You can’t win if you don’t play the game

This past spring break gave me some time off from focusing on my studies—so instead, I chose to focus on me.  That might seem odd, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in my school life that I tend to ignore what is really going on, just me living my life.  As a freshman in college, something that is always on my mind is my future; where will I be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?  This can easily escalate into overwhelming and stressful thoughts, when I am not exactly sure about how I will fill in the blanks.  There are a lot of unanswered questions there, and that scares me.  But the one thing that stands strong and clear is that I want to make a difference in the world.  That is one of the reasons why I became inspired to start the Armed RevolutioKnits.  I wanted to combine two things I love and am passionate about—being creative and human rights—and channel this into something that could have a positive impact upon others.

While doing a little soul-searching, I came across an article called Lessons to My Younger Self: A Series by Inspiring Women.  The piece showed me that I don’t need to worry about the future so much as just happily absorb every moment of the present.  What’s more, I realized I don’t need to be afraid.  Friends and family often describe me as a dreamer, or an optimist, as if it were a bad thing.  But I believe in myself and in my dreams, and just because they are wild, imaginative, and crazy doesn’t necessarily make them impossible.  Besides, you can’t win if you don’t play the game. 

I dedicate this post to you, readers.  Dream big. Conquer fear. Do the impossible.  And please, read the article.  It shares advice and stories from women who did just those very things, and made it to the top. Even if you are not a woman, this applies to everyone.  Learn from their experiences, and what they would have told their younger selves.

…Unless of course, you’d rather learn things the hard way?

I didn’t think so.

Peace,

Rosie

 

 

Are we ready for Gender-Neutrality?

This column was in my local daily paper earlier this week: http://townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/2012/03/09/gender_specific_writer/page/full/

Mona Charen

Essentially, columnist Mona Charen expressed discontent about Apple’s new word processor Pages because its spelling and grammar corrector suggested she make some of her terms more gender neutral.

Now, I can see her point on some counts–Pages tried to correct the “lady” in “first lady” to “individual,” for example, which doesn’t quite make sense. Furthermore, it preferred “speaker” or “advocate” to “spokesman” and Charen was concerned that her sentence would be confusing with either of those suggestions. In this case, if the person she was quoting was, indeed, a man, there really isn’t an issue anyhow.

But Charen doesn’t say that Pages was too picky or was offering the wrong suggestions. Her anger was directed, rather, at the political correctness of the spelling and grammar corrector. She concludes her column thus:

Apple’s language sentinel has been schooled in political correctness at the expense of English. In another column, I mentioned that the collapse of marriage was “aggravating” inequality in America. Consider “irritating” or “exasperating” instead, Proofreadress advised.

No, those are words I reserve for her.

Does political correctness actually significantly change the English language? If it does, is that a bad thing? This may be a better question for a linguist than for an activist for social change, but I think that political correctness mostly affects suffixes (-er/-ess, -man/-woman, etc.), so probably won’t change the form and function of the language to the point where it’s unrecognizable.                      
Perhaps a more pressing concern is that our society may not ready to unlearn political incorrectness. Are we so used to the current structure that we can’t see past it, that when change starts to affect all parts of society, people get irritated and exasperated?                                                                                                                                   .
I think that Charen was mostly overreacting (especially because Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck isn’t perfect either), and I don’t think that her column was much more than an outlet for frustration because she didn’t connect her anger to any broader problems besides pushing “political correctness at the expense of English.”                                                   .
Still, I think that it’s important that we recognize, as feminists and, more importantly, as activists, as people trying to change society and its discourses, that these are the arguments and sources of resistance that we will meet. People don’t really like change, especially when they feel personally confronted with it.                                                                     a
That said, do you think Apple was right to include these “politically correct” suggestions in Pages’ Proofreader? Do you think Charen has a right to be upset? And most importantly, do you think that this is just an isolated case of somebody being anal, or is it an indicator of widespread resistance to “political correctness” and why it exists?                                       aLet me know! For those of you traveling back to school after break today, be safe.                         aPeace,
Annie

Feminist Dilemma: High Heels

I can think of quite a few reasons I was totally unimpressed with the latest issue of Marie Claire. But the worst offender this issue was a certain well-dressed Frenchman.

More alchemist than cobbler, Christian Louboutin transforms women with the flirtatious peep of a toe and click of a sculpted heel…what they walk away with isn’t just a pair of shoes, it’s a priceless feeling of feminine power.

–Marie Claire, March 2012 issue (emphasis mine)

Apparently Christian Louboutin, the famed French shoemaker is celebrating 20 years in the business. In honor of his work, Marie Claire interviewed him. Now, the interview started off okay (besides that bit that made me twitch in the introduction, quoted above), with questions about Louboutin’s career and inspirations. Suddenly, though, on the second page of the interview, things got much worse.

