Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Real C Word

We've all heard it before: "That girl is craaazayyyy!!!!!!" But does the emotional woman idea hold any water? Unsurprisingly, not a drop. The stereotype of the overly-sensitive, weepy-woman isn't a new concept: woman gets dumped; woman eats a few pints of rocky road ice cream; woman wallows in despair for a week or so. But what gets left off in this ever-so-popular fiction is this: woman moves on. Although the guy feels better right away when a romantic relationship breaks up, its actually the male counterpart that suffers the most from intense emotional distress over the long run.

In my social psychology class we discussed emotions and how the sexes feel them, use them, and perpetrate them. Its actually quite fascinating if you're into that kind of thing. As early as 1931 research has shown that, contrary to popular belief, it is actually the men that are the more emotional of the two genders, although only slightly.

Think about it. Who resorts to violence when someone bumps into them at a party by accident? The guys. Who feels the need to shut down marital conflicts, rather than talk it out and discuss the problem? Men again. Even in infant studies baby boys are more likely to have angry outbursts and throw temper tantrums than little girls are. Elementary school aged boys seek exciting rough and tumble games, but when disputes arise are known to resort to arbitrary rules made up on the spot, sometimes going so far as to "replay" the event rather than admit someone is wrong. Perhaps its not that men are as stoic as the act they like to give off- its simply that we live in a culture that says men aren't allowed to be emotional- so they run from it. Because of the roller coaster that is the male psyche, men may work harder than women do to avoid having emotions in the first place.

Don't get me wrong fellas, I do not pretend that we girls aren't sometimes a bit emotional, but for pete's sake can we all stop using "crazy" as a cop out for your own lack of emotional security?

One of my very good friends was telling me recently about how her guy said she was overreacting because his first snapchat best friend was his recent ex, while she wasn't in the top three. Was it a big deal? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but the point is this: instead of saying something like, "We are actually still friends, but I'm sorry you are feeling insecure about it. I am with you because I want you  so please understand that me and my ex ended for a reason." No, instead he hit her with, "Wow stop being so crazy!"

Wait, what? Shouldn't a guy that is being faithful be cool-headed enough to have a rational excuse for such a pretty obvious betrayal of her trust? Instead, he pulled out the one word most women cannot stand to be called: the real C word. He spun the situation around so that he could get off scot-free, and she is left feeling like an insane person for daring to question him.

That may seem like a trivial story, but in reality, ladies, we know it happens entirely too much.

When your gut tells you something doesn't add up, more likely than not you are correct. Female intuition is a powerful force. Studies on brain scans from different research organizations are showing that the female brain is wired more heavily between the right and left hemispheres. This means that women are linked more strongly than men between intuition and analytical thinking. Listen to yourself! You might just be right. Don't let this power-play keep you from asking questions that deserve answers.

As for the C-word, guys? It's disrespectful. It shouldn't happen. Stop using it. Embrace your masculine emotions so we can all move on.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Killing Women and Saving Babies

I'm writing this in response to a request from a young lady who asked me my opinion on abortions; she said I need to shout this from the rooftops, but I guess Blogger will have to do. People get radical about the right to live vs the right to choose.  I understand why abortion is a heated topic: because of lack of knowledge. I want you to read this with a open mind. Be pro-life or be pro-choice, but please just read my arguments on why it is of the upmost importance abortions remain legal. As Texans, we most stand up for our rights to make the choices that will define our lives, as men and as women, and this persecution coming from old men in suits sitting behind desks in our government must be stopped.

First I just want to say, if you feel abortions are morally wrong, then do not get an abortion. I personally do not think I would get one, but I also have never been faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I do not have the authority to say who can or cannot go have an abortion. Neither do you, for that matter.

I think that a country of unwanted children is a hellava lot scarier than a country that allows easy access to cost-efficient abortions. Rising out of poverty is almost impossible- especially for women. Huffington Post says a full 4.1 million single-mother families are living in poverty. A full 40% of families headed by single mothers are below the poverty line, and child support is a joke. As in, it still costs about the same to raise a kid whether the kid is one-parented or two-parented. Considering the average payment wouldn't even cover daycare, we really need to make dead-beat dads step up to the plate.

Comparison of estimated expenditures* on children by single-parent
and husband-wife families, overall United States, 2004
Age of child     Single-parent              Husband-wife
                          households                 households
0 - 2                     $5,860                         $7,040
3 - 5                     $6,640                         $7,210
6 - 8                     $7,460                         $7,250
9 - 11                   $6,930                         $7,220
12 - 14                 $7,420                         $8,070
15 - 17                 $8,180                         $8,000
Total                    $127,470                     $134,370
*Estimates are for the younger child in two-child families with 2004 before-tax income less than $41,700.
Check out this Expenditures on Children report from 2004 if you wanna look or see more for yourself. That was a decade ago, so imagine what a decade's worth of inflation has done to the numbers.

