Sunday, July 27, 2014

I will write about abortion until all people stop cringing at the word. #teamgia

Once upon a time there was a girl who had sex when she was just a child. It ended in pregnancy and she felt obligated to share her decision to terminate the pregnancy with the boy who impregnated her. When this bastard decided to run an online smear campaign bringing this brave lil' lady's character into question her life turned upside down. No longer was she Gia the track star who wore fishtail braids before they were a thing and was the only eighth grade girl in advanced physics. Gia's talents, alternative hairstyles, and fiery personality no longer meant a thing. She was reduced down to the "whore" who got an abortion.

Far too much of Gia's story has been dictated by this single jerkoid. So, eleven years later, here's my message to the cowardly little boy who impregnated one hell of a woman.

Stop attacking the morality of a fourteen year old girl who selflessly terminated a pregnancy in order to prevent a child being brought into the world who neither parent had the ability to care for. Gia's decision preserved your youth and stopped a child from being raised in circumstances unfit for any child. So, why then, is it Gia's morality that's in question? What kind of fourteen year old boy has sex with a fourteen year old girl without protection and then starts an online smear campaign demonizing her for making a decision with her own body that best fit the needs of her, her family, and you? How did you plan on raising a child at the age of fourteen? How would you afford to feed it or watch over it? You would not have had the resources. You would dump it on her or your own parents and continue to live like the carefree little shit you are while occasionally playing with your son or daughter whenever it was most convenient. You both had unprotected sex at age fourteen, but it was Gia who was faced with an unforgettable decision. You owe her so much more than what you gave her. Your words suggest that you believe it was Gia's responsibility to give birth and that she somehow owed this fetus something. A pregnant woman does not owe a developing fetus anymore than the fetus owes his or her parent's an apology for being alive. Suck on that.

Gia took a job just eight miles away from her old junior high and next month she'll move back out to California to a town she has avoided for the past nine years (the town she departed before high school to escape misogynist pro-life bullying.) So, a big fuck you to pro-lifers. Looks like you lose. Again. Because Gia is not the girl who got an abortion at age fourteen. She's the super slick physics nerd with a smarty-pants engineering degree who only wears hoop earrings, taught me that frozen grapes will change your life as much as lip liner does, has a secret knowledge of mechanics who hopes to someday adopt foster children. #teamgia


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Go ahead. Judge me for my make-up.

Sans make-up my face exists as a amalgamation of tissue, protein, cartilage, and cells. The arrangement of all that previously mentioned reveals nothing about who I am as a person. I simply crawled out the womb and aged. Conversely, my cosmetic choices did not simply crawl out the womb and age alongside my face. Unlike nature, my gene pool, and my DNA, I exercise control over the products I smear on my face. I chose it. I put it there. Me and my personality carefully select this routine. Thus, make-up (tattoos and piercings included) is the absolute closest humans will get to facial self-expression.

So, when a dude tells you he prefers you without make-up, there's an even more serious issue than the fact that he's taking relationship advice from Drake. He's telling you that he prefers you when you do not make choices that advance your personal identity. Such statements suggest that your body is preferred over your brain. Your brain is the reason you rimmed your eyes with coal black liner. Your brain is the reason you lips are always masked in NYX, Tarte, or Lime Crime (all vegan approved!). Your brain is the reason you think glitter, not concealer, is the best way to camouflage under-eye circles.

Your naked face and body are inane vessels through which you operate and reveal nothing about your ideals, personality, interests, skill set, etc. Does our economic identity and need to physically protect ourselves sometimes deter us from expressing our truest selves? (I totally cannot afford every shade of MAC lipstick or the newest Jeffrey Campbell’s and there are definitely cities I would not feel safe experimenting with my gender identity/expression.)Yes. Of fucking course. But even taking that into account, every time you make a decision to clothe your body or apply cosmetics you are making a decision to reflect yourself through the canvas of your physical being.

Motivated Millennials needed to Spark next Iconoclastic Movement

I belong to a generation sans alternative, but how can a subculture exist alongside a mainstream culture that is nothing more than a synthesis of every subculture that has ever been? 

