Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Balancing The Scales [Nine's Perspective]

Hallo, ladies and gents. It would seem this place has gone a month without a post. We cannot have that, can we? No, we cannot. So, I am here, on behalf of the lovely Lady Lili to post this place up once more. Lady Lili continues to be quite busy with various things, but fear not! She will return, at some point. Until then, let's get to something else straight outta my head. *Bush plays in the background* Ah, ambience. It would be ideal for me to not sing on Lady Lili's blogsite, so I had best occupy my mind before temptation overcomes me!

    Today, I have been thinking - not of equality, but of another deep social issue that touches all of us, in every culture and country. I speak of the presence of good and evil,  and the breeding ground for which the latter forms in.

    Evil is all around us, especially in today's society. Morality seems in shambles these days, at least from my perspective. 11 year old girls are getting pregnant, little boys are selling drugs on the street, lazy parents that do not correct or teach their children run around in high numbers, hitting up clubs on the weeknights, shooting up heroin and soothing their sexual drives while their offspring fend for themselves in tiny, rundown apartments. I could go on and on, but to save you the space and headache, stuff is effed up. We know this. And now, guns are being taken into schools and teachers are being shot up. Serial killers are on the rise. Rivers of blood run down our city streets. It splatters through the skies, the cries of children and innocent people - the symphony of 21st Century America. Evil runs amok! With the scales so tilted, so unfairly adjusted, what can we even begin to do about it? Where do we start? Where is the evil coming from?

    One could argue that we are all born 'good.' What can we really define as good? Well, due to the complex nature of the human mind, you can get a very different answer, depending on who you ask. But let us assume the answer the majority would give, in a generalized statement - The willingness and desire to not harm others, to live amongst one another in harmony. Yes, does this not fit children? Children are innocent, filled with love and affection. Dogs and children are much the same way, in that sense. You may hurt them. You may strike them in the face for NO reason, whatsoever, completely unjustified. However, when you come home an hour later, they still run to you, loving on you, even though you do not deserve it. Us humans surely are despicable creatures. However, children will absorb all this lack of love. As they age, they are changing. They grow to understand this world slowly, but through what color and shape lense? This is where we come in. Strike your child long enough, they will stop running to you. They  will stop running to anyone. We have a RESPONSIBILITY that we are taking far too lightly! If we want this world to change for the better, we need to start by looking at ourselves. Children are the future! They are the future lawyers, teachers, presidents, Congress members, everything. Children are the future. They will be here when we pass.

    With this said, what are we doing to children when we beat them mercilessly? When we deprive them of the love that they are born to need, and to give unconditionally? The early stages of a tree's development are the most important. A large, strong tree may take much punishment, even from gale force winds, but when it is in its infancy, does it not require much love and attention? What of the trees that survive much punishment and brutal weather during those early stages? They are ugly to us - cracked, weathered, missing branches, rotting roots. It is a hard truth, but we contribute to the deterioration of a child. Are we truly to blame for Charles Manson? No, but at the heart of it, some humans have contributed. What am I saying here? Should we be all hung? Certainly not. Most of the time, we do not even realize we are contributing to evil's growth as we do it. It can be a simple act of unkindness. Everyone has a breaking point. Humans must reach this breaking point sometime. Everytime you cuss the teenager behind the Mc Donald's counter for screwing up your order, when it may not have even been his fault anyway, the screaming at your kids for accidentally breaking another one of your precious things, the reving of your engine while stuck behind some student driver - these are all things we do, on our more guilty days. We as humans are not, nor will we ever be perfect. But can we lower how much hatred we bath others in? I think so.

    Some may argue that this is a fruitless endeavor, that internalizing our negativity, instead of tossing on others would never lower evil. Ask yourself, what have you got to lose? Is it that hard to be nicer to others? If we want world peace, we all need to lend a hand. I'd say not pegging a teenager in the face with your soiled burger is not much to ask. We cannot be perfect, as I have mentioned earlier. But we can try to be less hateful, right? If we do our best, each day, that's something to be proud of, in a world filled with murder, assault, rape and plundering. Changes do not come quickly, this is fact. Changes require a great deal of effort from many, many hands and feet. Many listened to President Obama with smiles as he gave his speech on change. How many blame him for not giving us that change? Are we, as a country, a civilization that worked for change, or did we put it all on one person? Just an example that comes to mind. No intention of a political agenda here; this is food for thought. All of this is.

