Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thanks, my friend! October 25

Today's a very cool day for me.  I am the featured writer on a great site I've recently started frequenting called Studio 30 Plus that provides a meeting ground of sorts for writers and aspiring writers to commune online and give each other feedback.  There was a big lump in my throat when I clicked through to my post this morning.  It was easily swallowed with the help of some java, especially with one kind reply to it so far.  Shew ... so that's out there.
The post, along with three years of my tinnitus being silenced two hours a week, would never have been possible without my yoga instructor friend, Amanda.  When I first started taking her class at the Y, a photographer student of hers came in with the most gravity-defying picture of Amanda in a one-arm balance pose that took my breath away.  It's not actually her in these flying splits, but you have to click through to this image to get a grasp of what I mean (thanks, Jen @  Intimidation?  Nah.  Amanda is one of the most talented, down-to-earth, encouraging people I've met while living here.  
Kat Saks at
Her sweet demeanor helps her relate to people of all different walks of life, practice levels, and personalities.  She was previously an elementary teacher, so that experience probably serves her well.  Yoga students are always welcomed openly in her class, and Amanda never forgets the name of anyone who returns.  The geographic area where we live hosts a wide variety of residents and temporary residents of several local colleges, so this woman is more adaptable than your average yogi.  Amanda's sweet personality and sense of humor help her assimilate everyone into a safe place to practice yoga.  I love that she previously tried to "om" in her classes but soon discovered the "Ozark om" was more like "Ummm ... I'm not doin' that!"  As my mom would say, she's somethin' else!  
Amanda first insisted I try crow post (shown to left), or bakasana, and has helped me muster the courage to keep trying it until I can stay there longer than three seconds.  
She is a compassionate person, a good friend, and passionate about her own practice.  She inspired a character in one of my novellas, and I bet a bit more of her will be squeezed into future stories.  You bring much joy and peace into my life, Amanda.  For that I say, thanks my friend!

We all have inspiring people in our lives ... so tell them!  It's great to get a pat on the back from time to time.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why does this have to happen?

Why is feminism so often considered a dirty word?  I rather proudly attest to being a feminist.  Nebulous as the term can be, I believe anyone can call themselves a feminist if they feel women deserve more than being treated like a doormat.  It's that simple.  And this perspective is certainly not limited to women. There are many male feminists who will shout it loud and proud.

Images of perfection get in the way, though.  We are all socialized to think of women first in how they look.  Prescribing how a "perfect" woman looks makes women become a commodity, like their worth is ascribed to their appearance.  It is as if females are something to be owned, praised or berated, owned, "less than."

So why is it that in the year 2012 we are still seeing the objection of females so prevalent in entertainment and advertising?  To this day, women are looked upon and treated as property.  They are portrayed as products, not people.  Not individuals with brains, goals, individual personalities, and earning potential.  

Most television shows, popular movies, and waaaay too many advertisements feature women's bodies or stereotypes of them as their fodder. (i.e. google Bedchel test) They get the slutty part, the stupid part, the victim, the character who never speaks, or they aren't there at all.  Looking totally perfect seems to be the most important thing about them.  It's everywhere!  I am most disgusted to see these impossible images directed at young girls.  The pressure has reached such epidemic proportions it even delves into the cartoon world.  This article about Minnie proves the point.  

What the hell, people?!  It's not bad enough to see size-2 to size-6 women are the supposed norm in real life.  Now it's freakin' Minnie Mouse?  I knew Olive Oyl must have been anorexic, but I thought that was somehow attributed to how she was carried around by Popeye and Bluto, and they couldn't have really been that strong (even in a cartoonish way).  I've ranted before about Disney princesses, but Walt's little rodents have gone to the dark side as well.  Sickening.  

If calling myself a feminist can be attributed to one thing, it may be these stereotypes.  And don't even get me started on the misogynists who hate feminists and send out their internet trolls to patrol them.

Young girls and boys need someone to tell them these images are messed up .. they're not right, they're not real, and that's not the way it should be.  For them to grow up and be treated equally, as they deserve, they are the ones to grow their perspectives, evolve, take up for each other instead of break each other down, and fight to change their own futures. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The bravest feminist

It's humbling to consider the distinction of the bravest feminist title to belong to a 14-year old girl. Young Malala Yousafzai has made the ultimate sacrifice for her courage, too, as she was almost fatally wounded by terrorists last week. She lives in Pakistan without the luxury of "freedom of speech" we Americans take for granted.  Her had a price on her head for speaking up in a resounding voice about equality for herself and her peers. 

The vile and disgusting assailants were not quite successful, though. I hope this teenager lives to resonate her message throughout the universe via the internet. The message is threatening, and extremists must be scared to bring on this brazen attack. Malala's story has reached a wide-spread audience and invoked a stronger resolve to prevent such sadistic actions in the future. Women AND men (i.e., Malala's father) will strive to balance the gender power structures of the world, as females earn and inherently deserve mutual respect and access to education. An educated girl grows to be an informed and outspoken woman who won't be controlled. Hence, the struggle to dominate such strong individuals.   

Misdirected martyrs must want to send a message of their own, but it only serves to prove their depravity and disregard for human life. Such religious fanaticism and its desperate acts are piteous. If there is any justice in the world, may their creator administer just punishment. We can pray to our own gods to exact that divine balance. 

No, I don't understand the culture. I don't want to know what makes minds like theirs tick in an extremist culture of hatred and putrefaction. 

This young woman's face "like a flower" lives on, and she is reveled as a fresh leader of the international feminist movement. Her example will continue to be one of compassion, much like my beloved President Obama. Women across the globe aspire to Malala Yousafzai's sense of equality and purpose. We can all learn from her selfless and valiant activism for the good of global citizens.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why are people so damn crazy?

Isn't the election coming up bad enough without general idiocy running rampant as well?  It makes a person long for the zombie apocalypse.  Some people would just be considered junk food.

Then you're gonna get eaten!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thanks, my friend! October 4

It takes a lot of guts to leave your home for a different country where people speak a different language and you know nobody else who lives there. I imagine it's even more difficult if you come from a patriarchal country that expects young women to get their education to be "marriage material" but then not use that education once they are married, because they cannot work outside the home. Talk about a double standard.

My friend, Young, did just that back in the '90s.  She moved to the United States from Seoul and graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. From Korea to the Midwestern United States, wow. This woman has some hutzpah.  

The first time I met Young was in an undergraduate class we shared, although I don't remember which one. What I do recall is seeing her in the library some time later when she approached me with such a warm smile. She opened a dialogue about class with someone a bit familiar but still a stranger (me), no doubt honing her English skills by total immersion. Being so far away from home and speaking a second language while trying to meet her educational goals is amazing. She also had the courage to reach out to others, like me, who probably wouldn't have struck up a conversation themselves.  

My first stint of working in television came at Young's urging to apply at the station where she was working running camera for the local news. We worked together for a short time, not long enough. Much to my dismay, Young moved back to Seoul after her graduation. She has since married and has two beautiful daughters. I am sure she is a loving, wonderful mother and hope her girls grow up just as wise and strong with her influence. Young is definitely a go-getter -- someone who won't have to ask herself "what if" when looking back on her life. Her determination is admirable, and I'm lucky to have had her friendship as a part of my life.

Meeting her family is on my bucket listand I hope to visit them all one day. I miss my friend but am glad she approached me that day long ago. Her actions initiated a lasting friendship I may not have otherwise had the chance to have, and for that I say, "thank you, my friend."  

Recognize a friend of your own. We could all use a pat on the back from time to time.