“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” ― Junot Díaz

Below is a link to a video of a young girl who receives a doll with a prosthetic leg. This is significant because the young lady has a prosthetic leg as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhAcBwwpo0)
The young girl’s reaction is priceless. She opens the box and immediately begins crying because she has a doll that looks like her.
The crux of this statement emphasizes how important representation for all people is, specifically minorities.
We live in a society where the majority of people are white straight cisgender people and dominate pop culture. This is natural and makes sense that a majority is well represented in the society they live.
However, collectively we should always be working towards a more inclusive society. One way to do that is by representing all people in that society. This may mean through media, politics, educations, and other outlets.
It is imperative that children see people like them excelling in a happy and healthy way. This is one of the building blocks for developing positive self image and identity.
The little girl from the video doesn’t have many role models that represent her. I don’t know many celebrities or influential people in our society that have a prosthetic leg. So for her to receive a doll with one was a major deal for her. The same is true for People of Color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.
By representing minorities in popular culture we are providing our youth an accurate depiction of all peoples that live in our society. Our media representing those communities should illustrate them as authentic three dimensional beings. We tend to think of people in only one way; usually the label we place on them. If our TV shows, books, and music provide depth to these minority characters it expands our youth’s ability to develop a positive self image.
The LGBTQ community, People of Color, women, immigrants, and other minorities don’t have much representation in government, academia, pop culture, and other aspects of life. By providing youth that is more inclusive and more like them we are cultivating a generation that feels more free to live genuine and more authentically than ever before.
If you this concept is new to you or you don’t understand it, count yourself lucky. You have had impactful person in your life that you could identify with. Not many of our youth get that opportunity. Working to be more inclusive of all others is a goal we should all work toward.
For the sake of the young lady in the video or others like her, we owe it to them. For the next generation.

“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” –Mother Teresa

“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” –Mother Teresa

 

Empathy is something we hear a lot about in pop culture. People often share quizzes or quotes about being an empathy. As much as the word is thrown around in today’s society, I wish it was practiced more.

Empathy is often confused with sympathy but those two emotions are very different. Sympathy is understanding that a person is experiencing a particular emotion. Empathy is feeling that particular emotion alongside the person.

What I pull from Mother Teresa’s words are powerful. We may understand that a particular group of people have a plight and we may recognize they are vulnerable and marginalized but do we truly empathize with them?

Because a group of people are experiencing a shared plight do we somehow believe this diminishes their struggles? Often we view people we disagree with as a group of nameless and faceless people. We see immigrants, African Americans, LBGTQ people, and other marginalized people of society. Because we look at the “mass” we fail to recognize the dignity and inherent worth of the individual person that makes up the “masses”.

Each person has an experience that is different from your own. That experience is as valid as yours. We lose that when we see people as nameless and faceless enemy.

I think the best example of empathy was stated by Jesus Christ. He advised “love one another as yourself”. This means we recognize that the stranger in the mass has a personhood that is separate from my own. I think Jesus was also highlighting that in many ways we can be harder on other people than we are on ourselves.

We understand our intentions. We know where our heart was. Yet we always question the motives of others. We are quick to assume another’s wrong doings and not give the benefit of the doubt. If we loved others as we loved ourselves, we wouldn’t rush t judgment about other people’s motives but give them time to make them known.

By only seeing people as part of a “mass” we maintain that shroud around them, perpetuating a two dimensional understanding of them. We have to recognize that people of all walks want what we all want: our basic physical and psychological needs to be met. When we prevent that we are denying an individual’s personhood. In a fair and free society we validate everyone’s experience while not denying a person’s existence.

We should always keep in mind that behind every issue, political or other, is the “one” that makes up the “mass”. That one is a person who has thoughts, feelings, and perspective on the world.

Empathy is one of those buzz words that is often thrown around in pop culture and it seems very little understand the complexity of the emotion or what it truly means to empathize with another person. Its understanding that we can disagree while recognizing the complexity of the person we disagree with. It’s a way for us to maintain our humanity. It’s something to consider the next time you are faced with the “mass”; consider the “one”.

“Peaks and valleys, kid. The older you get, the more you have.” -Lorelai Gilmore

This past week millions of people, myself included, watched the long anticipated Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. There will be spoilers from this point forward.

