Bad People.

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Recent events compiled with historical massacres such as Columbine and Virginia Tech have caused quite a stir in local communities and struck up intense conversation about gun laws, mental health, and the overall moral underpinnings of our society. Sifting through the tragedy, emotion, and rage for and against gun laws, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth at the “general public’s” response. I really started thinking about this last night as I heard news that a 26-year-old man was shot outside the grocery store that is a five-minute drive from my parent’s house in Nashua, New Hampshire. I watched the story unfold via friends’ statuses on Facebook about helicopters soaring overhead and Sheriff’s with shot guns scouring the streets looking for the assailant. I saw people saying, “there are just too many bad people in this world.” I woke up this morning to breaking news that there was a shooting right outside the Empire State Building and as many as 10 people have been shot, including the gunman who was shot and killed by police.

As much as my heart breaks for the families and the victims who lost their lives while trying to enjoy the last movie in the Batman series in Aurora, CO. As much as my heart sunk when I heard there was a shooting just five minutes from my parent’s home and the victim was 26 – just a year older than myself, making it more likely to know him. As much as I feel angst and passion to eliminate gun violence on the streets of Chicago – a place that has been compared to War in Iraq. As much as tragedy strikes me just as heavily as the next news-watcher seeing these stories unfold and hearing the stories of innocent victim’s, I cannot jump on the bandwagon to generalize that there are too many bad people in this world. Instead, I would agree that there are too many troubled people in this world. But that is not the be-all-end-all, we need to change it in order to see a more peaceful, healthy society.

People are not bad. Humans, in my opinion, are inherently good and that goodness is often tainted by biological conditions, genetic make-up, and environmental conditions. We, as a society, do a really bad job of accepting these conditions, genetics, and environmental conditions as impactful in the development of a person. Instead, we judge their behaviors, disabilities, and disfigurements. James Holmes, the gunman who opened fire at the premier of The Dark Knight Rises causes tragedy and chaos and justice needs to be served, but he is not a bad person. Society told him he was a bad person and overlooked his need for professional help to work on his mental health problems. Had someone reached out their hand to help, perhaps he would not have murdered innocent people in Aurora, CO. Seung-Ho Cho, the shooter who opened fire at Virginia Tech, causing the biggest massacre in U.S. history. As the story unfolded, the news began to report more and more on Cho’s troubled history: autism, depression, anxiety, and bullying in middle school. I could continue into the troubled lives of murderers that have struck tragedy on our country. But I think you get my point.

By labeling these people as “bad” without any discussion about their troubled lives negates a solution to the problem. In fact, it feeds into the problem. There are many James Holmes and Sueng-Ho Cho’s out there who are experiencing severe mental illness and are watching these news stories unfold. By calling Holmes, Cho, and all the other shooters “bad” people, we are preventing others with mental health problems from coming forward. Mental health in this country is so stigmatized and resources are so scarce. The conversations right after these tragedies always go directly to gun laws and the NRA is always fighting for our “rights.” Gun laws have been sporadically discussed on the campaign trail as many tragedies have taken place during Obama’s Presidency and during this election year. But why are we not talking about the lack of services for those with mental health problems? Why are we not trying to fix the environmental conditions that lead to aggressive behavior and perpetrate depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems? Why are we not pouring money into services to prevent the next James Homes or Seung-Ho Cho?

It is because we want to believe that none of this could ever happen to us, in our backyards and certainly our friends and/or family could never be the perpetrator of such horrific crimes. So of course, those that do have this in their community and those who commit these murders are labeled as bad and worthless.

So President Obama, Mitt Romney, Senators and House Representatives, please consider as you propose to reduce budgets, cut Medicare and Medicaid, and restrict services to vulnerable people in our country, the detrimental and lethal impacts it will undeniably have on the people of the United States of America. Shift your focus on how taxes will impact the middle class and the rich for a moment and consider the more than 15% of people who are living in poverty and the impacts that has on their lives, decisions, and behaviors. Take a stance to help those who are in need and avoid labeling people as bad without first considering the conditions and factors that shaped their lives. We can all learn a lesson from this.

The Long Awaited Post: Rape & the GOP

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Well, let’s just get the facts straight: Todd Atkin is an idiot. And I refuse to put “representative” in front of his name because he should not be representing anything or anyone. He should be banned from attempting to speak on behalf of the people of the United States. Okay, so that’s out of the way. Of course, I have a lot more to say about his heinous, ignorant comment about “legitimate rape” made earlier this week, but the uproar and outrage displayed by so many activists in the anti-violence against women movement said it way better than I ever could. The best that I have read gave me goosebumps and hope for a better future for women everywhere.

