INTERSECTING PERSPECTIVES

Hello everyone,

 

I have been thinking about perspective quite a bit over the last couple days, mostly after listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” and then the follow up criticism a few of my friends have shared over Facebook. Because there was some division between my interpretation, and the interpretation given in the criticism, I’ve spent all morning pondering which perspective is closer to the mark.

So here’s the divisive lines:

 

I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop

Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor

Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks

Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy

 

Make sure you watch at least this part of the video, so that you have some context for what the imagery displayed was (it’s at 1:43 minutes). What was your perspective on these lyrics? Are they sexist? I mean, an argument against Photoshop, in favor of a natural look isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, it is still telling women how to dress and looks, assuming this addresses women in the first place.

Now that you’ve gathered your thoughts on this set of lines, let me tell you the interpretations I have been struggling with. First of all, there’s the perspective that applies these lines to all women—as in, this is Lamar’s expectation for women, and even if he’s arguing against the mainstream media’s presentation of women, it is still narrow minded and does not actually make a difference. Women should be empowered for whatever decision they make—whether it is being all natural, getting plastic surgery, or whatever—rather than be judged as simply objects by men (and society). This isn’t an unfair assertion. I mean, look at the last line. It directly addresses the “you,” which can pretty safely be assumed to be women, speaking that Lamar is pretty clearly heterosexually inclined.

The other interpretation goes simultaneously less far and further. It stops at “he’s arguing against the mainstream media.” The allusion to Richard Pryor, an old, anti-establishment comedian, as well as the statement about Photoshop, indicates that his first three lines of this segment are perhaps not addressing women, but instead addressing those who portray women. Instead, he asserts that what people care about is the real look of a woman, over the superfluous tendencies the media puts upon them. It isn’t entirely a progressive view, since it does still objectify women to an extent, but it is less “anti-woman” through this perspective than through the previous one.

The video adds a significant amount of depth to the lyrics as well, showing the two faces of a woman—one apparently done up and whitened, in the way the media often prefers, the other lacking make-up, and so on. I’ve chosen to withhold which perspective is mine, and which is from Facebook, because I don’t want my personal perspective swaying you, the reader, one way or another. The irony is that sometimes even the most parallel perspectives will cross lines in the details. That’s what, in many ways, occurs here. But that’s why it is a discussion. Let me know your perspective in the comments!

——

 

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LOVE POEM #31 – CONFESSION

I have a confession to make

I think I love you.

And for once in my life,

Things might finally get better.

 

I love your eyes, I love your lips, I love your hair.

I love your kids, I love your hips; the way you stare.

The way you lie, the way you frown, the way you shout.

I love every single thing that you’re about.

 

I love your dad, I love your mom, I love your twin.

When your mad and when you’re bold and when you sin.

I love your white, your black and your blue and red.

I love your light, your back and your hue in bed.

I love the wine, the drinks; your tattoo dove.

And the signs you make to show your love.

I fucking love you.

 

And for once in my life,

I think,

Things might finally get better.

——

 

Hello there!

 

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DON’T LET THEM SERVE ME FIRST

“…and please, dear God, don’t let them serve me first” exclaimed Peter. Ann and Peter had been on the road for nearly three hours, on their way out to visit Ann’s parents in Minnesota. It was a frosty day, and nearly everything was covered in a layer of white snow.

“What? Why? Pete they’re going to love you,” said Ann.

“Well I hope they love me but what happens if I do something weird?”

“You’re not going to do anything THAT weird,” Ann rolled her eyes, “just do what we normally do back at home.” Ann was driving the car with her gaze on the empty road before her. It had been a quiet drive for the most part. There had been no traffic—in fact, had they not been in the heart of a city, one would have thought the roads to be completely abandoned.

“I can’t do what we do normally back home because normally back home I wear boxers to dinner,” Peter said, as he tried to contain a giggle behind his anxiousness.

“Ok, come on,” Ann chided, “you’re not a baby you know how to act appropriately at a table for dinner.”

“But what if your parents decide to say Grace?”

“They’re not going to decide to say Grace, they haven’t practiced any fo—“

“But what if they do this time!” Pete interrupted, “What if this time they decide they want to and I’d already started eating? I’d look like a savage idiot.”

“What do you care what you look like? Aren’t you always talking about how you’re the best businessman at meetings because you don’t care what people think about you?”

