angstzeit: (Default)
I've come across a couple of references to these. T-shirts put out by JC Penny and Forever 21 with slogans many women (and some men, I assume) find sexist and offensive. I've seen that the controversy has, unfortunately, even elicited arguments that have harmed long-standing friendships.

I certainly understand why many find these shirts (and a good deal of other pop culture things) offensive. It is indisputable and indefensible that for most of history, women were barred (or at least highly discouraged) from science and math (among many other things). My blood boils when I think of the story of a friend of mine, who wanted to be an astronaut when she was a girl, but was told by a teacher "girls can't be astronauts." It is simply wrong to tell anyone that what they are and what they want to be is unacceptable or wrong.

So I absolutely approve of messages that let young girls know that being smart and having the desire to pursue a career using those talents is not only okay, but great. And I understand that there is still resistance that girls and women face to these choices. And shirts like these can seem to add to that resistance.

But what also concerns me are the girls who aren't good at math or science--or even academics generally. How are they supposed to feel? Adults might understand that the goal is to expand the choices of girls and women, but children often don't understand such complexities. They see what the adults seem to value and then apply that value to themselves. How do girls with modest abilities and goals see themselves in a world where they seem to be expected to be and accomplish more than that.

The problem is that it is complicated. Many girls still get outdated messages and are encouraged to stultify themselves. But many others get messages of great expectations--expectations they may not be able (or want) to live up to. Probably the majority get mixed messages from a culture in difficult transition and wouldn't it be natural for girls to gravitate toward the message that seems to demand a life they would feel most comfortable in?

So there's these shirts. The first one I saw was the Penny's which says, "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." I found it offensive for a number of reasons. Of course it seems to reinforce a stereotype and as a Non-Pretty-American, it feels insulting to me and my kind. And you could replace pretty with other things--jock, rich, popular, etc. But what if it said, "I'm on the honor roll so I don't have to take PE." It loses the stereotype and I think that lets us see what else it could be--a declaration of pride in who the girl feels she is. And it makes me wonder about my judgement of the girl who would wear the other shirt. A girl who simply wants to be proud of what she feels is positive about herself.

No, I don't think being pretty (or most anything else) is a good excuse to avoid learning any more than I think being smart is a good excuse to avoid caring for one's health. But don't we all wish we could be appreciated for our strengths? Don't we all seek groups of people with similar strengths and weaknesses? Don't we all look for signs in our culture that these strengths are appreciated?

Certainly society values some strengths over others and often the divide is gender. I think it a noble and necessary endeavor to champion those whose strengths society discounts. To work toward a society where the strengths of everyone are appreciated. But I hope we can do that by truly expanding our appreciation and not simply switching it and leaving others in the same position we found intolerable. That we can really increase the choices of girls and women and not just set different restrictions on what they can be.

I would hope that no one would attack a girl for wearing either of these shirts even if they hate the message. And I hope people can avoid attacking each other over differing opinions about these shirts. I hope we can focus on raising girls who feel good about who they are and what they want no matter what that is. Girls who will become empowered and opinionated women who will follow their values and their dreams wherever they lead.
angstzeit: (Default)
So there's this debt ceiling. Like a credit card limit. Only, unlike a credit card, where the bank decides the limit, we set it ourselves. And every time we raise it we tell ourselves "That's it! We are going to get our budget in order and get on the road to solvency again." And then something comes up: A war, a recession, an election, etc. and we spend more or reduce revenues and slam into the debt ceiling again and swear again, while raising it, that we'll learn this time.

The political parties, depending on who's in power, take turns being the id and superego. Those in power, never see the problem, while those out of power wail about the budget and the debt.

And we, the people, think this is horrible.

But we're a huge part of the problem.

We elect politicians to screw someone else to our benefit--we call that fairness.

We want those getting screwed to agree to this--we call that compromise.

Unfortunately, since we can't all seem to agree about who to screw, politicians figured out a way to get around the problem (for the moment)--screw people in the future to the benefit of those in the present. And that's the debt.

