Friday, December 31, 2010

My Latest Favorite Thing: Experience Project

Earlier in the semester when I was taking some time to look further an identity of mine, I was doing my usual internet surfing when I had come across this website, While I didn't have a chance to create an account at the time, I promised that I would come back and sign up as soon as I got the chance. And so I did, earlier this week, and now Experience Project has become by far one of my favorite things on the world wide web.

Allow me to elaborate.

 I am all about identity (which if you don't know already, I'm sure you will come to know soon enough). Once I learned that you can have more than one, it's like my world totally opened up and now I am always eager to explore another trait or quality that makes me. And this is just one of the great things that Experience Project provides. The website lets you delve in and browse through a massive amount of experiences to find whatever it is you identify with so that you can emerge saying: "I sleep with a stuffed animal" or something of the sort. There's a group for someone who says, "I love British comedy," "I am an insomniac," "I have an accent," "I am a Pagan," "I am married but lonely," you name it, it's there. If you're the first who thought of it, you can always add the experience on to the site and type in, "I..." Can't speak Japanese fluently yet? No worries, you can always click the "plan to" button and add it to your goals.

And the beauty of it is that you're not limited as to the number of groups you can be a part of.

I am personally a fan of this website because, while I actively reject labels, particularly in cases where one person takes it upon themselves to bestow a label on another, I do enjoy a sense of order that allows to list all that I am for myself to see. I love the anonymity of it all, which gives me the chance to claim identities that I'm still too nervous to speak of aloud or come out about. And above all I love the sense of community that the site provides. Knowing that you are not alone in an identity, feeling, or experience, was not always a comfort we could secure for one another before the days of the internet, but now with sites like these you can know for certain, that while you may stand out from the crowd, there's always another freak right there with you.

Try it out. Agree? Disagree? Is there something I forgot to mention or another side that I hadn't acknowledged? Please share and let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How many dead women can Kanye fit into his latest video?...

Answer: A LOT!Utter disgust...Check out his latest single "Monster"...

**Trigger Warning**

It's incredibly disturbing to see popular music has gone from scantily clad dancing women, to scantily clad dead women hanging from ceilings or as severed heads in the hands of Kanye. Jay'z is no better with his highly controversial lyric: "I rape and pillage your village, women, and children" as a woman lies nude and dead behind him on a couch.

And Nicki Manaj, hip hop's woman of the year, trying so hard to be one of the boys. I totally get that her scene is more of a play on the dual roles women are expected to maintain. For Nicki in particular, one persona is a stereotypical pure/innocent woman and the other is an animalistic/evil woman who is able to roll with the boys by downplaying her femininity (weakness) and emphasizing her masculine traits (power). Can she use her popularity and celebrity for good? Would it be too much to ask her to help empower women out there, rather than playing being apart of a video that blatantly dehumanizes them? Establish a new par in terms of sexism, and let male rappers rise to your level...please? In the very least, at least her scene was a just some bondage/kink rather than murder...

Certainly there are women that are also depicted as being murderers, but their status is no where near the powerful men rapping in front of the camera. Instead they are shown as animalistic "blood-suckers" that will drain powerful men of their money.

When did music become this...Kanye's a "Monster" indeed

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baby, Its Cold Outside (Take Two)

I wrote this before reading Zaneta's post below... I suppose great minds think alike? I have a bit of a different perspective though, so I figured I ought to post too :)

With the blizzard in New Jersey stranding me in my home, today seemed like the perfect day to do a post on the song Baby Its Cold Outside and guilty pleasures in general. I think I have listened to the Glee version of this song (and watched the clip from the episode) at least 60 times since the episode premiered. For the first week or so most of my listening was done in secret, in my dorm room; even though we were playing holiday music at work I just didn't think this song was appropriate for the Women's Center due to it's (for lack of a better word) rape-y themes. Eventually I decided I needed to do a blog post about the song and ask myself: how could I reconcile loving a song SO MUCH when it had such a creepy undertone?

I started researching the blog post and things went in a totally different direction, once I found this post from Persephone magazine:
"The song sets up a story where the woman has dropped by her beau’s house on a cold winter night. They talk in the first verse about how long she’s going to stay. She has ‘another drink’ and stays longer, and then later in the evening it’s implied that she’s going to sleep over.