“Well, yeah, I mean, yes, you know, but it’s different,” Peter stuttered. He took a deep breath, then continued more fluently, “I care more about our relationship than some business meeting.” Ann looked at him with a playful sarcasm.

“Aw. Aren’t you sweet. But that’s all this is. My parents just want to see what you’re bringing to the table. And the bedroom.” A devilish grin crossed Ann’s face.

“The bedroom?” Peter’s eyes bulged, “what have they set up cameras? That’s a little creepy.”

“No you fuckin’ idiot!” Ann slapped Peter’s thigh jokingly, “like how you look. I know and you know that looks aren’t a huge deal or anything, but my parents care about the success of more than just their daughter. They also care about the family as a whole. If you were some feeble, cowardly guy, they’d want to give input.”

“Ok that’s fair, but I still don’t want to be served first.”

“Fine.” Ann paused, “you’re such a baby.” She reached over and pinched Peter’s cheek, then said in a babying voice “who’s my little baby? Hm? Petey’s my little baby.” Peter pried her fingers off his cheek and tossed her hand back at the steering wheel. He turned to pout at the window while Ann laughed. After that, they sat in silence for a little while.

“How much farther is it?” asked Peter.

“We’re actually just around the corner,” said Ann, “now I don’t want you making a bad first impression. So stand up straight, open the door for me, and carry the bags in.”

“Fine.” Peter slumped his shoulders. They turned a corner and drove up to see a couple standing out on the sidewalk.

“Look! There they are!” Ann pointed. She looked over at Peter with a glare, “Pete sit up. This is going to be a good time. Ok? Try to enjoy yourself. They gave us the guest room down the hall and everything so that we can enjoy ourselves. They realize we’ve been dating for a while.” Pete sat up and put a smile on his face.

“Yeah but they’ll love you no matter what,” he muttered to himself. The car came to a stop, and Pete smiled to Ann’s parents through the window, then hopped out of the car to get Ann’s door.

——

 

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BIRTHDAY POEM

Happy birthday my friend

Whom I barely know.

Birthday wishes I send

‘Cause you make my heart go.

I couldn’t get a gift

‘Cause I didn’t have time

So let me mend our rift

With some poetic rhyme.

You are so beautiful

With your lips and your hair.

You turn me to a fool

When we are together.

I cherish when we walk

To our class in the rain

Though every time you talk

You cleft my heart in twain.

For though I am a friend-

One I adore to be-

I’ll be sad in the end,

As my heart is for thee.

 

Though in truth you deserve

The most perfect of men.

One with a valiant nerve,

Who is more than a pen.

 

So write your own tale,

For the thing that makes you

Is that you don’t pale

When people speak untrue.

UNDER THE GLASS CEILING

I was sitting on a glass ceiling. The chairs and tables in the room were all lush and fashionable. The grandfather clock struck 3:30 as the meeting drolled on. At the head of the table, my boss was in a clean suit with a red tie reviewing the documents before him, while to my left the freshly hired Ms. Tilda—Tilly, as I call her, flicked her thumb and index finger nervously. The room was a work of art, to remind the people below that they had more to aspire to. In the room below, the scene is very different. Workers bustled about to and fro—some with papers, some with water jugs, some with carts of giant materials.

We were all at the water treatment facility in Arkansas. It’s an enormous, windowless building, with water tubes running throughout the building. Every room of the building, save the room I was in, had pipes throughout it, along the walls and the ceilings. Some rooms had so many pipes you couldn’t even see the ceiling above. The room below had almost none. There truth was that the two rooms were separated by a few feet—there were two “glass ceilings,” one for the room below, and one to make up the floor of the room I was in. The only way in or out of this room was by helicopter. There was a huge roof above us, with enough space for two choppers to land safely. In the room below, I could see my friend, Shirley, a brilliant woman on her way to the top, down below. She was ordering another worker to do something, and pointing at the door to the stairs. I was surprised that Tilly got the promotion over her—of course, deep down, I knew it was going to happen.

