Category Archives: media

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.

societal continuum

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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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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polarization is dangerous

I’ve already written about this, but I have not seen any progress on the situation, only a rapid race to extremes so…

Polarization of our politics and culture is not the answer!

Boxing people into groups based on generalizations is not the answer!

Grouping people into vast generalizations based on anything, ESPECIALLY political parties, isn’t going to help build bridges, it’s only going to create a deeper disparity between the ability to connect with others! Labelling people and letting those label stick without the subjects full ownership isn’t going to help build a culture and society of peace!

us-vs-them

us vs. them is a quick way to the end

I know. It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s much easier to say that all Republicans are racist and that’s the reason why our county is racially divided. It’s easier to say that old white men are the reason why we’re still living in a patriarchal state (which, I mean, has a lot of truth to it…but that’s not the ONLY truth). It’s easier to say that white, liberal, 20-40somethings are responsible for our culture of political correctness. It’s easy to blame BLM for rising racial divides. It’s easy to blame the Green Party and Libertarians for Trump’s election. What I’m getting at here is that it’s easier to BLAME the OTHER than taking responsibility for creating a culture of inclusiveness.

I didn’t feel the need to write about my experience at the Women’s March on DC because it wasn’t different than other of the marcher’s narratives from around the world. It was empowering. It was a sign of the times. It was being part of a movement. It was a feminist environment, and I’m so grateful I was able to experience it.

However, I was irked about something I noticed at the march, which mirrored a flaw within our society. It was a meaningful event that was exclusive to a certain type of [liberal] woman. I’ve spoken about this to close friends, but my biggest qualm with the women’s march was that it was in no way welcoming to Republicans, and certainly not to women who supported Trump. And that’s a problem, because that only widens the divide we’re creating as a country. I’m proud that we can champion the Woman’s March was the largest rally in history and a gold star for feminism. However, we also must be critical and recognize that there was a subset of women who were not welcomed, and this whole thing was supposed to promote intersectionality!

The only way that I think we can fix this is to stop with the vast generalizations and start having conversations. I vehemently disagree with Trump, but to allow that to influence how I feel about everyone who voted for him is wrong and destructive. It stops conversations before they happen, and more importantly, actively halts the creation of new ideas and new ideals. Polarization allows for the breakdown of all systems in which the participants are left within a society that is understood strictly as good vs. evil, and that’s not realistic, it’s fucking dangerous. But we’ll allow it, because it’s easier, and it’s more fun to think of ourselves as the “good guys” anyways.

So, I challenge you to start thinking about how you may have allowed sweeping generalizations to affect your ability to promote a society and culture of peace, while also reflecting on the possibility that perhaps you have allowed your own identity to be defined by concrete constructs… 😉

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Why I Went to Trump’s Inauguration, What it Was Like, and What I Learned About Myself.

I’m still trying to process my inauguration day experience. When I was there on Friday, living in it, I didn’t have much time or energy to examine all of the things happening around me. I used all yesterday to compress after returning to Northeastern PA from the inauguration and Woman’s March in DC, and spent the day trying to find peace of mind by watching the first season of Parks and Rec (what a funny show!), yogaing, and eating my weight in Korma Paneer.

So here’s what I experienced at the DC Inauguration:

When I told people that I would be attending the inauguration, most questioned why and what my motives were. I spent time meditating on whether I should attend the inauguration since election day, and the more heated the country became on both sides, the more I felt compelled to attend. Inaugurations are historic days, regardless of who is president, and I’ve never attended one before. My professor gave me and two of my friends permission to miss class to attend, and since Scranton is only about a 4.5 hour drive from D.C., I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

So that’s the easy answer to why I went: because I could and it is a historic day. My true, number 1 reason for attending was to promote love and to act as a representative of peace, to represent the ideology that we can communicate with each other even if we think differently, that we can listen to each other, and that true, positive change can happen if it’s governed by an underlying value of love. I expected that there would be a lot of anger and emotion on both sides of the inauguration, and I wanted to show others that it is a possibility to attend to issues with an open heart and mind.

