Sunday, October 30, 2011

Existentialism V Infinite Gas Tank

A philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will

I just filled my tank and I am completely bothered by the anticipation my tank is about to be empty.  It doesn't matter that I just filled it.  I take no delight in knowing I can go another 300 miles instead I am haunted by the fact the tank will soon be empty again.  This obsession leads to changing the display so I don't have to watch the count down.   I do however think about what that tank of gas will do, how far it will get me, and if I drive on the freeway vs. the city streets will the tank take me further.

Metaphorically, that gas tank represents my life.  I have a limited time to experience life.  The rules I abide by are rules I have learned through experience work for me.  They are not rules that will benefit you nor will the same experiences or result in the same conclusion.  There is no universally applied law when it comes to the individual choices we make.  Sure you can drive on the freeway and get better mileage, but if the freeway feels unnerving it may not be worth the sacrifice.

The fuel was provided after the tank was created.  It did not exist in essence before there was a vessel to carry it.  The quality and length of the fuel is determined by the choices I make and when the tank is empty I stop.  While this is not a perfect metaphor I think you can get the picture.

This is why I think religion is damaging and in many cases criminal in the way it expends our energy and asks to delay life as if were were idling.  We have potential for experience and to take roads less traveled to find ourselves and to do it on our terms.  There is a richness in this discovery that will lead to a genuine knowledge of who we are.  We are being asked to delay those experiences or the deny ourselves those experiences for a journey that in all likelihood does not exist.  In fact, in most cases it is so improbable that only elaborate rationalization and delusional thinking, prescribed by religious leaders, can convince us that we should delay our own personal grown in favor of adhering to their experiences. Our reward? ... an eternal tank of gas?  Preposterous!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Media Messages, Cultural Misogyny, and the Lie of Modesty

This video was making the rounds on my Facebook page this morning.  Here is the longer version ( ) I agree in part with the trailer's premise; I also think they are missing the mark here.  I have long said that our girls need strong role models and the writer and I agree here.  However I don't think the media is responsible for the objectification of our girls and women.  I think the media represents or reflects our societal image of the role of women but they didn't create the image.  Are they guilty of perpetuating the stereo type... sure but culturally we accept it.  

In the early 1970's the series All in the Family aired an episode which portrayed our prejudices regarding male homosexuality.  If we were to produce that same episode today it would not only be a flop but an outrage because our society has morphed.  The fact that less than 30% of high power media positions are held by women has more to do with the persistent messages we give to our daughters in our homes than what we show on TV and in magazines.  In fact I would postulate, as a whole, the objectification of women is born and nurtured in the misogyny of the conservative movement.  

There is this morsel from the 2011 LDS Church's general relief society meeting:
I know that each of us has a vital and essential role as a daughter of God. He has bestowed upon His daughters divine attributes for the purpose of forwarding His work. God has entrusted women with the sacred work of bearing and rearing children. No other work is more important. It is a holy calling. 
Our daughters have reached their potential when they have babies?  There is no a call for them to be scientists, lawyers, or even doctors.  In addition we give them more and more pressure to be modest; to cover their bodies; and to avoid being a "licked cupcake".  It is that same line of thought that denigrates the female form to an object.  We don't value the women for their potential we value them for the conditions of their bodies.  

The above image was circulating on Facebook as well.  If further illustrates the distorted view we have about what modesty and chastity means.  I fully believe they are artificial markers by which we measure American women.  

I think we need to acknowledge a couple of things.  First, humans are sexual beings. Second, we will always find a way to sexualize each other. Third, when you cover breasts, put the curves of women under  loose fitting clothing we will find a way to sexualize non sexual parts.

We will find ways to eroticize shoulders, ears, eyes, or hair length.  The strong sexual drive we have is what propagates our species.  It is natural.  

What is unnatural is to assign rigid gender roles based upon contrived religious or social dogma.  I am going to confess.... of all the women appearing in the above trailer, the one that I find most attractive is Rachael Maddow.  Not because she is super sexy, not because she is a lesbian and I think lesbian sex is hot; but, because she is smart, articulate, educated, and accomplished.  Sure, I find the images of the scantily clad women that are paraded on the trailer, out of context,  titillating.  Why would I not?  I am a sexual being.  However, I cannot say that I am attracted to any of the women.  Our contemporary culture is replete with icons like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears who appear to be attractive until you hear them speak.  

Unfortunately, we perpetuate the myth that the media operates independent of our culture.  We assume the media tells us what is normal.  If we want to change the context in which our daughter's are developing their identities we need to do it from the very core.  Abandon the idea that their lot is to be mothers.  Motherhood is a choice; in as much, as going to medical school is.  Stop placing artificial emphasis on modesty of dress.  In cultures where women wear nothing but a loin cloth their body ceases to be an object of sexualization.  We need to form our ideas of success in accomplishment not in puritanical ideals based upon a bronze age text.  Our daughters are not the condition of their bodies but the condition of their minds.  If that is what the whole film says... I agree... if not, it is another Bowling for Columbine.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Is it me?  I have noticed that almost everybody on Facebook is talking but no one is listening.  Few people even take time to acknowledge that anyone else has something to say.  Everybody is talking over each other! I noticed this phenomenon over the last couple of weeks and it has been frustrating.  I follow a few bloggers and really prefer to read their posts on my Google reader.  The comments, in their comment sections, in many cases, result in real conversations (in print anyway).

I realize that Facebook is not the place to maintain real relationships.  It is however a way to meet and reconnect.  In some cases the interactions on either Facebook or in the Blogosphere can result in real human interactions.  For example, this summer I went to dinner with Kiley from We Were Going to be Queens.  I am good friends with Andrew from Hackman's Musings.  One I knew before I was Facebook and blogging friends the other I recently met.  When both a Facebook and real life relationship exists the interaction and empathy is richer.  That does't mean that all Facebook interactions are superficial.  I have several Facebook friends I have good interactions with whom I have never met.

I guess with my current school load I am feeling a bit disconnected from the daily interactions I had grown accustomed to with my peers.  I am feeling a little more isolated and my hourly Facebook fix is not filling the void  (like duh?).