Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Five Feminist Friend

1) Bust <3's Beyonce's apocalypse-- when girls run the world

2) Stop Street Harrassment condemns the Charlie Chaplin

3) Jezebel examines the crumbling industry of Girl Scouts

4) Abortioneers cheers glitter bombs and gay activism

5) Womanist Musings-- "We're all immigrants" is not an excuse

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For Your Personal Use

"Stimulating."  "Refreshing."  "Fits in your hand."

"Improves circulation."  "Makes a different and useful gift."

Despite what this dentist is suggesting, you might not want to put the "Vibra-Finger" in your mouth.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid(s)

Did you hear that? That's the sound of another glass ceiling shattering thanks to a movie about (of all things) a wedding.

May marked an historical event as the summer's must-see comedy filling cinema seats across the nation closely resembled (gasp!) a chick flick. And with all the hysteria surrounding the hillarious lady business, feminists dove in to make the final call with opinions ranging from "best" to "worst" movie ever made.

The anticipation was killing me. I waited four months for Bridesmaids: the cast alone had me salivating after the first preview.

For starters, I love Maya Rudolph, who plays Lillian-- the bride.

Rudolph was a staple cast member of my favorite Saturday Night Live era. She was especially excellent (and especially pregnant) returning for a special Mother's Day episode alongside host Tina Fey.

And I really love Kristen Wiig, who plays Annie-- Lillian's maid of honor. 

Wigg is the best part of three of my favorite movies: Forgetting Sarah Marshall as the yoga teacher, Knocked Up as the jealous co-worker and Whip It as the wise, yet hilarious roller derby mentor.

As the two played off each other's undeniable talents, Bridesmaids blew everyones' minds.

Supposedly this is the first women-centric film able to compete with dudetastic films like Superbad and Pineapple Express. Writer, director and producer Judd Apatow, the man responsible for all things Seth Rogen, had a hand in the wacky wedding and fans are singing its praises-- almost predictably.

Complaints about flat female characters convinced Apatow's boys club to step out of the spotlight and the move was met with rave reviews. But I'm not cheering. Though I hate to bring the celebration to a screeching halt, I have to say I wasn't that impressed.

Of course I "laughed out loud" from time to time. And I appreciate the amount of tickets sold and the records broken. However, with Rudolph and Wiig at the wheel, I expected more from the Bridesmaids bus as it crashed into theaters last weekend.

Still, there are plenty of nice things to say about this movie. 

For starters, Rudolph's husband was played by Tim Heidecker of "Tim and Eric"-- yet he barely spoke.  While the well-known groom could have very easily stolen the show, he was a quiet and courteous husband-to-be, leaving the leading to the ladies.

And Bridesmaids received endless kudos for portraying the strongest female friendships since Sex and the City. The emotion is sincere and we believe these women are deeply committed to one another.

Some have been besties since back in the day. Others are forming new bonds. But no matter the length, these are representations of legitimate affection between women who have each others backs-- instead of talking behind them. 

But it's not all good in their Chicago neighborhood.

Wiig's character is a failed entrepreneur. Her bakery went out of business, indicating the beginning of a losing streak. Apparently she's a heck of a baker, but not very business savvy. Why couldn't Annie, the "maid of dishonor," have a more nontraditional career?

And speaking of traditions, I am always annoyed by a happy ending establishing a romantic relationship for the heroine, even though her love life was not the central conflict.

The action follows Annie, who feels she is losing Lillian's friendship, but patching things up with her BFF is not the resolution. Instead, leaving the wedding with her new boyfriend is the final scene intended to fully satisfy the audience.

Additionally, there's a noticeable lack of diversity. Even though Lillian is a woman of color, her cousin, best friend, husband and everyone around her is white. Her father is the only other non-white speaking character in the entire movie.

Lastly, the fat jokes are abundant. Waify Wiig is a stark contrast to roommate Brynn and fellow bridesmaid Megan. Even commercials promoting the film seemed to focus on Megan's awkward "fat girl" antics, whether she was trying to seduce a reluctant passenger on the plane or suggest a fight club as a bachelorette party.

But what concerned me the most was the film recycling a lot of lesser known comedy. For those familiar with the originals, this pulled attention away from any real character development.

