The Colosseum

where we call 'em like we see 'em


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Female Civil War

The problem with all these new leaps and bounds for women’s rights is that not all women are on the same page for what they want. Instead of being united they are fighting among themselves, debating what it means to be a “real” woman and being ashamed of women who are different than them.

Women do not want to be associated with their social group because of guilt for belonging to it or dislike of the stereotype but every time a woman distances herself from other women or attacks the female gender she is weakening her own overall social rights. It was described passionately by Claudia Gray, “It saddens me to see girls proudly declaring they’re not like other girls. It’s taking a form of hatred for women and internalizing it by saying, ‘Yes, those girls are awful, but I’m special, I’m not like that’, instead of stepping back and saying, ‘This is a lie.’”

This can be seen when specific women are attacked. Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, a birth control advocate, “a slut” on national television and was actually supported for saying it. Male commentators speak more often on female issues than women do in the media, as can be seen in the following chart compiled from large newspapers, televisions shows, and media companies.

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As a result of this it is harder for women to find opinions they can relate to in the media. Women who want social advancements such as contraceptives are often painted as sinful and women distance themselves from revolutionaries in the field such as Fluke. Some women distance themselves from women like Fluke and proclaimed feminists because of stigmas surrounding feminism: they believe it makes them appear unfriendly, angry, or a lesbian, all traits that will make them unappealing to men. This type of woman believes that if people view her as an exception rather than a representation of a stereotype then they will treat her better and consider her special. This is protection in a perverted fashion, attempting to find safety by dividing forces and appealing to the harmful groups, “I’m different. Don’t treat me like them.” This is an incredibly dangerous viewpoint because instead of expanding people’s horizons and shattering the idea of stereotypes it is only encouraging the idea of exceptions.

Stop woman on woman hate. There is no way women as a whole can win the Battle of the Sexes if there is a female civil war erupting among the ranks.

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A Cultural Crisis: Transgender Treatment

The legal sanctions for non-heterosexual people have taken drastic steps within the past couple of decades. They were treated as second class citizens and often prosecuted for their identity. When a defender of Pastor Charles Worley said that the pastor’s words were harmless because, “Nobody’s gonna put them [gays and lesbians] behind an electric fence,” CNN reporter Anderson Cooper responded, “Actually that has happened. It’s called the Holocaust.” Treatment of the queer community has improved over the years but is still not at an ideal status.

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Some people in the public eye in America who do support transgender rights include Vice President Joe Biden. On October 30, 2012 current Vice President Joe Biden said that transgender rights are the “civil rights issue of our time” when Linda Carragher Bourne, mother of Miss Trans New England asked Biden if he would help them. Vice President Biden is an ally to most of the queer community. He commented that gay rights advocates are “freeing the soul of the American people” and publically announced that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage.

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       The Obama administration was the first one to send an official representative to a conference on transgender people, something that transgendered people such as Ashley Hope believe, “never would’ve happened in the Bush administration or even the Clinton administration.” In an interview with ABC News President Obama said, “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

 
He has also been quoted saying, “Every single American, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, every single American, deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition,” at the Human Rights Campaign’s 15th Annual National Dinner. That quote was plastered on one of the pillars in his reelection headquarters too.

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         But most of the public policy regarding transgender rights has been less supportive than Vice President Biden. The Philadelphia City Council became the first in the nation to pass a LGBT equality bill that would “revamp the city’s health-care plan to ban discrimination against non-union transgender city employees and would instate a Transgender Health Tax Credit that would encourage companies to offer transgender-specific health-insurance coverage to the transgender community. City buildings would also be required to provide gender-neutral bathrooms, and the measure would also clarify what constitutes employment discrimination in the city’s nondiscrimination law.” One person who spoke in support of the bill was Dane Menkin, a transgender male whose name, birth certificate, driver’s license and passport list him as a male. His health insurance does not recognize that he is a male through and did not pay for any of his transition. He speaks of the Philadelphia City Council’s new bill: “This has had an impact on my family, both financially and in terms of social and physical safety. When a provider, billing specialist or receptionist sees me and when my daughter refers to me as daddy when speaking to me, they immediately become concerned that either my gender marker in their system is wrong or that we engaged in some kind of fraud.”