And what about the child? Have you seen what student loans are running these days? Adoption is a beautiful gift of a mother to parents that are unable to conceive, but please remember that not all children are adopted. Children growing up in foster care systems are shown as social deviants on TV. The actual foster kids are known to suffer from abuses ranging from physical to verbal to sexual. Is a child better off being molested for years than never knowing of its conscience? I'm not sure.

What about the foster kids that don't get abused... just put out on the streets to fend for themselves at 18? I am 22 and my parents still pay for everything. I'm sure I couldn't do it. I just signed a petition on for a foster kid that wanted her northern college to not kick her out of the dorms between breaks: she would be living under a bridge in the snow for Christmas; she didn't have a stable home to go back to on breaks.

You would think that with all this Christianly love in the pro-life crowd, some of that go-get-em attitude about stopping abortion would have people putting their money where their bull-horned mouth is. But hey, if the kid goes to bed hungry every night its okay! The kid is alive, right?
But are they okay?

There are certain humans who will never, ever, in a billion years ever face an unwanted pregnancy. They perform the "fathering" job. These same certain humans are the one's making the laws that control the reproductive freedom of women. Its sickening. There has been a trend through time that the more powerful women get, the more eager weak men get to "put them back into their place." The easiest way to do this? By controlling when and if women become moms. The rate of abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 has dropped, both nationwide and in Texas, by nearly 10 abortions each. You wouldn't know it judging from the bills being passed: more laws restricting abortions have been passed in the last 2 years than the previous 10 years combined. Funny considering our government literally was shut down for part of this year... priorities, people, priorities.

Most of these men running our government (Average age of the Senate is 62, House of Representatives is 57) were born during a time before birth control was legally available. It was not until 1965 that married people were even allowed to get birth control, and 1972 marked the year single people were allowed to purchase it legally. A doctor in Connecticut was convicted of helping married couples get birth control; the case went all the way to the Supreme Court before he was released from jail. Can you imagine how being raised in a time where mom vacuumed in pearls before serving dad his martini and a pot roast could influence progressive thinking? How can men raised in the 1950s be capable of thinking about women's rights fairly? They cannot.

So you think abortions are wrong: I want to be a mom someday, I get it... dead babies are terrible! But let me ask you to follow the logically argument to abortions regarding bodily autonomy. I am an organ donor. That means that when I die, my organs will be used to save the lives of those injured or the sick that are in need of my heart/lungs/kidneys because of some disease. No one has the right to steal my organs or to use them without my consent. By signing a paper that puts a little heart on my driver's license, I am consenting. Imagine now that I was not an organ donor and then was in some terrible car crash and I died. I am young. I'm relatively healthy so my organs would be in high demand; I would probably save the lives of quite a few people. It would not matter what two year old little girl or elderly grandfather around that hospital was in need of my organs- even to save their life- because I have the right to bodily autonomy. My organs cannot be used without my permission, for any reason, no matter how noble the cause.

How then is the right to choose to carry a baby to term any different?  Do embryos not need a living human womb to grow? Maybe I do not want a child to use my organ (my womb/uterus) because I have a right to bodily autonomy. My possession of a vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes is not my consent to become pregnant. Having sexual intercourse is not my consent to become pregnant. Nothing but my willingness to produce this hypothetical child could be considered consent to lease out the use of my organs, my energy, and the food necessary for growing a fetus that would die, otherwise. To say that a woman does not have the right to choose to keep, give up for adoption, or abort her own baby is to give a corpse more rights than every woman on this Earth.

I am coming at this from a practical point of view. Because all religions are a belief system that means that some people believe and some people do not believe. Otherwise, such belief would be "fact" and would not require "faith." Believe what ever you want, or believe nothing at all. Believe in Jesus. Believe in Allah. Believe in Zeus and Buddah and Osiris. Believe in little flying purple space people, if you want. Believe in nothing at all. But do not use a belief to negatively impact the availability of life changing medical procedures- life saving medical procedures- for people that choose to think differently than you.

I was raised Catholic, and I was taught in Mass and CCD classes all of my childhood that birth control is sinful. Even happily married couples that have finished with growing their little family is forbidden to use contraception by the Catholic church. Going along those teachings, I used to be the most pro-life person you could ever meet. I volunteered at the Coalition for Life in College Station. I tried to be a full-time counselor, but it didn't work out with my school schedule. I truly felt that if you are grown-up enough to have sex, you are grown-up enough to take responsibility for everything that goes with that- including a pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

And then I saw this billboard in class: A woman in the 1970's was on her hands and knees, and the picture frame was shot from above her head, aimed towards her feet. Her butt was in the air- naked- and her face was lying in a puddle of her own blood.... her "lover" had failed at a coat hanger abortion.  When he pushed too far into her body, the sharp point had perforated her uterus:
She bleed out. He simply left.

