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A Conversation

Cultural Appropriation: A conversation by Sanaa Hamid

This body of work is an exploration of the extent of cultural appropriation and encourages a discussion about it. I give the appropriator and the appropriated the opportunity to defend themselves and create a dialogue between them, while maintaining a neutral stance myself. I am not attacking those who appropriate, merely educating and creating awareness. Neutrality is key in this series, as i remove myself from my political and social status and opinions, stripping the problem to the most basic issue; taking an item that means a great deal to somebody and corrupting it.

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Cause and Effect

The person who posted this did so to demonstrate the misogyny present in two major religious texts. Now there’s no denying thatthere is misogyny present in most religious texts, and that people often use religion as a justification for sexism. However  I dislike this graphic because it seems to imply that religion is the reason for sexism.

Religion can be used to justify sexism, but religion isn’t the root cause of sexism. Religion, like everything else, was created in a patriarchal culture. Thus, religion will be influenced by patriarchal norms. Religion isn’t inherently sexist, it only becomes sexist when the society that created it is sexist in the first place.

So really, we need to stop blaming religion for bigotry that is the result of the greater society as a whole, and atheists need to remember that being non-religious doesn’t automatically make them less sexist than someone who is.

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A Beautiful Takedown

Bill Nye recently commented that one half of all scientists should be female considering how half of all humans are female. There was an outburst of negative feedback in response to this comment saying something along the lines of: “How the fuck does Bill Nye expect this to happen? What do you want to do, force women to enroll in science courses, regardless of whether or not they want to do it? Just for the sake of having “enough” women? Why the fuck do these fractions matter so much? Maybe, just maybe, a lot of us DON’T FUCKING WANT to be scientists. Is that a crime”

I’m not personally going to answer these questions because I came upon such an A+ commentary that i shall simply copy and paste her genius response.  Read on:

Hi there. Female engineering student here. 

Bill Nye is not saying that you HAVE to be a scientist, and you are right that no one is holding a gun to my head because I am interested in science, but let me tell you some of the struggles of being a woman in the STEM fields. 

1) Because I am a woman, I am not expected these fields. I first fully realized this when I was in high school, on my robotics team. See, although my robotics team was about 50% female, most of the women were part of the “business administration” side of things: finance, marketting, PR, membership, etc. Was this a problem? Absolutely not. But I was there to be an engineer, and specifically, to be the robot programmer. This was met with a lot of hesitation at first from some of the other students (all of whom happened to be male. This is not necessarily a bad thing.) You see, all of the robot programmers before me were guys. Computer programming is just a thing that guys do, or so they thought. Even after I had proved myself to the mentors on the team, many of the students still underestimated my abilities. There were rumors going around that I wouldn’t have been able to program the robot at all if the lead software mentor wasn’t there to help me. This was just flat-out false, but it wasn’t until I won an award for the team that the other students actually saw my merit. 

2) There is not a lot of encouragement for women to go into these fields. I first noticed this when I was in elementary school. I was always interested in math, science, you name it, but many of my teachers and family members pushed that to the side for a long time. When I asked for legos for christmas, I would get ballet slippers. In fact, for a long time, I was training to be a professional dancer. I loved to dance. I loved math more, but no one seemed to notice that about me. It wasn’t until I had a long conversation with one particular teacher in high school that I decided to look into engineering. I had never even considered it as an option before, because no one decided to encourage me to pursue my interest in science. If it hadn’t been for that teacher, I would probably not be at the school I am at right now. 

3) For a long time, Engineering/Science/Math WAS a “boys only” club. Let me tell you when some of the top technical schools and societies started letting women in:

  • RPI, The oldest tech school in the country, founded in 1824. Started admitting women in 1942 to “replace men called to war.” Campus housing for women wasn’t constructed until 1966. 
  • Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society – Founded in 1885. Started admitting women in 1968.
  • Caltech – Currently rated #3 in undergraduate engineering. Founded in 1891. Started admitting women in 1970. 
  • Georgia Tech – Currently rated #5 in undergraduate engineering. Founded in 1885. Started admitting women in 1952. 

Do you see the implications of this? Engineering has been a part of our society since around the late 1800s (in the case of RPI, since the 1820s), but women weren’t even allowed in for the most part until the 1950s, regardless of their merit. 

4) Because of the fact that it was a “boys only” club for such a long time, there are not a lot of women engineers and scientists to look up to. When you’re reading your physics, chemistry, and math text books, the majority of those theories were came up with by men. It is true that much of our history was written by White Men, but this does not mean that the fact that there are few women scientists to look up does not matter. 

