Women, Beauty, and Repackaging

action My daughter saw a youtube offering that impacted her greatly and she wanted us to watch it with her. So her brother and I sat down to our hdml hookup and watched a video that went over a perennial interest I have: women and the cultural view of beauty, social impact of those views, and how our baseline moral view articulates those aspects of social identity. It was from a political and cultural perspective very different from mine ( the usual hostility to Christians that is ingrained in the liberal/Democratic views) but imparting some very real concerns and truth for all that.

The video was “Miss Representation”, and you can watch it below. It moves quickly with a barrage of thoughts and images. If you really want to think about what is being presented to you, you must stop it often to process what is being said and what it means. Otherwise, the impact is to rile your emotions without giving a real context to what you should do with these emotions.

Warning there are sexually explicit images – if you are offended with this, better to not watch. There are other presentations of many of these issues, you can find and view those. The conversation remains the same.

Truths I Would Not Argue With

  • Women are objectified and over-sexualized in our society
  • Cultural opinions do matter, and they can be changed –are changed deliberately
  • Those with selfish agendas are promoting false and quite damaging ideas and revisionist “facts”
  • There is still a gender bias that disparages women and puts them at a disadvantage
One interesting thing about this documentary is the way it presents and dismisses the role that movements like the “Moral Majority” or the “Christian Right” had on raising consciousness on some of the cultural degradation of women and the loss of concern over “public interest” as it is expressed in media. Especially in television and movies from established, big business Media.

Also it lacks the will or the depth to connect the dots between the paradoxical conflicts inherent in the old arguments on the side of “legalizing prostitution”, and the growing concern over “human trafficking”. Think about these “two?” issues. Aren’t we using mere euphemism when we want to address the enslavement of women and children in prostitution as a problem, and obscure problems that women face whenever prostitution becomes prevalent and accepted? Maybe you don’t make the connection between the way we think of and represent women and the issue of human trafficking, or how allowing prostitution to be recognized as a legal and viable occupation might be relevant. This probably deserves its own essay and evaluation.

Things I question and take issue with

  • Use of the word “Media”. There is a conflation of old media and the new social media. It is not all one “media”, but a tool that reflects the people making it. To use the word generally is evasion of responsibility, basically. Always an “other”, bad guy, instead of things we promote and allow as people, individuals and as a group.
  • This image emphasis and objectification is only a problem for women. It is increasingly a problem for young men in our society. There is a disengagement from worth being related to character.
  • Disconnect between the human drives and how marketing or media presentation takes those things and uses them. Lack of realization that culturally we have lost a huge body of history about relationship to the whole of human experience. In the entertainment culture, we are reduced to a few basic drives expressed in their lowest common denominator. Why we are doing that should be discussed in terms of where we are morally, not in how men in the media choose to display this.

Just a few thoughts on religion

If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.
~Margaret Atwood

Before you view the documentary to see what you think of it and the issues it raises, what about a couple thoughts on some of the bias and dismissive perspectives I noticed?

(1) American women have the most freedom of any women in the world. Yes, on the whole, if we look at the opportunity and the freedom to live as we choose (lifestyle, education, economic). No it isn’t paradise, but nothing on earth approaches that idea of paradise. We do and should keep striving for better conditions, preservation of our freedom, access to opportunity, but we also should not forget or diminish what we have.

(2) Christianity is a powerful voice for the oppressed and dispossessed. Historically, it has one of the best records of any force for the empowerment of women. Ask yourself – in what place and in what age did the rise of women’s rights gain the most momentum? And it wasn’t the 1960’s. That may have been when you heard the loudest shouts, but not when you saw the greatest momentum.

Whatever your opinion of the Christian religion, it ought to be recognized for the beneficial influence on ideals of freedoms and rights. If you are willing to deny that, then I would question your ability to correct any of the injustices discussed in the film “Miss Representation” with real fundamental change. My guess is that the best you would be able to come up with is some reactionary and temporary “re-balancing”, which is only injustice inverted, not averted.

Writing To Pay The Rent

This isn’t just about writing for income, and I will say that right at the beginning so no one is confused. But it is going to touch on that topic.

