Category Archives: Commentary

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Women, Beauty, and Repackaging

My daughter saw a youtube offering that impacted her greatly and she wanted us to watch it with her. So her brother and I sat down to our hdml hookup and watched a video that went over a perennial interest I have: women and the cultural view of beauty, social impact of those views, and how our baseline moral view articulates those aspects of social identity. It was from a political and cultural perspective very different from mine ( the usual hostility to Christians that is ingrained in the liberal/Democratic views) but imparting some very real concerns and truth for all that.

The video was “Miss Representation”, and you can watch it below. It moves quickly with a barrage of thoughts and images. If you really want to think about what is being presented to you, you must stop it often to process what is being said and what it means. Otherwise, the impact is to rile your emotions without giving a real context to what you should do with these emotions.

[box type="warning"]Warning there are sexually explicit images – if you are offended with this, better to not watch. There are other presentations of many of these issues, you can find and view those. The conversation remains the same.[/box]

Truths I Would Not Argue With

  • Women are objectified and over-sexualized in our society
  • Cultural opinions do matter, and they can be changed -are changed deliberately
  • Those with selfish agendas are promoting false and quite damaging ideas and revisionist “facts”
  • There is still a gender bias that disparages women and puts them at a disadvantage

[box type="shadow"]One interesting thing about this documentary is the way it presents and dismisses the role that movements like the “Moral Majority” or the “Christian Right” had on raising consciousness on some of the cultural degradation of women and the loss of concern over “public interest” as it is expressed in media. Especially in television and movies from established, big business Media.

Also it lacks the will or the depth to connect the dots between the paradoxical conflicts inherent in the old arguments on the side of “legalizing prostitution”, and the growing concern over “human trafficking”. Think about these “two?” issues. Aren’t we using mere euphemism when we want to address the enslavement of women and children in prostitution as a problem, and obscure problems that women face whenever prostitution becomes prevalent and accepted? Maybe you don’t make the connection between the way we think of and represent women and the issue of human trafficking, or how allowing prostitution to be recognized as a legal and viable occupation might be relevant. This probably deserves its own essay and evaluation. [/box]

Things I question and take issue with

  • Use of the word “Media”. There is a conflation of old media and the new social media. It is not all one “media”, but a tool that reflects the people making it. To use the word generally is evasion of responsibility, basically. Always an “other”, bad guy, instead of things we promote and allow as people, individuals and as a group.
  • This image emphasis and objectification is only a problem for women. It is increasingly a problem for young men in our society. There is a disengagement from worth being related to character.
  • Disconnect between the human drives and how marketing or media presentation takes those things and uses them. Lack of realization that culturally we have lost a huge body of history about relationship to the whole of human experience. In the entertainment culture, we are reduced to a few basic drives expressed in their lowest common denominator. Why we are doing that should be discussed in terms of where we are morally, not in how men in the media choose to display this.

Just a few thoughts on religion

If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.
~Margaret Atwood

Before you view the documentary to see what you think of it and the issues it raises, what about a couple thoughts on some of the bias and dismissive perspectives I noticed?

(1) American women have the most freedom of any women in the world. Yes, on the whole, if we look at the opportunity and the freedom to live as we choose (lifestyle, education, economic). No it isn’t paradise, but nothing on earth approaches that idea of paradise. We do and should keep striving for better conditions, preservation of our freedom, access to opportunity, but we also should not forget or diminish what we have.

(2) Christianity is a powerful voice for the oppressed and dispossessed. Historically, it has one of the best records of any force for the empowerment of women. Ask yourself – in what place and in what age did the rise of women’s rights gain the most momentum? And it wasn’t the 1960′s. That may have been when you heard the loudest shouts, but not when you saw the greatest momentum.

Whatever your opinion of the Christian religion, it ought to be recognized for the beneficial influence on ideals of freedoms and rights. If you are willing to deny that, then I would question your ability to correct any of the injustices discussed in the film “Miss Representation” with real fundamental change. My guess is that the best you would be able to come up with is some reactionary and temporary “re-balancing”, which is only injustice inverted, not averted.

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Writing To Pay The Rent

This isn’t just about writing for income, and I will say that right at the beginning so no one is confused. But it is going to touch on that topic.

When I first arrived on the blogging scene, I really didn’t know what it was all about, but many who were beginning to blog at the same time had a much more concrete view of what the purpose of their writing would be. Many of those writers/bloggers were inspired by a man named Hugh Hewitt to begin their blogs with the view to change people’s world views. I should amend that to say “Christian and conservative” writers and bloggers. The people of liberal politics had long seen the value in using media to persuade people’s thinking.

But whether bloggers of that time were convinced by a specific person, or of the many who had chanced upon this new door to influence, many of us were of the mind that our writing could “make a change for good”. I know that was always a powerful motivation for me.

It still is, but blogging and online writing has changed for many like me.

It’s A Slow Train

It was a slow train coming for me to adopt the idea that writing and earning money were linked. Or could be, or should be.

And I still believe that one must be careful with one’s motivations, not just in writing, but in all endeavors of life. I also understand that without some sort of support, no writer can keep at their craft for long. This is perhaps one of the biggest evolutionary changes for me: if you keep on writing, over time you find you become “a writer”.