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I have been following the response as much as I can but it has been pretty overwhelming. Survivors coming forward and sharing their stories, activists speaking out, Republicans lashing out against Atkin, and Romster and P-Ryan backing away from Atkin’s commentary, despite their views aligning with many of the same principles on which Atkin’s idiotic statements are rooted. But what has really struck me and just seems to highlight the problem even more are the males who are coming forward and writing as if “they understand” or they can come from a place to speak genuinely about it. Now I am not trying to say men cannot be raped, because they absolutely can and are at substantial rates in the U.S. and beyond. I am also not trying to say that men cannot be allies in ending sexual violence, because they absolutely need to be. But what I am saying is I am sick of men, particularly white, privileged men, speaking up one way or another trying to “understand” or voice their opinion on what women should do.

For example, I came across a Slate article today titled, “Should a mother tell her child that he was conceived in rape?” written by BRIAN Palmer. I have several quams with this piece. First, he assumes a woman who is raped is having a boy. All about the guy right from the start. Second, MR. Palmer has a subtitle that says “what psychologists recommend,” yet he only cites some statistics and then “a study” which does not necessarily mean it is what psychologists recommend. I would guess many psychologists would seperate themselves from your universal recommendation about a victim of rape telling her child that he/she was conceived through rape. From what I got by reading his article: MR. Palmer read up on some studies and decided that women who are raped, become pregnant, and make the very difficult decision to keep their child should tell their son or daughter that his/her father is a rapist. You failed to discuss the torment and struggle women who are raped and become pregnant go through as they feel great anger toward their child because of the situation through with he/she was conceived. MR. Palmer wrote it through such a privileged lens from a standpoint that will never understand what it means to be a mother of a child who was conceived through rape. It is a complex decision filled with pain, confusion, and trauma. It is a decision only a mother should make without a privileged journalist telling her what she should do in an online magazine. It is a decision only a mother who has given birth to a child whose ‘father’ raped her can understand or fathom  making.

Furthermore, the only reason you wrote this article, MR. Palmer, is due to the comments made by Atkins. The fact that you chose to write about this, not how dangerous and false Atkin’s comments are, not about teaching men not to rape in the first place, not about the prevalence of rape and the impact that has on our community. But instead, you chose to insert yourself into the decision of a mother. You chose to feed into the dialogue about what women should be doing — a dialogue primarily led by men. You also painted rape as a black and white situation with a little gray area if the perpetrator is an acquaintance, which is the case in the large majority of sexual assaults. This is understandable though because you cannot understand nor will you ever understand being raped and becoming pregnant. You wrote about rape and a mother’s decision to explain to her child who his/her father is in a very objective way with absolutely zero credibility or accountability to hold that opinion.

Congratulations, you’ve entered the pretentious, ignorant, privileged sector of men who think they know how women and in this case, victims of rape, should behave and live their lives. And just like with the rest of the men that try and dictate a woman’s life, WE AREN’T LISTENING AND WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK WE SHOULD DO.

Compliance

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Compliance, a film showing in the NEXT category at the Sundance Music Festival, has left many film watchers angered. I had never heard of the film nor do I follow the Sundance Music Festival very closely other than to read stories when they make the headlines. But when I saw that a movie was causing an uproar because of the way it displayed violence against women as entertaining, my interest was peaked. As I started to read what the movie was about I was feeling a sense of deja vu because I had JUST seen an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit about the same exact thing. Robin Williams was the guest star playing the perpetrator.

To give you the reader’s digest version, director Craig Zobel found interest in the infamous experiment known as the Milgrim Experiment. For those who avoided everything psychology in high school and college, Stanley Milgrim ran an experiment in the 1960’s where he had people administer what they thought to be severe electrical shocks to someone in another room essentially because someone of authority was telling them to do so. The motive behind this experiment was to determine whether Adolf Eichmann and his Holocaust accomplices were operating under mutual intent. Zobel did not concoct the premise of Compliance on his own out of pure fascination with Milgrim’s experiment. Instead, he studied a hoax that actually happened in 2004 in Kentucky when a man would call restaurants (68 of them in 32 states) posing as a police officer and making false accusations about young female employees, demanding that other staff to do private, inappropriate things to the falsely accused. Staff complied with his orders.

Several movie-goers were disgusted by Zobel’s attempt at independent film making and for displaying such crude acts of violence against women on the big screen. One woman was quoted as saying, “This is not the year to make violence against women entertaining,” and several others left the movie announcing that it was ridiculous. It is interesting to me that this is the movie that people decided to speak out about and get up and leave half way through. This movie is based on a true story — depicting a reality that Milgrim tried to illustrate 50 plus years ago. Zobel did not try and make this about “glamorizing” violence against women, nor did he choose the route of Hollywood to tell this story and make millions. Instead, he told it through independent film making. Having not seen the movie, I cannot 100% say whether he is worthy of this outrage or not, but from what I have read, I think he has created a movie that should lead to very important dialogue, not lashing out against the film’s director.

