Friday, April 30, 2010

Daily Obsession: Relator

I never thought I would like any music by Scarlett Johansson, but this song is great:

I just put the cd on hold at the library. I really hope this isn't the only song I'll like.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Club Review: The Purity Myth

Title: The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women
Author: Jessica Valenti
Genre: Non Fiction, Women's studies

Publisher: Seal Press
Publishing Date: January 1, 2009
Hardcover: 263 pages

Summary: (from Goodreads)
The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials — place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgin until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.
Why I read this book:

I had been meaning to read this book since I first heard about it (almost a year ago exactly actually). Since I had also been meaning to take part in a small book club that has sprung up with some bloggers, I figured this book was a nice way to kill two birds with one stone.

I know. I amaze myself too sometimes.


As the summary explains, The Purity Myth is basically about our overall obsession with "purity." Instead of focusing on the more complex and important characteristics of not being a shitty person, say like not stealing or leaving chewed up bubblegum where someone may sit, the virginity movement reduces the conversation down to a black and white idea of morality that revolves entirely around sex. On one side you have the virgin; demur, passive, young, and “good.” And on the other you have the whore. There is little room for anything in-between. The problem with this sort of thinking, besides being outdated and ridiculous, is that anything that deviates from the “good” label is automatically seen as less. Girls around the country are being taught that their virginity is a “special gift” that is “precious” and “worth saving.” As Valenti says time and time again, there is nothing wrong with someone making the personal decision to abstain from sex, but when we emphasize how "precious" it is to remain a virgin then we have to question what message that sends to the girls who decide NOT to wait. In one abstinence-only sex education classroom scotch tape is used to demonstrate how premarital sex makes one (though the message as a whole is always focused on girls specifically) dirty but putting the tape, adhesive side down, on the arm of a classmate that represents a sexual partner. When the teacher pulls the tape up, it is no longer perfectly clear and has lost some of its ability to adhere. (Not the most subtle way to send a message that having premarital sex makes you used and unable to form future “bonds.”) I can't help but wonder what exactly that message is supposed to do or how it helps teenagers.

Valenti ultimately comes to the conclusion that the valuing of virginity, and the devaluing those who aren’t, is hurting our young women. That is the underlining message of this book.

The idea that a woman is either chase and moral or dirty and amoral is obviously not new in anyway. Just look at the Eve vs Mary narrative or the Madonna/whore dichotomy. The ironic part about the virgin/whore dichotomy is that both sexualize women and reinforce the message that a woman’s value is based on her ability to have, or not have, sex. That is the true tragedy of the Madonna/whore dichotomy; a girl is only as good as her ability to not have sex.

Valenti then goes one to talk about how abstinence-only sex education is turning our youth into sexually inept ignoramuses. She also outlines very clearly how abstinence-only education singles out girls and trys to scare them into being "pure." One of my favorite quotes in the book clearly sums up the virginity movement’s obsession with clean vs. unclean is by Darren Washington, an abstinence educator. Washington said, “Your body is a wrapped lollipop. When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it. It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he’s done with you all you have left for your new partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker.” Way to bump up the creep factor there Washington. Unfortunately, that really is what the virginity movement is about. Instead of promoting safe sexual health, the virginity movement focuses on scaring and shaming young girls into filling traditional gender roles. (Valenti also thinks that this is why masturbation and lesbianism is never talked about or considered as a valid form of female sexual expression.)

Seriously, there is so much going on in this book I haven't even covered half of it.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

From page 108:
Making women the sexual gatekeepers and telling me they just can't help themselves not only drives home the point that women's sexuality is unnatural, but also sets up a disturbing dynamic in which women are expected to be responsible for men's sexual behavior.
Part of the introduction:
So while young women are subject to overt sexual messages every day, they’re simultaneously being taught—by the people who are supposed to care for their personal and moral development, no less—that their only real worth is their virginity and ability to remain “pure.” So what are young women left with? Abstinence-only education during the day and Girls Gone Wild commercials at night! Whether it’s delivered through a virginity pledge or by a barely dressed tween pop singer writhing across the television screen, the message is the same: A woman’s worth lies in her ability—or her refusal—to be sexual. And we’re teaching American girls that, one way or another, their bodies and their sexuality are what make them valuable. The sexual double standard is alive and well, and it’s irrevocably damaging young women.