In the meantime, I took a break from writing to influence people’s thinking. After spending a good deal of time in online forums, and the dialog that was common on blogs is those days (early years of 2000 to 2007 or so), I grew tired of what online “conversation” had become. No longer exploring differing opinions, creating dialog, or even giving a rational argument for one’s view. Like the rest of the world around it, the web sunk into the morass of polarized diatribe, pandering, and propaganda. It wasn’t fun anymore, then, either.

Yet, there is something very attractive in the way a person, of no means really, can engage in discussion and a public presentation of views, and touch the possible thousands. That is heady stuff. So, I kept on writing and started exploring the world of online income… some of the things which are called passive income, but truthfully aren’t passive at all.

This was a natural road for me since I had started my web experience with non-fiction types of writing… my garden website‘s nascence sprung from the pages begun at that time. In retreating from the hotbed of politics and religion I found solace (as a writer and blogger) in the garden. In the need to pay for the nuts and bolts of such a thing, I began monetizing. Not the easiest thing to do in my chosen set of topics.

Another thing happened along the way… aging.

The focus of life has shifted, and the reality of needing to produce some income for retirement has also become part of my intention for developing my writing online. This has created multiple motivations for branching out into other sorts of writing and interacting online. And let’s not forget the online revolution itself… Facebook and Twitter have mightily changed online writing and all sorts of things.

I still have not forgotten that desire to impact people, to influence society for good (or goodness sake!). I am just not sure how it all works together, or even whether it can.

Paying The Rent

Earning even a small amount of income online is a lot of work. In fact, for a person like me who is not business savvy, I could not write, if I were dependent on its income. Still, some of the things I do are paying for website hosting for my other sites (this one is free, and I own only the content – not the domain). I have ventured into the world that others entered long time back…. writing for income. This I do on sites like Squidoo, and just this week a few articles on Hubpages. They are looked down upon by some in the blogging community, and I understand why. The impetus now is for these sites to clean up the junky parts of the neighborhood.

I like that a format like Squidoo creates community. I haven’t found that in the blogging sector for a long time. I also like that it is set up to create online income for those who contribute. And I have stretched my writing wings in the more mundane aspects of writing. Which is not to demean it. Why be elitist about our writing? I have distaste for this kind of thinking that is so prevalent in the art world.

So, here I am starting to write on Hubpages, too.

I also have learned some marketing along the way which is very enlightening. You view things in our society a whole new way when understanding basic marketing techniques. We are immersed in it whether we realize it or not. Just look at the sales ploy of “scarcity”, for example…. but I digress.

What reasons might be for writing on such sites as Squidoo, or Hubpages, or even Blogger, for that matter?

  1. They share their income with the creative
  2. On the web, promotion is as important as creation. No one will just show up at your blog or website, anymore
  3. It is a free way to get instruction on almost anything, not least on how to earn money online; okay, maybe this is done a little too well.
  4. You network without realizing you are networking
  5. It encourages you to widen your horizons, the way surfing webpages used to “in the old days”

For me, the Squidoo site helped open things that I had long had an interest in but had no grasp of what it took to accomplish. One of those was utilizing the Zazzle site to create and to earn income. I am still making baby steps, but without guidance (and clearly the forums attached to such sites help,too) would still have gone nowhere with these avenues.

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My Affiliation on These Sites

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Community is powerful. It is necessary as well, and the sooner we learn that lesson in family, our neighborhoods and cities, and online, the better. It is just an illustration of “no man is an island” which we will face over and over until we “get it”.

[box type="shadow"]Ah. Now you see I am only one step away from “soapboxing”, or influencing as I like to call it.[/box]

Maybe this part of learning what can help me pay the rent is obvious to you. I have an inkling that for individualists who have a high value on personal freedom, it is a hard won realization.

Paying the rent is not just about money. It isn’t about a materialistic society, it is about how we help each other survive and thrive. Work is important and necessary. All sorts of work -and having integrity and honesty in how we go about it- matters.

One more thing, influence is something we do everyday in all our actions, whether we realize it or not.

Zombie Apocalypse Housewives

Gotcha.
We were watching the series of the zombie show, “Walking Dead” recently, and in one of the episodes the ideal woman character is having a confrontation with the feminist warrior woman about the importance of each other’s tasks.

Our family watched the previous seasons on Netflix, and this scene occurs in season 2

Which matter most, the household tasks and the making of a home, or the buttressing of the militant actions that patrol and protect the group? Making tea and cakes or guarding the perimeters and shooting things?

The Walking Dead “18 Miles Out” Andrea confronts Lori from Days Gone By on Vimeo.

The whole show (at least in the second season) is obsessed with whether a life that is reduced to animal survival and the lowest forms of brute morality is even worth living.

Hmmmm, tea and cakes and cleaning bathrooms suddenly seems to gain a notch or two in prestige and honor.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. -Seth Godin in “Clean Bathrooms

It was never about either or, but about understanding that people need to give due respect to each others roles and vocations, to have the freedom to grow as a society and support one another by occasionally giving precedence and hands on help to something other than our own little tribal preferences.