Sunday, October 30, 2005

dimwits, sluts and the media

I strive hard not to be an elitist. Why so much striving, sony pony? Because turns out, I am an elitist and I finally admitted as much to myself last night. When I meet people (as I did last night) who are very obviously slow, dull or lack a basic curiousity about the world around them, it is work for me to be nice to them. So I end up avoiding conversation with them altogether, and being pretty rude about it. But I figure it's better than letting that sigh of impatience, and sharp retort that I will only feel bad about let loose. It must be said, that I find all kinds of people obnoxious, and I don't really like it when people claim to hate stupid people, and now I have become one of them.

But the real, real reason for my rambling today is because I have a bone to pick with women who eye a seductively dressed lady on the metro with disgust. They say things like, "Slut isn't a costume" on halloween. Or "my god, she looks so trashy, she must be working" It bothers me on several levels for multiple reasons.

  • There are enough messages in the world telling women we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough; telling us we cannot dress that way, look that way, act that way, speak that way. Must we add to the clamour, add to the long list of things we cannot do or should not do?
  • Why is it trashy exactly? Why is showing off cleavage an inherently bad thing? What exactly is your problem?
  • Saying "I would never dress that way" is not a reason for someone else to not dress that way.
  • If you are disgusted because you are concerned for "their safety", then by all means, direct your anger towards a society that makes it a liability to dress a certain way. A woman in a feminist theory class once said while discussing street harrassment that "dressing slutty makes it easier for men to dehumanize women". I don't understand why we accept the lie that men will see us as less than human by our wardrobe. I am tired and bored of the deeply flawed assertion that men cannot really control their eyes, voice, hands in the presence of sexy women. So stupid, and so clearly false. When men behave like jack-asses it is because they are jack-asses, not because they are men.
  • There is no evidence at all that dressing provocatively makes you more vulnerable to sexual assaults. An entirely fabricated myth that too many women and men have come to simply accept as fact. Women who wear short skirts, low blouses are not any more or less assaulted than women who do not.
  • Finally, and most certainly not the least, women need to stand up for each other more! support each other! Yes, even those girls who aren't your best friends and sisters and dress all slutty! Who cares what we wear? We live in a world that often shows such utter contempt for all things woman, so why not show a little love intead?

And that's all I have to say about that...but I have some media news that is dying to break free...The media is silly for lots of reasons. I have recently come to the decision that I will not actively pursue the knowledge of current events. In recent years, I had become a fervent newspaper reader, following rumsfield, cheney, brown, meirs and roberts and all their many adventures. I have decided to stop this nonsense. Mostly because I realized that it does not make me any more knowledgeable than the guy who watches Fox all night, or the occasional metro-washington-express reader. Why spend hours pouring over a newspaper for information that I can gain by just listening to conversations around the water cooler? Reading the newspaper just gets me irriated at the world, and I can't stand the talking heads on television who just irritate me period.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chess and HIPS

On my way to Adams Morgan this evening for a meeting, I stopped off at that place in Dupont where they play chess and watched for a while. They play with timers, which always throws off my game. Besides I attract too much attention since I am one of the few females who hangs out there and it makes me self-conscious. Anyway, in Iowa City, I knew many of the regular chess players, and they were always so sweet about letting me play without a timer. (I am pretty fast, ironically). Being able to go downtown and grab a game of chess--it's the most calming, wonderful thing. Back in college, freshman year, I used to play for hours everyday, and my most consistent chess buddy was Beard-Mike. He was a far superior player, and he taught me quite a few things that I remember to this day (control the middle four squares even if it means losing a piece, use the knight, use the pawns, never make a move that has no purpose, don't be afraid to kill off the queens). It's weird the things that occupy my brain when I am waiting for my bus:) I wanted to play a game, but didn't.

Afterwards, I hopped on a bus to HIPS where I had a really good, productive meeting. There was a peer educator/client there and it was wonderful to get feedback from her. And also, I really love our outreach leader..she is easily one of the coolest women I know. She has this great way of validating the things you do, that just makes you feel all warm and good about yourself. Well, also she's super smart, funny and kind. It's always great to be in a room full of activists and idealist do-gooders--I can just feed on all that positive energy:) I was struck again by many things (which tends to happen everytime I connect with HIPS), that are germane to any non-profit that works with dis-advantaged populations. I could describe them here, but I don't want to sound mawkish and preachy, so I will skip it. This morning on my way to work when I saw someone who could easily be our client outside our building, I walked by without saying a word. HIPS makes it harder to ignore my priviledge.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Who are You, u fool?

Who is the monkey man who keeps posting foolishness on my blogs? Mr. Anonymous, quit tainting my blog with the stink of your loser-ness. And if you must post 'cuz you have no life, quit posting anonymously! The internet is a scary, bad place but I come armed with mah bad-ass self:)

Metro Musings

I discovered today that reading on the metro when I am sleep deprived, makes me woozy and ill. So instead I found myself getting deeply engrossed in the conversations around me. Today I counted 7 drowsy and/or sleeping passengers. I am especially entertained by conversations where people talk crap about someone else. People fighting and trying not to is fun too. I went to the Eastern Market today, and stopped off at the Capital Hill books store again. It pleases me to know that the owner has come to recognize me, and often knocks off a couple of bucks from his already cheap books. I scored this beautifully bound critical essays book for 5 bucks. Score:)

I didn't go to bed until close to 5 last night, just couldn't sleep. I wandered around the internet for a while, and tried to read but my eyeballs wouldn't allow it. Last night, we went to this little club in Dupont for a friend's birthday. Last I had been there was on my birthday in the beginning of the year, when my friend, Nalini, was still alive and had joined us despite the fact that she hates bars and smoke. I hadn't thought about her since her grim, deeply sad funeral earlier this summer. Today, there was a walk sponsored by our school for her, to which I had every intention of going, but ultimately didn't.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Is Democracy Fun?