If we look at the text of the song, the woman gives plenty of indication that she wants to stay the night. At the time period the song was written (1944), ‘good girls’, especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised. The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go. We see this in the organization of the song – from stopping by for a visit, to deciding to push the line by staying longer, to wanting to spend the entire night, which is really pushing the bounds of acceptability. Her beau in his repeated refrain ‘baby, it’s cold outside’ is offering her the excuses she needs to stay without guilt.

Let’s look at the lines. As she’s talking about leaving, she never says she doesn’t want to stay. Her words are all based around other people’s expectations of her – her mother will worry, her father will be pacing the floor, the neighbors will talk, her sister will be suspicious of her excuses and her brother will be furious, and my favorite line that I think is incredibly revealing, “My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious.” Vicious about what? Sex. Unmarried, non-good girl having, sex.


The song, which is a back and forth, closes with the two voices in harmony. This is important – they’ve come together. They’re happy. They’re in agreement. The music has a wonderfully dramatic upswell and ends on a high note – both literally and figuratively."

So now I'm not sure how I feel. On one hand I am glad for this explanation. I liked it so much that I shared it with pretty much everyone at work, and played the song quite a few times as part of our Holiday relaxation atmosphere. Honestly, I want to just embrace it so I can listen to the song (over and over) without guilt, and just move on with my life.

On the other hand, even if I can totally rationalize away any creep-factor inherent in this song, I am still disturbed by the fact that, even if I didn't have this explanation, I would be listening to the song.

Which brings me to Glee, and the idea of guilty pleasures in general. Try as I might I just can't rationalize Glee away anymore... with each episode the show seems to get more and more offensive and yet, I still love it. Why? I have no idea.

In a way I feel like my relationship with Glee mirrors Baby Its Cold Outside: I protest because Mr. Shuester gets creepier each week, the show's treatment of it's not-conventionally-beautiful female characters sucks more and more each week (the pity-kiss between Shue and Bieste was an all time low), the show's treatment of disability issues and racism is ridiculously hackneyed and bad... and so on and so forth.

Yet, I continue to make excuse for the show. But, maybe they're just overblowing the stereotypes to make a point? But maybe the way they handled the bullying situation with Kurt is a sign that things will get better... even though that wasn't very well done either. But Coach Bieste is such an awesome character, maybe they will start treating her right next episode! But at least they have a more diverse cast than most shows. But baby, its cold outside.

I know I should stop watching but I just don't want to... and here I am. I've written critiques of Glee... so have many bloggers. I discuss it often with my feminist friends. I hate it so much, but I also love it so much. So, what now? I have no clue.

Let me know what you think in the comments! What are your guilty pleasures? How do you know when its time to just quit something? Is there anything redeeming about Glee? Lets talk!

Deconstructing "manhood"

Reposted: Classic Holiday Assault...

This post is really intended to just extend a happy holiday to everyone! Being a feminist, I thought I would take this opportunity to just deconstruct a classic Christmas song. I'm not sure if you have taken the time to actually listen to the lyrics of "Baby, it's Cold Outside," but you should...

Dear Dean Martin,

She said NO! Have you ever heard of a little thing called consent?
No? Well, getting a woman drunk and then bombarding her with tons of pressure to stay the night is NOT CONSENT. One of my favorite quotes is "The opposite of no is not yes, it's enthusiasm." People should not have to beg and plead with their partners until they finally just "give in." "Maybe" means no, silence means no, "yes" while intoxicated means no, and no doesn't mean "just ask me until I finally say yes."

In case you missed any of the are just a few of the realllly bad ones

Well, maybe just a half a drink more (Put some music on while I pour)

The neighbors might think (Baby, it’s bad out there)
Say, what’s in this drink (No cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)

I oughtta say no, no, no sir (You mind if I move in closer)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (And what’s the sense in hurting my pride)
I really can’t stay (Oh baby, don’t hold out)

I simply must go (It’s cold outside)
The answer is no (Baby, it’s cold outside)

My sister will be suspicious (Your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (I ain’t worried about you brother)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (That ol’ biddy, she ain’t gonna bother me)
Well maybe just a cigarette more (You don’t need no cigarette, it’s smokin’ plenty up in here)

I’ve got to get home (Baby, you’ll freeze out there)
Say, lend me a comb (It’s up to your knees out there)
You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
Oh, but don’t you see (How can you do this thing to me)

Happy holidays!