I am also a little confused about the comment “This is not the year to make violence against women entertaining.” I get the context — every news headline is either about a war against women or is feeding into the war against women. I get it. But the quote implies that  another year would be better to make violence against women entertaining. I think not.

Furthermore, why the outrage over a film based on a true story? Why is there not outrage about Law and Order: SVU, which victim blames, depicts the criminal justice system so falsely it’s laughable, and uses entertainment and Hollywood to illustrate violence against women? Why didn’t people walk out during the graphic rape scene in The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo? Why aren’t (more) people disgusted at the glamorization of the commercial sex trade in Pretty Woman? Why did Push (later changed to Prescious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire) win the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Drama at Sundance in 2009? This movie was extremely violent, graphic, and emotional in that it tells the story of a young, illiterate teen who was raped and abused by her father, resulting in two pregnancies, and physical and emotional abuse of her mother. The movie was considered to be so good that Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey provided promotional assistance to the film, Precious. I could go on for days with a list of movies that were solely for entertainment purposes that depicted rape, domestic violence, sexism, and murder against women that went on to win awards and drew millions to the movie theatre to partake in the entertainment.

I think Zobel’s movie can allow us all to have a very serious and necessary conversation about authority & morality and how they intertwine with the violence against women movement. I also think the audience’s reactions should be discussed in light of the questions I have raised comparing other movies.
I open the floor to my readers — please leave your thoughts & questions in comments!

 

 

Trashy Journalism: A Bloggers Best Friend.

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Reason #987 why journalists should not be allowed to write on anything other than the specific events during the Olympics and the outcomes — Michael Phelps has a girlfriend. [SHOCKED FACE] And she’s a model. [GASP].

The HuffPo has been pretty obsessed with the relationship, actually. The Internet Newspaper has demonstrated the depth of sexism and unequal representation and expectations for men and women.

Today, they wrote a piece in Huffington Post Style section with a very sarcastic tone alluding to the their judge of character: Megan Rossee has not been available for interviews yet she is an aspiring model, so how dare she avoid the spotlight. First, the anonymous writer refers to her as the “lucky” lady implying that she is fortunate to be dating an Olympian who has made history. The writer also refers to the fact that she is blonde twice in the opening paragraph. Thank you, we got it by the picture that you have up of Megan and Michael. We got it. We also get that you’re just feeding into the stereotype of blonde models dating successful athletes. Well done. You must have got to a really good journalism school, “mystery writer.” To make it worse, Megan did not agree to interview with you — probably because she knows your writing tends to be trash and judgmental and just awful most of the time (there are some gems floating around HuffPo, however). But instead of respecting her privacy and choice, you do some sloppy research yourself. Heaven forbid you can’t access her website. She’s clearly a pretty bad person because she “can’t hold onto her domain name.” Oh the flaws. Still, you managed to dig up some “dirt” as you’d probably call it.

Let’s review, shall we?

#1: “According to her Model Mayhem profile, the past couple of months have “turned out to be very busy” (very subtle, Megan) so she’ll no longer be accepting any unpaid modeling gigs without hair and makeup, thank you very much.”

Yeah. Who cares. Who is doing any “gigs” in their industry for free these days?

#2: She doesn’t do nudes.

Heaven for-freakin’-bid. What, a model who can feel confident and be successful without showing her body for the mere pleasure of misogynistic men? That can’t be right, can it HuffPo.

#3: “At 5 foot 10 inches, she has the genetic fortune to wear a mere size 7 shoe. And since most models are at least a couple of shoe sizes larger than that, that means more free footwear for Megan!”

I mean this is just pathetic. You couldn’t find anything on her so you talk about her shoe size. Small feet are so bad. Man, she’s so weird compared to those other models. Are you for real, Mystery Writer? No, you’re just pathetic.

#4 “Megan is really more of a photographer (kind of). Even though she didn’t peak photographers’ interests while sitting on the sidelines of Phelps’ races (there don’t seem to be any pictures of her from the Olympics thus far), one might say she prefers to be behind the camera sometimes because she LOVES taking pictures of her new boyfriend and tweeting them (or just tweeting at him and calling him “Bear”).”

Well, you’re wrong for starters. The whole reason Megan Rossee has peaked the media’s attention is due to her Tweets, photos, and being on the arm of Phelps. So she did peak some photographers’ interests — much like the one that took the photo on your piece. Second, Megan Rossee is not an Olympian and therefore she did not compete. Doesn’t seem to strange to me that photographers were focusing on the athletes, like Phelps, who were making history, crushing world records, playing and competing their hearts out, and representing their country with pride and dedication. Huh? Not a worthy cause for your trash-journalism, huh HuffPo? Thus you’re writing about Phelp’s alleged girlfriend not stealin’ the cameras, implying she can’t be that good of a model or that attractive.

