Enough Is Enough

February 14th, 2018, a day supposed to symbolize love, will now forever be a reminder to students, friends, and families of how seventeen students were murdered in the last place kids should have to worry about being killed – a school.

October 27th, 2018, was the day when eleven Jews were killed in a synagogue, a place of worship.

November 7th, 2018, was the day college students were enjoying a night out at a bar and 12 people were murdered.

All of these people died at shootings. All of theses deaths were at the hands of horribly evil people with easy access to guns.

When will enough be enough?

How many people have to die until change happens?

Photo Credit: JordanCooper.com

How many parents have to send their kids to school one day not knowing if they’ll ever get to see their child again?

How many kids have to walk into school every day and go through classes scared of the possibility of being put on lockdown, getting injured, or getting killed?

How many people have to say goodbye to their best friends, partners, and loved ones?

The answer is too many, because people would rather have their rights to guns than have children live.

The right for someone to live should override the right for someone to have a gun.

Yes, guns don’t kill people, people do, but people use guns to kill. People have such easy access to guns that the line blurs and guns themselves are just as much of a threat as the people who have the right to hold them.

We’re not asking to outlaw guns, but we’re asking for restrictions. We’re asking to make schools safe again. To enjoy time at concerts, restaurants, churches, mosques, and synagogues without having to be afraid of being shot at.

Because enough is enough and change needs to happen.

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The Book Of Mormon

Over spring break, I had the opportunity to see The Book of Mormon live in New York City. To put it simply, the whole musical was pure genius. The whole show was hilarious, the choreography incredible, and the singing even more so.

However, despite how much I loved the show, I’m surprised that it’s even still on Broadway. I could easily say it’s one of the most controversial shows to exist, yet somehow, it’s not that controversial. In fact, according to some people I’ve talked to, Kinky Boots is more controversial simply because of the cross dressing, completely ignoring the fact that the Book of Mormon was offensive to just about every race, religion, and sexuality.

I could tell that the whole musical is basically satirical to the Mormon Religion, but in the progressive society we live in, I’m still trying to ponder how the Book of Mormon has not been shut down by Twitter and Instagram activists alike. Either people don’t watch Broadway shows enough, or it isn’t seen as a problem, even though one Tweet intended to be a joke could be interpreted wrong and ruin someone’s life.

Now, I’m going to dive into an overly, probably unnecessary, analysis of the whole musical and the music included.

For those who haven’t seen the musical yet, it follows the story of two young Mormons who travel to Uganda to convert the people there to the Mormon religion. The musical basically mocks the Mormon religion, but also uses offensive stereotypes of other races and sexualities to get their point across.

This whole analysis isn’t me criticizing the musical. In fact, it was probably one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen besides Hamilton or Aladdin, but I’m just genuinely trying to figure out how this musical hasn’t caused more controversy.

But then I realized the answer, and it’s because the entirety of the show is mocking the extremities of the Mormon faith and being entirely satirical of it. Maybe everyone who’s seen it and every critic who’s analyzed it has realized that that is the whole purpose of the show, and everyone who buys a ticket is ready to either be offended or be entertained on a whole new level.

First, let’s talk about the song “Hasa Diga Eebowa,” a song the citizens of Uganda sing when the two Mormons travel to the town for the first time.

To translate just the song title, it’s saying “F**K You God,” and that alone should’ve caused uproar to some of the people watching it, however it ended up just causing the whole audience to burst into laughter.

But the reason is that there were these people in Uganda suffering from hunger, a corrupt government, and many other issues (not to forget all the stereotypes of third world countries in Africa they mentioned), and there were these two guys trying to sugarcoat their troubles and convert them to their religion. That was saying that all their problems would go away if they followed the word of the book. Maybe that’s a flaw of all religions alike, that problems won’t just go away with a little bit of optimism. The song was criticizing that idea, but in a way that made it capturing and hilarious.

Photo Credit: popejoypresents.com

 

Next song, is “Turn It Off” which was basically a song about a little trick they had to turn off their emotions or “bad” thoughts, one of these, including homosexuality. Now that’s homophobic isn’t it? Was that the intention of the writers, or was it, yet again, being satirical about the faith? Were they criticizing the fact that the religion that preached to be good, was being bad to people who didn’t fit their standards? They weren’t necessarily being homophobic, but they were using examples of homophobia to shine light on the issues that came with the faith.

