Dr. Phil, Feminism, and Hands

In two of my classes this week, we’re talking about gender and related topics.  One, an education class, is about diversity and differences in education.  The other, contemporary art, is about feminism in art, starting in the ’60s and ’70s (although we touched on earlier movements a bit, they aren’t as key in the visual arts).  Of course, this has me thinking more than I usually do about social justice.  Really, I think about it a lot, but now it’s a lot a lot.

My assignment for the education class was to make a poster about the female gender, stereotypes, expectations, etc.  With only Time, National Geographic, and a few AARPs and AAAs, I had no problem filling the posterboard with images and words cut from the pages of these admired magazines.  At first, I thought I might have a problem, because they don’t have the typical models and fashion ads and sex tips that other magazines do (Cosmo, anyone?).  Well, I worried for no reason.  They were full of plenty of images of women, though rarely in “important” roles like the men they featured.  Women, in the ads and articles, were portrayed as emotional, needy, pretty, caretakers, and, well, feminine.  Other posters from the women in the class (the men are presenting theirs tomorrow) included similar themes, along with more overt sexual images and language.  The men in the class mostly seemed to realize that this could be a problem, especially after reading some articles about girls and education.  However, one man continuously made comments about how he was “enjoying the view” and liked the posters.  I found this offensive, but he was too far away for me to say anything directly.  I think, however, that I will talk to the (female) professor and ask her to address such situations immediately in the future.  We had another comment earlier in the semester from a woman in the class, speaking about Toddlers and Tiaras, saying that the dad was “supposedly not gay” and implying that, in fact, you could tell someone was lying about their sexual orientation through a TLC show and that only gay men could encourage their daughters in beauty pageants.  This, I thought, was a bit of a problem, but everybody let it slide and the professor kept talking.  Next time, I will speak up, I think (though it’s hard for me to do with my psych issues; I’d rather just blog about it).

Oh, the hands in the title.  The professor of my art class today, after a brief discussion of feminism, asked if anyone identified themselves as being feminist.  No hands were raised.  Later, after some more explanation and a bit of a “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” attitude, everyone’s hands raised.  The most surprising part to me was that the class is all women, except for one man who, after prodding, joined the class as a feminist (even before some of the women did).

Why wouldn’t someone want to identify as a feminist?  Because the group is wrong, of course.  At least, it is according to this opinion piece on the Fox New website (which, by the way, is absolutely ridiculous).

Last night, driving home from school, the radio was on.  I was kind of listening, and an ad for Dr. Phil came on.  It was about a woman and her sister (we’ll call them A and B for clarity).  Well, A, apparently, had relationships with men.  B, apparently, liked to ruin them by having sex with the men.  Eventually, A got married.  B moved in with A and her husband.  And then B had sex with the husband.  Multiple times.  And all Dr. Phil had to say about it (at least on the ad; I didn’t watch the show) was that maybe the sisters needed some distance.  The way it was presented implied that it was all B’s fault.  What about the men?  They do tend to have control of whether or not they have sex with someone (sure, B could be a serial rapist, but that’s highly unlikely and should have been mentioned if the sex wasn’t consensual).

This brings light (though dim) to an issue that pervades our culture:  the idea that “boys will be boys” and that men have no control over their sexual practices, that it’s always the woman’s responsibility to make sure a condom is on, that rape victims are “asking for it” by what they wear (except in rare, hypothetical situations of rape fantasy, this is simply a stupid and harmful idea, at best).

That’s really a bad ending, but I don’t have anything else to say right now.  I’ll be back, though, don’t worry.  And I’ll certainly have more to say.

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The Flu

Last weekend, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was at camp.  It was a lovely time.  I held the camp baby, made a cookie with her three year old brother, failed at melty beads, watched toboggans, ate yummy food, and made friends with campers.  Then, I went home and taught Sunday school Sunday morning, took a nap, and probably did some other stuff, before waking up Monday with a cough.  It wasn’t too bad.  Until the afternoon.  By 4:37ish, I had a fever, lots of pain, bad coughs, headache, dizziness, and general ickiness.  I went to the doctor, where they x-rayed my chest to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia and stuck a giant Q-tip up my nose to confirm the flu.  The latter was positive.  I had influenza b.

Now, it’s been almost a week, and I feel a lot better, but I still have a cough, some aches and pains, and my front bottom teeth hurt.  I don’t know if that’s related, but I thought you’d like to know.  This flu is mean.  Last Tuesday, I was supposed to work at Goodwill, go to a knitting meeting, hang out with a friend, and go to the dentist.  My attendance at all of those, of course, was cancelled.  I was also planning on going to my cousin’s house to do art with her five kids, but now it’s too late and I’ll have to wait.  Hopefully, I can make it work for spring break, but I don’t know.

