Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mr. Man I Dare You To Hit Me

H&M dress $20 | thrifted scarf $0 | Forever 21 shoes $17

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A few months ago someone relayed a story they were told by a little girl they know in the Philippines. The eight year old little girl had seen her uncle, 19 slap his older sister, 23. The older sister being the wild child of her family, I can only assume this was some act of discipline on the part of the child's uncle as circumstances would have him being the “man of the house” at the present time. One might think that the slap alone would be enough to send the raging feminist that lies within the depths of me soaring. What really struck the a nerve was what occurred after the slap. Following the incident the young uncle Facebooked his older brother who is an overseas worker a message. Whether this message was to boast to his elder brother or inform him of the goings on back in the Philippines, I do not know. What I do know is that following this message the informed brother had a conversation with another family member excusing his younger brothers actions. The justification was that, “It’s okay. He is a growing ‘man’"

Now, I neither promote gender roles nor do I necessarily believe one must subscribe to them, but when did slapping a woman equate being a man? Some popular descriptions of a “man” I have heard are along the lines of “provider”, “father who tends to his family and children”, “steps up to responsibilities”. None of these descriptions implicate physical aggression on women or another human being as what makes a “real man”?

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Understandably, there is a cultural aspect to consider in this case, but factually slapping a woman is not something the general male Filipino population practices. Nowhere in my subscription to Filipino Weekly does it state the “10 Best Ways to Keep the Filipino Woman In Line Using Just Your Fist.” Maybe this act of physical aggression would make sense in a country that uses force and fear to instill in young boys that physical aggression is the way of life, but this young man was not a - child soldier - and there was no gun to this young man’s head forcing his hand.

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Incidents such as the one in this case can perpetuate a negative cycle for both young boys and girls. Think back to that slap. A young girl in early adolescents witnessed this slap, a slap against a woman, a slap that held no consequences, a slap that was excused as the a norm for a young man growing up in this world. As there are not consequences for such an act, this norm will become her norm. A cycle of the exertion of physical aggression and acceptance of that physical aggression by women is then created, promoting negative norms for what a “real man” is.

A physical act of aggression met with no consequences, but positive justification instills in the boys of the world that this is the proper way to attain a want. In turn arming the worlds young boys with a false sense of power. Because a boy who uses his fist is then making a choice not to use his mind and an individual without a mind is in truth powerless.


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As a product of an individualistic culture, I grew to believe that men and women are equals. Yes, men and women are equals. When I am in a boardroom I want to know that I being paid and treated the same as the some Joe Shmoe who has the same title and does the same work as me. When my children go to school, I want their intellectual and academic potential to be nourished equally without their perspective futures and occupations being encouraged as limited based on gender roles and stereotypes placed upon those perspective futures or occupations. And yes, from where I stand both men and women are all human beings at base.

Despite all the aspects of life that men and women should be viewed as equal, there is one aspect where inequality should be allotted, RESPECT. Women give life. They are the primary nurturers of that life in a child’s early years. These days we work, shelter, and clothe the family and children. Sometimes this is all on our own. Aside from being caregivers women have managed to function, maneuver, and dominate in a world structured to put them in their place, a place that seems to always be five steps behind or beneath a man.

I believe there should be a universal standard for the positive treatment of women. Maybe it is much easier for me to believe that such a standard is possible to maintain because I was brought up in an individualistic culture and am a woman myself. However, we as a society cannot continue to bring up boys who equate physical aggression to being a man. By implicating a positive standard for the treatment of women we can combat the negative standards being established for defining a “man” because a real man understands a woman’s worth.

