Monday, November 12, 2012

I've been pretty absent from this blog lately, mostly due to being busy with a new job (more on that later) and a new budding relationship (maybe a little more on that later), but also because especially with the elections, I've reached some serious concern/involvement burnout. While I am not and will never be apathetic, sometimes I need to step back from the rest of the world for the sake of my own mental health.

I stumbled across something on the internetz that I wanted to share here. I don't know who to credit, as the credit seems to have been lost in the meme. It seemed appropriate, especially with all of the post-election hostilities:

"Apologizing does not always mean that you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego."

Also, for a smile and stuff, check out Daily Odd Compliment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rape Culture 101... From a Person With a Penis

[TW Rape culture, etc]

Credit to Matthew H.

Rape culture refers to the recognition that there are certain institutional constructs, be they societal, legal, and/or cultural, which has the combined effect of unfairly justifying, marginalizing, or even allowing rapes to occur, and go unpunished.

1. Any talk of cause, other than unwanted sexual contact, supports the concept that rape is a crime for which a man can be not entirely culpable. Comments about how women dress, act, or otherwise present themselves only serve to try and marginalize the absolute culpability of the attacker. It becomes obvious when we discuss another type of crime. Take fraud. Do we do the same amount of questioning of the actions or behaviors of those who are caught in pyramid or other schemes? The inconsistency is the rape culture.

2. Any institution that is set up to require greater burden's of proof or evidence in a particular case (ie, rape) also contribute to the "rape culture." This can be police, or judicial. I don't think I need to go into a long diatribe about how women are unfairly questioned or accused during rape proceedings. The inconsistency is the rape culture.

3. Any talk of cultural constraints also seems to marginalize, or explain-away the action. Things like "well, she was out at a bar getting hammered..." etc. Our cultural constructs exist, but they are not identical to our moral requirements. We punish crimes that could also "fit in" with our cultural constructs. The 'rape culture' says that only in the cases of rape will we unfairly, and inconsistently, try to marginalize the crime. We do not marginalize fraud by bringing up the market economy (in which people are looking to make money). Again, the inconsistency is the rape culture.

I am less than impressed with guys who make claims against what the majority of women understand.

You cannot know what it is like to spend your entire life viewed as prey. Imagine if, god forbid, you were raped and cops and/or other people started asking questions about what you were wearing or the way you were acting, being questioned and accused as if you somehow brought it on yourself. It ought to be recognized, by the way, that this is the same justification abusers use on the abused. It's been used by abusers to justify emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

Rape culture? You're blind if you can't see it. Or, more likely, a male.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Elephant Crashes Pool Party

In more weird animal news, I recently stumbled across this little gem about an elephant that wanders up to a small pool party and starts drinking the pool. I'm assuming it was pretty focused, because eventually it looks up, seems to realize where it is, and awkwardly retreats from the pool party.

"Drunk Bear Family Downs Over 100 Beers During Bear Rager"

I do love my weird animal news, especially if it involves the animals getting drunk. This story is about an adult bear (presumably the mother bear) and three cubs breaking into a cabin in Norway and getting into over 100 beers and lots food... behaving much like any frat in the U.S.

Monday, July 30, 2012

It's All About Perspective

"If your focus is always looking down when you fall, you will inevitably miss the hand that is reaching out from above or behind you... A slight change of angle often changes the view."

My Aunt Jacqui's response on a Facebook status I posted saying "People inevitably let you down."

She's smart like that...

Monday, June 4, 2012

On "Sister Wives"

(Yes, this is happening.)

Though I don't own a TV myself and I'm not an avid follower of the show, I have seen a few episodes of TLC's "Sister Wives." My mom loves the show. She's not an actual fan; she just watches it with the express purpose of talking shit. I'm not kidding. She does this with a few shows. She even records them. So when I'm visiting my parents, I end up watching all of these shows I would NEVER watch normally.

I'm visiting my parents, and last night she wanted to watch some show where they interview the family (or at least the adults- the husband and his four wives) and all five of them answer viewer questions. I was actually pretty fascinated.

As we were watching, my mom turned to me and asked, "What do you think about all this?" I told her the truth: I don't feel it's my place to pass judgement on anyone else. Who or how someone else loves is not my business, and really isn't up for judgement or my personal opinions. As a queer person, I know EXACTLY how it feels to be on the other side of that judgement. It SUCKS. Do I understand polygamy? Absolutely not. I CAN'T. I don't share their religious beliefs or background. So no, I don't understand it, I really don't think it would ever be something I would do, but it's not my business or my place to judge, and I accept that they are consenting adults who aren't harming anyone*. In short: Not my thing, but who cares? Leave them alone.

Although my mom sort of scoffed at my answer, I was really glad I told her the truth about how I feel when the family was asked what they would do if one of their kids came out to them. Despite their affiliation with a religion that is vehemently anti-gay, they all seemed to agree that they would love and accept their children, no matter what. Even if they were gay.

So take that.

