“We’re a Culture, Not a Costume”

Whenever Halloween rolls around, I inevitably think of Mean Girls. Cady, the main character goes to a house party dressed as a zombie bride. When asked why she is dressed so scary, she simply states, “It’s Halloween.” She soon learns however that Halloween is not for fun, creative costumes. Instead, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

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The notion that “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a slut” warrants a blog post all its own, but for this particular post, I would like to focus on something just as disturbing. I think it’s also fair to say that Halloween is the one time of year where people find it acceptable to dress in completely inappropriate and racist costumes. Last year, I went to a Halloween party dressed as Albus Dumbledore, my favorite character from the Harry Potter series. A white guy came up to me clad in a stereotypical Native American costume.

“Isn’t that inappropriate? You know he’s dead, right?”

Um. What?

Sigh.

Yes, I do know that he is dead. No, I do not think this costume is inappropriate. I’d be glad to discuss why you think that, but first, can we focus on your costume for a minute?

Your costume reinforces stereotypes. Dressing in a costume reflecting a culture or race is not funny. It’s offensive and demeaning and should not be tolerated.

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Students at Ohio University agree and have created an awesome picture campaign to raise awareness of this issue, using the tagline “We’re a culture, not a costume.”  The campaign has captured nation wide attention and will hopefully slow the annual epidemic that is inappropriate, offensive costumes.

Check out some of the flyers included in the campaign below. What do you think of this campaign? What is your costume this Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!

And if for some unthinkable reason you have not seen Mean Girls, or you just want to see it again, we have it in our feminist library for check out. Have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

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Malala Yousafzai’s influence spreads beyond education

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I’ve gotten into multiple arguments as I present my support for equality. Arguments about why I’m a feminist, how I could support teacher unions, why I even care about bigotry and homelessness, and anything else under the sun. And sometimes these arguments, these protests, discourage me.  I was told once that “at some point, you’ll get out of politics…or go crazy.” And it’s so incredibly hard not to take that to heart and just give up.

But then I see how others respond to adversary and I know that I can’t.

If you haven’t heard of Malala Yousafzai, you may have been living under a rock. Or busy. I hear that happens, even when the government is shut down and 800k people are furloughed and not receiving pay.

But if you haven’t heard of her, then you really should. Allow me to enlighten you (or remind those of you who have).

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani teenager known for her activism. Her activism largely deals with fighting for girls’ rights to an education.

Her activism is why the Taliban shot her twice in 2012. The Taliban attempted to assassinate a 15 year old who just wants education for everyone.

Malala, even with the threat of more attacks and her own death, continues to fight for the over 57 million children who cannot attend school.

You know what she’s done since? Well, other than write a book about being shot for her beliefs? Other than leave Jon Stewart speechless on the Daily Show? Other than win the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought? Other than win the European Human Rights prize? Other than get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (the youngest person ever nominated)?

What, isn’t that enough?

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She doesn’t think so and determination like that is something that should not only be rewarded, but emulated. This young woman gives me courage to continue helping as much as I can. This activist gives me the determination to keep working even when I’m run ragged by opposition. Because when it comes down to it, no amount of protest I’ve received can compare to what she has overcome to give girls an education.

So I won’t stop. I won’t stop talking about what I believe in and supporting those that believe in the same message of equality. Because when it comes down to it, the opposition to these ideas is loud and angry—but that doesn’t make them right…and they won’t make me give up, when a bullet hasn’t silenced a woman like Malala.

So how about you? How do you respond to the strength of Malala? How will you respond to the adversary you receive?

Walter White: A Victim of American Healthcare

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Future generations might view Breaking Bad as one long ad for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but at its inception, the issue of healthcare was the root of anxiety for millions of Americans.

Most critics and viewers alike are hailing Breaking Bad as one of the greatest television shows of all time, and for good reason. Like a million other viewers, I was watching the season finale with abated breath this past Sunday night. It was not until this episode that I realized something about the show that I hadn’t really thought about.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as Walter White, high school chemistry teacher turned drug dealer and eventually, powerful drug lord.  The reason for this extreme transformation stems from Mr. White discovering he has lung cancer, and realizing that he may not have long to live. Desperate for money for his family in case he dies, Mr. White uses his knowledge of chemistry to cook crystal meth and, with his partner, distribute it across the Albuquerque area.

Obviously, this is an American television show, but it wasn’t until this last episode that I realized why only American audiences would connect to Mr. White’s money problems. Could it be this show is really a commentary on the American healthcare system?

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Well, duh.

There are several other countries who would look at this show and probably think it ridiculous, ludicrous even that a man faced with cancer would have to worry about something like paying for his medical care- France, Canada, and Australia just to name a few.

Before becoming a meth cook, White is working two jobs, one as a high school chemistry teacher, and the other a cashier at a car wash. As some would have you believe, teachers are very well compensated when it comes to their healthcare, but as Barbara Freidland points out, “Often they, teachers-police-fire fighters- are forced into HMO’s. HMO’s do not usually like paying for expensive medical expertise and treatments. And what if White gets fired because he is too sick to continue to work? There goes the heath coverage… So let’s pay teachers more and hedge fund managers less.”

In this time of great confusion and anxiety over what will or won’t happen concerning healthcare in this country, Breaking Bad is a wonderful indictment on our present system, one that the show points out is broken. Not only does Walt long for money, but he also longs for control; control over his health, how he recovers, how he lives, and how he dies. The system we have had in place robs Walter White of these choices, compelling him to do unspeakable things.

Just two days after the season finale, the ACA went online providing millions of Americans with health insurance purchased through regulated exchanges. If the series had started in 2014, the year Obamacare will be fully implemented, White would have had very few financial worries and his life would have made for extremely boring television. The ACA bans annual limits on insurance coverage and it also puts a limit on out-of-pocket expenses both for families and individuals. According to the Daily Beast, “ the White family would have had to pay $12,700 for Walt’s care. A large sum, but not so much that it makes sense to go into the meth-dealing business.”

This shows examines several important themes: family, loyalty, love, power, gender roles, and the meaning of being “good.” I definitely recommend coming out from under that rock and checking it out. In the meantime, enjoy these graphics that pretty much sum up the connection Breaking Bad shares with our healthcare system.

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