The Purity Myth is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. When I lost my virginity as a high school freshman, I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel changed somehow. Wasn’t this supposed to be, like, a big deal? Later, in college, as I’d listen to male friends deride their sexual partners as sluts and whores, I struggled to comprehend how intercourse could mean one thing for men and quite another for women. I knew that logically, nothing about sex could make a girl “dirty,” but I found it incredibly frustrating that my certainty about this seemed to be lost on my male peers. And as I talked to my queer friends, whose sexual experiences were often dismissed because they didn’t fit into the heterosexual model, I started to realize how useless “virginity” really was.

I started to see the myth of sexual purity everywhere—though in the work I do as a feminist blogger and writer, it wasn’t exactly hard to find. Whether it appears in a story about a man killing his girlfriend while calling her a whore or in trying to battle conservative claims that emergency contraception or the HPV vaccine will make girls promiscuous, the purity myth in America underlies more misogyny than most people would like to admit. And while the definition of “virginity” is fairly abstract (as you’ll see in Chapter 1), its consequences for young women are not. And that’s why I wanted, and needed, to write this book. The Purity Myth is for women who are suffering every day because of the lie that virginity exists, and that it has some bearing on who we are and how good we are. Consider the implications virginity has on the high school girl who is cruelly labeled a slut after an innocuous makeout session; the woman from a background so religiously conservative that she opts to have her hymen surgically reattached rather than suffer the consequences of a nonbloody bedsheet on her wedding night; or the rape survivor who’s dismissed or even faulted because she dared to have past consensual sexual encounters.

I think it's pretty obvious already that I loved this book. Abstinence-only education is one of my biggest rant inducers so this book was a natural fit for me. Valenti's writing style felt natural and witty without being bogged down by really complex feminist theory or anything of the like. I also really appreciated that Valenti attempted to offer solutions for how we can move forward. Too often I read these sorts of books that just leave me feeling pissed off and depressed about the word without any hope on how to look forward (this is what I disliked about Female Chauvinist Pigs).

My only complaint is that book feels like it was very much written for people who already agree with Valenti. While that was great for me, I think some people might be turned off by Valenti's approach.

Rating: 8. Excellent – some laughing and/or crying involved

Comments are closed on this post (book club rules). All discussion can be found at Britni's blog here though. You can also read a review by Sarahbear here.

Smaller Government My Ass. The Sequel.

The other day I bitched about how how conservatives claim to support smaller government, but they don’t actually believe in the principles of smaller government (Patriot Act anyone?). Well, I would now like to thank Oklahoma for further proving my point.

From The New York Times:
The Oklahoma Legislature voted Tuesday to override the governor’s vetoes of two abortion measures, one of which requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion.

Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.
This article also leaves out the fact that the ultrasound has to be vaginally administered if a regular goo-on-your-belly image isn't clear enough (picture of vaginal ultrasound wand here).

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While I find the fact women will have no choice in the ultrasound matter deeply troubling, I simply cannot believe that doctors will now be able to withhold information about birth defects. I mean, what is the fucking point of having a doctor if they can tell you whatever the hell they feel like?

Where are all those tea-party protesters now?

Rep. Michele Bachmann:
That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress," said Bachmann, "and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions.
Oh that's right. They really don't give a shit about the size of government. They just don't want those "other" people getting "any handouts." And by "handouts" I mean treated with any fucking dignity.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

From now on I will be posting political cartoons for "Wordless Wednesday." I got the idea from a lovely food blog I started following and am stealing it for myself.

As always, I retain the right to do whatever the hell I want on this blog. So if some of these Wordless Wednesdays aren't exactly wordless, try not to hold it against me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Facebook should ban my family so I don’t have to see their political ignorance.

