Archive for Not That You Asked…

Misogyny and Emma Watson’s UN Speech

I just finished reading this article about the crazy, explosive response to Emma Watson’s speech at the UN. If you haven’t seen the speech, you can watch it below. It’s worth your time:

I’ve been following the story because I happen to like this actress, and feminism is an important subject to me. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to it, here’s what happened. Emma Watson is the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. After she delivered the speech a couple days ago, a lot of extreemly critical and threatening messages were posted on 4chan, which I won’t spend time to discuss, but they were hideous, and the whole internet blew up over them. Since then, a viral marketing outfit has come forward, claiming to have posted the messages as a hoax, and now people are going back and forth with that little morsel.

Returning to The Telegraph article, it was a response to the 4chan threats. You should look at it. The subject matter is unsettling enough, but the comments under it are downright astounding.

“Just goes to show how easily these feminist extremists can smear innocent people with calls of “misogyny” and how quick the white knights are to leap to their defence and join the baying mob without any fact checking.”

“The cultural Marxists aim to destroy the nuclear family, destroy marriage, destroy motherhood, destroy society. They need willing mouthpieces like Emma.”

“And Emma has revealed HER real motive and thats to be queen of the world. Its always the quiet ones.”

There’s a lot of that. Lots and LOTS of that talk. I don’t want to rot your braincells with too much more of it, but it’s a real thing, and it should shock and bother us. Frightened or angry people, who are just plain confused about why women would want to stand up and call for empowerment, are condemning either her personally or feminism generally. They call out what they see as foolishness or aggression; but the cause is not about man-hating. To quote from the speech:

“Gender equality is your issue, too. To date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.”

For anyone out there who still thinks that misogyny is not a real thing, google it. There are huge communities of angry men who seem to genuinely fear women who have autonomous control over their own lives.
Just look at the comments in the article: deny, deny, deny! Insult! Condemn! It’s as if the knee-jerk reaction of these people was to presume the worst of intentions on the author and the women being discussed, and they gushed out all those ugly feelings onto the comments section to voice that women are not being unduly criticized for requesting fairness.

I think some of those commenters are simply misogynystic, but there is another group being represented in them, too. Those of you who do not think women should be mistreated, but think the word “feminist” means “angry man-hater lady,” need to start defining your terms and come to grips with what you really can call yourself. It’s time for that to change. When men cannot coexist as equals with women and vice versa, their relationship is necessarily going to be tainted with some level of disrespect. Friendship, love, and respect require vulnerability, and that cannot be part of a relationship in which one party looks at the other as a category first and a partner second.

If you think people should be in charge of their own lives without regard to gender, if you think people should be offered equal respect, regardless of gender, you’ve embraced the feminist goals. It’s time to stop making a war out of this, and call it what it is: a cooperative effort to bring about something we all need.

equality

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healthcare.gov

This isn’t much of a post; I’m just saying. Politics aside, the healthcare website has been such a mess.

kelly website

Facebook is Stealing My Umbrella

When I was a little girl, my family had a poetry anthology with this little number in it:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

-Charles Synge Christopher Bowen

We kids used to laugh about it because it sounded so funny. As an adult, I can see a little more of the point the writer was making.

The rain it raineth on the just

The rain it raineth on the just

And also on the unjust fella;

And also on the unjust fella;

But chiefly on the just

But chiefly on the just

Because the unjust steals the just's umbrella.

Because the unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

It is so often that the person who’s just doing his job, living his life, has to carry the person who is not. Isn’t it funny (or not funny) how often the unjust then wastes the resources someone else produced and then turns around to demand more?

just unjust panel 5

So now Facebook is being called out, yet again, for (allegedly) violating people’s privacy by scanning messages marked private and selling user demographics from them. It bothers me when companies do things like that- the rule of law is a valuable principle, and should be cared for and respected. When people abuse the legal system like this, the end result to the rest of us is new legislation. Laws piled on top of laws to clarify the mountain of laws we’re all already buried under. When this is finally brought to that point, the corporate fatcats at Facebook will have no new opinion about my privacy, nor will they decide that they now have enough money. They will find a new loophole, and continue on. We will all have some new legislation, whether it will directly affect us or not.

