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.

Tough Guise 2

"We need to stop chasing symptoms". We live a world that is saturated with violence, and accepting that is important. Violence is the symptom, and shame is the condition. Mr.Katz in the documentary Tough Guise 2 shares example after example of the violence of men in this shame based society. Men and boys unfortunately are conditioned by many people of all backgrounds to earn their worth by being tough to the point of emotionless. Also violent, bread winners and/or shamed flawed brutes.

"Real men turn to violence". The messages males receive are insane. Growing up, there was constant pressure from my peers to show my manhood through acting violently toward anyone who shamed or questioned my toughness. Being a womanizer was applauded in my circle of friends and culture. It's all too common to find men who are incapable of being honest with their significant others and sacrifice their marriage or relationship to adhere to these "male" expectations. This is completely backwards. We all need honesty, compassion and integrity, but men are all too often mutilated emotionally and cut off from their real selves. Everyone has a masculine and feminine side. Just most of us don't know what that is suppose to look like.

What do you see as an all around healthy relationship with your masculine side and feminine side? For me, I see a courageous, gentle, generous and fun loving spiritual being. I see myself as powerful, while my emotional energy is free to flow out of me without trying to cover myself with a tough guise.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein


    Let's reflect on the life of many an American girl as seen through Orenstein's eyes, IMO. Disney Princesses represent a magical world where a little girls happiness is obtained. Or maybe the DPs are just one of the prerequisites for joy and love. The Disney stories are not healthy and balanced. Even if they were, are little girls identifying make believe as real? Orenstein cautions parents to guard their daughters from the suffocating media that is aiming to make as much money as possible selling fairy tales. It makes it very hard for parents to keep daughters from subscribing to Disney fantasies. Many girls age 2 to 6 already know the DP stories sometimes even if parents protect them from ads. DPs are everywhere, they are in class rooms and they known by many of the children. One of the big issues is that in the studies sited by Orenstein's piece, most girls do not see themselves as capable engineers and teachers, but as princesses, fairies, and butterflies. Even toys like the American Girl Dolls which are healthier than DPs want to sell you every things and the kitchen sink.
    Progress has been made, even though Pocahontas and Jasmine are not the most popular DPs they are minorities, and now  and now Ella from Frozen is not a princess rescued by a prince. Target is working on putting all toys in together irrespective of color, gender or marketing. Goldie Blox, toys designed by a female engineer to encourage girls to use toys historically marketed towards boys. Women and girls can now have a much larger variety of toys and stories that represent a lot healthier stories. There is a lot to learn about caring for, protecting and guiding young girls and boys in this crazy capitalist greedy world. Orenstein works hard to find a way to keep young girls from being hurt and indoctrinated by large marketing campaigns, and she does a lot of observing. I think we all need to continue observing and learning also, I know little girls are.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'm Not Fat, I'm Latina by Christy Haubegger


     Where is the line that divides fat from skinny? Haubegger argues that in Latina(o) culture it is a bit different than the typical american doctor or magazine would have informed you. She is a good 25 pounds over weight in most American weight charts, and at the same time in the sweet spot for Latina women and dating Latino men. Haubegger the founder of Latina Magazine saw a different perspective for so called over weight women, she saw that in Mexico skinny was not the often the most attractive body type to men, and it was not so widely criticized. Her trip to Mexico helped her overcome the shame of having a little more meat on her bones. She came back to the states with more pride and serenity in the body was born with. That our society has been condescending to women based on their body weight is not something new, but fighting the system is a continuing struggle even with the progress we have made. Haubegger felt she fit right in with the Latino culture as a "25 pound over weight" women. It does not mean Hispanic culture is not condescending, and most women still do not feel they look acceptable as they are, without feeling defective. It is great that Haubegger feels great about her look, but we need to be kinder to each other so that it is easier for we all feel we are ok as we are and we can make healthy choices about our bodies and lifestyles from a place of peace.

