Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Feminist Notebook

In honor of International Women’s Day 2017 I thought I would compile a list of causes, books, and online resources that seek to promote equality and educate the population. Feel free to check out any or all of my notes below.

Definition of feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes

Background:

History of International Women’s Day: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About

Information about the Women’s March and the Day Without A Woman Strike: https://www.womensmarch.com/

Worthy Causes:

Planned Parenthood: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/
Take action against legislators who wish to defund.

He for She: http://www.heforshe.org/en
Watch Emma Watson’s United Nations Speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE

American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/

Speak out against inequality:

Find your PA Legislators: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

Find your House Rep: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Senator Phone List: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Feminist Reads:

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Or you can watch her speech of the same name here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc

A Little F'd Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger

Feminists Online:

Feministing: http://feministing.com/

Feminist Frequency: https://feministfrequency.com/
Everyday Feminism: http://everydayfeminism.com/

Reductress (satire): http://reductress.com/

The Everyday Sexism Project: https://everydaysexism.com/

Highlighted Historical Feminist:

Margaret Sanger

“Margaret Higgins Sanger (born Margaret Louise Higgins, September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966, also known as Margaret Sanger Slee) was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term "birth control", opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger

Feminist Quote of the Day:

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” -Rebecca West


Fight the good fight,

Beth

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Highlights

I had a really great year. Aside from all the tragic celebrity deaths and the tragic election, 2016 was definitely one for the books.

I want to remember all the great times I had this year, all the wonderful days with friends and family, and all the amazing new things I saw and experienced. So, I'm writing it all down (typing it up) and sharing it with you. Not to make anyone jealous, but so I can look back on this year and smile.

January

Became a copy editor for The Globe and loved every minute.
Saw great art at The Mattress Factory and Randyland with Vince and Taylor.
Started writing for The Odyssey.

February

Fell down in the street while walking to the symphony with Andrew, Carrie, and Alex but still had a great time.
Enjoyed working in the Honors Office with Victoria, Laura, and Katie.
Hiked 9 miles in Schenley Park on a warm day.

March

Went to New York City with Kris, Lindsey, Vince, and Taylor. Saw Something Rotten! and Phantom of the Opera.
Celebrated Andrew and I's anniversary over a tasty pie.
Struggled through my visual communication class.
Took Taylor home with me for Easter.

April

Shook Bernie Sanders' hand. Heard Hillary Clinton speak.
Helped Taylor's mom and cousin surprise her for her birthday.
Met Ben and Jerry.
Quit The Odyssey.
Said goodbye to Carrie and the rest of the 4th floor.

May

Hiked 6 miles to the Ohiopyle Overlook-one of my favorite spots.
Experienced Presque Isle beach for the first time. Built a sandcastle with Andrew and a random child.
Reunited with high school friends.

June

Bought a watermelon tube for pool lounging. A worthy investment.
Learned how to paddleboard at Lake Stonycreek.
Got my driver's license. Didn't get to use it much.
Enjoyed the majesty of Cooperstown, NY and Lake Otsego.

July

Saw Billy Joel in concert. Legendary.
Visited UVA, Monticello, and Montpelier. Felt colonial as frick.
Walked on the beach at Chincoteague. Bought a classic dad style baseball hat.

August

Enjoyed quality hammock time with Andrew.
Spent a wild and fun day at the zoo with my best friends from home.
Saw Halsey and Oh Wonder at Stage AE.
Moved back to college early to mentor freshmen.

September

Experienced the glory of The Milkshake Factory for the first time.
Started geocaching with Andrew.
Turned 19. Celebrated with fancy rolled ice cream.
Started my first internship with Active Cities.

October

Cast my absentee ballot for my first presidential election.
Started to figure out how radio works while hosting Vibes with Taylor.
Celebrated Halloween at The Mattress Factory while dressed like a 12-year old Girl Scout.

November

Started working on my first long-form piece for my reporting class. Learned more about Pittsburgh's parks than I ever thought I would.
Snuck into an event where Bryan Cranston was speaking.
Said goodbye to my Grandmother's house in New York.

December

Danced the night away at Victoria and Shawn's wedding.
Cherished my last semester as a copy editor for The Globe.
Took an end of the semester trip to Pamela's with the best college friends I could have ever hoped for.
Had a quiet Christmas with my parents and sister.
Enjoyed having time to read books again.

