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Sunday, November 30

Feminism: Women's Rights or Wrong for Women?

Feminism is defined as a doctrine advocating social, political, economic, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. An organized movement centralized around the belief in equality of the sexes. Hence feminists are individuals who advocate for equal rights for women. Although feminism has a text book definition, it seems to have taken on 2 distinct meanings by society as a whole.
On one hand feminism is seen as an evolution of women’s rights. Feminism has been noted as an emergence of women as leaders, contributors, and strong persons of value in our society. People, who understand that women can handle the same tasks, responsibilities, and achievements as men can, and are taking steps to ensure that women have the opportunities they deserve. A group that has been oppressed marginalized, and subordinate, that promotes for rights equal to standards of rights for men. Often times feminism is understood as a celebration of equal rights for both genders (or sexes), as both men and women can support equal rights and be against sexism.
On the other hand, feminism is seen as a digres
sion for women and spawn of hatred toward men. To many, feminism is a means for women to congregate with other women in efforts to overthrow men. A movement that fights for women to be at the leading helm of society due to being wiser, more civil, and rational than men. People that are causing ideals and principles like femininity, chivalry, and courtesy to be lost or forgotten by enforcing equitable treatment of both men and women. In addition, many also consider feminism as a rebellion against God’s authority; being that men should rule over their wives and feminism seeks for women to be in control.
As illustrated in this topic, feminism has taken on distinctly opposing views in the eyes of society. Feminism is also a concept that is growing rapidly, whether good or bad, in the way that it affects more and more of everyday citizens. The label of ‘feminist’ has drawn on various connotations that affect students at a school, colleagues in a workplace, or even members on a sports team. The opposing views many times spill over to demonstrated acts of discrimination, from either perspective, in attempt for pro-feminism or anti-feminism ideology to prevail. There are more and more increased altercations on the concept of feminism as more and more women start make their marks in various facets of life previously dominated by men. Although we currently see women succeeding and achieving in areas of sports, politics, and economic success, we still seem to face a discrepancy on what feminism is, and if it actually benefits women or in turn does more to harm women.
--Taurean Wong
Is feminism as practiced today good or bad for both sexes? And children as well, not just women? What do you think?

Sunday, November 23

Evolution of Digital Play

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2008, one of the biggest gaming press events of the year, Nintendo was the laughing stock of the show. Many gamers pointed and laughed at the gaming giant while others sulked at the announcements. So, what was the big announcement that made Nintendo look like a stumbling fool? It was the announcement of Wii Music and Wii Sports Resorts (a sequel to the game that took everyone by storm). To anyone outside the gaming loop they might look at these gamers in a weird way (a.k.a. “what are you, stupid?”)

So maybe I started off with a tangent, but the point of this is the creation of what Malstrom calls, in his article "Why Wii Music is Genius", digital play . It probably existed before, yet I don’t think it dawned on me until I saw Wii Music. Most “music” game we play are not about playing music, but rather keeping rhythm to a song. The idea of Wii Music is to play music with the Wii remote without the ability to mess up. In that sense, you can enjoy playing and creating music without taking a lot of time (and, potentially, money) to play a song. See, this is what the “gamers” gawked at. “Oh, there is no way to mess up. It’s a baby game.” “Who would want to play a game that is that easy.” Of course, if I told a normal person on the street that there was a way to play music without learning an instrument they would probable thing I’m crazy. That is the point. To enjoy playing music, without a sense of easy or hard.

The idea here is Digital Play. This is what the Wii is about. It’s not really a videogame as we normally see them, but instead a tool to do things we can’t normally do. It may be hard to stay fit in this day and age, or even go to the gym every day. So what does Nintendo make? Wii fit, a game about trying to stay fit. We might not always be able to go out and play a sport (especially boxing). What does Nintendo make? Wii Sports, a game where you use the Wii remote to play games. Does it make sense? Nintendo is moving games from being for basement dwellers to something anyone can enjoy.