La Conciencia De La Meztiza: Towards A New Consciousness

by Gloria Anzaldua

The world is an enormous mix of millions of backgrounds and experiences. Some of backgrounds persons in this nation experience are more closely linked than others, as the case with mestizos/mestizas, someone both Spanish and Amerindian descent. In an article about the her life experience and perspective Anzaldua as a meztiza and lesbian has had to face some very challenging adversity. Most of us are not well informed or have not paid a fair amount of attention to the conflicts of race and sexual orientation that arise around us. Anzaldua can not escape these struggles and being of mixed descent is right in the middle of them, literally. She has to make some sense out of the prejudice between Spanish and Amerindian cultures while being right in the middle receiving and giving to both sides. She goes on to explain how she has become a person who has to hear, see and feel all these conflicts within herself as she learns to identify with who she really is. She is her own peace-broker and consultant. She supports both sides, and takes action to to fair, understanding, loving and tough to both sides. She is working on reaching a enlightened and caring and honest conclusion to this mess. Even as a lesbian, a women, an American she sees her opportunities to work through clutter and filters of anger and confusion with a loving, strong, honest and compassionate resolve to offer her unique perspective and truth to the conversation of how to provide kindness and space for all and their backgrounds.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Compulsory Heterosexuality by Addriene Rich

    Compulsory Heterosexuality means obligatory straightness or heterosexuality as the only possible and normal sexual orientation of any woman. Adrienne Rich who is a lesbian author has been deeply hurt, when feminists writers leave the lesbian population out of their literature when they defend women from the abusive society we live in and have lived in. She rights "lesbian experience is perceived on a scale ranging from deviant to abhorrent or simply rendered invisible" when she describes the way feminist authors dismiss lesbians as they work on defending women through their writing. She references the horrible facts about how men are also deciding powerful influences like "theology, law, science and economic non-viability within the sexual division of labor" and how this and other factors like "torture and witch hunting" have forced women to deny, confuse, reject and hide their sexual orientation lest they be persecuted, but also because their opinion has been discounted. Rich finds many holes in the works of the feminist writers she sites. often coming back to the idea that those writers don't realize just how big a role "Compulsory heterosexuality" or heterosexuality has had on women. Heterosexuality has been forced on society as the one true natural orientation of women, to the point were lesbians exist because of issues women have with other women, men or both like the "female Oedipus complex". I agree with Rich that we have a huge mess of bias and misinformed people engaged in a political storm to convince women of how they truly feel and should feel. We have a long way to go to recover and clarify all that is happening, but at least many of us do believe that lesbianism is just as natural as heterosexuality.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Generation M: Media as a Feminist Issue

It boggles my mind just how mixed up we are in our society. As the human race we have a long history of women's abuse. Women are the ones capable of the god like ability to give birth to life, not that men don't play a smaller role as well. Rather than guard our candidates for godesses we attempt to marginalized them. In our gender 200 class we have discussed many of ways the game of hierarchy is played in America. If you are white, male, straight, Christian, American, own property and/or physically and mentally fit your go higher up the food chain. Our politicians aka, the S.W.A.A.M.P people tend to join all of the above camps, and so they get to be on the winning team of rich law deciding priviledged religious wing nuts. Where are women on this chart? Often times far from the top. A big portion of our urban hip hop music is composed of verbal and spiritual vilence towards women. Men tend to be horn dogs during poverty and vulnerable to outside influence, the media takes full advantage of this. The media takes advantage of all vulnerable times in the mind and body of a child male or female to bombard them with explotative indoctrination. Girls instead of being celebrated and guided carefully and caringly are told to take their worth from superficial external things. Looks, smarts, connections, money, or even their mates. This mess strechts to all corners of our society. We need to reliaze the real winning team is the people that care. To young people, especially men, sexually objectified women are attrative, but they and women are much more then that, and we need to work to attract them to the team that is real and actually cares.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

People like Us:

Watching the clips and playing the games on the site "People like us" was sometimes interesting and some time painful. The measures of class like the way one looks and dresses and/or what some one decides to buy or can afford to buy draw reactions from peers. I understand that it's common to see people at similar levels  of income buy things within a their budget. I am also ok with having some degree of assumption that what a person's house or dress looks like can be used to measure their economica/social or whatever status, but that is just an assumption, not a class. I am ok with an assumption, but believing something and forming an opinion about someone without empirical evidence is ignorant. I think we can all be ignorant at times, but like the site People Like US
I believe it is important to have some perspective on what we are doing, and make progress towards having more discernment. The Crabtree family is a powerful example of how a matriarchal family is put down by her community in a society were wealth is the determinant of how a mother is treated. It becomes a feminist issue when a mother is walking to work to provide for herself and her family gets called trailer trash by a passerby. It is an issue of wealth inequality when she struggles so hard earn a living wage in the most abundant country on earth but we have billionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries and many corporations not paying taxes at all. Combine both issues together and we have a society that treats women harshly financial and emotionally. Are we so morally and spiritually bankrupt that we have become unresponsive to our need for healthy and happy working mothers? As a feminist I feel I need to do something about this issue, even if it is just caring till I can think of something more.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Oppression by marilyn Frye