Next, was “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” which was my favorite song in the whole show. Basically, Elder Price broke rule seventy-two and was now having a nightmare where he was sent into Hell for eternity. There’s the fact that he was in Hell with Hitler, Genghis Khan, and Jeffrey Dahmer, but he thought he was the most evil of them all. Now, that’s being critical of the ridiculous expectations of Mormons and rules they have to follow. The fact that one little bad act was sinful, and left them believing that they were sinful at the same level as some of the most evil people in history, that’s ridiculous. Now, this example in the show is definitely hyperbole, but it’s still a real problem addressed even if it’s to a much lesser extreme.

Those are just a few examples, but how is this show that’s so insulting still so widely accepted as only comical?

Maybe it’s because it’s so hilarious that people don’t really care, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s a musical meant to be mocking and not actually real life, but isn’t the point of the show to mock the actualities of the religion’s extremities?

I don’t know the definite answer, I’m still trying to figure it out, but for now I’ll keep listening to the songs and continue to analyze this show one too many times.

 

A Letter to Past Generations

Dear people of the past,

I am one person out of millions. I may be small, but my voice will not be silenced. We will no longer be silenced by beliefs made centuries ago.

We will not be silenced by beliefs that are killing innocent lives, or by the beliefs that are discriminating against the people who are finally becoming proud of who they are.

We are the new generation. We are the millennials, the Gen. Z kids, and the generations to come, and we are proud of ourselves for the world we’re determined to create.

We may be young, and we may not know everything about the world, but we are still learning, still improving, and we are definitely still fighting.

We are strong

We are resilient.

And we are powerful.

But we aren’t defined by adjectives; we are the future. In just a few years, most of us will be given the power to vote, and we will remember when you ignored our pleas.

Photo Credit: ABC News.

You ignored our pleas for equal rights, our pleas to not feel afraid to walk into our schools, our pleas for an equal opportunity you pride your country over yet fail to fulfill.

We will remember what you refused to give us, and we will take it ourselves.

The years will come, and the world will become ours. Not just for one percent of us, but for everyone.

A world where students can walk into their schools without the fear that they’d never walk out.

A world where people are free to love who they wish to.

A world where people are judged by their personality or by what they bring to the world. Not by the color of their skin, or their preference of who they love.

So remember this

We may be young,

But we are angry.

And you can try silence us, but we will rise, and we will scream louder than ever.

Exhausted

Image Credit: Celestialhairgallery.com

For the girls: a few questions.

Isn’t it exhausting? Exhausting to have a standard already set for what makes a woman beautiful? Everywhere you look, you see a beautiful girl with beautiful hair, skin, and eyes, a beautiful smile and a beautiful body, a girl who looks nothing like you. She doesn’t seem to look like anyone you’ve ever met before, either, except for the hundreds of other girls you see on billboards or magazines. Those girls all look alike.

Isn’t it exhausting that from the time you are born, you are programmed to think that the basis of your worth comes from the extent of your beauty? Why is so much of your importance based on your physical appearance, when really it shouldn’t matter at all?

How long have you felt the pressures of upholding the image of a “woman”? Since as long as you’ve been able to communicate, you are told what you should and should not do or say, how to act, and even how to sit properly.

Isn’t it exhausting to feel like you’re never good enough? Isn’t it exhausting to be chastised for speaking your mind or disagreeing with someone, to feel guilty for eating a big meal? Doesn’t it frustrate you to think that you might not be paid the same amount as the man sitting in the desk next to you and who signed the same contract as you?

Do you get angry? When you have too much contact with the opposite sex- you’re flirtatious and need attention, but when you don’t engage with men- you’re a prude.

Isn’t it exhausting to always be comparing yourself to, competing with, and feeling threatened by other strong and capable women? Girls shouldn’t have to feel this way about each other; girls should want to support each other. Do you ever try so hard to make everyone else appreciate you that you forget to appreciate yourself?