We drove late Thursday night to my friends’ home in Harrisburg where we slept for a few hours. (Shoutout to Mike and Dana for letting us stay at their beautiful home! And to Brendan who let us stay Friday night!) At 5am we embarked to drive the rest of the way to Rockville, Maryland, where we parked the car at the metro station. The Rockville stop on the metro station is one of the last stops on that subway line, which means that it’s one of the furthest stops from capitol where we were headed.  When we got on the train, there was a family of four with a sign that said “need 1 more silver ticket for inauguration”. They looked sad, and even a little pathetic, to me, but now thinking about it in hindsight, they probably were just tired, and I allowed my bias to form an opinion about them. There was another Trump-supporting Baby Boomer couple, who were dressed patriotically, the wife even donning a red, white, and blue scrunchie. I looked directly at them, but they wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I soon would find out that this would be the norm for many of the Trump supporters. Anyways, the train was pretty much empty, and we had our choice of seats.

We got out at Metro Station, in downtown DC, where roads were blocked off all around the Capitol. We walked around for a little while to get our bearings and then decided to make our signs on the steps of a lavish apartment building, on the same block of a checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration. I had some leftover “Stein/Baraka” lawn signs that I brought with me, which turned out to be really durable protest signs, so thanks again, Green Party, for helping me be an advocate. All of our signs promoted love. Mine said “True Change Only Comes from Love”, Kim’s said “Love Trumps Hate”, and Dawn’s read “If It Isn’t Intersectional, it isn’t Feminism”. Throughout the day people told us that we had the right idea, gave us thumbs up, and asked to take pictures of us, which was encouraging, and helped me keep my head up in a place of strong emotions and negativity.

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Me, Dawn, and Kim at the beginning of Inauguration Day.

The first group we came across was where we were making our signs, outside of a security checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration to enter. The Freedom Socialist Party held a demonstration outside of the checkpoint so any Trump supporters who wanted to get into the inauguration would have to pass through them. There were probably 40(?I’m pretty bad with estimating people sizes) people dancing and chanting. I heard later that they also had a gay dance party outside the security checkpoint, so Trump supporters would have to walk through shirtless gay men in glitter and butch women in cargo pants dancing to George Michael. I am OK with this type of demonstration. However, it was during this early morning protest that I saw the only violence of my trip. My group wanted to walk over one block, and the easiest way to do this was to walk through the demonstration and turn the corner. Behind us, a few young, college-aged men, donned in the red hats and dark trench coats, tried to follow in our path. All of a sudden, a bunch of demonstrators started screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” in their faces. I’m not one who would protest in this way, but the protesters weren’t really doing anything wrong. The three of us were pushed to to the side, while a police officer helped escort the Trump supporters through the crowd. Then, the cop grasped his hands together in front of him and forcefully, and violently, rammed himself through a group of the protesters, causing a few of them to fall to the pavement hard. This was the only violence I witnessed, and I have to be honest, if I’m truly trying to be objective, it was the Trump supporters who really did nothing wrong in this situation, however they did seem smug when the police officer forcefully pushed people away to get them into the security checkpoint line.

We did see an Antifa group marching and running through the streets with their signs held high shortly after this occurrence in the morning. Antifa appears frightening if you don’t know about them, and I know many on the right and left want them to be labelled as domestic terrorists. They’re a militant left group, and support fear tactics, such as bearing arms while wearing masks that cover their faces. Antifa was the most radical group I saw at the inauguration, and I believe they were the ones who burned the limo in the over-sensationalized “riots” that were depicted on mainstream media and who punched Richard Spenser in the face.

The first mean-spirited thing said to us was right after a reporter from CBS asked to take our picture. A group of well dressed and groomed white, 20-somethings, in red hats, walked by, sniffed the air, and said “smells like hippie” and all laughed while they past us. We received numerous other statements like this throughout the day, all of which were unprovoked. While we stood in the inauguration line, one Trump supporter turned to Kim and asked her if she was a Trump supporter because her sign read “Love Trumps Hate”. Kim calmly replied that she supports love, and wasn’t a Trump supporter. He was condescending towards her, I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself why I was at the inauguration, in order to not say anything negative to him and his group. I am so proud of us for not giving in to negativity during the inauguration, especially in times I felt threatened.

