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...

Friday, November 4, 2011

New day, new direction

Well it has certainly been a while since I last posted. But as I have been considering how to make my comeback, I was trying to come up with a new approach to blogging. A new, more meaningful direction.

And while browsing through some of my favorite blogs (listed in my new blog roll to the side), it hit me.

As much as I love to discuss (and rant) about certain issues in our society, especially those involving race, class, and gender, I figured I should write my own blog dedicated to these topics. Half of my previous posts involved these topics anyway, but now I can officially put a label on this place! It's a soci blog!

-takes a moment to celebrate-

Okay then. Now that the party is over, let's get down to business. Expect my first official soci post hopefully within the next day. Just have to wait for inspiration to hit me.

Till then, in honor of Halloween last monday, here are just a few examples of what our society has come to in terms of our children:

And the best (worst?) of all....

People of the future will be looking back on old records of our history, and think we may have taken population control to a bit of extremes...