Tag Archives: language

#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.

harvey-weinstein1

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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“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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A Quick Explanation of “Cuck”

First off- googling “‘cuck’ sucks” is nsfw. i learned that the hard way.

cuck robot

it’s just a fucking dumb word for dumb people

Okay. So the word “cuck” (short for “cuckservative”) has been floating around the internet for the past year. Or, at least, I only started noticing it in the past year and it was pretty much reserved to the subreddits of /r/pol and /r/thedonald until a few months ago. Recently, I’ve been seeing “cuck” used as an insult, or to insinuate an insult, on more mainstream internet platforms like Facebook and I’ve also heard it used IRL, pronounced in a bunch of different ways.

I’ve been interested in the etymology of the word “cuck” for a while now, especially because of the alt-right implications, and finally devoted a few hours of a stormy Sunday afternoon to dig in. And boy, oh boy, what a mess I found.

So, I’ve always associated “cuck” with the alt-right. Now listen, my knowledge of the alt right is limited to grabya-headlines about Richard Spencer getting punched in the face and from Chapo Trap House’s explanation of  things like Alpha-males and their riveting reading series of people like Mike Cernovich. If I had to describe the alt-right, I’d say they are a loosely organized far-right group, majorly male, and who aim for a society that furthers oppressive patriarchy for capitalistic gains that is ultimately rooted in hate/fear. Their values revolve around preserving the white man’s race, so hello racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all the other different ways to categorize hating one group of people that are not white.

Okay, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to “cuck”. The word itself sounds like a bad word. It starts off with that hard c sound (see: the same sound in the beginning of “cunt”), and ends in the hard “ck” (see: the same sound at the end of “cock”). The mere pronunciation sounds like words that we already deem as offensive. What my mind first went to when I read “cuck” for the first times online was the sound a chicken would make- cuck cuck cuck! You know, like cucking. Turns out, I was kind of right. “Cuck” is a derivative from “cuckoo bird”… and “cuck” is a shortened form of “cuckold”… and a “cuckold”, by the definition of dictionary.com, is a husband to an unfaithful wife…Okay, wait, what? Okay, okay, okay, let’s recap- The cuckoo bird, which is a bird depicted as “crazy” in many different folklores from around the world, is the root term for “cuckold”, who is the husband of a wife that has sex with other men, which is the root for “cuck”, which is the insult that this whole blog post is about.

So apparently, cuckold is also a porn genre… I’m not well versed in porn genres, but cuckold porn seems to take different forms, all involving a man’s wife having sex. Apparently, a lot of cuckold porn includes the unfaithful white wife sleeping with a black man, which relates back to the inherent racism that exists in the alt-right. Some men in online communities have even professed that they are proud cuckolds- they enjoy watching their wife have sex with another person. So, this is where I am confused- this isn’t really that crazy of a fetish, right? It’s not really all that taboo at all. So here I think is where the alt-right tried to morph this term into an insult. When the alt-right uses “cuck” or “cuckservative” they are calling out men who don’t subscribe to their creed as weak. “These cucks can’t even take charge of their life enough to keep their wives from cheating!” The alt-right are simply appealing to men’s vulnerability about masculinity . “Cuck” is aimed specifically to offend men- to question their masculinity… because a cheating wife is emasculating (in the alt-right’s opinion). I hope that the men I know have a strong enough sense of self and understanding of human relationships that they wouldn’t feel less masculine because their wife was unfaithful. It also is in the favor of the alt-right that “cuck” has a harsh pronunciation and sounds like an offensive word.

For cuckold to exist, a power hierarchy in genders must exist- The implication of the alt-right’s definition of cuck is based on the idea that men should be stronger than women, that they should keep their women in line, and that they should be manly enough to control their life. They try to make the association between cuck and lack of autonomy, and this bias is completely sexist. The idea that a husbands wife is cheating on him with a black man, well that is just unacceptable, the worst-of-the-worst, in the alt-right’s eye! Ugh, what a bunch of sexist and racist fearful little boys.

The evolution of this word is interesting because of its rapid spread throughout online political culture and it’s ambiguous pejorative use.  Any man who is not an alt-right pledgee, is by default a cuck (and therefore a beta, but that’s a whole different blog post).  If the alt-right was actively trying to recruit members, then they would need to rethink their messaging- “cuck” doesn’t pacify men any more than the word “bitch” or “pussy” does. But, I don’t think the alt-right is actively trying to recruit members. Sure, they allow for prospective members to come to them, but they aren’t necessarily marketing themselves in the mainstream. So that’s actually really comforting, because the alt-right doesn’t have nearly as much power as the internet will lead you to believe. They are simply a group of men, who sit behind computer screens, and believe that they are genetically better than non-white men, and that their genetic traits need to be preserved.