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Mixed Crowd of Supporters and Protesters Waiting in Inauguration Line

So, yeah, we stood in line to get into the inauguration, even though we didn’t have tickets, simply because we didn’t know where else to go. Almost everyone in line was a protester. There were a few businesses that opened their doors for people to use their bathrooms, and one business even had free hot chocolate and coffee available. It was easy to tell what businesses were protest friendly because they didn’t look any different than their normal state. We didn’t dare try to use the bathrooms in the businesses that were decked out in all things MAGA, which there were a bunch of.

After I watched on my phone Trump’s swearing in, we marched in the Anti-Inauguration March which had demonstrators from all different types of activist groups. It was a sea of people chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”. We were getting hungry and when the march passed by a soup and sandwich shop, we stopped in to grab lunch.There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and we took a much needed rest sitting in the open dining area. Shortly after we started our lunch, the red hatted people started filing in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little threatened being the minority in that cafe, a smaller version of what the city felt like the whole day, where the anger and hate was palpable. One couple that lunched next to us asked if we were protesting, which we said yes. The woman then gave us a poncho and extra handwarmers she had, and explained that she didn’t need them because they were on their way home after watching their president’s inauguration. She was kind, and it’s this human connection that’s what’s really important. Regardless of political views, she was compassionate towards us, fellow human beings.

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While we were standing in the inauguration line

We did listen to some of the other conversations happening around us in the cafe, in which I heard a table talk about that protesters just are protesting to get their picture taken. I heard some other similar dialogues, but tried to tune and block them out as much as possible. I was happy to leave the lunch place when we did. I felt like easy prey for someone to take their anger out on, and more red hats kept flooding through the doors.

We were able to get in to see the parade, which also was an experience in being the minority. We stood in a checkpoint line for probably an hour, and the vast majority of those in line with us were Trump supporters. We were all connected by a common thread of feeling annoyed towards a man with a megaphone preaching that we were all going to burn in hell and that doomsday was near.

So, we get through the checkpoint and the protesters have taken over a large area. No red hats, but also no room to really move or see the parade. We walked a few blocks over to where the crowd was thinning, but was also turning redder. There was an open space where we could kind of see the parade, however it was standing under a big group of Trump supporters who were standing on a ledge, about two feet higher than us. They were basically hovering over us, and I was waiting to get spit on. It was hard to ignore the “Blue Lives Matter” chant when the police marched by. I wanted so badly to turn around and say, “BLM isn’t about devaluing others lives!” but I bit my tongue, and continued to watch the parade.

When Trump drove by, we could only see his and Melania’s silhouette waving through the black tinted windows. It was at this point, when the crowd around us was screaming in excitement and adoration, that I felt real resentment towards Trump. He couldn’t even roll down his window to wave at his supporters. What a fucking coward.

We walked over to K and 14th Street where the “riots” happened. We could smell tear gas when we approached. We saw the limo that was set on fire and the Bank of America and Starbucks which had their windows broken. I don’t believe in destruction of property, and violence doesn’t solve anything, but people are tired of this wealth disparity! And although I don’t agree with it, I can understand it. The upper class doesn’t know the plight of the underclass, and setting a limo on fire seems like a small rally cry in the context of the enormous unrest.

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Limo that was set on fire, and SUV that was damaged. Also, the glass pane with spray paint there said “We The People”

So out of this whole day, you want to know what really got under my skin the most? It was the rich people walking to the inauguration balls around sunset, dripping in diamond jewelry and smuggly fitted tailored tuxes. They would not look at us. I tried smiling at them, but they refused to make eye contact. I don’t know if it was because they sincerely believe that they are the ones that make America great and can’t see us, or if they are afraid of us- maybe their fear of all the protesters has blocked their ability to assign humanity to any of us, regardless of motivation. Or, maybe, they really don’t care about anyone but themselves. I have never felt so small, so less-than, compared to a group than I did walking by these people. But then, after thinking about this the past few days- maybe they really do fear me, the protester, the other. And if this is the case, then I have some strength and influence over them, because I am NOT afraid of them. And that’s pretty empowering and gives me a glimpse of greater hope for the future of our country.

