Category Archives: free thought

2018 Feminism: Understanding Intergenerational Patriarchy

Disclaimer: This article refers to women in the western sense. The arguments presented do not refer to the millions of women living in greater patriarchal and underdeveloped societies.

2017 marked the year that the US began acknowledging intergenerational patriarchy on a mass scale.  The #MeToo movement and public exposure of Hollywood sexual perpetrators empowered millions of women to speak out about their own abuse, which is a huge deal. It’s not just meaningful on the personal plane (ie: the women who have been directly empowered), but is arguably more meaningful in the macro sense, or overall cultural shift, of women’s empowerment.  However, this mass empowerment is not without criticism or confusion in how to interpret it’s meaning: 2017 seemed to have left a lot of questions unanswered about what it means to be a woman in 2018.

               And it is a confusing time to be a woman. We have more freedoms than ever and I believe that the pace is only accelerating towards a more egalitarian society. It’s really exciting and is the best time in history to be a woman. However, these new liberations and cultural acknowledgements of the female experience has also lead us into uncharted territories. Again: What exactly does it mean to be a woman in 2018? What is on the other side of these liberations? What comes after #MeToo?

It’s the cultural experiences, such as the #MeToo movement, that help push our society towards the egalitarian sweet spot. You know, I think a lot of people probably believe that women have total equality in the US, however I have to argue that we’re not there yet, and we won’t be arriving for probably a few decades. Intergenerational patriarchy is still in our bloodline.

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very scientific infographic i made.

The US has always been a patriarchal society, and if we look back in time, we don’t have to go far to see areas where we have only just experienced liberation. Guys, we haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet (the 19th Amendment was added to the constitution in 1919). And even though the cultural events which moves us further away from the patriarchy should be celebrated, there is still quite a bit of sexist gunk planted in our psyche from past generations.

If we think about society as made up of symbiotic systems, we can examine how patriarchy has been passed down through generations. For example, let’s use the Hollywood sexual predator exposures to help us better understand intergenerational patriarchy. The inception of the cinema happened around the turn of the 20th century (Think about this: Motion pictures are older than women’s right to vote). When the first motion picture was being screened in theaters, US culture and society were totally patriarchal, and thinkers who deviated from this were considered morally inept. We’re talking women couldn’t leave their homes without a chaperone type patriarchy. So, actresses were in a position where they had to submit to the male authority in order to be granted roles. I believe the greater the inequality in the relationship, the greater the chance and degree of exploitation. It became the ingroup (Hollywood) cultural norm for females to submit to sexual advances in order to keep and increase their status in the group. Intergenerational patriarchy are the remnants of sexist practices and sexist ways of thinking continuing today. It has taken over 100 years for our society to begin exposing these practices in the mainstream. That is also a big deal.

The Hollywood system is a closed system, outsiders are not allowed access. Therefore, these types of sexual abuses are more easily accepted. It is the same thing as religious groups hiding their abusive practices. Since Hollywood started during a period of overwhelming and almost complete patriarchy, it is going to take more time for these unwritten rules to be rewritten. An argument I heard from a lot of older people about women coming forward was, “Why did they wait so long? Why does it matter now?”. The answer is simple: time.  It’s only through time that women felt safe enough to call out these accepted practices.  It’s only through time that women in this closed system can expose the patriarchy that has ruled the system. It’s only through time that a closed system (Hollywood) can evolve in the same direction of the greater society (US/Western society).

There needs to be a safe societal environment for women to speak up against what has been accepted in the past. The good news is that the shift has begun, and we are getting closer and closer towards the societal egalitarian sweet spot. This acceleration will only continue if we support each other to question and expose abuses in closed systems. If we continue to blindly take what has been given to us, the intergenerational patriarchy, then we are at danger of slowing down the shift (and in a dystopian Atwood mindset- the potential to go backwards). It is my belief that we have an obligation as 4th wave feminists to support and empower each other so that we will be passing down intergenerational equality, not patriarchy, to the future.

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A Quick Explanation of Brazile’s DNC Bombshell and it’s Apathetic Implications for the Future of Truth

Last week, Bernie supporters, DemExiters, and the remaining disillusioned Dems have had our beliefs proven by Donna Brazile’s recent book that finally reveals that the DNC rigged the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Most of my compatriots who fall into the aforementioned categories have known that the DNC was not on our side since 2015, so Brazile’s claims aren’t necessarily news to us. However, it is a bit satisfying that our truth has been recognized as such, and that we aren’t the un-American, conspiracy theorists, election-sabotagers that the Democratic Party has made us out to be. I personally have not rejoiced over Brazile’s admittance, although I am grateful for it, because I think the Democratic PR Machine is working right now to dissolve this mess and replace it with their rallying cry of “We did nothing wrong!”. This post is to hopefully help people understand what happened, so that the truth is a bit harder to sweep under the rug.

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Key Players

Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC): 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary loser to Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate loser to Republican challenger, Donald Trump. Since her loss, she has been spending her time promoting her book, “What Happened”, which details the 16 reasons why she lost the election (none of the reasons have to do with her or her campaign, fyi).

Democratic National Committee (DNC): is the organization  that runs the Democrat Party. They help figure out who to run, craft the party’s platform, and create campaigns to get Democrats to win unilaterally across local, state, and national races. It’s main purpose is to raise money and then use this to best strategize ways to get their candidates to win. When people want to donate money to the Democratic party, the DNC is the beneficiary.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DWS): She was one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides for her 2008 campaign. She became the chair of the DNC in 2011, where she took Tim Kane’s position, who would later be HRC’s 2016 running mate. She resigned from the DNC in 2016 after emails were published that showed her preference towards HRC during the campaign, among other allegations. She was a close friend to HRC, and didn’t resign herself from the DNC during HRC’s 2016 run, which is pretty unethical considering the chair is supposed to be unbiased. I mean, how can you be unbiased when one of your BFFs, and someone who would give you a top job in her administration, is running for president? For further reading, see this post from 2015 where I was first critical about DWS’ bias for HRC and the lack of Primary Democratic Debates between HRC and Sanders.