I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about Ryan’s family being conservative before, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the fact that my family has just as many crazies right leaning whack jobs people in it. Thanks to facebook, I am now aware of every dumb ass group my family decides to join and unfortunately there is no shortage of the “Impeach Obama” brouhaha on their pages.

Seriously, what is up with people?

I can totally understand being unhappy when someone of the opposing political party is making the decisions, but I still can’t wrap my head around all the vitriol that is directed at Obama.

Hey crazies, put down the black sharpies and stop drawing Hitler mustaches on everyone. It’s not cool.

As I noticed all the “Glenn Beck” and “Rush Limbaugh” fan groups my family belonged too, I started getting really irritated. Like their conservatism was some sort of personal affront to my intelligence or something. And then it dawned on me, they’re probably just as annoyed about me. (Especially since you might have noticed I’m not really discreet about my heathen liberal ways.) For some reason I never thought about how freggin bothersome it must be to constantly be challenged whenever they make obviously unsubstantiated claims around me.

While I’d like to claim that this epiphany has lead me to give up my argumentative ways and stop ruining Thanksgiving dinners with debates about gay marriage, I can’t. I’m still gonna be just as ornery and prone to rants as I’ve always been. It’s just the way I’m made (blame your god).

But I have learned to stay away from certain facebook pages and come to love the “hide” button.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stephen Hawking and Aliens

uploaded by icedsoul photography .:teymur madjderey

Stephen Hawking on the probability of alien life existing:
To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.
Added to my list of reasons why Hawking is awesome.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Week in Pictures

This really is a week too. I'm such an overachiever.

This week I battled crazy Utah weather, made a bunch of delicious food, had lunch at the Beehive Tea Room, bought a dress that could have been made out of my grandma's curtains (I heart grandma-chic), and had dinner at one of Ryan's friends.

The last picture is from the drive home from Ryan's friends. Since there is so little light at night (shocking I know), when you take a picture of someplace with a lot of little lights, like a strip mall, your shutter will stay open longer in order to compensate for the lack of light and you'll end up with these trippy light painting pictures. It's cool cause you never know what you're gonna get.

Kind of like me.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

View the world (or at least your blog) through the eyes of a baby

There's this interesting project over at Tiny Eyes where you can upload any image and see a simulation of what a child would see a varying development stages.

Here's this blog:


4 weeks

8 weeks

3 months

6 months


Pretty interesting.

-via The Seventh Sense

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day

Enjoy this stupid political cartoon:

Now go outside.

Craigslist - Where the Crazy Things Are

I was on craigslist last night looking for groups in Salt Lake and I came across this:

This group is in the stages of being formed. I was in a trance state when I was informed by a familiar to create this group. I myself am a male witch and practice the art of Witchcraft(not Wiccan)and also some Higher Magick. I was instructed to create a group where those seeking to work with many aspects of Occultism and Witchcraft. Where there is no left-hand path or right-hand path, no black, white, grey, just Magick. Everyone is to be treated as equal and share the roles within the group. I can go deeper into the whole of the group. For those that may be interested feel free to inquiry more. Please only those seeking to work with this type of group inquiry. Must be over 21. It does not matter if you have no experience or years of it...we will all learn from each other...
Not exactly the cooking or sewing group I was looking for, but it could be interesting. And by interesting I mean make a good story.

This is by far my favorite though:
Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me

This is no joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.
I thought about emailing the person to find out whether I should expect a check or cash as payment, but then thought I probably shouldn't encourage the crazies.

I'm determined to keep looking because sadly an alternative title for this post could be, "I have no friends." And I'm trying to remedy that. I just don't think these are quite the kinds of friends I'm looking for.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Red Hair and Cinnamon Mist

Every single she-ruby I've ever attempted to date has failed to acknowledge my existence, taken a flamethrower to my heart, or disappeared in the morning like a cinnamon mist.
-via Why Men Love Red Hair.