Right and Wrong Don’t Matter in the Woods

My brother and I were talking about the background of the area where he lives, and he mentioned a phenomenon about the language. There are certain words that his neighbors do not have, which is nothing noteworthy, as no two languages are going to have identical vocabularies, except that some of the words he listed frankly amazed me. Logic, mindset, proportion, eternity, infinite, science… the two that were most surprising to me were right and wrong.

Imagine a society with no word for “wrong.” How does that even happen? There is a right way to put shoes on, and a wrong way to hold a baby, and so on. It seems only natural that sooner or later, a person will encounter someone else who is doing something in way that is just clearly not correct:

that is right2

that is wrong

My brother said there are words for “beautiful” and “ugly,” which lead me to wonder if those are the go-to labels people would apply to correctness and incorrectness.

that is beautiful

that is ugly

If they do that, maybe judgey people who go around telling others how to raise their kids look like they’re calling each other’s children ugly.

Anyhow, if they don’t have words for the phrase “You are doing that all wrong!” one has to think that they don’t need that phrase very much. Does their vocabulary indicate that their culture is less judgmental or discerning? A possible contributing factor to this is the tendency for people to borrow words from surrounding languages until their native vocabulary has thinned, but I can’t help thinking that the personality of the individuals using the words has a stronger hand in defining the common vocabulary.

The title of this post is a line from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which I probably talk about too much. The woods are a metaphor for people’s struggles, often surfacing their true character as they journey in and out of them throughout the story. I embedded a clip below of the baker’s wife and Cinderella’s prince meeting in the woods, because of that phrase: “Right and Wrong don’t matter in the woods, only feelings…”

If I were taking my sociology from Stephen Sondheim, I would say that he has an explanation for people allowing those words to go by the wayside, and it’s a matter of not considering them a big enough priority when trouble arises.

Another part of me is thinking it must have something to do with blended languages or something, though. I just can’t wrap my mind around a society that simply has no term for “wrong.” How different would our culture have to be if we never made or used such words?

Maybe we would have been better without some of them. I can think of a few words now that I would like to trim out of our collective use: money, schedule… What do you think?

Unimportant thoughts about Importance and Important Unimportant Things

Vogue Magazine tweeted this:

all-important manicure

and at first sight, I laughed quietly and kept moving on, which, no offense to the writer, is probably what it deserves. In whose reality could a manicure possibly be important, let alone “all-important”? Even a manicurist or a hand model could skip getting one without anyone really noticing. Of course a fashion magazine would talk like that, but that line doesn’t even deserve the respect of an eye-roll, right?

“Important” is just one of those words that morphs along with us; we redefine it based on our surroundings. Just like someone who considers a manicure important while planning a New Year’s party might easily ignore it if they were planning for a week long hike in the woods, and the mere thought of recreation might go out the window if they were struggling for the necessities of life, “important things” slip in and out of relevance as easily as our changing circumstances.

It’s easy enough to dismiss people who attribute a high priority to their nails, but reading that tweet made me kind of aware of where I am right now. You may have noticed I said that was an email- meaning, I follow Vogue on Twitter. I actually really like fashion, and I even started fashion blogging a little (You can see it here, if you’re interested.) I like that blog, and every now and then I want to go work on it. I just can’t though- I just absolutely cannot.

I started blogging because having a creative outlet is “important” to me, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. I wanted an outlet and a new medium. As it got going, though, since I occasionally illustrate for people, having an online presence meant that I had a brief and personal sort of informal portfolio for potential clients to look over. That’s important to me, but it got shouldered out of the way big time about ten months ago.

scratchy

Meet Scratchy. He’s the mascot of MIT’s fabulous free online educational programming software for kids. He’s also the current redefinition of “important” for me, as I have had my nose on the grindstone working him into a set of lesson plans. Pretty much all of my other “important”s have gone to the wayside, and I just realized that I haven’t posted since October. A small handful of patient friends and family are waiting on me to get something done for them, and to each of you, may I say thank so much.

This all went through my mind as I pondered the immediacy of priorities, and how badly I often juggle my own. I hope you all know how much I appreciate your patience and graciousness toward me. I also probably shouldn’t tell you this, but you’re kind of my new year’s resolution- to juggle the many things that matter better and finish what I’ve started…

Happy new year, everyone.

The Ready to Wear Fashion Industry Likes Playing Headgames with People.