Years ago, the quotable Jan Brady claimed to have a boyfriend, complete with flowers and fake phone calls. When the family wanted a name, Jan panicked and said "George... George... Glass." Similarly, when Annie's "fuck buddy" was drinking from a glass and pressed for her other suitor's name, she came up with George Glass. While it might have been a shout out to the ultimate female underdog, it felt more like plagiarism.

But this wasn't the only coincidental repeat.

The Wilson Phillips song "Hold On" is the climax song of Spring Breakdown-- the straight to DVD movie with Wiig and Rudolph's SNL sisters Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch. Oddly enough, the same song accompanies the wedding finale in Bridesmaids.

Is there no other nostalgic coming of age song to end a film about 30-year-old women? Or maybe with Spring Breakdown completely missing the box office the SNL co-workers agreed to give the joke a second chance?

No one owns comedy-- but it's insulting to be exposed to a do-over in a new movie when you were expecting fresh material. And with Bridesmaids being the innovative masterpiece critics are suggesting, you would think it would have a more original feel.

Or maybe that's just it. 

Perhaps Bridesmaids doesn't mark the first time a predominantly female cast has been funny, but the first time the mainstream has been receptive to the kind of humor smart women comedians have been producing all along.

Chelsea Handler was hilarious on Girls Behaving Badly years before Chelsea Lately. And it's not that she got better-- it's that the world was finally ready for a woman to host a late night talk show.

So even though I won't be going back for a second viewing of Bridesmaids or rushing to own it a few months from now, I support what Rudolph and Wiig accomplished with their groundbreaking project.

Women are no longer the "shrews" setting up their male counter-parts. They're making jokes instead of encouraging them.

Wives, sisters and girlfriends aren't doomed to be secondary characters anymore. Rather than serving a "bridesmaid" function, they proved they can be the center of attention.

And with this endeavor, others are finally realizing what most of us have already known-- a movie starring women making themselves laugh can entertain the masses because women are funny too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can Sex Offenders Be Sexy?

Photo by Eli Hodapp

Blogger Richard Connelly of the Houston Press is in hot water this week for his post "The Ten Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offender List."

Connelly seemed to sense the format was controversial even as he published the piece:

"I can understand how some people might react to this. On the other hand, it's a way of getting readers to look at the info, maybe get them to realize there are people out there like this and they all don't look like the obvious stereotypical pervert."

Not only did he include the name and the mug shot of the criminal, but the gender and age of their victim-- the youngest being a 2 year old boy. Connelly insisted he was merely trying to challenge assumptions about "typical" sex offenders.

Disclaimers aside, was he really oblivious how revolting his "glamorizing" of sexual assault would be?

The outrage was rather predictable. Connelly offered an apology shortly after, explaining trivializing child rape never crossed his mind, but should have-- and his hindsight (thanks to readers' comments) is now 20/20.

"I can only say the intention was to shock (in what I hoped would be a positive way) and not to offend. To a lot of people, I failed miserably. I can understand that, and I apologize to them."

Yet a few years ago, Coed Magazine featured a "Sexiest Sex Offenders" list, focusing on teachers, with little to no backlash. And "the sexy school seductress" or "hot for teacher" scenario describing women like Mary Kay Letourneau has been the basis of several (made for TV) movies.

Gender impacts everything-- even how we feel about crime. And there's definitely a double standard when it comes to adults having inappropriate sexual contact with minors.

The issue was addressed years ago in a memorable South Park espisode where Ike dates his kindergarten teacher and the local police won't intervene because it's "hot."

While society doesn't necessarily associate the word "woman" with "sexual predator," the unusual nature doesn't excuse the way these images were portrayed at the Houston Press-- and elsewhere.

Connelly has attempted to make amends. But there's still work to be done convincing others there's nothing attractive about an adult taking advantage of a child, whether it's a man or a woman. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rape Kit Tied to Cleveland Serial Killer

I was waiting for a cup of coffee Friday morning, when I caught the front page of my local paper. 

Feminist or not, never do you ever want to read this headline:

"DNA in untested rape kit discovered to match Sowell; 5 women found on Imperial Ave. vanished after attack."

I think we can all agree, "Cleveland Heights police failed to test rape kit linked to serial-killing suspect Anthony Sowell," isn't just bad news-- it's infuriating.

Because really, it's hard enough for a woman to withstand the added trauma of being examined after a rape, feeling vulnerable and violated all over again. And then to learn the "evidence" gathered from her body was unused, allowing her rapist to go free, raping again-- and in this case, killing?!

