Twenty-First Century Genocide? It Could Happen in Uganda

December 14, 2009

I wasn’t originally planning on writing anything this week, as it’s finals week here at the University of Northern Iowa, however, I then read the scariest piece of news I’ve read in a long time.

In Uganda, there is a proposed law which would call for the execution of all homosexuals and AIDS patients. Citizens would also be imprisoned for knowing, but not reporting, homosexuals or defending gay rights in public. Further, the proposed law would be “an extraditable offense; any Ugandan even suspected of being gay could be extradited back to Uganda and punished” (Huffington Post).

Over the past month, many human rights organizations and fellow nations have spoken out against the bill, stating that it even discussing it makes a mockery of all the work that has been done in Uganda to gain human rights. Unfortunately, “it’s unlikely that pressure from other countries, even those providing development dollars, will make substantial impact on the law thus far. The bill’s author, David Bahati, of the ruling National Resistance Movement party, has been quoted as saying, ‘We cannot exchange our dignity for money'”(Huffington Post).

The fact that this kind of hate exists makes me so sad. It’s terrifying.

What can we do to help?

I’m not sure. I’m trying to start by spreading the message, and letting people know what’s going on. So please, post this article to your blog or facebook or twitter or email it out to family and friends.

Hate still exists. Discrimination still exists. Genocide could happen.

We have to be able to accept that before we can move on and take action. Then, maybe you can join or donate to Amnesty International or one of these other human rights organizations.

What are your thoughts? How can we work to create a world with less hate?

Dinner, Movie and Intolerance

November 23, 2009

This Saturday afternoon, I thought I would have relaxing night, as I had just come home for the beginning of Thanksgiving break. I met up with a friend and we decided to take a small road trip to celebrate with dinner and a movie, but what we intended to be a lighthearted evening was soon ruined by a $2.00 children’s film. It’s hard to find a theatre that doesn’t charge $8.00 for a movie in this day and age, so when we heard of this nearby theatre we knew that we would be entering a different world when we got into town. “The Twilight Zone” is the only way we could describe our experiences in this small town, as we sat down and awaited our movie to start. “Planet 51”, a movie targeted towards children seemed harmless enough, but as we watched this movie, who’s moral is about accepting others, no matter how different (seeing as it is about aliens), we found it making surprising amounts of homophobic jokes and the gender stereotypes going through the roof. To get an idea of the movie, here’s the trailer…

Chuck, the “alien” from earth, is the butt of many homophobic jokes as soon as he lands on this planet, and even before. In preparation for an alien invasion, one of the teenage aged children develops a preventative measure for himself and Lem, the other main character, which is a cork- so when the alien arrives it is unable to use its “probe” on them. As soon as Chuck has met Lem, they introduce one another, and as soon as Lem tells his name Chuck says, “Either your name is Lem…or that means that you want to mate with me.” Whether or not you find these jokes offensive, the pure unnecessary nature of them, along with more penis references then I care to mention, honestly made us uncomfortable to be in this theatre. I won’t even get into the gender stereotypes and chauvinistic nature of this film, but I want to know what everyone else thinks. Do you think we made a bigger deal than needed about this? As most kids probably don’t realize what kind of messages they’re also getting when they see these films, how do you think it affects the way they grow up and are acquainted with certain ideas before they have their own opinion? Or do you think it shapes them at all?

If you’re home over the Holidays and have younger family or siblings, do NOT miss out on an opportunity to see this– I want to hear all about your thoughts.

Edward Who?

November 9, 2009


That is the number of days until New Moon comes out.

What does this mean sociologically?

In the months leading up to the release of this movie, we have seen the media attempt to sway the hearts of millions of fan girls and boys away from Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and towards Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The young Taylor Lautner, age 17, has had his shirtless body plastered everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to any local convenience store and glance at the magazine racks, I’m sure you’ll find it.

Taylor, a seventeen year-old and thus a minor, has been allowed to be sexy with little to no scrutiny from the media. A few years ago, however, Miley Cyrus’s cover of Vanity Fair (pictured above) caused a media frenzy, which claimed the photo shoot was too sexy for still-underage Miley, more recently, Miley has bee scrutinized for brief “poll dancing” choreography at the Teen Choice Awards. Awhile back, many blogs noticed this, and discussed the gendered nature of the situation. What do you think? Why is it okay in our society for Taylor to be sexy but not okay for Miley? Is it still a repercussion of the “angel in the house” mentality from the Victorian period?