When I first arrived on the blogging scene, I really didn’t know what it was all about, but many who were beginning to blog at the same time had a much more concrete view of what the purpose of their writing would be. Many of those writers/bloggers were inspired by a man named Hugh Hewitt to begin their blogs with the view to change people’s world views. I should amend that to say “Christian and conservative” writers and bloggers. The people of liberal politics had long seen the value in using media to persuade people’s thinking.

But whether bloggers of that time were convinced by a specific person, or of the many who had chanced upon this new door to influence, many of us were of the mind that our writing could “make a change for good”. I know that was always a powerful motivation for me.

It still is, but blogging and online writing has changed for many like me.

It’s A Slow Train

It was a slow train coming for me to adopt the idea that writing and earning money were linked. Or could be, or should be.

And I still believe that one must be careful with one’s motivations, not just in writing, but in all endeavors of life. I also understand that without some sort of support, no writer can keep at their craft for long. This is perhaps one of the biggest evolutionary changes for me: if you keep on writing, over time you find you become “a writer”.

In the meantime, I took a break from writing to influence people’s thinking. After spending a good deal of time in online forums, and the dialog that was common on blogs is those days (early years of 2000 to 2007 or so), I grew tired of what online “conversation” had become. No longer exploring differing opinions, creating dialog, or even giving a rational argument for one’s view. Like the rest of the world around it, the web sunk into the morass of polarized diatribe, pandering, and propaganda. It wasn’t fun anymore, then, either.

Yet, there is something very attractive in the way a person, of no means really, can engage in discussion and a public presentation of views, and touch the possible thousands. That is heady stuff. So, I kept on writing and started exploring the world of online income… some of the things which are called passive income, but truthfully aren’t passive at all.

This was a natural road for me since I had started my web experience with non-fiction types of writing… my garden website‘s nascence sprung from the pages begun at that time. In retreating from the hotbed of politics and religion I found solace (as a writer and blogger) in the garden. In the need to pay for the nuts and bolts of such a thing, I began monetizing. Not the easiest thing to do in my chosen set of topics.

Another thing happened along the way… aging.

The focus of life has shifted, and the reality of needing to produce some income for retirement has also become part of my intention for developing my writing online. This has created multiple motivations for branching out into other sorts of writing and interacting online. And let’s not forget the online revolution itself… Facebook and Twitter have mightily changed online writing and all sorts of things.

I still have not forgotten that desire to impact people, to influence society for good (or goodness sake!). I am just not sure how it all works together, or even whether it can.

Paying The Rent

Earning even a small amount of income online is a lot of work. In fact, for a person like me who is not business savvy, I could not write, if I were dependent on its income. Still, some of the things I do are paying for website hosting for my other sites (this one is free, and I own only the content – not the domain). I have ventured into the world that others entered long time back…. writing for income. This I do on sites like SquidooThis site was sold and no longer exists as a home to writers as recorded in this post, and just this week a few articles on Hubpages. They are looked down upon by some in the blogging community, and I understand why. The impetus now is for these sites to clean up the junky parts of the neighborhood.

I like that a format like Squidoo creates community. I haven’t found that in the blogging sector for a long time. I also like that it is set up to create online income for those who contribute. And I have stretched my writing wings in the more mundane aspects of writing. Which is not to demean it. Why be elitist about our writing? I have distaste for this kind of thinking that is so prevalent in the art world.

So, here I am starting to write on Hubpages, too.

I also have learned some marketing along the way which is very enlightening. You view things in our society a whole new way when understanding basic marketing techniques. We are immersed in it whether we realize it or not. Just look at the sales ploy of “scarcity”, for example…. but I digress.

What reasons might be for writing on such sites as Squidoo, or Hubpages, or even Blogger, for that matter?

  1. They share their income with the creative
  2. On the web, promotion is as important as creation. No one will just show up at your blog or website, anymore
  3. It is a free way to get instruction on almost anything, not least on how to earn money online; okay, maybe this is done a little too well.
  4. You network without realizing you are networking
  5. It encourages you to widen your horizons, the way surfing webpages used to “in the old days”

For me, the Squidoo site helped open things that I had long had an interest in but had no grasp of what it took to accomplish. One of those was utilizing the Zazzle site to create and to earn income. I am still making baby steps, but without guidance (and clearly the forums attached to such sites help,too) would still have gone nowhere with these avenues.