The wonderful thing about the show is that there are many story lines, the character’s rich complexity, a sharp wit and endless pop-culture references leave you in awe of the writer’s ability to story tell. From a young age, I’ve always appreciated a person’s ability to weave an intricate story that takes a while to unfold and digest.

It doesn’t help I’m woefully sappy.

Gilmore Girls has always been near and dear to my heart. I along, with my cohorts, identify with Rory and our shared coming of age experiences. Yet, you also have Lorelai and the many shenanigans she gets into along with juggling rearing a child, career, her love life, and a tension filled family dynamic. We follow the journey of Richard and Emily Gilmore. A wealthy New England family attempting to preserve a legacy and provide for their daughter and granddaughter.

I want to focus on the themes I picked up most in the revival. It draws out so many things that people struggle with.

Rory’s rut in her career and need to be established. Lorelai’s feelings of invalidation in her relationship with Luke and Emily’s need to establish a new life after the death of her husband and grief over losing her identity.

Rory’s character was one that fans thought could do anything. We certainly thought she had the world by the teeth and she would be extremely successful. Rory did not do any of those things. Ten years later she is in a rut. She is basically homeless, in two unhealthy romantic relationships, and has no work prospects. It’s sad. She takes the year to find herself. I kept thinking this should have occurred ten years ago. This is a reminder that ruts and uncertainty can hit at any time in our life. She contends with the feeling of being stagnate while her friends were all successful and doing their thing. Who hasn’t felt like that? Throughout the year Rory decides what she wants for the next phase of her life and works to obtain it and of course life throw a curve ball at the end. One I don’t totally hate. I didn’t expect Rory to become pregnant but the writer’s adequately prepared me for it.

Lorelai feels as if she has wasted the last ten years of Luke’s life. She feels that she robbed him of children and his dreams. She and Luke spend the year together but making each other somewhat unhappy. Lorelai goes on a journey to soul search and finds her answers. She goes back to Luke work out the animosity they have developed. The revival ends with them becoming married. Lorelai also works out the tension filled relationship with her mother. They are finally in a good place. The bitter resentment Lorelai had for her mother was resolved.

Emily’s storyline was my favorite and the most complex. Emily lost her husband, her world, and identity. She had to rebuild what she had and she did so. She sold her home and bought a new one. She started a new romance. She ended her affiliation with the DAR and moved to Nantucket. She became a new person. She was given an opportunity to grow and she did.

All of their storylines, especially Emily’s, introduce important themes well all experience in life. The biggest take that I had was that people deserve to have the space to grow/evolve. We are not the same person throughout our life. People change. It’s a simple fact. If we aren’t growing and changing parts of us throughout life then I’d say the life you are living isn’t much of a life. Your insight deepens, your opinions change, and you feel differently about things as you grow. It’s a part of living. We assimilate our old selves into new identities. Some people never take that opportunity, whether for fear or stubbornness it’s not good. Emily spent seventy years building a comfortable life and then her husband died. She had to forge a new life. Pick up the pieces and create something else. She did it wonderfully. Not everyone is afforded that opportunity. I get that but she was able to start over. I think that is why they call them “phases”. Life happens in transitions; some of them longer than others, some of them unexpectedly and without consent, some of them naturally. Our ability to accept and trudge through is what gets us through. We can meet life like a mighty oak or a wispy palm and in doing so we dictate the quality of our life. Maybe, like usually, I read too much into something as simple as a T.V. show but as I watched the revival of my favorite T.V. show these were some of the themes I picked up and why I believe this show will be timeless. Everyone experiences love and lost, ruts in life, and family issues. It’s whether we remain in the valleys or climb that mountains that make life what it can be.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ― Marie Curie