Smaller Government My Ass

I was watching Rachel Maddow last night and this clip reminded me once again that the words “small government” are empty:

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This and the new immigration legislation that is being considered in Arizon (that allows police to ask anyone who doesn’t look like they’re “American” to see “their papers” in order to make sure they’re here legally) are both examples of how conservatives may claim to support smaller government, but they don’t actually believe in the principles of smaller government.

That’s one of the reasons why conservatives don’t agree with most of libertarian ideas, like ending public education, even though they would genuinely make the government smaller.

Obviously there is nothing wrong with being conservative. Just know that when someone claims they’re conservative because they believe in fiscal responsibility or limited government, they’re probably blowing smoke up your ass.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rape is not a Metaphor

I was pretty irritated by the presumption that rape is an apt metaphor to health care legislation and I’ve decided I needed to write my own post on why rape is never an acceptable metaphor.

"I don't mind paying my fair share, folks," Jack Kimball said at a teaparty rally. "I don't think any of us do. But I do mind when I'm raped. It's awful."
This should be obvious, but this is only my personal opinion. Not everyone, not even all rape victims, are going to feel the same way as I do. And honestly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Using rape as a metaphor also doesn’t mean I think someone is a bad person or condones rape. Ultimately I believe this is an opportunity for us to question the way we communicate with one another.


Why rape is not an acceptable metaphor:

1. Using rape as a metaphor, especially in situations like this one where the metaphor is used in graphic detail, can be triggering to rape victims.

2. Using the word “rape” to describe anything other then rape normalizes sexual assault. Rape culture often tells us that rape is a compliment and that it’s no big deal. Using “rape” as a metaphor contributes to that belief. I mean, if rape is really comparable to losing a football game then it can’t be that bad can it?

3. Rape is not treated with the significance or gravity it deserves. Some people will argue that using rape as a metaphor does not trivialize rape because the people who use the metaphor actually do recognize the horror of sexual assault and that’s why they’re using the metaphor in the first place. If true situations of rape really were treated with the seriousness they deserved then maybe I would see they’re point. But as long as rape victims are blamed and shamed into silence I can’t agree. How does saying you “got raped by a test” help the true victims of sexual assault who still can’t say the word “rape” out loud? It doesn’t (and it’s pretty pretentious to claim otherwise).

4. Its just plain insulting. I can’t even begin to describe how pissed off it makes me to hear the Becks and the Limbaughs of the world describe their common experiences as “rape” knowing full well that they never have to worry about actually being raped. That’s not to minimize the fact that men are raped as well, but rape is largely a crime perpetuated primarily by men against women (9 of every 10 rape victims are female).

Now none of this is to say that anyone is trying to be the thought police or arguing that these people’s freedom of speech should be limited (or any of the other straw man arguments people bring up to minimize the ultimate point). While I think we should consider the ways we communicate with one another, I also believe that each person has the right to say what they like. The argument can be made that it shouldn’t be anyone’s responsibility to worry about rape victims or whether or not a person’s words are triggering. I completely defend your right to be a thoughtless asshole.

But I also think we have to recognize that until rape is treated the way it deserves, rape metaphors will continue to trivialize the real horrific experiences of 1 out of 6 women in this country.

Chloe Angyal summed it up well:

What I do know is that, in the case of "rape," language is powerful. If we want to change the way our society thinks about and reacts to rape - if we want to ensure that rape kits get tested and that popular culture depicts rape and sexual assault in a just and accurate way - then we first need to change the way we talk about rape. We need to talk about it seriously, honestly and sensitively. We need to talk about it with a full sense of the gravity and scope of the problem. Rape is a crime, and it's also a tragedy. And there's nothing metaphorical about that.
I know this post is getting long, but I want to touch on the idea that using rape as a metaphor is no worse then using murder as one (like “man I got killed on that test” and such). For one, murder is pretty much considered a grievous horrific crime across the board. No one is telling the families of murder victims that the deceased probably really wanted to be murdered and that they should consider the murder a compliment. For the most part the families of murder victims are not shamed into staying silent. Murder is treated like the horrible crime it is and both women and men are murdered. It is not a strongly gendered crime where there is such an obvious disproportion of attack like with rape. Second, murder victims don’t have to hear your casual reference to the most horrific thing that ever happened to them. Rape victims do. Finally, do we really want to argue that since one insensitive metaphor has become accepted jargon that another insensitive metaphor should? That seems like such a ridiculous argument.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sexual Assault Statistics

