Words By S.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

On Sexuality.

Filed under: Popular Culture,Ramblings — S @ 12:18 pm

Growing up in the United States, it is not uncommon to encounter the subject of sexuality, particularly when talking about advertising, censorship, and socialization. However, what is usually left out of discussions of sexuality is the over-sexualization/repression of sexuality in America.

It seems strange to think of repressed sexuality and too much sexuality as being interrelated. For one, having one’s sexuality be repressed means that it is forbidden, in some ways, to come to light. Meanwhile, having too much sexuality means that it appears everywhere, and is done so in a very “in your face” sort of way. For however strange it seems for these two to be related, they very much go hand-in-hand.

Take, for example, the following ads and images:

Smirnoff Vodka advertisement

Candies shoe advertisement

Mouth shaped urinal Mouth shaped urinal side view Mouth shaped urinals full view

Pictured above are the following – an ad for Smirnoff brand vodka, an ad for Candies men’s and women’s lines, and the latest urinals called the “Kisses urinals”.

In our society, it is okay to use these images to sell things (and it’s okay for a man to urinate into a woman’s mouth, yes?). However, when you get to images such as these:

Breast augmntationBreast augmentationbreast augmentation before and after

It turns into a problem and the above images become:

breast augmentation? breast augmentation before and after

News headlines

So, what we learn is that it is okay to sexualize a woman for a product, and to sexualize the idea of a woman for the purposes of bodily functions, but when it comes to a surgical procedure or consensual entertainment, it is not okay to see a breast nipple (or nipple jewel).

The nipple is, apparently, what makes a breast.

Watching the film Coming To America on Comedy Central, the other day, I learned that it is not okay for a woman to say,

“The royal penis is clean, Your Highness.”

but it is okay for this to be said:

“A royal queen needs only to have a pretty face, a firm backside, and big breasts like Casaba Melons.”

The difference? One was discussing a body part in a non-sexual manner, the other was discussing a body part in a sexual manner. The major difference, however, is which body part belonged to whom.

The United States, obviously, has a problem with sexuality. However, the problem is not that it is not okay to say “penis” and that it is okay to say ‘breast” on network television – this is only a product of what the underlying problem is.

The problem is that in the United States, we focus entirely too much on the phrase “sex sells,” all the while having governmental agencies such as the FCC determining what is moral and what is not moral. Using sex to push a product – moral, using sex for entertainment and in conversation – immoral.

Only in the United States is the government allowed to repress us, sexually. Only in the United States could a governmental leader be threatened with impeachment for lying about a sexual act (and extramarital affair). And, I can’t say this for certain, but I’m pretty sure that the United States is the only country whose states have/had anti-sodomy laws.

It is hard to preach tolerance and acceptance to a society of people who are afraid of their own sexualities.

That is the problem that the United States has – it is afraid of its sexuality.

The United States, in my mind, is similar to a pre-pubescent child, or perhaps even a child going through the early stages of puberty. It is unsure about sex, and is curious about sex but is afraid to admit that it is curious about it. Thus, instead of talking about it, asking the necessary questions, and attempting to explore the unknown, it uses the images it may have found hidden in a box in its parents’ closet. It becomes so obsessed with those images that it uses it for “locker room talk” and builds up its ego by lying to its friends about its sexual experiences, and essentially, does this for so long that it becomes afraid of sex.

The problem with this is that, in this society, the wrong things become the target in the crusade against sex. In a society run in this manner, an image that is the most nonsexual image imaginable (a breast being operated on) gets censored, while a highly sexual image (a woman face down on a couch wearing a dress, where only through a magnifying bottle can you see that it is unzipped) is not. Where what a president does on his own time, in privacy is reprimanded, but highly sexualized urinals can run rampant in the public eye.

Only in a society run in this way would a group of designers think that it is okay to make a line of thongs for children called “Kiddie Kandy”:

Only in a society such as this are young teens under the impression that walking around half naked is okay.

Teen Fashion

Teen fashion

I leave you with this thought – if the United States were much more open about just what sexuality is, how sexuality should be used, and what actually is sexy, perhaps our vision of what is and what is not acceptable wouldn’t be so skewed. Perhaps some of the ads we see, some of what is seen as fashionable, what language is deemed “okay” for network television would be more realistic.

Perhaps some of what is seen wouldn’t be so shocking. Perhaps “sex” wouldn’t sell so much.

Monday, 30 October 2006

From ‘A Softer World’.

Filed under: Creativity,Humour,Sites of Interest — S @ 10:46 am

A Softer World

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Oh, what a day for news!

Filed under: News,Politics,Popular Culture — S @ 9:04 am

The president does away with the Writ of Habeas Corpus, a newscaster from MSNBC openly attacks him for it, New Jersey is seemingly getting closer to accepting gay marriage, a man assaults and almost kills his girlfriend over MySpace…the country is in shambles! (Except for New Jersey – this is actually marvelous, wonderful news!)

Interrogation tactics become law

By Nedra Pickler
The Associated Press

President Bush signs the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which sets new standards expediting the interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects at the White House on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2006. (AP / Charles Dharapak)

Washington – President Bush signed legislation today authorizing tough interrogation of terror suspects and smoothing the way for trials before military commissions, calling it a “vital tool” in the war against terrorism.