Oppression by Marilyn Frye is a fierce article the pushed a lot of buttons for me. Like the title submits this is about maltreatment, the abuse of women that is the normal in our societies. Frye points to how we live in a hypocrite society, where women are abused for most any decision they make and then abused again if they do the opposite. If a women is open about her sexuality she is labeled and shamed, if she is closed about her sexuality she is pressured and humiliated. I agree that this is a wide spread wrongdoing. Listening to a lot of urban music will easily highlight this, or even looking at women politicians dressed. This is unhealthy, abusive, irresponsible, wounding, hurtful, and cowardly. Society has been like this for as long as time, women have walked over for thousands of years.
    While Frye also shares that both men and women contribute to the problem, she does not offer a great reason as to why this has happened in the first place. Her assigning the responsibility (or blame) on men who are phony for opening doors for women but not standing up for women's rights is not pointing to the bigger issue. She mentions that people look at the bigger picture (the micro) and not the smaller details (the macro), but she ends up missing some of the picture too. Both genders have
incredible problems, from men's history of war and emotional trauma to women's history isolating themselves and shaming each other and everything in between. We are dealing with some very screwed up people within both genders in society. We are all wounded, dazed and confused, it is no wonder most people do not act in more loving and respectful ways. Frye holds men (and to a lesser extent women) to some degree responsible for their behaviors. I agree that it is appropriate to hold others accountable accordingly.What I don't agree with is when dealing with the sick (of mind, emotion, and spirit), poisoning them with unfair shaming, that is being part of the micro and macro problem. Tough love is not necessarily harsh love, and justice is not punishment. We need to continue to gain more clarity as we move forward.

Here is a vid of Jed Bush saying women should be shamed to control them:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fear of Feminish

Why young women get willis, By Lisa Maria Hogeland

The article "Fear of feminism" is a powerful one for me. Hogeland presents the notion that women have a lot to fear with openly expressing and defending feminist principles and joining the movement. I believe most of the things she says are true. We live in a society that is oppressive to those that want change the status quo. Hogeland interprets society as being anti-intellectual, and hierarchical. Again I agree, we have many especial interests in society, from capitalists like Hogeland sites to racists, traditionalists and simply members of society that don't want to make life more complicated. Neutralist as Hogeland describes. She encourages us to take on the consequences of our actions or inaction. This is powerful for me because I see everyone around me go about their business everyday with little mention to unfairness in the world and working on doing something about it. The whole world seems to want to stay in a safe world without consequences, and has resisted the need for change when presented by it everyday all over the world, from poverty to women's rights. Like Hogeland I agree that making a difference requires a sense of purpose, and I think the more neutral I stay the more disconnected I make myself from my purpose.

I want to ask my class what has real purpose for them and what do they need to do to integrate actions that bring them more inline with that purpose!

The F-Word Feminism in jeapordy!

By Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Rowe argues that the women's feminist movement has become a lot less effective and active and is in danger of losing its purpose. The incredible history of women's rights is one of a lot of struggle and fight, what most men and women see now as common sense. The author describes the first wave of feminist movement that was fought to win the right to vote and be counted as equal to men. The second wave continued the movement by challenging more of what society thought was OK and not in what women can do. Working anywhere and in any professional position deemed wrong my men. The is obvious not the case now. Still Rowe reminds us now that we better not take what was gained granted. Women still get thrown into gender roles that pushed on them by society. Women Engineers and politicians are still in the minority. The author explains that she understands things are very complicated and different women have different ideas about what they would like to see change or what is appropriate. Unfortunately if we don't work together and exercise our rights to vote and help each other by uniting to challenge society we have very little chance for success. Kristin Rowe is a second wave feminist with strong ties to the first wave, and she has now joined the third wave. She argues if (we men and) women don't start working and working together we won't get much of the work of equality done!

Just what is the truth? How bad are things for women?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First Blog Ever

First time blogging and I am working on creating an interesting blog! Thanks everyone for reading my blog! I am learning to understand what gender really is, I am taking this class because it is an interesting lecture/part of life. This summer I took a basic computer summer class. I work full time as an computer system administrator and I go to school full time, as I work to earn my Computer Information Systems degree. I have also been working on some projects get build a DIY speaker system, make sure my car is running well, and learn the GTD (Get Things Done) program so I can get a lot done in my life! I hope I can share what I learn well enough to teach you all something worthwhile and precious.
    Oh, I also visited Ecuador with my fiance! We did a lot of stuff, whale watching, swimming,
hike, ride horses through the jungle, climbed some volcanoes, etc. etc. It was the best vacation adventure I have ever had!