternity leave, and that women have achieved equality with men.

In her post, she talks about the muted group theory as an example for women being oppressed, which she disagrees with. "It is essentially stating that women (and minorities) have less voice in the world. Ms. Kramarae essentially says that since men created language, they have more control over language and thus women." she writes, "I find this a very medieval ideal." But from reading the actual linked page, I'm not sure what there is to be angry about. I don't think Kramarea is implying that she herself thinks their voices have less worth in the world, but that in the world, they have less voice compared to those who hold power. While I disagree with the notion that men single-handedly are responsible for language itself, I do agree with the fact that certain words are filled with certain negative connotations for such minorities, and are empowered by those who hold power, such as words like "bitch", "slut", "whore". But those words, I think we can all agree, have been given significance through both male and female use. So going over this whole theory and commentary, I'm a little confused at what muted voice theory has to do for women being oppressed, because it has been proven that for many women and minorities---their voices are not always fully heard, advocated, encouraged, expressed, and in many cases are suppressed.

And while I agree with her that the fact that women on average receive lesser pay is often rooted in their career choices, the CNN article that is posted even states that when all factors such as majors, jobs, and hours were controlled, women were still being paid less by 7%.

"Are they lower paying because females usually fill those positions? Um, no. Females kind of generally tend to do this thing called "having babies." And that generally requires taking time off. Sure, there's maternity leave, but women often want to spend longer with their children. So thus they take more days off." This is a non-sequitur that leaves me unsure how to respond next. Are you saying that simply because women are having babies they deserve to be paid less? If you're following the CNN article, they make no association with the rates women are being paid with pregnancy. Also, maternity leave in America is a huge problem. Out of 178 countries, America is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits. And then, job security for maternity leave is shaky at best--- under the Family and Medical Leave Act, women are guaranteed their job if they choose to leave for up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. And even then, those who qualify for it are sparse---the employee must have been employed for about 12 months or about 1,250 hours, and to a company that employs more than 50 people who are also in a 75 mile radius. People often forget that many women cannot simply choose between their work and their families. And with women working more and more to enforce their job security--about 2/3 of all women through 2006-2008-- often risking their lives to do so because of the high stress that comes with pregnancy (which on a side note, minorities such as black women are at higher risk of), even then, it's not enough. With many employers simply being unwilling to accommodate women through pregnancy, such as allowing water bottles to women to stay hydrated or having stools to use at cashiers, or having someone to help them do heavy-lifting. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it's illegal to fire someone for simply being pregnant. But it's not illegal for them to fire people for being unable to do their jobs---even though with simple adjustments women could do their job fine and with fewer health risks. There is no equality to this: instead of looking at problems in the system, we are almost entirely blaming the sufferers instead.

I think the problem you have with feminism may be with straw feminism, or how you described it, radical feminism---that is, the often misandrist tendency for some feminists to believe that the only way women can succeed will be in correlation to the downfall of men, when women are superior to men. While I disagree with this notion, the most basic of feminism is that women--just as the quote said---are human beings. Whether there has been an increase in straw feminists or that their voices are simply becoming more heard, I cannot say. But I can say that if you discredit feminism by the fact that some feminists are misandrists, then I don't think you understand the point of feminism. Women should still be able to fight for equality even when their ideas are conflicting to what is best as whole---because these women are feminists, and they're fighting for women, not men.

"So I get feminism. Women should be proud of who they are, and should embrace their womanly-ness, and should want equality with men. But aren't we already there?" No, we're really not. Your argument is centered around a theory that is rooted in a strange idea but states a basic fact, numbers that blame women for their career choices, that ignore the very real and current discrimination of pregnancy in the workforce, I fail to see how feminism is a problem and how there has been an equality achieved through these facts in your argument alone. The problem I see with it is that it doesn't tackle a specific area of equity between the genders, and does not help build up to your point that women have achieved equality. And that's not even considering that then, it falls flat when looking at the rates of gender-based violence, the rates of sexual and domestic abuse towards women (and the knowledge that as many as 54% cases of such go unreported), that women worldwide are paid less, that many are subject to sexual harassment in offices that they cannot be protected from, and indeed, are often blamed for. When looking at the 510 million illiterate women worldwide and the 39 million girls who aren't in school. When knowing that if I or you choose to become mothers at one point in our lives, we'll have to make the decision between family and supporting a family.