Donna Brazile: Took over as interim chair of the DNC in 2016, when DWS resigned, until Feb 2017 when Tom Perez was voted in as chair. Her book, “Hacks“, which this article is based on, comes out November 7th.

Hillary for America (HFA): Hillary Clinton’s official presidential organized campaign.  Under FEC rules, the maximum individual contribution allowed to any candidate is $2,700.

Hillary Victory Fund (HVF): Hillary’s Super PAC- if an individual exhausted the maximum contribution to HFA, they could give an additional $353,400 to this PAC in support of HRC.  In 2016 they raised $529,943,912.

Brazile’s book talks about a conversation she had with Gary Gensler, Hillary’s Chief Financial Officer, when she took over the DNC in the summer of 2016.  He explained to her that in 2015, the DNC, under DWS’s rule, contracted an agreement known as “The Joint Fundraising Agreement between the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America”. Apparently, the DNC was in debt in 2015 due to Obama’s campaign, and DWS was a shitty fundraiser and manager.  Under this agreement, HRC would pay off the DNC’s 2 million dollar debt (which is kind of measly, right?) in exchange for having control over the Democratic Party’s finances, strategy, and all of the money raised. Anything that happened within the DNC and the decisions about everything from operations to messaging of the Democratic Party had to go through Hillary. HRC had control of the entire party, ultimately halting any potential support from the party to go towards Sanders. Brazile writes, “The campaign had the DNC on life support, allocating money each month to meet its basic expenses, while using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse”. 

Brazlie’s book is the proof that all of us who dared to question HRC and the DNC had waited for: that Bernie Sanders’s chance at winning the 2016 primary was doomed from the start due to the pro-HRC biased messaging and spending disseminated throughout the US by the Democratic Machine (DNC), which had HRC at the helm. The question is, now that our beliefs have been confirmed, will anyone who refused to believe that HRC or the party did anything wrong acknowledge and accept this new reality? Sadly, I have my doubts. I believe that the DNC and HRC manipulated messaging and took advantage of creating and promoting identity politics which lead to the formation of the current militant group of anti-Trumpers/HRC lovers, who shun and shame any thought that is outside of the Democratic box. The HRC “Feminist” Facebook Moms, who identify and exploit the message that they were wronged due to no fault of their own, most likely aren’t willing to open their ears to Brazile’s truth, let alone accept it. And that’s the problem. Even though the truth is out there, even though it’s been clear that the deck was stacked since 2015, too many people aren’t willing to accept that their golden calf was actually a serpent  who cares nothing of truth, virtue, dignity, fairness, or the democratic process from inception.

Again, I sadly don’t expect much to happen from this news. I hope it helps persuade people to question the Almighty Democratic Doctrine, but my faith in this is pretty low. I guess all we can do is continue to strive for truth and hope others eventually recognize that the truth is more important than being right.

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I used Brazile’s book excerpt and the actual Joint-Fundraising Agreement as the main sources for this article.

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#METOO and Challenging the Patriarchy

I recently broke my number one rule about social media usage: don’t engage with people who aren’t willing to hear a different point of view. I took this stance about a year and a half ago and it’s been pretty beneficial to my mental health. I often see things posted on social media that irk me because I believe them not to be true, but I need to step back and recognize that the poster believes what they posted and that’s okay. Unless someone is soliciting feedback, I won’t engage, so most the time I brush off stupid facebook posts as just that- stupid. Now listen, I love talking about things I’m passionate about, and a large part of my interests are all things intersectional-feminism. I love engaging in real discussion IRL (this is one of the reasons why I miss graduate school so much), or as a proxy I will respond to comments on my blog or to direct messages, but these occurrences are few and far between lately. My practice of not engaging with people on Facebook has strengthened my own beliefs and values because I take the time to learn as much as I can about an issue so that I can write a cohesive and well thought-out blog post. Another one of my digital media rules is to write my blog with the only expectation being that it is self-serving to me. If other people read it, that’s way super cool, but the point of my blog is for my own catharsis, a placeholder for the discussions I often don’t get to have face to face.

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What a gross fat f*ck

So lately, all this stuff about Harvey Weinstein and the the #metoo campaign has got me a little bit optimistic because I think this is perfect timing to push for real pro-feminist measures, like Affirmative Consent. I know some people (mostly men from my observations) found all the #metoo posts surprising, but I think most women were pretty chill about it, since sexual harassment is part of the woman experience. I think the #metoo campaign has been pretty successful in getting the conversation really rolling, and opening up a lot of people’s eyes to the enormity that is sexual harassment and misogyny behavior.

This brings me to the stupid Facebook comment-discussion I had. Basically, the person was saying that if the victims of Weinstein knew about his predatory behavior than why did they choose to go to his hotel rooms? I tried to explain my understanding of what this might feel like, based on my own worldview and experiences as a woman. I tried explaining to this person that there still continues to exist a hierarchy in male/female relationships, not in all arenas, thank God, but in many areas and aspects of life. It’s sad and antiquated, but unfortunately they exist. I tried explaining how I could imagine that this power relationship probably continues to exist in Hollywood culture (just as these abuses are able to exist in any closed system that is self-serving), as it’s been passed down from generations before. Women still do not have equal power in a lot of institutions and systems, and Hollywood seems to be one..Weinstein’s behavior was normalized by never being questioned, and therefore it was validated and allowed to continue. Weinstein’s victims probably experienced cognitive dissonance when they were walking to the hotel room, but they were in the weaker position in this power imbalance where saying no had worse consequence than being coerced into sex.