For those who are snowed in and want some feminist entertainment...

Cover by Me! Original by Nellie McKay: "Mother of Pearl"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WTF Naomi Wolf?

Ridiculous. Feminism 101: Yes means Yes. No means No. Silence means No. Yes while incapacitated means No. I get that this whole Assange thing is mostly political, and that Sweden doesn't generally do well in supporting survivors, but COME ON!

"She never said no..." Does that mean she wasn't violated?

Bi-Racial College Students "Gaming" the system?

A recent article at The Chronicle of Higher Education about how bi-racial, of black and white ancestry, students "game" the application system by only identifying as black when applying to scholarships, jobs, schools order to benefit from affirmative action.

The content of the article wasn't nearly as offensive or assuming as the title is , but nevertheless it raises a few interesting questions. the "one-drop" rule is referenced quite frequently in terms of whether or not students who don't have "two black parents" deserve affirmative action. Really? Last time I checked, collegiate affirmative action was meant to increase both socio-economic and ethnic diversity, not just "black people." And someone who is multi-ethnic, I do not experience this world as someone that is white. I am still very much a person of color, and the "one-drop rule" as it pertains to my daily interactions is still very much alive.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Racial Segregation: Brought to you by the New York Times

The New York Times recently released an amazing map that uses US Census data to depict ethnic breakdowns across the country. It's rather neat...and totally disturbing to find out just how segregated a lot of places still are. Check out this screen shot of NYC:

I wonder what this map would have looked like before Giuliani? All I can think about when I see this map is his campaign, what many still call a successful campaign, to clean up New York. People tell me that the Times Square area used to be a cheap place to live. Have you been there lately? Gentrification at it's finest. Does clean up=get more white people to move here? This map can mostly be explained with housing costs, but I wonder how much of the map is plain old comfortability. I also wonder how the quality of K-12 education differs as the colors of the dots change?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We're Nowhere Near Finished Fighting

Don't Ask Don't Tell is as good as repealed (once Obama signs it!) and the ban on LGB people openly serving in the military is over... yet I can't bring myself to feel to happy about this.

What does it say about our country when we are more comfortable giving people the right to kill others than we are with giving them the right to marry the person they love?

What does it say about our country when the same people who are now protected from losing their job in the military, can still be fired from a civilian job in many states just for being who they are?

What does it say about our country when the same people who are not free to defend our country, are not being defended from bulling in schools?

What does it say about our country when those same people who we've just granted the right to fight and die in our military, could be shipped off to countries where queer people are executed just for being who they are? What does it say that the UN doesn't seem to care about these killings? (Warning - this link contains an image depicting two Iranian teenagers moments before being hanged for suspicions that they were gay.)

Because they don't, at least not anymore... sexual orientation used to be considered a protected class under a resolution that affirms UN's duty to protect the right to life of all people, putting emphasis on investigating killings based on discriminatory grounds. Not anymore though, because just last month the West African nation of Benin proposed an amendment that would strike sexual minorities from this resolution, and the amendment passed with 79 votes (70 against, 17 abstentions, and 26 absent).

None of this sends a good message about America, or the rest of the world... I can tell you that much. In fact, most of this just makes me want to throw up or cry on a night that most of my friends are celebrating. The demise of Don't Ask Don't Tell was an amazing step, don't get me wrong, but the fact that this step is what came first breaks my heart just a little bit. Let's prove that America values love and life more than we value death by fighting even harder for equal marriage

Not to mention, in another blow to Social Justice... The DREAM Act, which was passed by the House last week, came up five votes short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation in the Senate today. The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the US as children, so long as they attend college or serve in the military for at least two years. This act would have provided hope to so many people though a path to citizenship, and a legitimate shot at the "American dream" but the Senate decided today that the dreams of these children, apparently, don't deserve to be realized.