I feel like “cuckservative” or “cuck” is just a really dumb and lazy insult. I mean, “cuck” in itself has no real meaning. At least “pussy” has a meaning.  As far as “pussy”‘s etymology, I wonder what came first- the vagina or the insult? Who knows.  I guess where insults come from doesn’t really matter, but my money’s on vagina (my theory is “pussycat” being used as a sexual innuendo dating back to like the Elvis days).

Alright. So what would I want someone to get from this blog post? That the word “cuck” is stupid, and it shouldn’t be given any greater power than the measly muscles it already has. “Cuck” exists in the alt-right universe, and we don’t need to acknowledge that realm of the digital milieu if we don’t want to. Using the word “cuck” just associates you with the alt-right losers and honestly has no real meaning other than the meaning that we give to it.

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The Beautiful Gift of Being Wrong

Holy fuck, 2017 is a lot crazier than ever expected. Our American government has become a futurist fuckery  that has a lot of people deep breathing in paper bags as we gather speed racing towards this universal feeling of annihilation anxiety. Life is way crazy right now and I think a lot of people I know out there are getting a bit worn out fighting the good fight, trying to stay woke and helping others to wake up. I know I am. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep learning, to keep helping, to keep loving, when reality is out of whack and it seems like society has given up on hope and change. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, AM I RIGHT OR WHAT?

For real though, what a time to be alive. Our grandchildren will most likely question us about what it was like living through “The Great Global Unrest” or whatever colloquial name history deems our current experience. We are living at a point in time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate and where the means of digital information has given us a tool to connect and learn and experience life in a whole different way than ever even imagined, but also a tool that often acts as the gateway to mass confusion, panic, and negativity.

So, what can we do about all the garbage out there, floating and polluting the digital airwaves? How do we deal with people who seem to get off to making life worse for others? How do we interact with those who challenge our perspective?

yeah right, if i give him my hard earned cash he'll spend it on dope, so naw, fuck him.

Jeez, get a look at this guy. Like I’m gonna give my hard earned cash when he’ll just buy dope. Naw, I’ve been conditioned to believe this, so, fuck you dude. 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that people are reactionary by nature, and people are often irrational. Why do we automatically scoff off the homeless man asking for spare change? “How dare he ask for the dollars in my wallet that I worked 50 hours a week for, when he’ll just buy booze and drugs? I have my own to take care of! He isn’t worthy of my charity!” This is an example of a reactionary response, and I believe we’ve been pretty conditioned to think this way (not specifically about the homeless man example, but in general). God forgive we see this homeless man as an individual man, and not as a representative of how we have grown to think about homeless people. Conditioned societal experience often blocks us from questioning situations or thoughts which will hold us back from developing greater understandings of everything in our life and to default on our reactionary way of thinking.

I believe that we must constantly question ourselves and our own views on life in a Socratic way. We gotta check ourselves, and make sure that some of that smelly trash water negativity hasn’t oozed into our way of thinking and is blocking us from seeing the reality of life. We can’t rest on our laurels and believe that all we know is right. WE MUST BE OKAY WITH BEING WRONG.

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had in my life was about whether or not the melting of polar icecaps raises water levels. It ended up turning into a screaming match and is one of my memories that I look back at with real, deep shame and embarrassment. A lot of other repressed emotions came out in that argument, and the whole ordeal was an example of great humanistic irrationality. However, at the end I conceded that I was wrong, or at least had the potential to be wrong, and the argument ended. Admitting I was wrong wasn’t embarrassing, in fact, it was liberating! By admitting I was wrong, or that there may be a flaw in my understanding, I killed the discomfort that the argument made me feel. Holy Smokes! What an important lesson from a seemingly minor event! So, when we’re out there, fighting the good fight, getting really worked up about something we believe in, maybe it’s important to step back and ask, “is there potential for a flaw in my thinking here?” and “am I discussing my point in the most loving and kind way possible?”. I think these are really questions to practice asking yourself. Not only will it help you gain a little peace and objectivity, but will also help you strengthen your own understanding about the issue at hand and possibly experience a little deeper connection with your core values of life.

polar ice cap

i still have no clue what happens when the polar ice caps melt

When you realize that you are wrong about something, or that your understanding of an issue needs to change to be congruent with your overall understanding of life, it is not a defeat, but a ginormous win for all of the universe! The prize is a deeper understanding of the issue! Admitting you are wrong or some negative aspect of yourself needs to change is the pickaxe that chips away of that protective ego that makes us assholes in the first place. Relish in being wrong and in the celebrate the act of continuous learning! I really truly believe that the only way we are going to get through the next four years is with a gracious heart and examination of self, which will take a lot of concentration and commitment, but is far from an impossibility.

