Sunday, December 15, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #5

So another Saturday on a Sunday. I did write most of it yesterday...but maybe I should change it to Sundays...

This past week has been going by so very slow. I leave back for the states next Thursday which is only a couple of days away, but it feels like forever. I suppose that's natural. But I am still annoyed at my course coordinator for not letting me miss the poster presentation even though there are 9 other authors and only 2 of us need to speak and if I had left Wednesday (the day of the presentation) I could have saved a ton of money. Ah well. I will get home eventually and that's all that matters.

Today, I am currently trying to get up the motivation to get up and dressed and out the door to print out some journal articles that I need to take with me over the break so that I can spend my month at home studying. I know that doesn't sound particularly cool, but trust me, it's much cooler than it sounds. 

Anyway, onto the soapbox. *grabs the soapbox*

You may have seen some of the memes that have been floating around Facebook and other social media websites which I have lumped into two groups; the "real women have curves" group and the "puberty" group. The "real women have curves" generally either depict thin women and curvy women asking why people find those thin women attractive or a, quite honestly, overweight woman trying to justify the fact that she's overweight because "real women have curves". And the puberty ones all depict a well known actress at a young, pre-pubescent age next to one of her (or him but those aren't as common) as an adult and commending puberty for "doing it right".

In an age where young peoples are under constant pressure to look perfect and "sexy" I cannot even begin to tell you how angry these memes make me. I know this may sound a little contradictory to my last post where I said that I firmly believe that we should talk to children about sex when they hit puberty. But not in a way that would teach...sexiness or the mechanics just telling them what happens, what the consequences are, and what a big decision it is to encourage them to think about their actions.

Anyway, I'll start with why these puberty memes make me angry because it's fairly easy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is funny looking when they are between the ages of 13-15. I think it's terribly disgusting to go around pointing out that we all turn into gorgeous people from awkward teenagers. Especially young people. It's tough enough for them out there in high school in that sea of hormones and cattiness without telling them that they look funny. It's just wrong.

Now we get onto the "real women have curves". There are a multitude of reasons why these make me angry.

Here's the thing. I am 5 feet and 6 inches and 120 pounds (125 pounds on a good day). I eat healthy most of the time but do definitely indulge myself with chocolate and other goodies, I exercise a little every day and fairly intensely two times a week, and I do on occasion sit around all day in my pajamas watching TV. I do not have Marilyn Monroe curves. I do have curves, but they are petite curves because I am petite person. And nothing I have done changes the fact that I am small. So, here's the other thing. I AM A REAL WOMAN. Imagine how infuriating it is for me to have my womanhood called into question just because I am petite. Imagine how angry I get when I'm told that I'm not as beautiful as other women because my curves are small.

Quite honestly, it makes me...just angry. Not frustrated like a lot of other things do. This one actually makes me angry. I don't get actually angry often, but when I do I turn into a not so nice person. Seriously, there are some pretty mean things I have said about these women in the memes who are clearly overweight and just trying to justify the fact and all of them involve twinkies. Seriously, bragging about having big boobs when you're massively overweight doesn't count.

Do the people who make these memes realize that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that it's not up to them to decide which body type is beautiful and which isn't? Seriously, it's just so frustrating to see these pictures floating around which basically tell some women that they are beautiful because they have curves and other women that they aren't because they don't. AND I am sick and tired of being the butt of jokes because of my size, especially when it comes from people who are obviously insecure about their own weight because that means I have to be the bigger person and just let the jokes slide over me when I could tear them to shreds like they were trying to do for me. *sigh* And sometimes I don't want to be the bigger person.

Let's get one thing straight. I am beautiful. I am smoking hot. I am dangerously attractive even though I don't have curves. And it took me years and years and years to finally be able to tell myself that I am beautiful. And I don't need anyone telling me that I'm not because I don't conform to their standards. No one needs that. Beauty doesn't come just from the person's body type. All body types can be beautiful so long as the personality is beautiful. The hottest person on the face of this earth is ugly if their a horrible human being.

These memes are terrible and send an awful message to people.