Shirley was an outspoken woman, and she was really forward. She and my boss clashed constantly. She was typically right, too, and while I argued to him that this was a good thing for developing our company to bring to meetings, he went in favor of the quiet Ms. Tilda. It probably helped that Tilda’s father and my boss were good friends. That, and the fact that she was gorgeous. She was five foot five inches, blond, and well toned. She had enough muscle to look fit, but not so much that it was intimidating. She had a soft face, she giggled at every joke, smiled constantly, and dressed well. Today, she was wearing a short, dark blue dress that was tight to her body. The dress itself stopped about 8 inches short of her knees—would you even call that a dress? I don’t know fashion very well. She constantly was pulling the bottom of the dress down to keep it from rolling too high, which I found quite comical. But, she certainly stood out, and I think our boss liked that. He, or the investors at the meetings, often shot her quick glances.

Of course, Tilly rarely spoke during meetings—not that she had been to that many. We had two meetings a week, and she had only been brought on a month ago. Normally there were an empty chair or two at meetings, but since Tilly had joined we have had to add a few chairs. She was the only woman in the room. Unfortunately, those days didn’t last. You see, there was an accident that day. At 3:35, the main pipeline backed up—we learned later that it was from a build up of plastic—and the pipes began to burst from the pressure. The building flooded. I remember it so clearly. Every room with a pipe must have flooded in minutes. The water pressure was so high, it forced the doors closed. The building was old, and our boss had neglected to put in the easy-open doors that Shirley had requested a year ago. I saw the water flood up below me through the glass ceiling. Shirley was down there, pulling frantically at the door. When she realized she couldn’t get it open, she started trying to plug the water flooding out of a pipe on the wall.

Eventually she had to start swimming, and we looked on in horror below as she, and other workers, were enveloped by water. I can still remember her hand banging on the glass, as the air bubbles popped from her mouth. The glass was industrial, made to withstand the harsh weather of the area. There was no way she would be able to break it—it was practically bulletproof. Eventually, the banging motions became slowed, until finally her arms drifted listlessly through the water, and the life drained from her eyes. Of course, we were all safe in our room. It was the only one separated from the main building. Tilly was crying. Our boss looked shocked. I wish I could say I felt the same, but as I looked at all the well-dressed men around me, I could only feel like this was their fault.

You see, that’s the problem with the glass ceiling. It lures people into the false sense that they can shatter it. But the reality is that they will just drown beneath it. They didn’t need a fancy ceiling, they needed a door. A real path out of that hell. But what kind of boss gives people a way out?

THE LAST GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

Alright, so, the third and final debate is out of the way and we get to discuss it. Now, hopefully things have digested in your stomach a little bit, and not given you too much indigestion, because talking about last night it certainly a curiosity. I’ll try to touch on both candidates today as quickly and succinctly as possible in my short time.

Ok, so let’s get down to it. Today I’d like to start on the left, with Hillary Clinton. She did a pretty good job as usual. Now, I know there are a lot of people that don’t like her, but it’s pretty hard to argue with how prepared she is for these speeches. I mean, her closing statement was pretty indicative of that—it was made up on the fly and sounded like it had been prepared two weeks in advance. That’s pretty hard to do, even for a professional improve actor. Especially when staying in line with policy. She was composed, firm, and stuck to positions that were backed up with evidence. The Wikileaks refutation she made, in which she pointed out that numerous US intelligence agencies have linked these leaks to direct hacks by the Russian government to sway the campaign trail is a great example. Another great use of factual evidence was in the comparisons between the two candidate’s tax plans, in which she cited several bipartisan economists as having backed her plan as the more likely one to create jobs and promote income for people.

Of course, not everything about her is perfect. She interrupted Trump more than I would have liked her to, because to me it seems to put things “in his court,” so to speak, but that doesn’t mean by any means she was a weak. Her interruptions seemed to knock Trump a little off balance at first, because she had been polite to him the first two debates. She was also very forceful in negating his position on abortion, where she didn’t challenge his obscene statements about “day before” abortions, and indeed asserted herself as not only a person well aligned with women’s healthcare, but also the struggles that women go through daily.

I know I am left leaning, but Hillary’s debate last night was phenomenal, even for a “normal” debate. Much less one where she had to juggle a guy who does not play by fair rules. And that’s, unfortunately I think for Republicans, what happened with Donald Trump. Trump’s debate was a weird one. He started out…well, worse than his second debate, but still less “off the charts” than we have come to expect. That being said, there was a turning point, and I think it’s because Hillary got under his skin. I mean, telling a candidate she does not deserve to vote? A vote that is a protected right? Day-before abortions? Now, regardless of your position on abortions, abortion does not happen the day before a child is supposed to be born, even in late pregnancies. And if it does happen as late in the term as Trump claims, it’s not called an abortion, because the procedure is different. It’s a C-section, or induced labor. And it’s done because there is a problem with the child. It might surprise you, but nature isn’t perfect. There are a number of babies that develop without brains, or that die in the womb. And if they aren’t taken out, the mother will die too.

