A Quick Reminder to Non-Voters

A Quick Reminder to Non-Voters

1790 Only white male property owners are allowed to vote.

1850 Almost all white males can vote.

1870 15th Amendment is passed, giving all adult male citizens the right to vote, at least in the letter of the law.

1920 19th Amendment is passed, giving women the right to vote.

1957 Civil Rights Act is passed, supporting the 15th Amendment.

1965 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. drives voter registration in Selma, Alabama.

1965 The Voting Rights Act is passed, literacy tests are banned.

1971 26th Amendment changes the voting age from 21 to 18.

“I don’t vote”: a disturbing statement heard countless times from people disillusioned with the current state of the system.

“I don’t vote”: a disturbing statement heard countless times from people disillusioned with the current state of the system.

Because things never change or have the propensity to get better.

Change does not come easily nor does it come quickly, but there is one absolute necessity to it–persistence. Though apathy may emotionally protect you from the frequent disappointments of the political system, it does nothing to help or change the system.

The unimaginable obstacles Americans have overcome to vote are a testament to the beliefs they had in the system. Today voting restrictions in some cases still exist. Three men were murdered in 1964 while attempting to register African Americans in Mississippi. It’s a luxury to be able to choose to vote. So please, seriously consider that the next time an election comes up. It may not change your mind, but it might make you appreciate all of the sacrifices made and work undertaken by the brave, dedicated, Americans before us.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

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More information about Mississippi murders can be found here:


Everyones A Critic

Everyone’s A Critic (And That’s Okay)

Whenever a political debacle occurs, it has a way of overpowering the Internet. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the matter. I see that as a positive thing because it means people are tuned in to what is going on and they care about the things that surround them. Apathy, among other things, is what keeps positive social change from happening.

Among the people who voice their opinions about current events are celebrities. Naturally, celebrities are bound to be heard and repeated more because they have PR and large followings of fans.

Generally speaking, we tend to have a very complicated relationship with celebrities. On one hand, we worship them, vicariously experience their extravagant lifestyles, and we support their artistic causes by buying their movies, books, and CDs. If you ask a roomful of people who is their favorite musician, writer, comedian, or actor, I highly doubt you would find someone who couldn’t name at least a single person in one of those categories.

Somehow, though, there is a trend of people discounting the opinions of celebrities. I can’t figure out precisely why this is, though I can think of a multitude of reasons. Obviously most of the time the reasons stem from what a celebrity says, and disagreements with what he or she says. Reasons are also related to the strange relationship we have with celebrities: We love to purchase and support their artistic undertakings, but when it comes to hearing their opinions (even though that is what is often conveyed via their art of choice), many people are outraged.

What inspired this article was something I’ve been ruminating over for months. When the Trayvon Martin verdict came out, musician Regina Spektor expressed her sadness over the verdict and said, in short, “…there was not justice served.”

What ensued was a backlash of hatred towards a very non-controversial artist, which she directly addressed again, via her Facebook page. To paraphrase, she said:

“If you think I should shut up and sing (by definition an impossible act:-) then perhaps you should not upset yourself, spare your blood pressure and, unlike this page. Also feel free only to listen to music by people you agree with. It’s all good! There’s room enough for everyone in this world, and moments like these are a great opportunity for people to find some new places to like or unlike.”

While she handled the backlash gracefully, she also pointed out that one cannot both “shut up and sing,” a very common response to any opinion a musician happens to voice.

What is most important here is two things: First, we oftentimes forget that celebrities are people, too, and have opinions. In fact, what we frequently pay for is their opinions expressed in various ways. They are entitled to their own opinions, and have the option to speak it or not, just as everyone else does.

The second part we often forget is that if a celebrity says or does something that so offends us, we have a right to not only financially support them by not seeing their films or shows, listening to their music, buying their books, or whatever else they may be selling.

After all, it’s up to you.