This is unnacceptable.

Cleveland's Plain Dealer reported "Five of the 11 women whose bodies were found at the Imperial Avenue home of serial-killing suspect Anthony Sowell went missing after Cleveland Heights police failed to test a rape kit that Cuyahoga County prosecutors now say matches Sowell's DNA."

A 41-year-old woman was abducted in April of 2009 from a Cleveland bus stop. The woman said Sowell held her captive and raped her repeatedly for two days before she was able to fight her way out of his home and report the crime. 

"DNA evidence was collected in a rape kit and passed on to Cleveland Heights police. But investigators did nothing with the evidence."

The bodies of Sowell's multiple victims were found in his home six months later.

"He faces the death penalty if convicted. He also is accused of attacking several other women who survived."

And that's what happens when women are not believed-- rapists keep on raping and serial killers walk the streets long enough to kill 5 more victims.

The bodies piled up in Sowell's home until the stench led law enforcement to the scene of the crime. Yet all local police needed to do was verify the rape kit earlier that year-- which is part of their job.

It was confirmed that Sowell's DNA was available in a statewide database, collected during his 15 year sentence for attempted rape. He was released in 2005. Had the rape kit been properly handled, an arrest could have been made sooner and lives could have been saved.

"Cleveland police came under criticism in the months following his arrest after two women came forward to say they also had reported attacks by Sowell but their cases were not properly investigated."

Reports from several women were made months before the bodies were discovered.

"One woman's case was deemed 'not credible' by city prosecutors. Another sobbed before a county judge during a probation violation hearing and told him that when she tried to report that Sowell had raped her, Cleveland police officers laughed."

A metaphor like "dropping the ball" doesn't even begin to describe the atrocity committed by Cleveland police when they chose to not treat rape like a real crime. Their biased and unprofessional attitude during this case makes them just as responsible for Sowell's many victims.

Because the woman attacked at the bus stop was brave enough to come forward with her story once more, the connection was finally made. After a thorough investigation, the Plain Dealer discovered her file was "clearly labeled rape/kidnapping." 

Yet Cleveland Heights police had only reported seven sexual offense for the year and none in the month of April.
Throughout March the Plain Dealer published a series covering "The Women of Imperial Avenue."  After each of Sowell's 11 victims was featured in their own cover story, several similarities became glaringly obvious. 

All were women of color. All were low-income. As reporters concluded "many were born into situations that led to almost insurmountable odds against having a successful life. And they show just how powerful the grip of drug addiction can be."

Many had criminal records of their own-- but that doesn't excuse police from protecting them. Each deserved to be safe. In fact, had police served them they way they serve the rest of the city, at least 5 would still be alive today.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unnecessary Innuendo: Graduation

Fellow Ms.editorial intern Kate Whittle earned herself a diploma this spring.  As we journalism majors stare a "dying industry" in the face and fearlessly attempt to find an entry point, we'd like to take a few moments to bask in the awesomeness of completion. 

Here's what Kate had to say, with refreshing honesty and a conversational style I've grown to love: 

Originally published Friday, May 13, 2011

"in which our young heroine completes her degree"

So! I'm graduating tomorrow! My mom's been terrified that I'll do something inappropriate like, oh, decorating my cap with beer bottle lids:

"Here's to the maroon, gold and silver, folks."
I think that says, in a subtle, tasteful way, "I am capable of being drunk off my ass and I'm still getting my degree in four years."

My parents are proud of me, and I'm pretty thankful that at the age of 21, I have a degree and minimal debt.
The University of Montana has, at last count, a 40 percent retention rate, meaning four out of ten freshmen will get their degree in six years. Not even four. Six.

So I did something that, these days, most people don't do. But I still don't feel like this degree proves much about my worth or intelligence as a human being.
Instead, it proves that I was motivated enough to usually attend class and pay attention. It shows that I'm capable of writing bullshit papers on bullshit topics. It shows that I have no learning disabilities and I'm competent at reading, writing and retaining information. It shows that my parents were wealthy enough to pay for half of my school, and I worked enough shitty jobs to pay for the other half. It shows that I had no idea what to do with my life other than to graduate high school and go to college every year, and I can successfully navigate middle-class mainstream American culture.