Since April is Sexual Assualt Awareness month, I thought I would start off a series of posts surrounding the subject with some sexual assualt statistics.

About the Victims

•Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
•1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
•College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
•15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:

•All women: 17.6%
•White women: 17.7%
•Black women: 18.8%
•Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
•American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
•Mixed race women: 24.4%

Sexual Assault Numbers

•In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault.
•Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
•60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
•Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though they make up about 10% of all victims.
•Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.

About Rapists

•Approximately 73% of rape victims know their assailants.
•43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.
•Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.
•More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.
•The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.
•52% are white.

Effects of Rape

•Victims of sexual assault are:
•3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
•6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
•13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
•26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
•4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

-All of these statistics come from RAINN.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sick as a Dog

I am sick as a dog today. Unfortunately the world doesn't put itself on hold for little old me, so I am still busy working on school work and trying to muster the energy to wash the dishes.

New dishes can't be that expensive right?

Anyhoo, since I'm sick as a dog here's a picture of my dog I took yesterday. I know, my cleverness is just astounding.

I really do think Utah hates me. I've never gotten sick as often as I have since we moved here. I hate it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Did Obama Raise Your Taxes?

No, he probably didn't.

I know I'm a day late, but I can't resist posting this. For one, I have a major crush on Rachel Maddow. Two, watching the crazies is a sick hobby of mine.

I also thought this cartoon was pretty funny:


Arrogant about Ignorance

That’s your team. Stay over there.

Bowtie Necklace

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any crafts so I decided to make this Bowtie Necklace yesterday.

I can't tell you how good it felt to make something. I know it seems silly since it's such a simple necklace, but I always get this feeling of accomplishment whenever I've taken a pile of random crap and turned it into something. I actually feel this way when I cook too. Must be why I like both so much.

Plus, I just love bows.

Anyhoo, I actually posted a tutorial for this necklace over at Sunshine and Bones. You can find it here if you're interested.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Essay Suggestions?

So, it’s 3 o clock in the morning and I am trying to write an essay for my history class. Unfortunately, the internet is quite the easily accessible concentration ruiner and now I am doing all kinds of other shit instead of writing. (And I don’t think “ruiner” is actually a word, but I like it.)

I find it really strange that I used to love writing essays but now I don’t (though why I'm always so surprised that I change constantly is beyond me). I think it might stem from blogging to be honest. I feel like my writing style has become more conversational and I worry that I’m often being too casual. Plus I’m way more lazy. On the plus side I am way more confident stating my opinions or making statements without waffling. Anyone else experience this at all?

It’s probably just in my head.

Anyhoo, I shouldn’t really be complaining since my essay can be about pretty much any topic I want. I’ve decided to write about the control of female sexuality which is something I’m really interested in. I am having kind of a hard time narrowing down my topics since there are so many different things I can talk about though. And while I would love to rant about abstinence-only sex education I don’t think my teacher would appreciate that.

I think I’m gonna focus on:

1. Historical views of sex. Mainly Augustine’s condemnation of all sex and the Eve vs Mary narrative.
2. Chastity. I’m not entirely sure how I am going to approach this but I should be getting the Purity Myth in the mail tomorrow so I’m thinking I’ll write this paragraph last.
3. Physical and psychosocial ways in which women are often threatened/attacked as a means of controlling female autonomy. I wrote this paragraph first and even though it’s depressing as all hell I think it had to be included.