 

Councilman Jim Kenney, who introduced the bill, commented on it, “We are continuing on the America road to full equality and civil rights for all our citizens.” Philadelphia is one of the first to pass such legislation and there has been no related national law even brought forth. Only four states and the D.C. area have stopped insurance companies from excluding case for transgender people such as “coverage for medically necessary treatment including gender reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria and related health conditions.”

 

The politics surrounding the transgender community are affected by the viewpoints and mindsets of society and by actions that occur publically. Although Americans are pretty evenly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage, less people are aware of and in support of transgender rights. President Obama commented, “And together, we also have to keep sending a message to every young person in this country who might feel alone or afraid because they’re gay or transgender — who may be getting picked on or pushed around because they’re different. We’ve got to make sure they know that there are adults they can talk to; that they are never alone; that there is a whole world waiting for them filled with possibility. That’s why we held a summit at the White House on bullying. That’s why we’re going to continue to focus on this issue. This isn’t just “kids being kids.” It’s wrong. It’s destructive. It’s never acceptable. And I want all those kids to know that the President and the First Lady is standing right by them every inch of the way. I want them to know that we love them and care about them, and they’re not by themselves. That’s what I want them to know.”

Hopefully, one day soon we can see equal rights for everyone, regardless of gender.


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Hungry For Change

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The Hunger Games trilogy is poised to be another fantasy powerhouse with the books making the best selling list and the movies doing well at the box office. But the movies are bringing out a side of the books that was not stressed- the love life of the main character, Katniss Everdeen.

In the books Katniss is fighting for her life in the Hunger Games, a yearly battle to the death with 24 contestants, all under the age of 15.

In the movie, it appears that Katniss is more worried about her male suitors than preparing to fight for her life.\

At the base of it, The Hunger Games trilogy is supposed to speak to danger of a powerful government and the pitfalls of citizens not caring about each other or the environment. It features people being manipulated, people being murdered, and an egotistical dictator. Out of all these complex and interesting dynamics, what relationship is the media focusing on to promote this event? Katniss’ love life.

Even the actors are sick of it now that the second, more gory movie has been released:

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This is a theme within media, with women being asked questions about their diets and their work out routines while men are prompted to answer minute details about their character’s mindsets and their acting tips. Men are taking seriously as actors while actresses appear to be glorified models who can also speak lines. Just look at the differences between how Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. are treated at a press conference:

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It’s that mindset that women are important for their looks, which we discussed earlier here. We need to help end this dangerous viewpoint and have the media show that they actively WANT to know more about women than how they stay thin.

 


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Writing Women Right

George Stroumboulopoulos: There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?

George R.R. Martin: You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.

HBO interview with A Song of Fire and Ice author, George R. R. Martin

I had to take four sections of Humanities classes in college. The classes divide important and influential literature into eras. Up until that class we had not read anything written by a female author even though we had ready almost 20 texts. The most recent one I took covered the 1820’s to present day. I was excited at the prospect of FINALLY reading some texts written by women. To my surprise and unhappiness there was only ONE text assigned that was written by a woman and it was during the week themed “Feminism.” It was a single short essay assigned ALONGSIDE two other short essays written by MEN. I asked my professor why we weren’t reading more texts written by women. Brace yourself for his response. My humanities professor claimed that, “Women did not write anything as major as the texts written by males on the syllabus.” I was shocked and actually laughed, thinking he was joking. My thought process was that in the past two centuries women had published amazing articles that were relevant to numerous fields, especially feminism. He was not amused by my response.