#5: She retweets Kate Middleton’s Fan account. “At least she has good taste in role models.”

In case we didn’t get what you were implying all along: Megan Rossee isn’t all that great… actually, she’s just a blonde who hides behind the camera because she isn’t attractive enough to catch photographers’ attention and she has small feet. But you made it pretty clear here that the only thing she has going for her is her picks for ‘role models.’ Again, ya couldn’t find anything on her so you jab at her and make assumptions about who she retweets on a social media site.

To top all of this trashy journalism off, this piece concluded with a slideshow of pictures found on Megan’s Instagram. There is a photo with her and Michael with all of his medals — okay, I guess that relevant. But then you show her in scandalous clothing for “the new dreams video” and a model picture of her pushing a carriage with a caption (she wrote) saying “maybe in 5-10 years. Relevant or were you just trying to portray her in a judgmental way? The kicker is another article written about this relationship by a Mystery Writer for the HuffPo. After showing us screen shots of her tweets and boring the reader, they conclude with a similar slideshow but this time of “Michael Phelps through the years.” All of the photos are showing him being athletic, winning and/or holding his medals, and looking like a strong, confident individual. These photos portray him exactly as America knows him — his photos are accurate but also demonstrate how we like to see men portrayed: strong, athletic, successful. The photos in the previous article demonstrate how we like to see women portrayed: inadequate, for men’s use only (thus she is lucky), sexy, and maternal.

The stereotypes, sexism, and poor writing displayed by the HuffPo all while invading the privacy of an Olympian and his friend are shameful. I don’t care what his relationship is with Megan Rossee. Olympians are allowed to date and have girlfriends. They should also have the right to these relationships without unprofessional journalists bashing their partner based on irrelevant and unproven comments about her character.

Michael Phelps, I commend you for your historic experience as an Olympian. I also commend you for respecting the privacy of Megan and the privacy of your relationship with her — whatever that is. Megan Rossee, you are a beautiful, strong woman and you deserve your privacy and happiness. Do not let mysterious trashy journalism ruin your time with Michael or tarnish your memories of the 2012 London Games.

Women Olympians Poorly Portrayed During 2012 London Games

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Watching the Olympics is a favorite activity for many this summer. Michael Phelps has swam his last career race (so he says), Missy Franklin has stolen audiences with her confidence and smile, and Gabby Douglas has made history as she won Gold at the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Finals. The talent, commitment, and confidence bleeding from every Olympic event this year is inspirational and amazing to watch. But honestly, can we just turn off the commentators and prohibit journalists from reporting on anything other than the outcomes?

It is disturbing that the media has began to report on Ryan Lochte’s parents home being in foreclosure and Gabby Douglas’ mom filing bankruptcy. Spectators have led journalists to write about Gabby Douglas’ hair! Yes, let’s talk about her hairstyle and ignore the fact that she is the first African American girl to women gold in gymnastics!  The commentators during the qualifying round for all-around women’s gymnastics kept the conversation around Jordan Weiber’s emotions when she found out she came in third and therefore did not qualify for the All-around finals. They made comments like “this is so awkward” as her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas celebrated their achievement in qualifying. Yes, it is awkward and difficult and unimaginable for anyone who is not an Olympian… but is it really necessary to have cameras in her face and commentators dwelling on her strong emotional reaction? Because what that does is portray her as a weak woman instead of the strong, talented Olympian that she is.

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The one that made me fast forward through my DVR’d Olympics as I caught up one night was the two misogynistic sad excuses for reporters who sat in the ESPN headquarters in London to report on all of the events. I am too disgusted by them to even look up their names. But one was talking about he had the opportunity to watch a women’s volleyball match — I believe it was Brazil and I forget who else, but that doesn’t matter and definitely wasn’t the focus of his commentating. He talked about how he was so “over stimulated” because of the dancers during time outs and of course, the women playing beach volleyball. He joked how it was a tough match to be sent to and his colleague reporting next to him scoffed that he was only allowed to go to the men’s volleyball match, which is just not as exciting. After making comments alluding to the bodies and sexual appeal of the women’s volleyball game, he finally ended with a joke “oh well it was good athletics too.” Why is it that during the Olympic games that, for the first time, have a woman on every country’s team and the U.S. has sent more women then men to London to compete, the media is focusing on the physical characteristics of female athletes and the emotional state they are in during events? It is because we cannot admit that women are talented, independent, strong, and a capable of competing right up there with men. We are so much more comfortable keeping women Olympians in the stereotypical sexy and emotional mold that women are so often portrayed in.

It has been extremely distasteful and horribly poor reporting. At the end of the day, these female Olympians are making history while journalists/reporters are making fools of themselves.