Credit for Regina Spektor quotes:


When Two Become One

When Two Become One

When did the standard for romance become the concept of two people fusing together? It’s a deeply-set belief that manifests in the lexicon of love. ”Other halves” for example, indicate that by being with someone you have somehow become less than a person. There’s also an air of ownership that couples feel toward their partners. How many times have you heard “my man,” “my old lady” or another sort of pet name that has a disturbing sense of entitlement surrounding it?

I don’t believe you can “own” any creature; especially, not another human. Such a line of thinking is what encourages domestic violence and possessiveness and stems from insecurity. It is true that when you are surrounded by people who love and respect you, you generally are a happier and stronger person. Equally important, if you invest all of your love and energy in one person who is a romantic partner, you’re psychologically endangering yourself.

People change greatly throughout the course of their lives. Likewise, the relationships people are in also tend to change. Sometimes both lovers grow up together, and sometimes they outgrow the relationship. People often put so much investment in their romantic relationships (and others, too) that they will unwittingly stunt their own personal growth for the sake of preserving a relationship.

Life is scary. It’s full of random events and unpredictability. Sometimes people find comfort in others because they feel they can face the uncertainty of being alive when they have someone at their side. That’s perfectly normal. However, a relationship becomes unhealthy when individuals are unable to stand on their own–that is, if their relationship falls apart, as devastating as that is, they are defeated and unable to return from such a blow.

People drift apart, they move away, life just gets more complicated. One should actively appreciate the time spent with special people, which can lead to fewer regrets, and make it easier to be apart when life separates you. Rather than mish-mashing yourself to your lover and attaching in a codependent way, why not accept that there are two individuals and countless opinions and different histories? A relationship becomes miraculous to me when two individuals find each other, share common interests and differences, and still retain a healthy autonomy and respect for one another.

How does that subtract from love? It doesn’t. It makes love an active choice for both parties and not a desperate need. It means that two people have chosen each other out of everyone else, and with a lot of thought have decided to embark on a journey together, hand in hand as individuals, discovering each other’s hidden depths and the stories they create together. And what, pray tell, is more romantic than that?

I Am Not A-Mused

I Am Not A-Mused

Throughout my adulthood while meeting, befriending, and/or loving men, I have discovered something disheartening about patterns of relationships with them. I suppose I possess some “artsy” qualities (or at least appear to), and thus I attract like-minded people of both genders. But when it comes to men, I find that the phenomenon of exploring one another’s “artistic” sides and helping hone them, respectively, is a short-lived one.

As with most human interactions, it begins with the bonding of mutual interests. Movies, books, music, life philosophies — it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is a union of minds, where an idea is shared, and two people are mutually intrigued. Then we discuss our projects, what fascinates us, what makes us think — all of the wonderful parts of beginning to know someone special.

I’m asked about what I’m writing, what’s stumping me, etc. I return the questions. The medium doesn’t really matter, I’ve learned — we all have the same issues, and we all use these mediums to work through our own issues. There is an intellectual bond that forms that is still the closest bond I’ve ever been able to have with someone. There’s something about dueling minds that inspires, amuses, and hits you on levels, you didn’t know you had.

Time passes. The conversations slowly pull to him — his projects, his ideas, his ideas of me. And then it hits me. I’m not a peer, an equal, or an intellectually-minded person to him anymore — I am his muse.

And I am horrified.

The only reason we’ve ever idealized the relationship between the artist and the muse is because we value the artist. His talent and brilliance aided by some sort of nymph is this cute idea that is oppressing both the “nymphs” and the artistic process. What if the “muse” talked back? What if she gave as many opinions as he, and sought to improve her own skills, as well as his? What if she dared to outgrow the pedestal-like pigeonhole that she was once overwhelmed and flattered to occupy?

The answer is that she would not be a muse anymore. She would be an equal, or attempt to be an equal. Equality doesn’t exist in this relationship dynamic.