I find myself pissed off a lot. Scratch that. Not pissed off. Disappointed. Disappointed in the fact that my peers, my fellow Gen-Yers, are not angrier about life - about insurance companies selling us shit deals because it is all we can afford, about pre-packaged food working as population control, about how nine-to-fives pulverize human souls, about how we work those nine-to-fives because someone somewhere proclaimed living for free unfathomable, about how kids do not read for fun anymore, about how vinyl is now on the endangered species list, about the wealthy investing to produce more excess to hoard, about the ever expanding income gap, about all of the social inequalities that divide us and how confidently all too many people declare those inequalities do not exist. I am disappointed with the contentment of my generation. I am disappointed in the fact that we all complain about the ways things are but do little to nothing to change these things. I am disappointed that I am part of the problem.

Yet, there is no noteworthy anti-cultural movement here today. The world remains thirsty for something fresh, something thought-provoking, something to kick us in the ass and yell, "YOU'RE ENTIRE REALITY COULD BE SO DIFFERENT." I refuse to believe that my generation is too lazy too talentless. Our generation's jazz movement, our flapper movement, our beat movement, our hippie movement, our punk movement, our gangster rap movement is a fire just waiting for fuel.

So, will there be another iconoclastic movement? And if so, will we Millennials be the founders or a distant memory reduced to a chapter in high school textbooks? What's going to make us hear music like we'd never heard music before?  Will we have something to tease our children with and brag that we saw first? Will anything at all change our generation's ideals and value system? Exactly how can our generation have a voice if we don't know what it is we are trying to say?


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ten Ways to Make your Teen Years Count.

1. Get a job, rather it be after-school, or something seasonal. Even if you are not in financial need, get one. It will probably be terrible. You will complain and fall in love with it at the same time. You may think you are smarter than everyone there, and there is a strong likelihood that your work environment will be completely corrupt and the most bogus thing ever. You will learn to support yourself, and acknowledge your privilege, rather it be financial, access to educational opportunities, intellect, able-bodiedness, etc. You will learn to work with a team in the hopes of achieving a common goal. If you work with the public you will see how your actions appear to other people and learn exactly whom you do not want to grow up to become. Additionally, if you plan to enter the professional work sphere someday, how do you expect to know how to have a successful interview and interact with coworkers if you've never even had a menial part-time job?

2. Make out with someone you would not normally make out with, rather that be someone of the same-sex, opposite sex, or outside of your usual "type." Do not be lame and do it in front of a group of people to prove how "edgy" or "free-spirited" you are. Do it privately, for your own purposes, and with someone who will not place you in a dangerous situation for kissing them.

3. Get punched in the face for a good cause. Stand up for someone getting bullied or tell some bigot jerk-oid that their parent's did a shitty job of instilling respectable values in them. Please do not put yourself in any real danger. Stay away from people who carry weapons or people who are so super insecure that they will do serious bodily harm to others just to prove a point. Teach yourself to not be afraid of the little things and to always stand up for what you believe in.

4. Do something you are forbid to do. Go on private property and share a joint with your best friend. Get caught up in the heat of the moment and cast aside your clothing. I am not encouraging you to set yourself up for chemical dependency or heartbreak, but you can not be afraid to make mistakes. Without them you will never grow as an individual. You must challenge where you place importance in order to fully comprehend your true values. Your moral code should be a reflection of your life experiences, not a regurgitation of what you have been preprogrammed to believe. Do not be stupid and run off with someone you've never met twice your age just because he promises you acid. Stay away from meth. There's a reason why calling someone a "tweaker" is an insult. Steer clear from heroin. You'll think you're really deep and misunderstood until you met someone who has fallen in love with the needle.

5. Experiment with your hair. Chop it like you've never chopped it before, bleach it and dip your locks in a thick dye. Hair grows back and it will teach you that your appearance is not important.