Bush’s plan for treatment of the terror suspects became law just six weeks after he acknowledged that the CIA had been secretly interrogating suspected terrorists overseas and pressed Congress to quickly give authority to try them in military commissions.

“With the bill I’m about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice,” Bush said.

A coalition of religious groups staged a protest against the bill outside the White House, shouting “Bush is the terrorist” and “Torture is a crime.” About 15 of the protesters, standing in a light rain, refused orders to move. Police arrested them one by one.

Among those the United States hopes to try are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be 9/11 hijacker, and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells.

“It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill that he knows will save American lives,” Bush said. “I have that privilege this morning.” Bush signed the bill in the White House East Room, at a table with a sign positioned on the front that said “Protecting America.” He said he signed it in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We will answer brutal murder with patient justice,” Bush said. “Those who kill the innocent will be held to account.” Among those in the audience were military officers, lawmakers who helped pass the bill and members of Bush’s Cabinet.

He singled out for praise, among others, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has come under sharp criticism in recent months as violence has soared in Iraq.

The law protects detainees from blatant abuses during questioning – such as rape, torture and “cruel and inhuman” treatment – but does not require that any of them be granted legal counsel. Also, it specifically bars detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions in federal courts.

Bush said the process is “fair, lawful and necessary.” “The bill I sign today helps secure this country and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair and we will never back down from threats to our freedom,” Bush said. “We are as determined today as we were on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001.” Many Democrats opposed the legislation because they said it eliminated rights of defendants considered fundamental to American values, such as a person’s ability to go to court to protest their detention and the use of coerced testimony as evidence. Bush acknowledged that the law came amid dispute.

“Over the past few months, the debate over this bill has been heated and the questions raised can seem complex,” he said. “Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few. Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously? And did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?” The American Civil Liberties Union said the new law is “one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.” “The president can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

“Nothing could be further from the American values we all hold in our hearts than the Military Commissions Act,” he said.

The swift implementation of the law is a rare bit of good news for Bush as casualties mount in Iraq in daily violence. Lawmakers are increasingly calling for a change of strategy and political anxieties are jeopardizing Republican’s chances of hanging onto control of Congress.

Bush needed the legislation because the Supreme Court in June said the administration’s plan for trying detainees in military tribunals violated U.S. and international law.

The legislation, which sets the rules for court proceedings, applies to those selected by the military for prosecution and leaves mostly unaffected the majority of the 14,000 prisoners in U.S. custody, most of whom are in Iraq.

The Pentagon had previously selected 10 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison to be tried. Bush is expected also to try some or all the 14 suspects held by the CIA in secret prisons and recently transferred to military custody at Guantanamo.

The bill also eliminates some rights common in military and civilian courts. For example, the commission would be allowed to consider hearsay evidence so long as a judge determined it was reliable. Hearsay is barred from civilian courts.

The legislation also says the president can “interpret the meaning and application” of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush would probably eventually issue an executive order that would describe his interpretation, but those documents are not usually made public and Snow did not reveal when it might be issued.

————————

‘Beginning of the end of America’

Olbermann addresses the Military Commissions Act in a special comment

KEITH OLBERMANN’S SPECIAL COMMENTS

Updated: 3:00 p.m. ET Oct. 19, 2006

Olbermann: ‘Beginning of the end of America’
For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived as people in fear.

And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awaken to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before—and we have been here before, led here by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.

We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.

American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said about America. (See the video here.)

———————-

 

New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

POSTED: 4:45 a.m. EDT, October 26, 2006

var clickExpire = “-1”;TRENTON, New Jersey (CNN) — In a decision likely to stoke the contentious election-year debate over same-sex marriage, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

The high court on Wednesday gave legislators six months to either change state marriage laws to include same-sex couples, or come up with another mechanism, such as civil unions, that would provide the same protections and benefits.

The court’s vote was 4-to-3. But the ruling was more strongly in favor of same-sex marriage than that split would indicate. The three dissenting justices argued the court should have extended full marriage rights to homosexuals, without kicking the issue back to legislators.

Advocates of same-sex marriage hailed the decision, a respite from many defeats this year in courts nationwide.

“That is wonderful news,” said Cindy Meneghin, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit by seven same-sex couples that prompted Wednesday’s decision. “We can only hope that that means marriage, because that is the only way they can give us full equality.” (Watch a couple say why they want to call their 32-year relationship marriage — 2:01 Video)

Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, announced that three state legislators plan to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. In an e-mail to supporters, the chairman of the group, Steven Goldstein, vowed that only “over our dead bodies will we settle for less than 100 percent marriage equality.”

Gay marriage opponents promise to fight

Those angered by the ruling predicted it will reinvigorate the fight in Congress for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide.

“They took the future of marriage out of the hands of the people of New Jersey,” said Matt Daniels of the Alliance for Marriage, which supports the amendment. “They are holding a gun to the head of the legislature of New Jersey and saying pick between two bullets — one that allows civil unions and one that allows marriage.”