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Progressives and Political Correctness (or lack of)

on-political-correctness

lulz but 4real

I just watched a Dave Rubin YouTube video entitled” Why I Left the Left”,  uploaded via Prager University (just real quick, incase you’re not familiar- they aren’t a university, they’re a blog/media site that gave themselves the title of “university”). Rubin basically said progressives don’t have a progressive agenda because progressives support censorship via political correctness, they don’t believe in the exercise of free speech as demonstrated from such responses in Berkeley to Milo’s planned speech, and they don’t believe that laws should protect religious freedoms even though the absent of these laws violates religious people’s conscious and autonomy (ie: progressives believe no matter who comes in for a wedding cake, say Adam and Steve, Cathy’s Christian Cakes still has to make it even though Cathy believes that Adam and Steve are the devil). Oh, and the video also asserts that trigger warnings are bad and are for cry baby snowflakes who can’t deal with a little blood/angry words.

None of this is true. At least it isn’t true for myself and the “progressives” that I surround myself with. Videos like Rubin’s referenced here are dangerous because they’re spreading a message that generalizes a huge group of people into one school of thought that has defined, or perceived, limits (cough*propaganda*cough). If we group everyone together we lose individuality, which is where truly great ideas will come from. It boxes us all together, and that’s not real! To say that my ideas and outlook on life are the same as all progressives is wrong and a stupid thing to assert. Just because I’m a progressive doesn’t mean that I think we should be spending all of our money on saving baby seals and giving undocumented people mansions.  It gets especially dangerous when the issues/schools of thought a group of people are linked to isn’t even what they endorse or believe.

PROGRESSIVE TRUTH ALERT: Liberty and Social Justice aren’t Mutually Exclusive.

I don’t believe in political correctness in the sense of censorship. I believe people shouldn’t be bigots, and as a society we should value using language in a way that conveys the most truth. This is really important in the digital age where facts can easily get distorted through the rapidness of communication. The Pew Research Center has recently published their recent and updated findings about racial disparities in American society for Black History Month. In a time of much needed good news, Pew reports that there are more African Americans in Congress than ever before with 50 between the House (47) and Senate (3), comprising of 9% between the two chambers. The gap between blacks and whites for finishing high school is also narrowing, where 88% of African American’s have received their high school diploma in comparison with 93% of whites. So where does political correctness come into play here? It doesn’t. I’m stating facts with the absolute greatest objectivity possible. See, if I said something like “blacks aren’t as smart as whites and that’s why they don’t graduate as much”, then I would be spreading a falsehood and would fall on the dishonest side of the political correctness spectrum. If I said “n*ggers are poorer than whites” then I would be using politically incorrect language that falls very closely to the end of the ignorant, dishonest side of the PC spectrum- but hey, if we’re trying to get rid of PC language totally, then the above statement isn’t just politically incorrect, but fucking ignorant, bigoted, and racist.

It was surprisingly difficult to find any information about political correctness online and depending on what you read you will probably get a different understanding and interpretation of the term. I found comedians doing monologues about the topic and sarcastic articles about political correctness in action, but nothing direct and objective within the first five results of a basic google and YouTube search. The only results that did first appeared were additional PragerU and Dave Rubin videos about the topic, which is interesting that they are promoting political incorrectness the most. They seem to be advocating a dissent view on something that doesn’t really seem to be an issue (coughpropellingpropagandacough) for most open-minded people.

The biggest argument about political correctness that I can find is that it sugar coats language and that people need to stop being so soft and easily offended. And I agree with this argument- in my opinion, free speech is the most important American value and it is imperative that we speak in a way that best communicates our message. I don’t agree with ignorant language, however I don’t think it should be banned. I don’t think the argument is so much about being “politically correct” as much as I think it is not being an ignorant idiot. Derogatory speech like nigger, faggot, retard, and spic are not just “politically incorrect”, but are ignorant and conveys that the sender is a racist/bigot/sexist/whatever and gives the message a subtext of hate and unintelligence.

