Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WALKING IN OTHER PEOPLE'S SHOES



What do you do when you need to get a new blog post out but are tired like hell and don’t have much time because you promised your friend that you will bake a pineapple cake for her!?

The answer is: Let someone else do your dirty work! In this particular case I don’t mean a guest blogger (sadly, even I’m not able to produce them on such a short notice), but an interesting article you found on-line. Make your readers read that, throw in some commentaries, and voilà – your work is done, at least for the week!

Please, take a minute to read this article about a Christian obstetrician, who is trying to explain to the public why he not only performs abortions, but is in fact one of few doctors who perform them up to the 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights is currently a hot topic for me, not only because I’m a woman who could get pregnant (I mean, duh!), but also because I was recently unfriended on Facebook by a former colleague, who apparently felt that our beliefs and values were too different to be friends anymore. He is a conservative Catholic and I have always been very open with him about the fact that I’m neither Christian, not conservative. For a past couple of years, I did my best to ignore his FB statuses that were trying to explain women why they shouldn’t get an abortion even if the pregnancy is a result of rape (just in case you didn’t know: God knows what He is doing and if He considers you strong enough to handle such a thing, you are supposed to see it as a precious gift).

Those of you who know me personally can probably imagine how hard it was for me to keep my mouth shut.

But what did I get in return for trying to be tolerant and accepting of people’s diverse beliefs!? My friend, instead of showing the same courtesy, proceeded to bitch underneath statuses where I shared MY views and even posted stuff on my wall that was supposed to show me the error of my ways. When I proved hard to convert, he unfriended me.

See, that’s the fundamental difference between people who have their beliefs yet are still capable of looking at an issue from another perspective, and people who can’t.  

My ex-friend might be surprised to learn that despite of being a fierce pro-choice supporter in public life, privately I’m more or less convinced that a fetus has a soul (and therefore counts as a very tiny human being) from the moment of conception. Spiritually, it makes the most sense.

However, unlike of my ex-friend and millions of fundies out there, I don’t feel that the whole world is obligated to follow my beliefs and values. And when I think about issues like reproductive rights, I’m trying my best to see it from multiple perspectives, to learn from history, and to look around how it works for folks in different cultures. Which is why, if I had that kind of power, I wouldn’t even think about making abortions illegal, because if you look hard enough, you clearly see that on the long run it doesn’t do anybody any good. (And no, you will NOT save lives. Women, who can afford it, will simply go to get the procedure done in another country; and those who can’t, will do it themselves with a knitting needle, which in many cases will result in a loss of the fetus AND the mother. Proven numerous times thorough the history of the humankind.) What I would do, if I had that kind of power, would be distributing contraceptives generously and freely to everyone who was interested, and providing sex ed in schools that actually taught adolescents how to use condoms instead of trying to convince them that premarital sex was a sin. But hey, that’s America for you!

And that’s why I was so impressed with Dr. Willie J. Parker’s story. He is a wonderful example of a person capable of seeing beyond his ego. He has my respect and admiration, and I certainly pray that the fundamental religious right won’t try to assassinate him any time soon!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

OPRESSED BY A LIPSTICK, PRESSED POWDER, AND SMOKY EYESHASDOW PALETTE




I’m mostly comfortable with my position of the Counseling, Adult, and Higher Education Department’s pain in the ass, but as a very social person who puts a great deal of importance on friendships and community, I’m also trying (believe me or not) to choose my battles and not be a pain in the ass about EVERYTHING. Just about things that are, you know, important (to me, anyway).

Which is why I restrained myself from commenting on an article shared a while ago by a classmate on Facebook, because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and figured that I will have plenty of opportunities in the future to let the world how I feel about the subject.

I swear that by now I forgot both who wrote it and who shared it. It didn’t annoy as much as amused me, because the title promised a fight against the oppression of women in our country, yet when I clicked on it, it was all about Target. Long story short, the author went shopping to Target, noticed some ads in the cosmetics department, and got struck by an epiphany: The cosmetics department in Target was “the most oppressive” place for women that can be! The rest of the article was dedicated to planning how to fight this terrible form of oppression.

Well. I might have mentioned in some of my previous columns that one of the reasons why gender equality is an area where I’m at odds with not only most of my classmates but even some of our professors (as much as I normally adore them) is that my operational definition of the word “oppression” tends to differ from the counseling majority. You see, when I hear the term “oppression of women,” I tend to picture trivial events like, say, the abduction of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria; while multiculturally sensitive counselors focus on the real shit, like for example cosmetics ads that oppress women by sending the message that women are supposed be pretty. And we all know that wanting to be pretty is a big no-no, because it makes us chicks sexual objects!

Ugh. Well, I didn’t comment on the article but the thoughts hasn’t left my brain; when I was thinking about what to write about this weekend, it all came back to me (quite possible because I visited Ulta a couple of days ago and allowed the society to oppress me by buying a new lip gloss).
But I didn’t save the link to the original article, which was a bummer. Frustrated, I went on-line and out of curiosity typed into my search engine “cosmetics ads are oppressive.” Well, let’s just say that I got more than I wished for…

It’s not that I can’t see why makeup could become a symbol of oppression for many chicks out there! It totally can – just like everything else. I spent most of my adult life on frozen dinners and/or tomato salads because I categorically refused to learn how to cook. Based on my experience when I was growing up, cooking was what housewives did and I felt obligated to convince everybody, myself included, that I would better be dead than a housewife. Cooking became a symbol of oppression and it took me several years to reach the conclusion that I could be an independent, liberated, strong woman and still cook for myself – and even for my boyfriend every now and then, back when I still had one!

I believe that the whole fuss about cosmetics is based on the same principle. If a woman decides that she is tired of the pressure to look beautified at all times and quits, I’m the first one to applaud her. However, once she decides that her experience is so empowering that ALL WOMEN should start following in her footsteps, we have a problem.

For example this aquaeyes77 chick, who feels so strongly about the whole business that she named her article “Makeup is Opression - End of Story” (just in case you were thinking about arguing with her), and who is not shy with using the plural: Makeup is an addiction fed on insecurity – we keep buying and wearing because we get used to our "makeup face" and begin to think the way we look without out it on is inferior to the way we look in dolled up form. Which is mentally unhealthy when you think about it - we're rejecting our true appearance.”

Why does she feel the need to apply her experience to ALL female population is beyond me, but that’s humankind for you – always full of mysteries. P. S. I don’t believe that my naked face is “inferior” to my made-up one, but guess what? I still like using makeup and having fun with it!

Seriously, people, why is it necessary always make such a cultural war out of everything?! Last time when I was in Target, I didn’t notice a guy with a machine gun patrolling the premises and threatening to shoot every woman who doesn’t purchase at least one cosmetic product! Yes, the ads are stupid, but that’s advertisement: Ads for cosmetics try to convince you that you will be more beautiful if you buy the product, just like ads for Honda Accord Coupe try to persuade you that you would be way cooler in this car than in any other, and ads for Viagra – well, you get the message. That’s what advertising does! I’m not saying that I don’t get irritated by it (in fact, commercials are the main reason why I haven’t had a TV for most of my adult life and intend to keep it that way), but neither do I feel the need to make a bigger deal out of it than it deserves. Or do you, dear reader, truly believe that our society doesn’t have bigger issues than whether chicks should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to wear lipstick?!

This is how I see it: If you don’t like it, don’t wear it! End of story.