None of this is fun or fair. There’s no “I got out of it.” And this is how Trump has built his campaign, and I think (I hope) that this will be why he fails. His debate last night because a microcosm for all the problems he has created. A lack of respect for citizens, a lack of respect for people in need, a lack of respect for people who have done good, and a lack of respect for people who do not bow to him. He’s acted like a dictator in this election, and in all honesty, the bullying, the lack of emotional control, and the whining are all indicative of this. Democracy is a hard thing. And it does not come without faults or compromise. And the only way to usurp that is to defy it—which is exactly what Trump has done.

This is dangerous to the America we aspire to be, even if we are not there yet. Let me know what you think. Is it unfair to say this about Trump? Why?

GENDER ROLES CAN BE GOOD

Hello everyone,

Isn’t today exceptionally nice out? Well, maybe not, but a day it is nonetheless. Anywho, I wanted to get away from politics today, and yet that is so difficult with how nonstop this election has felt. I mean seriously, just when we thought Trump couldn’t get any worse, that Access Hollywood tape came out. Now look at where we are. Anyways, today I’ve decided to steer away from politics as much as possible, and instead talk about something different.

Today we’re going to talk about gender roles. However, I am and have been very anti gender roles for most of my time writing on this blog. Specifically about the objectification of women and the role of a “passive woman.” Which I think is totally fair, but I realize that it’s important to look at how gender roles can be good sometimes too. So I’m going to try to put aside how manipulative, unfair, and cruel they can be and see what is positive that we can take away from them.

So what is good about gender roles? Well, although it devalues women as a whole, gender roles do in some ways provide a greater respect for women. For example, while professionally men are held higher, women often get a leg up socially. Phrases like “never hit a woman,” or “daddy’s little princess” come to mind here, in which the female life is being looked out for more than a male life. Women also harbor some more power in their sexual lives because they are not pressured to have sex constantly, which can allow for a greater separation between sexual desire and professional achievement.

For men, gender roles provide avenues in order to succeed. If nothing else, a man can always work hard. He can work, get money, and have a family. Men get to be socially lazy, which permits an exploration of hobbies during their free time (since the gender role for women is to cook, clean, etc.). Men also have a sexual freedom in the sense that they don’t have to worry about being “impure” for excessive sexual indulgence. These can allow for a greater sense of power and freedom, which can relieve mental stress.

Which I think is a good segue into my counter points, which is that I’ve used the word “can” a lot to describe these scenarios. Often times, they do not lead to positive outcomes, and that is the problem with them. While the goal of gender roles are respect when it is not given and freedom of self when it may not be otherwise available, these method cause for pigeonholing people into binary systems that do not work for everyone. Likewise, of respect and freedom are the goals, these can be achieved by actively taking a part in being a better person to the world. Simply working to treat everyone with respect, and helping create programs that provide an avenue to freedom is a wonderful way to promote the core concepts of these roles while not restricting people to them.

What do you think? Is it crazy to say gender roles are productive in this way? Are the aspects I missed? Let me know!

THE SECOND GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

Did anyone get a chance to watch the debate last night? Oh. You don’t like politics? Well that’s too bad. I mean it’s not like these people are vying for being the most powerful individual on the planet or anything…but I can understand not liking politics with how this political season has been going. I mean seriously, we’ve got a bully that’s managed to push his way into the race because he’s rallied the people who feel mistreated with strong-arm lingo that makes them feel good. Which is ironic, since these people talk about how “feel good” statements are such a problem.

Regardless of my distaste for Donald Trump, which there is quite a bit of, he was one of the participants of the debate last night. And I wish there was a way for me to appear bipartisan for this debate, but there just isn’t. Hillary did a great job on this election. She was prepared, she responded well to questions—sure, she wasn’t always on point with every single answer, because that’s how politicians answer questions, but she was able to both negate Donald Trump while also asserting her own ideas.