“A man is a fetishist: He polishes his shoes, appreciates the finish, wants to preserve them fora long time. A woman doesn’t care about this. She isn’t proud of having a shoe for 10 years. It’s a natural feminine instinct to accessorize. A naked woman in heels is a beautiful thing. A naked man in shoes looks like a fool.”

–Christian Louboutin, Marie Claire, March 2012 (emphasis mine)

Furthermore,

“[Heels are sexy] because one moves more slowly in heels. Walking fast is neither sexy nor engaging. Nobody notices the people who race around. If you’re walking in heels, you’ve got time. It’s much more attractive.”

–Christian Louboutin, Marie Claire, March 2012 (emphasis mine)

Christian Louboutin

I, of course, was totally appalled by these statements, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with my disgust.

I’m a woman who loves business dress–i’m in my element in a pencil skirt and heels. I’ve always known that heels were a little pointless, but I love the way they make my legs look, I love their clicking sound on hardwood floors, I love the added height, and I love the confidence boost they afford me. I also recognize that heels can have the connotation of the “office whore” or whatever–but that’s not who I am, and I have the right to wear them if I want to, right? If they make me feel good, then does it matter?

$625 Louboutin Pumps

Well, it DOES matter.  …I think.

Actually, I’m really not sure. I’m torn between my love of heels and my feminist disgust for the words of Mr. Louboutin.

I like wearing heels because I like the way they make me look and feel–so my first instinct is to stop the argument right there and just wear the heels.

But we need to take a closer look at what heels represent. If they represent the epitome of the “sexy” woman, or work to make women fit more easily into the stereotypical masculine fantasy, then maybe it’s time to put those heels back on the shelf. When I put on the pink peeptoe pumps I splurged on this summer, am I feeling good and confident because I am being true to who I am, or am I feeling good and confident because I’m fitting a stereotype and a fantasy?

I think this warrants some discussion. So what do YOU think?

Peace,
Annie

FemiFail: No one should be tweeted like this…

I was horrified and beyond disgusted when I heard how some Chris Brown fans reacted to Chris Brown’s return to the Grammys…They actually were asking him to beat them, yes beat them, via tweets, among other social media outlets.

It doesn’t matter how sexy you think someone is.  No one should be O.K. with violence against women.  No one should ‘like the way it hurts.’  This goes back to my earlier ‘Love the Way You Lie?‘ post, but, when did beating someone you love become acceptable???! Because as far as I am concerned, it never has been, and never will be.

To see some of the actual tweets, click here.

Women, you are above this.

Stay strong,

Rosie

So what, about Adele?!

Adele.

She just won the Grammy in the Album of the Year category.  She even won an award in all six of the categories she was nominated for.  I love to hear Adele sing. And I love that she is so popular.  Especially considering how her sound is so different from other popular female artists like Ke$ha, Katy Perry, or Lady Gaga for instance.

Something I’ve always admired about Adele is that she seems to not care a bit about the media’s comments on her appearance.  She is comfortable with her body and her self-image.  Yet, I’ve been wondering if she is a good role model.  She definitely has talent, and has worked extremely diligently to get to where she is today.  Adele is tremendously confident about her own image.  Yet, she was also quoted saying,

“I love food and hate exercise. I don’t have time to work out… I don’t want to be on the cover of Playboy or Vogue. I want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone or Q. I’m not a trend-setter… I’m a singer… I’d rather weigh a ton and make an amazing album then look like Nicole Richie and do a shit album. My aim in life is never to be skinny.”

While she does put talent and merit above appearance, she also is expressing that it is acceptable to not care about health.  I think that it is reasonable to not want to be skinny, especially considering all of the other stick-figure celebrities that seem to be in the media spotlight.  But, is health something to be ignored, or underrated?  I love Adele’s dedication to her talent and music, and I respect that she is satisfied with her appearance.  These are qualities that I think people should be looking up to.  Yet, at the same time, people also need role models who care about their health.  Many people look up to Adele, and so by admitting that she doesn’t care about her health, she seems to be setting a questionable example for others.

I’m not sure if there is a real winner here.  You have Adele on one side, and on the other celebrities that starve themselves, or almost seem to sell their bodies.

As Adele stated again, “I love seeing Lady Gaga’s boobs and bum,” she says. “I love seeing Katy Perry’s boobs and bum. Love it. But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes. I make music for ears.”