The weeks leading up to Twilight: New Moon have also brought us something I LOVE–seriously, I enjoy them so much it’s kind of embarrassing. They’re Twilight spoofs. Whether homemade or corporately produced, I really enjoy these cultural artifacts. Such as this one, staring Taylor Swift, from Saturday Night Live:

One thing I enjoy about this sketch is that it shows how, in our society, it is okay to be attracted to some types of monsters, but not to others. This is of course, not something Stephanie Meyer invented, indeed, Dracula himself seduced women. What do you think? Do you think popular culture will ever see a (non-campy) sexy version of Frankenstein monster? What about a sexy mummy? Other than women’s Halloween costumes, I cannot think of any examples, and a quick google images search confirmed this for me. Why are humans allowed to be attracted to vampires and werewolves, and yet not to mummies or monsters? Does it have to do with how we value wealth, as vampires are often very rich? What do you think? What is the social hierarchy for monsters?



No One Called: A Highschool Girl got Raped at her Homecoming Dance

October 27, 2009

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. This past Saturday night, a fifteen-year-old girl was brutally gang raped by as many as seven young men. She was raped, beaten, and sexually assaulted for two and a half hours. She was so badly beaten that she was flown from the scene in critical condition.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the ordeal is that no one reported it. Instead, about 15 males actually stood around watching it. Jezebel explains why this makes it so much worse,

At first I thought this was a Kitty Genovese situation, in which indifferent bystanders failed to help a crime victim. In fact, it’s worse. CNN’s Nick Valencia writes that, “as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault, but did not call police or help the victim.” Gagan adds, “As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated.” This isn’t a case of people turning their heads away and saying “none of my business.” It’s a situation in which 15 boys and men (one suspect in custody is 19, the other 15) treating public, brutal assault as a form of entertainment.

Anyone who went to a big, rough high school has seen this happen with a fight — everybody in the school rushes to the scene, cheering, booing, and even joining in as kids beat each other up. This practice is bad enough, exposing teen bloodlust and lack of compassion, but adding sexual assault to the mix makes the onlookers’ situation all the more heinous. That all said onlookers were male seems important here — were they so afraid of having their masculinity questioned that they couldn’t say anything? Or, more disturbingly, were they enthusiastic about the event, participating, however vicariously, in some kind of conquest? Whatever the case, not one, not two, but fifteen young men watched a gang-rape take place and essentially chose to side with the rapists — as Yes Means Yes would say, “that’s rape culture.”

Obviously, a terrible thing happened. How can we change out culture so that people DO report rape when they see it happening?

Sources: Jezebel, LA Times, and MSNBC

Illegal and Racist! But it Happened Anyway: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

October 16, 2009

Gay Rights March--Our Marriage Was OnceIn Louisiana this week, Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay were denied their right to marry by justice of the peace Keith Bardwell because they are an interracial couple (she is white and he is black). Bardwell stated that he would not marry the couple because he was afraid for the children the union may create, because he has come to the conclusion that interracial children are not accepted by either black or white culture. Bardwell said that he’s not a racist, BUT he “just [doesn’t] believe in mixing the races that way.”

Humphrey and McKay are not the first interracial couple he has refused to marry, as he told reporters that every time someone calls on him to marry them he first asks if they are a mixed race couple, if they are, he refuses to sign their license, estimating that he has refused to marry about four couples in his career. By doing this, he was breaking the law, as the Louisiana “Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that ‘the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.'” The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has gotten involved, asking for the Louisiana Judiciary Committee to investigate Bardwell’s case, looking for “the most severe sanctions available.”

What do you think? Are you surprised to see this still happening 40 years after the Civil Rights movement?

I was surprised, though upon thinking about it, it’s not that surprising–I know that racism still exists in the United States, and I know the nation doesn’t provide marriage rights to everyone (last weekend there was a National Equality March for that very reason… 20 Best Signs Here).

Source: Yahoo! News

Whaaa? A New Study about The Pill in “Trends in Ecology and Evolution”

October 13, 2009

Published in the current issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, I recently came across this study when @feliciaday (geek/actress) tweeted about it. Basically, it says that women on the pill are more likely to be attracted to provider-types (good dads) than aggressive men (good genes). It also states that men are less attracted to women on the pill, with research based on a study which measured sexual attractiveness by the amount of tips a woman received after giving a lap dance. I know I’m being somewhat biased in the retelling of the study, so PLEASE read the full article here, I’m curious what other sociologists think. Here are a few questions I have

1. Birth control is most frequently used in developed nations, why does the author think non-agressive genes are weaker? What do you think?

2. Does studying the amount of tips earned from a lap dance really display how birth control use affects your attractiveness? I feel like there could be a lot of variables there, what do you think?

3. What do you think of the pill in general?