The fact that even one young woman died in this senselessly violent tragedy has forever changed my opinion on the necessity of easy access to abortion. Please do not think I am running up and down streets skipping about all the dead babies that will never grace this earth- I am NOT. But I am insisting that the current state of affairs in Texas needs to be talked about. You should really check out How Republicans Won the Fight over Abortion in Texas. Its terrifying.
  • Did you know that by September 1, 2014, there will be six places serving 26,448,193 Texans. 
  • Did you know that 1 in 3 women will obtain an abortion before the age of 45? 
  • The last two clinics- Beaumont and McAllen- in rural areas have closed. The next provider closest to McAllen is over 200 miles away.
To put that in perspective, there are ten McDonald's in Bryan/College Station. House Bill 2 in Texas, passed summer 2013, is one of the most restrictive attacks on the availability of abortions in the country. I was actually in Austin with Jeannette and saw a protest in the streets of Austin against it; Sen. Wendy Davis stood for 11 hours to filibuster the law. Then Governor Perry passed it, anyways, despite the filibuster. Guttemacher Institute  research website says:
  • In Texas, 533,500 of the 5,404,124 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2011. 71% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 14% in induced abortions. 
Clearly, abortion is not an uncommon thing. The H.B.2 law lines out these restrictions starting on April 1, 2014 as follows:
  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. 
Idk about you ladies, but information designed to discourage me, then giving me a day to think about my abortion doesn't seem very woman-friendly- especially after I had just barely made up my mind that a child isn't the best choice for me right now.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided. 
So, a female teenager might be kicked out of their home by their parents and entire life ruined because of this parental consent clause. It happens. And if children in kindergarten are "having sex" in the bathrooms at schools in New Jersey, I would bet my bottom dollar teens are doing the same in Texas.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. 
So now poor women, who can't afford abortions to begin with, are now faced with what? A coat hanger? Stairs? Pills? A swift punch to the stomach? What about a bleach martini? If they can't afford an abortion, the mother probably can't afford a child either.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman. If the woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion provider she must obtain the ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion. 
The six abortion clinics will be located in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. Kind of hard for a poor woman to come up with the $500 or so to obtain an abortion, find a ride to the clinic, then find a place to stay for the 24 hour wait period required by law. Planned parenthood is actually building a $5 million facility in San Antonio to comply with these new "regulations," so those poorer women can afford the health care. I wonder how far five million dollars would go for providing mammograms or birth-control.

I hope you agree, or can at least understand, why shutting down all but 6 clinics is a big problem; whats going on? The Texas legislature is saying they want to "protect women," which I'm all for, of course. When he signed the bill into law, despite Sen. Wendy Davis's filibuster, Gov. Perry said,
"This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women."
Except he is wrong? The chance of dying from an abortion is 1/10 of the chance of dying from giving birth. There is no "save the women" campaign happening...Maybe controlling the women. Looks like it just might be working.

Think about it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wake Up Young Americans

I believe with hard work, all ambition Americans have the opportunity to succeed. Does that mean I want to help the poor? Of course I do! Programs like WIC keep food on the table for many needy families, and there is no shame in seeking help if you need it. However, what happens when the needy families aren’t needy at all- they are college educated young people just drowning in student debt with no way to repay it? I was blessed enough to be graduating college with no debt thanks to the sacrifices my parents made. My fellow young Americans? Not so lucky. Google tells me that the class of 2012’s average student debt was $29,400, which is almost six grand MORE than the class of 2008’s average debt which is $23,450, and nearly DOUBLE the class of 2004’s average debt at a mere $18,750.

 What’s going on guys? Is our generation really just lazy bums too busy poppin molly and twerkin to be adults like the media says?

I’ll tell you what I think… it doesn’t sound too pretty, but numbers don’t lie: The old are quite literally eating the young. America used to be a place where with a high school degree and some hard work, a person could provide for their family, put a little money away for retirement, and have a pretty comfortable life. They wouldn’t be rich, but they would be okay.

Today? LOL at saving money. Millennial are called the “boomerang generation” because entirely too many young people either cant find a job, or the only job available is waiting tables or bartending. In fact, of college educated 18-34 year olds, a full SIXTY ONE PERCENT MORE were living with their parents in 2011 than in 2001 according to The Atlantic. It’s disgusting. We are literally negative value.....

Lazy, entitled narcissists who live with their parents...
Did you know that our congressional representatives are getting older? The 111th congress (we’re in the 113th right now) was the oldest in history. How can our lawmakers be advocating for the interest of young Americans when they themselves are 20 years older than the people they represent? They can’t. Our leaders are more concerned about helping the old die comfortably than the young get established and be productive members of society.