I related this to my own experiences of dealing with this imbalance in male-female relationships. When I was 19, I worked full time in the service industry where the assistant manager was a creep. This assistant manager used to make offhand comments and would buy our uniform blouses a size too small. I would be as cold-shouldered as possible towards this man, but I watched many other female co-workers put up with him constantly making innuendos, hitting on them, commenting on their bodies, etc. I couldn’t stand up to him, because I needed my job, and I was in a work-culture where this behavior was tolerated. He made my schedule and I worked basically the same hours as he did, so had I tried to stand up, I knew there would probably be retaliation. I knew that it was wrong that I had to put up with this behavior, but I also knew that it was normalized and if I wanted to keep my job or at least keep my job as stress free as possible, then it would be best that I keep my mouth shut. Happy ending: he was eventually fired for other reasons. But here’s a takeaway: I didn’t even really realize that this was that big of a deal. Because it was totally normal and I had experienced instances like this before in my short life then, and I have continued to experience power inequalities over the next decade.

The person I had the facebook disagreement seemed to be most offended when I insinuated that he was victim blaming. He said that we don’t leave our cars unlocked in shady neighborhoods and then expect people to be shocked or feel bad for us when our car is stolen, and therefore we shouldn’t be shocked or feel bad for the women who went willingly to Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room since they knew his reputation. I explained to this person that I could understand his frustration about this seemingly double standard of accountability. Then I let my emotions get the best of me, and told him that I could understand how it’s hard to not blame the victim in these situations. I knew that this would stir the pot, but I felt it necessary to call out what his argument deduced to. The is a difference in these two examples based on their context- one exists without a power dynamic, one exists within a power dynamic. The problem isn’t Weinstein in this case, it is the SYSTEM that supports and normalizes this behavior which is the larger, overarching perpetrator. Patriarchy is the real problem, and even though these women knew about Weinstein’s reputation, they were still in a system that enabled such coercion.

See, this is the intersection that I care about in this whole thing. It’s not the sensationalism that there are so many abuses in Hollywood against those in lowered powered positions, which is horrific in itself, it’s the fact that we live in a Patriarchal society where such abuses of power can take place. Calling out abusers can be extremely empowering for victims, which is why I think the #metoo campaign has been so successful. Sadly though, acknowledging that sexual abuse is rampant will not change its pervasiveness if we continue to live passively in this system that supports inherited power relations between genders.

Our entire world history is a patriarchal one, and we’ve only just began to shift the locus of control on the continuum of power towards a more balanced society. Women haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet. Too often I observe areas where we are stuck in ingrained ways of thinking, and the solution is to reexamine these beliefs! Moving from a Patriarchal society to a more inclusive and intersectionally just one is going to take work, and it is going to take the type of momentum that the #metoo campaign had 100 times over. We have to reexamine how our society understands our own values, and then change our beliefs and behaviors based on these principles. And guys, we can do it. If we can all begin to envision a world where gender hierarchy doesn’t exist, then we can have a world where gender hierarchy doesn’t exist.

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Being Afraid of The Police as a Law-Abiding White Woman

I’m afraid of the police. No lie: I’ve been afraid of the police for the past 10+ years due to witnessing police brutality and abuse of power. Over the past few years I have worked on this, but there is still an unconscious response of anxiety when I happen to be in a convenient store and a police officer walks in, or when I’m driving down the road and a cop car pulls in behind me, or when I witness a cop pulling over someone else, or when I have to talk to the police for any reason.

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How is this not frightening to see coming down your street?

This shouldn’t be the case, and certainly one would think that a young white woman wouldn’t have a fear of police… but I do. And the more and more the police forces become militarized, the more and more I worry about abuses of power. My town recently had a “Police Appreciation Parade” and my house sits on the parade route (legit, my town has like 20 parades a year, and they are all in front of my house. I never thought I would hate parades until I moved here). So, the police force in my town has a lot of money that is partially funded by a huge, stinky landfill that you can smell from my back yard (and I’m about 4 miles from it). So the police have a lot of toys. The parade scared the crap out of me. Police vehicle after police vehicle set off all of their freaking ridiculously loud sirens, with officers armed in heavy duty SWAT team armor and heavy duty, scarily huge guns (I’m sorry I don’t know anything about guns. These looked like big machine weapon guns). The alarms were so ridiculously loud, and really scared me, and my poor dog. They weren’t just the regular police siren, but were the alarms that were the high pitch beep and the one that says “This is not a test” and stuff like “Stay in your houses, we are on lockdown”. All I could think about was how re-traumatizing this probably was for veterans and people who have been in warzones. The end of the parade had camouflaged humvees and other war vehicles. The only thing that makes living on a parade route tolerable is the candy thrown to those watching the parade. Needless to say, there was no candy being thrown for “Police Appreciation Day”.

Now listen. I realize that most police officers are good people, people who want to legitimately make the world a better place, and for these people, I can’t express my gratitude. I cannot imagine what it is like going into a job knowing that you could encounter dangerous situations, that maybe this is the day you don’t come home. I also can’t imagine the stress police officers are going through, knowing that now people are watching their every move and the blanket of criticism that has been laid on the police force since Ferguson (well, I mean, really since reconstruction, but Ferguson seems to be the easier chapter to look at for millennials to understand the effects of authoritarian policing and stigmatized racism).