Have you heard of this? There is now a new rash of video games that let's you negotiate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, get rid of world hunger and spread democracy and goodwill. MTV is holding a contest on a game that allows players to eradicate the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. If as the leader of a volatile nation you make too many concessions, you will risk getting assainated. You can download at least one of those games here (developed by the UN), called Food Force that allows you to strategize and fight world hunger.

Once you get past the pithy self-interest in selling the pain and suffering of millions to priviledged Americans as cool and fun--once that is put aside...what a swell idea! I am picturing Beavis and Butthead snorting, "there's people in Niger dying, man". Actually to be honest, I did almost download Food Force, but I didn't wanna clutter up my laptop. Unless...unless I can put it on my resume...Israeli-Palestine conflict successfully absolved.
I wonder if the game becomes advanced enough, the State Department will use it as a test for incoming policy gods.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Serial Dreamin'

I slept nearly 12 hours last night. I was reading and got knocked out by 9:30, unable to wake up from this deep, paralzying delicious sleep (I usually go to bed circa 1:30). Anyway, I had a series of odd ball dreams.

Dream #1: My brother had turned into a ghost and was haunting me
Dream #2: I lived with 6 other people (instead of 5) along with a family with two small children. We were having breakfast together and there was no room for me at our tiny table. So I had to stand to eat my toast.
Dream #3: Bill Cosby was my professor and in his classroom we were also having a party for a friend of mine (whose birthday is coming up).
Dream #4: I am staring at this girl's head, trying to figure out how to make my hair look like hers. She has long, African dreadlocks but she has it tied up in this strange cool way.

I woke up thoroughly refreshed, like I had just purged my brain and I am starting over...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gender Matters: UNPFA State of the World Report 2005

Here’s a sobering fact--since the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, conflict has exploded in over 40 countries. The consequences of which most acutely impact women and children who are killed, raped and sold into slavery. But there is good news, thanks to the Millennium Development Goals’ explicit emphasis on gender equality; countries have rightfully spotlighted issues related to women and children to an unprecedented degree—specifically through improved access to education for girls. Why this emphasis on education? Because research has found that women who have at least a secondary level education are more likely to raise healthier, more educated children. Educated women seek prenatal care, immunize their children, provide better nutrition and begin having children at a later date than uneducated women. Every three years of additional education means one less kid per woman. Every year of mothers’ education corresponds to 5 to 10 percent lower mortality rates in children under five. What this translates into is that education of women does not simply benefit women; it ripples out to the entire family, the community, the nation.

The new United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) report entitled, State of the World 2005 has found a similar trend in addressing poverty. It states that addressing women’s poverty is key to eradicating poverty. Studies have shown that rural women contribute to 60 to 80 percent of food production in developing countries. Furthermore, this output would increase up to 20 percent if women had equal access and control over farm income, agricultural services and land. Sustainable development cannot occur without women’s voices and autonomy.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Running in the Rain

For the past month and a half, I've been running every day (except the weekend) after work ~ atleast a mile (which is not much). I have never been a runner, an athlete, whatever. But I recently got it into my head that I want to try and run a marathon this time next year. Mostly because of the hubris that accompanied a heady 20-minute, 1.77 mile run on the treadmill--a vast improvement from what I started out at. Today I ran outside for the first time since I started running...and discovered to my dismay what a weakling I still am. As anyone who has done this knows, running outside demands a lot more energy, stamina, and basic strength than a treadmill. After only 3 measly minutes, my heart hurt and I could feel the weight of my limbs. By 5 minutes, I had to stop and quiet my thundering heart which was threatening to explode on me. It was a bit chilly, and the early fall wet air did nothing soothing. I somehow ran/walk-ed for another 10 minutes, and stumbled home panting, my heart a painful jagged stone in my chest. I knew it would be hard, but nothing this dramatic! It was humbling to say the least.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Adult Toys for Iraqi Women

I love Harpers magazine, and one of my favorite features is their "readings" section...Here's an excerpt from a particularly tantalizing piece..

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005. The following letters were written by employees of Playtime, an adult toy store in Edison, New Jersey, to accompany thirty-six vibrators sent as gifts to Iraqi women last October. The project was funded by Playtime's owner, staff, and customers, and undertaken "for humanitarian reasons." Originally from January 2004.

Virginity Scholarships in Uganda

It is difficult to find anything good or redeeming in Uganda's newest program that awards scholarships to girls who can prove their virginity--an often traumatic prcedure that stigmatizes those who fail, and those who have been raped. Aside from placing the burden once again on women to control their sexuality (where does this come from? let's control what we can? is that it?), it is a hopelessly misguided effort that has little hope of diverting the rising tide of HIV/AIDS.

As a nation, Uganda is one of the few countries in sub-saharan Africa that has seen rapidly decreasing HIV prevalence rates over the past two decades. Through strong political commitment under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni and a willingness to openly discuss the HIV epidemic, Uganda has managed to pull down its HIV prevalence by 18 percent (UNAIDS 2003). Under the Bush Administration's financing of Abstinence only programs and the cutting of funds to organizations that emphasize condom use, Uganda's HIV policy has shifted even further towards political ideology, away from choice.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fancy Broccolli Burgers

Fancy Broccolli Burgers are tasty when toasted lightly with mushrooms and salsa, lightly drizzled with honey...