I would think that such an open-minded, liberal community such as artists, who tend to be at the forefront of social change, would have discarded this ancient notion by now. But the truth is even if there are different names used in the place of “muse” and “artist,” the end-result is nearly identical — the woman once again takes a backseat to the man’s brilliance. She is lauded for her aiding abilities, and little else.

“Objectification” is a term I instantly think of in a sexual way. However, the term applies to the muse and artist relationship too, and scares me more than in the conventional sense because it’s so unexpected. We can blame biology for a lot of sexual objectification because ultimately everything we do is to survive and produce more of us. Yet, this type of objectification has evolved into a whole different kind of animal, one that you trust with your innermost thoughts, one that you believe is reciprocated, and one that you believe is meaningful not just to you. The objectification doesn’t have to exist, but it does. When it does, it hurts so much more because you can be cut deeper when your depths have already been exposed.

Good Cop Bad Cop

Good Cop, Bad Pop

Nowadays, it seems cop dramas are unavoidable if you’re turning on the TV. Perhaps it’s the sensationalism that explains why we are so inundated with these kinds of TV shows; the more dramatic and shocking, the less the producers have to worry about the quality of writing or acting.

These programs also have constructed a sort of mega-masculine archetype of the male cops. They embody a lot of the aspects of what our society holds to be important in a man: righteous at any cost, strong, a real “individual” who puts his position of “protector” above all else, including his family or romantic life.

A clear example of this kind of cop is Jimmy McNulty of The Wire, portrayed by Dominic West. He has trouble following direction, which is both a liability and an asset at times because he will investigate off a “hunch” and ignore the bureaucracy that is often an obstacle to solving crimes. The viewer roots for him, a typical anti-hero character that has been enhanced greatly due to West’s acting and the series’ writing. As the show goes on, his personal life unravels but he becomes more and more determined to bust a drug ring even at the expense of his career and relationships with both his children and women.

At one point, he sees one of the suspects when he is out with his two boys, and he takes the children on a stakeout. It’s clear at this point that he has focused all of himself on catching the drug lords and not on being a father. Besides the questions of safety arising from taking his kids on a stakeout, the scenario also shows that even on his time off, he prefers seeking justice to being with his children.

The Killing, a more recent show, has a similar detective to McNulty, Sarah Linden (portrayed by Mireille Enos). She is also a parent and puts her pursuit of justice before raising her son. Neither she nor McNulty are emotionally available to their children or anyone else, really. Her character is what would be considered more typically “masculine” in our society–mostly fearless, unable to connect to people, and a workaholic. Obviously, these characteristics are not exclusively male, but they are more traditionally thought to be so.

The similarities between these characters are staggering. They put their jobs before their relationships, they can’t emotionally connect to their children, and they use sex as one of the few ways they can relate to others. Yet there’s something we hold so sacred in motherhood that makes Linden’s neglect come across as much more terrible. Granted, she began the show with full custody of her boy, which makes a difference as McNulty never had full custody. However, even when her child’s father (rightfully so) intervenes and takes him, there’s a residual sense of her wronging her son that isn’t as strong as the feeling of McNulty and his equally half-assed parenting. Seems to me, there is something so intrinsically important about having an involved mother, and I’m not sure if that’s an entirely misogynistic point of view. On one hand, the irreplaceable value of motherhood is shown, but on the other hand, there’s a message the most important thing a woman can do is to become a parent, and every other part of her life should take a backseat, always.

I wish we felt the same way about fatherhood that we do about motherhood. To see the value in both roles, and not let the roles define a person. Some people are not meant to be parents, and yet they are. When it is a woman letting down her child; however, it affects us more than an absent father. Rather than lowering the stakes on mothering so that it “equals” out, I think we need to hold the fathers in our society more accountable for themselves. Parents should also know that while being a parent is a very important role, it isn’t their only role in life because someday their children will grow up, and they will need lives of their own.

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