So there's the highlights. 2016 was a great year and I hope 2017 is just as good to me.

Love,
Beth


Monday, October 24, 2016

2016: Too important to mess around with 3rd parties

In case you missed it, the presidential election is less than a month away--and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not the only ones running to become the Leader of the Free World. This country has third parties, the most well-known are The Libertarian Party and The Green Party, and these parties do get some votes. People are voting for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, people are voting for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. And with what’s at stake in this election, that is dangerous. The next President will determine who takes the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. They will make decisions about the right’s of women, minorities, and the LGBT+ community. There’s a lot that could change after this election, not even taking Senate race into consideration.


Just to be clear, I think that the current two-party system of our country is deeply flawed. There is no way that two polarized parties can wholly represent the ideals of an entire nation. Having third parties makes sense, and the only way to slowly dismantle the two-party system is to vote for third-party candidates. Just, not this election.


Many of Johnson and Stein’s supporters are disenfranchised Democrats. People who are more liberal than Hillary Clinton and are looking for a more liberal candidate that is more exciting and better matches their interests. Many members of the Republican Party are also unhappy with Trump, but very few Republicans are turning to third parties as a solution. If these disenfranchised democrats turn toward Stein and Johnson, Trump gets a free ride to The White House.  And in this moment, nothing scares me more than the words “President Trump.” A man who’s only concrete plan, no pun intended, is to build a wall. A Trump presidency would be catastrophic for democracy in this country.


Often times it helps to look at the past to better understand what we’re dealing with. In the 2000 election Green Party candidate Ralph Nader split the vote with Democrat Al Gore and essentially allowed George W. Bush to obtain the presidency. Democrats were not united and that opened the doors for Bush, the president responsible for starting the war in Iraq and taking over 400 vacation days during his time in office.


This could happen now. If the Democratic Party does not unite behind Clinton we are in trouble. Trump supporters are extremely united. They will be at the polls when they open. They will bring their friends to vote with them. They will be vocal. If democrats are divided between Clinton, Johnson, and Stein they will lose the election and Trump will hold the highest office in the free world.


This election is too important. Now is not the time to dismantle the archaic two-party system. You may like Jill Stein, but there is too much at stake this year. Go to the polls Nov. 8 and vote, and maybe, just maybe, in four years we can start voting for the candidate we want--of any party--instead of voting against the candidate we don’t.


And if you are still undecided, it’s time to make up your mind.


www.iSideWith.com 

Peace and blessings,

Beth

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cultural Appropriation

Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows and calling them box braids, white people wearing bindis at Coachella, Pat Boone performing “Ain’t That A Shame” originally by Fats Domino, these are examples of cultural appropriation. When the cultural majority, in our society, middle and upper class white people, adopt aspects of a traditionally minority culture, such as African Americans, and claim that these ideas are their ideas.  The difficult aspect with cultural appropriation is that there is not a clear boundary between paying homage to a culture and appropriating it.

Many people make the claim that if a person grows up around a certain culture they are bound to adopt the traditions as their own, however this is not what cultural appropriation is. Cultural appropriation is the majority’s exploitation of the minority. And this affects everyone. When our society can still sell Native American Halloween costumes and describe them with phrases like, “whoop and holler in this rustic Native American adult costume this Halloween…” something is wrong. This goes beyond “cultural borrowing,” situations like this continue the perception that First Nations and Indigenous peoples are simply characters from the past, not people who are still a part of society. When popular music artist Miley Cyrus’ producers can say she wants her music “to feel black,” they are using the culture of an entire race to advance a rich white woman’s career. Maybe these don’t sound important but these misappropriations are more common than many people realize.

So what can the majority do if they want to use aspects of other cultures? Give credit where credit is due. If a white man wants to sing a traditional African spiritual, no one is going to stop him but he should be aware that he does not own the narrative of the song. If someone wants to dress up like a Native American for Halloween, they should be allowed to, after all this country does still have freedom of speech, but perhaps it would be worth taking the time to research why they wear the clothing that they do. Every bead on a Native American headdress means something. Take the time to learn what these aspects of culture mean before using them for your own. Don’t rob minority groups of their history and culture. The world is a beautiful place because of all the cultures it encompasses, respect will keep it that way.