* I understand that there is a (somewhat ironic) panic of "WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!?!" However, I've seen no conclusive studies on children raised in polygamous families. And ethnographies, legitimate or not, are not conclusive for the entire group. I will say that from what I have seen, the kids seem pretty happy and healthy and their family seems pretty "normal", aside from its size and plural wives.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's Your Number?

[TW for discussion of sex and sexual acts, consent, and some references to misogyny and rape-culture-y stuff]

The stats, according to the CDC*:

*2006-2008 for individuals aged 15-44 years. "Sexual partners" included anyone with whom respondents had vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

If you're a more visual person, I've turned the second table into a graph, with percent of population on the y-axis and number of sexual partners on the x-axis:

The points at which the two lines are furthest apart are at 1 sexual partner and at 15 or more sexual partners. At zero sexual partners, the two are so close that the difference is not statistically significant. The difference is quite small at 7-14 partners (only 2.1%), but I would still consider that statistically significant, especially since 7-14 is such a huge range.

I disagree with the methods the CDC uses for a number of reasons:

1. Their study is so heteronormative, it hurts. I actually really liked how inclusive their definition of "partners" is: anyone with whom respondents had vaginal, oral, or anal sex. But then they had to go an add that "opposite sex" bullshit. Same-sex (and non-m/f) couples/groups can still have "sex."
Which brings me to my next gripe...
2. Use of "opposite" sex. There are more than two sexes and more than two genders, and even "male" and "female" or "man" and "woman" are not "opposite." "Other" would be more correct. (More correct than "opposite," although see #1.)
3. Their definition of what is "sex". I am fundamentally and fervently opposed to the patently absurd (and quite frankly, offensive) notion that penetration (by a phallus, as implied by the heteronormative nature of the study) equals sex. I'm in agreement with author Jessica Valenti's definition of sex: it's sex if you have an orgasm. Different strokes for different folks: people get off in different ways. And an orifice getting action is not necessarily sex. (Otherwise we'd have some seriously criminal dentists, orthodontists, ob/gyns, and other doctors...) And I find that Valenti's definition gives far more accurate portrayals of actual sexual encounters. (Or sexcapades, as I like to call them.)
And, um, hello? What about kink?
Kink doesn't necessarily involve sex, but when it does, there's a huge gray area there.
4. This is really nitpicky, but: What about group sex? Just for argument's sake, what about sex involving 3+ individuals where all individuals don't necessarily interact directly? To go with a simple example, there's PLENTY of porn where two (or more) men fuck one woman, but do not have any sexual contact with each other. Would they count as sexual partners? 
5. What about non-consensual sexual acts? Can you really call it a "sexual partner" if it's against an individual's will and/or without their consent?

Obviously, there's a lot of gray area. But that's human sexuality for you. And to some extent, oversimplification in this study was necessary to get it done. (Heh.)
But that's my point: not everyone's so clear-cut.
Also, they oversimplified in ways they shouldn't have.

As far as I'm concerned, "number" is absolutely trivial. It's unimportant bullshit.

As a general rule, I'm more concerned that any two (or more) sexual partners are adults, recently tested for STDs/STIs with clean results, that they are clear that we WILL be safe in any sex with have, and that all parties (past and present) are (or were, at the time) consenting.
It matters not how many people or how often or what type of sex; what DOES matter is that it's safe and between consenting adults and everyone's on the same page (meaning no one's being mislead emotionally; don't be shitty). 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Random Recipe of the Week: Pseudo-Stir Fry and "Fake" Risotto

I know it has been... a lot of weeks since my last RROTW, but sometimes my cooking is limited to microwave "fried" egg sandwiches and whatever leftovers my mom has generously sent me home with. Not too exciting for everyone here. The other problem is that I cook the way I was taught to cook, the Italian way. That means no recipes and no measuring. It just slows me down. Which is not such a bad thing when most of my recipes are things I just sort of make up and throw together, but it DOES make it hard to explain to others. This is one of those times, so hopefully my attempt to share will make sense.

Usually the things I cook are based on what's on sale at whichever grocery store I end up at. So when Trader Joe's had brussels sprouts, jalepenos, and mushrooms all at a reasonable price, this is what I ended up making:

"Pseudo" stir-fry with chicken, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, jalepenos, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, and garlic and "fake" brown rice risotto

This is definitely one of those things I made up as I went along, so I'm not really going to have measurements for you for the most part. (Sorry!)

My ingredients list:

brown basmati (quick cook) rice
two smallish chicken breasts
brussels sprouts (I used one pre-packaged bag from TJ's [the one you can microwave them in])
crimini mushrooms
2 jalepenos
frozen chopped bell peppers (TJ's "Melange a Trois": red, yellow, and green bell peppers already cut up)
chicken stock
Greek yogurt
lemon juice
dried or fresh basil
TJ's South African Smoke Seasoning
TJ's Everyday Seasoning
lemon pepper
olive oil

I feel I should note that you're going to have to multitask a bit. Nothing major, just checking the chicken and the rice while you're working on the other stuff. Don't forget them.
The process:

-Start boiling the chicken breasts.  These really don't have to be babysat, they just take a while. Place them in a pot where they fit comfortably, add water (they should be totally drowned, plus a little extra so they can move around a bit), put a lid on it, and put it on the stove on high. Once the water starts to boil, turn it down so it's just bubbling a bit (low boil). Check them sporadically by removing one and checking the center to see if it's cooked (NO pink). You'll want to catch these when they're just thoroughly cooked and remove them from the water.