My Affiliation on These Sites

If you would like to read more about my thoughts on these sites, making an income online, etc. Check my WebHelp blog.

Community is powerful. It is necessary as well, and the sooner we learn that lesson in family, our neighborhoods and cities, and online, the better. It is just an illustration of “no man is an island” which we will face over and over until we “get it”.

Ah. Now you see I am only one step away from “soapboxing”, or influencing as I like to call it.

Maybe this part of learning what can help me pay the rent is obvious to you. I have an inkling that for individualists who have a high value on personal freedom, it is a hard won realization.

Paying the rent is not just about money. It isn’t about a materialistic society, it is about how we help each other survive and thrive. Work is important and necessary. All sorts of work -and having integrity and honesty in how we go about it- matters.

One more thing, influence is something we do everyday in all our actions, whether we realize it or not.

Zombie Apocalypse Housewives

Gotcha.
We were watching the series of the zombie show, “Walking Dead” recently, and in one of the episodes the ideal woman character is having a confrontation with the feminist warrior woman about the importance of each other’s tasks.

Our family watched the previous seasons on Netflix, and this scene occurs in season 2

Which matter most, the household tasks and the making of a home, or the buttressing of the militant actions that patrol and protect the group? Making tea and cakes or guarding the perimeters and shooting things?

The Walking Dead “18 Miles Out” Andrea confronts Lori from Days Gone By on Vimeo.

The whole show (at least in the second season) is obsessed with whether a life that is reduced to animal survival and the lowest forms of brute morality is even worth living.

Hmmmm, tea and cakes and cleaning bathrooms suddenly seems to gain a notch or two in prestige and honor.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. -Seth Godin in “Clean Bathrooms

It was never about either or, but about understanding that people need to give due respect to each others roles and vocations, to have the freedom to grow as a society and support one another by occasionally giving precedence and hands on help to something other than our own little tribal preferences.

Productivity And The Trouble With Gurus

I read a couple unrelated blogposts today which, of course, I am piecing together in my mind. They do have something, both of them, to do with productivity. Productivity is a subject I am interested in at the moment. Should I list the posts in the order that I read them? Why would I do that? … it really doesn’t really matter. What matters is what they have to say and some ideas that the two of them sparked.

The Posts

First post, ‘Keeping Your Options Open…’

One had to do with whether keeping ever open choices, or having many options is a good thing or not.
Keeping Your Options Open Will Cost You

This post took ideas from two books and posed the question “Why are you really keeping your options open?” and whether that is a good thing or not. Author Betsy Wuebker lists these pertinent books:

One of the writers cited in the first post submits,

“…by keeping your options open with more choices, you’ve levied higher opportunity costs.”

I haven’t read the books, but I know that people who keep their options always open are frightened to close the deal on their decisions and -more often than not- in order to escape responsibility. They can feel like victims who are helplessly overrun by those who do make decisions. So the ideas caught my interest, and I started to consider them. I don’t have problems making decisions, myself, I go through a deductive sort of process, but there are times when I have difficulty knowing when a good time to close the door and take a specific direction is the best thing to do.

The difficulty is in the balance, because being quickly decisive is not always a good thing “act in haste, repent at leisure”. And yet, none of us wants to be in a constant cycle of confusion, unable to move forward; nor do we want to have expensive life failures from seeming (or being) arrogant.

If you are thinking what I am at this point, you realize that, yes, this can be complicated. Another time in which wisdom comes in handy, to steer our path in the right direction, to close doors, and/or keep them open at the best times… for relationships, for career moves, for retirement, for most of the decisions that crop up. These are often the things that make or break resolutions and goals.

The Other Post I read

From INC., 5 Trends to Ignore in 2013 posits that we don’t always have to listen to the Gurus. What must we do in investments, in blogging, in relationships, in child raising, … IN LIFE? Everyone who writes articles seems to want to establish their authority, to be the next important guru that everyone must pay attention to…. only, sometimes that is not going to work out for you. And I might suggest here that if you have lots of experts all telling you things that are musts, necessary, and urgent… you will likely be unproductive in the very area you hoped you would find your magic formula for success. It is the “too many cooks” syndrome.