For example, let’s take when Donald Trump said she’s been wasting 30 years of public service. Which is depressing to have heard, but her response was perfect. She responded with the work she has put in over time, and how she has been able to find a common ground and compromise—something that we all no Donald Trump is incapable of. And if you think he is capable of it, before you start typing your comment, I want you to imagine that every few words you type, the computer added a random word or ten. That doesn’t make for good compromises to happen—that would just frustrate the hell out of you. That’s what Donald Trump did.

Now, you may think that being uncompromising is a good thing in a leader, because it displays power. But really, it’s dangerous. Even if you didn’t like the Iran Deal, it did protect our citizens more than a threat would. Threatening people who have or may have Nuclear Arms is absolutely insane. Why? Because we all bleed the same. The United States may be the most powerful country on Earth, but if it were bombed with Nuclear Weapons, it’s citizens would die the same as any other country. Which is something we need to come to terms with, since if Trump were elected president, I have no doubt the rest of the world would be on high alert.

But let’s step back and look at policy for a moment. Although policy was nearly devoid from the debate, one policy Donald brought up was to appoint someone to look into Hillary’s email scandal and get her sent to jail. Since apparently her multitude of hearing and investigations over various other issues were not enough to make conclusions. Including one done by the FBI. Anyway, locking up political opponents sounds like a very dangerous and slippery slope to be taking lightly. Even joking about the assassination of political opponents (a “joke” that is still very possibly something that was meant in earnest) is a frightening line to be treading. It’s reckless, and in all honesty, it feel like something that our president should not be doing. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Am I being unfair? Let me know in the comments below! Oh, and by the way, WordPress has asked me to subtly ask everyone to vote…so…I’m going to not be so subtle. Go vote!

LOVE POEM #8 – BLINDED BY DESIRE

She said she felt the fire

Then put my heart on the pyre

But I was blinded by desire

For what I thought I saw inside her.

 
Desire is a loveless game

She told me that she felt the same

But in the end all I felt was shame

With nobody but myself to blame

 
Thin and fair with eyes so blue

Like a goddess she could accrue

The hearts of men and heroes too

If only we all knew.

 
She’d take a man and toy with him

And hook him with a sexy grin,

Brush her lips against his chin

And whisper “it is not a sin.”

 
And then, like me, he would be caught

And in passion, perfection sought,

Beg her to let him tie the knot,

And then she’d leave him there to rot.

WATCHING A FEMALE VOICE BE SILENCED

Hello everyone,

 

So I guess this week’s theme is going to be gender bias, because this week back in school has just been stuffed full of them. Today I’d like to talk about how we deal with gender bias, because it can be hard to know the proper course of action—if there even is one. To preface this, the reason I’m still talking about this today is that, not 30 minutes ago, I was a witness to a horrible silencing of the female voice.

If you read my last talk about gender bias, you’ll notice I mentioned someone in class interrupting a woman while she was speaking. Well, that same guy today had to present with another woman. And I understand that presenting can be hard and intimidating for different people, but it was a quick presentation which was literally reading off of a paper, so both of them had equal ground to read a bit for the class. Instead of letting her read some, he stood there and read the whole thing. Even during the introduction, where each person is supposed to say their name, he cut her off before she could speak and introduced her. “Hi my name is [whatever the fuck] and this is [my partner’s name].” And it wasn’t fluid. Like there was a quarter second pause, so she inhaled to say her name, opened her mouth, and then suddenly his words were in the air. Which was grossly unfair to her.

Of course, it doesn’t seem fair to me to force the teacher to step up here. I mean, sure, it’s her realm of responsibility, but how do you point out one student’s mistreatment without making an entire class of student hate him? Personally, think it may have been right for me to say something. Something non threatening like “hey, what was your name again?” to the girl, so that she can speak for herself. And we should extend this kind of treatment to all people. I mean imagine if you seem someone in public who keeps getting cut off, or during a meeting at work. Isn’t the right thing to do to say “hey, what was it you were going to say?” And rather than blindside whoever was mistreating that person, bring the person who was being mistreated back into the world as a human being.

That being said, nobody did step up, and nobody did speak out and say “hey, what was your name?” Which is too bad. Step on is always to step up and speak though. If you don’t then who will? I would rather have a voice full of people who believe in me and are willing to speak out for me than a room full of people who are too afraid to say anything lest they be labeled something.

Anyways, that’s all the time I have to write today, but it seems simple to me. What do you think? Is it more complex than this? What if the context is different? Is it ok to let this kind of thing slide when your job is on the line? Let me know!