Monthly Archives: March 2012

I’ve Just Gotta Say:

I’ll keep this brief, because Lord knows y’all are probably sick of me being on my soap box about this all the time, but I can’t help feeling angry, frustrated, and a little bit hopeless when stuff like this happens in the world.

On Tuesday night, my darling roomie showed me a video of a married couple from her home state of Utah. The husband, driving the car, was videotaping (while driving! D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S) his wife as she tried to figure out how many miles they would go in an hour if they were traveling 80MPH in their car. She did all these crazy complex (read: irrelevant and incorrect) math maneuvers and calculations and still did not comprehend a) why her answer was wrong, b) why the correct answer was so easy to find, and c) why on God’s green Earth her husband was recording her thoughts, egging her on, and laughing hysterically. Eesh.

This week also happens to be International Anti-Street Harassment week. What’s that, you ask? Great question. It’s a now-annual awareness campaign in its first year, and as someone who has to deal with feeling violated by strangers’ eyes and verbal commentary on the reg, I welcome this campaign with open arms. In fact, this is one of the areas in my life I feel most inadequate as both a feminist and a social activist– I have no good way of confronting or dealing with comments said to me (or others) on the street, despite the fact that this was actually a TOPIC COVERED in some of my undergrad WSGS courses.

Some incredible women & men hoping to draw attention to the above-mentioned international awareness week made this MARVELOUS video based on the “Sh** ___ say to ____” meme from the interwebz. I like it, I love it, I can’t get enough of it; it’s even my gchat status at the moment. I especially appreciate it because it addresses the need for allies in social struggles– men, just because you aren’t getting cat-called as frequently as your female friends does not mean this is not your business and not your place to step in! As Eve Ensler so fiercly remarked this fall, “I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?” Yes, indeed. Where ARE you? I know a few of you are starring in that sensational YouTube video I linked to above, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So how are these two connected?, you might wonder aloud as you read my post that is no longer meeting its promise of being brief. Again, astute question from the peanut gallery. You see, the first video (MPH dilemma) appeared as a “related video” to the second video today for some absolutely sick-and-twisted reason, and I noticed that the video making fun of women’s capacity had MORE THAN 2 MILLION HITS (and, 12 hours later, it’s over 3 mil), whereas the well-done video touting a good cause and defending women who are victimized, objectified, & harassed has a mere 160,000 views (it had 153k 12 hours ago, for the record). Granted, the first was uploaded 3 months ago, but I really believe this gets at a core problem:

We as a culture are destructive in that we ALLOW and PROMOTE the dissemination of materials that belittle & devalue the roles & abilities of certain populations of people. Here, I’m talking about women. I know we’re not the only victims of something like this, but I am SICK AND TIRED of knowing that the media and all it mediums continue to portray me and my entire gender in a light that is far from favorable.

Even more nauseating, this is all happening during March…and if you didn’t know (why would you?), March happens to be Women’s History Month. How can we possibly honor the strides & accomplishments women have made up to modern day if we cannot even place meaningful, genuine value on the safety, security, and access to success/prosperity of women IN THE NOW?!

I want to be hopeful and believe there is more at work here than my frustrated rave has expressed, and that may be true. But this is not a phenomenon I am uncovering for the first time in a rare example of technology serving as a mockery for my entire sex. If you don’t believe me, find a local screening of MissRepresentation and tell me afterward that this is not a legitimate, pervasive, SERIOUS concern we should all be doing something about.

Go on, I dare you. And if you try to reason yourself out of this one, I just might pull out my camera and record the stumbling argument you make to prove your unsound logic somehow correctly addresses this chronic issue at hand.

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To view the trailer of MissRepresentation (which I HIGHLY recommend), click here.

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Unfinished Open Love Letter to No One in Particular

This afternoon, the trainer for the program I run pulled out sheets of notebook paper and gave them to our high school students. It is Valentine’s Day week, so naturally we have been exploring ideas of love, affection, compassion, and how they affect our ability to make peace. Our assignment today was to fold these sheets in half and use one side to depict our own idea of what can be used to symbolize “love,” apart from the traditional symbols of hearts, flowers, chocolate– all those over-commercialized, burnt-out symbols of adoration. My mind surprised me with what it came up with.

It’s a paisley. I have a pair of earrings like this that I absolutely adore, but that isn’t where the meaning for me starts or ends. The curvy, curly shape is warm aesthetically (just like the heart) which is why I think it is so appealing and so representative of the most incredible emotion in the universe. The teardrop in the middle represents the depth of sadness, sorrow, and vulnerability that can be borne only of the purest love. The jubilant little dots around the edges remind me that joy always overcomes sadness if we approach it from a disposition of true love. I do like that I can quite literally wake up and choose to “wear” love– accessorize with it, make a fashion statement out of it, fit it into my wardrobe– when I revisit the design of my earrings. To me, this icon of love is starting to feel more purposeful, all-encompassing, and descriptive of love than any other image.

But the biggest epiphany I had in regard to this exercise is rooted in my days as (surprise!) a Loyola Companion. At one of our evening meetings my senior year, a fellow Companion shared a quote about infinity. It was so beautiful. I wish I could recall it word for word, but the meaning alone is enough to crack open my soul and shed the glow of enlightenment across the surface of the Earth: there are two ways to see infinity; the first being the vast incomprehensibility of the universe, of mathematics, of expanses we will never be able to even wrap our minds around because they grow and expand and stretch farther than our human thought ever will, and the second, the incredible intimacy of discovering that an infinity lies in every atom as it breaks down, in every person as they learn something new or feel something different or become dissected into somehow even more minute pieces and parts. IN EACH OF US LIES THE INFINITY WE ARE SO AFRAID OF YET SIMULTANEOUSLY SO INTRIGUED BY. And I think paisley’s succinct, gentle point is that,  whereas its bubbled round bottom is all about the reach, the width, the amplitude. I truly believe that love is both these forms and everything in between.

What does this have to do with you and why are you receiving this in your mailbox? Well, the second task given to us today was to write a love letter to someone. You are the someone I keep coming back to, even though I never see you (unless it’s serendipitous), never hear from you, never have had any truly romantic interaction with you. But I think I do love you in ways unknown to you AND to me because I’ve not yet been given (or just simply TAKEN) the opportunity to try my love for you on like an article of clothing, to explore its comfort and functionality and depth of pockets and durability. I want to love you, infinite you, and I want to love you so endlessly that I finally realize after long explorations of years and years that I will never, ever reach the bottom of that love. That the potential will never run dry.