Tag Archives: culture

Internet Forums…

At this moment, I am watching a few educational videos online. Earlier, I read a few newspaper articles about human rights issues, cultural traditions, and racism. I like to skim through different mediums of information, and I actually prefer articles that are clearly biased. When authors claim to be stating objective facts, I roll my eyes and bite my lip. I like people who are savvy enough to admit their own faults and who recognize the lens through which they are looking at a particular circumstance. I enjoy reading information written by those who are clearly well-researched, clear, and who believe in something and stick to it throughout.

That being said, I am concerned. No, not about sensationalist journalism or about one-sided publications. I am concerned about the general population. Reading the comments beneath news articles, videos, and essays – I am deeply disappointed in what people say, how they say it, and how little they know about the world they inhabit. There is so much hate – for both the innocent and the guilty. There is so little empathy – for humans who, by no fault or little fault of their own, are struggling. At first, I read these comments and start vigorously typing responses. But I soon realize that I cannot possible reply to the hundreds of hurtful, mean, ignorant remarks. Moreover, I cannot change the thoughts of these people. My anger subsides, and I close my laptop and take a few deep breathes.

People feel safe online – they can bully, say unacceptable things, and they can choose to not reply to reasonable refutations to their statements. Although people have the ability to research whatever they please, they tend to do so mindlessly and without any sort of critical reflection on their sources. Furthermore, instead of attacking ideas, they attack the people who hold the ideas – which is completely useless for the purposes of intelligent discussion.

So I am concerned – about the opinions of certain members of the internet community, the lack of logic applied to arguments, the atrocious use of grammar.

 

“A man only becomes wise when he begins to calculate the approximate depth of his ignorance.” – Gian Carlo Menotti

 

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Don’t push me.

I’m very determined and goal-oriented. My goals change periodically, and I think that’s okay. I’m learning about myself every step of the way. It would be foolish to cling to a dream I no longer look forward to. Thus, I am learning and shuffling my life around to make room for things, people, and plans that enchant me.

And then I’m confronted with my culture.
My culture that doesn’t force me to do anything, but whose participants are constantly asking the same questions and are worried about the same things. I know that those who love me wish the very best for me. I have been blessed beyond measure with family and friends who are so supportive, caring, and inspirational. But even these very special people in my life are sometimes caught up in our culture – the one that doesn’t intentionally want to cause me harm, but it’s doing so anyway.

“When are you getting married? So and so is…so and so had a baby…Why not?”

At first, I laughed it all off. I’d answer with truth and they’d be concerned. But I’d laugh because I didn’t know what else to do, and because to me, it all seemed obnoxious and ridiculous. To me, it still feels like a question I shouldn’t be asked more than 20 times a month, because I’m young and free and that’s just how I like it. My relationship doesn’t have to be heading in the “I do” direction, because it’s in a great place as it is. Besides, that’s my business. It’s my life and I am allowed to do what I want.

They understand that. They wouldn’t force me to do anything, but their constant nudging and questioning is finally getting to me, but not in the way they want it to get to me.

It’s just making me feel like everything else I do is not important.
It’s making me feel like who I am is not enough.

And I’m not changing my mind about what I want, just because other people ask me questions. That would not be honest to my own self. I am holding tight onto what I want and where I’m going. I ask them to stop – and it’s not stopping. Well, I’m not stopping either.


A dear friend, dearly confused.

A friend of mine is getting married to a man that has not treated her well in the past. I’m fairly certain that she’s marrying him because he has money. I’m sure she has decided to get married because her younger sister got married a year ago, and she feels like she is going to be forever alone. Countless times, I told her that she would find someone wonderful. I tell her that she was young, beautiful, and a sweetheart. I want to see her happy, but she wants to be wanted by a man.

It breaks my heart, really. She has grown up in a patriarchal culture, where a woman’s worth is determined by when she gets married, to whom, and how many children she has and is able to raise well. I know that culture, and I am always telling these girls that they are valuable not because of who they marry, but because they are human.

I saw her Facebook status today, and it’s a quote that translates to something like this:
“Happiness to a girl is to become a beautiful bride, a beloved wife, and a happy mother.”

My heart dropped. No, no, no, no. Happiness to a girl is being the best she can be. Happiness to a girl is becoming a woman who is intelligent, confident, and strong. This girl is in her twenties, and she believes her life will become better by being a bride, a wife, a mother. I’m not saying those things are not wonderful,  I’m sure being a princess on your wedding day is fun, being in a loving relationship is wonderful, and being a mother is a one-of-a-kind experience. I’m sure it’s great, but that’s not the point. 