Well, it's the future.

And we can't understand why our representative can't get the other side to compromise to make things fair.

*sigh*

May. 2nd, 2011 09:26 am
angstzeit: (Default)
No one seems to understand that the "yay Obama" spewing is as hurtful to how the public perceives him (and re-election chances) as the "boo Obama" spewing. I think the biggest problem average people have with Obama is the idolization he gets from some. It turns them off and causes them to judge him more harshly.

It seems to me he's done good things and bad things--it could be argued which is which, but it can't reasonably be argued he hasn't done both. He's not a god or a devil and a disservice is done to him, us and the country when we treat him as such.

Ad hominem attacks and unthinking adulation distract from the real issues. It isn't new with this president by any means, but the echo chamber afforded by the 24 hour media and the internet is new and it is gasoline on a fire--a fire that each side seems to think needs to be fought with fire.

*sigh*

May. 2nd, 2011 09:26 am
angstzeit: (Default)
No one seems to understand that the "yay Obama" spewing is as hurtful to how the public perceives him (and re-election chances) as the "boo Obama" spewing. I think the biggest problem average people have with Obama is the idolization he gets from some. It turns them off and causes them to judge him more harshly.

It seems to me he's done good things and bad things--it could be argued which is which, but it can't reasonably be argued he hasn't done both. He's not a god or a devil and a disservice is done to him, us and the country when we treat him as such.

Ad hominem attacks and unthinking adulation distract from the real issues. It isn't new with this president by any means, but the echo chamber afforded by the 24 hour media and the internet is new and it is gasoline on a fire--a fire that each side seems to think needs to be fought with fire.
angstzeit: (Default)
Religious debate in the US has become practically surreal. For decades the sides were fairly static with the rise of Christian fundamentalism among conservatives countered by calls from liberals for broad, explicit separation of church and government amid fears of Christian extremists attempting to fashion law on strict Biblical values and institute a theocracy. Now the sides have spun 180 degrees with conservatives terrified of Shariah law and Muslims taking over the government while liberals level accusations of prejudice and bigotry.

The depth of the myopia and hypocrisy on both sides is sometimes amazing even to my cynical, old self. But it seems to be the wave of the future. With political ideologies becoming more and more a mindless refutation of the opposition. Conspiracy theories and extremism replacing debate and discussion.

And I'm not sure where it will end. Certainly the pendulum will swing the other way at some point, but I think the trend will continue. The US is undeniably in transition and (arguably) decline. People generally tend toward the irrational in such times of fear, clinging even more tightly to rote beliefs. And charlatans of all stripes understand the opportunities afforded them by such a climate and will continue to take advantage of it. Even as Arab states attempt to move toward enlightenment and democracy, we seem hell-bent on moving in the opposite direction.
angstzeit: (Default)
Religious debate in the US has become practically surreal. For decades the sides were fairly static with the rise of Christian fundamentalism among conservatives countered by calls from liberals for broad, explicit separation of church and government amid fears of Christian extremists attempting to fashion law on strict Biblical values and institute a theocracy. Now the sides have spun 180 degrees with conservatives terrified of Shariah law and Muslims taking over the government while liberals level accusations of prejudice and bigotry.

The depth of the myopia and hypocrisy on both sides is sometimes amazing even to my cynical, old self. But it seems to be the wave of the future. With political ideologies becoming more and more a mindless refutation of the opposition. Conspiracy theories and extremism replacing debate and discussion.