Also, school is being stupid.  My adviser knows nothing about the education program, and I can’t find anyone who does who will talk to me.  Now, with about a week left before school starts, I’m considering switching schools or taking a semester off.  This is not what I want to do, but if they’re going to be stupid about it, I don’t really have a more logical choice.

On the plus side of this flu, I’ve done some stuff out of boredom.  I made a few cards and wrote some letters in them, made a few macrame bracelets, started my brother’s Christmas present (a macrame necklace), played a bit of Pokemon and a bit of the Sims Medieval, did some word and logic puzzles, and watched hours of Ancient Alien Astronaut Theories on the History Channel (I may have been at least partially asleep through most of those, though, because, let’s face it, those shows are stupid and the narrator’s voice is sleepy).  I also managed to put some new podcasts and things on my iPod and have been listening to those the last couple days.  I quite enjoyed Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life.  There was also one that mentioned Little Free Library, which is a really awesome nonprofit you should probably check out by clicking the handy dandy little free link I provided.  That got me started, again, on thinking about the nonprofit I want to start and looking into things to do with that, like other organizations and how to start a business plan and all that jazz…but then I got bored and tired, so I rested and haven’t returned to that stuff yet this afternoon.

Well, I’m getting tired of this, so I think I’ll go find something else to do.

Apples

I am eating an apple.  It’s kind of difficult to type while eating an apple.  But that’s not going to stop me!  Adversity?  I laugh in the face of adversity!  Hahahaha!

Granted, that adversity is mild and self-imposed…but still…I laugh…rhetorically…

Alright, apple is in my belly and trash can now and I can type properly.  What shall I type about?  This always is the question.

Oh, I know.  There was this little thing called a national election yesterday.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.  President Obama has been elected to another four years in that office.  There were many notable races for other offices throughout the country, but I’m not going to type about that today.  After all, that’s what the news is for.

What I will type about in regards to politics is my new plan for world domination…I mean…something that sounds less bad…I noticed that, on the ballot in my area, many of the races were uncontested.  The incumbent, in most cases, or somebody new who was in that same party, was the only option (besides write-in) for most of the local and state offices.  This is fine.  In fact, it may even be good.  For me.  And my world domination plans.  You see, by simply getting onto the ballot and being in the opposite party, I would have a fairly decent chance at getting quite a few votes.  In an area where a few votes are the total…well…I could, conceivably, win.  Of course, with some advertising and campaigning, that likelihood would increase.  By starting at the local level and building a name for myself, getting to the state level wouldn’t be too difficult (really.  Don’t argue this point.  It’s undeniably true).  After that, it would be only a matter of time before I was elected to national office…and then…THE WORLD!!!!!!  Yup, that’s my plan and my goal.  The sheep from Alaska will rule the world! Muahahahahaha.  Plus, as we already established in this post, adversity will not stop me.  I will not give up.  I will take over.

Seriously, though, I could run for local office or state senate or something without too much trouble, theoretically.  At least until someone found this post about taking over the world and took it out of context and turned it against me.  Then I might have some difficulty.  But I could still pull through.  Maybe I should give up on my teaching aspirations and start politicking.  I think, though, that I could do more good without running for office.  Like use that theoretical money to start up my nonprofit.  Or finish my education and be an excellent teacher.

That was a relatively short post, but I think I’m done for now.  Perhaps more will come this afternoon.  Then again, perhaps not.  We shall see.

 

Words from a teacher and Person-first language

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am currently taking a class on special education.  It’s an introductory course, and I already have background in a lot of the topics because of my psychology and art therapy courses.  This makes the class rather easy but still informative (in the specifics of educational laws and functioning).  The professor has years of experience in the field of special education, teaching children in public schools and education students in universities.  She seems fairly knowledgeable on the subjects we discuss and doesn’t generally make mistakes.  Until today.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that people aren’t allowed to make mistakes or misspeak.  However, basic understanding of the proper use of terms one is using to teach is, I think, a fairly reasonable expectation.

Today, our lecture was about emotional and behavioral disorders (also known by many other terms, but that’s the gist of it).  When we got to the definition part, which was quite early in the short class, the professor began talking about the federal definition and other definitions of various organizations and such.  Well, the federal definition, apparently, includes an exclusion for social maladjustment, such as “conduct disorder–aggressive, disorderly, antisocial behavior.”  Besides that wording and punctuation being a bit odd, the professor’s explanation did not properly address it.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting the statement, but it seems to me that, especially with that combination of words (conduct disorder, aggressive, etc.), the antisocial behavior mentioned is just that–antisocial behavior.  My professor, however, seems to think that antisocial behavior means social awkwardness and avoidance.  Although this is a popular interpretation of the word antisocial, it is an actual disorder, with a specific set of antisocial characteristics and behaviors.  It is my understanding that, when discussing diagnostic things, one should use the correct diagnostic definitions.  In this case, antisocial behavior is obviously behavior that is against society, not simply unsocial.  My professor did not address any of the other words in the exception of the category.  It bothers me that people don’t understand things like this and perpetuate such misunderstandings in their teaching.

