Tuesday, February 17, 2009

White Privilege or More Racism?

After reading the essay "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack", I realized how ignorant and focused on race the author, Peggy McIntosh really is. She equates "white privilege" with the idea that men in society do not realize that they have privileges over women. She fully believes that just because she is white, she's inadvertantly being racist. Does this mean that she also believes all men in society to be sexist? Racism is a choice that a person makes. White people cannot be held accountable for what their ancestors did and neither can they be held accountable for what other people in society do. Yes, one can make a stand if they, as a white person, gets a raise when another co-worker who is African American deserved the role more. However, getting that raise does not make that white worker a racist or more privileged. It merely shows that racism is still alive in today's society. How can one person's decision to not give someone of another race a loan yet give a loan for the same thing to a white person make that white person who received the loan a bad person? It just doesn't make sense. I am not fully disagreeing with McIntosh in the fact that white people are more privileged, but I competely disagree with her in the fact that she claims it is all of white people's faults.

The other essay, "Defining Racism" also made me quite angry. It is true that there are many communities in the United States that are segregated, and this needs to be changed. I'm happy that teachers are bringing up the subject of race more and more to students because they do need to learn about differences in race. They do not need to be going off of just what they've heard or seen about other races through media. For example, in the essay "Defining Racism", the story of the girl who was surprised to hear that Cleopatra was actually a black woman and proceeded to say, "That can't be true. Cleopatra was beautiful!" I'm not sure where this student was or what time period this was, but she obviously had never thought of black women as beautiful. This is horrible!!! You can't decide whether or not someone is beautiful based on race. I've seen tons of black women who are ten times more gorgeous than I could ever hope to be. Students should be presented the differences from a young age and taught to accept them.

There is racism in society, but we cannot place the blame on the entire white population. These essays are just pushing the idea that we are all guilty when one person or a group of people do wrong. It seems to me that these two authors are turning the racism around onto their own race in order to be "politically correct" and not in any way helping to correct racism in this country.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Say it with me now...


When did this word become a dirty word in society? Yes, it's something not often used in "polite company", but when did it become something to protest?

Tonight, at the opening show of "The Vagina Mnologues" collected by Eve Ensler, protestors appeared across the street in full force. Their main fight being that this was degrading to women, sinful, vulgar, and supporting abortion. 


Someone please explain this to me. These monologues are about women speaking out against violence against women. The message of this play is not "Pussies unite against men and destroy the dominiant social order!". While there may be the funny monologues like "My Vagina is Angry", there are also the monologues like "Say It". This piece is a very compelling monologue about the women stolen from countries surrounding Japan during World War II in order to be used as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers. Many of these women were beaten, mutilated, and systematically raped for most of WWII. These "Comfort Women", as they were referred to, were returned to their countries after the war as dead, lifeless, infertile, broken shells. At least, those that survived were returned. 

People don't understand that this play isn't just about women getting to flaunt words like "vagina" and "cunt" and "coochie snorcher". This is about helping people to see and understand that there is violence against women out there and that we have to do something about it. 

If you haven't read or seen this play, then do so. You might not agree with it, you might absolutely despise it, but still give it a shot. Try to understand what this play is trying to achieve. If you still don't agree with it, then, by all means, stand outside and protest against us. I may not be comfortable with everything in the play, but I understand what it is that it is fighting against, and I stand beside that. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I will no longer be an Iron Maiden.

What thoughts does the term Iron Maiden raise in your mind? A torture device? Pain? Struggle? Hopelessness? All of the above?

That's what women are being subjected to by the media. Yes, it sounds oh so very feminist, but it's true. So many women today hate their bodies because of the images that they see on TV, in magazines, in movies. It's ridiculous. I know that, growing up, I hated my body. Everything about it needed to be changed. I had thighs that were too big, my nose was too crooked, one of my eyes was bigger than the other one, my breasts were too small, the zit on my forehead was visible from space and would ultimately banish me forever. The list goes on and on. I had fallen to what advertisements that had been airbrushed and "prettied up" were telling me was wrong with myself. I had non-existant self-esteem going into high school and never found any until at least my sophomore year when I realized that not everyone was this perfect beauty that the media was shoving down our throats. Looking back at it now, I'm so disgusted by what I thought of myself back then. I thought I had fat on me. Today, I weigh around 96 pounds. I've never reached 100 in my life. AND I THOUGHT I WAS FAT! I bought into the lie that I'm not supposed to have even one percent of fat count on my body. This was the ideal of beauty. 

But it's garbage.

That was my personal experience with the media, but women and young girls aren't the only ones subjected to this type of thing. Men are, also. They have to be handsome, charming, rich, popular, smart, and well-bred in order to be deemed successful in today's culture. They have to leap through hoops because that's what they think will get them a girl that's also the culture norm. 

In all, the essay "The Iron Maiden:  How Advertising Portrays Women", hit this nail on the head and drove it home in one fell swoop. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to go burn all of my clothes, makeup, and hair supplies then don a burlap sack. I like those things. The idea that this essay is trying to get people to understand is that these things should not be what cause our self-worth. Men shouldn't feel that they need a six pack and a six digit salary to get a woman, and women shouldn't feel that they need the drop-dead gorgeous body of a model and great hair to get a man. The amount of clothes we own, the amount of makeup we wear, the way we style our hair; all of this should be done because we want to better ourselves or have fun, not because we feel that these things are what make us. 

What I know, is that I will no longer be an Iron Maiden to fit myself into a society whose ads are built on lies.

The Beloved French Thespian Girl (a.k.a. Ielense)