Why is it okay for your brother to tell a sexual joke, but God forbid a sister should make one, for then it becomes “disappointing” and “irresponsible.” Why in third grade PE do the boys have to do twenty push-ups, but the girls can only do ten “girl” push-ups? Why do boys use the phrase “like a girl” as a way to insult one another, why should boys be warned not to “throw like a girl”?

Isn’t it exhausting to always be made so aware of how you look? To feel self conscious about even your chipped nail polish because a boy commented on it, to feel uncomfortable walking past groups of men on the street for fear of hearing how pretty you look in that little dress.

Why are skinny girls the only ones allowed to wear certain clothes, the only ones you see in advertisements? Does it make you sad to think about how strongly society correlates being thin to being beautiful?

And why is it- no matter what- everything always comes back to your physical appearance?

Being a girl myself, I think I can sum up the answer to these questions, on behalf of all girls: Yes. It does make us sad, and angry, and frustrated. It is exhausting – and we’re tired of it.

OVS Confessionals #1

Before I begin, let me say how much I love this school. OVS has provided me with a home away from home and friends that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

That being said, this school isn’t without its flaws. So, that’s what I’m here to talk about today.

Every Monday, the dormers have to dress to the nines and sit at the usual cafeteria plastic tables, but set with tablecloths and flowers in vases. Boys dress in their nice shoes and suits, while the girls step into their heels and flowy dresses. The dining hall’s aura is changed into that of a nice restaurant, instead of its usual casual conversations and colorful plates.

But, before any girl can make it across the hill, she has to go through dress check. Basically, she is required to check her outfit with a dorm parent. While this isn’t my main point, I must say that this process is, in its root, sexist. We have to make sure that our bra straps are concealed, our dresses aren’t “too short,” and that we look like “nice, young ladies.” Girls have to follow a strict set of rules and to what avail?

We all know that we can’t show our underwear and shouldn’t be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I apologize severely if throughout my meal my bra strap distracts a boy or teacher from finishing their mashed potatoes. I’m sorry if the skirt of my dress shows my upper thigh when I first sit down or stand up.

Photo Credit: momomod.com

I’m not saying that I want to wear a cocktail dress to dinner. I just don’t get why a low back is so offensive if we are sitting down for the entirety of the meal?

Back to my main grievance for the day, a new rule has been put in place. During dress check, if our dress doesn’t meet any certain guideline, we will be given a dress to wear. Not just any dress, though. No. We’ll have a choice from one of the many new thrift shop garments hanging up in the lounge.

The dresses aren’t simply to meet the guidelines of the meal, but to embarrass those who don’t make it through dress check the first time around. Shouldn’t the whole purpose of dress check be to make sure our dresses are appropriate? If we are showing too much skin or our bra, we are expected to change. This system is in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. Why are we now being penalized for following the rules?

We are checking to make sure we can wear our outfits to dinner. That’s the whole point of that exercise. However, this check will become a test. If our dress doesn’t fit the needs of the school, we’ll have to put on an oversized piece of obnoxious floral cloth or an outdated two piece set.

Well, I guess I’ll have to make sure not to corrupt the young minds of the boys around me! And, hey, thrifted clothes are so in!

New Year, New Teen Vogue

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Photo Credit: thefashionspot.com

In an interview done by Fox News, Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca’s authorial legitimacy was questioned. She was asked to be interviewed after writing a piece on Donald Trump back in December 2016. So, as one would assume, she thought they would ask her about the article. Instead, they went on for ten minutes about how, as a fashion writer, she was unable to accurately write about politics.

This kind of blatant sexism is found in many places in journalism and is becoming commonplace with female journalists. The fact that a respected news organization like Fox News could let an interview like that air is beyond me. This incident didn’t just spark unrest for Miss Duca, but for journalists like her. Why is it that because a woman writes about fashion, makeup, or hair, she is incapable of writing about more serious things like politics or other current events?

This false predisposition is just what Teen Vogue sought to disprove in the newest edition of their magazine. Wrapped in a tall collectible format, hundreds of ideas were displayed to their many, avid readers. From the profound significance of the Academy-Award winning movie, Moonlight, to one man’s relationship with makeup, this magazine tackles a wide variety of ideas.

