Blue Valentine

So this post is very late on the band wagon but I finally got around to watching this movie. I wasn’t feeling the story-line too much but honestly, I watched it so I could examine it’s “controversial” scene and understand why exactly the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wanted to stick it with a NC-17 rating. By the way, this scene is a single scene depicting a woman receiving oral sex. And watch it I did…. and I have to say I’m flabbergasted. There was absolutely nothing “extreme” about it. You don’t see anything of anything. All you really see is a couple enjoying thoroughly enjoying themselves while fully clothed. Now what is so wrong with that?

It’s stuff like this that’s really hypocritical. There’s movies upon movies of men receiving oral sex from women, and they just get an R rating and sometimes even a PG-13, but the few times it’s the other way around, oral sex on women is seen as pornographic in nature. Double standard much?

If you don’t understand why ratings are important, Ryan Gosling explains it perfectly: “A lot of people think, ‘What’s the big deal if it’s NC-17, the kids under 17 can’t see it,’ but that’s not true. What it really means is it can’t play in a major theatre chain and you can’t have ads for the film on television. It stigmatizes the movie in a big way. What we’re really saying is not that our kids can’t see this movie but nobody can see this movie unless you live in a big city and there’s an arthouse theatre.” Anyway, Harvey Weinstein’s fought against the MPAA and was able to reduce the rating to R so all was made well again. Right?

Wrong. Keep your eyes open the next time you watch a flick involving violence. It can be anything – action, horror, thriller, comedy etc and almost always, you will notice that a movie that has gratuitous violence can easily skip past high MPAA ratings but a movie depicting sex get’s slapped with a NC-17 rating. Saw 3D has a woman bisected by a buzzsaw. Blue Valentine has a woman orgasm by oral sex. Which movie do you think teens were allowed to see?

We live in a culture in which violence, and especially violence towards women, is tolerated to the point that it becomes white noise. Meanwhile, sex remains a taboo topic. What it comes down to is this: media’s representation of people enjoying sex is so skewed towards men that it’s immediately considered problematic when women are portrayed as sexual beings. A woman’s naked body gives a film an R-rating, but a woman (even clothed) enjoying sex can land a film in the no man’s land that is NC-17. How messed up is that? It’s high time our media reflects reality, and allows women to be fully-fleshed, sexual beings instead of the sexualized object the MPAA clearly prefers.

“For the last three decades many Americans have puzzled over a system that gives an R to a movie in which a women is carved up by a chainsaw and an NC-17 to one that shows a woman sexually pleasured. From such ratings one might conclude that sexual violence against women is OK for American teenagers to see, but that they must be 18 to see consensual sex. What message does this send to the kids the MPAA presumably means to protect?”

– Carrie Rickey

“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”

-Ryan Gosling on the controversy around the rating of his film ‘Blue Valentine’

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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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Game Review: Dishonored

Let me start by saying that I did not like this game in the beginning chapter. But that had less to do with the game and more to do with myself because I wasn’t playing it right at all. I’m pretty sure this had to do with me being so used to going into a game just shooting anything and everything in sight whilst being loud and obnoxious about it (ahem, Bioshock). But with Dishonored, you’ve gotta do this bad boy slooow (heh). It’s all about shadows and stealth. So yes, I was playing the game all wrong simply because I couldn’t transition out of  my usual rampaging and murderous mode. But once I did.. ho boy!

Anyway, this game is awesome! I absolutely loved the dreariness and steam-punk theme it had going on. But most of all, it is so incredibly imaginative. There are so many ways you can go about accomplishing one task; so many little twists and turns, in’s and out’s, so many options that’s it’s both glorious and irritating (but mostly glorious). Here’s the story: you play Corvo, an assassin who seeks revenge after being framed for the brutal murder of the Empress he was technically meant to be body guarding. The first five-minutes of gameplay taken up with sunshiny skies and innocent games of hide and seek are soon replaced by the dripping walls of a dungeon and the shambling footsteps of zombie-like citizens known as “weepers”.

*spoilers up ahead*

There are three ways you can play this game – either all in stealth, all in brutal kills, or a mixture of both. I decided to go with the former, since I wanted to be the saintly hero for a change. Within these choices, there are different ways to go about your mission. The abilities Corvo wields are a potent mix of explosive combat and creative cunning. When mastered, you’re rewarded with complete control of time and space, meaning with a flick of L2 you can stop time, possess the unlucky guard who just fired his pistol in your face, and walk him straight into the path of his own suspended bullet. With the world still in suspended animation around you, you can then blink a safe distance away to the rooftops above, ready to unpause time, grab your popcorn and watch the ensuing chaos. Need to infiltrate the hotel your mark is holed up in but do so in a super stealthy manner? No problem! Swipe the key off an unsuspecting guard or blink across the rooftops and through an open window or possess an unsuspecting fish swimming in the moat to swim through a grate into the hotel’s basement. The options are endless! This freedom of crafting your own route and set-pieces is one of the game’s main successes, because you have absolute autonomy and it forces you to pay attention to every scrap of detail in the world around you. You have to work for the answers to complicated predicaments, and each of Dishonored’s nine levels become a playground littered with opportunities for you to build glorious combos with your powers, and ransack hidden rooftops for clues to achieve your goals.  It’s a technical marvel I tell you.

It’s a bit hard to say anything bad about the game. I guess the dialogue could be better, because at times it’s very predictable and cheesy. And I suppose it would have been nice if Corvo actually opened his mouth and said a few things. But.. that’s really it. I haven’t played a lot of stealth games, but my interest in this category has definitely been piqued because of this game. For new timers like myself, this game isn’t hard once you get the hang of it because whatever route you take – up or down, left or right, the gutter or the stairs – you’ll always end up at the same conclusion: this game is pretty freakin great!

Rating – 4.5/5

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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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Summer hols

I’m done my summer course! Woot woot. Now I can wake up and do my absolute favorite activity: nothing.

This was a pretty brutal course though. There were around 8 articles to be read per week, each roughly about 28-35 pages along with the textbook as well as a discussion and dialogue surrounding postings on each of the articles. And then there were two paper submissions, one of which was 50%. It doesn’t sound too bad, but that amount of work over 4 weeks was not fun, especially when it was a sunny and bright day out. Not like I would have made much use of a nice sunny day but I’m jus saying.

Anyway, it’s all done and over with. To reward myself for successfully completing this course, I bought the game Dishonored 😀 I was watching the gameplay on Youtube, and it actually looks really good!

Have a looksie at the trailer:

Since I have nothing to occupy myself with now, I trust a game review will be up very shortly.

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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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