I am a progressive who strongly believes that freedom relies on the right of free speech. I think that Milo should have been able to speak at Berkeley, and that people who were destructive in order to ban his speech are just as dangerous as his rhetoric. It seems that a lot of objectors to political correctness think progressives only believe that speech should be restricted to what aligns with what is soft and comfortable. This couldn’t be further from the truth. See, progressive want progress, we want our society to evolve to a place where we can live our best lives together. Progress can only come from new ideas, and without the ability to think and say whatever you want, the chance of progress greatly diminishes.

cute-wedding-gay-top

awwwww ❤

And what about the issue of the gay wedding cakes? Should a bakery be forced to make a cake for Adam and Steve if they believe that it should be Adam and Eve? Yes. I mean, we rationalized slavery because of the biblical verses where God said it was cool to own other people as long as we treated them nicely. It is impossible for equality to exist if our society legally allows for inequality in any capacity.

So, what about places like Curves, the gym that is exclusively for women? A quintessential part of Curves’ mission is to provide a space where women feel comfortable while working out, and one way they are able to do this is by not allowing male members. I am very supportive of the underlying value of Curves’ mission- that women shouldn’t feel judged or uncomfortable when trying to be healthy- however, I do think it is wrong to exclude men from joining. I think that Curves should do everything that it can to continue programming and engaging in business decisions that are womencentric, but by principle, should not be exclusive to women.  Curves should be allowed to state right from the get-go that their message is to make women comfortable when working out and the main way this is possible is by not having a male presence. Men who are aware of this should honor this request, but no be obligated to it. They shouldn’t be banned from joining, but they should probably rethink their motivation for joining a woman-centered gym.

One other argument thrown in with the anti-political correctness ravings was about the allocation of tax money. It argued that nuns, who are against the use of contraceptions, should not have to pay taxes which fund organizations like Planned Parenthood. My response to this is: I am against war, but I still have to pay taxes for the senseless killings in the five places we’re actively bombing right now. I don’t like where my taxes are going, but I believe in democracy and representation of the people, and if I really don’t want my tax money to making white-phosphorous bombs, then I need to take a stand and work to change this.  

And real quick on trigger warnings- I always thought they were kind of stupid until very recently. I’ve had knee-jerk reactions to seeing posts online that say things like: “TW: rape culture/assault” followed by a paragraph about an interaction the poster had last night with a drunk stranger who lifted her skirt in a bar. I’ve often read these things and thought, that’s not that crazy that it needs a disclaimer, right? We shouldn’t be that sensitive and people should be able to read about that encounter the girl posted without feeling some sort of way, right?

Ehh, not really. Let me use a real example from last week that ended in the realization of “oh shit, this is why trigger warnings aren’t stupid”. I was scrolling through my facebook feed, procrastinating doing work, and stopped when I saw a friend, who normally posts silly videos about dogs or equally mindless shit, posted a video that lacked description, but looked intriguing enough for whatever reason. At first I wasn’t sure what I was watching, and the video just seemed like a bunch of people watching a cop trying to help a woman stand up who was hunched over. I immediately thought that maybe the woman was guarding a puppy or something innocent, but was shocked into reality after about 10 seconds when I recognized that the woman was overdosing on what I assume to be heroin. I was not ready, nor expecting, to see an active overdose and I’d be lying if I said the video didn’t shake me up. I have had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing people overdose on drugs before, and it is something that I prefer not to watch. If I had I known that the video was of an overdose, I simply would have just kept scrolling without giving it a second thought.  However, since there was no description, let alone a trigger warning, I endured an emotional moment that I would have preferred to do without.  So even though this video probably didn’t bother most people who watched it, having a trigger warning would have been helpful for the ones like me who would prefer not to see that. This goes for people who have unresolved trauma from sexual assault and have an emotion reaction to reading about rape or sexual assault online. Trigger warnings aren’t so snowflakes feel safe, it’s so real people don’t have to look at shit that might be emotionally disturbing, that’s all.

So all in all, progressives, at least progressives like myself, value liberty and free speech just as much as the next person. Placing people in boxes ends conversations before they can begin and stifles creativity, which is integral for the evolution of society to a more just and loving world.