I believe that happiness for humans in general is not found in relationships. Happiness is a personal endeavor, it’s about being comfortable in your skin and with your life. Happiness is about learning, loving, just being. 

It saddens me to think that my friend believes that her worth and her happiness is defined by her marital status. It saddens me to see a young life’s journey determined by culture. It just makes me so darn sad to see her make this choice, not because she really wants to be with him “forever,” but because she believes that this is what her whole life culminates to. 

My dear friend, is so dearly confused. 


Manners, freedom, and feminism.

The three things were going through my mind as I sat in a Starbucks, sipping my soy chai latte. I tried to read something or other on moral philosophy, but I could not concentrate. This is what happened:

The place is packed. Students are everywhere. Up in the loft area, there is one power outlet. Everyone twitches every time somebody in the general area of the Outlet moves, hoping that they are leaving. As soon as someone gets up, some other desperate coffee addict appears. The power outlet is calling us all by name, as our “low battery” notifications flicker.

The bell-tower rings. I’m still holding my spot in the general area and my charger is plugged in. I am lucky. The nice old man sitting behind the table in the corner, the table right in front of the Outlet, gets up, smiles, and says goodbye. Everyone is glaring. Little do they know, trouble is on its way.

A man dressed in tan corduroys, a light blue colored button down shirt, and polished dress shoes quickly appears. He’s wearing black glasses, because obviously the sun’s rays are overwhelming inside the dimmed coffee shop. Ridiculous. He also has a long board or a skate board, some kind of board.
Odd, but that’s besides the point.

He sits down. He did not purchase a drink or have a backpack. He sits down and a girl hurries over from a different table asking if he wouldn’t mind switching seats with her. But he says, “I was sitting on the couch for a long time and I have been waiting for this seat.” The girl, disappointed, says okay and leaves.

The man, maybe in his early thirties, takes out his phone and its charger. Everyone’s relieved that he is taking advantage of the best seat in the house. In the corner, by himself, he starts messing with his phone.

He waited for that seat not because he wanted to text his friends, call someone important, call someone unimportant, check his email, listen to music, etc. No. He waited for that seat because he thought he could hide what he was doing. He faced the room and mostly me, with his screen facing the corner.

Porn. He was watching porn using Starbucks’ complimentary Wi-Fi. He was nervous, looking around making sure nobody knew what he was doing. In his creepy dark sunglasses and his business casual attire, he was sitting in a dark, public room watching porn.

I’m not even going to elaborate on my disgust with porn in general. I’m just commenting on this man watching it in a crowded public place at 2:00 P.M. As a feminist, I was offended. I am still offended. I wanted to throw things at him. I wanted to confront him. I wanted to tell him to get the fuck out. There were kids in that room. He was lucky none of their parents or tutors were sitting where I was. I wanted to yell at him and tell him that his behavior was disrespectful and unacceptable. Maybe, sir scumbag, you don’t share my values or beliefs or whatever, but your actions are not okay.

But I didn’t say anything. I wish I had said something. I just shot dirty looks and he definitely saw them. He tried to hide his screen more. So he turned his chair and was facing me. I put on my over-sized sweater. He noticed my dirty looks. He left.

I don’t really care what people say about male sexuality. I don’t really care about any of it.
We live in a civilized world. People can control their desire to eat (which is something totally necessary for  health and survival). You can control your obsession with sex. And if you find it too dificult, there are treatment centers for that. Use them.

The world is a shared space. You may find corners in which you think you’re totally alone, but the truth of the matter is, your actions and you are never truly hidden. Your actions affect other people.


Words Behind Bars

There is so much to say,
But so little silence.
So many thoughts –
But sleep creeps in, and then they are lost
Lost, lost, lost forever in dreamland.

Every confusion, every mistake –
Speaks and never ceases to attack
The helpless mind, that has no alternative but to call it a day,
Admits defeat, but refuses to quit trying…
Tomorrow, tomorrow:  thoughts will be free.

But there is no time to let one’s mind wander.
And there is so little courage to grant freedom to words.
Everyday, tedious tasks occupy ninety-nine percent of our thinking faculties,
Everyday, our own judgmental inclinations seal our lips and freeze our tongues-
Yet we continue to justify our silence to ourselves,  claiming it arises out of fear of criticism from others.