6. Take advantage of your privileged access to endless amounts of information, knowledge, entertainment, and perspective. Read. Give your history teachers hell by reading Karl Marx and Angela Davis. Give your friends something to playfully tease you about and read Tom Robbins. Be cliche and read Bukowski and Plath. Earn yourself some street cred and read Kathleen Hanna's zines and Kurt Cobain's journal entries. Read Bust Magazine so that you understand the importance of calling yourself a feminist. Read teeny-bopper magazines and Nicholas Spark novels so you can understand what the fuck is going on with our nation's youth.

7. Do well enough in school that you can afford to cut class every once in a while. Make your ditch days count though. Drive to the beach to create memories with a loved one, express pent-up emotions through horrible art, create a zine addressing a social justice cause you're passionate about. Whatever you do, do not sit at home and watch television. Your own life should be more exciting than the fictional depictions of television characters.

8. Teach yourself how to do something, rather how to play a musical instrument, how to make spoon jewelry, or how to knit mittens. The goal is to improve your skill set and stick with something. If possible, work together with a group of friends who are equally talentless (to start with anyways), or, if you know someone who is particularly skilled, ask them to tutor you. Write bad songs. Craft ramshackle knitwear. Play every show you possibly can. Give all your friends your shitty mittens for their birthdays. Have fun and laugh when you make mistakes.

9. Trust the kindness of strangers and be nice to everyone you meet until they give you a reason to act otherwise. If someone insults your physical appearance, you can dish them some sass back without necessarily stooping to their level of asshole-ness. You are hot, I swear. Remember you can find something "wrong" with anyone's physical self if you look hard enough. If someone insults your character, weigh their input and learn how to grow from their criticism, regardless of if their original intent was constructive or not. If you are attacked for your race, sex, gender expression, and/or sexual/romantic orientation, fight back when it is safe to do so, but remember that people are unpredictable when their biases are threatened. Remove yourself from hostile environments because you are irreplaceable.

 10.  Leave town upon turning eighteen, regardless of your financial situation. Do not limit your adventure because of your parent's or guardian's fears. It does not matter if a prestigious uber awesome college is located right smack in the middle of your town or if your hometown is Los Angeles or New York City. To grow is to explore and adventure. If you find your hometown is where your heart is, you can always return, but you will never know that for certain without trying life outside of its borders. Your place of residence should reflect your desires, not the choices of your family to reside within a particular city.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Appropriateness and Moral Condemnation: Why Sex Matters but Shouldn't.

From Dictionary.com:

in·ap·pro·pri·ate [in-uh-proh-pree-it]
adjective
not appropriate; not proper or suitable: an inappropriate dress for the occasion.
Synonyms
improper, unsuitable, inapt, unfitting.

Here's the difference between a scantily-clad woman and a scantily-clad man. The man will read as humorous and good-natured, people will laugh. However, people will interpret the woman's lack of "proper" attire with sexual aggression. Why? Simply speaking, women is not seen as equally human, thus she is instead interpreted as a desirable object for men to twist, churn, and fuck. If she were seen as human, rather than as a sexualized object, others would acknowledge the plethora of interpretations behind her partial or full nudity beyond those that are strictly sexual in nature. 

Whenever someone expresses their opinion that a woman is dressed "inappropriately" due to too much of her body being exposed, they're outwardly suggesting that a woman's body is inherently inappropriate. Now, why would a woman's body be inappropriate? Society largely limits female bodies sole purpose to that of a sexual nature. Juxtapose contemporary western society's mutual demonization of sex and objectification of female bodies, and the final result is confusing and contradictory. The idea that the female body is provocative by nature implies that a male's exposure to too much of the female form will "provoke" him to act out in a sexual way. This manifestation of reductionist sexist assessment of the reasons for which women exist continually promotes the notion that a woman's body exists solely for the sexual satisfaction of heterosexual men.

Women do not exist for the sexual satisfaction of men. They simply exist, and in their existence, their body will serve a multitude of functions. It is not our responsibility, as women, to shroud our bodies from men. Just as it is a woman's responsibility to understand the appropriate time and place to view a man as a sexual entity, so too is it a man's responsibility to treat women with the same regard. 