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about bathroom bills. More specifically, Trans issues have been tossed into the public arena. Many states are passing or are considering legislation regarding a Tran’s person ability to use public restrooms. Tran’s issues have been gaining momentum in the last year or so but it is important to consider these “Trans issues” are issues a Trans person contends with a on daily basis and isn’t something that just started in the last few years. Let’s explore that:
No matter your views on Transgender issues one should educate themselves on this deeply personal issue.
What prompted my writing this blog was the recent passing of the North Carolina bill that requires people to use the bathroom that correlates with the sex on their original birth certificate. So if a person does complete sex reassignment surgery they would still be required to use the restroom of the sex that they had a birth. There are two parts to this bill but this blog will only focus on the bathroom portion.
As usual this argument can be divided between liberal and conservative views. Of course people of the respective parties can have differing opinions within the party but a generality does exist.
Conservatives frame their argument for this bill in terms of privacy and security. They affirm that a person’s privacy is compromised when a person has to use the bathroom with someone that has a different biological gender. The example provided was if a man used the women’s restroom a woman would be very uncomfortable. First, it struck me that the commentator used the language “biological sex” because the LBGT community affirms that gender is mental and sex is biological. It almost felt as if they too were affirming that belief as well. Secondly, I would assume that a woman would be very uncomfortable if a man used the women’s restroom. However the point that the Trans community continues to reiterate to people is that a Trans person is not their gender they were born with. So If a Trans Person is using the women’s restroom they are affirming I am a woman and belong here. So personally, I don’t see how privacy has been impacted however people will need to figure that portion out for themselves.
The second issue is security. Conservatives affirm that women and children are somehow put into risk when a transgendered person uses the restroom of their identified gender. They believe that perverts would use this law for their own deviant behaviors and do unspeakable things to women and children. Conservatives push that allowing Trans people to use the bathroom of their mental gender would make it easier for men to rape women. This argument is weak. In fact it s contradicts an issue so near and dear to conservatives. Let’s apply their argument for putting into place a law to restrict/prevent behavior. The same argument can be applied to gun control. Liberals argue if they create stricter gun control laws then they will lessen the amount of gun violence. We know that won’t work. You cannot legislate morality and cannot control people’s behaviors with laws. So what does this have to do with the bathroom bill? The point is that a person who is participates in the abhorrent behaviors of raping children and women will go into the women’s restaurant regardless of the law. Furthermore, you cannot equate Transgendered people with dirty perverts. Most Transgendered people do not rape women and children and are upstanding law abiding people. It becomes no more easier for a man to use a woman’s restroom than it was before. It is against the law for a man to do those things before this bathroom law. It continues to be against the law for a man to use the women’s restroom and for a man to rape women and children. This bathroom bill does not restrict the behavior of men who would do those terrible things to women and children. It only prevents law abiding citizens from using the restroom. If you logical explore the issues it seems the bathroom bill is motivated for other reasons.
Liberals view the bath room bill as discrimination against Transgendered people. They argue a Trans person should have the right to use the bathroom that correlates with their mental gender. They also contend that it is a safety concern for a Trans person to use the restroom that correlates with the gender on their original birth certificate. There have been numerous attacks on the LBGT community. Liberals postulate that if a Trans woman uses the men’s room that be putting them in danger of being assaulted. Considering the amount of imperial evidence, this is a valid point. There is a long history of physical abuse of the LBGT community.
I wrote this article because I saw a terrible cartoon floating around online about a man wearing a dress so he could get into the women’s room to hurt women and children. That person wasn’t transgendered. It was a pervert. I imagine that the rate of men assaulting women in women’s restroom will not increase due to Trans people using the bathroom that correlates with their mental gender. I do not think that people are treating this issue with compassion or understanding that it deserves. People are still not listening to Trans people about any Trans people. Some folks still believe that the LBGT community is completely making up these issues. It’s quite sad. This world lacks compassion and understanding. It is my hope that people can facilitate a discussion that is respectful. No one has asked you to change your belief but being disrespectful and a terrible human being is not an option.

Let’s work to making the world a better place.

“Everything I learned I learned from the movies” -Audrey Hepburn

At one time, just a few years ago, I hated movies. I’m not exactly sure what the deal was but I did not like watching movies and I did not care to go to theaters. Crazy, I know. It was about four years ago that I changed my mind. My brother and I decided to make a list of movies and see them throughout the year. Since then we’ve done it every year.

I say all of this because throughout this process movies have come one of my favorite things on the plant. I think going to the movies became a coping skill for me. It was an experience and if you let yourself you could immerse yourself into a two hour break.

Movies are magical. Most of them are wonderful storey telling. I love movies that captivate and make you feel things. A good movie makes the viewer forget they are watching a movie. A good movie can make you angry, joyful, prideful, saddened, and hopeful.