Most of that last paragraph is my own thinking as inspired by a somewhat more business oriented information article. INC. simply pointed out how unnecessary some of the big trends in business are. They aren’t necessarily important for you. Which is exactly what we can apply to many voices of authority.

Although what I wouldn’t try to say is that we can figure everything out on our own, or that whatever seems right to us is just as valid as what anyone else thinks. Like it is all some homogenized cosmic palaver.

It might appear to be in certain cases, but that would likely be just a fluke… a random stroke of luck. There is true authority, actual expertise, and we would raise our chance of success and happiness if we found and followed those voices.

It all comes down…once again… to discerning what is true. That is always the big quest in life, isn’t it?

Not “what is true for you”, not “What is truth?”, but finding real truth. Gurus may not be the best way to do that. Just saying.

Be Back Soon- What I’m Doing Right Now

Among other projects I’ve been designing on Zazzle. Remember all those past New Year’s Resolutions I posted on this blog? Well, I’m finally getting to the “making art” part. I even have made a studio for creating some hardcopy original art. Tat will make it to the net in the new year 2013.

Here’s my ever-improving work at Zazzle:


make custom gifts at Zazzle

I also had to deal with a particularly bad hacking job on my sites which are hosted by Netfirms. I am very put out with that host, as this has happened in milder ways often this year. But this last time I had to completely reinstall software and recover and rewrite all the articles.

I’m going to deal with this in such a way that I won’t have to stop my writing to recover from such things… in the coming year. I am determined to keep my blogs alive.

Your Beliefs Make and Break You

It is surprising how certain core matters pop up in the most unexpected places. I was reading a marketing article, because I am sales challenged to a certain degree. Like what is probably true for the vast majority of people in my culture, I don’t like to sell. I feel forced to learn how, especially now that I am trying out different business avenues online (Zazzle, for instance). Plus I like reading marketing and social media articles. Throw in some pop psychology and you’ve got my attention.

This thought grabbed my eye:

Beliefs form a fundamental part of our psychological make up and are the building blocks of our personality. Our beliefs dictate how we see the world and therefore, every single decision we make while interacting with our world.

Beliefs start and end wars. Beliefs make and break relationships.

Sales Psychology

This has been my conviction for years, although I phrased it in a slightly different manner.

This is why I think ideology is so important. Francis Schaeffer articulated a lot of this for me when he explained that one of the reasons it matters to understand the art and innovative thinkers of your generation is because it is the seedbed of what your culture will reflect in the next generation (that is to say, ‘what they will believe”). With enough push in thought forming mediums, a culture will change… even in what once seemed to be an “unthinkable” way.

It explains to me why visionaries are so important, whether they are initially accepted or not.

We might be seeing this more clearly than ever when the accelerant of the internet made consensus change work in ways that are now described as “viral”.

What we believe not only influences everything around us, it creates a future.

I’m just going to let this sink in without further comment, until this very broad idea finds the specific application I want to think about. It applies on so many levels… like what we think of ourselves, what we choose for our families, how politically manipulated we become, all sorts of thing from business to what we think of our future.

Related to this is whether we believe something reality based, or we believe a lie… about any and all of these things, because not all beliefs are equal- or morally neutral!

Eyes and Health

As a person with long standing and increasingly poor eye health I was very interested in this news about the massive rise in Asian myopia, the suspected cause, and suggested prevention. Consider how much outdoor time your children get during the day…

Professor Morgan argues that many children in South East Asia spend long hours studying at school and doing their homework. This in itself puts pressure on the eyes, but exposure to between two and three hours of daylight acts as a counterbalance and helps maintain healthy eyes.

The scientists believe that a chemical called dopamine could be playing a significant part. Exposure to light increases the levels of dopamine in the eye and this seems to prevent elongation of the eyeball.

BBC Science Report

Additionally, more than one study has found, this helpful eye health fact:

An analysis of eight previous studies by University of Cambridge researchers found that for each additional hour spent outside per week, the risk of myopia reduced by 2%.

Exposure to natural light and time spent looking at distant objects could be key factors

More info on eye health

With the added benefit of proper amounts of vitamin D (we usually are woefully deficient) and the implications of that deficiency in such maladies as diabetes make it even more important to make sure we, and our children, get more time outside in the sunshine.