What kills me is that just after reading about the DREAM Act, I happened to spot a clip from this interview with John Boehner, on a rerun of the Soup of all places. During this interview he tears up while trying to explain why he can't go to schools anymore. In his own words...
Boehner: I was talking, trying to talk about the fact that I've been chasing the American Dream my whole career. There's some things that are very difficult to talk about. Family. Kids. I can't go to a school anymore. I used to go to a lot of schools. And you see all these little kids running around. Can't talk about it.

Stahl: Why?

Boehner: Making sure that these kids have a shot at the American Dream, like I did. It's important.

[You can watch this in the video here, skip to about 5:40 for this specific part.]

As you would expect, given this heartfelt performance, Bohner voted Nay on the DREAM Act. This all meshes together perfectly because clearly, only perfect little American-born children deserve this dream... wait, what? Seriously, how is it possible for some people to be so oblivious to their own hypocrisy? How can a man who is moved to tears by the thought of children being denied their shot at the "American Dream" not care at all about the children whose dreams he crushed with this vote? This man is going to be our Majority Leader in January. He is going to be representing our country in a MAJOR capacity and yet, he can't even stay true to his own "passionate" beliefs... how can we let assholes (there, I said it) like this speak for us?

I for one, refuse to let this go on.

So let's celebrate the death of Don't Ask Don't Tell, but let's keep this victory firmly in perspective. Let's remember the many deaths that come out of our military and the continuation of these wars. Lets remember the many people who die daily in a different kind of war, the wars that are fought on our streets, in our homes, in our schools, in our offices; wars for survival, for acceptance, for hope. Lets stop the killing and the dying by pushing ourselves and those those around us to continue fighting, tooth and nail, for love, respect, and opportunity for all people because this one little step is honestly not good enough at all.

Thor Halvorssen

Thor Halvorssen

Posted: November 23, 2010 05:16 PM

NEW YORK, NY -- Last week, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted on a special resolution addressing extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions. The resolution affirms the duties of member countries to protect the right to life of all people with a special emphasis on a call to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. The resolution highlights particular groups historically subject to executions including street children, human rights defenders, members of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority communities, and, for the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation as a basis on which some individuals are targeted for death.

Execution of Gays in Iran These two teenagers, suspected of being gay, were executed in Iran in 2005.
The tiny West African nation of Benin (on behalf of the UN's African Group) proposed an amendment to strike sexual minorities from the resolution. The amendment was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.

Queer Victories: "Normal" is a weapon of mass destruction

As I'm sure you know, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal was voted through the Senate, and is currently on its way to the President's desk. My facebook and twitter live feeds are full of victory cheers, but I have to be honest when I say that I'm a little torn.

The two most salient issues I've seen get a lot of attention in terms of queer politics are DADT and equal marriage. The loudest/most televised voices in this disjointed movement are fighting for my community to join the military and have institutionally recognized marriage. And a lot of those marginalized queer folks, myself included at one point or another, have come to believe that this is our movement should be fighting for. Since when was it a good thing to go to war? And maybe my opinion isn't a popular one, but I could really care less about the word "marriage" or all the oppressive history that comes with it. Make marriage what it should be, a secular contract between consenting adults that share a household and deserve the same economic and social benefits as everyone else.

Notice I didn't say two adults, or people in some type of romantic relationship. If multiple people want to enter a consented polyamorous relationship, who are we to put a value judgement on that? Who are we to say that two sisters living together who never got married, or perhaps are widowed, should have to pay more taxes because they aren't technically a joint household? I get that to a lot of people, the word "marriage" is a comforting and familiar concept that if granted, would help us feel "normal." FUCK NORMAL! Who gets to define what normal is? I love being queer, and I'm not nor do I want to be just like everyone else. If anything, we should be helping other folks realize that there are many choices in this world, and that they don't have to follow all the scripts out there if they don't want to. Queer used to be RADICAL, and in many spaces it still is. But these spaces aren't the ones that have media darlings. We have become too reliant on politicians to make a change. The shit that really matters can only be changed if EVERYONE feels the responsibility to do so.

What do I really care about in terms of queer issues: bullying, international death penalties, the hundreds of trans people that are murdered yearly, HIV/AIDS research medication & support, access to decent healthcare, the estimation that 40% of homeless youth are queer identified, sexual liberation, visibility, education, affordable housing, support services, the right to equal employment without discrimination, sexual violence in prisons, prison abolition, police brutality, racism, access, gentrification, suicide, drug addiction, & being treated like a person in my day-to-day interactions. Where is the bill for that?