 

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Narrative Theory in our Political Context

Ok, shit,  guys, we need a plan. I have let myself sit the past few weeks in this sad, heavy, cold, quiet panic of our encroaching doom (T-minus 30 days until inauguration), and I need to jump the fuck out of this thinking. Okay, okay, here’s a quick breakdown of how I think about life: I think there are only two emotions: fear and love, and love > fear. Everything boils down to these two things. And because of the internet, because of widespread and easy communication, it’s much easier to let our thoughts be influenced by others. So, I have let myself become fearful, because the collective feels fearful, the news I read, the people I surround myself with, also have a type of fear- which is completely understandable. I’ve been living with fear the past two years. But now I realize that I need to shift my heart and brain towards love. That is the answer.

I need to look to the future with a  sense of belief that the future will be AMAZING. That 2017 will be a great year. Because here’s the deal, we have one life, so I better believe that this life is going to be the best life possible. It’s work for me to think like this, and I need to practice thinking about everything this way.  I don’t know if there’s “God”, and I doubt that any religious version of a deity exists, but I think there’s something, even if it’s just little tiny balls of energy sperming around the universe for eternity.

So, the future is coming no matter what we do. We can’t go back in time. This is what we have: A really crazy person with only interests of corporate greed has guided his entire life, who has been filling his cabinet with the worst of the worst, what’s proving to be a hard brick-red Congress, and likely having a conservative supreme court. So, the opposition is in charge of everything and the hand hasn’t been this heavy in decades. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work out. We are supposed to have checks and balances.

So, narrative theory, or “narratology” as fancy scholars like to refer to it. I wasn’t familiar with narrative theory until this past semester in school, where my practice class was about using different theoretical perspectives and figuring out what my own personal lens is (feminist and narrative). Ok, so narrative theory asserts that people have an understanding of their life based on their own personal experiences. How they understand these experiences is what creates the “life story” of the person, and thus influences their thinking and understanding of life and future events.

We get so stuck in these narratives that we believe that it’s all true. For instance, and I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for using this example, but my father recently retired. This has been difficult for him, as it is for most people who have spent their life working and now have that huge part of their life missing. He was talking to me the other day and said that he felt bad because he knew he always imagined fly fishing after he retired, but the river levels have been too low for him to go fly fishing. So I brought up the idea of, “what if you never thought about fly fishing? What if that wasn’t what you had planned your whole life to do after you retire? What would you do then?” and this was a WHOLE brand new thought. He was so caught up in his self-prescribed understanding of what his life would be, that it was like a door opening when he was able to think about the possibility of opening his mind to doing something else- to changing his narrative.

Ok, so narratives are powerful. I have seen the word “narrative” used a billion times during the past year to describe political events. What someone’s narrative is, influences how others to think about them. We love underdogs. So, we think about Bernie Sander’s narrative, and how he worked so hard to become a Senator and spark up this political revolution that is gathering kinetic energy, waiting to explode. This narrative helped people connect with him, because we often judge people by their narrative.

We love good stories. We love a good movie with a great plot, with great character development, that we can relate to, even if it’s just relating on the surface value and of being empathetic. We can’t really relate to Trump’s narrative because it hasn’t been set out for us. But Trump used his voter base’s narratives. He listened to what they had going on and used it to reinforce their thinking. In many places, including towns in Northeastern PA, the consensus is that jobs have been shipped overseas, and that “true” American’s aren’t gaining in life because of illegal immigrants. Trump helped reinforce this narrative by running a campaign that promised to fix these things. He didn’t help these people understand a different narrative, one that is more honest towards the situation. He didn’t come out and say that companies are moving overseas because of trade deals and that illegal immigrants either work for wages that most people wouldn’t get out of bed for and that illegals don’t have any rights (ie to welfare, etc) in America. It is much easier for Trump to reinforce a false narrative than try to expose an honest one. So in this lack of truth, it is easier to appeal to heartstrings than the brain.