So, as you can hopefully see, princess-munckin, or anyone else that shares these opinions, Bill Nye was not arguing that women that are not interested in STEM should go into those fields anyway. But he IS arguing against all of the systematic barriers set up against women who ARE interested in engineering and science. There are several women out there who are just as good as the boys at math and science, but will never pursue their interests because it just doesn’t seem like an option. That was me for a long time. I am super grateful for the fact that I fought against that, and that I ended up where I am. 

If you don’t like science, fine. Don’t be a scientist. But if one day you have a daughter and she shows interest in being a scientist, PLEASE encourage her. Because Bill Nye is right, there needs to be more women scientists in the world. 

(Source)

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And that’s how you perform a beautiful takedown.

“When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?”

Sandi Toksvig
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What Not To Do

People of Earth! I am Lrrr of the planet Omicron P and…

OK I’m watching way too much Futurama. 

Let me rephrase: People of Earth! Watch this video:

I think being part of the LGBT community must be incredibly hard, not just for the most obvious reasons, but because they must get asked so many stupid questions by so many stupid people every day. It’s called the internet people! Use it. Anyway, this guy is a gem, and his video’s are both eye-opening and funny. So if you’re looking to drop your archaic assumptions about homosexuality, and gay men in particular, then drop by his channel and educate yoself!

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A Bigot’s Cry

Freedom of speech is not freedom without consequences.

Now rinse and repeat.

There is an every growing cry of “Loss of Freedoms” when dealing with bigoted words and actions. To a bigot, being able to say something bigoted is part of their freedom. Well, they’re right. It is. The thing they seem to have such a difficult time understanding is that when someone else speaks out against their bigotry, freedom of speech is also being used.

People that say things like, “So much for freedom of speech” or “I have freedom of speech, I can say anything I want” in reaction to someone else’s use of the same freedom are not talking about freedom, rights or even liberty. Although, they always try to couch it as such.

No, what these people are talking about is control. They are usually people who’ve never been told that their voice wasn’t important, valued or wanted. Therefore, when they say something bigoted and someone speaks out against it, they are enraged not by what they claim as “Loss of freedom” but instead that they (and like minded people) are not the only persons allowed to have said freedoms.

They yearn for the “Good ole days” where they were the only person allowed to talk in certain groups. They don’t believe in liberty and freedom. They believe that THEY should be free and all else should be under their personal control.

“I have freedom of speech” is very likely coming from someone who does in fact have freedom of speech. Their problem? They believe they are the ONLY ones who have it. Or at least, the only person who should have it.

Source

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Trending

So hey, when did Hinduism become a trend?

As you know, I have a curious habit of browsing online for clothes on a daily basis and during my daily scouts for prospective items and deals, I’ve come across an insane amount of t-shirts baring different Hindu Gods and Goddesses with some cheesy one-liner about how amazing life is etc, along with the sale of bindi’s (an ornament sacred in the Hindu religion) and other such things that have linkages back to Hinduism. What is happening? And more importantly, why.

It’s so funny;  Hindu’s have been targeted, ridiculed and eaten alive for their differences. If you read their history, Hindu’s were murdered for following their faiths and today, their God(s) are being worn on t-shirts and their bindis are being completely misused by hipster white girls.

What is this? Reverse history? It’s cool to be Hindu for a couple months because you want to tick off your Christian parents?

Look, if you like aspects of a religion, respect it enough to admire it from afar because it really isn’t cool when the Indian religion and history is completely forgotten by the western world to create some hipster-hyped, out-of-place aesthetic. Wearing feather head pieces to be boho, or wearing crosses when you aren’t attached to the Christian religion, or wearing pentacle necklaces when you aren’t Wiccan, all raise the same sort of issues.

Believe me, I’m all for embracing individuality. But wearing bindis and whatnot isn’t indie at all. Anyone from India would say that bindis became a worldwide fashion accessory a long time ago, and many Hindus even wear them with no spiritual intent. But that isn’t a reason to abuse it because centuries of history lie behind its existence so appropriating culture and religion just isn’t cool in my books.