And I'm not sure where it will end. Certainly the pendulum will swing the other way at some point, but I think the trend will continue. The US is undeniably in transition and (arguably) decline. People generally tend toward the irrational in such times of fear, clinging even more tightly to rote beliefs. And charlatans of all stripes understand the opportunities afforded them by such a climate and will continue to take advantage of it. Even as Arab states attempt to move toward enlightenment and democracy, we seem hell-bent on moving in the opposite direction.
angstzeit: (Default)
The politicians in the US are in rare form lately as federal and state budgets are making the rounds. The vitriol, stunts, grandstanding, and general insanity are being gobbled up by the media and the party fans and haters. But it's all a very large misdirection. All designed to make sure we don't notice that nothing will get fixed. To get us to believe they care deeply about the future so that the "compromise" they reach, that happens to only get what they want, seems hard won and useful. To make us believe that the next brief uptick in the economy is all their doing.
angstzeit: (Default)
The politicians in the US are in rare form lately as federal and state budgets are making the rounds. The vitriol, stunts, grandstanding, and general insanity are being gobbled up by the media and the party fans and haters. But it's all a very large misdirection. All designed to make sure we don't notice that nothing will get fixed. To get us to believe they care deeply about the future so that the "compromise" they reach, that happens to only get what they want, seems hard won and useful. To make us believe that the next brief uptick in the economy is all their doing.
angstzeit: (Default)
To be more clear on this point: I'm not saying Palin doesn't have any responsibility for events in the world--we all do. When you put hate out into the world the world becomes a more hateful place. And you can't pretend your brand of hate is immune. Hating Obama, hating Palin, hating Snooki, hating Limbaugh, hating liberals, hating conservatives, hating haters... it all adds up and fuels even more hate.

We're fascinated and horrified by events like those yesterday and perhaps they can serve to wake us up to the the extreme results of hate. But personally, I find the every day climate that hate creates as bad or worse. It sucks life out of us all.

I've certainly got my share of hate and I've spewed a good deal of it. It is hard to let go of hate. It is hard to receive the hate of others and not respond in kind.

And, indeed, with increase in fame and fortune comes increase in responsibility to use that power in a positive way. The internet also has given many of us new power and new responsibility. I hope we can learn to use these gifts wisely.
angstzeit: (Default)
To be more clear on this point: I'm not saying Palin doesn't have any responsibility for events in the world--we all do. When you put hate out into the world the world becomes a more hateful place. And you can't pretend your brand of hate is immune. Hating Obama, hating Palin, hating Snooki, hating Limbaugh, hating liberals, hating conservatives, hating haters... it all adds up and fuels even more hate.

We're fascinated and horrified by events like those yesterday and perhaps they can serve to wake us up to the the extreme results of hate. But personally, I find the every day climate that hate creates as bad or worse. It sucks life out of us all.

I've certainly got my share of hate and I've spewed a good deal of it. It is hard to let go of hate. It is hard to receive the hate of others and not respond in kind.

And, indeed, with increase in fame and fortune comes increase in responsibility to use that power in a positive way. The internet also has given many of us new power and new responsibility. I hope we can learn to use these gifts wisely.
angstzeit: (Default)
Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot today along with a number of other people. Already some are trying to use this to their political advantage. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way of things.

Specifically and most obviously at this point, people are referring to graphics on Sarah Palin's web site (since taken down, I've read) "targeting" Giffords among others for election defeat because of their votes for Health Care Reform. Some people who don't like Palin wish to imply some responsibility for this attack on her part.

My view:
Let it be known that I don't like Sarah Palin or much of what she stands for. Though I do probably agree with something she believes, I don't like how she represents anything.

I also believe that we each bear responsibility for our words and actions.

But I also fear the desire among people of all beliefs to hold people responsible for the actions of the craziest and stupidest people. I don't consider Sarah Palin any more responsible for this shooting (given what I know at the moment) than musical groups or authors are for kids committing crimes or suicide.

Certainly it would be satisfying to see Palin brought down. Certainly many on the other side wouldn't hesitate to use the same tactics. But what's going on here is wrong. It is too soon and it is inflammatory and misguided. This country has had too much sinking to the level of others and needs more rising to new levels of decency, respect and reason.
angstzeit: (Default)
Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot today along with a number of other people. Already some are trying to use this to their political advantage. Unfortunately, this seems to be the way of things.

Specifically and most obviously at this point, people are referring to graphics on Sarah Palin's web site (since taken down, I've read) "targeting" Giffords among others for election defeat because of their votes for Health Care Reform. Some people who don't like Palin wish to imply some responsibility for this attack on her part.