Another good example of narrative theory is the Joe Biden-Barack Obama-BFF memes. I love these memes so much. I love that it seems like Biden and Obama are legit best friends forever and that Joe is a hapless dude who acts as the protector little miniature watchdog for Obama. I love thinking about Biden and Obama like this. But you know what, it’s probably not true. And this narrative only allows us to think about Biden and Obama as good pals, and that’s honorable, and thus their candidacy must be honorable too. It leaves little room for doubt or for exploring what an alternative narrative might be. Although I think it is a form of propaganda, I do love a good Biden-Obama meme.

biden-obama-great

love it

Alright, I’m not sure if this makes much sense, but it’s something that’s been on my mind the past few months, and I figured I’d try my best to explain how I have been noticing narrative theory used in a way to influence people’s understanding of politics, current affairs, and past actions done by our government.  Narratives are formed in the mind, but can be reinforced by using both love or fear. It just depends on how we want to view them.

bidenobama

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What Happens When You Don’t Get What You Want… ;(

Bernie Waving

AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WILLL ALWAYS LOOOOOVVVEEEE YOUUUUUUU

Man oh man, have I been procrastinating processing my feelings about this one: Bernie’s not going to be our president. Only last week did I hang my head as I took down my “Bernie 2016” sign from my front window. Ugh. And the thing is, I knew this going into the campaign. I think many of the Sander’s supporters who were overwhelmed by Sander’s appeal well over a year ago knew that Sander’s probably wansn’t going to get the nomination. He’s anti-establishment, running against the establishment, in a “race” created by the establishment. Every aspect of the presidential run was stacked against him, with the exception of American populism. But even all these truths doesn’t make my bleeding heart burn less when I’m faced with the fact that the man I really believed in isn’t going to be our president.

As the months progressed, and Bernie became more popular and influential, a lot of Bernie supporters thought that this might be enough. That the amazing divine power of social media and grassroots organizing would lead us into the next candidacy with a renewed faith in how our government and politics are run. I did my best to think as realistically as possible, and continued to focus on Bernie’s issues and needs in key states and key areas like Northeastern PA. I knew if I started to buy into the idea that Bernie would be president then I would be greatly disappointed, and maybe I might slack off in my campaigning for him. I can tell you, the first time I think I really cried of happiness over Bernie was staying up until past midnight, waiting to see who won Iowa back in January, because I couldn’t believe how close it was. How the hard work was paying off.

So what now? A lot of people I know are angry at Bernie for endorsing Clinton, but truth be told, he said he was going to do so from the very beginning. He was positioning himself to make sure he could still have influence on the Democratic Platform, and the influence he’s had over it is way more than what I had hoped for last year at this time. Bernie’s given us the MOST progressive platform ever in the democratic party. Even if the democrats don’t follow it, his guidance is there. We are the ones who need to hold our politicians accountable for following it.

He also said he’s not going to run as a third party candidate.  I had written a post about him being Stein’s VP, which was a pipe dream, and a fun thing to think about, but Bernie has integrity. Even though the entire DNC ran a coup against him, he continues to stick to the POLICIES and ISSUES, not what is grabbing headlines. This is admirable. What is even more so, is that Bernie has asked his followers to keep this movement going. And that’s the best thing he can do- and it’s a really big thing! Now that so many people feel EMOTIONALLY connected to politics, we can make a real change.

How does this happen? Well, let’s keep in mind what we do want. Some things that I care about: Cut military funding and stop perpetuating wars in far off lands, redistribute our budget to give more federal money to states for schools and human services, and start to make the transition to a new green deal. Now, that I have some goals in mind, how do we make this happen? Well, if you watched Bernie’s speeches, one of his favorite lines is “Change doesn’t come from the top down, but from the bottom up”.  Local elections are so important. Everything from School Board to City Council, these are the people who are elected to really get something done. It would be pretty naïveté to think that Bernie could have gotten much done (other than appoint true, really, social justice warriors for Supreme Court instead of waify, corporately influenced, democratic titled judges) without the help of electing other REAL progressives in the House, Senate, and at the State and Local levels.

I don’t think Bernie losing was a loss for Bernie supporters. Sure, it’s okay to feel a little disappointed, but now’s the time to stop dwelling on it. Let’s figure out how to use the momentum that was created to continue to strive for REAL change. Bernie did such a wonderful thing bringing issues to the forefront instead of ad-Revenue-debacle-content that we see covered as “the issues” on all mainstream media.

