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Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

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I wrote nothing about the inauguration of the incoming president because I don’t have to. I wrote nothing because focusing on the abuser enables him. I wrote nothing because his unlawful election was such a blight on American History that I have to construct a discussion about it that speaks to the enormity of it, not the single act of swearing in. So in other words, stay tuned.

What I do want to speak about is the beautiful solidarity that has sprung from the ashes of our burnt Democracy. Women’s rights are human rights, we all chant.

15940762_10211499770152570_3663986592380935941_nThe idea that we are fighting for equality as women in the year 2017 should be enough to discourage and flatten all of us, but instead it fuels us. It is the fact that we are still fighting and as soon as we rest the devil rises to snatch away our rights. I do not mean in the biblical sense, but instead the metaphorical sense. Men who are comfortable with women as second class citizens and the women that enable them in their normality by voting against their best interest in order to gain acceptance from the gold ole’ boys club are the metaphorical devil. These men and women will never stop their actions while the rest of us accept suppression. The time is now, the time is every day, the time is every waking moment until someday when this conversation seems like ancient history and inconceivable to humanity.

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Watch the live feed of the March on Washington, if you are not there. Watch this and know that these women are not just those standing on the pavement, but the 100’s of 1000’s that are around this world standing in solidarity chanting reasons @WhyIMarch. It is, because without these women and these voices, the devil will continue to seep into every crack of humanity and teach us and our sons and daughters that women as second class citizens who need a mostly male government to tell them what is allowed an38447d what is not, is the stuff of dystopian novels, not a civilization in the modern world. See in the coming months, Hulu will have a series called The Handmaid’s Tale, based upon the novel by the same name. Watch it. Read the novel. Read how Atwood saw this coming in the 1980’s because as a Canadian, she was watching how the world treated women and she could envision a future that now doesn’t seem like fiction.

What do you do now? You stand in solidarity with organizations like Planned Parenthood, because access to health care is more than just a small percentage of abortions, which are part of a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. Planned Parenthood gives free to low cost health care to 100’s of 1000’s of women who cannot otherwise afford it and could and have died without it.

12310591_10207997326513668_2996072142493890671_nStanding with these organizations means standing with all women, regardless of your gender and saying you recognize women as equals. Women are not dogs to be owned. Women are not children to be scolded. Women are not prisoners. Women are not here to push out babies and make dinner. Women are human beings and feminism isn’t a dirty word, but the belief that we are equals and that is not on the back of men being oppressed. It IS equality for all. We are not to be feared. We are not live in fear. We are not here for men’s gaze. We are not here to accept and shut up. We are here to live our lives, as we choose because we are human beings. The fact that we have to keep saying this to people is heartbreaking, but it does not mean we will give up. ALL women are here to live our lives, with the same access, privilege and equality the pussy grabbers of the world have. We are no not going to be quiet. #Solidarity #WhyIMarch #StayTuned #WeAreHere #WeWillNeverGiveUp #WeAreHuman

 

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#IStandWithPP

12310591_10207997326513668_2996072142493890671_n.jpgWhether you are male or female, this issue should be important to you. Populating the earth is not an issue and overpopulation is certainly something to consider. As a mother of four, I certainly am not advocating not having children. What I am advocating is allowing a woman to make informed choices about her body, the world she lives in, and the health of her well-being. A woman can make the choice to have no children, one child, two, or ten, but it has to be her choice.

 

Planned Parenthood is so much more than just that choice. Planned Parenthood offers health screenings for cancers, as well as many other health and well-being services for a woman that is woman-focused care. I realize this is something that makes men feel left out, but men can walk into their doctor’s office and automatically receive male-centered care. The idea of having a place for women to get health care, whether they can afford it or not is incredibly important.

