Lena Dunham: Not Worthy of Positive Attention

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Two Colorado professors, Gillian Silverman and Elissa Auther, run a series of events held at Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art called “Feminism & Co.” It’s a really fascinating series with events like “Women in Prison”, a panel that discussed why women enter prison and the cycle that keeps them there. It’s really a very cool event series that I’m excited to attend.

I’m really worried, however, about the event coming up this week.  The event is titled “The New Anti-Heroine”. This event, hosted by Sarah Hagelin (TV critic and professor of cultural studies at CU Denver) will be discussing the rise of the anti-heroine on TV shows such as Homeland, Enlightened, and the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl—but will focus on Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls.

The reason I’m worried isn’t about the Anti-Heroine concept and its rise. I’m worried because I really don’t like Girls getting publicity.

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Look, I’m sure it’s a great show with really cool concepts and a major change to the status quo. However, it is exceptionally white-washed—and Dunham doesn’t seem to care. All of the main characters are white. The only POC on the show are given roles that are servant or non-essential roles (Jamaican Nanny, Roosevelt Hotel Bellhop, Tibetan Nanny, Young Black Guy, etc). Dunham herself also seems to have no ability to recognize her racist and homophobic comments in life.

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I honestly don’t see how Dunham can be praised for her work when so much is wrong with it. Sure, you can like some aspects of a work that is deeply problematic, but so few people seem to realize just how bad it really is. Should we really be giving positive attention to her and her work? Isn’t it about time that we stop giving praise to those that are so lacking in so many other ways? I think so. Now let’s work for a change in Hollywood. We all deserve a little bit of representation—not just the social majority.

Frozen: Not as Progressive as You Thought

Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve updated! I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath, but we’ve been keeping busy and this has sadly been neglected.

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Today I really want to talk about Disney’s Frozen. I really enjoyed watching it. I loved the music. The animation was beautiful. But it is in no way as progressive as one might think. I’m not going into TOO much depth on it, but here’s a quick rundown.

First, the “you can’t marry someone you just met” quote that is used all over the place. Yeah, it’s great! I’m happy they said something about that. But it’s not like that’s an exactly new concept for Disney. Sure, there are a few. Little Mermaid is the classic example, but something like that hasn’t happened in years. Now we’ve got Brave, Princess and the Frog, and Tangled (though love does happen fairly quickly…but certainly not at first sight).

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The real thing that this message is doingis telling Anna that she can’t do what she wants to do. This happens constantly in the film. Anna can’t go outside. Anna can’t marry Hans. Anna can’t run off to Elsa. Anna can’t do anything alone. What kind of agency is that? Not a very effective kind, honestly. Sure, she goes off alone anyway, but that’s not the point. She has to defywhat people say to do what she wants, which is not exactly optimal.

Second, there’s the troll marriage scene. I hate that scene. Why is lack of consent played off as a joke? I can’t really figure it. It’s supposed to be laughter at the trolls and their oblivious nature, but what really comes out is a disregard for Anna’s wishes and consent. Talk about a step back

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Third, where are the other races? Where are the people of color? They’re pretty much nonexistent.  It’s been said that it would be unrealisticfor there to be people of color so far up north. But, um. Ice magic and talking snowmen. Who is being realistic here?

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The fourth (and last I’ll mention, though there is more), has to do with Elsa. She’s being heralded as this strong and independent woman. People say that she is all who she is despite what everyone else needs or wants. But that is certainly not the case. The only way she can be herself is when she runs away from everyone else and isolates herself. I mean, she starts by being scared of her power and isolating herself from others. Then she becomes isolated even more and loves her power. And sure, by the end, people accept her, but really, it seems more like they accept her because of Annaand the return of warmth. I dunno, seems kind of hollow to me.

Anyway, that’s my take. I loved how pretty it was, and the music was beautiful, but progressive it was not. What did you think?

OK, That’s Creepy: Internet Dating As It Currently Stands

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linked to a post on Facebook last week by Amanda Hess that discusses why the internet is an unwelcoming, and in fact unsafe, place for women.  I had always known that was true, but the article goes into a lot of depth on issues that I have had little frame of reference for as a man. However, that does not mean that I don’t understand and don’t see how horrible it all is. I mean, really, why is it so hard for people to see that women don’t deserve that type of treatment? And yet men continue to see women as objects—and hyper-sexualized ones at that.

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Even Zombie victims are not exempt, apparently

I don’t think it’s any mind-blowing news or anything, but this hyper-sexualization of women is even more obvious online than anywhere else, and perhaps nowhere is it more apparent than in online dating.