After reading this volume on my flight back to Los Angeles, I was blown away by the passion some of these authors wrote with in their articles and the stereotypes of a “teen magazine” that were totally disregarded. I read interviews of celebrities, such as Troye Sivan and Lena Dunham, done by people close to them. They were laced with a feeling of comfort, something you couldn’t find with a typical interview. I learned of the uplifting story of a Syrian girl finding a new life and love after fleeing her war-stricken country. I read stories of all different kinds of love: sisterly love, pet-owner love, love of fashion, and self-love. This volume talked about consent, masturbation, sexuality, and other essential lessons not always found in the sex-ed taught in high schools. The photoshoots showed candid smiles, unique fashion, and people of all races and sexualities.

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Photo Credit: thefashionspot.com

In the future, it is my hope that more magazines will follow suit. Continuing to write about fashion and makeup, but also about things that matter outside of that realm, will further enrich the knowledge of many. It is important to hear voices from many walks of life, as representation is the first step to feeling empowered.

Branded Feminism

When I was five, my mom bought a silver iPod with bulky, rounded corners and a perpetually dirty screen. I would always listen to her vast array of songs while sitting in a shopping cart at the grocery store or in Walmart. On special occasions, like my birthday and Christmas, she’d let me pick songs that we could buy the music videos for. And more times than not, I’d pick a song by Taylor Swift.

Back in her country days, Taylor Swift was a drama-free, curly-haired bundle of joy. I thought she was just the coolest anyone could get. However, as she got older, (and I as well) my opinion of her changed.

I grew up with my sister constantly educating me about different aspects of feminism, from the everyday struggles of women of color to how to have inclusive discussions about class, race, sexuality, and gender. So, when Taylor Swift proclaimed herself a feminist, I was excited to see what a person with her following could inspire. To my dismay, her “feminism” did the opposite of inspire.

In fact, recent studies have shown that when a major celebrity calls themselves a feminist, it makes people care less about feminism. Feminism has become a hot topic of discussion over the past few years. When a celebrity talks about feminism, it usually is just to build their image, not to bring awareness to its issues. Even if Taylor Swift is a feminist, some things she does demonstrate outdated views in equality, as feminism changes every day.

Photo Credit: http://www.cosmopolitan.com

For example, while her “girl squad” may promote girl power and sticking together, to many in Hollywood it is just like a high school clique. Stars, such as Miley Cyrus and Chloë Grace Moretz, have spoken out about it. One such star is the Disney star, Rowan Blanchard, who said, “The ‘squads’ we see in the media are very polarizing. Feminism and friendship are supposed to be inclusive, and most of these ‘squads’ are strictly exclusive. It makes feminism look very one dimensional…’Squad goals’ can polarize anyone who is not white, thin, tall and always happy.”

Mostly, this band of models and singers is just a way to uphold Swift’s pristine image. I mean, if Swift were really about girl power than why would she use her group of friends to diss other women, like in the “Bad Blood” music video?

As a women who believes in empowering other women, Swift is in plenty of celebrity feuds. With a list including Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, among others, she can’t just be an innocent girl getting bashed on. Naturally, people are going to disagree on social media, but the fact that remains is that Taylor never really owns up to her mistakes, and yet she still has a pristine image in the eyes of many.

Finally, she doesn’t have the best track record with treatment of people of color. The reason she invited Zendaya and Serayah McNeil (two very successful women) to be in her “Bad Blood” music video, was probably because she had recently been called out for only having white friends. In her “Shake It Off” music video, she had black women twerking all over the camera, but no black ballerinas. Of course there would be black girls twerking in her music video, but generally that form of dance isn’t seen as very classy, as opposed to ballet. Ballet is graceful and fluid, and there are plenty of black ballerinas that could be included. In Taylor’s “Wildest Dreams” video, which is literally set in Africa, there was not a single black person. While these examples aren’t very apparent and could be skewed in many ways, they reflect the microagression that people of color experience on a daily basis.

With all this said, I really hope Taylor’s feminism grows in the future. It’s been quite a while since she’s been on tour or released new music, so maybe she’s taking the time to think of new ways to help educate the masses about inclusive feminism.