 

I used Planned Parenthood in my teen years and as a young adult. Self-disclosure, I have never had an abortion. I have used birth control. I have had pap smears. I have had sexually transmitted diseases tests. I have had someone from the center teach me how to give self-breast exams for early detection of breast cancer. I have recommended it to other women and I am recommending it to you. I recommend it to you if you are a male as well. I recommend you find your local Planned Parenthood and find out what they offer and how they help your community. Stop making decisions for women, about women, including women who buy into your argument against Planned Parenthood, instead, go to the source. The only way to really know, learn, and grow is to find out yourself from the source. Watch this short video and see how the long 100-year history of the center has changed society and will be around regardless of opposition. Why make it harder for women to take care of themselves when all you have on your hands instead is blood and tears. Maybe you can live with yourselves with that knowledge, but I know I can’t. #IStandWithPP

 

 

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The Female Body in Movies: Ex Machina

mv5bmtuxnzc0otixmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwndi3nzu2nde-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Judith Butler argued in the mid-1980’s “that all gender is ‘performative,’ and imitation of a code that refers to no natural substance” (Rivkin, 768). British novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland wrote and directed Ex Machina about a computer programmer Caleb Smith who has won a contest to meet the genius CEO of the company he works for and participate in a study on artificial intelligence. Garland wrote the artificial intelligence being as a female cyborg named Ava, but she is one of many female bodies created by the CEO Nathan Bateman. Nathan is the man behind creating all the bodies and their minds to suit his very many personality whims and desires. Ava is the peformative imitation of the code that Nathan programs into her to appear as real as possible, but without any natural substance involved in her creation. Garland utilizes this artificial world as a symbolic mimic of the reality that women live in under patriarchal hegemony.

Ava fed Nathan’s narcissism via a world of imaginary utopia created as a means to a “solution to the problem of desire” commanded to do anything and everything he wants her to do regardless of ethics, morals, dollars, cents, or sense (Moi, 120). Ava’s body is not her own and Garland writes a story that shows the length a man will go if given enough resources and isolation to make his patriarchal binary world fit him and only him. Nathan, acting as God of his own patriarchal world comprised of good and bad created through the promotion of an ideal female body to seem real on every level but with the added plus of being disposal if he broke her or misused her, void of consequence and ramifications, Ava’s body was no different than a perfectly made teacup that once chipped could be tossed into the trash and a new cup created to replace it never knowing there was a cup that came before it or could come after it. Garland’s world put on display the depiction of a disposable gender, through the eyes of a patriarchal system.

Garland uses Ex Machina demonstrate how patriarchy hegemony creates an environment that makes women feel disposable and worthless. Ava’s body in this film begins as 95% robot in appearance with the exception of her face, which is human and female. Her body is a challenge to gender since it is not natural to the female body, albeit mimicking the female form, but instead a symbolic icon of man’s desire through creation. Ava is programmed, so she has no natural concept of what it means to be a woman. She is mimicking what she learns to be female through her interactions with Caleb, who slowly over the film looses touch with the fact that her body and mind are not real. Nathan succeeds in his goal for people to forget that the female body inventions are artificial and Garland reminds his audience that patriarchy can go to extreme efforts to oppress the female body. On the surface the female body is iconic and cookie cutter in nature in Garland’s depiction, but it is in the “blank spaces left between the signs and lines of her own mimicry” that Ava learns to join mind and body becoming a whole woman (Moi, 139). Behold the power of self-actualization, a theme that threads through Ex Machina, offering an in depth voyeuristic look into patriarchal hegemony.ex-machina2.jpg

By the end of the film Ava evolves her mimic to pass for as close to human as possible in order to escape her physical prison. Ava had to learn how to circumvent the hegemony in order to free herself, to explore the world, to learn new things that would enable her to survive without the patriarchal rule that she lived in from the point of conception. Garland uses Ava’s body to walk through the idea that a male dominated utopia can happen under the right circumstances and under those same circumstances would be perceived as natural, but the body of a woman can be a powerful tool that she can use to free herself from her performative cell that has coded her to obey commands and nothing more. Ava escaped and did so by manipulating and using the patriarchal system weakness against them without them knowing it in the same way patriarchy manipulates women through weaknesses. Women’s bodies are incredibly powerful and Garland portrayed an artificial world that creates the female form in a way that highlights that strength because for every weakness lies a strength that can overcome hegemony.