I’m not sure which is more aggravating- the fact that the clothes I buy are all, officially, coming from the XXL hangers or the fact that I always seem to end up buying them from a ninety-pound high schooler who tries to pretend like she’s sympathizing with me even though we both know she hasn’t hit her college belly fat growth spurt yet.

clothing store 1

clothing store 2

clothing store3

Things that are just plain horrible

I’m so grossed out by this. Disney, you’ve done it again.

into the woods 2

Playbill announced yesterday that a 10-year-old bundle of youtubey stardom has been slated for Little Red Riding hood in the upcoming movie adaptation of Into the Woods.

sophia-grace-brownlee-54th-annual-grammy-awards-01

This happens to be one of my favorite Broadway plays. Literate Libran introduced it to me as one of her favorites too- the dual parts of Cinderella and the Witch have always resonated so powerfully with her. For me the strongest message is the underlying indictment on group dynamics in troubled times. Click either of those to read our thoughts about it. Much has been said about this, and I could easily go on about it much more, so naturally I wasn’t too excited when I heard it was headed for movie theaters, but whatever. They snagged Meryl Streep for the lead, and that’s usually a good sign, right? But this?

A kid sings on Youtube, gets asked to show up on a TV show, subsequently makes miscellaneous talk show appearances… and… those are her acting credentials. This child is 10. The role of Little Red Riding Hood is a coming of age story, with a very overt message about carelessly sacrificing her innocence when a predatorial “wolf” crosses her path. This child is 10. A ten year old who still shows up at every public appearance in a princess costume is supposed to portray a layered, complex balance of fairy tale playfulness and the sadder but wiser embarrassed confidence of a young woman newly smarting from the regrets of a bad relationship.

Check out Danielle Ferland below from the OBC:

“Nice is different than good.” Pretty clever, no?

I thought about also including a clip of Sophia’s breakthrough appearance on Ellen, but she’s singing a song with illicit lyrics about having sex, and in case you’ve forgotten, this child is 10 (actually, she was 8 when that was done) and I think the world will be a better place with fewer blogs posting videos of little children belting out smutty rap lyrics.

Folks, really, how is this not the epitome of exploitation? The pink dresses, ever present to remind us how tiny she is? Have I mentioned she’s 10? Never mind that normal 10 year old girls don’t go trooping around in sparkly plastic crowns, she’s got the cutie-pie image to foster. Never mind how completely unfit she may be amongst her peers; as long as it’s garnering TV spots, why not keep it up? On the same token, I’ve never overheard a fifth grade girl mournfully lament her adolescent choices (because, of course, fifth graders haven’t experienced adolescence yet). A friend of mine commented that it’s a bit discouraging to see how this type of thing is pushed on children at younger and younger ages, but really, however informed a kid may be about the facts of life, ten means she’s still got her teen years ahead of her. Adolescence hasn’t even started yet, and therefore she has not yet earned the right to reminisce about it.

I could ask what kind of lousy parent would pretend like this is good for their child, but the subject of the fame-obsessed parent pimp has been discussed to death, and we all know it’s vile. Can we maybe just start having stagemom of the year awards?

toilet trophy

We could call it the “Don’t go in there” Award (little Office joke there). That’s actually pretty apropos.

I could also ask why the movie itself was necessary at all, but that’s something we all know too, right?

mickey the vandal

Although their original ideas are often fun and watchable enough, those are just the revolving door prime-time stuff. Disney feature films are most often hijacked pieces that the public has already grown to appreciate. I’ve learned by now to just avoid the ones about stories I like unless I want to have the original tainted (I’ll never forgive them for the butchering they gave the Hunchback of Notre Dame), and this will certainly be one to avoid.

I just feel sick and sorry for the child who is so obviously being herded into the child-star-who-does-scandalous-things act, especially considering that she’s got that along with the preschool-dress-up-princess image to maintain. This is one seriously messed up situation.

Update:
YAAAAY! But I still don’t want to watch the movie.

Wait… what?