I get swiped up in movies sometimes. I’m not prejudice to movies. My favorite type of movie to view is in the theaters. I enjoy the surround sound, the big screen, the previews, and the collective reaction for the audience. It’s nice to know that you are experiencing similar emotions with a group of people A shared moment of whatever that particular emotion is.

I even enjoy TV movies. I was raised on Lifetime movies. I remember a handful. I remember one called Dawn Anna. It was about the volleyball coach of Columbine High School. The movie chronicled her life. I remember watching a movie with Kristie Allen. She portrayed a person with intellectual disabilities. Her character married another individual with intellectual disability and the premise of the movie was should they have children. I also remember watching a movie about a Trans teen that was brutally beat to death and the boys guilty of doing so buried his body in a field and then went to have breakfast at a waffle house. Each movie evoked a strong reaction and I vividly remember they shaped my opinions about different issues.

Tonight, I saw London Has Fallen, the sequel to Olympus Had Fallen. I loved OHF and wanted to see LHF. Of course sequels don’t usually compare well to the original. London Has Fallen was good but I liked OHF more. LHF evoked emotions of patriotism and justice. I love those movies because the main character takes no prisoners. I’d recommend it.

But what I love the most is the story telling. I believe movie making is an art and an extension of books. Movies accomplish the same things that books look to achieve. They change us, encourage us, and heal us. The story telling that comes from movie magic helps us feel we aren’t alone.

 

This In Itself Is Humbling

“I have the not altogether unsatisfying impression that civilisation is collapsing around me.” – Theodore Dalrymple

One of the many topics I write about is the decline of the American Family. I believe it is the most important social institution in society. I believe the breakdown of the family unit is the catalyst for many social problems. It affects everything from poverty, crime, and education. Recently, a rape case became sensationalized and covered via the news. A 19 year old man was accused of raping a 15 year old girl. They were both students at a private school. In fact the boy had graduated. The school’s student’s had a tradition called “senior salute” in which senior males attempted to see who could take the most virginity of freshman girls. Ultimately the 19 year old was found guilty of a felony but not rape.  Likely, he will spend some time in prison and will be on the sex offender’s registry. The consequences of sexual immorality are steep and yet society, especially young people, treats sex as disposable as everything else in this culture. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. I don’t care what others say or society does, we all have to the ability to make our own choices and live with the consequences.  The 19 year old did wrong and doesn’t have excuses. However, there are some ways to combat the issues with sexual immorality in our culture.

The first issue in our society is the over sexualization of women and men. Women are hit with the brunt of this problem A woman is judged on her sexuality by everyone, including other women. A woman or a man’s worth is not determined by their physical appearance. Unfortunately, all forms of media focus on a person’s sexual appeal. Hardees is a good example of this behavior. Remember the salad commercial they did with Kim Kardashian. She ate a salad in her underwear. This behavior only reinforces to boys that girls/women are sexual objects. Its counterproductive to respecting women. Even if a woman is consenting or it’s her idea, men don’t respect it. Until we as a society stop determining value based on sexual desire we will continue to have issues of sexual immorality.

Secondly, society teaches women not to get raped instead of teaching men to be rapists. Often the victim is blamed. Her clothes, make up, and cognitive state is used against her. This argument is stupid. No decision a victim of rape makes affects if they are raped. Rape is a crime and decided by one party. Otherwise its consensual sex. Society should be teaching everyone to respect each other’s bodies, understand no means no. She isn’t being coy and her being drunk isn’t your magical ticket to a good time. My advice to anyone would be is to take your safety seriously. If you get drunk have a friend look after you and be aware of your surroundings. One final thought, if both parties are drunk and the victim is too drunk to consent so is the initiator, regardless of gender.  Attitudes about sex and gender should be egalitarian.

Finally, society wants unrestricted sexual freedoms. Society wants no judgments about sexual behaviors. Our culture has become the one of hookups. Apps and website for discrete encounters are rampant. It’s a selfish way to see the world. How can one expect young people to not react in heinous ways when our culture pushes sexual immorality like they do? Without constraint our society views sexual matters more and more in a disposable fashion. Just recently, Ashley Madison, a site for men looking to cheat on a spouse, was hacked. It highlights the attitude of sexual freedom in this culture. People want what they want when they want it. It’s destructive. Sexual freedom has to be contained. People should be placing value on their virginity.