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True Dat

How I’ve dealt with my anxiety of police officers is consciously working on turning this fear into love. When cops pass me multiple times while walking my dog, I wave. I say hello when they’re drinking their coffee in the corner store. And I have a friend who is a police officer, and this helps me personalize police officers and reconfirm my belief that there are many good, hardworking police officers who just want to make the world a better place and improve their community. It’s unfortunate when one bad banana spoils the public opinion of the rest of the bunch, however, I can talk from experience, that after seeing police brutality up close I gained a strong distrust for police. I think this is appropriate though. If the only interaction I have with police is negative, then of course my view of all police are going to be tainted. So when there are police departments that support a culture of racism and authoritarianism, of course people in those communities are going to have a hard time believing that the harmful police methods (ie: stop and frisk) will cease.

Just thought I’d keep it short and sweet. In conclusion: wear your seatbelt and download Waze while driving, and try to think of police officers as your equal, not someone who should be feared. Easier said than done.

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Healthcare is Confusing Part II: The Opioid Epidemic

I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania, an area that has been affected by drug addiction and rampant alcoholicism for as long as I can remember. I personally know more people who have died from drug overdoses than any other type of death. And almost all of these people were under the age of 35 when they died. I lost one of my best friends to a heroin overdose in 2008 when she was only 19 years old and a freshman at Penn State University. I lost a close family member to an overdose in 2011 who left four children and two grandchildren (along with many others who loved her creative and beautiful spark). My response to all of this is: Heroin (and prescription opioids) really suck.

There is no clear answer on what will end this “epidemic”. People are quick to make judgement on what should be done based on their personal worldview, which can be dangerous when forming any opinion. Recently, DAs have been charging people who have provided drugs that caused a person to overdose with homicide and manslaughter. I’ve been hearing the rallying cry crescendo over the past few months- “DEATH TO DRUG DEALERS!”.  In my opinion, although this may dissuade a few people to stop selling drugs, it isn’t the answer. And holding someone responsible (the person who sold the drugs) for the person who overdosed decision is an area that has the potential to create a dangerous precedent. We don’t hold gun owners responsible for people who kill themselves, right? We don’t jail Nabisco executives for those who died from diabetes or other sugar-causing illness, right? Now don’t get me twisted, I don’t think that we should be okay with people selling illegal drugs (or selling legal drugs illegally), but holding them responsible for this epidemic isn’t going to stop it, because it’s not looking at the real problem, the dangerousness of addiction, the availability of opioids, and both the lack of availability for drug and alcohol treatments and effective models to help people live sober lives after they’ve been addicted to drugs.

So what does the opioid epidemic actually look like? Someone only needs to visit the twin cities of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, to see an example of an area affected by addiction. People used to line up at a walk in Ready-Care clinic at 7am in downtown Scranton in order to be the first to get their script for Suboxone, a medicine akin to Methadone, which acts as the bridge between addiction (originally created for treating heroin addiction) and sobriety. The problem with Suboxone is that Suboxone has a high-risk potential for abuse, like all opioids. And, like all opioids in impoverished, rust belt cities, it is easy to get.

A few years ago, one of my friends was struggling with addiction to Suboxone and other opioids. Instead of the constant worry about getting in trouble for buying these drugs illegally, she wanted to get her own prescription for Suboxone. She also wanted to eventually get off of Suboxone, so having her own prescription would hopefully help her start the journey to living life without opioids. I ended up giving her a ride to a different walk-in clinic (about a mile from the one that people used to line up in front of), that appeared innocent and legitimate enough from the outside, but was actually just another pill-mill for those who wanted Suboxone. While in the waiting room, I spoke to a few other patients who were there for their “check up” with the doctor. I was told by one young man who was waiting for his routine check up to get his prescription filled, that all I needed to get a script of Suboxone for myself was to schedule an appointment (if I didn’t have insurance, that would be okay too, because the clinic had really good payment plans) and make sure I had some type of opioid/opiate in my system because they would give you a drug test. As long as your drug test came back showing that you had an opioid or opiate in your bloodstream to prove that you were addicted to an opioid/opiate, then they would start you on Suboxone. Easy as pie.

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Suboxone wrapper I found in my yard. It’s everywhere.

I was in shock. That’s all I needed to do? Just take a Vicodin or Percocet or whatever and bam!- I would have a script for a month for my own Suboxone. This really troubled me. My friend who I brought to the clinic was proof of how easy it was to get a script of Suboxone. That’s all she did- took a drug test that showed she had opioids/opiates in her system and she was all set. No more worrying about buying drugs illegally because now she could buy them legally. No type of psychotherapy or AA/NA attendance was required and her appointment with the doctor lasted less than 10 minutes. It was clear that this Ready-Care only cared about keeping their waiting room packed with drug seekers than actually trying to help these patients dying in addiction.

Now that was a few years ago, and I do know that the clinic where people used to wait in line outside was raided by the FBI and two doctors were charged with Medicaid fraud, conspiracy, theft by deception and insurance fraud for submitting false claims. They also directed unqualified people on their staff to write prescriptions for controlled substances. I guess this is  a start for holding prescribers accountable, but I’m not sure how much that will dissuade other doctors from over prescribing opioids and opiates. And as far as I know, the other clinic where I took my friend is still operating as a pill-mill.

The Center for Disease Control lists the number one group of people most at risk for heroin addiction are those already addicted to prescription pain relievers. We know that people who become addicted to their pain pills turn to heroin when they no longer can get their medication. To personalize this a little- think about all the people who used to wait outside the walk-in clinic I mentioned above that got raided. Once that raid happened, and those doctors were charged with fraud, the people who were dependent on getting their pain pills or Suboxone there had to find a new way to get their drugs- and when the medical institutions won’t provide them, there are drug dealers with heroin that will do the trick.

