Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Pastime of Slut Shaming: Targeting Miley Cyrus

Some of my female friends, whom I admire and respect and like a whole lot, continue to express dismay over Miley Cyrus' sexually provocative performance at the VMAs. Across the Internet, some are labeling the performance as slutty, disgusting, and degrading to women. Funny thing is that I don't feel at all degraded as a woman due to Cyrus' romp on stage with Teddy Bears and Robin Thicke. 

I'm too old to appreciate Miley Cyrus' music but her performance style doesn't offend me any more than Madonna did in her hey day. Recall that video where she crawled across the floor and lapped milk out of a bowl? 

While I greatly appreciate and continue to like my female friends, I have to pose the following questions. Why is it that women are the first ones to turn on other women who are overtly sexual in their actions or appearance? We label these women as sluts, nasty, trashy, just doesn't sound very sisterly to me. What's with this judgment that a woman who expresses her sexuality while performing on stage is behaving in a shameful way and any decent female should be ashamed of her and for her? 

Michael Jackson grabbed his crotch and hoisted his junk in every performance. Even in the staid 1950s, Elvis gyrated his hips in a distinctly sexual manner, accompanied by pelvic thrusts. I can't recall a single male performer whose overtly sexual performance has ever elicited the same type of need to express revulsion and disgust as Miley Cyrus has garnered for shaking her butt, thrusting her pelvis forward, and sometimes pointing at her crotch.

Why are we still defining women in terms of meeting some 1950s standard of ladylike behavior? 

The Syrian government appears to have used chemical weapons against its own people but the big topic in the U.S. is that Miley Cyrus was twerking on television! Oh the horror! She pointed at her crouch and did a slow grind a few times with Robin Thicke. Notice how there haven't been any headlines labeling Robin Thicke as a slut, nasty, disgusting, or an embarrassment to his gender? Miley wasn't on that stage alone.

Perhaps we need to step back and really think as to what the message is that we wish to convey. Do we really want to adhere to some arbitrary and outdated standard that divides women into good girls and sluts? All the 20-year old Miley Cyrus did was express herself as a sexual being. She didn't advocate for violence. She wasn't an object; she was in control and she chose how to express herself. That's a far cry from exploitation in my book. Just something to think about.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All the Stupid People, Where Do They All Come From?

This post is not addressed to my regular readers. I know that you know this information. However, if you choose to do so, this is for your use. Please feel free to send it to anyone that you feel is talking nonsense about Obamacare. You may share it in part or as a whole. It probably won't do any good but it made me feel better to write and share this post. At least my head won't explode.

Just when I'm in a positive frame of mind, I go and read something so stupid (post from August 21 re: Affordable Health Care Act) it makes my head want to explode. There are a lot of sites that advise people not to buy health insurance in compliance with the Affordable Health Care Act. However, that's not what has my head expanding. It's the number of brainless nitwits who assert that noncompliance will result in not just fines but imprisonment. 

There is no imprisonment for not buying health insurance. Don't believe every stupid bit of information that you read on the Internet.

There are fines for not having health insurance. In Obamacare's first year (2014), the fine is $95 per adult or one percent of income, whichever is highest. The penalty is half the adult amount for children under 18. The penalty goes up every year, landing at $695 or 2.5 percent of household income in 2016.

If you own a car, states require you to buy at minimum, liability insurance. This is not to protect you but to protect your fellow drivers from being  hit by uninsured drivers and having to either pay out of pocket or file a claim with their insurance and risk an increase in their rates. 

When you get sick, (and unless you die young from an accident, you will get sick at some point in your life, and traipse off to the emergency room with no insurance) the rest of us pay for your health care. Those ridiculous overcharges at hospitals are to create sufficient funds to cover treating the uninsured.

So while you defiantly refuse to spend $100 per month on health insurance (if you're in good health with no pre-existing conditions your insurance costs will be low), when you are in an accident or become seriously ill and take yourself to the emergency room and are hospitalized, who do you think pays for your medical care? You have no insurance. The hospital can try to collect, but if you have no assets worth a crap, then there is nothing for the hospital to collect from you. And in spite of the nonsense I've read recently, there is no such thing as a debtor prison in the United States. Your property, if you have any, may be forfeited but no one goes to prison because he or she cannot pay their debts. 

Please stop spreading misinformation and declaring that anyone is going to prison because he or she does not purchase health insurance. If you'd rather pay a fine, so be it.

As for the chicken little cries that the AHCA equals Socialism, I suggest you start with the basics and check out Wikipedia's entry on Socialism. It's exceptionally simplistic and ultimately inaccurate to characterize Socialism as a redistribution of wealth. However, I don't have the time nor energy to give a fundamental lesson in Socialism.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Julius Chambers: October 6, 1936 – August 2, 2013

Julius Chambers
I heard the news of Julius Chambers' death in the early hours of Saturday morning. The first time that I met Julius, I was tongue-tied. He was a personal hero and I was awed to be in his presence. He shook my hand and murdered the pronunciation of my first name. I repeated my name for him and he smiled and nodded. I was a part of a group of attorneys testifying before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on the impact of high stakes testing on minority students. Those of us involved continued to meet after our appearance before the commission to discuss strategies for improving the delivery of education services to minority students in North Carolina. Chambers was the catalyst for getting the group going. At that time, he was the director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights, founded in 2001 by Chambers at the UNC School of Law. 

As I got to know Chambers, my hero worship grew. He was brilliant in his knowledge of the law. He was also charming, had a great sense of humor, and totally unassuming.  This was the man who was responsible for perhaps the single most significant factor in moving school integration from just words in the 1955 Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision to reality. It was Chambers' Swann lawsuit that ultimately resulted in court ordered busing which facilitated school integration. The 1971 ruling in the Swann vs. the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case mandated cross-town busing to end segregation of local schools. It led to the 1971 Supreme Court ruling that allowed school districts to bus students to desegregate schools to achieve racial balance.

My fondest memory of Julius is of a dinner to celebrate the anniversary (can't recall which one) of the opening of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. I invited my Dad to be my escort, knowing that he would be thrilled to meet Julius. What I didn't know was that I was one of the guests whom Julius planned to introduce to the other attendees. I sat at my table, chatting with my dad who was in ecstasy because he had engaged in a lengthy cocktail hour chat with Bill Friday who had served for three decades as president of the University of North Carolina System. 

Julius began by announcing that he had some special guests whom he wished to introduced. He named an individual, provided a brief bio, and noted the person's contributions to the fight for civil rights for all people. He began my introduction by announcing that he didn't dare call my full name because he might mispronounce it and I would loudly correct him in front of everyone. He alleged that he had been forced to call me Ms. Reid all the years that he had known me because he wasn't allowed to say my first name. I was laughing so hard that I gave myself the hiccups while my bewildered father looked embarrassed that his daughter had dared be so sassy with Julius Chambers. Julius gave me a big innocent smile as I briefly stood to acknowledge the intro. He'd waited a few years but he had finally paid me back for my chutzpah in correcting him when we first met. 

The world will miss his presence.