If we keep spending all of our time trying to be what society tells us is "normal," we'll completely miss out at being ourselves.

But maybe it's just me...What do you care about?


Minus the really shitty/ableist title of this clip from The Daily Show, the content is RIGHT ON:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lame-as-F@#k Congress
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Post Racial? Yeah Right!

Closer to the 2008 election, when you typed "Michelle Obama" into Google image search this was the first image to pop up:

The original picture caused a huge controversy, and was eventually removed by the blogger. All had hoped that this image would fade away, and although it's no longer the first result, all Google users have to do is scroll down a bit to find this incredibly offensive mash-up of a monkey and our country's First Lady. And honestly, I don't think this image should be removed entirely. People need to see what kind of hatred and bigotries are still very much alive out there. I honestly wish racist, sexist, heterosexist, abelist, classist, etc... people out there were %100 open about their true beliefs and behaviors. That way we can stop pretending racism is over just because the United States elected a person of color as president.

There's also now a Barack Obama version floating around as well:

Things that make you say..."wtf?"

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Pop/Rock Princess is Back...

...making a splash with another feminist hit.

I don't know about the rest of you out there in the blogosphere but I've had my eye on P!nk and her music for quite some time now. I'll admit, though, that while I had listened to her music with a sort of blind faith for years, it was her song and music video combination "Stupid Girls" in 2006 that really put her on the radar for me.

And now, nearly half a decade later, she's at it again, taking a stand beside the little guys (and girls) in favor  all around equality. If you haven't already seen her latest and greatest take a look:

Now I mean, come on, how can you not love her? Or at least commend her for getting out there and making people listen. In three and a half minutes alone, the woman speaks out for body image, gay marriage, diversity and multi-culturalism, animal liberation, just being different, and makes several other points as well.

It almost makes you want to question: Is there a limit to how many causes an individual can take on and support as their own? What about me? P!nk shows us that empathy is limitless (and for this she is more than just your average feminist!).

When I had first seen this video, I must say, that it took a little while for me to fully process all the images, all the causes and what they meant to me as a whole. Some images made me instantaneously smile:

while others had initially shocked me:

(It was only later, after a little internet surfing, that I had come to understand that the statement being made above was meant to go along with the arguments of the Animal Liberation Front, who fight against what is known as "speciesism" and that P!nk herself is very much an animal rights activist.)

In response to her song P!nk had stated that she had long wanted to write something for the underdogs. And as I watched the video a few times more, I figured, what's a better way to do just that than by bringing together all groups that have experienced marginalization to explore their beauty (and also cry out against their mistreatment)? I approve.

And as far as the shock factor in her videos goes, I say, why not? Some times it takes the extraordinary to grab the people's attention.

What about you people? What do you think about P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" video? Has your attention been grabbed? Any favorite parts? Anything that caught you by surprise?
Comment and share in the conversation!

(**Disclaimer: screenshots are from the actual video and do not belong to me.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Well, you've already met Ashley...

...but that's only because she blogged before she actually sent in her bio!

Hello Viewers, My name is Ashley Cummings and I am a Program Coordinator at the Women’s Center. I have a strong passion for justice and I do not take ignorance or injustice lightly…. I love social justice, activism, feminism, and public uproars of the social issues in the world. I am identified by society as a multicultural female of African and Italian descent but I classify myself as a colorful human being, a QUEER, feminist and beautiful creation. I am the first college student in my family and plan not to be the last. I major in Law& Society and minor in Psychology, with goals pursuing me as a social issues activist as well a Legal/Forensic Investigator. I am a proud sister of the almighty alpha chapter of BETA KAPPA SIGMA, Black and Latina Sorority, INC., and a member of many clubs on campus.

I believe in diversity and unity, being bound by one common goal and that is freedom. I dream of a world where everyone is accepted no matter what creed, color, or race, sexuality, preference, or identity. Standing together different in our own way but alike in our goals. We are all a collection of different layers and we wear them all everyday, we are common but yet so different. The world must open their eyes to so many aspects of life they could learn about from those of us classifies as “different”, we would do so much more if we let each other have a voice. I am thrilled to express myself in blog and hope to see people not who agree with me but take away a different way of thinking because of me.

