How To Help the World When You Feel Helpless

If you’re anything me, you’re inundated with news on a daily, sometimes even hourly, basis. Lately, it seems like it’s one tragedy after another. From the various hurricanes that have hit around the world, to horrific acts of terrorism like the gun violence we heard about in Las Vegas on October 1.

It’s easy to fall into a pit of despair when surrounded by this news; to feel like you’re helpless, and that there’s no way you can possibly help those affected. The good news is: you CAN help! Whether you’ve got money or time to donate, phone calls to make, or can physically help in person… you CAN make a difference.

(Side note: during times of crisis, many people will offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those affected. While I can respect these gestures, and understand why people do this, in the end — thoughts and prayers aren’t going to help victims of a flood regain their livelihood or find a place to get food RIGHT NOW, or lead to stricter gun control in the United States or worldwide. So, yes, if you feel the need, offer your thoughts and prayers — but then get on your feet, on your computer, in your bank account, wherever, and offer something else.)

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Fifteen Real-Life Wonder Women

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Although I’ve yet to actually go see it, I’m thrilled by the hype floating around on social media regarding the new Wonder Woman movie. There’s just something about seeing a film surrounding a strong, powerful woman succeed that sends chills up and down my spine. It’s fantastic – and I wanted to feed off that energy by reminding everyone of some of the incredible women who have brought about change in society!

Hopefully you’ve already heard of these 15 powerful women and are familiar with their accomplishments, but in all honesty, you might not be. Their stories deserve recognition and acknowledgment, far more than I can give them – but I hope this is a start.

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Book Review: “No One Is Illegal”

I recently finished reading Justin Akers Chacón’s book No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S. – Mexico Border. Although the book was published in 2006, I felt like it would be an appropriate read, particularly in today’s culture with the government attempting immigrant bans (which are really just thinly-veiled Muslim bans) and the whole discussion of “the wall.” The book also discussed undocumented immigrants and some of the problems they face, both while traveling here and while here.

Well, I was right. This book had A LOT of information to unpack, and so much of it was painfully relevant to today’s society. Rather than give a whole recap of the book – which I think y’all should seek out and read, even if you have to go through interlibrary loan like I did – I’m going to share a few key quotes I plucked out, all from the book and credited to the author.

“This is the demand now emanating from the streets that is sending chills through corporate America. But this time around, the new movement must resist any compromising logic that legitimizes criminalization of the undocumented, or border militarization. And the movement has to reject the logic of border enforcement. Borders serve only to divide people and reinforce the power of capital over all workers.”

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Book Review: Asking For It

I want to keep this short & sweet (if that’s even possible with me). Kate Harding’s book, Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do About It is such an integral read, especially at this point in our society.

The 2015 release discusses the rape culture that exists in our society today, and its many facets. From the seemingly-innocent “safety tips” that women are often given – which really serve to enforce rape culture – to the politics of rape, to various examples of how the media has handled (mishandled, that is) many of these situations, Harding covers a lot of ground on an important topic. She also discusses the Internet age and the “trolls” that exist nowadays, and how these people are really enacting a form of terrorism, albeit not the kind we might traditionally think of.

Honestly, as someone who identifies as a feminist, I thought this was one of the most important books I’ve read in a while. It’s a 2015 release, so it’s very up-to-date, and undoubtedly a newer version could now be written to discuss our current political state and how it upholds rape culture and portrays sexual assault as somehow okay. (I guess realistically it’d have to be a whole separate book, because oof, it’s a doozy.)

Please, please, please, read this book. As the title states, it certainly is alarming to see this rise of rape culture today. As I read this one, it absolutely made me think of the recent case with NHL player Patrick Kane, and the entire mess that surrounded that case – and just how much support was shown for him, not the victim, and how rape culture ties into every piece of it. Ugh.

Perhaps this book can make us all take a look at how we act in everyday life and if we are, even in small ways, upholding rape culture.

I want to end this review – like I said, a brief one – with a quote from the book itself:

“For as much as feminists are painted as “man-haters”, we’re not the ones suggesting that boys and men lack the ability to think rationally, control their own behavior, or act kindly toward other human beings – even with a boner. We’re the ones who want all of our children to know about meaningful consent, healthy sexuality, and honoring each other’s bodies and boundaries, instead of teaching them that one gender is responsible for managing the other’s helpless animal lust.”

Book Review: The Beauty Myth

“We do not need to change our bodies, we need to change the rules. Beyond the myth, women will still be blamed for our appearances by whomever needs to blame us. So let’s stop blaming ourselves and stop running and stop apologizing, and let’s start to please ourselves once and for all. The ‘beautiful’ woman does not win under the myth, neither does anyone else. The woman who is subjected to the continual adulation of strangers does not win, nor does the woman who denies herself attention. The woman who wears a uniform does not win, nor does the woman with a designer outfit for every day of the year. You do not win by struggling to the top of a caste system, you win by refusing to be trapped within one at all. The woman wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.

A woman wins by giving herself and other women permission — to eat; to be sexual; to age; to wear overalls, a paste tiara, a Balenciaga gown, a second-hand opera cloak, or combat boots; to cover up or to go practically naked; to do whatever we choose in following — or ignoring — our own aesthetic. A woman wins when she feels that what each woman does with her own body — unforced, uncoerced — is her own business.

When many individual women exempt themselves from the economy, it will begin to dissolve. Institutions, some men, and some women, will continue to try to use women’s appearance against us. But we won’t bite.” – The Beauty Myth

Though there are undoubtedly many key statistics and facts and statements, I felt the above quote nicely summarized my most recent reading, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. What an integral piece of reading for women everywhere – and men, too, for that matter; an imperative look into our society and the world around us and how the beauty myth shapes pretty much every aspect of that, and what we must do to fight back against it.

Wolf examines several key pieces of life: work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and violence, and picks apart each one to discuss how the beauty myth is present in that specific topic.

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