    In closing, let us think of plants. Many plants start as a seed. Those seeds are just fine. Once they are planted, a lot of the growth process is up to US. We must oversee it, and this will never change. If we want more good in today's youth, we had best start planting. Wait! Guys, before you start pumping your fists in the air and run outside to find ladies to start 'planting' with, let me finish! Settle down, gentlemen! *ahem* We had best start planting, yes. But this is not the only important stage. We don't ditch our gardens when we plant seeds, do we? No, good gardeners do not do that. A good gardener or famer must see to it that the plants and crops are doing well, and treat them according to their needs every. Single. Day. There, aren't you glad you listened? We cannot reduce evil by running around and mating. [If you listen close, you can hear the unhappy sighs of many males!] We can, however, reduce it by making sure our little ones do not go without love and affection, guidance and punishments. In that same hand, we must also try our best to not lash out so quickly at society's blunders. If we can do this, if we can unite for this one goal, perhaps things can slowly start to change.

    This is a very broad, deep topic, and I feel I've barely scratched the surface on what I wanted to say. Therefore, I will cover more on this in a future post. It should be noted that this article is designed to share my current thoughts. I am not pointing fingers at anyone, in particular. Nobody should be offended by this article, and if you are, you may very well have a guilty conscience. Think about it. And that, my friends, is my final word for today. Stay kind. Stay considerate. Stay human. Maybe then, we can start to balance the scales, if only by a little. -Nine-

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Social Pressures, Role Reversals [Nine's Perspective]

     Hallo. As I am sure many of you have noticed, Lady Lili is very busy these days, with her college studies and things of that nature. She will be back to post sometime in the near future. I am here to make that wait a little less plain and post-less. You may call me Nine. I am a male that often ponders similar things, and thus I have been given permission to share some of my male views and insights on her lovely blog. Therefore, from here out, each of my posts will be part of a segment on this blog called 'Nine's Perspective.' I hope my posts will entertain you, and prove to be thought-provoking. Let's move onto the first, shall we?

     Lili often speaks of sexism, and un-equality. Her most recent post, 'Pointlessly Gendered,' started me on a path of thought. Things are indeed a bit unbalanced these days. Things marketed to females tend to follow the confines of social and cultural stereotypes, such as using the color pink. But, when we get down to the issue, I believe things run much deeper than we sometimes allow ourselves to realize. Today, we will focus on the cultural influences on how the opposite sexes treat one another when they reverse society's pre-determined roles for us.

     Let me ask you something. Do you believe that a couple should make their own decisions and choices? Does it matter who does what? You may say no, without thinking about it, and maybe, just maybe, you are not being honest with your true feelings. Society puts an extreme amount of pressure on all of us to be how they feel we should be. Both males and females experience this pressure, and we are bred to accept our 'roles.' Case in point? Let's say you all met this wonderful couple. They got along really well, and were all lovey-dovey with each other. Now, before you know anything else about these two love birds, they tell you that the Female works all day, and the Male stays home and takes care of their three children, and cleans and cooks. What would your initial reaction be? How would you view that male? How would your parents view that male? Odds are, even if you aren't willing to admit it, you would think less of the male, simply because he is not assuming his pre-determined role.

     In American culture, there are many pressures on Females to assume a certain role, but it is important to not forget that many Males suffer the same pressures. People think less of a man who does not work. What do they think of him? Lazy, no good, not a real 'man.' Ladies, think about it. What if you had a job you were REALLY happy with, and you loved working there, and it more than paid the bills? Let's say you had kids, and your husband was smart, could work, but his job wasn't that important to him, and it meant a lot to him for you to keep the job that made you so happy? You would probably adore him for it. He's sacrificing his work life for yours, so he can take care of the house, and the children. But, what would your parents think? They will both most likely dislike him, immediately at that, especially your father. This becomes worse if they do not know much about him. Already, just because you are happy with your current setup, you have brought down the possible wrath of your parents against the man you love. He will now have to endure the nasty stares from your father, the drilling questions, etc. Perhaps your mother will pull you aside frequently, asking you why you aren't being a 'true woman.' You might want to make your own choices, and you both might be very happy with your lives, but everyone is going to sneer at you for it.