The Center for Disease Control lists the number one step for preventing heroin abuse by reducing prescription opioid abuse. The CDC calls on doctors to implement better prescription practices. Now this seems pretty logical, right? If doctors know how to better understand pain and treat pain in ways that don’t involve medication, or at least limited use of medicine, then of course the number of people abusing opioids and opiates will drop. However, I have observed that this is a real point of contention for doctors.

Back in May I held a panel discussion about opioid abuse in NEPA, with the focus on speaking about solutions. I had the Scranton Police Chief Graziano, Democratic State Senator for the 22nd District, Senator John Blake, and two direct practitioners who work with opioid and heroin abuse in our area- Doug Albertson and Ricardo Horn. The panel was very well attended, and I was so happy to get so many different people in a room together to talk about one of the biggest issues in Northeastern PA.  However, when the discussion started to move towards prescription practices, an attendee decided to take over the panel and made sure that those in attendance knew his opinion on the matter. He walked right up to the podium, took the microphone away from the professional moderator, and went on a rant for about 10 minutes. What he had to say really opened my eyes to the need for better prescription practices. He was a surgeon who works for a small hospital in rural Pennsylvania. His tirade included blaming the audience, and not physicians, for people abusing opioids (that didn’t go over too well- any “you people”, literal finger-pointed statements don’t tend to bring positive discourse). He went on and on about how doctors aren’t the problem, and that it’s the people who don’t throw out their unused medications who are the real contributors to the opioid epidemic. He went on to say that when patients want opioid prescriptions, he will give it to them, because he can’t risk having a patient fill out a patient satisfaction survey negatively. tBut again, he reiterated, that it wasn’t doctor’s faults for overprescribing pain meds.

I very rarely get mad. I’m a pretty calm person, and my anger has always manifested in sadness or self-destructive behaviors towards myself. But I can say truthfully that when that doctor took over my panel that I worked months on organizing, that I spent countless hours researching the epidemic in order to write the best discussion questions that I could, well, I was really mad. After his initial tirade, he continued to stand at the front of the room next to the panelists until I had to walk up and ask him to sit back down. After I calmed down a few days later, I was able to look back on the experience and saw how this doctor is a perfect example of what is wrong in our medical milieu when it comes to prescription practices. He refused to see himself, and fellow doctors, as adding to the problem in any aspect. He diligently defended himself, although there was no reason to do so- he was never under attack, in front of about 100 people. My theory now is that he needed to absolve himself by taking over my event. And I think this is where the real problem lies. No one likes to be wrong, especially when it comes to a serious issue like opioid addiction. No one wants to take any type of responsibility for being a potential factor that is adding to the problem. This doctor refused to see the part he and fellow doctors played in over-prescribing opioids, and that sucks. I really had to question the ethics of this doctor as well- he was more concerned with getting a positive patient satisfaction survey back than the safety of his patient.

The blame game doesn’t work. The doctor blamed everyone but himself for adding to the opioid epidemic, and I see a lot of doctors and physicians unwilling to look at how it might be beneficial if they changed their prescribing practices. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and that’s a scary fact when we’re talking about people’s lives. There is no easy answer to fixing the opioid crisis, however we must start to be honest about what works and what doesn’t work. This applies to all things healthcare (and I guess, all things in everything). We aren’t going to make any progress in reducing the amount of people addicted to opioids/heroin until we examine to why it’s so easy to get addicted in the first place.

Pill bottle

“You just got your wisdom tooth pulled? Here’s 45 vicodins, make sure you take them with food and fill out a positive patient survey, let me know if you need anymore!”

I think a good place to start to try and figure out how to combat the opioid crisis is what the  CDC recommends- looking at how we prescribe pain pills. One thing that I found very surprising and alarming is the minimal education students receive in med school about addiction. The Association for American Medical Colleges and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (the accrediting body for Med Schools) have no clear requirement of hours for studying addiction. This is also true for other health provider trainings and education. I recently spoke to a physician assistant student who is in her last year whether she had any training on addiction or working with people with addiction. She told me that she thinks there might have been one lecture on the subject, but she couldn’t remember it. This is a big freaking problem.

We need our doctors and medical providers to understand addiction on a micro level, on a direct-practice level. They need to treat addiction and be aware of the potential for addiction risk in their patients. Medical schools need to increase and mandate hours of learning focused on addiction in their curriculum. Although opioids are obviously a money maker for Big Pharma, my hope is that one day we can treat addiction and pain in a holistic approach. Studies on mindfulness have recently shown how practices like mindful breathing and meditation can be effective for treating pain and in helping guide people towards a life without pain meds and addiction. Teaching patients about the risks of the medicine the doctors are prescribing can also be helpful so patients know what they might be getting themselves into. I hold a hope that one day healthcare in all of its aspects will embrace a holistic approach and look at how integrating the mind, body, and soul into treating pain is more effective than writing scripts after scripts for opioids.

When will any of this happen? When will we see any change? When will the line graph finally show a decline in overdoses and addiction? The answer is, I don’t know. But I think the only thing we can do is hold our prescribers accountable. How we do this is isn’t clear yet. But at least the conversation is starting, and that’s a good place to start.

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Who and Where Are Our Leaders?

Who and where are our leaders? This is a question that I have spent a lot of time mulling over throughout the past year. My mind probably first wrestled with this when Bernie Sanders conceded his nomination for the Democratic Presidential Candidate at the DNC last summer. I’m sure the emotions I felt watching the speech were similar to other Sanders supporters- the feeling of defeat, the disappointment in the American electorate and democratic process, and the frustration that the Democratic Party got away with rigging the election in order to, once again, demand support and submission to their chosen golden calf. It was a rough night, I cried knowing that the hope I had in my heart for a real revolution wasn’t going to come by way of electoral politics.