It wasn’t until 2006 when you could say your grandmother plays video games without people wanting to put you in an institution. Now, it’s is not necessarily escapism that games are focused with; it is an extension of what we can do. This is digital play. It’s putting real life into a virtual form. We don’t need a masters to enjoy sometime, something videogames have had a problem breaking out of. No need to buy an instrument when Wii Music has sixty. They become an extension of what we can do. It gives you a opportunity one could not have without this kind of technology. It becomes mainstream, and can do things that would be outside the sphere of our normal lives.

Let me paint a picture for you.
I don’t think you all will sit though a 30 minutes video (and you’ll probably get sick of "My Grandfather Clock"). At about 25:33, Miyamoto (the game’s creator) says something disturbing (to me at least). He says, “What if I had this game as a child. How much would my interest in music have changed if I had such an experience with music during music class in my kindergarten or elementary school days.” This hits the nail on the head. Can “digital play” model people? Can our lives be altered to access to this kind of resources? In the same vein, can we solve the weight problem in this country if we introduce children to fitness (via a game like Wii Fit)? Could video games be like the internet and give use access to a whole plethora of resources?


Sunday, November 16

The Obligation of Unwanted Fatherhood

The following is an excerpt from an article from the Boston news on-line at

A 25-year-old computer programmer in Michigan, Dubay wants to know why it is only women who have "reproductive rights." He is upset about having to pay child support for a baby he never wanted. Not only did his former girlfriend know he didn't want children, says Dubay, she had told him she was infertile. When she got pregnant nonetheless, he asked her to get an abortion or place the baby for adoption. She decided instead to keep her child and secured a court order requiring him to pay $500 a month in support.

Not fair, Dubay complains. His ex-girlfriend chose to become a mother. It was her choice not to have an abortion, her choice to carry the baby to term, her choice not to have the child adopted. She even had the option, under the "baby safe haven" laws most states have enacted, to simply leave her newborn at a hospital or police station. Roe v. Wade gives her and all women the right - the constitutional right! - to avoid parenthood and its responsibilities. Dubay argues that he should have the same right, and has filed a federal lawsuit that his supporters are calling "Roe v. Wade for men." Drafted by the National Center for Men, it contends that as a matter of equal rights, men who don't want a child should be permitted, early in pregnancy, to get "a financial abortion" releasing them from any future responsibility to the baby.

Does Dubay have a point? Of course. Contemporary American society does send very mixed messages about sex and the sexes. For women, the decision to have sex is the first of a series of choices, including the choice to abort a pregnancy - or, if she prefers, to give birth and collect child support from the father. For men, legal choices end with the decision to have sex. If conception takes place, he can be forced to accept the abortion of a baby he wants - or to spend at least the next 18 years turning over a chunk of his income to support a child he didn't want.

Do you feel that a man should be responsible for parenthood of a child no matter what? Even if he was told by the woman she was sterile?

Sunday, November 9

California Law: Allow men into shelters

An article I recently found brought up something that has bothered me for a long time, but has finally started to make some ground work to equality when a Californian judge ruled that California's exclusion of men from domestic violence violates men's constitutional equal protection rights. In 2007, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly dismissed the case of four male victims of domestic violence, ruling that men are not entitled to equal protection regarding domestic violence because they statistically are not similarly situated with women. Today the Court of Appeal reversed that decision.

The story was brought more to light with the tale of young Maegan and her father David. David was disabled, and could not make money, and Maegan was 11 years old. Many times they had called shelters and programs for help, and were told that they do not help men. This might be part of the rule that boys 12 and older are not allowed in shelters with their mothers, while the daughters of any age are. If a mother goes to a shelter, her choice is to send the boy to an orphanage, or to go home to the abuse. We have a crisis in our country, and this is case is a fine step in paving the road to repairing it.

In the case of Maegan and her father, the case proved even more of what the actual problem is, as stated by the article, “During the 1995 shotgun incident, Ruth called the police after David wrestled the shotgun away from her. Maegan yelled to her mom, "Tell the truth!" and Ruth told the police she wanted them to come because she wanted to kill her husband. Nevertheless, when the police arrived and David opened the door to let them in, the officers immediately grabbed him by the wrist, wrestled him to the ground, and handcuffed him. They only un-cuffed him after Maegan told them that it was her mother who had the gun.” If the police decided to not listen to the daughter, his wife would, at that point, now have been free to go to one of the shelters because he now had a record of abuse; however, that wasn’t the case, and even after the police arrested her David still was not able to use any of the services. He often was told, “"we don't help men.” Even when his daughter called, desperate to get help, WEAVE said they do not help men, and that men are the perpetrators of domestic violence, not the victims.