That situation made me think of a quote by Dr. Rebecca Erickson, a professor at the University of Akron, “One year, I taught this (Sociological theory) class and only used female writers. The journals were written by women, the textbook was written by females. Do you know what kind of responses I got on my student evaluations that year? {…} That I was biased, that I was only looking from one point of view… that I was basically a man eater. That’s the kind of things I’d get from the students… The semester before, I used only male writers. Do you think I got any kind of feedback like that then? Not a single word.

Men and women may claim to be feminists or forward thinking but at the root of it their formative years were in a culture much less accepting and some effects must have seeped into their ways of thinking. My humanities was aggressively angry when I claimed he could have made the class more culturally well rounded by featuring female writers, especially because one of the week’s theme was feminism. This is also the same professor who claimed that Heart of Darkness had admirable female characters, an opinion that made me question if we were reading the same book or considering the fact that the author was indeed a white male. We already talked about how history affects how women have been documented. My viewpoint is that women have been written and written about by men for so many years that stereotypes from the male point of view have taken over and shaped the society viewpoint. Women should be writing about all types of women to show how diverse we are.

Lori, a tumblr user, summed it up perfectly and her quote was turned into gifs by tumblr user ConsultingPiskies:

Lori continues, “THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.”

Women should not be limited to just one archetype. I, personally, just want to be treated like a person and written like one, too. I don’t want a different set of rules because I am female. I want the good and the bad to be shared. Women in real life make up polar opposites. Some are kind, some are cruel. Some are self conscious, some are confident. That deserves to be reflected in writing. Don’t box women in literature and film to just one kind of person. That’s so boring and if women are NOT one thing it’s boring.


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Identifying the Problems with Gender Identity

Gender identity is not an assumed given based on biological sex. Sometimes people feel that their self-identified gender is different from their assigned one. Currently Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is classified as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In the fifth edition the term will be changed to Gender Dysphoria. The psychological community diagnoses people with Gender Identity Disorder when they feel gender dysporia, or a discontent with their assigned biological gender. The DSM-IV states that children have to, “display at least four of the following symptoms of cross-gender identification for a diagnosis of gender identity disorder” which include insistence from the child that they are not the gender they were biologically assigned, a habit of cross-dressing, a desire to be the gender they have not been biologically assigned during fantasy or pretend games, wanting to fill in stereotypical roles of the gender they have not been biologically assigned such as playing sports versus dolls, and a preference to have friends who are not the gender they have not been biologically assigned. It can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

​Transgender is “an umbrella term that can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, and those with a fluid, androgynous identity who do not consider themselves completely male or female.”

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​Being transgender does not affect sexual orientation. A female to male transgender does not automatically like women because liking women would be the heterosexual way. Transgender people can be heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, or any other sexual orientation.

The process for changing from one sex to the other is long and difficult. Hormones are taken and sex reassignment surgery done.

There are many difficulties surrounding changing including people not believing you, not having the money, not having support, insurance not covering it, and a transphobic society.

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​Issues surrounding gender identity do not only affect one age group, such as teens going through puberty in the process of discovering their sexual identity. Some recent events surrounding gender identity that have made the news include a wide spectrum of ages. Notably, a six year old child made national CNN headlines. Although she is biologically male, the girl is mentally female, acts like a female, and is treated like a female by her loved ones. Her story involves one of the main issues that arise when people are concerned with transgender people: public restrooms. Transgender people are often harassed when they use public restrooms and a unisex bathroom would solve that problem. Currently, only five American cities have legislation that allows people to choose to use the bathroom labeled with the gender they self-identify with rather than their biological gender. Local and state laws dictate public restroom use. Opponents of passing unisex bathrooms or allowing people to use the bathroom associated with their self-assigned gender speak against the change because they believe sex offenders will take advantage of the change to find and harm victims.

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But some opponents are simply queerphobic. Mary Anne Case, a law professor at the University of Chicago, called bathrooms a “cultural fault line” and considers that, “very few spaces in our society remain divided by sex. There’s marriage and there’s toilets, and very little else.” Riki Wilchins, the executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, said that when this issue arises on campus, “Students are looking hard at the right to express their gender, a painful rite of passage for every young adult. These kids are demanding the right to be who they are and what they are twenty-four/seven. They’re tired of being harassed or hassled when they simply need to use a public facility.”