     What is my point here? Is it that we should just accept our roles and not complain? Certainly not. We should not give into the pressures that we endure, or accept the roles that society attempts to force on us. We should be ourselves, and work with our partners to make one another happy. A great relationship is two bodies, two minds, and one heart. Do what you can for each other. Is role reversal a truly equal relationship? Not exactly, but there is something good to be said about a man that is willing to make sacrifices for his lady, just as she is for him. If we want true equality, we should pay more attention to these types of things. Social pressures seek to drive us from doing a lot of things. I don't really find that, in a relationship, you have to assume any type of role, whatsoever. But there is something to be said that, should we want to assume roles, we get chastised if we do not assume the 'right' ones. We should examine ourselves, and make sure that we are not adding to the problem by pressuring others to do things 'our way.' I am Nine, and this is my final word for today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pointlessly Gendered Roundup 1

Okay, due to insistent complaining by a few of my readers, I am finally writing a new post. With december finals and the holiday madness, writing fell by the wayside. And with classes starting again on tuesday, this may be the last post for a while again... but we'll see.

I've been meaning to start my own "pointlessly gendered" series, a concept I've seen on many other soci blogs. I've collected a few pictures since deciding to include this in my blog, so here they are.

These first two I found in a christian bookstore. Not-so-surprisingly, the place was actually teeming with sexism. But here are a couple of the most obvious/humorous.

Despite all of the violence and godly wrath, apparently the bible is too girly for some men. Not anymore, thanks to the "everyman's bible"... a version not only written by men, but meant exclusively for men. 

Christian jewelry for teens... separated by gender, just in case God needs help clarifying the sex of his followers. I guess to get boys to wear jewelry, you need to give them a direct association with God... or use a z instead of an s.

This last picture I found at a gun shop. Yet again, not that surprising.

There are so many things wrong with this picture, it actually hurts my head. The colors, the designs, the sizes... 

This picture also represents a concept known as "women vs people", wherein being male is neutral and the norm, and being female is the alternative. Notice the names: "whoopass" is the one for men, and it's the normal one, whereas "ms. whoopass" is the alternative, for women. This is actually quite ironic, since pepper spray is generally geared toward women... so why isn't the pink one "whoopass" and the army one "mr. whoopass"? 

Just shows the millions of tiny ways this culture is still very androcentric. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday Breakdown 2011

I have survived yet another Black Friday!!

Probably because I stayed far away from all shopping centers... but still. In today's day and age, I'm probably at risk of consumer violence just sitting right at home. Who knows when I'll be approached at gun point for the item I had enough sense to buy 5 weeks ago...

In light of the recent Occupy Wallstreet protests that have been going on, the very socially accepted ritual of Black Friday shopping has been deconstructed in comparison to very culturally taboo civil rights demonstrations. For example...

When was the last time you saw Best Buy costumers pepper sprayed for blocking the sidewalk, as we saw with the students of UC Davis? Where's the meme of that?

Even though there were no incidents of violence outside the stores, there was plenty of pepper spraying and police brutality once the clock struck midnight and those glorious pearly automatic doors were opened.

First up in the breakdown is the grandfather in Arizona who was beaten by police for allegedly stealing a video game. In reality, he shoved the game in his waistband quickly so he could help up his grandson who had fallen in the shopping chaos. But security guards can't calmly pull the man aside and question him like normal, decent human beings, can they? Of course not. This is how they prefer to handle things...

The man was left beaten and bloodied, while his grandson is probably traumatized for life. All over what? A video game for probably 10 bucks cheaper than usual?

Next up is an example of our obsession and desperation to get our hands on material goods. A woman in California pepper sprayed a crowd of shoppers to try to gain the upper hand in getting the video game system she wanted. Over 20 people were injured from the spray.

The worst part mentioned was that shoppers who were not affected by the spray continued shopping. I'm pretty sure if I saw people keeling over from eye pain, I would quickly leave the store. But I guess most people were blinded by those shiny video game boxes, and didn't see what happened.

Another example of our desperation for material goods is embodied in the man who was shot in a Walmart parking lot in California when he and his family were robbed at gunpoint for the items they just purchased. Now of course, the robber is very much at fault for this incident, but I am also wagging my finger at the victims. Why was the man shot? Because he and his family refused to give up their items. They actually put the value of their material possessions over their safety and well being.

I'm not including a video for this one, because when you search "black friday shooting" or especially "Walmart shooting," the results are too endless to sort through.

These are just a few of the many examples of Black Friday violence. I'm sure most people remember the story of the New York Walmart employee in 2008 who was trampled to death as the store opened their doors. And that was at the height of our recession! The time when most people were at their poorest, and yet still acting completely inhuman when it came to spending their money.

Here are some stills from this year's chaos:

Macy's in New York, NY

Kohl's in Salina, KS
Sears, in.. oh my... Mentor, OH
I've been to that mall
Toys R Us in New York
Best Buy in Burbank, CA
Walmart in.. really? Mentor, OH again...
Photos via ABC news. Credit given there.