The sad truth is, music nowadays isn’t just about selling the music.  Every music artist tries to have a unique style, be it Lady Gaga’s meat outfit, or Katy Perry’s candy-colored outfits.  Adele also has a certain “look.”  She doesn’t show off her body to sell her music.  She also ignores the industry’s pressures to be thin.  While some might say that this is what sets Adele apart from the other artists in the music industry, at the same time, every celebrity makes unconventional choices about their appearances in order to stand out.  So why does Adele’s choice to not diet cause more controversy than the lyrics of Katy Perry’s California Gurls song, or even her scantily-clad outfits in the music video?  And is it so bad not to be skinny that the media must Photoshop her appearance (this actually occurred in Vogue…)? 

Personally, I’m with Adele on one thing—you don’t need to have a “perfect” body to succeed.

What do you think, fellow Armed RevolutioKnits? Is Adele a role model? Or should someone who doesn’t care about her health be considered a role model?

-Rosie

Love the Way You Lie?

Besides the way certain music videos visually portray women and men alike, like the ones below, what about the words behind the music?  Yes, both men and women are objectified in music videos.  But for the most part, when it comes to the lyrics of songs, there is a certain kind of message being sent to girls and women.  Earlier this year, my roommate and I decided that we would be truly badass.  We would start a female hip-hop/rap group, and would be the envy and awe of all our peers when we presented how BAMF we were.  This is not a joke.  We took this endeavor extremely seriously, even signing up for a break-dancing and hip-hop course, to show how hard-core about this we were. (This course, by the way, is still rocking our socks, and everyone who can, should definitely try to hip-hop/break dancing!!!)  We proudly told our friends about our new goal, but they just laughed and shook their heads.

First, we decided we would learn the lyrics to some already existing rap/hip-hop songs, to get a feel for the rhythm and performing.  At the time my roommate was obsessed with the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna.  I was fairly familiar with the song, and liked the beat and chorus of it, so I was ready to learn the song with her.  This was the first time we both had actually paid attention to the lyrics.  But, not until we had gotten to the last verse did the words “Next time I’m pissed I’ll lay my fist at the drywall” and “I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire” slap us both in the face.  The song “Love the Way You Lie” isn’t just about simple relationship problems, it is about violence in relationships.

I was horrified that we had spent the last three hours memorizing the first half of the lyrics of this song, never mind the fact that we had heard this song numerous times before without having had caught its subliminal message.  I do think the intent behind the song may have been good, as the song certainly does draw attention to the issue of violence against women who are in abusive relationships.  Yet, the way in which it does so is, in my opinion, completely inappropriate.  If you focus on what the lyrics are literally saying, what kind of message does this song send?  Besides the repeated, “I love the way you lie,” Rihanna also sings “I like the way it hurts.”  So basically, the message to me as a woman, or even to men, is that it is acceptable to abuse and hurt women repeatedly, because they love the way men lie and like the way it hurts.  This is a form of victim blaming—no normal women thoroughly enjoys being lied to or hurt, especially by someone they love.  The song is telling me, and other women, to submit to men, and shows us an example where the woman doesn’t stand up for herself.  Furthermore, the music video makes sexual abuse appear…sexy?  Either way, this girl does NOT love the way the media lies to females about what role they should play in society.  Who is to say women can’t be empowered??

Aren’t convinced? Take for instance the song “Just the way you are” by Bruno Mars. While I will admit that in this song Mars does, on the surface, sing empowering words of praise and support directed at women ( i.e.‘Cause you’re amazing/
Just the way you are’), at the same time, do women really need someone to tell them that they are amazing?  Are women so insecure that we require a man’s reassurance? How many times have you heard a girl ask if she looks fat?  A boy? For those of you who are now thinking that I am being too harsh on Mars, and that he really just wanted to sing a nice song: do you hear many songs from a female singer telling a man how amazing and beautiful he is? Just the way he is?? Or does that sound a little ridiculous to you?  Why don’t men need reassurance as well?  The truth is because women also DON’T need reassurance. We don’t need the media, or anyone to influence our self-esteem—so why let the media continue to lie to us?

A few days ago, my roommate again was telling me about how much she dreads the upcoming Valentine’s Day.  She isn’t the first one to tell me how inadequate she feels because she doesn’t have a boyfriend.  But why should anyone be made to feel worth less than what they actually are? No Hallmark holiday should influence a person’s sense of self-worth.  Yet, it’s come to this, hasn’t it?

I don’t have a solution. And, I obviously can’t control the media. But there is still a choice for all of the women out there, isn’t there? You can certainly sing along with your friends to a catchy song, ignoring the lyrics. But, you can also take a stand, and call out the lies the media perpetuates. Don’t let others determine who you are for you.

And please, if nothing else, stop second-guessing yourself!! If someone compliments you, don’t hesitate for even a second to accept it! Girl, you ARE amazing, so stop acting like it might be otherwise!

What do you think? Do you know of other songs like this?

Peace,

Rosie