I would say that Bernie is still probably the most revered US political leader today, however his followers aren’t nearly as energized as they were a year and a half ago. The same is true for HRC supporters. The only other person with a continuous strong following is Trump, and I think this is just because his base fails to ever take responsibility that Trump is ever in the wrong (ie: Trump said we’re going to Syria which is another broken campaign promise. Does his base really care? Probably not. Somehow, they’ll still be correct in their own minds). So this is pretty depressing if our most recognized leaders are Trump and Sanders.

So, why is this? Why does there seem to be less leaders in the era of Trump and Post-Truthism? Is  political fatigue really the reason behind the lackluster support? Are people too tired to care anymore? I have to believe that tiredness is only partially to blame- the real problem is the lack of enthusiastic, idealistic, moral leadership available.

I finally finished Judgement Days which is about the heavy weighted relationship between LBJ and MLK and chronicles their work on the Civil Rights Bill. The revolutionary movements that were sparked by the 60s wouldn’t have happened without these strong leaders and who knows what worse of a state we’d be in had they given up on their convictions. And you know what’s crazy? While I read JD I kind of felt jealous that there were actual leaders, leading groups of people and entire movements towards a real goal. Groups like the ACLU, SNCC, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference all were lead by leaders with strong organizing skills and a passionate heart. Where are these types of leaders now?

LBJ and MLK Signing 1965 Voting Rights Act

LBJ and MLK Getting Work Done and Signing the 1965 Voting Rights Act

A great number of activist groups have popped up and grown since November 8th, which is really great and important. BUT, I have to wonder. Who are the leaders of these movements? BLM? DSA? Who are the leaders of the movements to get money out of politics (other than Bernie?) ? Who is leading the movements to end discrimination against LGBTQI where, even in places like Scranton, PA, it is legal for landlords and employers to discriminate against gay and trans people? Who is trying to create real gun reform? Or criminal justice reform? Who is trying to end the war on drugs? Where are these people, and if they exist, why aren’t they visible and vocal?

Maybe I’m out of touch. These people must exist, but what are they doing for their movements? And why aren’t they actively trying to form coalitions with these like-minded lib groups? It’s so frustrating. I’m happy to be part of a bunch of different activist groups, but I have to wonder, where are we headed? Sure, acting locally is going to allow us to do more work than shooting for national initiatives, but there needs to be an overall national goal, right? We need some kind of roadmap if we really want to transform this nation, but we’re not going to get anywhere if no one is at the front of the line leading the way. 

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i’m not trying to be sexy, i’m trying to not be sweaty.

This is inspired by a girlfriend of mine who commented on my “booty shorts” when I thought I was just wearing normal shorts…  Reflecting back now, it does help explain the dirty looks I received from the waitresses at the restaurant under her apartment when I was just innocently trying to pick up my take-out.

OKAY. CONFESSION TIME.  I love clothes. I’ve always loved dressing up and having my own style. When I was a little girl, my dad let me dress myself as soon as I could pick out an entire outfit, and I have pictures of myself in these carefully curated outfits- one that comes to mind is 7 year old me, wearing a pink and white dress, with one pink and one white shoe and matching alternating color socks.  I am still proud that I made all of my high school formal dresses (the best was Junior Semi when my dress was made out of a Twister mat) and wish I still had the duct tape skirt I made in 7th grade. I have always preferred thrift stores and the majority of my outfits are from where I like to call, Salvation Armani.  The tradition that signifies the beginning of spring and that I look forward to all winter long is rescuing my summer clothes from the dark, cold, lonely attic and welcoming them back into my wardrobe. Summer clothes are my favorite, and I’ll take floral flock over flannels any day.

Over the past few years, as I’ve been making the migration from the Junior’s section to Women’s, I’ve found myself in some predicaments over how to dress in the summertime. It is becoming harder and harder to find something to wear that you feel cute, comfortable, and conservative in (when I want to dress conservatively). I honestly think that new lines of shorts, dresses, and skirts get slightly shorter every year. There is little compromise between feeling comfortable wearing the same pair of shorts out in public and comfortable wearing them in 90 degree weather. Case in point: Right now, as I type this out, sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop to gain a little reprieve from the 92-degree day outside, I keep catching myself subconsciously tugging at my cut-off, mom-approved, high-waisted Levi shorts, trying to pull them down a little bit closer to my knee cap. I’m not wearing these shorts to be sexy. I’m not wearing these shorts for people to look at me. I’m not wearing these shorts to show off the tattoos on my legs. I’m wearing these shorts because it is fucking 92 degrees. That’s it.

venn diagram of shorts

There are hardly any summer shorts/skirts/dresses that are both cute and will make you feel both socially and physically comfortable.

So, I guess one solution would be to buy up a few sizes so that the short will extend a whooping half inch further down my leg, but I don’t really want to do that. All I want is to wear clothes I feel good in and that fit so that I am physically comfortable. Unfortunately, I don’t see affordable women’s clothing lines helping create a trend of extending the length of shorts and skirts anytime soon. The other solution is to exclusively wear longer skirts and dresses to try and stay cooler on hot days. Listen, I’d rather wear a dress than shorts or pants in almost every situation, however a mid-length dress or skirt isn’t going to keep you as cool as shorts will. Plus, it’s way more comfortable to wear a pair of shorts than a dress when I want to go for a bike ride or walk at Nay Aug Park with my dog.

 

IMG_2046

The shorts I’m wearing right now still make me feel self-conscious that they are too short even though they’re ugly af.