“Men hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is Race?

As someone is racially ambiguous I always like to challenge peoples' notions of "race." I'm not talking about ethnicity, I'm talking about "race."

See if you can figure out how the following people would be racially classified?

Did you get them all right? What indicators did you use to group people? Was this harder than you expected?

What is race? "Race" is a socially constructed visual classification system that is loaded with prejudice and assumptions. Whenever someone says to me "What are you? Like your race?" I usually make them guess. My answer to this questions is always "brown" because that's all that the color of my skin, a.k.a. "race," will tell you. It won't tell you what countries my family originates from, the food I eat, the language I speak, my religion, my holidays, my intelligence, my hobbies, or my ability. No classification can tell you these things. Of course I realize that folks will always lose this game because no one would ever call me brown, but it's still a fun game to play.

This is not to say that racism is not real. Racism is VERY real. But we have to realize that by continuing to categorize people based on "race" is racist in and of itself. Something to keep in mind!

Click here to challenge yourself to learn more about race!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"My Liberation as a Man Is Tied to Your Liberation as a Woman"

"My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman"--Tony Porter, co-founder of 'A Call to Men'

'A Call to Men' is an organization dedicated to ending violence against women. A main goal of the organization is to shift social norms about manhood. It's a pretty straightforward group, and according to their organization here are 10 things men can do to change our sexist and all-too often violent society:

1. Acknowledge and understand how male dominance
and aspects of unhealthy manhood are at the foundation of
domestic and sexual violence.

2. Examine and challenge our individual beliefs and
the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.

3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by
getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to
prevent domestic and sexual violence.

4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we
choose not to speak out against domestic and sexual violence,
we are supporting it.

5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young
men about our responsibility in preventing domestic and sexual

6."Break out of the man box"- Challenge traditional
images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand in
domestic and sexual violence prevention.

7. Accept and own our responsibility that domestic
and sexual violence will not end until men become part of the
solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a
cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence and
discrimination against women and girls.

8. Stop supporting the notion that domestic and
sexual violence is due to mental illness, lack of anger
management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… Domestic
and sexual violence is rooted in male dominance and the
socialization of men.

9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and
effective ways to educate and raise awareness about domestic
and sexual violence prevention.

10. Create responsible and accountable men's
initiatives in your community to support domestic and sexual
violence prevention.

I like 4 and 7.

Human Trafficking: Held as SLAVES, Now are FREE!!!

They arrived in the United States from Ghana, West Africa; young girls held against their will and forced to work for hours on end. But this time, it didn't happen hundreds of years ago, as told by CNN. These young girls were brought here by promises of better life and education. The girls' families sent them to the United States after being assured constantly of it. But once they arrived, they were forced to work in hair braiding shops across the Newark area -- just a short drive from New York City, right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

They were slaves and captured by an evil heartless family thrilled by the extra cash. The girls described their life as meaningless, supervised, and horrible. Their living environments were horrible. Nicole and Zena were two of the twenty women who were captured. As said by Nicole, “I always have to behave, behave, behave, behave. No freedom at all.” They had never spoken publicly before the incident and now that they could they had something powerful to say. “It was horrible," said Zena Amevor, who was 15 when she was brought over from Togo. "Sometimes there was not enough food for us to eat. ... It was like a prison. I was just stuck there. ... It was horrible."

They were victims of human trafficking and walked the streets everyday and no one would have known. They had the chance everyday to run away and make themselves free, but who would they run to. When they were younger they knew no one and spoke to no one, how would they have escaped? They were on their feet all day, sometimes for more than 12 hours, weaving intricate and elaborate hair braids, seven days a week. At times, they were forced to braid the hair of American teenagers no older than they were; girls who were free and had no idea the people braiding their hair were slaves.

How would they have known? What would you have done? Would you have seen it as human trafficking? Scenarios like these go on everyday and people ignore them because it is the norm. Now will you be watching, will you think twice about funny situations? Then again would you really ever know? These are the questions we must ask ourselves. Slavery is a serious issue, Trafficking is modern day slavery. End the Misery, Stop Human Trafficking. Put the RIGHT back into Rights for these people dealing with this reoccurring nightmare.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Post-Racial? Yeah Right!

