Sunday, December 6, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Event: Holiday dinner with friendly neighborhood activists.

Today, 12/4/15, I attended an interesting event called the Indigenous Peoples' Dinner. The Rhode Island School of Design's Feminist Club was having a dinner and group event to discuss indigenous people and capitalism. The event was "A holiday dinner, hosted by your friendly neighborhood RISD activist clubs, to celebrate community involvement and to discuss colonialism and capitalism in the American holiday tradition."

It was interesting to go to this 95% female group. It was a diverse group of mostly women, with Asian, Caucasian and Hispanic women and a couple of guys from the college communities of Providence gather to discuss the current state of holiday traditions. It was an interesting experience for me feeling in the minority. I felt a little less strong perhaps. Unfortunately not many people participated, instead focusing on mingling with friends and eating the awesome free food.

I joined a small group sitting in a circle to discuss Capitalism and the pressure we feel in society to conform to the unhealthy status quo. We discussed SCWAAMP, and how one the Asian young women in our group has felt she had to choose between options like  "talking white" and being easy for causians to include her or "talk with a Chinese accent" and be cool but different and foreign. We live in a society that like during the early stages of suffrage, dismisses those that are different. Those not fitting into the SCWAAMP mix get to play second fiddle to those that do.

In our capitalist culture, we discussed those with privilege (SCWAAMP people) want to keep it that way. Many of our holidays have become filled with buying things, including Thanksgiving. The indigenous people that we came to the table with have been forgotten. We have sold out. The dominant class has gotten the best of us.

I thought this was a powerful image of what privilege can look like.

It was great to meet with a community of young feminists, especially women to discuss our views on the current state of our holidays, and the colonialism and capitalism the SCWAAMP people continue to push and we continue to buy. We have come to celebrate privilege!

Reflecting after the event, I did a little bit of research and came across a historic Sunrise Ceremony that the Native American community has event Thanksgiving morning on Alcatraz island in San Francisco. You can find a short video of the ceremony here. It is a celebration and coming together of Native Americans and an interesting tradition to see in contrast to the mainstream Thanksgiving celebration.

Today was a day to reflect on what I need to do this holiday season. I know I want to spend less time on shopping and more time talking about issues in our community.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sex Positivity

I love this subject. I have been a long proponent of sexual positivism long before I these words to name it. I think the name is OK. Sex is a positive thing IMO. I encourage healthy, caring and good sex. I encourage my friends, even the womanizers to not be ashamed of their sexual nature. I want both sexes and all orientations to feel happy and confident that they are wonderful sexual beings.

Shame is a daily part of everyone's life that I have met. Everyone I have met is keeping score. Whether its how few or how many persons he or she has slept with, to how much money one has. Sex and money are both difficult things to balance and be completely healthy about. Money is the most liquid asset. Sex or making love is perhaps the most intimate thing we could do with another person. If we want to keep score of how shameful or how not shameful we are, money is a powerful way to do it. I just need to compare my stack to someone else. I just need to compare what I own to what someone else owns. Guys compare are taught to compare who they had sex with and brag about it, women can brag about not having sex. Doing the opposite is often times shamed, and another person keeps score on us.

Sexual positivism takes power away from our shame based cultural abuse. It takes on a strong norm in our society and starts breaking it down. Positive affirmations remind us that we are OK, that we our OK beng sexual beings. That we are wonderful horny people! Sexual positivism celebrates our sexual selves, and I love it! Enjoy healthy and consensual sex everybody! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Event: Azra Jafari: A Conversation with Afghanistan's First Female Mayor

On October 1, 2015, I went to an event called A Conversation with Afghanistan's First Female MayorIn a relatively small auditorium at Brown University, I was introduced to a very interesting women, Azra Jafari. She had come to visit us from Afghanistan to share her story and experience as the first female mayor of Nili, a mountainous town in the Daikundi province of Afghanistan. 

Meet Azra Jafari...

As a female she says the religious leader of the town came over to her to tell her that this is not a job for a lady. Afghan women need not worry themselves with government he told her. This plays into the age old tradition of men putting women down as not being capable of doing the same work. 

She quickly got to work on making her town what she knew it could be. With no budget, no office, no workers, and no tools, she literally rolled up her sleeves and got her hands dirty. She rented an apartment, she got a shovel, and she recruited local volunteers to help build the roads in the town. She travelled to the capital to ask for money from the governor, but no luck. Still little by little she got more volunteers, some donations and continue working hard with hand tools to build roads and recruit teachers to put together a local school.  Soon the same man who put her down, came to thank her for her awesome work. 