So I had a lot going for me from the outset. But I am still goddamn proud to be graduating from the School of Journalism-- because that work wasn't bullshit. My journalism classes mattered to me. The work I did wasn't for pretend.
So much of school is busywork and silliness, but journalism isn't. They told us in J-100 freshman year that there's no legal distinction between a student journalist and a journalist, so even as a dipshit junior in Public Affairs, you're doing the "real thing."
As you progress, it just gets harder and you hopefully get better. (You can tell I'm serious when I say "gets harder" and don't instantly chuckle. Though just now I did.)

I think I am most lucky because I knew what I wanted to do going into school, and it's the same thing I want coming out of school.

Now the really scary part is getting paid to do it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Akimbo relates population growth to youth sexual health

2) Ms. watches military sexual assault bill move along

3) Tiger Beatdown reviews book-- "Hey Shorty!"

4) Say It, Sister finds Senator focusing on (body) politics

5) Feministing interviews The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac

Thursday, May 12, 2011

That's What Wives are For

And here I thought a wife was a heteronormative life partner with whom a husband shares responsibilities.

Silly me-- she's just an accessory. 

In fact, she might as well be an appliance.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Graduation Inspiration

Look out world-- I got a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from BGSU and I'm ready to uphold my watchdog responsibilities! 

(Slutty Feminist is currently seeking employment in the D.C. area.)

California-- check.

New York-- you're on my list.

Washington D.C.-- here I come!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Joining Madea's Big Happy Family

It all started when I attempted to cover a Black History Month event for my diversity beat.  Halfway through February a lunchtime presentation about Tyler Perry’s infamous Madea caught my attention—because of the controversy, of course.  

As a columnist flirting with “hard news” reporting, I was more interested in joining the debate than gathering other's quotes.  Even as I interviewed my sources, I maintained my internal mantra that Tyler Perry was a harmful force in the mainstream media.   
Little did I know, I was warming up to Mabel Simmons—the woman everyone calls “Madea.”
As a feminist, I was already wary of Perry.  His drag performance seemed to fall in line with Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, and all the other actors portraying unflattering representations of black women to make a buck.   
I turned to Spike Lee and Dr. Cornel West for support, and with Madea as my focus, I tried to condemn the very successful man in very unflattering attire.  But as I pulled back the layers of racism and sexism, all that was left was-- Madea.
As it turns out, the foundation of my argument was actually the exception.  When deconstructing Perry’s predictable productions, the only feminist element I could find was Perry himself; in a wig and plus size clothing. 

After several husbands, Madea is a survivor of domestic violence and serves up her own justice—with boiling grits and a frying pan.  Her antics are aggressive, but satirical, using a sharp tongue, a fast slap, or even a gunshot to make her point. 
She’s presented as lovably misguided, but with the best of intentions.  Madea only goes to church for weddings and funerals.  She can’t accurately quote scripture anymore than she can abide by the law.

But this non-conformist attitude is not a character flaw.  In fact, it’s her greatest asset.  Madea resists oppressive systems while encouraging others to do the same.  She’s a revolutionary.    

While the rest of Perry’s characters turn to patriarchal Christian teachings, Madea preaches self-empowerment.  She counsels her female co-stars to do the one thing no one else will; stand up for themselves. 
Perry has a knack for victimizing his female characters.  They’re physically and sexually abused by their husbands, boyfriends and step-fathers.  They’re neglected by their mothers and objectified by the community, not to mention Madea’s own brother-- also played by Perry.  
Society turns these women bitter as it breaks them down.  Some become junkies, prioritizing drugs over their children.  Others are guarded single mothers or angry divorcees.  And after they’ve been beaten, raped, disrespected and discarded, these women are expected to forgive.   
Femininity is constructed in terms of good and obedient or bad and reckless in a Tyler Perry film.  And all any woman wants or needs is a good man because marriage is the only imaginable happy ending.  

Even with guest appearances by Maya Angelou and other notable role models, female autonomy is rare.  While most voices encourage the battered and broken women to endure, Madea gives them permission to get mad and get even.
In the midst of real suffering, Madea offers comic relief.  Teaching women to reject subserviance usually requires a dash of humor.  But Madea provides a greater service than just breaking the tension. 

Her home also functions as a safe house.  It’s where women pick up the pieces and sort out their lives. 