 

The ultimate solution, the solution that would actually fix everything, would be to figure out a way for society to stop sexualizing women for trying to stay cool during the hot summer months. I wish there was a magic way to unsexualize all women’s summer fashion and teach people that the girl wearing the short lavender dress isn’t a slut or trying to show off her body,  but instead is just trying to wear something she feels good about- both temperature-wise and self-esteem wise. And we gotta educate other people, especially our boys and men, about this. Because it’s easy to think that a girl is dressing a certain way for one reason, when the reality is totally different.

And ladies, it’s okay to wear short-short booty shorts on purpose. It’s okay to wear a short dress because it makes you feel sexy. I just wish our culture could shift the immediate assumption that a woman is wearing shorts on purpose to show off her body, and instead replace that thought with recognizing that she’s probably just trying to beat the heat because its 92 degrees out. I mean, at least for me, it’s not that I’m trying to be sexy, I’m just trying to not be so fucking sweaty.

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Social Media Isn’t Real (And That’s Okay).

Two quick reminders: Social media isn’t real and I write this blog from a female feminist perspective. My views may be completely off the wall compared with yours (isn’t that cool?!), and whatever the next few paragraphs say, they are no means an attack on anyone I personally know- I feel we can all relate to this shit, na’mean?

i like you more than the instagram you

This is probably true, unless ur a garbage person in real life but super sweet online.

So recently, a few people have commented on pictures of me and my finance on social media, saying things along the line of “perfect couple” or whatever. And I’m not gonna lie, that attention is kind of a nice feeling, but nonetheless I’ve been really, really taken back by these statements. Because a picture alone cannot tell you much about our relationship. I’m not saying that my relationship with my partner is bad or anything like that, but it’s definitely not “perfect”, and I don’t want people thinking that about us, because, well, it’s not true! Also, just real quick: no one’s relationship is perfect.

I know a lot of people have been feeling less-than lately because of internet culture, and I just want to reiterate that social media is not real, and perceive people’s “realness” based on their social media persona can be super toxic, yo. What we see online of people is just part of their cultivated digital personality. Ok, wait a minute. Let me back up real quick. What we see online is of real shit, but the meaning we infer from it is not real. I like social media. I get to see pictures of my friends kids, of my family that lives far away, and just funny shit that my friends post. However, thinking that these pictures are actually a true, complete representation of these people’s lives is way misleading.

Yo, you wanna know the real kicker is? It’s that our feeling of less-than in comparison to someone else’s social media life actually has everything to do with our own perceived inadequacy. Feeling envious of anything or anyone is totally based in how we feel about ourselves, right? We can’t be envious unless we are comparing ourselves to someone else, and if we feel shitty about ourselves in the first place, than jealousy is gonna come around a lot quicker. It sucks that social media makes people think that their lives have to be a certain way because their “friends” lives look that way. Also, this is a pretty big realization that I had to learn the hard way, through years of being jealous (including being jealous of people online). I totally was in the camp of “I suck at life because my house is always messy, I don’t know how to be super crafty/good at makeup/athletic/rich/someone who travels a lot/insert whatever here, plus I have split ends and acne on my face”. It wasn’t until I learned that it is freaking impossible to compare my true, authentic personality to anyone else’s, that I started to feel better about my less than perfect life. We are all unique, and that’s a freaking wonderful, crazy, amazing thing! If my house was spotless, and super beautifully decorated from shit I made, and if I went surfing every weekend after having a brunch of grass-fed grass, well… I probably wouldn’t be super thrilled because that’s not being authentic to myself! It honestly took me basically my whole life to understand this- that there is no reason to compare myself to anyone else because it’s comparing apples and anti-freeze. We’re all different and that’s dope.

Ok, ok ok, I’m being a little overzealous. I totally still get jealous sometimes. I look at people’s Instagram posts and that thought will come in my head- the “I’m not worthy” thought. The thing is now I have a following thought that is, “oh shit, social media can’t communicate what the real truth is behind this picture, and this person strategically picked this photo to post”. ALSO, I don’t know what your motive was for posting that photo, just like you don’t know what my motive was for posting another picture of my dog (it’s because my dog is the fucking cutest and I want the world to know).

And also- it’s totally okay to post whatever the fuck you want. Who gives a shit. And if you post something like a selfie because you are feeling shitty, and want some superficial attention- dude, that’s okay. Or maybe you’re really feeling yourself and that’s why you post a selfie. Dude, do you. Sometimes, when I’m down, I’ll take a selfie and filter the fuck out of it because it makes me feel better. But here’s the deal- it’s still not real, and once we all start realizing that about social media, I bet you $5 that a lot of people will start to feel better about their lives. I think social media can be a really great thing. We just have to keep in mind that it’s not real before actual, real emotions develop in response.

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“Don’t Mind Him, He’s A Republican” shouldn’t be a thing

 

Guys. We gotta end attaching the connotations that someone is bad or stupid based on their political party. It’s gotta end now before it adds to any more reasons to develop unwarranted hate towards others. Stereotypes already exist and we need to question our biases NOW. Here’s a quick example: One of my big projects for my policy class was on the proposed borderwall. Not surprisingly my group took a liberal approach to the problem.  One part of the project was a critique from the class. One of my classmates said that maybe we should’ve looked more at the argument that the borderwall would save Americans money somehow (even though our project clarified this myth). Anyways, he had to critique us, and it wasn’t anything malicious or mean, he was just doing his work as a student. After the class, he and one of his friends and I were talking about my group’s presentation and his friend says, “Don’t mind his remark, he’s a Republican”. I was really confused by this and said I don’t care what anyone’s political party is and laughed it off.

Since then, my eyes have been really open to how our culture is using political parties as a way to insult others. And this is a problem for a few reasons.