Love,
Beth

Monday, August 15, 2016

Inclusive representation

Last weekend I sat down to watch a movie with my parents and older sister, a typical night for us. We decided to watch The Danish Girl, the Oscar-winning film about Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex/gender reassignment surgery.


Immediately my father expressed his displeasure with this choice of entertainment. The idea of watching a transgender woman’s transition made him uncomfortable.


Throughout the film my parents made little comments and jokes about Lili, they didn’t seem to understand the character or concepts in the same way my sister and I did.


This is not surprising. My sister and I are members of the Facebook-Twitter-Instagram-Tumblr generation. We see transgender people every day on social media. We know transgender people. We have classes together. We don’t pretend to be experts, but we are aware of the proper language to use when speaking about transgender people and the entire LGBTQIA+ community.


Because we see these people regularly, we are comfortable with them. Our parents, not so much. My parents were born in the mid-60s, they saw the first interracial kiss on TV, they saw Ellen come out on her sitcom. The progress was slow, but it was there.


However, the sources that my parents use to gather news and entertainment still have a long way to go. These are people who get their news from the morning paper, the evening news, and the headlines that scroll across Comcast’s homepage. In 2015, there were approximately 14 depictions of transgender people on film and television. Fourteen.


Representation matters. Representation everywhere matters.


When LGBTQIA+ individuals are included in mainstream media, acceptance and understanding will follow. When my parents can turn on their TV and watch a movie about a man who identifies as a woman and not joke about it, we will have real change. When conservative politicians stop policing people’s right to use public restrooms, we will be a better society. We need to keep learning and fighting until every human being, regardless of gender or ethnicity, has a seat at the table.


Here are some resources where you can learn more about representation in media:




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer daze

I let the watermelon juice drip down my lips and across my stomach, it’s sticky but I don’t mind. It’s summer, I’ll just wash it off in the pool.

As the sun washes over me I close my eyes and focus all of my attention on stealing as much of its warmth as I possibly can before winter comes again. There is no breeze and the heat hangs heavy in the air, a bead of sweat falls from my temple. This is my paradise. I live for these sunlit-summer days.

I reach for my book and read until I can’t bear the heat any longer. As I stand, my vision becomes blurry and black at the corners, the result of hours of sun and no water.

A few sips later and I’m ready. I take off my sunglasses and leap into the water, it embraces me like an old friend. Gone is my sweat, gone is the watermelon’s sweet juice, gone is my blurry vision, and everything is incredibly clear.

As my arms cut through the water I feel so free. My childhood instincts return, I am a mermaid, I am an Olympian. I duck under the surface and can hear only the bubbles of my breath and the movement of the tide I’ve created.

This is peace, there is nothing else like this. Let me just stay here forever.


Love,
Beth

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's going pretty well so far

Have you ever been having a great time and all of a sudden looked around you and thought; I could be in a movie montage right now?

There have been so many times I’ve been surrounded by friends, or in the midst of a breathtaking view, or walking hand in hand with my boyfriend, and I’ve had to stop and take in how perfect it all is.

Even now as I sit outside and type this, looking at the sunlight sparkle on my pool, I just have the overwhelming feeling that life is good.

I’ll admit, when I was moving out of my dorm this past April I was worried about this summer. I knew I was going to miss all the wonderful friends I had made and I also knew I would miss the fact that I didn’t need to rely on anyone.

At school it didn’t matter that I didn’t have a car (or a license), it didn’t matter if I stayed up until 2 a.m., it didn’t matter if I wanted to go to Chipotle three times in one week. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to.

So yeah, I was worried about losing all of that freedom. And this summer hasn’t been a complete walk in the park. I still have to deal with my less-than-amazing minimum wage job, the struggle of trying to get my driver’s license, and the fact that I really do have to ask my parents for permission before I do things. Yes, I also realize that these problems are incredibly small.

This summer has had a few hiccups but honestly, I’ve never been happier. My friends are wonderful, I’m in love, I’ve seen and done so many beautiful things, and I know it’s just the beginning.

Being home after a whirlwind year of college is difficult at times, and it’s easy to become disheartened because of that. My advice? Make the most of it. College is fun, but college is hard. We need to enjoy this precious time the best we can. I know I am.


Love,
Beth