American society is obsessed with sex. It seems kids are getting pregnant at younger and younger ages. We celebrate this instead of educating the importance of celibacy. Sexual desire is natural and shouldn’t be suppressed but should be expressed in the proper ways. More specifically, a monogamous married relationship. I realize I sound like a prude but the truth is if society didn’t over sexualize people, teach different gender roles for people, and have a desire for complete sexual freedom we wouldn’t see such a rapid decline in American society.

“Surely it is one of the simplest laws of taste in dress, that it shall not attract undue attention from the wearer to the worn.” -Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

In recent weeks what has been trending in people’s news feeds has been the topic of dress codes and sexism. With school back in session for most folks, one can see why this topic has become relevant.

There have been a few stories where certain groups have determined that by nature dress codes are sexist. Recently, one high school girl was sent home for wearing a top that revealed her collar bone. In fact, some students are going as far as to hold demonstrations displaying their distaste for dress codes.

There are two issues at play here. On the surface it looks as if people are addressing the “sexist” tendencies a dress code has. Or in better words, the fact that dress codes typically have more statutes for girls than for boys. This cause is picked up by the average student who has to live with said dress code.

The second issue at play is that the zeitgeist of today are attempting to redefine what it means to be modest. The most recent example is #FreeTheNipple. Its an online campaign that is attempting “educate” others on how sexist it is when men can wear no shirts in public and woman cannot. I agree but not for the reasons they present.

On to the first issue. Dress codes exist for numerous of reasons. None of which should be “so boys won’t be distracted”. I heard that all of my life and that excuse is ridiculous. While I understand that what someone wears can distract others that should not be an argument for modest dress. It should be emphasized that in the work force folks are expected to dress and conduct themselves in a certain way. A dress code provides that training. It should be understood that the way a person dresses is one of the first things that affects a first impression. A focus on dressing respectfully and wholesome indicates a respect for yourself and those around you. Not just simply, do boys don’t get hot and bothered.

Also, none of that is strictly for girls. Boys should be dressing modestly for those same reasons. However, because men’s and women’s fashion are different there will be different standards of modesty for both genders. For example, a low cut top on a young lady is offensive where as sagging pants are offensive on a young man. I would imagine there are more rules to a woman’s dress code because there are more fashion choice. For a dude its simply a polo and jeans. For women there are many more options. I think focusing on those key difference is neither here nor there. You will not see the trees for the forest. The point is that the school administration had decided that there is a standard for modest dress and it should be adhered to.

Both male and female students are to go to school to get an education. They are not to come to school dressed in a way that would prevent that. They should realize that when they become an adult there will be expectations and they must be followed and that the way they present themselves will affect what happens to them in life. Imagine if you went to a job interview in something inappropriate.

I don’t think dress codes are sexist by nature. They do become sexist when you teach young ladies not to wear things that are distracting to boys and not teach boys to not wear things that are distracting to girls. Fair is fair.

Finally, there are group out there that want to tear down all forms of modesty. They preach a mantra of freeing yourself, loving your body, and not body shaming. It isn’t body shaming to believe that folks should present themselves decently. You can be proud of your body and not feel the need to show it off in all of its glory.

#FreeTheNipple’s movement is simple. Its sexist for males to go shirtless and females cannot. Most consider it inappropriate when a female exposes herself topless. Frankly, they are right. It is sexist.

If I haven’t lost you yet, I’m probably about too. Men and woman alike shouldn’t be exposing themselves topless in public. I’m not sure when culture dictated that men topless wasn’t immodest but it is. Here is where I differ with the groups that also believe that. I do not think men and woman should be going in public topless. Those groups would advise for woman to go topless. They would affirm that is how you make it not sexist. While that is true, it doesn’t make it right. People should be covering up more. However, we are too far gone in our culture for that.

I love the idea of a dress code. While in school I never received a dress code violation. I did not wear things I knew were not allowed. I wish more folks would go back to this understanding and compliance. I think one must be fair in developing a dress code. Its fairly simple. I would advise a uniform. Everyone wear kakis and a polo. Male and female. How neutral is that? Extremely. Then there will be no discussion of sexism and dress code. That is the path that most school will take if our culture continues to decide it wishes to be more and more immodest.

I hope people grow to respect themselves and the people around them.

This In Itself Is Humbling.