My view:
Let it be known that I don't like Sarah Palin or much of what she stands for. Though I do probably agree with something she believes, I don't like how she represents anything.

I also believe that we each bear responsibility for our words and actions.

But I also fear the desire among people of all beliefs to hold people responsible for the actions of the craziest and stupidest people. I don't consider Sarah Palin any more responsible for this shooting (given what I know at the moment) than musical groups or authors are for kids committing crimes or suicide.

Certainly it would be satisfying to see Palin brought down. Certainly many on the other side wouldn't hesitate to use the same tactics. But what's going on here is wrong. It is too soon and it is inflammatory and misguided. This country has had too much sinking to the level of others and needs more rising to new levels of decency, respect and reason.
angstzeit: (Default)
Been meaning to rant about this for a little while.

Traditional Christmas songs are an inevitable part of this time of year for all but the total hermit. My first dose this year came in a Polish grocery store. And the truth is that, while I dread the saturation, I don't mind the traditional stuff all that much.

But dear God I can't stand modern pop Christmas music. Oh, it is horrid, horrid drivel. The worst of top 40 pop and country with the words Christmas and snow stuck in or the teen fave du jour murdering a classic. Makes my skin crawl. Aaarrrrg.
angstzeit: (Default)
Been meaning to rant about this for a little while.

Traditional Christmas songs are an inevitable part of this time of year for all but the total hermit. My first dose this year came in a Polish grocery store. And the truth is that, while I dread the saturation, I don't mind the traditional stuff all that much.

But dear God I can't stand modern pop Christmas music. Oh, it is horrid, horrid drivel. The worst of top 40 pop and country with the words Christmas and snow stuck in or the teen fave du jour murdering a classic. Makes my skin crawl. Aaarrrrg.
angstzeit: (Default)
There seems to be a bit of a brouhaha forming over the TSA and the full body scans and "enhanced patdowns." Well, we finally know what it takes for people to wake up.

Nine years, two wars, thousands dead, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, torture, federal intent to assassinate an American citizen, etc. but for the love of God don't let anyone see my "junk" to save my life because that's going too far.

It seems the American people were under some sort of spell while Bush was in office. That is, by the way, when full body scanners were initially deployed. But now we're awake, outraged and looking for someone to blame for this mess.

I suggest we find a mirror.
angstzeit: (Default)
There seems to be a bit of a brouhaha forming over the TSA and the full body scans and "enhanced patdowns." Well, we finally know what it takes for people to wake up.

Nine years, two wars, thousands dead, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, torture, federal intent to assassinate an American citizen, etc. but for the love of God don't let anyone see my "junk" to save my life because that's going too far.

It seems the American people were under some sort of spell while Bush was in office. That is, by the way, when full body scanners were initially deployed. But now we're awake, outraged and looking for someone to blame for this mess.

I suggest we find a mirror.

Contrasts

Oct. 18th, 2010 12:07 am
angstzeit: (Default)
I've seen a couple of videos going around the internet. One is actually a lot of videos based around the theme "it gets better" where gay people talk to kids about their experiences with bullying and social rejection and how they got through it and came to better lives. I think it is a great thing. I kinda wish it wasn't a "thing," but I love the idea and think and hope it can reach kids who need to hear such things. Kids need mentors. Especially kids who feel different than what most of their peers present. No one wants to feel alone and plenty of kids do, so I hope this can help them feel less alone.

The other video goes by the title "FCKH8." It consists of people--including kids--swearing a lot and condoning gay marriage. I don't like it. It seems to me it pretty much feeds the amoral image that anti-gay people and groups believe and espouse. If there were only two kinds of people--people who love gay people and crazy haters--this would be fine, I suppose. But there aren't just these two camps. I think there's a lot of people who are ignorant and concerned. People who are misinformed and just don't understand. I think there's people--a lot of people--who can be won over through outreach. People who need to see real, positive images of the lives of gay people and their friends. People who need to be educated and not told to fuck off. I think this video will turn these people off, confirm their fears and send them further from real knowledge, understanding and empathy. I think it gives power to anti-gay voices.