I do understand where you're coming from in your argument. I really, really do. We're both white, middle-class teenage girls who have lived in a rather privileged position in life and society, and who have not yet experienced the full brutality of the job market or have had to toggle work between family. There are cases where women have achieved equality. But I don't think your argument supports it fully to say that feminism is a moot point, because the approach you took with the examples is too varied, and turns a blind-eye to areas where women are totally unequal. I think that a stronger way to build your argument is by trying to center it around a case where women actually do have a stronger stance with gender equality, which all of these lack. But by simply stating feminism does not matter---when you are a woman yourself, albeit, one who has not either faced the challenges that are unique to women are simply have not noticed them--- is hugely and ignorantly working against yourself and all other women.

Asking for it

Fuck anyone who says that the behaviors of a woman or her lifestyle choices or what she wears means she's "Asking for it." No one asks to be sexually assaulted or harassed or raped. Ever. Ever. Ever. 

As basic as I believe this to be, there still seems to be a general consensus that if someone dresses racily or decides to get drunk is at fault for getting raped. While being under the influence increases those chances of such human violations, that doesn't mean she was asking for it. Say it with me: Rapists are the ones who rape. Remember Guwahati Tragedy? “Don’t tell your daughters to not step out in the night. Instead, teach your sons better.” And unfortunately, this isn't the case. Instead of attacking the root of the problem, and teaching more men that is not at all OK to sexually assault someone, no matter what they're wearing or how drunk they are, we instead teach women to not walk to their car's alone at night. We teach men that it's up to the women to be the force that prevents rapists, which limits women, and then teaches society to blame them when any such thing does happen. Men are better than this---then why do they not have to face the consequences of their actions?

This kind of thing goes on all the time, horrifically enough. For example, Steubenville. Two football players from a town who glorifies the players are being charged with kidnapping and raping a sixteen year old girl. The accusation has split the town, according to the NY Times.

"The case has shaken the football team, which has been the pride of the community for more than 100 years, and has divided Steubenville. The night of the party, residents began taking sides, with some blaming the girl, saying she was trying to defame the team with her accusation. Others said the suspected rape occurred as a result of a hero-worshiping culture of a city obsessed with high school football."

Because you know. She's obviously trying to defame them, considering the fact that pretty much all of that night was recorded on video and live-tweeted about and photographed. And since she got drunk, she must partly responsible for what happened to her. Asking for it, with her less than favorable decisions and state of sobriety.

Steubenville is appallingly, one of many example where the victim is blamed instead of the perpetrators being fully responsible for their crimes. While the case is still ongoing, it's sad to say that many things like this never become a case, with the victims and their family being too sad, ashamed, or scared to take legal measures.

Who asks for that?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Adios, Dummies: 30 Rock wrapping up its final season

After seven seasons, the hit NBC comedy 30 Rock is finally coming to a close. If you haven't seen it, the show is about Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey, and her time as headwriter for the live-action TV show The Girly Show (TGS) with Tracy Jordan. It's loosely based off Fey's time as headwriter for SNL, which is shot in the 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, which is where the title comes from. Despite poor ratings, the show is critically acclaimed, and has been nominated for tens of Emmys.
Also, it's just hilarious.

Man, I'm so sad it's ending.

The thing about 30 Rock is that it's one of the most well balanced comedy shows of all time. It can punch out 30 snarky, sassy one-liners with incredible insightfulness in under two minutes, and it it can utilize even fart-humor into comedy gold. With most episodes about 21 minutes long, it's actually pretty amazing just how many jokes they can get out within the timeframe. It gets so much done while still carrying out the basic plot, but still maintains emphasis on what a good sitcom is supposed to do: make you laugh.

I love the witty, intelligent, and terribly subtle social commentary jokes that they slip in there. The last episode I watched was "My Whole Life is Thunder", where Liz wins an award for Women in Comedy under 80 aka not Bettty White. During the scene Liz gets in a fight with her best friend about her getting married the day before, to which all the women try to get in their two cents.
Liz: "Why can't you ever be happy for me, ever? I got married, and you don't care."
Random woman in crowd, starts yelling: "Why should she? We shouldn't be defining ourselves by men!?"
Random woman number two: "Oh, so in order to be independent, we have to be asexual?!"
Random woman number three: "You would know, Judy."
Random woman number four: "God, I miss Gary so much! I put his sweater on a body pillow! [moans]. I took it on a canoe ride!"
*Crowd erupts into chaos*.