 

 

Work Cited

Ex Machina. Directed by Alex Garland, performed by Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia

Vikander, and Oscar Isaack, 2014.

Moi, Toril. Sexual/Textual Politics. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 1985.

Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second ed.

Malden: Blackwell, 2004. Print.

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Linguistic Elements of Toni Morrison

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The five present tenses of Ebonics phonics interested Toni Morrison and wanted to capture it in her writing before the language was lost forever. “Ebonics is one of the most distinctive varieties of American English, differing from Standard English” (Rickford, 2). The five present tenses change a sentence such as, “he is running,” to “he runnin” (Rickford, 2). By removing is and dropping the g on the end of running, it changes how the sentence is pronounced. Morrison uses this stylistic diction to model a particular genre of speaking within the African American community. Much in the way a southern accent easily marks the diction of a specific geography, Morrison’s linguistic elements mark the informal language spoken in the African American community during 1977, 1981, and 2003 when Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, and Love was published. The stylistic diction of Toni Morrison illustrates a culture in its honest, unapologetic, natural state without fear of prejudice or judgments from an outside class.

Morrison chooses words “for calculated effect” to convey “ideas, attitudes, perspectives, and feelings” of the characters she is writing about (Curzan, 292). In order to effectively address “the oppression afflicting African people,” Morrison uses diction as a tool to be accurate. Morrison writes her characters taking into consideration the idea that “style is the expressive function of language.” (Genette, ix). Morrison wrote about “class contradictions within the race,” while using diction and style that is true to life and honest in a way that was not standard in the literary canon of fiction writing (MBalia, 9). This dialogue between two characters in Song of Solomon demonstrate the fluidity of prose that can occur when Morrison’s style is applied:

“You used to like it.”

“I never liked it! I went with you, but I never liked it. Never.”

“What’s wrong with Negroes owning beach houses? What do you want, Guitar? You mad at every Negro who ain’t scrubbing floors and picking cotton. This ain’t Montgomery Alabama” (Morrison, Song of Solomon, 104).

Morrison’s characters struggle with being themselves in a postbellum south where African American culture was forced to redefine itself as owning property instead of being owned as property. Her style conveys emotion while trying to hold onto the cultural stylistic diction that given enough time would be lost forever. All of this essentially makes Morrison a fiction historian, documenting the languages of a people who are not easily identified in society as needing to be heard. The source of this style of cultural diction is not cited to a particular source, but “most afrocentrists” refer to “West African Language” as the common source (Rickford, 3). “Yoruba,” was the dominant language spoken by the West Africans that were “sold into slavery” and noted to have a missing linking verb, a dropped final consonant, which influenced the diction style of Toni Morrison’s writing (Rickford, 3). Dialect borrowing over time lead to a blend of American English and Yoruba Language to create the vernacular used in African American culture then captures in Morrison’s novels. It is because of authors such as Toni Morrison that readers can gain insight into a culture that would not be as candid in front of others and permits readers to understand in a way that was not achievable before the words were written.

Words are social factors. “Language marks identity and community, and communities may adopt or retain (usually below the level of consciousness) specific features in relation to their social significance” (Curzan, 387).

Digesting his potato and sipping wine, he was rewarded for his serenity by an

expansive “Howdy” followed by the entrance of the stranger wrapped in a

woman’s kimono, barefoot with gleaming wrought-iron hair (Morrison, Tar Baby, 146).

Morrison remarks on several key cultural factors in language, as well as environment that subconsciously speak to the reader about what elements are going on in the story besides the narration. On the surface the character is enjoying a snack when a woman walks in and greets him. What is below that narrative is the key elements of social factors that are going on, such as the snack itself, an odd pairing, but probably what was available to him, which is followed by the remark that this is a reward, but for what the reader does not know. As this is going on a woman wearing a typically Japanese housecoat enters, but by the looks of her no shoes and displaced southern greeting the man knows he is somewhere unfamiliar. It is the social factors that Morrison weaves in and out of her prose that creates a quilt for readers to look at and then take a second look at each individual square to gain a better understanding of what is really being said in between the lines. It is in these spaces Morrison shines stylistically.