From the look of these pictures and all the violence listed above, it's a wonder why we haven't changed the name of the day after Thanksgiving to "Black and Blue Friday." What happened to using the Thanksgiving holiday to relax with family? Why don't more of us participate in Buy Nothing Day, and spend some quality time with the people we love, instead of the things we love. With all the chaos, and all the violence, and all the hate and inhuman behavior, it all certainly leads us to wonder... is the battle for bargains really worth the cost?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Age and "hood" status

No, I'm not referring to being all good in dah hood, dawg.

Racist slurs aside, what I'm really talking about is the difference between childhood, adulthood, and what I like to oh so cleverly call "in-between-hood."

Let's break this down a bit. Generally speaking, birth through age 17 is called childhood, and age 18 till death is broadly considered adulthood. That is the legal definition, anyway. But when you turn 18, do you suddenly feel like an adult in that split second your birthday passes?

"Adulthood" as a label can depend on a number of things. For some, it's a biological step that happens around puberty. How many girls remember their mother telling them when they first got their periods, "you're a woman now." For others, it's a socioeconomic status. I won't feel more like an adult until I move out and start earning my own living.

But as much as teenagers prance around waving their new adult flags, adulthood really boils down to experience. It could take 10-20 years following the legal definition of an adult until you actually feel like one.

But in the few years following your big initiation into adulthood, what do you start to refer to yourself as? This has been bothering me lately, because at the age of 22, I no longer think of myself as a girl. When referring to myself, I have not said the phrase "I'm a girl that likes blah blah" in a very long time. But at the same time, it's hard to think of myself as an adult yet, and I certainly have never said "I'm a woman that blah blah."

So basically... I can't refer to myself as much, because women really just have these two roles to play.

Men are different. We live in this era of "guyhood," where males between childhood and adulthood have this middle role they can take on. I would not call my 20-something male friends boys, but I can not also picture them as men yet. So it's nice that they have an in-between-hood. Somewhere in the middle of their teens all the way through their late 20's, they're just guys.

But what's a woman's in-between-hood? Lady? That's a little outdated. Young woman? No, that still sounds a bit like a teenager. Young adult? That takes the female aspect out of it, plus it's a bit awkward in conversation. Gal? What are we, in Texas?

Men have always had names for us as in-between-ers... chicks, babes, skirts. And we also have many names that we give to each other. But we have yet to take an on a real, society-wide, in-between label for ourselves.

I guess we can just call ourselves what we really are... beautiful, intelligent, independent, successful females. Well, that might be a tad long in conversation...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mighty Morphin Power... Sandwich Maker?

Anyone else see the obvious gender stereotype here? Anyone, anyone?

Well in case you lived under a rock during the 90's and know nothing about the MMPR, there is a clear difference between one of these characters and the other five... the pink ranger is a female.

Couldn't you tell by the very feminine pose that no other character in this shot is using? Her legs are together femininely, and even her hands are poised a bit differently, higher up on her waist rather than her hips, and fingers flared outward.

Now, in the story of the show itself, there wasn't too much of a gender bias. The female rangers weren't ever necessarily the leaders of the group, but they got just as much screen time and fighting action as, say, the blue ranger.

No, just the fact that the one girl of the group was given the color pink was enough of an obnoxious stereotype for one television show to dish out. And not shown in the picture above (and again, in case you never saw the show), in other seasons of Power Rangers, another woman was included in the group, given the color yellow. Another feminine color. And while we're on the subject of stereotypes, for a long time, the yellow ranger character was Asian. Asian, yellow... really? And mind you, this couldn't even have been misconstrued as the color gold, because a gold member came along later... a male, of course.

So we have a blonde, white-skinned pink ranger, and a quite racially insensitive Asian yellow ranger. And when the yellow ranger wasn't played by an Asian woman, she was played by a black woman. Why couldn't we give the black actress the pink color?

This is how blatantly easy it was to be sexist, let alone racist. And worst of all, I totally bought into it. I remember as a child fighting with my best friend about who got to play the pink ranger. No girl wanted to be yellow, let alone a male oriented color such as red or green.

So have the Power Rangers gotten their act together in the past 20 years? Well let's see...

Power Rangers Jungle Fury (2008)

Okay, the yellow is still a woman, but they replaced the pink with a purple ranger. But it's not really purple, it's "violet" and its animal is the wolf, so it's okay for a guy...

Power Rangers RPM (2009)

The pink is gone entirely now, I guess because who has ever heard of a pink racing car? But the woman is still yellow, of course.