It was a small moment that lasted less than a minute, but it poked fun at very real and very current feminist movements going on in a light-mannered but honest way. You have to be so careful not to laugh too loud at everything (an impossible task) because the jokes are so sure-fire and concise and fast. Many shows attempt that kind of humor, but usually in a sardonic and with an "I'm too cool for this kind of vibe" like Daria and Gilmore Girls. Family Guy does a good job at this, but there jokes are often...distasteful, and less clever than offensive. 30 Rock is not always PC but it always tries to get to the heart of the matter----and that's why it's funny.

God Bless 30 Rock.  Time to find something to fill in the empty hole it will leave in my heart.

Thursday, January 17, 2013



Sunday, January 13, 2013

coffee break

story time

In the post below, I talked about the story I wrote for my friend. I'm too lazy to blog anything else. So I'll post this here. Names changed for reasons.

It's dark by the time we're out of the movie theater  It's always dark by the time we're out--and that's good, that means night driving. That's the best part.
            Gabby and I have a ritual and it is usually some variation of Starbucks-movie-Taco Bell-driving. I can't differentiate between one night and the next in my memories. It's more like it's just one night, and it has never ended, continuous and simply one in my memory. The details get confused. They switch around to different times and places they're not supposed to be. They're versatile,  I've never tried to fix them---what does it even matter?
            But tonight we go to Hy-Vee. I'm going to say that this is the night we go to Hy-Vee for the first time, a new check-mark in tradition. We're looking for a friend of mine, but it turns out that she doesn't get off until later, so we start actually looking for food, wander over to the bakery section where she starts to freak out about what processed pastries to get because we're going to go on a little gift delivery service to our friends (we have about eight if we add them together) and their parents. We end up agreeing on Zebra-Cakes and Twinkies and because we are especially juvenile Gabby gets us the Welch's sparkly grape stuff that comes in the glass wine bottle. By the end of the night it's going to look like Oscar from Sesame Street lived in there. I noticed her eyeing the shrimp earlier at Hy-Vee suspiciously. That's because she's afraid that if she eats them they'll somehow pop back into life in her mouth.
            After our first stop (a drop-off to Katie's parents, whose mother drinks a glass of wine every night and cooks fancy food with foreign names and whose father is about 5'4) we start driving around some more, and the conversation leads to this:
            "Ok," Gabby starts, "so when we go on our road trip to Canada we both agree that we're staying somewhere with Magic Fingers, and I get first dibs on all the attractive men because you love me and we'll eat lots of junk food and get FAT which already happens when I got to the Zaputil house."
            I turn off of Collins near Noelridge, which turns out to be a bitch because the speed limit is 25 and there's some Popo crawling around, searching for dumb miscreants like us. "Agreed. It's going to be like Stand By Me only with an actual car and more bodies."
            She laughs, gets the reference. I'd always found it weird that the movies we could relate to were about lower class pubescent middle school boys from the 60's. Gabby wants me to drop her off at the park some time so she can sit there alone and watch Stand By Me on one of our portable DVD readers. I'm willing, but I still can't decide on whether or not if I'm going to 'forget' her after I leave her there. 
            We stop at Anna's next. There was this giant bucket of popcorn sitting in the back that Gabby had gotten for free at the Collins Road Theatre but never finished, and it sat there greasy and expectant. I parked on the side of the street and she ran out and threw it all around the yard, kind of flailing on the snow and then setting the bucket neatly on the front porch. I'm laughing because it's the stupidest thing and it's so small but that's the whole point of these car rides, small adventures.
            "We have no friends," Gabby gasps as she lets out a never round of laughter. She's got this crazy hair-do, black curls that sprawl everywhere, and she says it's because they're full of secrets. I start laughing because it's so true and so awful. Long story short: we only have eight friends because we excommunicated the other five, and the really mean part about is that some of them don't even know. We're not very nice people. We're Mean Girls without the actual cojones to be outright mean.  
            We're the pair that sometimes takes passengers on our little adventures, but only for a little bit until we genuinely get bored. At Homecoming, when she saw who we'd be eating with, she told me to gun it in reverse. "I'm not even joking, let's leave," she'd said. I had started laughing. She accused me of thinking she was joking. I told her I was laughing because I knew she was dead serious.
            So then it's the third stop and that involves us scaring the hell out of poor Sarah's mother by creeping up on their porch because Gabby didn't know if Sarah was home and leaving a careful snack on their unlit porch. We felt bad about it until Sarah texted us twenty minutes later---thx 4 the snack lol.
            Then there's nothing left for us to give. We have no friends.
            So we drive to some random parking lot or another. I think this was the time we went to Franklin. And it's winter, so I start acting like an idiot and pull donuts in the empty lot, which makes us laugh and scream (I momentarily lose control for about five seconds, and that's the moment when I'm actually just screaming).
            It's just us. A true friend is someone you can talk about with for anything, laugh about anything with, but most importantly share silence with. It's quiet except for the gentle muted roar of the highway, far away from us. Escape routes. Roads to take us places.
            I think about the where and when and how. The truth is it's nights like these that remind me that it's OK to be a stupid kid once in a while. I remember what it was like to be 13 and pining to be 16. I'm not 13 anymore. I remember Gabby at 13 and 14 and how she was already planning her emergency exits. Which was kind of like Gabby when she went through what she calls her lesbian-looking phase at the end of sophomore year, the one where she didn't shave her legs for, like, two months. But considering my whole middle school career was my lesbian-looking phase I didn't have much leg to stand on.
We go driving at night because we're challenging tomorrow. We drink stupid Welch's wine because we don't want to drink the real thing. Gabby's mom still tucks her in.
            That's why I'm fond of these nights. It's one long road in my memory, all these city lights and conversations and passing places. Sometimes I think that maybe that's the trick, getting myself onto the right road. I hope that even when Gabby goes a different route, she's still always shotgun. That's friendship.
            At the end of the night, when I'm dropping her off, I say, "I love you."
            Gabby says: "No."


