I will forever adore Hermione

The Women of The Harry Potter Universe | Canonball.

“She doesn’t end up with the hero; she is not there to be Harry’s love interest. She is a total badass despite her prim & proper reputation. So often, female characters are allowed to be aggressive or rebellious, but in exchange are stripped of traditionally feminine qualities & are forced to pick up masculine traits. Hermione is never made to do that. She is written to be highly logical AND emotionally expressive, a combination not afforded to today’s leading ladies.”

I always loved Hermione for this reason. She is so much like me. I would read the books and watch the movies and repeatedly think, “That’s what I would do!” or “That’s how I would behave!” or “OMG she’s just like me!”. Even as an adult, I found renewed inspiration to be fully feminine and fully badass in a fictional teenage girl.

Some thoughts in the wake of the shooting

A smattering of thoughts in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

First, 2 pieces that speak my mind on the matter

We can’t prevent spree shootings, we need to look instead at gun violence in general.

We need to regulate guns as seriously as we regulate cars, do we have the courage?

The sadness upon hearing the news of this shooting was visceral. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that punched in the gut feeling. I continue to shed tears any time I allow myself to dwell on it for longer than a fleeting thought.

The conversations about guns and mental health care in America need to happen but I’m not sure I’m prepared to hear what some people have to say. Here are my reactions to some of the things I’ve heard so far (in no particular order):

  • The notion of arming teachers is so preposterous it would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
  • When we have conversations about people being allowed to “protect themselves”, why don’t we explore non-lethal options?
  • In the “right to bear arms” argument, it’s rarely pointed out that the military guns of the 1700s are hardly comparable to the guns available today. Also, why does “arms” automatically have to mean “guns” anyway?
  • Mental illness does not equal violence. However, there ARE mental illnesses that, under the right circumstances, can lead to violence so I believe that conversation needs to happen. Have you ever tried to get mental health services in America? It’s very difficult unless you’re very wealthy. Those with the greatest need should be seeing multiple mental health professionals multiple times a week for therapy and medication management…not to mention that their families also require services. These types of services are not covered even by many private insurance plans which would mean they’d have to pay out hundreds of dollars a week in therapy and thousands of dollars a month in medications. The mental health services accessible through medicaid are often not sufficient and you have to be “poor enough” to qualify for them. There are entire populations of people in the US for whom prison is the only option – this is unacceptable.
  • Suggesting that things would be better if God was “allowed in our society” is basically saying that people cannot be moral, ethical or “good” without belief in a deity. This is not only absurd but offensive. Mass shootings do not happen because kids aren’t forced to pray in schools. For pete’s sake, show some common sense.

And finally, a comment I wrote on my cousin’s facebook page in response to this image and this comments that followed.

Those who believe in maintaining the right to bare arms (2nd amendment rights) are not doing so to protect their family as much as to protect our rights against dictators (Obama want-a-be).

If you think you need THAT to protect your family from whatever perceived threats you think exist in North Dakota (where my cousin lives), I’m concerned about your mental health. I lived in the ghetto of Hollywood for 3 years. My employer had to hit the floor during drive-by shootings 3 times during her career with social services in Los Angeles. Do you SERIOUSLY think we would have been protected by ANY kind of gun in those situations? If this is about personal protection, then let’s discuss all our options – one of which should NOT be arming the populate with semi-automatics. If this is about our “constitutional right to guns”, then you’re completely daft – the constitution does not OWE you anything. It certainly doesn’t owe you the right to whatever gun you want without regulation.

Gun control = dictatorship? These kinds of hyperbolic fallacies only serve to eschew the real issues. If we want to have a discussion about the protection mechanisms used for the President of our country, then we should do that. But saying “because the president has highly skilled, screened, background checked and psych evalled secret service personnel protecting him with high powered weapons I should be allowed to have an assault rifle and don’t even talk to me about regulations or I’ll call the President a dictator” is the height of absurdity. Come on! It’s this kind of ridiculousness that continues to get us NO WHERE in the societal dialogue of reasonable gun regulations.

It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. We need to have a responsible dialogue about guns in this country. The level and ease of access and inconsistent regulations regarding use and abuse is embarrassing and it’s well past time America own up to it. The reality is that guns do more to harm than they do to protect and spouting fallacies and hyperbole and rhetoric isn’t going to change that nor is it going to get us any closer to a more peaceful, reasoned society.

It seems people have more guns than they do common sense in America and the victims continue to be the innocent.

Why isn’t anyone talking about the misogyny involved in Amanda Todd’s life and death? | The Vancouver Observer

The weapon that this man was able to rely on was the judgment of our society. Under our unequal social and economic conditions, the stakes are higher when a woman falls out of favour with her community. For a girl or woman, falling out of favour with her community can mean a sentence to a nightmarish cycle of distress. If we diffuse the judgment, and look at the behaviour of the attacker, we can weaken the attack. We need less focus on “the mistake” and more on the sexism in our society that this man wielded—successfully—to rid the planet of another young woman.