As recognition of her work grew, with her being the only female mayor, and with her continued perseverance she started working with international organizations including the U.S. and Australian Army to help build more roads, an airport, schools and a hospital. 

She also took action to give women in her town opportunities. She recognized how poorly women are treated in afghanistan and setup a march for equal rights in her providence. She also helped setup an arts and crafts show to help promote the local talent of the women in the community. Thought this course, we have discussed and read about several different struggles that women face in society. Azra Jafari is a prime example of one of a woman being marginalized. 

In this class, we have also talked about feminism. Rowe talked about the history of feminism and all the changes that it has gone through. Azra continues that struggle on another continent. I consider Azra to be a feminist because she fought hard to get ahead while literally being hunted down by militants for being a women in power. She marched veiled up to protect herself and in harsh climate to travel to the capital and ask for funds to help women and people of her town. She also marched in the street of Nili with the local women to protest for equal rights. Hearing and talking to her I realized she is an extraordinary woman, but also a normal down to earth person. 

It was an inspiring event. If you didn't have a chance to attend, you can meet Azra Jafari in this short video

Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts by Fletcher Blanchard

Blanchard says, "none of the new codes of conduct [in colleges and universities] acknowledges the important differences between the intentional behavior of the committed bigot and the inadvertent behavior of the profoundly inexperienced."

This phrase and article struck me, especially when the author talks about the fine line between prohibiting bigoted language and protecting freedom of speech. I think this topic is particularly relevant in the light of Donald Trump's run for the presidency.

Blanchard is specifically talking about how colleges and universities handle racism and bigotry. I wonder how colleges and universities are handling political clubs and groups that may be promoting similar agendas and rhetoric. Has anyone seen or know of student groups that are actively promoting discrimination and bigotry? If so, how are colleges handling this?

I heard about a book called Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?, here is a short video conversation with the author, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Dr. Daniel Tatum talks about creating opportunities to connect with people who are different from themselves, which is also something that Blanchard talks about. He says that solid interracial friendships can help to "insulate the targets of harassment". I have seen this in my own life, growing up as a light skinned Dominican, I was often made fun of and bullied by Black peers and started to become uncomfortable around them. As an adult, I have been able to heal this and reverse some of these relationships by getting to know and developing friendships with Black people.

Andrea Ayvazian: “Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression”

Andrea Ayzazian argues that in a world of powerful social systems it is easy to feel overwhelmed by inequality and oppression. She says that learning what an ally is and taking on this role is an important step toward change around a particular issue and reigniting hope in society.

She identifies an ally as a member of a dominant group in society who works to dismantle oppression that s/he benefits from for being part of that dominant group. For example, as a male, I have a systemic advantage based on my gender. Therefore, I can be an ally to women by working to promote equality and "leveling the playing field," which may even mean rejecting ideas that could benefit me personally in the short term because of my gender.

Allies often carry significant influence and authority because they are part of the dominant group and are able to more easily get the attention of that same dominant group on certain issues. While I have always considered myself somewhat of an ally to women. This class as encouraged me to be more vocal and speak out, particularly when I am with other men about women's issues and not let sexist ideas/jokes slide.

Here is a poignant video that talks about how to be a good ally, 5 Tips for Being an Ally. She starts out by saying that a good ally must be willing to listen and learn from the communities or groups. For me that means me listening and learning from my mom, my sister, my girlfriend, my female coworkers, teachers, classmates and women that I interact with on a daily basis.

One of my main take aways from this article is that I am a change agent. You are one too!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Are Little Boys Made Of By Michael Kimmel

Violence, Pain, Hurt, Punches, Hits, Blood. Do we males express it as a proper means to a better world? Someone once told me to not try to make sense of crazy, because it does not make sense. It is crazy to think that violence is fair, it is not, it is not OK. Abuse is never OK.

Kimmel shares his experience reading books by persons who justify the hazing, bullying, and/or inability of men to control their tempers. I believe I am more than capable of expressing myself without physically or emotionally hurting another, even in very stressful situations. I agree with Kimmel that males are conditioned to privilege and honor themselves as justices who can sentence others to pain and suffering.

I think the feminist movement has a championed a lot of ideas like equality for the sexes, respect and integrity for all, and peace and compromise for everyone that we all need to adapt in some form. Like Kimmel, it is important to examine and think about the ideas on boys presented by our peers and writers. Careful and diligent study of the conditioning and behavior both men and women are subject to is of great use to each one of us if we are to take proper action to make our lives better, healthier, and joyous more of the time than what we are experiencing now.