 

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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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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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Facts, Opinions, and How to Influence Others

falseness

#truth

How do you learn about the news? The local newspaper delivered to your door each morning? The Evening Broadcast on Channel 6? The NY Times you pick up on your way to work? Your favorite online news magazines? Headlines throughout the day posted on Facebook? Other ____?

If we’re being real, which is what this whole post is about, I don’t always read the news from reliable sources. I don’t get the local newspaper, and only read a carefully picked 5 stories a month from the Scranton Times because they charge you for any more than this. I use the Newsstand App on my iPhone where I am subscribed to a ton of my favorite newspapers and magazines, and do my due diligence to read the top headlines each morning, but a lot of time it’s done with blurry sleep ridden eyes and a hazy, non-caffeinated consciousness. And what about Facebook? Is it wrong to say that I read some of my news from Facebook from other friends’ posts, especially when I seem to be sucked into a social media state of numbness on my phone?

I don’t think it’s bad necessarily to get your news from Facebook or other social media outlets, as long as you’re reading such with an open and critical thinking mind. It’s important to take into consideration who shared the news article and is it related to a reputable news source?  Is it just an eye grabbing, attention seeking headline that doesn’t expect you to even click on the link and read the full story? Are you sure it’s a factual piece of writing and not an op-ed hidden in the hazy digital veil of truth-likeness?

I see so many news stories on Facebook and I am growing more and more nervous of their power each day. The issue I see is too many people are willing to just read the headline someone posts and not the full story. And, if the full story is read, it’s just a few paragraphs giving the news source’s opinion disguised as fact and taken out of context. Think Fox News, but remember Fox News isn’t the only news media that is guilty of making readers think their opinions are fact. Liberal media sources do this too.

I am weary of news media outlets that posts stories online that say things like “This is the Dumbest Thing Clinton has said During Her Campaign So Far” and “Putting Sanders in the White House is Like Making a Zebra the King of America”. These are obviously opinion pieces, but are we sure that by reading this we won’t automatically agree with this opinion because it’s easier than thinking for ourselves?

I am 100% guilty of this. I have read articles, such as an article a few months ago published by Mother Jones which was about Jeb Bush and his remarks about people who work 40 hours a week should work more. I was appalled to say the least, but it wasn’t until I took the time to read a few other news sources that I found the whole story, and Mother Jones’ only reported on a small bit in order to entice readers.

I’m worried about the effects this type of understanding of the news, the only reading headlines or carefully crafted opinion pieces that sway the reader to assume this opinion and thus believe it as their truth, is having on us as a nation. It’s really hard to figure out what is truth, what is only part of the story, and what is just opinion of the writer. See, even though I use this blog to air my opinions and thoughts, I also hope that readers will take into consideration my views and challenge them against their own. And if someone doesn’t have their own opinion yet, then it is much easier for me, or anyone, to influence someone into thinking the same way that I do. And that’s dangerous.

 

And sometimes the news is so overwhelming, as performed by Eric Andre:

 

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Polarized Thinking is destroying our potential to have independent thought

cat vs. dog

You’re Either a Dog or a Cat

I have been sick for two weeks. I’m pretty such my blood at this point is made up of at least 4% Robitussin. I hope this makes sense to people other than myself and my dog:

We vs. They

The need for distinction and separation in a country that once prided itself on inclusiveness is pulling apart America.

Our way of thinking is becoming minimalized, or at least I notice mine often being compromised. By default, we want things to be clean and simple. We want easy choices. And when there are only two choices to choose from, well making a decision that involves the most good isn’t so hard. I relate this to being a vegetarian in a steak house. I never have to worry about what I’m going to get to eat and never regret what I order, because more than likely there will only be one salad that I can have off the whole menu. Case closed.

The way of making choices based on polarized answers has taken over American politics. Things must fit into nominal categories, and for many things there are only two categories to choose from- The We or The They. You either are or you aren’t. There is no other answer. And this way of thinking is dangerous. It is “in-the-box” thinking. It is standardized test thinking. It is biased thinking that we start accepting as truth.

Donald Trump is a perfect example of someone who strives off people who have been beatened down by the media and other social control measures that promotes polarized thinking as the only way. For instance, it’s either you are part of the whole, the WE, that wants the country to be better, or you are part of the THEY that doesn’t care about the country.  There is no middle ground. And to question why there is no middle ground puts you into the THEY category, because, well, it’s not the WE. You either are a cool kid, or you are not. And you’ll pay the price for the not.