While eating lunch with Tommy, we were talking about his paycheck….a full QUARTER of it was taken out for taxes….. will he or I ever see a cent of social security benefits? No. How can young people ever ever ever get ahead and do things like buy houses, start families, or IDK pay off $30,000 worth of student debt when all we’re getting as jobs is unpaid internships or being stuck at lowly entry level jobs for the first 10 years of employment? Even the grocery stores are switching to automated check-outs rather than have cashiers....

Did you know that 92% of Congress is over age 40? The average age of the Senate is 62, and the average age of the House is 57…..Do you think middle-aged white rich guys have the same interests as 20 year old middle class people just getting started? Absolutely not. In the 1970's there was a movement to age restrict congress members to 65 or 70... not a bad idea considering you have to be 25 to run for the house. So while the 113th congress was busy writing 10 different bills to rename post offices, I decided I want to run for office; You have to be at least 21 to run for Texas Representative and wuddyaknow Im 22. Sadly, I missed the deadline to get on the ballot by a few months, but I promise you I will do my damnedest to fix this country when I have the opportunity. How can 80 year old congress members even be awake to hear the arguments? Ive seen senate hearings on CSPAN it looks so so boring!!! You know there must be some serious napping going on in Washington by our esteemed older representatives....

Fun fact- student loans must be paid back with interest. Who sets the interest? Congress. The 62 year old senators, for example, who grew up in the 1950's in the days of  Leave it to Beaver. Right now, you can quite literally finance a house, a car, almost anything with less interest than the student loan interest rates:
Loan Type
First Disbursed between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014
Direct Subsidized Loans (Undergraduate Students)
Fixed at 3.86%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Undergraduate Students)
Fixed at 3.86%

Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Graduate or Professional Students)
Fixed at 5.41%
Direct PLUS Loans (Parents and Graduate or Professional Students)
Fixed at 6.41%

Perkins Loans (Undergraduate and Graduate or Professional Students)
Fixed at 5%

More fun news coming off the website? 
Most federal student loans have loan fees that are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You're responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.
Here are the loan fees for federal student loans first disbursed on or after Dec. 1, 2013:
   1.072% for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans
4.288% for Direct PLUS Loans for parents and graduate and professional students”
Raise Your Voice- Vote!!!!

Don't think I'm saying we should all go kill our grandparents- not at all! I just want you all to realize the situation we are facing as a generation.... and we aren't exactly being helped out by our lovely baby boomer congress. 

In 2020, the youngest of the millennials will be reaching voting age; at that time, we will have a full 40% of the voting block. Get involved, do your research, and together we really can turn this around.

Wake up Young America…. Before its too late.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jane Eyre & Zombies

The nerdy kid that lives inside of me actually loves finding old essays from class ;)
This was written for my Literature and Film Class in the Fall of 2013.
Its kinda long, but also kinda interesting- the movie was fantastic if you would want to check it out! Nothing quite like old horror films....Enjoy!
Not yo mama's Jane