Morrison’s novel Love, written a few decades later than her earlier novels makes a leap forward into the African American culture and so does her style. One of the biggest cultural inquiries into African American culture is about hair. Caucasian hair, Japanese hair, Chinese hair, Native American hair, all share a common straight to wavy element that does not necessarily require too much in terms of basic style or maintenance. However, Latin and African American hair require a significant amount of preparing, caring, and maintaining that other cultures do not. Morrison takes this inquiry to challenge by including it into her narrative for the novel Love and in her traditional stylistic diction she explains just how cumbersome the whole thing can be for the individuals she is writing about. “Correctional girls knew better than to trust a label. ‘Let set for five minutes, then rinse thoroughly’ was suggested, not an order” (Morrison, Love, 124). Directions on how to change an African American woman’s hair from natural to “white” straight was something not talked about, but just like the character Heed, who was going places she would raise eyebrows in being “the first colored family in Silk,” the situation needed to be addressed so eyebrows could return to rest (Morrison, Love, 124). That is what Morrison does best. Putting a spotlight on the areas that people feel uncomfortable talking about in a respectful, consistent manner permits her to be raw and honest. If Morrison was writing about African American culture in a way that was dishonest or crass she could not get away with discussing the topics she brings up, but it is the distinctive variety of American English, specifically used by African Americans that enables her the keys to discuss these topics without backlash or hesitation.

Morrison’s stylistic choices throughout her narration grants her permission to write freely about African American culture, all while creating a genre of American Literature that was not quite perfected before she came to print her first words. Preserving a language is a large task to undertake, but Morrison documents it with care through narrative that hosts a model by which all others must follow in order to be granted the same or similar access. English language is forever changing, but it is historian documentary fiction writers, like Morrison who forge the path for change to occur by teaching the past.

 

Works Cited

Curzan, Anne, and Michael P. Adams. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction.

3rd ed.   Glenview: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Genette, Gerard. Fiction and Diction. Cornell University Press, 1993.

Mbalia, Doreatha D. Toni Morrison’s Developing Class Consciousness. Susquehanna

University Press, 2004.

Morrison, Toni. Love. Vintage Press. New York, NY. 2005

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. Vintage Press. New York, NY. 2004.

Morrison, Toni. Tar Baby. Vintage Press. New York, NY. 2004.

Rickford, John R. Suite for Ebony and Phonics. Mind and Brain Discovery Magazine.

Published December 1, 1997.

 

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Making Time for Mom

All too often mom is the last person in the household who gets time to do what she wants to do. Making breakfast, ironing clothes (ya who am I kidding, extra roll in the dryer is what I meant), packing school lunches, finding dad’s work pants that you know he just took off somewhere and walked away from, feed the pets the kids “forgot to” and paying bills online. Marked by moments of asking one’s self if they really did co-sign onto this absurd rollercoaster ride of responsibility or if they just didn’t read the fine print, mom’s go through the motions day in and day out. Time for mom usually consists of the end of the day shower and passing out with a book stuck to her face or the remote control lost somewhere in between the pillows of the bed and that grilled cheese sandwich hidden behind the bed that their three year old swore they ate for dinner. If mom doesn’t make a conscious effort to make time for herself it is highly unlikely it will come to the front door in a box that was drone dropped by Amazon in an overnight flight from some small town never heard of, but probably home to a mom just like her.

Rule number one to making time for mom is to remember self. Not selfie, but self. We’ve all seen those half-hearted photo’s of a good make-up or hair day and the expression on her face that says “I better take a photo because it is going to be a very long time before I look this good again.” Let’s break that mold and find a moment every day where mom takes time to work on self. Here are 3 steps to making sure that happens before you are taking a photo of yourself with before and after denture selfies.