Beyond that I don’t know. The paper only has to be four pages long so I don’t really need any more paragraphs, but I’m thinking I should add another one touching on the political ways sex has been controlled (like birth control, abortion, spousal rape, sex-education). I guess it depends on what I think after I finish the Purity Myth.

If you think I missed anything major feel free to let me know.

Luckily, this semester ends in about three weeks. Last semester was awesome but this one is just dragging by. Plus I will have more time to get back to the important things. Like blogging.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Health Care Legislation Does NOT Equal Rape

As many of you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I am planning on doing a series of posts regarding sexual assault and rape over the next month (still working out the details), but I was so bothered by a political cartoon I came across that it just has to have its own post.

I know this cartoon has gotten a lot of blog coverage, but I am seriously disturbed by the artist's decision to depict President Obama getting up after having just raped the Statue of Liberty. Seriously, what can possibly make a person think this is funny?

Disturbing rape cartoon after the jump...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Faded Photos

I've been a little bit obsessed with faded/older looking photos lately and I found some pretty awesome photoshop/photoshop elements actions online recently.

As a photoshop elements user I can feel pretty ignored by most blogs that talk about these sorts of things, so I was pretty stoked to find a whole blog full of PSE actions (that are free too).

If you have PS or PSE I definitely recommend checking out the blog Coffee Shop. I posted specific examples of some of the different actions here as part of my "Lessons in Photography Class" series as well in case you want more information.

It's really amazing what a few button pushes can do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Playing the "race card" and Michael Steele

In the time I've had this blog I've posted quite a few TYT videos. Even though I don't agree with everything Cenk says, for the most part I think it's an easily accessible way to keep up with current events.

But this video has rubbed me the wrong way:

I think what bothers me the most about this video is the assumption that any talk about race is tantamount to "playing the race card." Steele was asked a direct question about his race and I don't see how Cenk expected him to answer (he didn't even complain about the difficulties of being black but merely agreed that the difficulties exist). What should Steele have done? Should he have denied that being a person of color comes with some challenges in our society? Should he have meekly asserted that our society is color-blind and these challenges are long gone? I just don't know what Cenk wants from Steele.

The idea that not talking about race somehow equals not being racist is bothersome to me and ignores the real issues at play here.

I also agree with Steele (never thought I'd type that) that not every criticism towards President Obama is racist. (Similar to how not ever criticism towards Sarah Palin is sexist.) Are some of the criticisms racist? I'm sure. But not all of them. It does us a huge disservice as a country to ignore those criticisms since bitching and moaning about the current president is a huge part of the democratic system.

It's disappointing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Posting Pictures/videos of Your Children Online

Do you think its okay to post pictures/videos or share stories of your children on the internet? Anyone who comes around these parts knows I post pictures of Holden, but this is actually a question I struggled with when I first started blogging (though it was less of an issue for me once I started blogging mostly about politics). I think it's pretty obvious that for the most part I think it’s perfectly fine. But reading the comments of this post would make one think that uploading a funny video of your child is akin to exploitation and child abuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times a parent can go overboard, but those situations need to be addressed individually. I also think that naked/bath pictures of children should be kept private as a rule. But beyond that, I feel like some people are little too concerned with what other people are doing.

For one, it’s really no one’s business but the parents. We tend to collectively feel like we have the right to comment on other people’s parenting decisions and I think this is another result of that. Also, mommy bloggers everywhere post photos and videos of their kids and the world has not come to an end. Will some of these children be embarrassed by some of the videos/photos/stories their parents share? Yes of course. But children will be embarrassed of the shit their parents do regardless and I don’t see why a little embarrassment is such a horrible thing.

I also don’t understand the bullying/being picked on argument (that photos/videos shouldn’t be posted since it may cause some children to be bullied or teased). Are we really saying that it’s better to teach our children not to fully express themselves in order to avoid being targeted by bullies rather then teaching them how to deal with being picked on? That just seems wrong to me. It’s a hard lesson to learn not everyone will love you but it’s an important one. Plus, kids will be bullied regardless. Trying to avoid confrontation does not solve the problem of bulling.