The thing is there's people dying out there and I don't think passing gay marriage laws is going to stop that. I believe education and understanding will. I'm absolutely for any consenting adult marrying any other consenting adult. But I believe it makes a difference how we get there. I want to see more things like "it gets better" and less "FCKH8."

"Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world."
-Buddha

Contrasts

Oct. 18th, 2010 12:07 am
angstzeit: (Default)
I've seen a couple of videos going around the internet. One is actually a lot of videos based around the theme "it gets better" where gay people talk to kids about their experiences with bullying and social rejection and how they got through it and came to better lives. I think it is a great thing. I kinda wish it wasn't a "thing," but I love the idea and think and hope it can reach kids who need to hear such things. Kids need mentors. Especially kids who feel different than what most of their peers present. No one wants to feel alone and plenty of kids do, so I hope this can help them feel less alone.

The other video goes by the title "FCKH8." It consists of people--including kids--swearing a lot and condoning gay marriage. I don't like it. It seems to me it pretty much feeds the amoral image that anti-gay people and groups believe and espouse. If there were only two kinds of people--people who love gay people and crazy haters--this would be fine, I suppose. But there aren't just these two camps. I think there's a lot of people who are ignorant and concerned. People who are misinformed and just don't understand. I think there's people--a lot of people--who can be won over through outreach. People who need to see real, positive images of the lives of gay people and their friends. People who need to be educated and not told to fuck off. I think this video will turn these people off, confirm their fears and send them further from real knowledge, understanding and empathy. I think it gives power to anti-gay voices.

The thing is there's people dying out there and I don't think passing gay marriage laws is going to stop that. I believe education and understanding will. I'm absolutely for any consenting adult marrying any other consenting adult. But I believe it makes a difference how we get there. I want to see more things like "it gets better" and less "FCKH8."

"Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world."
-Buddha
angstzeit: (Default)
Just so we're clear here, I think burning Quran's, especially in a big, showy manner, is seriously fucking stupid.

But it is absolutely the right of any moron to do so in the USA. Just as anyone has the right to build a mosque where they want. There will certainly be people killed in the name of this event. But that doesn't make the people burning the Qurans any more responsible for those deaths than musicians are responsible for murders, or suicides, or rapes committed by their listeners. You don't get a free pass on murder because you heard a song, or didn't like what somebody said, or your religion was offended.

But, as I've said before, with freedom comes responsibility. Burning Qurans does have ramifications. These people are choosing to throw gasoline instead of water on a fire. Their actions are stupid, and selfish. Very selfish.

But selfishness is probably the ultimate American value. It is, I think, at its root, what the Tea Party is about. We prefer to call it independence, freedom, liberty, etc., but in the end it is the right to say "I don't care if you don't like it--I'm doing/saying/writing/painting/playing/reading/listening/watching it anyway." And we all partake of it and enjoy it in our measure. It is the American Dream.
angstzeit: (Default)
Just so we're clear here, I think burning Quran's, especially in a big, showy manner, is seriously fucking stupid.

But it is absolutely the right of any moron to do so in the USA. Just as anyone has the right to build a mosque where they want. There will certainly be people killed in the name of this event. But that doesn't make the people burning the Qurans any more responsible for those deaths than musicians are responsible for murders, or suicides, or rapes committed by their listeners. You don't get a free pass on murder because you heard a song, or didn't like what somebody said, or your religion was offended.

But, as I've said before, with freedom comes responsibility. Burning Qurans does have ramifications. These people are choosing to throw gasoline instead of water on a fire. Their actions are stupid, and selfish. Very selfish.

But selfishness is probably the ultimate American value. It is, I think, at its root, what the Tea Party is about. We prefer to call it independence, freedom, liberty, etc., but in the end it is the right to say "I don't care if you don't like it--I'm doing/saying/writing/painting/playing/reading/listening/watching it anyway." And we all partake of it and enjoy it in our measure. It is the American Dream.

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