Sen. Sam Brownback a leading social conservative in Congress, said the New Jersey decision “warrants swift, decisive action by Congress in the form of passage of the Marriage Protection Amendment.”

“Huge social changes should be decided by the people and their elected representatives and should not be forced by the courts,” the Kansas Republican said in a written statement.

The federal amendment, which President Bush supports, has stalled in Congress. It has so far failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote to be submitted to the states for ratification.

Opponents of same-sex marriage contend the New Jersey decision could have a national impact because the state imposes no residency requirements for people seeking marriage. In essence, it could open the door for gay and lesbian couples from other states to marry in New Jersey and challenge laws against same-sex marriage in their own states.

The gay marriage debate intensified in 2004 when Massachusetts became the first and only state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The state does not allow nonresidents to marry there, however.

Precedent in Vermont

The decision mirrors the one made in 1999 by Vermont’s highest court, which prompted its legislature to create civil unions for same-sex couples, with the same rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexuals. (Opinion — pdfexternal link)

The New Jersey high court held that state laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from receiving the “financial and social benefits and privileges” of marriage violate the equal protection clause of the New Jersey Constitution and served no “legitimate governmental purpose.”

Noting that New Jersey already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, the high court said there was “no rational basis for giving gays and lesbians full civil rights as individuals while, on the other hand, giving them an incomplete set of rights when they enter into committed same-sex relationships.”

The justices wrote: “The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people.”

However, they stopped short of finding that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

The ruling said the court would not “speculate” on whether legislation creating civil unions identical to marriage would pass constitutional muster “and will not presume that a difference in name is of constitutional magnitude.”

The justices also held that the state’s domestic partnership law for same-sex couples, passed in 2004, is not an adequate substitute for marriage rights because it provides gay and lesbians with fewer benefits and rights and has more stringent requirements for establishing partnerships than for marrying.

A hot button election topic

The issue of gay marriage has roiled American politics for more than a decade and on November 7 voters in eight states will decide whether to amend their constitutions to ban gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

Same-sex marriage advocates have suffered five high-profile court losses since July, including decisions in the high courts of New York and Washington state upholding state laws prohibiting marriage for gay or lesbian couples.

State supreme courts in Nebraska and Georgia also upheld constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage that had been struck down by lower courts.

And earlier this month, an appellate court in California upheld the constitutionality of state laws against same-sex marriage, a decision now being appealed to the California Supreme Court.

The court said the state’s existing Domestic Partnership Act, similar to one adopted in several other states, including California, doesn’t go far enough in protecting the rights of gay couples.

Episcopal pastors Mark Harris and Denis Winslow, plaintiffs in the New Jersey suit, now have one dream to fulfill: to join the countless heterosexual couples they’ve married.

“We see it as a civil right that we’re denied,” Winslow said. “Even though we pay first-class taxes, we are treated as second-class citizens.

“We don’t have that freedom to exercise our relationship in a practical way, dare I say, spiritual way.”

————————

 

Man allegedly beats girl over Web page

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Oct. 24 (UPI) — A Massachusetts man is charged with allegedly beating his girlfriend after she removed his name from friends listed on her MySpace.com page.

The MetroWest Daily News said 19-year-old Michael McGrath of Framingham allegedly bit, punched and choked the girl. He is also accused of destroying her laptop computer.

McGrath told police he was just joking, the newspaper said.

MySpace.com has a feature in which people can invite “friends” to their page, allowing them to send messages back and forth.

McGrath was charged with assault and battery and the malicious destruction of property worth more than $250, the newspaper said.

—————————-

A special thank you to all of my news sources. And Google.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Zombies (part deux)!

Filed under: Creativity,Local Events/Info — S @ 10:42 am

This was originally brought to my attention in the comment section of a previous post of mine, and now I have actual info to share:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

(Remember to set your clocks back for daylight savings)

 

10:00 AM – All Zombies report to The Monroeville Mall

First floor entrance behind Macys (bus stop)

Apply make up if you haven’t already. Register and meet the cast of It’s Alive. Practice shuffling and saying “Braaaiiinnnss….need braaaiiinnnnssss”.

The Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be accepting your donations at this time.

Donations are not mandatory but every one must sign in for the Guinness book.

There is no registration fee – this is a free event.

 

11:00 AM – Begin Walk.

Zombies will enter the mall and begin their slow shamble to the opposite end for the photo. A group photo will be taken at this time as evidence for the Guinness Book of World Records. Please stay in place and in zombie make up until all documentation is complete. It is extremely important to stay in character while in the mall. If you are being filmed*, please do not smile, wave or even look at the camera because this will render the shot useless. If you want to be seen on TV, in the newspaper, etc.

please stay in zombie mode

(See Rules of Conduct & “What is a Zombie Walk” below)

 

11:55 PM – Zombies Disperse.

The Zombie Walk is over. Feel free to shop on your way back to the other end. The mall will be opened to the public at this time so please be on your best behavior. Other cities will certainly try to break our record and we would like to use Monroeville Mall for future events.

 

*Only our crew will be allowed to film or take pictures inside the mall. Please do not attempt to bring cameras into the mall. Stills and video will be posted on this website for downloading.

 

 

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