It’s where they escape violent and controlling fiancés or unfaithful spouses who would displace them.  It’s where they go when the world has turned it's back on them or they’re having trouble making ends meet.  It’s where they for a hot meal and a good night’s sleep. 
It’s where women seek refuge from the worst Tyler Perry can dish out.   
So if her open door policy makes her a mammy, or her quick wit makes her a sapphire, or Madea manages to adhere to any other stereotype, it’s a forgivable offense. 
We all have Madeas in our lives.  They’re mothers, grandmothers, friends, mentors and the countless women who lead by example.  They catch you when you fall and push you when you’re ready to try again.     
If the best way Tyler Perry can convey the strength and spirit of this character is to play the part himself, then so be it.  Those lucky enough to know a Madea undoubtedly have some inside—Perry just chooses to let her out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tyler Perry Invades South Park

Coonery and bafoonery” is a harsh judgment, especially during a live taping of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. 
But renowned director Spike Lee wasn’t the only one to publically criticize Tyler Perry’s inexplicable empire.
On last week's episode of South Park, Cartman instructed Token to "stop giving Tyler Perry money or he won't go away."

Two years ago, when sparks were flying between Lee and Perry, Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University addressed the feud during an appearance at UCLA:  
“Spike Lee is a great filmmaker.  Tyler Perry is a good filmmaker.”
However, West didn’t dismiss Perry-- and neither did scholars at BGSU.
Dr. Angela Nelson, Associate Professor of Popular Culture and the Acting Chair of Ethnic Studies, presented “It’s A Mad, Mad, Madea World!” during Black History Month.  The event covered playwright Tyler Perry’s success transforming his urban morality dramas into movies. 
The New York Times reported Perry made $530 million box office dollars before the release of “For Colored Girls”—the movie earning him a NAACP Image Award for “Best Director.”
As Nelson attempts to define “black popular culture” in her ongoing research, she uses Perry as a test case.  Her presentation gave everyone a glimpse of Perry’s stage plays—the foundation of his controversial movies. 
Ethnic studies instructor Dr. Ramona Bell said both Lee and Perry have encountered problems authenticating representations of “blackness” in mainstream entertainment.
“Just because it’s a black person producing the movie doesn’t necessarily mean all black people are going to agree with the way these characters are represented,” said Bell. 
Regardless, Perry’s characters dominate the big and small screens, and none is more notorious than Madea— a combination of his mother, grandmother and aunt played by Perry himself.  
Nelson said Madea represents several stereotypes; Mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel and B-girl, combined to become something more dynamic.  
“In terms of having a stereotype who is the same actor or actress, I think that’s adding something,” Nelson said.  
While Perry’s drag performance came under fire, Nelson said his intimate involvement separates Madea from “Big Momma” and the rest.
But Bell said any black man in a dress is troubling, given the historical context.
“It’s just another part of that continuum in which they’re infantilized, they’re emasculated-- these types of images have always been part of American culture” Bell said. 
Where some see innovation, others see Perry reproducing more of the same.  Years ago, Lee encouraged Perry’s faithful audiences to spend their time and dollars elsewhere. 
“I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better,” he said. 
Sade Young, a second year master’s student studying pop culture, said Lee is only reinforcing the cultural pressure put on minority directors to act as spokespeople for their race. 
As for Perry, she thinks he’s an example of the American dream.
“He’s doing something that hasn’t been done before.  He’s a black man that writes, produces, scores the music—he does it all and he’s a self-made person,” Young said.
While “Madea’s Big Happy Family” delights fans in theaters this May, others are still waiting for improvement.
West told UCLA society must allow Perry room to mature-- but warned if he’s still doing Madea at 65, then it’ll be a problem.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Catching Up with Inga Muscio

Origninally posted at Feministified on Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Photo by Ariana
Last Friday Inga Muscio, the author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independance and Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil was in Sacramento for a book signing. She is promoting her new book, rose. I was super jazzed to be able to attend. She read us a narrative from her book, did some Q & A, and then chatted with people, and autographed away.

It was awesome to be able to meet her and chat with her a bit. She is super friendly, funny, and she listens when people talk to her. I actually waited in line twice, because I wanted to ask for her autograph for a friend.