Jane Eyre Revisited
Charlotte Bronte’s classic Victorian novel Jane Eyre uses a first person narrative to illustrate the life of the title character as she moves from her wretched childhood dependent on relatives, to her time spent at Lowood getting an education and then also teaching at the charity school for the poor. The majority of the novel, however, focuses on her adult life as a governess, school teacher, and finally wife to her former employer all while provocatively exploring alternatives to long-held beliefs about the role of women, marriage, and the benevolent sexism that ran rampant in 19th century English society. Jacques Tourney’s 1943 film, I Walked With a Zombie, is thematically very similar to Jane Eyre, with specific parallels between then two immediately evident. The film originally places our protagonist as the narrator and focus of the story, but she is later shuffled to the background as our attention is shifted from her job and later love story to the circumstances surrounding the mysterious illness of her employer’s wife. Betsy, our heroine, is not even an active player in the final scene, but functions only as a bystander as the wife she is brought to St. Sebastian to treat is lifelessly carried past. By minimizing the impact of heterosexual love on the direction of the plot, being set in an exotic location, and the presence of a supernatural voodoo culture coexisting with normal society, I Walked With a Zombie reimagines Jane Eyre not simply as another adaptation of the novel, but as a modernized reworking of the classic tale that borrows specific elements from the Jane Eyre template while simultaneously introducing an independent storyline.
Jane Eyre has been adapted time and again as a tale of a morally upstanding young heroine, determined to rely on her own devices as she navigates her way through the world. The heroine grapples through out each retelling with her demand for autonomy and the masculine pressures she encounters along her journey. Zombie, however, does not strike one as fitting so neatly into this categorical grouping of ideas. In Zombie, Betsy is not shown as coming from a long life of misfortune and heartache like our young Jane, nor is she shown as a woman striving to prove to herself or to others that she is capable of self-sufficiency. In fact, Zombie minimizes the question of gender ideals, however misogynist or female suppressing they may be, in exchange for the eeriness of the sugarcane fields at night and the spook factor of voodoo rituals. Although the heroine indeed does fall in love with her employer, reminiscent of Mr. Rochester and Thornhill, the meat of Zombie is focused more so on the illness and treatment of Mrs. Holland than the love affair of Betsy and Paul.
Both mediums explore the darker side of marriage. Film and novel both work to challenge the notion that someday a handsome prince will come to provide the happily ever after that women are culturally trained to expect, if not demand. Being married is not equivalent to being happy, as the wives unfortunately both find out.   Jane Eyre places Bertha Mason locked in an attic because of her “insanity” which is taken at face value from Mr. Rochester and his account of their marriage. It is left to the reader to question her sanity before her rejection of her marriage vows: is she being punished for her promiscuity and for not conforming to the feminine ideal? In I Walked with a Zombie, Jessica Holland is infected by an island fever that “burned parts of her spinal column,” as we’re told by her doctor. The fever leaves her in a zombie-like state of consciousness, her trance never lifting to hint at her past self. She interestingly falls ill the very day after she lets her husband know she is leaving him for his brother, Wesley, and he forbids her to go. Both film and novel use mental illness to punish the ill-behaving wives, while the husbands are both left to romantically do as he pleases, despite playing leading roles in the unhappy marriages.
The angle that Zombie takes through minimizing heterosexual relationships and focusing on the supernatural can be interpreted as simply a more exciting version of the overplayed, stereotypical love story; zombies being, of course, the minor, but entertaining, twist. Jane Eyre uses romance with Mr. Rochester as a major influence on the life trajectory of the protagonist, to the point that we find Jane basing her work and place of residence on him and his actions.  The film, however, seems to glaze over the attractive between Betsy and Paul, although when viewing, the scene that Betsy decides she loves Paul and declares she must make Jessica better for him came as a little too much of a surprise; the two seemed to interact only on a professional level until this point. Instead of an influential piece of the plot like in the novel, the romantic side-story is a minor detail in relation to the importance of the circumstances regarding Jessica. The film is seemingly divided into two separate pieces: the first aimed to cater to Betsy, her narration, and her viewpoint; a secondary shifting happens when a broader view of the servants, the local culture, and the bigger picture regarding Jessica’s character. Once Betsy and Jessica go to the houmfort, where the servants gather to practice their magic, the sound of drums permeate the island air and are glaringly present until the film’s end, clearing marking the separation point and reminding the viewer where attention should be directed.
Although there are prevailing similarities in themes in both the novel and the movie adaptation, the basic stories are separated very distinctly by the setting: Zombie’s tropical island setting of St. Sebastian with its mysterious Voodoo culture, versus Jane Eyre’s strikingly contrasted upper-class British countryside (main) setting of Thornhill. The society driven novel dictates that Jane frame herself to Rochester’s expectations: she is to be in his company when he demands, despite her paid job is only that of Adele’s governess; she is to marry him in secret and to move far away because that is his wish; and finally to run away from her job, from her home, and from his misery because he puts her in a position where she feels she cannot stay. Also, when Jane comes back to him, she is put in a different kind of oppression as she is now both nurse and servant to Rochester. Next, the primal, native driven film begins as a straight-forward narrative, until diverging markedly from expectations after Nurse Betsy brings Jessica to the houmfort. The film’s awareness noticeable shifts here from Betsy, to something greater in importance than simply herself. It is while Betsy talks to Mrs. Rand-who is posing as a voodoo doctor-that one of the natives wielding a sword cuts Jessica; that she did not bleed and that Mrs. Rand frequents the houmfort both work to add tension to the story and continue the climbing motion toward the film’s climax. The sugarcane fields, the drumbeats and chanting, and finally the bones and relics the women pass on their journey to the houmfort all function to continue to add mystery to the film.
Jane Eyre has certain supernatural elements, but not nearly to the degree of Zombie. References to Jane as being of “elf-like,” the scene in the red-room where Mr. Reed died, the voice of Rochester that Jane hears on the wind during her marriage talk with St. John, and finally the allusions to Bertha being “devilishly similar to a vampire” all put the novel in the realm of the supernatural, as well as work to stay true to a Gothic heritage. I Walked with a Zombie showcases a religion left over from the days of the trans-Atlantic Slave trade. The film takes the mental illness of Jessica, supposedly left from a fever, and has Mrs. Rand confess she used Voodoo magic (only when possessed, mind you) to curse Jessica and punish her for shattering the matriarchal family’s peace. Although far fetched in the logical world, the film is believable in its treatment of Voodoo as a legitimate practice or belief system: the servants make a Voodoo Doll of Jessica that controls her movements and bring her to them. Ironically, the slave past of the servants and their unconventional beliefs intersect here with the Holland family that brought their African ancestors to St. Sebastian in the first place: Wesley takes an arrow out of the old slave ship figure-head which he uses to stab Jessica to death with; whether the Jessica Voodoo Doll which bears her likeness being simultaneously stabbed with a needle in the haomfort ceremony is related to Jessica’s actual death is open to interpretation.
Where Jane Eyre is an autobiographical novel that explores romance and the sacrifices women make to conform to the expectations of a patriarchal society, I Walked with a Zombie is a horror flick meant to thrill the viewer and expose he/she to an alternative culture filled with mysticism and magic. Perhaps for the sake of time, the film did not attempt to delve into the complicated themes of class and gender equality; when judged simply as a means of entertainment, rather than a work striving for literary merit, I Walked With a Zombie was thoroughly enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Flying Pigs and Eating Crows