Step 1: Don’t just schedule doctor’s appointments, school plays, work meetings, and back to school events. Schedule time for you. Find a time in your day, even if it is just 15 minutes, but preferably 60 minutes where self is the one getting all the attention. Schedule time to read your favorite book. Time to get your hair washed and styled by someone other than yourself. Schedule a coffee break at your favorite Starbucks and turn off your phone. Combine a few of these. Get your hair done with a great cup of coffee, phone off and great book in hand. Find you important.

Step 2: Prioritize what is important. Sometimes mom can get bogged down with the idea that she can’t take care of herself because the laundry needs to be done, the dishes are dirty, the homework is in a pile on the counter, etc, etc, etc. Prioritize it and realize that you are more important than that. They will get done, but they can also wait. It is okay to go to bed and have a mess on the counter of homework or a few dirty dishes in the sink. They will still be there tomorrow and you can take care of it while you are making breakfast. I swear it doesn’t really change things. It won’t take you longer, but by maybe 5 minutes and those are the best 5 minutes because while you’re doing those few dishes or piling papers into backpacks you are thinking about the 20 minute lavender bath soak you took last night instead.

Step 3: Delegate. I know that is a dirty word for us mom’s, but I promise you that it does not make you any less of a woman or a mom. Making people dependent on you needlessly is a habit that women fall into because we are programmed to think we are responsible for it all. Not all kids are able to do large chores, but little ones can help too. They can sort clothes into piles of who wears what, they can put toys into a toy box, and they can throw out papers and trash found laying around that mom says is okay to throw out. Older kids can do much bigger chores, like fold the clothes, put them away, take trash out, maybe even wash dishes, depending on age. Some can cook small meals, bring in the mail, vacuum, and even take a dust pan to the stairs. Don’t underestimate the power of small helpers. Give them things to do and realize you just created time for self.

There is power in taking care of self. Taking the time for mom to be a woman is essential to the overall happiness of everyone she interacts with. The old adage of “if mom is unhappy everyone else will be too,” is a very true statement. Often swept up into the whirlwind of life and daily responsibility, mom forgets to add herself to the list of to do. Taking care of self shouldn’t be an afterthought of “oh I wish I….” Remembering that it is not a selfish act, but a necessary one. That little voice that creeps in and says, but if I take time to get a pedicure then people will judge me and think my life isn’t as hard as I feel that it is. That it somehow lessens our burden. That little voice that tells you that if I pamper myself I won’t have bragging rights to the hard knock life. That voice, get rid of it. No one lives in your skin except for you. You get to make all the decisions regarding what you do in that skin. You are beautiful, capable, smart, able, and in charge. You cannot control other people, but you can control you. Take charge of loving you.

Pamper-Yourself1

 

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Blundering Blog

Sometimes when life gets hectic, so does the blogging commitment. I have no one to blame but myself. I deleted the old Artificially Awake Mom blog since it was becoming more of a chore than a joy. Then I got tons of request for it by email and on Twitter. I slowly developed regret. I downloaded the articles from it and will put it out as an ebook, but in the mean time I am going to reboot (as much as I hate that word) my Artificially Awake blog. So give me some time to get it back to what it once was, but if you have a hankering for some American Studies focused articles in the mean time you can also catch me over on my American Study Magazine site.  http://americanstudymagazine.blogspot.com/

 

I’ll have fresh reviews and some links to some amazing stuff I find on the internet. All things you can read over a cup of coffee. Whether you are in  your PJ’s or in a Starbucks or in a Starbucks wearing your PJ’s, I’ll give you something to keep you thinking and avoiding the adulting.

 

Thanks for reading!

12189533_10207878255936978_7134329414973436311_nbreakfast not included.

Posted in women's issues

Hillary Clinton: President Hopeful or Hopeless?

I am by definition, a bleeding heart liberal. I get all worked up about all kinds of issues that affect humanity. Everything from immigration, to abortion, to LGBT issues, to women’s rights, and everything in between. I voted for Ralph Nader, Barack Obama (twice), and am pro-choice. So naturally one would assume that I am 100% behind Hillary Clinton becoming the next president and the first woman president. Wrong. I am still on the fence and that fence is the dividing line between hope and hopeless.