Her new book rose: love in violent times focuses on the effects of passive violence, sexual abuse and war on individuals and how it ultimately affects our society. Her voice is just as witty and poignant as we found in Cunt. Muscio draws you in with her humor and teaches you a valuable lesson on humanity before you've realized what is happening. You'll love the book.

From the end of the excerpt Muscio read to us:
We are indoctrinated to consider some people more important than others. We allow hierarchies into our lived realities and imaginations. We place fluctuating values on lives. We engage in passive violence even as we protest great violence. 
...This form of violence is very subtle, and we see it or partake in it pretty much everyday of our lives.
It is the American way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Feministified meets "Cunt" author Inga Muscio

2) The F-Word-- "1 in 6 Women Would Rather Be Blind than Fat"

3) Our Bodies, Our Blog-- "Shackled Pregnant Woman Wins Case"

4) Ms. says Cooking is Easier than Moms think

5) Women's Media Center wishes everyone a Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Total "totally" takes care of all my womanly concerns. How can I have enough energy to wipe windows while staying slim and attractive? Bland cereal, of course!

Om-nom-nom-nom. And when you're finished, you'll be re-energized-- just in time to do the dishes.

Thanks, Total!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sarah Palin Reacts to Bin Laden's Death

Photo by swanksalot
I’ve written 30 times this year, usually on the subject of feminism, occupying the space between politics and pop culture. And I've loved every minute of it.
Not only did I enjoy the process, sharing my thoughts and opinions with readers, but I was thrilled to experience the aftermath week after week.  I mean, what is editorial writing without fervent feedback from those who see the world differently?
As a graduating senior, this is the last column I will ever write for the BG News. This is the last time faithful readers will open a Wednesday edition of the paper and nod in agreement with my words.  And this is the final opportunity for devoted commenters to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.
So it better be good, right?
It was tough, choosing a verbal departure from my beloved academic institution. But I thought it would be appropriate to re-visit my favorite item worthy of commentary; Sarah Palin.
Looking back, I’ve said many things about Mama Grizzly.
I’ve argued Palin makes an excellent Halloween costume—and not just for Tina Fey. I’ve questioned the unnaturalness of Palin’s TLC reality show as she continues to exploit her “normal” family. And I’ve criticized her “targeting” Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords during Palin’s unflattering connection to the Tucson shootings. 
On the campaign trail, there’s never a shortage of Palin news. Even when she’s not directly involved, America’s favorite hockey mom always finds a way to be included-- which brings me to the heart of today’s “good-bye” column.
Sunday evening, President Barak Obama announced al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan, killed by Navy Seals, and buried at sea.  If there was ever a time to fly the “mission accomplished” banner, it would be now.
Monday, as Palin addressed the Colorado Christian University during a fundraiser, she was eager to appropriate another current event for her own political agenda.
Making her classiest move since Obama took office, Palin thanked Bush “for having made the right calls to set up this victory,” yet made no mention of the current President’s involvement in this matter of national security.
“Yesterday was a testament to the military’s dedication in relentlessly hunting down an enemy through many years of war,” she said, gushing with jingoism and dismissing the toll constant conflict has taken on the country.
When thanking God “the evil leader of Islamic extremists” had “finally met justice at the hands of America’s finest,” Palin successfully provoked the Islamophobia she needs to rationalize her global manifest destiny.
As the media painted the assassination as a victory, Palin (and former Vice President Dick Cheney) were quick to remind us our battle with terror is far from over.
“We are still at war with a brutal enemy that hates America,” Palin said, predictably scaremongering.
Even though we’ve been instructed to maintain current levels of fear, this is somehow being construed as a symbolic light at the end of the recession tunnel. Palin believes “we are not a nation in decline if we can look to these young people and realize they still want to protect America.”
While naïvely explaining the country just couldn’t be failing if citizens were still willing to fight for it, she may have actually said something profound about the military industrial complex.
During his farewell address in 1961, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against “a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.”  (Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.)
He cautioned the United States to reconsider their new dedication to defense, claiming it would have serious economic, political and spiritual repercussions. (Really, stop me.)
“We recognize the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications,” Eisenhower said.
He reminded the American people of their peaceful goals to see security and liberty prosper together.
But in the midst of this week’s national celebration, peace has long since been forgotten.
As we continue to give up personal freedoms to feel safe, and cheer the death of a terrorist, I can’t help but wonder when revisiting Eisenhower’s predictions; are we there yet?
Palin unwittingly reminded us our prosperity is tied to our desire keep fighting: funding the war on terror keeps many people employed. “It is not over,” has more to do with financial security than protecting the United States from harm.
But even those who don’t attend Palin’s tea parties seem to be caught up in the excitement. Yes, the man who caused the twin towers to fall has ultimately been held responsible, but is it normal to react this way?  
The Facebook status mistaken for a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy,” summarizes two possible stances on revenge.
It’s an ethical question: swept away by nationalist pride, does one vindictively celebrate the demise of another human being? Or keep their cool, refusing the temptation to speak vengefully?
While Palin swings low, I think I’m going to take the high road.
And that’s all I have to say about that.  Or anything, as far as Forum is concerned.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Climbing PoeTree Comes to BG