Its pretty difficult for most people to admit that they were misinformed, misguided, or just plain wrong.... myself included! Consider this me eating crow about how I was completely wrong about feminism, and that the world is-right now- just as it should be. And yes... that was a pig flying by your apartment window ;)

WOW! How could I be so wrong about a gender balance that favors men? Women can be anything they want to be. With the right motivation and education can't we all?

  • Since 1964, male voters outnumbered female voters in every presidential election.
  • BJ Gallagher (author of "The World's Best Advice from the World's Wisest Man) says men make great bosses because they are 
    • better coachers 
    • better mentors
    • better problem solvers
  • Men hold 98 of 535 (18%) seats in the 113th Congress
    • 79 House Representative are male 
    • 20 Senators (plus 3 delegates) are men 
  • Of the 100 largest American Cities, 12 have male mayors.
  • Men have better aim throwing a baseball at all ages.
  • 2012 elections saw 5 male state governors elected.
  • multitasking test had 50 men and 50 women do four tasks in 8 minutes: results show men better able to reflect on problems while also doing others tasks 
    • men are better at multitasking
  • James Flynn is a researcher that found the IQs of men in the US, Europe, Canada are higher than women's
    • men are smarter
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics says that since the Recession hit in 2007, 80% of the workers who lost their jobs were women.
    • men are recession proof
  • Harvard Business Review recently published a study on male to female leadership ability. The study says that leadership is quantified by 16 central personality traits
    •  men are judged to be better than women on 12 of the traits (10 showed a statistical significance). 
      • men better leaders
  • Men are judged in employee evaluations to be more positively perceived at:
    • Executive Management (Men 57, Women 52) 
    • Senior Managers (Men 56, Women 50) 
    • Middle Managers (55 Men, 51 Women).
  • US Census Burea says 17 million men and 12 million women live in poverty in the United States, which is the highest level since 1993.
  • Rothstein Kass finance shows that male hedge fund managers outperform female competition.
  • 48% of all men experience psychological aggression in their lifetime
  • 37% of families led by single fathers nationwide live in poverty.
    • only 6.8% of married parent families do (2009 Heritage Foundation Study)

Clearly, men make better leaders, are smarter, and are generally more valuable and have more to offer than women in the workplace. Most of you shouldn't be surprised... Americans just "know" these facts to be true: males as a group are supreme to the weaker, more fragile feminine sex.

April Foolsssss :)

All the above "truths?" Just replace every man/male/masculine word from the above quotes with woman/female/feminine to switch the statement. Every single fact originally was written to be the exact opposite...for example "37% of families led by single mothers nationwide live in poverty" is the true information.

They are exactly opposite of what the data from many studies are finding when comparing the average man to the average woman.

As in- studies are showing that women in general have more leadership skills, higher IQs, vote more,  are rated higher in employee evaluations, and are more educated as a group than male peers.

Surprised yet?

How can a congress of 82% rich white men know anything about making laws that govern the contraceptive and maternity rights of 51% of the population? It can't.

Although feminism is geared to helping girls and women reach the equality that males are privileged with from birth, feminism at its core promotes equality of all people regardless of gender, sex, race, or class. The movement is about not about being better than men, its about women being valued by the world as more than a "slam-piece;" more valuable than the sum of her curves. Women are human, too.

I hate to have tricked you reader, but with all the "Men's Rights Movement" propaganda floating around, I wanted to make sure you realize that we all still need feminism. I am so about helping men-central issues like the high suicide rate of teen boys, the male problem of homelessness, and the constant societal pressure to be an alpha male. Such a shame that legitimate concerns like the above (and many more) are being ignored to solely bring down the feminist movement.

Make tomorrow better,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

YOU Are Wonderful; Act like it

Do you believe in fate? In God? In the mystical power of the universe?

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that so many twists of fate-so many marriages and so many babies before me-had to have happened for Brooke Trahan to even exist, to live in America, to live in the present day....I am lucky and I am thankful. I believe I have a purpose to fulfill in life, just like you do.