Then there’s the sicko argument (that someone somewhere may “get off” on the photos/videos of your children) which also doesn’t make sense to me. It sucks, but sickos are going to keep doing what they do regardless. I just don’t buy the argument that I can’t post pictures of my son since someone somewhere may be a disgusting human being. Otherwise how could I ever allow my child to even go outside?

I can totally see where some people are coming from, but instead of harping all over parents who do these things I think a little trust that the parent knows what’s right for his/her particular family (more then some stranger on the internet) would go a long way. Should there be some discretion when posting pictures of your children? Of course. There should be discretion when a person posts pictures of anything (you don’t see any old pictures of me hitting a bong now do you?). But in today’s day and age I think it might be a bit outdated to claim “exploitation” over someone posting a video of their kid singing a Lady Gaga song.

I said something on my facebook page recently about how I sometimes feel like I’ve started documenting my entire life and, this may come to a shock as some people, my son is a part of that entirety. Am I really supposed to remain silent about a huge portion of my life just because some people don’t agree that posting pictures of children on the internet is right (especially since that’s how a majority of people I know keep family and friends updated about their children)?

If you decide not to post pictures/videos of your children then great; that’s your choice and I trust you to make the right one for your family. But don’t get all sanctimonious if I make the opposite decision. I know this post turned into a bit of a lecture, but I’m having a hard time buying that all these strangers are really so concerned with the individual welfare of these children.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rachel Maddow and ACORN

The only thing worse then Fox's reporting on the ACORN "scandal" is the reality that most people will still demonize ACORN no matter what the truth is.

I'm also bothered by the attitude of far too many people that just because a person is a prostitute they're unworthy of proper housing or treatment.

Sarah Palin - Hate and be Great

As always, Jay Smooth makes a good point.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You are Beautiful


The school custodians must hate me.

An interview with Ariel Levy about Female Chauvinist Pigs

In a previous post I talked about my love for the book Female Chauvinist Pigs, so it should be no surprise that I loved this interview with the author Ariel Levy.

This interview is particularly great if you haven't read the book since Levy gives you a very clear image of the message she is trying to make. I know it's a little long, but it's great. I promise.

Just because females are engaged in something doesn't mean it's feminist.
Once again I'm a little annoyed that there isn't any emphasis on what we could do going forward in order to bridge the gap between raunch and genuine sexual expression, but beyond that I thought the interview was full of win.

-via Sociological Images

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Dog Days Are Over

I'm obsessed with this song today:

I just love it.

Some Easter Pics

I hope everyone had a good Easter. Easter is probably the holiday I care the least about, but we still colored eggs with Holden. (See? My deviant heathen ways haven't stopped Holden from living a fulfilling commercial holiday filled life so far.)

Here are some random pics to distract you from the fact I have nothing to say:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why do you blog?

I read an interesting post titled “When should you quit a blog and move on” (via Nubbytwiglet) that really got me thinking. What I found most interesting about the article was that the author made "Lack of Traffic" number two and "Lack of Profit" the number three reason to quite your blog. So much of the article was focused on a traffic/money slant that it made me wonder why most people are actually blogging.

When I started Random Thoughts I did so mainly because I needed a place to vent my frustrations about politics and religious assholes. (I never expected that blogging would become such a fulfilling hobby to be honest.) Even though I can admit that in some dark hidden corner of my mind I hoped people would read what I wrote, I also decided that getting readers would not be my biggest priority. So maybe it’s because of that, but I don’t understand why people blog for the traffic or profit (actually I can understand the profit thing…everyone could use a little profit) or why they quit when said profit and traffic aren’t so easily acquired.

While I do agree that “lack of interest” (number one of the list) is a valid reason to quit blogging, it’s also important to realize the highs and lows that come with anything a person feels passionately about. As of now my blog is going through one of its natural low points and yet, at the end of the day, I still freggin love politics. It’s part of who I am as a person.