Thus, words remain behind bars.
Thoughts remain in compartments in our hearts.
They are factors in our decision-making processes, our value judgments, our emotions.
They define our perception of the world, yet they are buried, hidden, obscure, personal.
They define our relationships with others, ourselves, our surroundings.
So powerful, so secret, but yet so universal.


Stress

Sitting in a room that is vibrating with stress:

Individuals biting their nails, pulling at their hair, forcing their sleepy eyes to remain open…

Hoping for time to freeze, if only for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, or forever.

But the clock bell tower rings promptly every hour.

Time goes on and on and on.

The only thing to do is accept reality: Life doesn’t wait for anybody.

Things happen whether we’re ready for them, or not.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life — It goes on.” – Robert Frost

 

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Society is wrong – You ARE beautiful.

It is truly sad that we live in a society where women are constantly told that they are not enough: they’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, young enough, smart enough, strong enough, good enough…
They’re told by the media and society in general – that they are not enough because they don’t look like the young women Hollywood has created through crazy, unnatural means.

Beauty is not: crazy liquid diets that do not provide enough nutrients to the body, insane work out routines created by personal trainers that require hours at the gym and lots of money, getting rid of all of your imperfections through surgeries and loads of make up…
Beauty is not defined by Hollywood’s standards.
Beauty is natural – beauty is loving the body you were born in, being proud of the knowledge you have acquired throughout the years and the work you have accomplished, being confident.
Beauty is God-given, and it lacks nothing.

There’s nothing wrong with dieting, working out, using make up. But these are things that are supposed to enhance either our health or our best qualities. They are not meant to consume our lives and help us look like the girls we see in magazines.

Sometimes I like to stand back and “people watch” on a busy street – there is so much you can tell about a person’s self image from the way they hold their head, address awkward situations with strangers, and the way they smile.

I live in a college town, so most people are in their early to mid twenties, and even these young women do not seem to love their bodies and minds. During my “people watching” sessions, I notice how many, many young women keep their heads down while they walk, staring at the pavement. They avoid eye contact not because they are in a hurry (I assume they are not, since they are walking fairly slowly), but because they lack confidence. They don’t smile. They are very apologetic when their umbrella slightly touches a man’s coat. When they trip over something and quickly catch their balance, they look around to see if anyone had seen them stumble a bit. I met a girl today, actually, who asked me what I was studying. I told her, and she replied “oh, I would like to study that but I’m too dumb for that…” I proceeded to try to convince her that that was not true. I’ve seen this girl before, she was rather quiet, and probably not society’s definition of “beautiful”. I continued to speak to her and she later opened up and was full of laughter, clever remarks, and insightful ideas.

There’s just something about society’s notion of beauty that irritates me so much.
I’m young, I’m healthy and thin, a little over average height, and pursuing my dreams.
And occasionally, I catch myself thinking  “I wish I was pretty…”
I worked as a model for a short period of time, basically hired for looks.
I ponder: If I’M insecure, what about others? What about those girls who have never been told they are pretty? What about those girls who have been through accidents that have left them changed? Can we ever truly feel like we’re GOOD enough in today’s world?

And why do men get to set these standards? Why does a woman feel inferior to a system that is dominated by the other gender and its standards?

If women cannot get the attention they require and deserve from the men in their lives, we as women must give other women the attention. There’s just something about being told you’re beautiful. (For example, I was at a store with my boyfriend and I saw this girl who I thought was so very pretty and I knew she probably didn’t even know it, so I told her. She felt slightly uncomfortable (and so did my boyfriend), I could tell, but her face lit up and she smiled.) Beauty is not measured in years, kilograms, or the number of compliments received by men. Beauty is everywhere. We have to love the bodies we’re in, and teach other women to love themselves, too. People only demand the respect they deserve when they know their self worth, which makes self-love a priority.

Just for information: I have nothing, absolutely nothing, against men. There are men in this world who are more loving than any woman I have ever met in my life. I have been blessed with a wonderful young man in my life, and our relationship would never have worked out had I not learned to love myself first. Happiness truly does come from within, and the relationships we build are where we share our happiness with those we choose to love.

Society is wrong – You are beautiful. 
“Be kind to yourself – you only have one body, one life, and only the moment to live it” – Olivia Coyne