-The rice should have cooking instructions on the package, but I think mine was 1 cup of rice and 2 1/2 cups of water. Put those together in a pot (their own pot), add a bit of salt, put a lid on it, and put it on the stove on high. Once it boils, stir it and turn the heat down so it's just simmering. Stir occasionally until all of the water is absorbed, then turn off the heat. (Once again, do not overcook.)

-Get a big pan with high sides. Put either 1 cup of chicken stock or 1 cup of water (if you're using a concentrated chicken stock that you add to water) in it on the stove on high (use a lid).
While you wait for that to boil, you can start chopping. Start with the jalepenos (they're the strongest flavor). I cut them in half lengthwise twice, so they're in quarters, pull out all the "guts" (the white stuff and the seeds), and then chop them into smallish pieces. (You're not mincing them... they should be like a cm or two x whatever the width of 1/4 a jalepeno is.)
Once the water/chicken stock is boiling, turn it down to just under half heat, add the concentrated chicken stock if necessary, and then add the chopped jalepenos.
Brussels sprouts are next. Cut them in half lengthwise, then add to pan. Once those are all added, stir it.
This is the point where I added just a bit of olive oil, the Smoke Seasoning, and the Everyday Seasoning. If you're using fresh garlic (mince it), this is a good point to add it. If you're using minced garlic in a jar, I'd wait a bit to add that. Stir it again.
Slice the crimini mushrooms and add those. I honestly don't know how many I used because I just grabbed maybe 4 or 5 at a time, sliced them, and added them. I think I did that twice, stirred it, and eyeballed it. Just keep adding and stirring them in until it looks like you have the amount you want.
Add frozen bell peppers. Again, eyeball it and stir.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and replace the lid.
Once your chicken is just cooked, remove it from the water. Cut it up into chunks (just larger than bite-sized pieces) and add them to your veggies. If you're using minced garlic from a jar, add that too. Stir it, replace the lid, and let it simmer for a bit while you make the rice.
Once your rice is cooked, add the Greek yogurt (I used approx. 9 oz total) about a third at a time, stirring it in each time. It should be creamy and coated, but it shouldn't look like cottage cheese (there shouldn't be extra yogurt). The rice should just stick together. Add lemon juice, basil, and lemon pepper to taste. Start with small amount of each, stir, and taste. Add more accordingly. [You can do all of this in the pot you cooked the rice in.]
Your veggies and chicken should be done by now. Really, they're good to go as soon as the bell peppers are heated up, but you can always check and make sure the brussels sprouts are cooked, too. Once your peppers aren't frozen and your brussels sprouts are tender, enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Explanation of Prejudice

"Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends." 
-Shirley Maclaine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012

Just wanted to post SOMETHING to let everyone know that I am indeed still here and I have the best intentions of posting more frequently (and hopefully all quality content) in the new year. (Yeah, I know, "the road to hell..." and all...)

I definitely want to get (parts of) my honors senior thesis posted, because I'm pretty proud of it and I feel it should be shared. It's relevant (although getting increasingly less relevant) to mainstream culture because I focused on mainstream hip hop. For those who don't know, I'm a total hip hop head and my thesis was a rare attempt not to demonize hip hop (nor to vindicate it, per se) but to take a deeper look at what's really going on and why. That's vague, I know. It'll make more sense as I start posting. The only problem with this (other than the fact that it would be absurd to just post a 30-page thesis here) is I'm trying to get it published for real, and I need to work on spiffing up the writing. I'm hoping that the process of spiffing will lend itself to the process of sharing on the blog. So we'll see, I guess.

I'm also looking at doing sort of an offshoot of my thesis, which I don't want to talk too much about. I will say I'll need all of the legit information, music, etc. I can get on Nicki Minaj. Interviews, mixtapes, whatever. So if you can help, please do. :)

I'm planning to finish up The Lexicon, or at least finish defining what I've listed already. The half-assed attempt I have up now is just sort of sad.

I have all these big ideas and plans which sort of fall by the wayside due to an utter lack of time and/or energy. I work two jobs right now (plus some freelance work as it can be fit in) and yes, if I managed my time well, it would probably be doable. But then time management was never my strong suit. (Some of you who know me well are snorting right now. Rude.)
I'm not complaining. I know that being too busy because I'm working two jobs (albeit two part-time jobs that together still don't quite yield enough income to get by) is a situation a lot of people would LOVE to be in. And I'm grateful. I'm just shit at managing my time.

So keep an eye out, and I'll try to post links on my Facebook and Twitter when I do post something new.

Here's to big goals in 2012. Cheers.