Hopefully, one day America can function as a society where everyone is taken care of regardless of gender identity.


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Teenage Dream or Nightmare?

“People don’t wanna be compared to the teenage girl; the teenage girl is hated, teenage girls hate themselves. If you listen to a certain kind of music, or if you express your emotions in a certain kind of way, if you self harm, you write diaries, all those kind of activities are sort of laughed at and ridiculed because they’re associated with being a teenage girl. Even just things like being cripplingly self conscious or overly concerned with our appearance, that’s considered like a teenage girl thing and therefore its ridiculous, it’s stupid, it’s not relevant or legitimate, and you know, what we needed at that age was legitimisation and respect and support but all we got was dismissal and “oh you’re such a teenage girl.”

Teenage girls are the inspiration for hundreds of songs, the main characters of some of the most popular books of the twenty-first century, and the area companies focus most of their advertising on. Make up, pens, clothing, music, there are countless advertisements directed specifically at teenage girls. Why? Because teenage girls are passionate and thus will buy products.

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Mary Borsellino in The Devil’s Mixtape writes, “As soon as teenage girls start to profess love for something, everyone else becomes totally dismissive of it. Teenage girls are open season for the cruelest bullying that our society can dream up. Everyone’s vicious to them. They’re vicious to each other. Hell, they’re even vicious to themselves. It’s terrible. It’s used as the cheapest, easiest test of crap, isn’t it? If teenage girls love a movie, a book, a band, then it’s immediately classified as mediocre shit.”

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Consider the band One Direction. How seriously do you take their music? I’m guessing not very. Are you aware that they were the first UK group to debut at number one in the United States? That means they are even more popular than The Beatles were. They set a Guinness World Record. Did you know One Direction sold out  Madison Square Garden in less than a minute? That their UK Tour sold out in 10.6 seconds? That 15,000 people, the biggest crowd ever, waited outside to see them perform at the Today Show? They also have most preorders of a single EVER on iTunes. All of this is thanks to teenage girls. Teenage girls love what they love passionately. They support so companies and organizations target their marketing at them for a symbiotic relationship with them. The members of One Direction are all MILLIONAIRES and this is money that was made mostly thanks to their teenage, female fans.

Teenage girls are such force of nature and they deserve to be recognized and respected.


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More Tricks Than Treats: Halloween Costumes

Halloween is a time of fun and candy- and also when people really see what type of humans their neighbors are according to how offensive their costume are.

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This year there were many people both already famous and now infamous due to their costume choices.

We’ve already talked about how using someone else’s culture for fun is not a positive quality to express. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way or understands that some lines should not be crossed, especially in the spirit of Halloween.

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For example, the amount of people who dressed up as Trayvon Martin  Trayvon Martin outnumbered the amount of people who I knew were aware of who he was. They might have known his name, but they didn’t know that dressing up as a dead boy was a horrible Halloween costume choice. It simply is insensitive. That’s someone’s son, someone’s friend, and he died very recently.

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Blackface is not okay, as already discussed. Blackface is the practice of painting your skin to appear black. There are some cultural appropriations that are not appropriate and changing the color of your skin to appear to be another race is one of them. Although the actress claimed to have done it with good intentions, it still is offensive.

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The newest degradation this Halloween season was the woman who dressed up as a Boston Bomber victim. Her defense of her costume was that it was an honest representation of how the victims looked. That is not a good defense. She is making light of a very dark situation. Coping with a traumatic incident is healthy but using someone else’s pain for a Halloween costume is not.

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Before you dress up for Halloween consider the following question:
1) How recent is my costume?
2) Does this costume belong to another culture besides my own?
3) Did the person I am dressed up as suffer?
Think about the answers to these questions before you dress up and have a fun, non offensive Halloween!