Poloarized thinking is everywhere. It is conveyed through our daily language. And I’m guilty of thinking in polarized terms, and using it as language and definitions as well: I am LEFT, not Right. I am a Woman, not a Man. I am White, not Black. I am Middle Class, not Upper Class. As much as I allow myself to be something, I define myself as NOT being something. Follow? I am left, therefore I also am not right. I am a woman, therefore there is no way I can be a man. I am white, therefore I cannot be black.

But I am starting to challenge this way of thinking because of its exclusitivity, and I don’t believe our minds are so black and white that we can only define ourselves in concrete terms. For instance, I am a woman, but can’t I just be a person? (This is where I get annoyed with the term “feminism” because I think it’s too much of a socially constructed word that turns people off more than it would if it was something more inclusive like “everyoneism”.) Anyways, I digress. Can’t we just say that we are a person? I’m a progressive, but I’m really just a person made up of a lot of components that can’t be separated into easy categories.

We Vs. They makes fighting for what you think is right easier. Because I think that we should have a reformed immigration system makes it easier for me to be part of the WE that isn’t the THEY. And the THEY is wrong. No matter what their view is, they are wrong. Which isn’t the correct way to think. There are many different reasons why people are against immigration reform, but by grouping them all together as my opposition, I am not open to expanding my mind of why. Dig it?

The We vs. They way of thinking is pulling our country apart. Trayvon Martin was when I first started noticing the media’s revitalization of binary way of thought. Even if white people, like myself, consider themselves allies with black people and organizations such as BLM, we still have this idea that we aren’t fully emerged BECAUSE it’s black vs. white. And since I am White, I therefore am not Black, and therefore cannot feel fully the injustices that black people feel when a black person is killed for no reason by a police officer. But I don’t know if I agree with this. I don’t have the history in my genes of oppression, but I do by default because I am an American citizen. And therefore I have to believe, that ultimately there is an “us”. And it’s just not letting terms define what we are and what we are not. It’s making sure we are using our voice and standing up for what is the greater good, no matter how complicated it may be.

 

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Dumb White Girl and My Use of Ignorant Language

Yesterday I referred out loud about a song idea of mine as being “gay” in front of my band mates. This is a term that I ignorantly use all too often. As soon as it came out of my mouth I automatically wish I could suck it back in. No one called me out on it, and I didn’t apologize, although I immediately realized that I was wrong to use such vocabulary in a derogatory way.

I’d like to pretend that this was an isolated incident, that I have never used the term “gay”, or any other label, as having negative connotations, but such would be a blatant lie. I have described things in a negative matter as “gay” and have not given it second thought.  I always try to be aware of the garbage that often spews from my mouth but a lot of the times I don’t do such a great job at this. I am still very much guilty of using offensive language, even if I am recognizing my ignorance.

Sometimes I say really stupid shit.

Sometimes I say really stupid shit.

I know I have in the past excused myself from such terms in explaining that they don’t matter. IE: “It’s just a term, I don’t mean any harm”, which consciously is true- I don’t mean any harm. However, the hate, and I believe that it is hate, that is built into words to describe things in a negative way, still is very harmful. I have used the term “gay” in a derogatory way in front of gay friends and straight friends and have brushed it off, without even allowing myself to think how this is offensive to them. When someone refers to something as being “gay” in front of me, I often will feel offended and I am a straight woman. So what makes it different for me to use such disgusting language?

The fact that I have grown up as a privileged white woman probably has something to do with this. I have never really been wounded by a sharp tongue. It’s not like anyone uses the term “white 20-something female” as a way to describe something in a bad way or as a derogatory term. The history that has evolved the word “gay” into a negative adjective has come from the negativity that the term was used to describe gay people. The same with words like “junkie” or “retarded” or “jew” or “nigger”. There is such power behind these words, and to dismiss this is to dismiss the history that has come from these words. 

Now, I don’t think of myself as being politically correct, but perhaps I am more than I’d like to admit. I think a world where we can call  African Americans, Anglo Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Pakistani Americans, etc. as just “Americans”. I know this idea is a long way off, and perhaps there is an issue of generalization as suppressing cultural history, but I think it would make causal conversation easier. So I don’t know. All I can say is that I need to watch myself and make sure that I am aware of the underlying hate and offense that come with certain terms. So if I could go back last night and talk about my song idea, well, it was fucking stupid.

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