This is why I really have no sympathy for people who commit suicide.
Before you just assume I have no soul, at least hear me out.
Never forget how very special you are

Are you depressed?

Seek help.

There is nothing wrong with needing medical treatment; you wouldn't feel ashamed to go get insulin for your diabetes, would you? Depression is simply a chemical imbalance in your brain, treatable with medication and time.

Still feel worthless?

Kindly stop taking up space and make room for those of us who actually want to be here.

If you are not starving to death, have a roof over your head, and are not living in constant fear for your life-- you are doing better than a lot of people in this world. How selfish can you really be?

I cheated death Saturday night.

Because I am a little darling and like to stand up for those who won't do it themselves, I am here today.

Over spring break, myself and Tommy and another couple spent the weekend in Corpus Christi. Saturday night after going out, the other man-who was raised in Corpus- wanted to show us the Lexington battleship, which they light up at night and is apparently super cool.

On the way there, the other woman wanted to stop and take a picture with the Selena memorial tribute for her mother, a huge Selena fan. Apparently she has been trying to stop for months to take this picture, but the guy is kind of an actual jerk and never would stop... it was always "next time" or "someday." It was always an excuse.

It won't be easy, but it'll be worth it!
When she said "OH! We're going to pass right by it!!! PLEASEEEE?" and he said "No? Tomorrow during the day!" I, being the absolute peach of a little lady that you all know and love, insisted that we take the time.

I mean? C'mon! We were just going to go sit in the hotel anyways? What else can you possibly do at 2 in the morning with out getting arrested?

So he grudgingly pulls over, she snaps a picture or two, and the entire ordeal takes maybe two minutes... but those two minutes probably saved our lives.

We continued toward the Lexington and came around a curve.... where a major car wreck had just happened. There were bodies that had been pulled out of the crumpled vehicles laying in the grass. The crash had happened so soon before we had arrived to that certain spot on the way to the Lexington that the ambulance was not even there yet. 

Two minutes....

I am lucky to be alive. We all are.

Its funny what a near-death experience does to a person...I have never felt more full of purpose or hopeful about my future or more driven to make a change in this world. I am important. I am worthy of love and success and respect and safety and any other good thing that exists on this Earth... just like you are. 
Do not waste a MOMENT 

So if you are having a bad day, make a bad grade, over-sleep for work... just remember all the little things that had to have happened for you to be able to have a bad day.

Take a breathe. Count to 10. Know that I am here if you ever, ever need me.

What will you accomplish when you start living?

"Be thankful for this moment, for this moment is your life"

Love you all!

Stop Teaching Us "Happily Ever After"

This is my scholarly paper for a young adult literature class that required an essay on fairy tales. Pretty long, but pretty interesting if you care to read it. (I made a 95 on it if you happen to doubt my intelligence on the subject)