H&M dress $20 | thrifted scarf $0 | Forever 21 shoes $17

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Love and War: A Musical Salvation


April 15th my life met love and war. The days Spring sun pierced through my shutters lightly singing the optimistic tune that played as my day’s alarm clock. It was a very “KT Tunstall ‘Suddenly I See’ - Ugly Betty – Meredith Grey – chick flick conquering the world” kind of morning. Fully drenched with this sentiment, I decided my outfit should challenge the beaming sun and jumped into my sequent harem pants. The optimistic tune that made me believe I could blaze through the day in these pants was soon silenced as I made my way through the obstacle course that led to the front door and the start of my day. This obstacle course can be named and described with one word, “mother”.


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Now, remember when you were in middle school when you left your house in jeans and a tee shirt and got to school went to the restroom and made the adolescent transformation your mother would verbally attack and your future self cringes at. This is the adolescent self that wore the cut off tees, spaghetti straps, and poorly applied 99 cent eyeliner from the drug store. Also, remember wearing on occasion the sneakers with the thick colorful laces that matched your color theme of the day. Okay, I guess it was just me, but my most vivid adolescent memories of conflict with mama are the ones that involved my appearance. Over the years I have simply found ways to maneuver around my mother’s verbal grenades.

At 22 years of age it seems that I have yet to escape having to use these maneuvers. That day I was so lifted that I did not stop to think of my mother seeing this outfit. With my big body, the thuds I made down the stairs were the signal for my mother to sound her attack.

“ Are you going to a disco?” Stung but not defeated , I reply with an irritated “ What?”
“What you think people are going to give you attention?” aAaaA. She got me again, but I continue toward my target, an exit. The fore may as well be a rainforest. Left. Right. “Where are my shoes?!” I scream in my head trying to stay cool under this fire. I finally find my shoes and get them on. My four inch heels do not provide any shelter just more amo for the opposition. As I open the front door, I feel it. aAAaaa shrapnel digs deep into my flesh as “You look stupid.” shoot from her lips and into my back side just before I finally get out the front door.

As her daughter and a student of social science I can understand my mother’s need to vocally express superficial grievances regarding appearance. I can only attribute this need to my mother’s own insecurity during her own emerging adult period as well as the insecurities she may maintain now in late adulthood. Though I can understand where this dislikable quality may stem from, the ability to understand does not disguise my wounds as I rant to my brother on the ride to the BART station.
Trying to maintain the optimism of his day, my brother drowns out my voice with his IPOD as he blasts Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Paper Dolls”. His selection of tune-idge had dual purpose, one being to shut me up and the other being to prep me for the Corrine Bailey Rae concert we were going to that night. My initial intention for going to this concert was to see the lesser known opening act Daniel Merriweather who we will get into a little later.

Astonishingly, I could hear the lyrics to the chorus over the growl of my own voice.
“All my life all my life
I said it's not right
Nobody told me I could do something
Nobody told me I could be something”

Hell yeah Corrine Bailey Rae! Nobody ever told me I do something! Nobody told me I could be something! The only person that has ever told me those things is me and repeating things to yourself does not a sane person make.The words to the song shot like bullets from the speakers on to my lips.
“I have tried I have tried
To say it's alright
Nobody told me I could do something
Nobody told me I could be something”

Still hurt and angered, my rant turned into angry burst of song. My life is very much like a musical in this way. Some people punch things or have angry cry. I have angry sing.

By the time I got on the train to school I felt like I had the strength of ten men. The feeling carried on throughout the ride until I finally reached the temple of the internal question, “What are you going to do with your life?” You may know this temple as college. I do not know what it is I am going to be doing with my life. The only thing I do know is that when I am in school during class lectures on things like the z score in the statistical analysis of an experiment, peripheral route to persuasion, or Paul Ekmans seven universal facial expressions the only thing on my mind is ‘Why is this professor wearing heavily bell bottomed polyester spandex trousers, Why tie that sweater around your waist, and why are you wearing Crocs? YOU ARE A PROFESSOR!’