Seven Mountains

The church I attend has started interest groups that serve to connect people who are called to, or now involved within one of the “seven mountains of influence”. This idea is based from a teaching that seems to have originated in 1975, from Campus Crusade and Youth With A Mission leaders. I was not very informed about it until recently (and still not well versed), but it is an interesting way to communicate a concept that has a parallel to similar ideas that have been around much longer.
In more negative terms is the idea of “the fifth colun” or in closer terms could be the ideas of “The Third Culture“, although not really like either of those, the seven mountains holds one similar line of thought: changing the status quo through those of a different worldview.

As the “Reclaiming the 7 Mountains” website says it:
“These seven mountains are business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion.”

I think our church has a little different take than the original, but takes the same view of the categories. Anyway, I went to the first meeting centered around the “Media” mountain.

There is a great deal of emphasis on using your gifts to a full potential; and that would be all your gifts, both natural and spiritual. It is something I am very interested in right now, and might mean that this blog will change and get more attention from me (writing, posts, stuff!)

I want to share my faith here, and explore thoughts and opinions as I did in the past, but not in the same way that I had. So much of social media has replaced the functions of the old style blogs. We’ll see if there are new avenues for this blog to follow.

In the meantime, think about reading more about the “Seven Mountains” and where you fit. We all want to develop our gifts, I think, but sometimes we get confused along the way (I know that has often happened in my life), but perhaps a fresh way of looking at vision and our life map could not just invigorate our projects, but give better focus to our energies and time.

Gay Marriage Clarified

It has taken a long time into the gay marriage debate to reveal the actual way gay marriage accepted as a legal right could change the general landscape on marriage as a whole. For most of the years in which it was actively debated, the premise put forth and accepted by most was simple, “It won’t change marriage, either in concept or law”.

The fundamental matter of what change might take place in our concept of marriage and the protection the laws now give it… and ultimately constituting a change in status for children and women in a marriage relationship (which is legally defined), had always been my main concern on this question.

Now that the debate is almost over and the idea of gay marriage as a right is generally accepted and being instituted in law, some inconvenient facts have risen to the visible surface. So, the question still remains how the legalization of gay marriage changes the definition of marriage and the legal complications of that change. Is anyone willing to address that yet?

That is always where I believe the point of the conversation should take place. Will definitions and permission for adultery change inside the state of marriage? Will polygamy become a part of the legal definition? What does this do to benefits for marriage partners and offspring?

Those are the questions that everyone seems to ignore, but can we afford to continue this omission?


Marriage Minus Monogamy VI
the fifth part of a series on marriage and monogamy in this issue highlights some of the difference between the customary definition of a “committed relationship” between two people, and that recognized in the gay community.

Not that the gay community is one homogeneous unit. There are scientifically demonstrable differences in how the sexual relationship, including gays, is different for males and females (1). At least at the theoretical stage (the interpretation of data is not fully conclusive), but there has long been a difference noted, if not proven conclusively. Yet, the discussion has moved forward upon the ideas that all gays have the same ideas of what constitutes gay marriage. In all the definitions possible, marriage is more than a simple business contract, and implicit within it are certain constraints on behavior. Is this included in the way the laws are outlined? I am unsure of what the actual legislated demands for a married partner consists of, at this time, but presumed it still held the monogamous view of exclusivity of one partner.

In what way might this be changed, if at all under the addition of untraditional partners? this is th ematter that I haven’t seen addressed, but the one that I believe should most be addressed.

Watching Lately: The Beatles

I grew up with the Beatles, their music and their impact on the culture. In fact, I owned all their records at one time in my life. So, when my husband got “The Beatles Anthology” five discs worth of video out to watch… I didn’t think I would find much unfamiliar information. I was wrong.

It is a set really worth watching and I am enjoying the many interviews that give an entirely different point of view of the times and the phenomenon. Seeing “Beatlemania” through the eyes of the Beatles is quite a new perspective. Strangely enough, I like the stories and interviews more than hearing all the music, which is what I most enjoy about most such documentary films.

Well worth the time even though the length and depth of it might bog down for some. I try to find the amazon link if I can, later.