Now don’t get me wrong, blogging usually requires a lot of effort with little reward (at least in my experience) and some days I can’t help but get annoyed that my effort can sometimes feel ignored. I would be lying if I said I never thought about page hits and traffic. But ultimately, those things aren’t what really matters. What matters is I have my own little place on the interwebs where I can rant all I want. Blogging has helped keep me sane in a way I can’t easily explain and, for some reason I can’t fully fathom, some people actually are interested in what I have to say. I may not be earning any money or breaking any records, but that’s still something precious in my book (though I wouldn’t mind some free books. How the hell do I get some books?).

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, but I hate the idea that people aren’t blogging for the simple joy of it (I’m such a corn ball). Here are some of the things blogging has taught me so far:

1. I’m a really crappy typer.

2. Link link link. If you ever mention an article/someone’s blog or state a fact then you should link.

3. Give credit where credit is due. It will not always be possible, but you need to credit other people’s photos whenever you can. If the source is unknown then say the source in unknown. This goes hand in hand with number two.

4. Don’t ever write anything you wouldn’t want your boss/teachers/friends/mother-in-law to read. You would be amazed how small the world can be and it’s better to be safe then sorry.

5. Try not to get to personally attached to your posts. If I’ve learned anything from the rape/privilege posts it’s that some people will fucking hate what you have to say. Turning into a screeching banshee will not change that (my bad).

6. There are some of the most amazing people you will ever “meet” online. Seriously, some bad ass people blog. (You guys rock!)

7. Don’t let that awesomeness get you down. There are always at least a hundred other people doing what you do but better and it’s easy to say “I’m such a shitty __.” I can get down on myself for not being a better writer, but in the end you just got to work with what ya got and not let it get you down.

8. Don’t let traffic or page hits take up space in your mind. Unless this is something you want to do as a career, just let it flow naturally.

Those are a few of the things I’ve learned in the last 18 months. And feel free to ignore everything I said (I feel pretentious for typing that anyways). That’s the beauty of blogging. You can do what ever the hell you want.

So why do you blog? Got anything you’ve learned while blogging? I'd love to hear it.

-Picture source.

Rapists Rape (with or without "urging" from 15-year-old girls)

*trigger warning for sexual violence*

I was feeling a little annoyed by some of the responses on a Jezebel post (what's new?) that mentioned the gang rape of a 7-year-old girl. As if the rape of a 7-year-old isn't bad enough, it turns out the girls 15-year-old sister may have played a part in the rapes.

From UPI:
Police announced the arrest of a New Jersey teenager on charges she allowed her 7-year-old sister to be sexually assaulted at a weekend party.

The teenager faced charges Wednesday of promoting prostitution, aggravated assault and other charges in connection with the alleged gang-rape of her kid sister at a Trenton apartment.

The investigation discovered the 15-year-old was prostituting herself at the party and also urging male guests to have sex with the younger girl. As a result, police told The Times in Trenton, N.J., the girl was assaulted by as many as seven people.

See, what makes me uncomfortable with all this, is all the focus on the older sister. I'm not saying that the sister is some perfect little angel who deserves no punishment, but I'm having a hard time swallowing the line, "urging male guests." Because really, how do you urge someone to rape a 7-year-old girl? The answer is you don't. There is nothing a person could ever tell me that would "urge" me to rape a child. I feel like that claim reinforces the idea that men essentially can't control their "urges" and aren't ultimately fully responsible. (Especially not when there's a 15-year-old girl we can blame.)

It just seems like too much anger is being directed at the older sister. While this girl definitely makes me want to hurt someone, ultimately the rapists are the ones who deserve the brunt of our wrath.

I read a great post called "Rape is caused by rapists, part 496" that summed up my feelings quite well:
Rape is the fault of rapists. No one else. Put that blame where it belongs, and stop trying to find any excuse possible to exonerate rapists. That’s the subtext of this article: the men wouldn’t have raped anyone if only the older girl didn’t pimp her sister out. Bullshit. They were going to rape someone, and they chose to do it.