This is just one example, while almost nobody would ever say that shelters do not do good work for women, they seem to cut the line at the other half of taxpayers who might need to use their services. This lawsuit, and case, may just be the inroads that our country needs to take a big bite out of the domestic abuse problem. Next would be the rest of the states allowing men to use their facilities, and this would even allow boys not to be sent to a foster home and being split up, again, after his mother and sisters run from an abusive situation. Imagine what this would do to the poor child, and family altogether. He just was taken from abuse, needs his family more than ever, and is told because he is a boy he has to go somewhere else because he is too dangerous to his mother and sisters. The very system that is setup to protect people is hurting them and destroying young boys. Now, with this, we have precedent that might allow some inroads in such laws as V.A.W.A. to maybe realize that men can be hurt as well, and sometimes need protection. It is truly a great step to real equality.

To read more on this article, go here.
Also: The actual court documents

I tried to find a spiffy picture, but alas none that would be appropriate.

Question: What do you think about the current state of our nations domestic violence support shelters, and ways to improve it?

Sunday, November 2

Where there's smoke there's fire.

Pasco County looks at changing hiring
polices that would effectively ban hiring people
who smoke in attempts to create a smoke free
work force.

The Suncoast Pasco News ran an article stating the following: Dade City, among others is looking into the idea of banning the hiring of those who smoke cigarettes and creating a program for those who are currently on their payroll to kick the habit.

This has been presented as an attempt to lower their health insurance cost which it certainly will accomplish. It will also clean up the county vehicles; anyone who does not smoke and who has gotten into a vehicle of a smoker knows what I am talking about. But there are other benefits as well including less missed time due to health reasons. The article went on to say smokers use medical insurance benefits 50% more often than non-smokers.

Two sheriff offices in Pasco and Pinellas counties have already implemented such bans and seem to have been successful. Many other places of employment are looking at ways to reduce their health insurance cost as well. Given the state of the economy, more and more companies and governmental employers are looking at ways to reduce costs and one can not blame them.

There may be, however, an underlying problem with this type of policy. The EEOC states that an employer can not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, creed, disability, age, appearance, etc. etc. but cigarette smoking is not listed. However, neither is the consumption of alcohol. Though many companies can and do drug test their employees or potential employees and utilize the information gained as criteria for employment, cigarettes and alcohol are not included. They are only testing for drugs and we must remember that drugs are illegal. Although testing of cigarette usage is very new, it seems to be on the rise and one of the latest attempt to save a dollar, yet it remains a legal substance.

If the goal is saving money, why stop at cigarette smokers. Why not include those who consume alcohol. I think everyone can agree that those who drink are more apt to miss work from a hangover than those who don’t. They are more likely to develop liver problems. Not to mention, if they happen to be driving a company vehicle and have a drink. You would not run that risk with someone who never drinks alcohol. And then there those that are overweight. Recent information has suggested that people who are morbidly obese are actually at a higher risk of health problems than those who smoke. Should employers have the right to demand that people lose weight? Remember this is about saving money, but at what cost.

Currently it is legal to drink and smoke cigarettes and there are those who over indulge when it comes to food. However, it would seem that in the name of saving a few dollars, people may have to change their lives in order to retain employment. While this seems like a win-win, I am not so sure it is.

Some time ago, perhaps twenty to thirty years, the anit-smoking movement began and now we all can safely belittle and look down at smokers. I think that’s fine but what happens when it becomes one of your vices. What if an anti-alcohol movement comes along. You may be forced into a position of having to gives up one of your vices so that you may retain your job or be eligible for employment. It may seem that your particular vice is safe but think again. Less than thirty years ago, cigarette smoking was the in thing.
Today one is ostracized for such behavior. Will alcohol be next?

Should employers be allowed to utilize smoking as criteria for employment? Furthermore, would you be okay with employers or potential employers utilizing alcohol as a criteria for employment and using the same argument? How far into our personal lives should employers be allowed to delve?