Crying Wolf:
Fairy Tale’s Promotion of Rape Culture
If a two year old were asked what she wants to be when she grows up, the answer would likely be a shrieked, “ prin-thess!” Toddler’s rudimentary grasp on the English language does not deter parents from teaching their little darlings about gendered behavior, even using enforcers such as cartoons, clothing, and popular media. The “happily ever after’s” of fairy tales, however, are the sugar coated ideas that dictate societal expectations of the alpha males and submissive females. Francesca Lia Block’s short story, Wolf, is a feminist-inspired reworking of the traditionally geared, androgynous fairy tale, “Little Red Riding Hood.“ Wolf is meant to celebrate women, their strengths, and the love of community that defines them. Although girls are taught by The Grimm Brother’s “Little Red Cap” that safety is gained through male protection, Blocks first person narrative Wolf’s portrayal of a teenage rape survivor’s story rejects female trivialization as portrayed in fairy talks, and by putting the reader into the victim’s shoes, Block argues thematically against victim blaming and other myths surrounding American Rape Culture’s ideology.
The Grimm’s story, “Little Red Cap” features a hunter that saves the lives of Red and Grandmother from being lost in the wolf’s belly. (Grimm, 30). Folk and Fairy Tale’s Little Red section claims that the Grimm’s version to be the “ most balanced” to contemporary audiences because of the parallel structuring of good men versus bad men (Hallett & Karasek, 23). The lesson being taught of man-as-protector is dangerous. Father-like figures are absent from most fairy tales, and when present, fathers are linked to daughter-directed incest more frequently than not. Block’s writing rejects the idea of the paternalistic good guy by placing her Wolf in the domestic realm: the protagonist’s emotionally and physically abusive step-father whom she cannot escape.
The story’s title, Wolf, carries a clever double meaning that established Block’s tone from the first word. Firstly, the title refers to the story’s heritage stemming from traditional Red Riding Hood and the Wolf stories. The more sinister, secondary usage is in reference to the disturbing trend of sexual assault victims being accused of faking an attack, or “crying wolf.” The title is an allusion to Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The first words in the story are two sentences from Red saying, “They don’t believe me. They think I’m crazy,” confirming the intended double meaning (Block, 40).
Even more troubling, friends of attackers frequently harass victims of rape and assault, both verbally and away through social media or text messaging. The victim is pressured to admit that the act was consensual, and she originally was just upset. Women particularly find it easier to assume the victim is making up the incident than to admit that such a heinous attack could happen to a woman they are acquainted with. Daily Mail’s article about victim blaming reports that “of 1000 adults surveyed, fifty four percent agree with the statement ‘rape victims should be held accountable for their attacks”’ (Camber, Web).
Researchers and psychologists agree that rape is about power, rather than about sex. Before the physical violence of an attack can occur between two groups of people that are separated by race, sex, religion or other area’s of exclusive group membership, there has to be a complete separation in the perception of the aggressor that ranks his or her group’s worth much higher than the value of the secondary group’s worth. To illustrate, consider the kidnapping and enslavement of African tribesmen that resulted in later slave trading on plantations around the world; slavery could not morally have been as widespread if the tribal Africans were seen as equals to people of European decent. By viewing a specific human characteristic that varies between the two groups, here the skin tones and cultural differences between white people and black people, the group that feels they are worth more on the scale of human value feels justified in any persecution or violence that occurs between them, especially acts which benefit the dominant group. Southern plantation owner’s excuse for owning slaves used to be “because people from Africa are not as fully human as white Americans,” so using slaves like you would use a cow or oxen for labor purposes was “justified” in their own minds.
Similarly, Westernized countries value aggression and passion in men, and demand passivity and obedience in women. Popular culture components including fashion trends, media, and advertisements- among others- all serve to systematically dehumanize women by reducing the value of a woman to a purely sexual existence. Because a woman is now less than human, merely an object to be used for sexual exploitation, harassment in the form of sexual violence is “justified” to certain types of men. Traditional fairy tales that depict women as hopelessly incapable or passively wasting time until the arrival of the prince characterize women as less valuable than men, yet again. The message that women “need” men is internalized by both boys and girls, beginning on the laps of their parents during story-time: little girls hear stories of beautiful princesses waiting for rescue, and little boys hear stories of the beautiful princess he earns by scaling the tower or slaying the dragon.
 The only types of women present in fairy tale literature are the very good or the very bad, and either category’s mother. There is, of course, the beautiful young girl that embodies all male expectations of feminine virtue and who will be rewarded for playing the game, as she was expected, with a handsome prince. The undesirable women are banished to the realms of the ugly step-sisters, the jealous step-mothers, and the evil old witches. The fairy tale characters serve as warnings to girls, with their ugly names and the missing happily ever after’s, to either play the game or suffer the consequences.
Block challenges the female-as-villain casting that is so prevalent in children’s stories, including in young adult literature. The male characters of fairy tales assume the role of the hero: the Grimm Brother’s hunter that saves Little Red from the wolf’s belly, the stereotypical Prince Charming character, and the father who is absent for unknown reasons, but sometimes portrayed as away on business providing for his family. Block challenges the convention of men as female protectors by making the villain of Wolf into Red’s step-father, a rapist turned murderer.
Instead of the backstabbing and plotting that are trademarks in most fairy tale stories, Block chooses to show love instead of the usual hatred aimed toward women, by women. Traditional Little Red Riding Hood stories are missing the attention, either overly positive or overly negative, between the family members. In Wolf, Block’s addition of loving, intergenerational relationships adds texture to the characters and believability to the story. Red loves her mother so much that she claims her mother is her best friend, one so great that “I didn’t really even need any other friend” (Block, 40). Red also lets us know that the reason she cannot simply flee from her abusive situation is because she is scared to abandon her mother.
To conclude, kids are growing up being taught unattainable standards of perfection that will never be reached. A son that tap-dances and a daughter that welds both deserve the love of their family, the respect of their peers, and the right to feel safe in this world. By ending the brainwashing of whatever “normal” is, and teaching kids about respect and kindness, perhaps the days of victim blaming will end; its hard to have a victim with out any perpetrators.

Works Cited:
1.     Block, Francesca Lia. “Wolf.” The Rose and the Beast. New York: Harper Collins, 2000.
2.     Camber, Rebecca. “Rape? It’s the fault of the victims, say 50 % of women.” Daily Mail Online.  Associated Newspapers, LTD. 15 Feb 2010. Web. 16 Feb 2014.

3.     Marshall, Elizabeth. “Girlhood, Sexual Violence, and Agency in Francesca Lia Block’s ‘Wolf.’” Children’s Literature in Education. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 18 Feb 2009. Web. 18 Feb 2014.