Build Your Confidence!

I have often wondered why there seems to be a difference in how confident men and women are in themselves. In a New York Times article by Suzanne Daley a survey was done in 1991, with 3,000 children, and at the age of nine both girls and boys felt confident, assertive, and pleased with themselves. Later when the same girls were in high school, less than a third of them still felt confident. Why do girls lose that self-esteem? Women and young girls face a lot of societal pressure. They must have the perfect body, the perfect face, and the perfect personality. For a long time America’s ideal woman was someone who was thin with long hair, and blue eyes. It was like the pressure was on to become the next human Barbie, and it was a goal that was unfair. When a goal is unreachable we tend to feel like a disappointment.

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Growing up I didn’t have much self-esteem. For three years I swam on my high school swim team and after graduating I joined martial arts. The feeling of achieving something is remarkable, in swimming I would always try to beat my personal record and when I did it was one goal reached. Then in martial arts it was something I didn’t know anything about which made it more interesting. I remember having to remember the word of the belt (for white belt), each belt had a phrase that was memorized, and coincidently the word of the belt was “Positive Self- Esteem” right off the bat I had to work with who I am. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you can’t move to self-actualization without your self-esteem, but in this case self- esteem was the first thing I needed to continue on.

Fast forward to today I know that my self-confidence has grown tremendously and I am confident with who I am as a person. Sports have helped me understand who I am and they have also made be become at peace with who I am.

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Involvement in sports might be one way to improve the confidence of young women. In his article Sports: Building Confidence: Part I he has four sections: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk, Balance the Scales, and Thought-stopping. In the articles Dr. Jim Taylor emphasizes that positive thoughts will be the goal to achieving confidence. In sports you must think of the positive, you’re not going to go into a game thinking you are bound to lose, if so it will happen. While in a sport with other people it also helps because your teammates are your support system and they help cheer you on so you do think positively.

Sometimes to have that complete confidence you have to find that right activity. For some it is running, hiking, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, karate, or tennis. Think about some of the women out there that have found their passion. Serena Williams, American professional tennis player, carries herself with so much passion for the game and you can see that ooze out of her. Natalie Coughlin, an American competitive swimmer, loves to spend more time in the water than on land. Just because these women have given their life for what they do doesn’t mean they have more or less confidence then anyone. Their self-confidence grew, by feeding off the accomplishments they achieved in sports. They had set new personal bests, surviving the setbacks of injuries, and work through particularly difficult skills. Their competition in sports, as in life, was not with someone else, it was with themselves.

Confidence is a skill and it needs to be practice like any other skill, so join a sports club, join a jogging team, or join a dance team. Becoming active will help with confidence building and encourage others to do the same, you never know who’s confidence needs a boost.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 29:  Serena Williams celebrates a point against Li Na of China during the final of the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

KEY BISCAYNE, FL – MARCH 29: Serena Williams celebrates a point against Li Na of China during the final of the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty 

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Tejano Superstar

In honor to the 20th anniversary of Selena Quintanilla-Perez’s death the WRC would like to take a moment and view her success not only as a women but a Hispanic women in a world that is mainly dominated by men. Selena Quintanilla- Perez was born on April 16, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas her life was anything but simple; and by the age of 10 she was the lead singer in her family’s band, Selena Y Los Dinos. The band featured Selena’s brother Abraham on bass guitar and her sister Suzette on drums. The band was produced and managed by their father Abraham, Jr who was a former musician. I guess I can say that music is in their blood.

In 1980’s Selena [Y Los Dinos] became every popular with Tejano music fans; and in 1987 at the Tejano Music Awards she won both “Best Female Vocalist of the Year” and “Performer of the Year”. Then in 1990 was when her first gold record hit with the album “Ven Conmigo”.  Same with her 1993 album “Live”. Her next goal was to watch her English- speaking album “Dreaming of You” rise to number one.  Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see the success because she was shot by Yolanda Saldivar, the founder of the Selena’s fan club, and died on March 31, 1995.candle selena

The hit movie Selena directed by Gregory Nava captured the life of Selena. The role of Selena was played by Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. This movie created a new connection between Selena and her fans. The movie itself made about 60,000,000 dollars in box office her legacy continued even after she had passed.selena movie

Selena made an enormous impact on the Hispanic culture because of her lively personality. Performing was something that she was passionate about and it was something that she carried in her heart. That same feeling made little girls want to be like her, and adults loved her music. It is not every day you can run into with that amount of passion from someone.selena_medium

On April 30, 2015 Gaby Espino, Venezuelan actress and model, and Pedro Fernandez, recording artist and actor, hosted the Billboard Latin Music Awards. It was a night full of excitement and memories. Twenty years after the tragic death of Selena she was still remembered by the Hispanic community.  A special tribute was in favor of the beloved singer and for this tribute Jennifer Lopez was asked to come back to sing as Selena. This time Los Dinos, A.B Quintanilla (brother of Selena) Suzette Quintanilla (sister of Selena) and Chris Perez (Widow), joined Jennifer Lopez on stage for one more tribute. We at the WRC are hoping that the Quintanilla family has reached their goal of never letting their beloved sister’s dream down. I am in pleased to know that such an incredible young women being honored for the impact she has made on her community.

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?

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?

“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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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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