First, we really only have two political parties (please let me know if you want to come over the Green side…), so grouping people into two narrow ideologies is stupid. People are way more complex than just Blue or Red.

pinkerton

if i’m being honest, it’s pinkerton all the way.

Second, trying to insult someone based on their political party isn’t going to get anything done. I realize that this is way simplifying it, but just because someone likes Pinkerton better than the Blue Album doesn’t mean that either person is better than the other. When we value ourselves based on the hierarchy of perceived “rightness” or “correctness” we devalue others who are no better than us. People who voted for Trump are not inherently evil. I know this can be hard to subscribe to when the liberal echo chambers of social media and sensationalized news often infers the opposite. But this is where I think it’s important to realize- this is someone else’s opinion, and even though I agree with them on a lot of things, I don’t have to hate, or think less than, the people who don’t agree with them.

Third, reducing people to political parties constricts growth. We need to be eager to have friends from all different ideologies in order to learn! So here’s what’s up. I like the Green Party because it is the party that most closely aligns with my personal values. I realize that a lot of people don’t pick political parties based on this- they are often just born into their political party and don’t question it. However, having open-hearted conversations with people about their own beliefs can be really enlightening for both parties (as long as both parties are willing to listen to the other’s side). Most the time when I talk to my friends who are democrats or republicans, I learn something from their point of view. And more often than not, my own personal beliefs and arguments are strengthened by listening to their side.

So yeah. Short and sweet. We gotta stop using “She probably voted for Trump” as a derogatory term. And guys, I am TOTALLY AWARE THAT I HAVE DONE THIS IN THE PAST AS WELL! But I’ve decided to recognize that this bias is stupid and now am conscious to challenge it whenever it might rear its ugly head. We are in a strange time. We have to work together instead of cutting each other part.

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anxiety, insecurities, and sunshine

Thank you, sweet universe, for giving us hope in the form of such a beautifully sweet spring day! Ahhhh, I’m so grateful that it’s nice out and jeez louise, how powerful a change in weather can be to our psyche.

flowers are a'bloomin', there's hope, y'all!

flowering bush is a’ bloomin! there’s hope, y’all!

That past few weeks have been really hard. I feel like I’ve been tirelessly running the final stretch, for like a whileeee now, and I thought that the finish line might have evaporated…but, …hey! today the sun shined! What a good, glorious thing! I don’t want to get too personal, but I’ve been really stressed lately (hello final semester of grad school! hello not knowing what the future will bring!), and I allowed myself to get tired. I stopped trying to proactively find good things in my life. Everything bad and cold and stressful seemed to be snowballing in my life, but maybe, if it gets warmer, these things will melt away; that life can be good. I know this much: the future will not be better, if I am not better. If I am better, the future will be better. Better said then done, am aright,? 😉

When I worry about things, I sometimes let these worries (see: self-hatred, negative thoughts) get the best of me. I get anxious and I bring that anxiety-fear with me and it can make me really uncomfortable, especially in social situations, (sometimes I’ll apt to duck out of social things because of this anxiety, whatcha know ’bout dat?). But you know what helps me to feel better, what helps me to experience life in a more loving way? When I don’t worry about things in the first place. I’m not saying to suddenly stop worrying about your life, but I urge you to try to worry less about things. It’s hard to be totally fearless, but life is way better when you at least try to inch away from the fear-end on the life continuum. And I know, I know, who am I to say “worry less, your life will be better!”. I don’t know your struggles, I don’t know how heavy your heart is. My experience in life is different than your’s, so there’s no way that we’ll ever be able to comprehend exactly what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. I’ll never be able to see out of your eyes, to know what it feels like to hug your mom, to experience your life. Our own experience of life is totally subjective. So, I don’t know. But I promise, just try to not be so mean to yourself about the things you don’t like about yourself and you’ll feel better, a little better, at least.  I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try.

So where does anxiety come from? I think it comes from our insecurities… and insecurities are ugh, so painful, right? It sucks to think about them, they make us feel sad, especially when we dwell and ruminate on them.  So how can we shed the things we don’t like about ourselves? How can we rid ourselves from the things that we can’t think positively about in ourselves? First, we need to recognize their existence. I know what mine are and where they have come from (hello, being called ugly in freaking elementary school; hello, not getting into my first choice college), but figuring this out for yourself might take a little bit of time. (And if you have trauma in your life or childhood, you should process your feelings with a counselor or therapist or even a trusting friend, if that’s at all a possibility. Just ‘cause trauma can really fuck up cognitive development and processing. Dealing with deep deep sludge takes time to really deal with- to really accept. It’s not easy, no matter how far removed you may be from your past.)

So once you recognize what your insecurities are, you can start to change your perception. Once you get rid of those insecurities, you start to let go of your ego. Ego is hard to define. I don’t mean ego as in confidence or over-confidence, I mean it more as like the onion layer analogy. I like to think about ego as a shell made of fear which surrounds us, and the more you grow in this shell, the harder it is to believe that it can be shed. It can become like a second skin, and won’t let any good things in or negative feelings and anxieties out, unless we consciously work to chip away at it.

Dude, none of this is easy. It’s really hard. I’m just figuring out this shit. And I’m so used to not dealing with feelings and letting my ego overpower me. I’ve spent so much of my life constantly worried about what other people think about me, but once I started to understand that life is life, and my insecurities aren’t making my time on this earth any more enjoyable, I was able to become a little more fearless and a little more loving. I still think about what other people think about me, but not nearly as much as I have for almost my entire life. And that’s progress, and that’s good. So I urge you to try and be a little tiny bit more loving toward yourself today so you can break off a little bit of that ego shell and let some sunshine in.

 

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