This amazing good deal showed up in some junk mail today.

the alternative to lipo

Wow, everyone! It’s here! An intelligent alternative to liposuction! Now isn’t this just horrible? In the name of fairness, I know there are folks out there who genuinely need help getting control of their body mass index, and I wouldn’t insinuate that weight-loss difficulty is always due to laziness or lack of self control. I am sure of this. I know losing weight and getting fit aren’t easy to do. At the same time, though, we sure do see a lot of ads for cosmetic surgery or surgery alternatives floating around these days. I used to think that was a Hollywood thing- something for very wealthy and very vain people who didn’t think they could maintain their chosen career if they couldn’t try to look like the fountain of youth. Nowadays though- this came in a mailing of coupons for cat litter and fast food places. Which would imply that it is intended to draw in… what market? Everybody? Middle class coupon-clipping shoppers? I’m not trying to be unsympathetic, but are we so far gone that this is the mindset of John Q. Public now? This is what we can do instead of getting lipo…

good grief
Good grief.

Don’t Just Blurt Stuff Out on Facebook

Something that makes me cringe is when people make overbearing blanket generalizations on the internet. Guys, once you’ve typed it, everyone can read it, and you’re officially married to it. It’s all well and good to be firm in your convictions, but can you really never imagine someone else being able to answer your argument? Do people honestly think their opinions are so solid they don’t think they could ever eat their words? Is it really unthinkable that they could ever have to reword their comments?

I just don’t know how people can do that so much.

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Reblogging Some Thoughts on Homeschooling

I heard about this family through a homeschooling friend and wrote about it for Literate Little One. Being a teacher myself, it is a constant occupational concern that my work remain current, new, enthusiastic, and all the other stuff that work generally isn’t once you’ve spent enough time doing it that you know what you’re doing. We can try so hard to keep the lesson materials all shiny and fresh, but the fact is that my twenty kids are sitting in one room for most of the time they are with me, and I have to use multiple different teaching methods to reach as many different learning styles as possible.

I wouldn't go so far as to say classroom education is as bad as this, but it's very easy for it to become so.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say classroom education is as bad as this, but it’s very easy for it to become so.

This means that, necessarily, the kids aren’t going to have their own personal optimal learning style catered to for the majority of the day (and that’s fine- they can certainly learn a lot from having to adjust to learning someone else’s way for a while). The reason this story struck a chord with me, though, is that this family seems to have removed that element from their kids’ education entirely. The kids stay motivated all day with learning as a way of life because their parents can afford to concentrate all their energy on them. There aren’t twenty other kids among whom they must divide their time and attention, and just look at the results:

From Literate Little One:

The Today Show featured an eye-catching story about the incredible success one family has had as homeschoolers. If you haven’t already seen this, you should really check out Bob Dotson’s coverage of it on NBC, but then come right back because we have things to discuss.

Kip and Mona Lisa Harding pose with their children

Kip and Mona Lisa Harding pose with their children

Parents Kip and Mona Lisa have really showcased the benefits of one-on-one attention, haven’t they? The kids are starting college before they hit their teen years! The first one doing university level schoolwork, daughter Hannah, now holds a master’s in both mechanical engineering and math and has a job designing spacecraft. The others listed in this piece are doing equally auspicious things even though the last third of the article builds the case that, not only do the parents consider their children to have average intelligence levels, but their days are spent having fun. Somewhere along the way, work has to come into the mix- it just has to, but it certainly is an easier pill to swallow when your priorities are to find what a student is inclined to learn, what they enjoy, and encourage them to explore that, non? Quoting the father in the article,

“The expectation is that you’re going to have a fun day,” Kip says, watching his children play. “Not that you’re going to come home with A’s.”

Seth Harding in the middle of a "lesson" about the Middle Ages

Seth Harding in the middle of a “lesson” about the Middle Ages

No mention of test anxiety here, no drudging through required typing courses, just find what you love and spend the day on that.

“By the time you get down to number five, number six, they just think learning seems normal. We find out what their passions are, what they really like to study, and we accelerate them gradually,”

so says their mother. If, like me, your first thoughts were that “going to college” is not for twelve year olds, however grand it may sound, consider that the kids are living at home, and certainly not in dorms, and they aren’t launching into it with full courseloads in their first semester. Learning just seems normal for them. Considering the strain of attending a full class day, and the relief of finally stepping back out of the classroom, this is a refreshing perspective. It’s no wonder they’re seeing such brilliant results: learning isn’t the odious task of filling out papers and completing projects in a classroom, it’s just the way of life.

What do you think about this? If you were reared in a traditional classroom setting, do you think you would have gone farther, faster too if you had been able to study this way? If you were homeschooled, did you feel like you had an advantage in the flexibility of a more taylored educational program? How do you feel about starting kids in college work at such an early age? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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