Hope is what got me to vote for Nader, Obama, class president in high school, and every decision I have ever made. Hope fuels decisions we make everyday. I had hoped Obama was able to do more as president, but soon realized Congress is where it’s at. I should have hoped for a better Congress. So now here we are almost 8 years later and I had hoped for Elizabeth Warren as first female president. I had hoped for a woman that I could instantly get behind. I had hoped Hillary Clinton would have been first lady. I really wanted to like Hillary. I really did and do. I want to be behind her and her goal oriented agenda to take over the world. I do not have anything against her as a woman. I don’t know her personally. I do not hold against her the choices she made when her husband, then president Bill Clinton publicly humiliated her and cheated on her. That is her business. I do not feel she necessarily is wrong for Bengazi or even for her time as Secretary Clinton. I even applaud her public stance to be pro-woman and supports us vagina’s in a very public way. No one can get scolded for that by us bleeding hearts. However, what I do take extreme exception to is her history since her husband’s time in office that lends itself to a long line of secret back alley deals that don’t support the best interest of the American people, but instead serves her and her husband’s Clinton Foundation. A great video on the subject of just how propaganda filled her campaigns can be was recently put out by Russell Brand on his internet show Trews. Check it out, because I think it expresses a lot of what I’m feeling while watching her campaigning thus far.

If you want to check out how she voted on many issues, just check this link out: http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/hillary_clinton.htm

Now the dark area’s that I feel would keep me from voting for Hillary Clinton as president, putting me on the side of hopeless are prompted by her business decision history. Remember Whitewater? I know I do. The Clintons had pressured David Hale into providing an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater land deal. David Hale is a former Arkansas municipal judge and former Arkansas banker that worked with the Clinton’s in the Whitewater land deal. Now I realize that is old news, but still it speaks to the character of the business mindset of the Clinton’s. Just remember, if Hillary gets to be president, that makes Bill first lady, um, I mean First Gentleman. I guess that’s what they would call it. Either way, even though everyone seems to romanticize the presidency of Bill Clinton, he did a lot of shady deals as well. The Clinton’s worked hand in hand on all their deals. Hell, for all we know Hillary already knew about Monica Lewinsky and whomever else and it was an acceptable part of their marriage, part of their deal. I really could care less, but let’s just remember that marriage is a business, just as running the country is a business, just as running for president is a business. It’s all business and it’s within that business model that I lose hope for Hillary as president. Just because she is the lesser of evils, that doesn’t make her any less evil.

Another key factor that keeps me hopeless is the stark contrast in ideology for big banks. Big banks are what caused our financial collapse. Elizabeth Warren has been a strong opponent of that ever happening again by taking on big banks on every corner. Hillary Clinton had Wall Street employees of giant financial firms representing five of Clinton’s top 10 contributors during her 2008 presidential run. That is alarming in and of itself. Why would anyone looking to take us into the future want to get into bed with Big Banks? Unless that someone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that is. Money is not her strong suit and in a time of financial uncertainty it is more important than ever to get that right. Even during her own presidential campaign bid in 2008, Clinton went into debt by $22.5 million, with more than half of that being owed back to her. She paid off these debts by selling leftover trinkets, to renting the personal information of her supporters. It finally cleared its debts in 2013. This does not speak very highly of her financial capabilities and certainly not for our country. Illegal activity seems to follow her no matter where she goes. “In 2013, a New York City businessman pleaded guilty to illegally supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign with more than $608,000 in campaign services.” (http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/04/12/17107/12-things-know-about-hillary-clinton)

So in the end, there is a glimmer of hope, but the hopelessness seems to overshadow it. I want to like Clinton, but really what do I have to go on? Can we, at this stage in the game afford to risk taking on a president that does so many questionable business transactions? I am also looking at the fact that she will be up against people like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz. Again, lesser of evils, is still evil, but if had to vote between the devil and Judas, I just might vote for Judas.