This wasn’t a major incident, but it did remind me of another post I’m working on, so I thought I’d talk about that topic now, too.  That topic, which this particular professor seems to enjoy emphasizing, is person-first language.  Basically, person-first language means that, when describing someone, you should put the person or humanizing adjective before a disability or disorder.  For instance, instead of saying something like “The autistic boy went to McDonald’s,” you would say “The boy who is autistic went to McDonald’s.”  The purpose of this is to emphasize the human aspect and deemphasize the label, reducing negative connotations and focusing on commonalities.  This seems fine and dandy, but I’m not convinced.  First of all, from a purely linguistic point of view, the wording is, well, off, and seems to emphasize that there is a difference.  In our language and culture, we generally say things like “the blonde girl,” “the good lawyer,” “the fat man,” “the distracted child,” while person-first language makes us think about this and, only for specific cases, makes us change the wording.  It is less common and more cumbersome to say “the girl who has blonde hair,” “the lawyer who is good,” “the man who is fat,” “the child who is distracted,” and people just don’t do it.  Moreover, it’s not suggested by person-first language.  At what point do we draw a line in rewording our descriptions?  Is “The German boy who has autism” better than “The German boy is autistic” (is versus has is another issue altogether) or “The boy who is German has autism” or “The boy with autism is German” or “The autistic boy is German” or any other combination of those words?  I think it depends on what one is trying to say, but I don’t believe any of those is inherently dehumanizing.  Should we say “The young male person of German heritage exhibits behaviors commonly associated with the set of symptoms known as autism”?  This rewording, to me, while well-intentioned, actually puts unneeded emphasis on the condition being discussed.

In addition, some communities, such as the Deaf community, do not approve of this type of language.  Deaf people, according to literature, would rather be called “Deaf people” than be called “people who are deaf” because they have a culture, a community, a language all their own, and it’s not dehumanizing to identify them as being a part of that.  In fact, it is empowering in many cases.

I’m not suggesting that every possible wording is okay in every circumstance, but I do think that the wordings we use should fit what we are trying to say.  There are also differences between saying “The depressed girl” and “The girl with depression” and “The girl who is depressed” and “The girl who has depression” but I don’t think one is inherently wrong or dehumanizing.  What can be dehumanizing is how people use the words.  “That guy is sooo bipolar,” for example, puts the person first but is still demeaning, while saying “The bipolar man shared his lunch” is not.

Sitting in Ceramics Again

This time, I’m done throwing.  I’ve trimmed four plates today (that I threw on Wednesday) and thrown four more.  Now, I’m waiting for those four to stiffen up so that I can trim them.  Then, I’m done with ceramics and won’t have to come in to the studio on the weekend!  Come to think of it, I won’t really have any school work I have to do this weekend!  I can sleep and craft and teach Sunday school and read and hang out with my family and eat ice cream!  But that’s not until tomorrow.  Right now, I’m waiting.  Oh, and doing the notes that are due at midnight for my special education class.  I’m taking a break from that, obviously, to write here.  I already finished and submitted one chapter; now I have one more to do.  This next chapter is a bit longer, but not too much.  Plus, the reading level of the book doesn’t make it very difficult, so I get through it pretty quickly.

Speaking of that book, one of the sections I read today about cultural diversity and disability as culture reminded me of a post I started yesterday.  I thought about it on the drive home and, instead of forgetting it as I usually do, I made a point to remember and type a couple of notes for it and save as a draft right away.  It’ll be a pretty interesting post, I think, hopefully.  But I’m not doing that right now, either.

I’m also not eating ice cream.  I’ve decided to stay in this building, mostly this room, until my plates are done so that I don’t lose motivation or “forget” to come back in time to do work.

So what am I going to write about now?  Ummm…good question.

Well, I’ve been listening to NPR the last couple days while driving as it helps me feel more…awake (?) and aware than listening to music.  I listened to the last 45 minutes or so of the presidential debate while driving home on Wednesday, and have heard quite a bit of commentary on it since (along with conversations about pets, TV shows, books, and other random things I don’t particularly remember).  That’s been interesting.  I don’t really have much to say about it.  What I tend to have things to say about are social issues, and that wasn’t covered too much.  Yeah, there was mention of Medicare and PBS, which are very interesting and important, but I just don’t have much of an informed opinion on the healthcare situation (more research needed), and PBS is obviously the coolest thing ever, so why would I need to argue about that?  I care about rights.  Human rights.  For everyone.  I care about education.  For everyone.  I happen to think that my views on human rights and education are a bit too different from Romney’s and the Republican party’s as a whole to vote for him, but I don’t really feel like discussing partisan politics right now right here.  What I do feel like discussing is the idea that everyone do the best they’re able to get informed (from the least biased resources they can find) about the issues they care about (and maybe even ones they don’t) and make a sincere effort to vote for people who share their views.  Whether that means voting for a school board member, the President of the United States, or anything in between, do it, whenever you can.  ‘Cause if you don’t, somebody else still will, and your opinions won’t really matter in some ways then.  That was a very poorly worded sentence, but I’m leaving it that way because I trust you know what I’m trying to say.