Now I don’t mean to discount the viability of online dating for women. I have had many friends succeed in it (and many more fail to get anything out of it) so that is not my intention here. My intention here is to point out that many men use it as an opportunity to fall prey to societal norms and harass women. Now maybe it’s because it’s a bit more anonymous than face-to-face interaction. Sure, they have profile pictures, but everything on their profile can be very easily falsified and usernames are used rather than real names. Sure, there’s a possibility that they can be recognized on the street, but the likelihood of that occurring is pretty minimal. So maybe it’s that. I honestly cannot fathom any other reason that this…obscene harassment continues unabated, and that’s not even a good reason—it’s just a reason.

And that it continues is not exactly news. There’s a reason there are so many horror stories out there regarding online dating and why it still hasn’t completely dodged the social stigma. I mean with these messages being some of the more tame messages, can it really be that shocking that there are blogs that have made jokes of online dating by writing horror stories about them? Horror stories that I thought were 100% real—at least until I thought about how absurd some of them were. It can’t really be a shock that there are other blogs that show some of the more despicable messages and seriously creepy men that message women.

nomeansnoIt’s really not that hard to understand

What is news is that men are starting to realize how horrid it is for women and how horrible men in the online dating world can actually be. There’s the story about the woman who created the most despicable character she could, hoping to drive away men and prove that it was better out there than she was told. Turns out, some men will take even a gold-digging, manipulative, egocentric, and racist woman if it turns out that she’s attractive. Or the story of the man who created a gender-swapped profile of himself and couldn’t last two hours with the amount of harassment and sexual messages that were coming to him.

All in all, these stories being presented prominently are a good thing, I think. Sure, there are men out there who continue to perpetrate this disgusting narrative, but it’s coming to the forefront and being recognized as a problem. Hopefully, that means that things will change as awareness rises. I’m not certain that’s actually true, but I’m hoping for it. Because when it comes down to it, I think that online dating is a great way to meet someone when you’re living a busy life. It just supremely sucks that so many men ruin it for everyone else.

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Ah, my dream home…

But maybe I’m being an idealist and this will go no where and do nothing. But hey, I’m just gonna be over here, taking note, and hoping for the best. We’ll see, won’t we?

Throwing Crabs into the Sea: Making Changes in 2014

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I’m going to say something that I’m sure you’ve seen plastered all over your Facebook news feed over the new years: 2013 wasn’t so great a year and I hope 2014 is better. I think we all say something along these lines every year, and it sucks that we do. But I mean, really, 2013 really wasn’t that great and while I don’t expect the best in 2014, I hope for it. In 2013 we had rampantculturalappropriation, rapey and misogynist music, health insurance controversies, sexist advertisements, racist killing justification, and multiplemassshootings. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been some good things, but the extensive negatives evident in the year overshadow much of the good. 

So I guess there’s enough to indicate that 2014 isn’t going to be a whole lot different. But I still try to help out where I can. I read a story about a young man throwing crabs from the beach into the sea. When asked why, he said “They’ll die if I don’t help them.” When told that there “must be millions of them” and he “can’t possibly make a difference”, the young man threw another back into the ocean and says “It made a difference to that one.” So, I’m going to hope for a better year and do what I can to make it happen…and here are some of the things I’ll be hoping and working for.

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I’m hoping for more women in political offices. This includes, but is not limited to Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte as Texas’ governor and lieutenant governor. I think that their ticket offers the best opportunities for educational focus, gender equality, and diversity in Texas. I mean, if Texas, a known red state and heavy in conservative attitude can come together and vote for two women pushing for progressive attitudes befitting this century, then I think it spells out good things for our country’s future.

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I’m hoping for an increase in gay marriage legality across the country. Utah is working hard right now to have equality in the marriage market, and 2013 showed a marked increase in states willing to step forward for what is moral and equal (with the addition of California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, and Hawaii) bringing us to 17 legal states. However, 33 states still ban same-sex marriage and that’s going to be a large barrier to cross. I have hope that we can move towards it, as 2013 (as bad as it was) showed the largest increase in years.

I’m hoping for a reduction in mass shootings…and dreaming of having none. Rachel Maddow told a story on the day of the DC Navy Yard shooting about the marked increase in the 12 worst mass shootings in our history. She talked of the first 6 happening over 50 years, while the last 6 happened with increasing frequency from 1999 to 2013. But those were also only the ones with 13 or more dead. 2013 alone had 365 mass shootings. 365. That’s enough for one every single day. While many of these shootings did not result in deaths, the sheer number of them is appalling. It’s too late now to hope that there won’t be any, but I have a sincere hope that there will be far fewer.

Overall, I’m just hoping that we do BETTER. I’m not looking for perfection, but I’m tired of this backsliding into the past. So do what you can to help. Donate time or money. Vote for your officials. Raise awareness for the issues in our society. And know that you may be only throwing a single crab back into the sea, but you’re still making a difference.