So I'm starting a new weekly installment to this blog called "Post-Racial? Yeah Right!" that will feature little reminders of all the blatantly racist shit that still goes on today.

So it takes a lot to shock me, but this did the trick:

Mark Eliseuson from Idaho thought this was the best way to bring in the holidays. For more information about the KKK snowman, check out the whole story here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's About People, Not Breasts

It’s hard to criticize people when you know that they are working hard to fight for a very worthy cause. It’s hard but sometimes I feel like it has to be done. Take, for instance, the recent rash of campaigns meant to raise awareness and money for breast cancer by playing off of American society’s obsession with breasts.

I heart boobies bracelets. Save the ta-tas bumper stickers. Save second base shirts. Cryptic facebook messages listing bra colors, or explaining where we like to put our purses in a way that sounds sexual to the uninitiated…. I feel like everywhere I turn these days there is a new sexier campaign to raise awareness and/or money for breast cancer research. A lot is lost in this, however…

I wonder how breast cancer survivors who’s breasts are forever changed, or even removed, feel about seeing pornified boobs when they attempt to support a cause that has affected them so personally. I wonder how these women feel about saving second base… I wonder how we can condone a cancer awareness campaign that makes survivors and those still fighting the disease feel badly about their bodies.

I wonder how many men don’t realize that they, too, are at risk for breast cancer because all of the awareness campaigns they see focus on women’s breasts.

I wonder how many people don’t grasp the full impact of breast cancer and what it does because their focus is drawn to a disembodied pair of boobs or a sexual act, rather than to the living, breathing people who these breasts, and this cancer, are attached to. The people who have to struggle through harsh treatments, whose lives are disrupted and bodies are changed.

I wonder how many companies are freely polluting our environment and the products that they produce with cancer-causing chemicals… and then turning around, painting some of those products pink, and giving some of the profits to breast cancer research. [This is called pink-washing and it is a very real, very scary, thing.]

I wonder how many loved ones of those who have died because of this cancer feel hurt every time they see a campaign that focuses on saving the boobies rather than saving the moments, the memories, the people who we love so much. I wonder what matters more to them: second base, or just one more day with someone they lost.

I don’t have any solid numbers, but I know I am not the only one who feels uncomfortable as a result of these campaigns. Take these comments on a Jezebel article about a campaign of this nature as proof…

“It's been two months since I've had a partial mastectomy on my right breast. Took me awhile but man, I feel like I still have a nice rack, even though they are trying to kill me. As someone with breast cancer, I absolutely hate these campaigns. Hate hate hate. I want to kill all these campaigns with fire. As everyone down thread have already eloquently said, breast cancer takes lives and destroys bodies... it doesn't kill boobs.

“Whenever you're tempted to join in or proprogate campaigns like telling the world about your bra color or saving second base or whatever cutesy way of drawing attention to breasts, please remember that you are essentially cutting out breast cancer survivors who have had lumpectomies/mastectomies/biopsies and live with emotional and physical scars out of the discussion of their own disease. You are turning their campaign into a "Don't let boobs become like _that_ woman over there." When cancer becomes a haha *nudge* *wink* joke you're doing it wrong.

It’s not about saving the ta-tas… it’s about saving the women and men who fight with these horrible diseases every day, and I think it’s wise that we remember that.

With that said, there are some awesome campaigns that get it right… like the Birthdays campaign from the American Cancer Society that focuses on the memories and cherished moments that will be saved by fighting cancer. One breast cancer-centered campaign that I really like was actually posted on the Women's Center blog by Michelle a few weeks ago.

This campaign, created by the The Breast Cancer Fund in the United States, was rejected by advertising spaces like Viacom "over fears that its depiction of mastectomy scars would prove to be too shocking to the public." It's incredibly disheartening that our culture seems to see disembodied breasts and sexual innuendos as a more effective and appropriate awareness-raising tool that actual depictions of the effects that this disease can have. As long as these campaigns are favored over real depictions that can make a difference then, as far as I am concerned, we are marginalizing cancer survivors and doing much more harm to the cause than good.