This year I was supposed to do NanoWrimo in November. For those of you who don't know, Nanowrimo is an online annual event where for one month, writers from all around the world try to pen a novel down with 50,000 words or more. It's online community, but there are lots of real-life events too.

Today I opened the file to where I was supposed to save all my word counts.

There was zero.

I laughed, a little spooked. You start something a couple of months ago, promising yourself you'll get it in one---end up with not even a fifth of that amount, and with about three fold that of time passing. I wondered just where the hell that time went, if I had put into the wrong pocket of some sort, lost between one place and the next. It actually made me shiver, how fast things were going.

This is why I don't even attempt at New Year's Resolutions. Setting up a predetermined window of time to which you're going to accomplish something does nothing. If you want something, don't just start it because it's the beginning of the new year, something most people consider a fresh start. Do it now. You need to try at the worst possible time because if you can pull through something when everything around you is blowing a stack, then quite possibly you can succeed. 

Today I got a really nice message from a friend mother's about a story I wrote which had her daughter as one of the main people. She encouraged me to keep writing, and that I was doing a great job. I was humbled and ecstatic. It means a lot to me that she put in the time and energy into writing me and sending me something at all.

Usually, I find my crippling fears of failure and seeing other people's successes as a good enabler to motivating me to try to do a good job, to try to do something with my life. I've got my parents to make proud, but don't we all? That's not to say their acknowledgement isn't important, because when I'm fishing for compliments to make myself feel good, they're the first people I go to so I can preen. 

But for some people I have to work for their respect and recognition. Remember in that movie Hot Rod where the main character, Rod, is always fighting with his step-dad, because he is fighting desperately for his step-fathers approval, and is always screaming things like "AND YOU WILL RESPECT ME!" Pictures for visual explanation below:

That? That's pretty much how I feel when I want someone to like me or my work. And it's terrible. But when they do acknowledge me, like my friend's mom today, well---sometimes I find it's all worth it. 

I literally measure my life

In all the things that are coming out.