This is so good and I completely agree that we need to change how we address bullying to speak to the underlying bigotry, biases, judgments and misogyny. http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/feminista/why-isnt-anyone-talking-about-misogyny-involved-amanda-todds-life-and-death

color blind? no thanks.

I think the notion of being culturally and/or racially color blind is not only impossible and ridiculous but also dangerous. It’s impossible because we all see what we see and to inflict shame and guilt for that is a bad idea. It’s dangerous because it’s never a good idea to reduce human beings to some sort of imposed lowest common denominator.  I much prefer noticing and appreciating the beautiful hues and cultural differences that make us so interesting and spectacular. 

I love it that when my 8 year old describes her good friend who has milk chocolate skin, impossibly thick curly black hair and an Arabic speaking family she mentions her skin and eyes and hair. I love that when she draws a picture of her Latino friends, she tries to pick just the right shade of caffe au lait.

It would never occur to my kids to think that those who aren’t caucasian are “less” …. anything. But they certainly aren’t color blind.  And I think we all can learn something from that.

*Edited to add: My virtual friend Bruce Reyes-Chow who commented first has a great post about this topic http://www.reyes-chow.com/2010/09/three-myths-of-the-i-dont-see-race-world.html

30 Seconds to Mars prepare for their white carpet arrival | MTV Photo Gallery

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see the whole slide show here mtv.com

Congrats to 30 Seconds to Mars for their Rock Video win at the VMA … and what an entrance too! In addition, the jacket Jared Leto wore is awesome. See the winning video here. http://www.mtv.com/videos/30-seconds-to-mars/457415/kings-and-queens.jhtml#ar… If nothing else, 30STM should get props for not being Lady Gaga and winning something.

I have given in

There are 2 male celebrities who would make me a bit tongue-tied were I to meet in person…David Tennant and Nathan Fillion. Of course, I like Tennant because of Dr. Who and I like Fillion because of Firefly. So it's possible that I really only have crushes on their characters. But this picture I recently saw of Tennant proves to me that I think I just have a thing for slightly geeky looking lanky men with aquiline features…good news for my husband I guess (who also has a bit of a crush on Tennant fyi).

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How teenage access to pornography is killing intimacy in sex – Times Online

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This is so devastatingly sad. We have GOT to have more conversations about this in a way that isn’t just about “it makes Jesus sad”. There are valid and important reasons to limit if not eliminate porn from our social visual “vocabulary” and more discussion needs to happen especially amongst those who aren’t religious. I think for too long, the “religious right/traditional family values” crowd have been the dominating voice in regard to pornography but not because others aren’t concerned. The dialog needs to take on other voices in order to reach the hearts of our young.

diminishing the value of sex

In my experience, conservative evangelicalism and Christian fundamentalism (and I'm sure other types of conservative, fundamentalist religions but evangelicalism is what I'm familiar with) tend to give far too much power to the sex act. And the irony is that in doing so, they actually end up cheapening it just as much as the "secular society" they constantly bemoan.

In my upbringing, sex was seen as some sort of holy grail. The message sent that if you waited until marriage to have sex, on your wedding night, and every time thereafter, angels would sing their praises for the wonderful thing that was happening between you and your spouse. It would be wonderful and holy and would hopefully produce a "quiverfull" of children who would "rise and call you blessed".

Sexuality was limited to the act of intercourse or any sort of physical contact that might lead to intercourse and sex within marriage was the most amazing thing a young christian youth could hope to experience. And it was assumed that you could suppress your sexuality until that moment and then turn it on like a light switch as soon as you were married.

Were you to have sex one day before that marriage license was signed, insertion of penis into vagina had the power to destroy your marriage and maybe even send you to hell.

I have come to believe anything presented to me as carrying THAT much weight and having THAT much power is suspect.

On the "other side of the tracks" were friends who viewed sex as so powerless that they consumed it like water. They had it whenever they wanted, with whomever they wanted with very little awareness of the significance of the act beyond "insertion of penis into vagina". Sexuality was about the act of intercourse (or for the especially enlightened, this might include oral or mutual masturbation). While most of my guy and girl friends were fairly enlightened and mature individuals, they had very little knowledge of how great sex could be if they'd just stop having it for a little bit and grow up.

The christians were terrified of sex. It was so powerful that they would create all these walls of protection – modesty, purity, abstinence – in the hopes that it would help sex remain "pure and holy".

The others were so terrified of sex in a different way that they threw it up on billboards and in magazines and online as an "in your face" declaration that they had conquered sex and all the emotional ramifications that went with it.

Both have cheapened human sexuality, reducing it to the human flesh that causes arousal and whatever act ultimately gives a person an orgasm. Both have created false expectations, arbitrary rules, poor education and ultimately generations and generations of generally screwed up people who then go screw people. True love waits is bullshit, as is free love. And as long as religious progressives continue to just side with one or the other because it's easier, an alternative view of human sexuality will never arise.