What else?  I’m hungry.  I could eat some fruit snacks or go to the vending machine to get something, but I don’t really feel like getting up right now.  I’m kinda comfy, and I want to stay that way.

I should probably get up and check my plates, but I’m sure they’re not dry yet, as I checked them about half an hour ago and they were quite moist.  Actually, some of them I just flipped then, so they’re definitely not ready.  I could start my notes for that special education chapter now, but then what would I do later?  I think I’m going to start working on that post I mentioned earlier, the one I had the idea for while driving and actually didn’t forget.  Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

Resources and Rededication

As I mentioned earlier, I got the book Quilting for Peace from the library.  It’s full of resources for people who want to quilt as a way of sharing their love with others.  This post comes in two parts:  resources for those of you (and me) who may be interested in crafting, particularly in activist or charitable ways; my rededication to and explanation of my hopes and dreams in this realm.

First, the resources, a very incomplete list of organizations and individuals, causes and complaints that can be served through arts and crafts (creating or purchasing).  I’m not sure how to organize the list, so I”m just going to start with some stuff from Quilting for Peace (by no means all the groups or ideas from the book, just some that have websites up) and then continue with other things I’ve found.  Maybe I’ll make it more organized later or something.  Mostly, use these as starting points for your own research and creativity.  Find local organizations to give to (shipping costs a lot), make sure you know about the credibility of a group before giving to them, and all that kind of stuff.

http://belovedquilts.blogspot.com/

http://heartstringsquiltproject.com/

http://homeofthebravequilts.com/

http://qovf.org/

http://andstillcounting.blogspot.com/

http://binkypatrol.org/

http://quiltsforkids.org/

http://newbornsinneed.com/

http://wraptheminlove.org/

http://firehousequilts.org/

http://morethanwarmth.org/

http://www.aidsquilt.org/

http://alzquilts.org/

http://blankettheglobe.net/

http://craftivism.com/definition.html

http://niadart.org/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/04/14/150494837/revealing-the-revolting-beauty-of-food-waste?sc=fb&cc=fp

http://www.quilts4kids.com/

http://www.knit-a-square.com/

http://www.threadproject.com/asp/project.asp

http://made4aid.org/

http://www.warmheartswarmbabies.org/

http://www.operationteddybear.ca/about/

http://www.projectlinus.org/

http://lovequilts2macs.homestead.com/LQHomepage.html

http://www.carewear.org/

http://bags4darfur.blogspot.com/2008/04/some-time-ago-blogger-friend-of-mine.html

http://www.afghansforafghans.org/

http://www.asg.org/html/giving.html

http://www.angelsforhope.org/

http://www.bundlesoflove.org/

http://chemocaps.com/

http://addiandcassi.com/curecaps/

http://curechief.com/

http://www.thehugsproject.com/

http://loveletterscares.org/

http://www.hillcrestcf.org/crafting/

http://www.motherbearproject.org/

http://www.stitchesfromtheheart.org/

http://www.touchinglittlelives.org/mission.html

http://www.halfknits.com/

http://craftyarncouncil.com/?q=warmup.html

http://about.me/knitsforlife

http://pinkorca111.wordpress.com/about/

http://threadsofhope.com.ph/index.html

http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/home/

http://millionmandalasforpeace.blogspot.com/

http://quiltsbeyondborders.wordpress.com/about/

http://www.artbeyondboundaries.com/

Well, I suppose that’s enough for now.  If you find that some of the links aren’t helpful or whatever, let me know so I can fix them.  I’ll be adding more, too, just not right now.

Now for the rededication part, briefly for now.  For years, I have had a dream of starting an arts nonprofit, possibly internationally, possibly within the US, to bring art to kids who don’t get it because of poverty, etc. and use their art to raise awareness of their situations, and maybe even raise money to help them.  I want to do more than give people stuff (of course, this is very needed work, too, and work I participate in frequently); I want to serve kids and help them help their communities.  If you have any ideas, suggestions, contacts, etc. that may be even slightly helpful, as ill-defined as this plan is currently, I would really appreciate your input.  I’ll add more details later; I’m trying to come up with a plan and really decide what I want to do.