And the most recent,
Power Rangers Samurai (2011)

Okay well, the pink ranger is back, but both pink and yellow are still women, and now they're shoved to the back of the picture...

But hey, at least the blonde white chick is stuck playing the yellow ranger now, and the indistinguishable minority woman is allowed to be pink. If that's not a huge step forward in women's rights everywhere, I don't know what is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the abortion war wages once again...

On November 8th, Mississippi voters will be faced with deciding on Initiative 26, which if passed, will create a state-wide law banning abortions, on the basis that "personhood" starts as soon as an egg is fertilized.

Attempting to ban abortions is nothing new. It was a debate well before Roe v Wade, and has continued to be ever since. But this new bill is a step above just simple abortion banning... actually more like 10 steps.

Pro-lifers look at this bill as a blessing, a way to stop irresponsibly throwing away life, or to maybe stop the amount of pre-marital sex that our society has become so comfortable with (yeah right). To religious conservatives, we are saving an unborn child's soul.

This fetus has some terrific grammar skills
But giving a fetus, or even just a small clump of cells, the same rights that you and I have today, will cause a whole host of legislative issues.

Abortions, of course, will be banned, no matter the cause of conception or possible health ramifications to the mother. Doctors will be faced with the even tougher decision of who to save during a problematic pregnancy, the mother or the child, if we declare unborn children "persons." Will doctors be questioned every time they can't save a fetus?

Birth control methods will have to be reconsidered, to make sure they don't violate the new bill. Needless to say, Plan B, aka the "morning after pill" will be the first to go.

Another huge issue Initiative 26 will cause is problems to in-vetro fertilization. Currently, doctors will artificially fertilize a woman's eggs, usually 10-20, and will implant only 2 or 3 at a time to attempt pregnancy. Implanting all 10-20 may result in 10 successful fetuses... which, come on, I don't even need to say the problems that would cause. Look at how society criticized the "Octo-mom."

So if a doctor has 10 fertilized eggs ready to go, and egg number 1 is successful, the other 9 are disposed of. Not any more in Mississippi, if the new bill is passed. Disposing of artificially fertilized eggs sitting in a petri dish will be considered "murder" of "persons."

You murderers
So women desperately trying to get pregnant will have their success rates drastically dropped, as they must go through the IVF process one egg at a time. Sort of ironic that a bill trying to save the life of unborn children will actually prevent more life from being created.

Pro-lifers call these ramifications "scare tactics" made by Planned Parenthood and other women's rights groups. But not only will controlling a woman's body cause her physical strain, but emotional as well.

In a society where unborn children are separate beings from their mother, and have just as many rights as her, every miscarriage or still birth will start to look suspicious. A woman who drinks one glass of wine while pregnant, then 4 months later has a miscarriage, could and very well may be questioned for her part in her unborn person's death.

A woman who is in a custody battle for her children from a divorced husband may have a prior miscarriage come up as evidence of neglect and proof of unfit motherhood.

Women who are already in a very low state from a tragedy such as those, will only be made to feel worse when an investigation ensues about her "fault" in the event.

What this abortion battle boils down to is politics versus morality. If this bill gets passed, and abortions and birth control and IVF in Mississippi are all suddenly illegal or altered, will that stop women from still having them? Of course not. There will still be illegal abortions, illegal disposal of fertilized eggs, illegal use of birth control.

Weed and crack isn't this colorful
And this new law could very well be enforced as much as jaywalking. Illegal pregnancy terminations could very well go unpunished. But if someone really wants to, they can use Initiative 26 to attack a woman they particularly want to look bad. And the media won't report on the everyday illegal use of abortions or birth control - the average 2 week pregnant middle class woman who refuses to carry it. We'll start hearing stories on the evening news about the 8 and a half month pregnant African American who would rather do drugs than have her child.

Ridiculous as it sounds, you know it's true. It's the kind of media gate-keeping we see all the time. Why is it we only hear about pit-bull attacks, when chihuahuas are more likely than most any breed to be aggressive and bite people?

Now THAT'S a dog to be terrified of
So here is the society we have become. A place where a woman is basically a slave to her body, not to mention her slaughterhouse of a uterus, and where our rights are decided by politicians (men) who will never even fully understand what it is we go through. Wait, what's the year again? 1826?

No matter what your position is on the government legislation of it all, I guess this issue does boil down to one basic question, one that only you can decide for yourself: can a clump of cells really be considered a person?

One guess on what my answer is...