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

All-the-rage Weight

I can remember being told in my middle school history class that way, way back in the middle ages, when class divides were huge(r than they are today, apparently), it was fashionable to be curvy because it showed that you had more than enough to eat. Weight was a class statement, a physical demonstration of how wealthy you were–and probably how healthy you were–in comparison to the leaner, poorer peasants and servants doing much of the manual labor.

“No sex appeal to that bean pole!”

I really did think that that fad had gone out of style with the feudal system, but then I saw this post on the blog Loose Garments with vintage advertisements encouraging women to buy products to gain weight: http://loosegarments.com/2012/01/25/surreal-vintage-ads-our-obsession-with-controlling-womens-bodies/

It got me thinking how much style has changed over the generations, and how much the desired shape of women’s bodies has changed.

The Victorian-era, turn-of-the-century woman wore corsets and sought an S-shaped curve to her body. We can just imagine the torture she had to go through to get her waist that tiny, especially compared to her bust size. Her posterior also looks a little too small for her frame, which means that either the bust is a little emphasized or the rear end made a little more subtle.

We can marvel at the sacrifice women made and how crazy they must have been to even go near those corsets. But when you think about how much time, money, and comfort women have sacrificed for style over the years, it’s not so shocking. It’s also not shocking that there’s room to speculate about tampering with the form of this woman to make her more appealing, given the amount of tampering that advertisements undergo today.

According to PLUS Model Magazine, the majority of plus size models are between the sizes of 6 and 14, while more than half of women wear a size 14 and up.

The mother in Hairspray may have been skeptical that Jackie Kennedy ratted her hair to make it bigger–“How else would it look that way?” her daughter asks; “I believe her hair is naturally stiff,” the mother responds–but we all know better, right? Really, we often forget that though women from different decades can look so different, their bodies haven’t changed. Each woman’s body is different, certainly, but women in the early 1900s did not just magically have skinnier waists, 1920s women smaller busts, 1980s women bigger shoulders–it’s all about what’s fashionable, and therefore emphasized. To put it shortly, our bodies just don’t look fashionable by themselves. Everybody “knows” that our society today emphasizes being thin, but it seems like we often forget that desirable body shape, like big jewelry or poodle skirts, changes over time.

From Plus Model Magazine–this spread of nude “plus-size” (often average weight) models made news recently.

Way back in the day, the fashion of weight was associated with health—though their definitions of health and our definitions of health are much different, of course. But maybe we should try to get back to that. If we, as a society, quit responding to 000 models (I mean, really, their jeans probably couldn’t fit my little sister), companies will stop using them in advertisements and on the runway. And if we as a society quit buying drop-weight-fast products and getting ourselves nipped and tucked, maybe the excitement surrounding that would disappear too. You can say whatever you like about self-expression, but ask the girls who got made fun of for being flat-chested or having labia that are “too large” why they’re getting breast implants or labia reductions, and you’ll see we’ve got bigger problems to think about than protecting free expression.

The answer, of course, is not to regulate these things more harshly, but rather to eradicate the stigma and the source of the problem. What if no woman felt that her breasts were too small or too big? What if no woman ever felt like she had to lose weight for any other reason than to improve her health? What if modeling companies stopped seeing models as mannequins, lifeless forms to drape clothing on, and instead used real women whose bodies add life and curve and reality to clothing?

Think about it.

Peace,
Annie

A Reflection

Sometimes I hate being a woman.

I hate being a woman because I hate being afraid. I hate second-guessing myself. I hate doubting my abilities.

One of the things that I’ve always been told, as a result of one wave of feminism or another, is that I can do anything I want all by myself. As a woman, I don’t need to depend on anyone to take care of me–I can be independent.

But that’s not true in this world.

What is true is that I can’t go anywhere by myself without fear. Men can, for all intensive purposes, move freely through the world. Perhaps they risk getting mugged, or risk having racial slurs thrown at them. But those things don’t happen to them because they are men. Those things happen because they are the “wrong” race or look like they might have money in their pocket or they just happen to be sitting next to a crazy person on the bus.

Most of the time, men don’t have to fear the things women fear. They don’t have to fear being abducted or raped. They don’t have to worry about being touched by a stranger. They don’t have to worry about the 18 minutes they have to stand alone at the bus stop.

These things happen to women not because they look like they have something valuable in their purses or because they’re the wrong color in the wrong part of town.

These things happen because they are women.

So many times in my life have I doubted myself. I’ve cancelled plans and not done things that I really wanted to do because my boyfriend or my friends couldn’t go with me. I’m a solitary person usually; I like being alone, and I like being independent. But I can’t do that in this world.

Because I am a woman, I constantly need a chaperone.

Or mace or years of self-defense training or a concealed weapon.

I hate it.

When people ask why these things happen, the response is usually, “That’s just the way it is.”

But that’s not true and that’s not how it has to be.

There are always going to be people desperate enough to mug someone for their wallet. There are always going to be people ignorant enough to harass people verbally and even physically. And there are always going to be people sick enough to rape innocent men and women.

But there should not be so many sick people in this world that I can’t spend 20 minutes on a bus by myself. There should not be so many sick people that I don’t feel like I can ever live in a big city unless I have someone I know I can trust to live with so I don’t have to be afraid. There should not be so many sick people that women should be afraid to take a walk by themselves at twilight or early in the morning just to get away from it all for a few minutes. There should not be so many sick people that folks have to spend years looking for their missing daughters, wives, and friends. That they have to wake up every morning hoping that today will be the day that we find her. I picture my dad, my mom, my grandma, my sister, my boyfriend, and my friends in that situation every day. And that’s a big reason why I hesitate to do what I want.

People can say all they want about women being totally capable of being equal with men in our society. But if I can’t reach that full potential because I am afraid of living in this world by myself, then it is an unfair contest.

I hate being afraid. I hate being a woman because in this society, fear is part of the deal.

Peace,

Annie

Animals > Women ?

Some food for thought… “America has 3,800 animal shelters, but only 1,500 for battered women,” writes Schrager.  She raises an interesting point about how, in many ways, our society cares more about helping animals than people.

Why is this?

Well, in many cases, people don’t think that anyone they know is being directly affected by domestic violence—despite the studies that have indeed shown that domestic abuse occurs in all socio-economic circles.

Schrager suggests that people are less likely to donate money to support women’s shelters, because the issue of domestic abuse is not necessarily visible within our communities—it happens behind closed doors.  It is more difficult for people to give support to the “faceless,” and so instead they choose to support animal shelters.

While I do think Schrager’s article is somewhat biased, I agree with her that people shouldn’t ignore the issues of domestic violence occurring in their communities because they seem invisible.  Seen or unseen, the problem still exists, and there are women who do need help.

Personally, I think that bringing attention to violence committed against women is especially difficult.  Many people are likely to give support to an animal shelter after seeing commercials with photos of the animals, but you don’t exactly see the same type of tragic commercials for battered women. The sad truth is, most people aren’t likely to give to an organization that they don’t feel like they can relate to, unless a celebrity decides to support it as well.

If you are interested in reading the full article, visit: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/does-one-abused-woman-100-abused-puppies

What do YOU think??

Peace,

Rosie