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So, what are you hoping for? What will you be working for? Which crab are you going to make a difference for?

Winter is here! And so is the stress.

It’s been a busy few weeks here at the WRC! We’ve had our week of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness activities, then Thanksgiving with family and friends, and now we’ve got final papers and finals! Talk about a ton of stress just before taking a much-needed break for the holidays. So as an apology for not posting a blog update over the past few weeks, here’s a gift for you all: pictures of animals in snow…because there’s nothing better.

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Hope you forgive us!

Auraria Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week!

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This week is very important to the Women’s Resource Center. A staggering amount of students on our campus are currently battling hunger and homelessness. Unfortunately, many students, staff, and faculty do not know as much as they should about this issue. We, as well as countless other offices on campus, have worked tirelessly to create the first ever Auraria Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. There will be a ton of important, informational, and fun events going on throughout the week.

Monday, Nov. 18 

12:15-12:45pm Awareness Week Launch

Tivoli Commons

Join us and speakers from each campus for a brief launch event that will frame the issues of student homelessness and hunger.

5:00pm Movie Monday

Tivoli Multicultural Lounge

We will be screening a documentary about multiple families living on the edge of homelessness. Pizza will be served.

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Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 19 – 20

11:00-3:00pm Student Resource Fair

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Looking for resources? Looking for a way to get involved and end hunger on and off campus? Stop by our Resource fair to chat with organizations from on and off campus. You do not have to be homeless or hungry to come by and learn about all the awesome organizations that will be there. Pizza will be served both days.

Thursday, Nov. 21

3:30-6:00pm Flobots Concert

Tivoli Turnhalle

Join us with a fun concert featuring Flobots with Defy You Stars as the opener! ! The Flobots will be performing their progressive music live to help support this great cause. Suggested donation of two cans, which will benefit our on campus food banks.

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Friday, Nov. 22

8:30-1:00pm Staff and Faculty Awareness Conference

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This will be an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn about student food and housing insecurities on campus directly from students and alums who have experienced either or both in their time at Auraria. Please RSVP to WRC@ucdenver.edu if you are interested in attending.

We are so excited for this week of awareness and understanding of hunger and homelessness on our campus. We hope to see you there! Which events are you most excited for? Which ones will you be attending? Let us know in the comments below.

Kids React to Gay Marriage Proposals…and it’s (Mostly) Very Positive

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The Fine Brothers are very well known in the YouTube community. Their most well known videos surround the concept of showing children or teenagers viral videos and recording their reactions followed by a short question and answer session to go deeper into their reactions. This series, “Kids React”, has recently got some great attention (and was in fact promoted on The Huffington Post) due to a video they put up on November 3rd: “Kids React to Gay Marriage”.

And, might I say, the video is fantastic.

Or fabulous.

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Yeah, definitely fabulous.

In any case, the video showcases the reactions of kids as they watch two admittedly over-the-top marriage proposals by gay couples (one male couple, one female couple). The kids seem a little confused at first, but it’s largely due to their confusion as to what’s happening, but when they realize that it’s a proposal the responses are priceless. There are a lot of things that are fascinating about this video, so indulge me as I share my love of it.

First, I think that it’s amazing that so many of the kids are 100% fine with the marriage of the couples themselves. In fact, not only are they perfectly happy with it, they have so many questions as to why it’s considered not okay and are outspoken about how nonsensical it is to attempt to restrict someone from marrying someone they love. It really shows how great a job people are doing in sharing equality and positive values with their children: so yay everyone!

Second, I think that they do a great job of showing even the children who have issues with the marriage…of which there are only a few. One of them changes her view mid-video as she thinks about it, but one of the others holds his opinion all the way through. The interesting thing about it that I found was that the child didn’t have any answers as to why he felt the way he did, and did not elaborate on any of the questions like the other children did.  So while there were children who disliked gay marriage, the lack of enthusiasm really indicates how little society is really saying negatively about the subject. I mean, if all they can say is “it’s wrong!” and move on, I really don’t see those against gay marriage saying much more than that.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll just end with a few thoughts.

In a time where 54-56% of Americans support Gay Marriage, 14 states allow gay marriage (with many others on their way to doing the same), and US congressmen are coming out as gay without apology, this reflection of what society thinks through the eyes of children is fantastic. I don’t think there can be anything better than children showing the positive reactions that society has for gay marriage…except perhaps more states not restricting gay marriage.

Yeah. In a perfect world…I can only hope we’re on our way to one after seeing a video like this. Hopefully, Colorado will be next (we’ve got some coverage, but not what we need!).

So, out of curiosity, what’s the best child response to gay marriage that you’ve seen? There are a fair amount to be found on the internet, but I’m also interested in first-hand accounts if you have them. I’d love to hear all about them!

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