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“What makes the non-South Asian person’s use of the bindi problematic is the fact that a pop star like Selena Gomez wearing one is guaranteed to be better received than I would if I were to step out of the house rocking a dot on my forehead. On her, it’s a bold new look; on me, it’s a symbol of my failure to assimilate. On her, it’s unquestionably cool; on me, it’s yet another marker of my Otherness, another thing that makes me different from other American girls. If the use of the bindi by mainstream pop stars made it easier for South Asian women to wear it, I’d be all for its proliferation — but it doesn’t. They lend the bindi an aura of cool that a desi woman simply can’t compete with, often with the privilege of automatic acceptance in a society when many non-white women must fight for it.”

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How To Use Your White Privilege

If you recognize your privilege, then that’s good for you but don’t expect a cookie for being a decent human being. With that being said, you can use this privilege to benefit people of color in the same ways that you too benefit from being white. Watch this 4-minute video to see how:

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Yassss!

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“Why the need for an “I hate other girls” proclamation? Is there some underlying desperation for male approval, some need to prove that you’re so different from all the other girls out there, when all that boils down to is that you’re one of those chicks who just wants dudes to like her? And you do it by insulting and generalizing about other women. And here’s the thing, once you do it, you start to make it OK for everyone to do it. So saying, “Girls are bitches” or, “Girls are shallow and catty” just opens up the door for guys to say those things. It’s one of the ways that society at large helps to keep women down: by turning us against one another, even subtly. And I know that girls who hate other girls are the first ones to say, “Oh, I’m not like that. I’m like a guy! I like guy things, and guys are easier to be friends with.” So you probably shouldn’t be surprised that all those women that you’re being a jerk about aren’t banging down your door to be your friend. Because by saying all of that, you’re being shallow and catty. You’re reducing women to stereotypes while somehow frantically begging everyone not to apply that stereotype to you.”
Persephone Magazine: “Self-Fulfilling Prophesies: The ‘I Hate Other Girls’ Trap”

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men — friends, coworkers, strangers — giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
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Uhm, No

I find it so funny how some guys are inclined to think less of a girl if she sleeps with him, whether “easily” or not. I had the misfortune of meeting one such individual who cussed out every girl he had sex with immediately after doing the nasty.

Pardon my confusion but..

She’s not the only one doing the sex.

You are also doing the sex.

HOW CAN YOU JUDGE HER FOR DOING THE SEX WHEN YOU ARE DOING THE SEX ALSO.

And didn’t anyone tell you that when you commit to doing the deed with a lady, you become her equal in bed. So if you choose to insult her after the fact, then really, you’re just insulting yourself.

On top of this shizz, you have gems like these floating around the interwebs: “A key that is opens many locks is a master key, a lock that is opened by many keys is a bad lock”.  Ah, so profound and insightful. But if we are going to use analogies to talk about our privates, then here’s one to counter that: A pencil sharpener that sharpens all kinds of pencils is a good pencil sharpener. A pencil that lets itself be sharpened by may sharpeners has to be thrown away. See? We can make any fucking analogy about genitals if we want to.

And one more thing. I don’t understand this language around girls being the ones ‘who get banged/nailed/screwed’ and guys being the ‘bangers/nailers/screwers’. It takes two to have sex hon; there’s no ‘fucker’ or ‘fuckee’. We both give and receive in this case so can we drop it already?

End rant.

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You can judge a man’s character not by how he treats the ‘lady’ but by whether or not he treats the ‘whore’ like a human being
– Anonymous

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A Trust Experiment

ALERT: NSFW image imminent. 

You know what’s great about performance art?
They really tell you a lot about how humans can interact.

This brings me to Marina Abramović. Her best known piece was the recent “The Artist Is Present,” in which she sat motionless for 736.5 hours over the course of three months, inviting visitors to sit opposite her and make eye contact for as long as they wanted. So many people began spontaneously crying across from her that blogs and Facebook groups were set up for those people.

Her bravest piece, however, is my favorite. This piece was primarily a trust exercise, in which she told viewers she would not move for six hours no matter what they did to her. She placed 72 objects one could use in pleasing or destructive ways, ranging from flowers and a feather boa to a knife and a loaded pistol, on a table near her and invited the viewers to use them on her however they wanted.

Initially, Abramović said, viewers were peaceful and timid, but it escalated to violence quickly.  “The experience I learned was that … if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed… I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”

This performance showed just how easy it is to dehumanize a person who doesn’t fight back, and is particularly powerful because it defies what we think we know about ourselves. I’m certain the no one reading this believes the people around him/her capable of doing such things to another human being, but this performance proves otherwise.

And that is some seroiously disturbing shit.

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“If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.”

— A phrase that was carved on the walls of a concentration camp cell during WWII by a Jewish prisoner

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