The most important thing we can do is stay together and work towards change. Bernie was the catalyst that got us going, but we’re going to have to be the real soliders that begin to overthrow this corrupt oligarch that is American politics and government, starting from the bottom up.

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FBI vs. Apple Outcome- Be Afraid, Be Very, Very Afraid

I haven’t written anything for a while, and its not because I haven’t had thoughts, but ive just been really busy to the point where you’re so busy that you all of a sudden become unbusy and you’re not sure how to deal with it, so you figure out a way to become even more busy than before, and then after a few days of just straight up stress you realize, “oh yeah… I forgot that I need balance in my life” .. you know what I mean?  Anyways…

Lets talk about one of my favorite topics: Cyber security. This is a topic near and dear to my heart because it’s fucking intense shit. I want to write a few posts about my feelings on recent cyber security threats from our own country, and decided to start with the most recent, eyebrow raising case, the US vs. Apple.

go tim cook!

Tim Cook- willing to fight for American’s Privacy

So everyone probably has heard about the San Bernardino iPhone Case. The FBI vs. Apple case. February 16th, 2016, the Federal Court ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter to see if the shooter was working directly with ISIS. Specifically, the FBI is asking that Apple make software that would allow people (or really, in this case, super computers that can try multiple combinations quickly until it figures out the passcode) to try passcodes on iPhones as many times as they’d like before all of the information on the phone is deleted. Currently, if you have an iPhone, you can try to unlock the phone up to 10 times in a row with a wrong code before it swipes all the info clean.

The next day, Apple strongly said no, which is a nice, big “fuck you” to the government.

Well, why wouldn’t Apple want to help unlock the phone? Surely, Tim Cook and everyone at Apple would want to find any other terrorists who may be connected to this travesty. And the answer to this, is of course they want justice for the victims families and to help find any additional terrorist ties. But the real reason why Tim Cook doesn’t want to build this software is because he believes in the American values of LIBERTY and PRIVACY.

So can the FBI really not just unlock it anyways? The argument is that the Apple’s software all are signed by an authorized signature from Apple when there are an updates or changes in the software’s encryption. What the FBI apparently can’t do is forge this secret signature and they need Apple’s help. But don’t get it twisted- again, they aren’t trying to just unlock the phone- they are asking for Apple to build SPECIFIC SOFTWARE that the government can use to unlock any iPhone. And that, my friends, is what this whole circus is all about. It’s not about the tragedy in San Bernardino, that is simply the guise the government is using so that they can strengthen the capabilities to spy on its own citizens.

Tim Cook did already give the government everything that they could that was on the phone, btw, before the court order. Plus the government made a mistake- they would have been able to upload information up to the cloud, but fucked up when they changed the user name on the phone, and therefore can no longer backup the phone onto the cloud.

Here’s Tim Cooks words, explaining that this case is not a case about unlocking a phone, but is case about the future of civil liberties:  “We cant have a backdoor that’s only for the good guys [to use]. Any backdoor that is created give the bad guys can exploit anyone’s iPhone”. Cook explains that if Apple makes this software being requested, that it is analogous to creating cancer for technology. 

And if the government has the power to make apple write this software, then what is next? What else will Apple be forced to create in the name of “security”? A few republican debates ago, when I transcribed the whole thing, the candidates were in agreement that we should basically draft computer programmers to work for the FBI. And if they don’t comply then they are breaking the law. So  Silicon Valley folk, I’d consider making sure that your passport is up to date before you get drug into a cyber war.

The government was never meant to be this big in terms of ruling daily life. With a precedent set by Apple if they were to give into the government would basically give the a-ok for the government to strong arm nongovernmental agencies to comply with them. Technically, due to the court order the FBI had, they could have come in with heavily armed SWAT teams and made the employees at Apple work to make this software. They didn’t because they were able to find an Israeli company to unlock the phone (its not clear to me if they just unlocked the phone, of if they created software that can ultimately hack into anyone’s iphone). That’s how out of control this whole thing is.