See, when I'm super stressed, I need some kind of motivator/incentive for getting my up and out and not giving up. I'm weak. I'm shallow. And as such, I am filled and content with weak and shallow things, such as when my material goods make their debut to the world. If that's not enough, I tell myself little motivational quips that sometimes help. This is how I convince myself to get up in the morning. Not all of them are true. A lot of them are simply paranoid. An list of thirty examples of what I say to myself in the morning.
  1. You have to get up because Supernatural is coming back this Wednesday.
  2. Just because you're tired is no excuse. We're all tired.
  3. Your mother is screaming at you through the wall and you're afraid she'll never stop.
  4. Arrested Development comes out on Netflix in Spring.
  5. Robin Riopelle's debut novel comes out in spring. It's got a "sucker-punch" ending. You can't wait.
  6. You have over 52 unexcused absences (Ok, I actually don't really care about that one).
  7. Your problems are not real problems. And even if they were: you've already used those days up.
  8. Crashing your car into the nearest intersection is not a solution. You'll miss Game of Thrones in April.
  9. Nobody said it would be fair.
  10. Just because you're tired is no excuse. 
  11. There are so many books you need to finish.
  12. Today you'll chose better. Today you'll get through.
  13. Even if they all hate you, at least become something worthy to hate. 
  14. You have like, twenty dollars. If you're good you can get yourself a burrito at Pancheros.
  15. Imagine your brother's face if you were dead.
  16. Imagine your mother's.
  17. Don't imagine your father's.
  18. You've spent the last 17 years accepting yourself. Why go through all that pain and misery just to throw it away?
  19. Some days the good in people proves itself and you are left thanking God. Who says today can't be that kind?
  20. Downtown Abbey is really great, and you really need to catch up.
  21. You're not right with Jesus just yet. Don't be making any hasty decisions.
  22. College. You have to get up so you can go to college. If you don't get into college, what's even the point? You'll die alone and lonely and you won't have a job. No one cares unless you have a job. Having a job is everything, it's money and credit and freedom and respect. You want to be a writer? You don't deserve to be a writer, you weakling shuddering shrimp of a thing. And if you don't do good in school, well, you can just spit on a scholarship, because that's as good as all you're worth.
  23. Cut yourself off as soon as you think of the word 'college'.
  24. You're pretty sure you were born with braces, but if you don't brush your teeth there's no hope in getting them off.
  25. Let's face it, you're going to get up anyway, because you always do. If you don't do it now you're going to go to school ugly and it will make things ten times worse.
  26. You've pretty much have given up on any hope of not dying alone: at least find a book you'd like to be buried/burned with.
  27. You don't deserve anything you've ever had. Earn it.
  28. You're in you're prime and you're still untouched. You still remember what they've said about your hips and chin and your brow and your mouth.  You love yourself anyway. 
  29. You're laughter is an ocean and it will take your troubles in waves.
  30. Nobody's ever got anything done by crying.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

coffee break


"Cultures that endorse modesty and cultures that endorse hypersexualization are the *same* thing. Both define female sexuality by how it relates to the male gaze. In both cases the female body exists as an ornament either to be kept carefully hidden or put on display. Neither is an empowering feminist achievement. "

I ran across this post yesterday by tumblr user egyptiansoapbox. An interesting thought. And I find it, depressingly, very true.

Last issue Torch ran two editorials on feminism, one by Mary Mathis, defending, and one by Michael Abramson, against. One of Abramsons reasonings (on the argument of the difference between the sexual habits of men and women, which I have previously written about). Abramson, depressingly, used the cliche and sexist bullshit metaphor of the locks. " 'If a key opens a lot of locks, it's a master key. If a lock is opened by a lot of keys, it's a bad lock." Everytime a man uses that saying, God kills a kitten.

Anyway, I'll save my criticism on Abramson's editorial for another day. What is important, however, is that this argument helps prove that the male gaze does have impact on how cultures endorse women's sexuality

More on Music

While I'm still on this tangent.

I've always wished I could have been a musician. I don't tell people that, but it's true. It's really good for your mind, and it's great for helping people. I know that at the U of I, musicians are often some of the best entertainers and comforters for the kids who are diagnosed with cancer.

Music is a place where there are no words for.

Since I write (in contrast of being a writer---you actually have to actively write to be such, hahahaha /cries) I understand that sometimes there are no words for what you want to convey. Writer's paint rooms of images and pray for the readers to get to the image and feeling their trying to convey. With music,  I feel that it's more a direct link. That the emotions and feelings are right there. With writing, their is more room for interpretation, and for emotions where there are no words for, music fills that emptiness. With words you can only shape such by measuring it's vastness, and even then, it is only qualitative data.

And I think that other people understand.

Look, everyone is kind of in general agreement that music lately has gone down in quality--- the music industry literally has the common pop song down to a formula. So it's interesting to see that classic/acoustic cover of pop songs are so popular. Gangnam Style may be a massive hit, with its 1.1 billion views and lead as Youtube's most popular video, but the four million people who have seen this acoustic version of Psy's magnum opus would agree that slower, more natural version is infinitely better.

Music speaks to us on a raw and personal level. When I write, I try to listen to something that helps me connect my writing better just to get on that level that music provides. While there is beauty in both expressions, music can speak without words. And that's kind of amazing, to me, to someone whose trying to build a life on a craft that uses entirely words.

I mean how often do stories bring tears to your eyes by their sentence structure alone? Usually it's the story that brings such an effect to people. But with music, it's both. And it happens often. There is a difference between reading about tragedy and then actually listening to it, and that difference is something between reality and simply telling stories. Music does both.

I wish I was a musician. I'd probably pay something sexy, like a guitar.