I do not shout sexual suggestions at men jogging shirtless down the street. I do not stare at men's crotches when they choose to wear body-hugging pants. I do not ogle at muscle-tee wearing men in the hopes of getting a glimpse of naked torso. We understand such actions as unwanted and inappropriate. So, why do all too many men feel entitled to stare at a girl's ass when she bends down to adjust her boot strap, or catcall women on their way to work, or wink at a woman in a sports bra at the gym? If I know when it is appropriate to sexualize a man's body and when it is not, I expect the same consideration from men.

The normalization of sexism complicates one's ability to effectively respond to it in the heat of the moment. How do you demonstrate the injustice behind one's comments when institutionalized tolerance has been so deeply ingrained in their minds that the speaker is both the victim and perpetrator? Here are some statements you could say when you are presented with a situation in which someone is morally condemning a woman due to her outfit choice:

"Why are you sexualizing her body? You're making me uncomfortable."
"Do you understand how your comments promote rape culture? You are suggesting that it is a woman's responsibility to not be sexualized without her consent, rather than the responsibility of men to not sexualize women against their will. This mentality leads society to think women who dress a particular way are 'asking for it' and invalidates their experiences of sexual misconduct.
To school administrators/fellow students:
"Do you think it's appropriate to humiliate female students and make them ashamed of their bodies?"
Or, just straight up:
"Stop creeping on that woman. What's inappropriate about the flesh, bone, and muscle that together make up her legs?"

The most effective responses aim to educate, rather than perpetuate feelings of shame and humiliation, the individual/group of individuals who are making such comments about the implications of their words. Yes, there are men who are elitist assholes who act as if they are God's gift to women, but unless you have reason to believe otherwise, as the patriarchy encourages men to behave in such a light and not recognize the consequences of their behavior, you can often assume the ignorance of the perpetrators. 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mailboxes like staircases.

I try to fight it, but I'm simply not strong enough. The sadness seeps in, consuming me in its thick entirety. I am forced to acknowledge that I will never farm coffee in Peru. I'll probably never own a catering company or be a foster mom. I'll definitely never know what it's like to be an astronaut and see home from such a distance. Nor will I travel the globe, gun in my hand, defending my country. I will never fight loneliness for livelihood and I will never be a sculpter and go to sleep with once wet clay, now hardened and dry, caked beneath my fingernails. 

Their bodies, their minds, their actualities, all those people I will never be leave me completely overwhelmed. There is not enough time, I have to settle and trick myself into believing I am satisfied by just knowing them. Our interactions serving as a reminder that although I do not belong among them, they exist, they prosper, they expire. They speak their stories and I listen greedily wanting to fill my head with as much information before my childhood curiosity retreats and replaced with steadfast bitterness. 

I write narratives in my head, allowing my reality to blur together with the lives of others. The edges fade out into each other. I feel what they feel. For a moment, I know them, and I feel them knowing me. Each character builds a nest within my frame, forever sleeping in my spine. I rewrite, remake, and remodel particular characters daily, letting one bleed into another like a domino. My favorites come and go, the disc gets scratched, and the whole thing starts to skip, but in the end the actors did their best, and everything played out perfectly. Taking a bow, they finish their concluding scene unsteadily, and cascade into fragments. The next one stands up, only to remind that our creations can never fully escape us. I find bits and pieces of them recycled with each other. Another beautiful story created.

Perhaps I will become a sculpter after all. Perhaps I already am one. 

No more sleep walking dead.

A pretty frame to fondle and touch or a locked window to force open and enter, I was nothing but a thin crystal glass for you to pour yourself into. You never dust me off, so what could have been a trophy collects dust like a completed novella. In the process of molding and forming me like the wet virgin clay I was, you gave me a set of wings in which to leave you, this place, and this life.

Out from the confusion, a hazy abyss, grows a green spring, both leafless and bare. Do not pluck her, for her roots are too deep for a man of your strength. You’ve lost in admiration, so someone else came along, plucked her up from the ground, and made her a queen.