 

Tim Cook takes pride in his company. He made a wonderful statement with his interveiw with Charlie Rose, in which he said that the people buy apple products are his customers, not the government. This is about civil liberties, if we take encryption away, the only people affected are the good people, not the bad people. If we limit it, it will hurt the good people because anyone can hack into any iPhone. He also explained that there are things that technology should not be allowed to do.

Ok, how about the “Why should I care, I’m not doing anything bad, let the government record all of my daily doings, who gives a shit” argument. Well one, it is the principle. When you are giving up all of your privacy to the government you are giving up your autonomy. The founding fathers decided that the government should not get in peoples way of choosing how they want to live.

HumanCentiPad

Kyle didn’t read the terms of use for the new iTunes update and look where that got him.

You know the terms and conditions that no one reads? Well, most of the apps on your phone ask for permission to due multiple insidious things, such as make calls, record you, to listen to your phone calls, to read your text messages, all without even having the app running. And since you agreed to those terms and conditions- well, you willingly gave permission to be under big brother’s watch.

And what are some examples how this can get out of hand?: say in a custody court, the judge allows the husband to open his wife’s phone and shows a picture of her smoking marijuana. This can get her kids taken away, even if it was a one time thing at a party.

Or what if you get pulled over, and your car gets searched, including your phone. And they open up your phone and see all your naked pictures of you and your husband. This might not be incriminating (unless you live in Mississippi where sodomy is illegal and you’re giving your hubby a bj- because that is considered sodomy), it still is a total invasion of privacy.

So this is why I’m worried about the future of the internet and our civil liberties. They are already being compromised. And when government is already so corrupt, who is to know what else will happen. The FBI’s overstepping of liberties is enough to recognize that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

 

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What does America Value? I’m seriously asking.

So last week I had a paper due about ethics and values and stuff like that. And it got me thinking about American values, and well, what are they in 2016?

fuck, we're screwed

Is this what we value?

I’m seriously asking because I’m not sure what America cares about anymore. WHERE U BE, AMERICAN VALUES? For real though, the only time I hear the word “value” is when it comes to a fast-food meal or a big savings on Keurig machines at Walmart. But then, that kind of makes sense, right? That maybe these are our values now- immediacy and materialism? I think it’s fair to say that as Americans we want what we want, and we want it fucking right now. And we basically have a holiday that celebrates materialism- god bless the brave, the 3am risers the day after Thanksgiving.

What else does America value? I’d say: beauty over brains, money over philanthropy, and mine over yours. Not that we don’t care about brains, philanthropy, or helping others; those are just secondary values. Honestly, we’re Americans. We want our movies to have full frontal nudity, as long as it isn’t Lena Dunham (am I right?). If there were sexy female scientists, would they have a Netflix special where they explain the cosmos?  And of course we occasionally give an extra $5 to a homeless person, but dontcha know I’m gonna let you know about it. I hardly have an extra $5 myself!

What we value is what we get. There was a saying I learned during a very confusing time of my life, “If you love something, you take care of it”. And I completely believe that. So what do we take care of in America? Our media, our entertainment, our solidarity with those who think like us. We care about watching Donald Trump causing a hate-fueled ruckus wherever he goes because it’s funny. Wow, he says whatever he wants! He speaks his truth! And maybe you think he’s right, so you’re gonna make sure you get other people to vote for him, because that’s what you value. And, that’s your right as an American. And through this right, you’re helping shape American values.

And our entertainment. God forbid that Netflix ever goes down on a Friday night. Could you imagine? What would become of us? Or if the big sport game wasn’t televised. What would happen? We allow celebrities and athletes to make millions of dollars, while we can’t feed our poor or get proper healthcare for our veterans. But celebrities and athletes are on TV and on the internet, we don’t have to look at poor people. We take care of what we value. 

The Declaration of Independence says that we’re supposed to have “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. So I guess our definitions of Life, Liberty and Happiness has changed since 1776. But what are these definitions now? Does life just consist of what we have? From a big house, to a doctoral degree? What is liberty? Is Donald Trump a new definition of Liberty? And what about the pursuit of Happiness? IS that a $8 monthly subscription to streaming videos? I’m seriously asking, because I have no idea.

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