April was National Poetry Month and local slam poet Natural Di'saster hosted the final Urban Nu-Sense event of the year.

It was awesome.

Here's Alixa and Naima of the incredible Climbing Poetree-- LIVE from Bowling Green:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Contraception Poll

When BGSU experienced it's annual anti-contraception event with Janet Smith (hosted by the Catholic student organization Veritas) I was super interested what kind of birth control readers were using to prevent pregnancy. 

After a month of voting, here are the results:

Photo by nateOne

The pill was the predictable favorite, with "none what-so-ever" coming very closely behind. 

At first I was alarmed, but then I realized (based on the way the question was phrased) this was the only option for male readers. 

And then I realized some readers might be trying to get pregnant. 

And then my ego convinced me after the shit storm caused by my anti-anti-contraception column had the opposition googling me, reading my blog, and voting on my poll.  But typing that now feels a little ridiculous...

Condoms and IUDs were both popular.  And more people used fertility awareness than the implant-- which is understandable, given the price and commitment users must make.

Apparently no one is getting the shot or using a diaphragm anymore.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Amanda's One Dress

Orignally published at Towards Harmony on April 26, 2011

Photo by Amanda Losch

 About 2 fridays ago I wrapped up my time with one dress. And what better way to end it than to run a 5k for trafficking?

The weekend was really incredible, Saturday morning my dad and I arrived at Busse Woods and ran the Aruna 5k together. I spent the time praying for the women as I ran, it was rainy and powerful. When we finished we got bracelets that said, "I ran for their freedom."

And it felt that way. It was a small simple gesture, but it was a step- a step towards ending slavery.

As I think over my 60 days in that dress I am slowly extracting the lessons--I know it will take being out of it for a while until I really understand and learn everything from it.

Above all I learned the power of voice. I learned what can happen when one person does something as basic as wearing a dress. In turn I learned a lot about discipline, especially towards the end...I began to resent the dress, so tired of it I just wanted to give up. I started to get lazy, rather I started to put other things above the dress' priority.

I had to constantly reassure myself that I was doing this for them, because otherwise there's no way I could have finished. I don't know how some of these ladies are going 2 or 3 times as long as I did-- they're warriors!

The end of my 2 months coincided with our VOX series at impact, which was really excellent. It highlighted our unique ability to step out in faith and make change. The idea that when we are brave enough to take even the smallest of steps that God will meet us there and bless our efforts- as long as they are backed with the right intentions.

I know that as I separate myself this experience and gain some perspective I will have a lot more insight to offer, but right now I am just glad to be back in regular clothes, and also glad that even though I didn't raise a ton of money, I felt I was able to raise a lot of awareness and hopefully spread a little inspiration for others to get involved in things they are passionate about.

The Sunday after was the March of Dimes March for babies! Also in Busse Woods; we celebrated the amazing life and journey of Luke Hemmer and so many other babies who are born premature. The event was really great- so many families and children came out to walk for the cause, and the best was Luke walking over the finish line himself. (Pictures coming soon!)

Above all I feel proud & blessed to have been a part of these events and journeys. Inviting friends and family into my story & journey is slowly becoming a central and important part of my life. Sharing our experiences, and lessons we have learned holds such value.

I am beginning to see that my story no matter how insignificant, and messed up I think it may be, has the potential to do so much. So again I say, thank you for reading, for your feedback, for encouraging me to keep it going. Thank you to everyone who donated time, money and inspiration throughout this process. My story has become so enriched in sharing it with you.

I return I would LOVE to hear some of your stories. If you would like to share please message or email me!