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Despite the petty sucker punches of the day, I was lifted by music that night. The concert was at the Regency Ballroom San Francisco. The first act was the South African acapella group from South Africa. Overtone. The guys entered the stage with a dance number and I was just about over it. Guys that could not have been more than 25 years old managed to make themselves look like what the dads from Wisteria Lane would look like if they started a boy band. Their dance moves like their outfits were sloppy, dated, and unnecessary. One of them was actually wear what I could only relate to an Old Navy performance fleece. Another member was a plus sized Vanilla Thunder as he kept up with the rest of the group in what seemed to be his Olive Garden Uniform. After being baffled by their first song the guys spoke to the audience. Something that makes these guys just a little bit of amazing is they were discovered in their native South Africa by Clint Eastwood while he was filming Invictus, a film that finds Rugby uniting and inspiring a nation once divided. Overtone performed the film's title song "Colorblind" which is admittedly quite a touching song.


Regardless of my first visual impression of about the boys of Overtone, it is unbelievable what these guys can do with simply their voices. That is something we certainly lack in today's popular culture, singers who actually sing. This I appreciate and respect. By their ending beat-box boogie I think I was boogie-ing a little myself.

Finally, he was up. I heard the whistles of "Impossible" in the distant background. Daniel Merriweather entered the stage as if a drunk urban cowboy topped with a large winged fedora as he stomped and clapped to the single guitar strumming the chords to the song, building my anticipation. Well no that is not right. I mean building anticipation for my brother and I. I knowingly did not use the word "audience" when referring to the anticipation as it was solely my brother and I that actually knew who Daniel Merrieweather was before the concert. I felt like some Backstreet Boy loving - Nsync poster having - New Kids On the Block "Hangin Tough" blasting fan girl.The only difference between those young misses and me is the fact that the singer I was nearly bawling for could well, sing. Merriweather has the type of voice that knocks you in the chest. That force of a voice is matched by lyrics with content, substance. These elements in an artist can only make for a compelling performance. This is fact for Mr. Merriweather. I watched as he thrusted himself into each song finding a median between power and passion. The most compelling part of his performance was surprisingly a cover of Paul McCarntey's "Maybe I'm Amazed". Accompanied by simply a keyboard and guitar, his body played as the third instrument.Vocal screeches rang in my ears as I felt the ground vibrate from his stomps from the stage. I was done. Complete eargasim. (In the video below, at exactly 3:42 you hear some random girl who yells "I love you." Oh no honey, I reply with a fast Kimora Lee Simmons "I love you more!" You then hear my brother's "I love you." I got the last word with aN "I LOVE YOU THE MOST-EST!" Well I do!)



Corrine Bailey Rae was the whipped cream on top of the fattest strawberry short cake ever. I was merely a passive listener and fan before having watched CBR live. In the most adorable blue knitted material calve length one piece romper Rae performed with guns loaded, loaded with love that is. Every chord she killed with her guitar, note that flew from her lips exuded an optimism in the 1000ft high, three string wooden bridge that is love. Rae's songs were air, effortless melodic streams of breathe. It is her angelic, gremlin essence that makes the audience feel like love is not as intangible as it may seem for some. It is her perfect imperfection that simply gives you belief. She ended the night with a rendition of Sly and the Family Stone's "Que Sera Sera". How fitting for the day Miss Rae. "Whatever will be,will be."

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My night ended on a high. Somebody upstairs must have known my day started at a big low because by some stroke of a miracle I ended up in the right place at the right time. My brother and I were in the back ally of the venue taking pictures for this very street wear blog right when Daniel Merriweather was making his exit for the night. My exact words to him were "OH MY GOD!Can I just say I had no idea Corrine Bailey Rae was playing tonight. I really came here to see you!" He replies in the most buttery Australian accent, " I know. I saw you guys in the front." Well, heEEEy Daniel Merriweather was looking at me!


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That day I began with a war. It seems my mother and I are fighting an internal war with self. Despite my own internal war I drew my flag that night at musics command and fell in love. Music is the man, my love. Love & War = Musical Salvation (P.S. it also equals Daniel Merriweather's album. Check it out!).



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