*gets off of soapbox*

Start being nice to others people. We all have to live in this world together. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Soapbox Sunday #4

Ah, another Soapbox Saturday being posted on a Sunday. Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I had to up and out early to get to Peterhead for the tae kwon-do grading (at which I got an A pass and won the grading trophy for the day...not that it's a big deal or anything). It was an all day event and then I had friends coming over for some wine and chatting. So, not much time to get things written. Anyway:

*grabs soapbox*

No seriously. Why don't we talk about sex? Why has it become such a social stigma to talk about sex? I'm not talking about nitty gritty details. I mean, I have to business in anyone else's sex life and no one has any business in mine. But why do we hide the concept of sex? I argue that we should be frank and open about sex especially to our children.

My first point is that teenagers are already thinking about sex. I've heard a lot of people argue that they don't want their kids to have sex so they don't talk to them about it because that means that their teenager won't be thinking about it. I really hate to burst people's bubbles, but *gets out monogrammed bubble bursting needle* your teenager is already thinking about sex. It's not like there's a 'sex mechanism' in the human brain (ok, there is a sort of sex mechanism in the brain located near the brain stem, but that's not the point) that only turns on when sex is mentioned for the first time. If this were true then humans would have died out long ago because we wouldn't be having babies. We are biologically programmed to start thinking about sex when we hit puberty because it used to be that we wouldn't live past the age of twenty-five if we were lucky so we had to procreate as soon as we were able. There's a widely accepted social psychological phenomenon commonly known as the pink elephant phenomenon. And I can prove it. DON'T THINK ABOUT A PINK ELEPHANT! ... You're thinking about a pink elephant aren't you? The more you tell yourself not to think about something, the harder it is to get it out of your brain. Besides that, if you never talk your son or daughter about sex he'll still get erections and she'll still bleed once a month. The only difference is that if you don't talk to them, they won't know what's going on. And I think all teenagers deserve to know what's going on with their body because otherwise it's pretty scary.

Secondly, since we've already established that teenagers are already thinking about sex, wouldn't it be better for them to hear the true facts about sex instead of rumors they hear at school? Things like sex can lead to pregnancy and if they aren't ready to be a parent then they shouldn't be having it or that there are such things as sexually transmitted diseases which could ruin their lives or even that your first time will NOT be magical even if you wait until marriage like all the stories seem to imply. Something that absolutely shocked me is that there are some young girls out there that don't know how babies are made. This terrifies me. Their bodies are able to create life and NO ONE has told them how it happens? I mean, that's a huge commitment and no one had told them how to avoid it except to say this?! Seriously, we've already covered the Pink Elephant phenomenon so do we really think that tactic is going to work? Especially since there are plenty of ways of having sex. Wouldn't it be a good thing to tell a young woman what not to do in order to not get pregnant?!

*storms out of the room and comes back a couple of minutes later*

I'm sorry, it just gets me so angry sometimes.

Thirdly, while I have desire whatsoever to think about how I was procreated, because my parents talked to me about it, it made it more real. It just wasn't this thing that wasn't to be mentioned because it was a big grown up secret. It made it something more which made me think about what the implications and consequences would be if I were to have sex. It made me think how I would handle it if I were to have sex and get pregnant and if I was ready for that responsibility. Because they took the mystery out of it, I wasn't interested in it because it is a lot of responsibility. (Now, I know the whole 'heat of the moment' thing but it might be something to think about.)

Here's my last argument, if you don't talk to your kids about sex then you don't trust them to make smart, informed decisions. I don't care if you want to teach your kids abstinence or not. I'm not telling you that you should tell your kids that it's alright to have sex before marriage. Everyone is different so different life choices will be right for different people. I'm saying that teaching abstinence would be much, much more effective if you told your kids the truth about sex and what a big decision it is. Did you know there is a higher rate of teenage pregnancy in states which teach abstinence only?

Listen, I'm not trying to tell anyone how to live their lives or what is the best path for them to follow. But give your kids the tools to make those smart and informed decisions. You know that School House Rock video? Knowledge is power? While it's a silly song, it's also true. Knowledge is what gives us the power to make smart and informed decisions. Without knowledge, we have a tendency to make absolutely stupid decisions.

*gets off the soapbox* 

Again, this isn't me saying that having sex before marriage is OK and that we should tell our kids that but I am saying that teenagers deserve to know the truth. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #3

I guess this is really Soapbox Sunday. I started writing this yesterday, but I got pretty busy and didn't get a chance to finish it. But the alliteration still works. Anyway, on to the soapbox.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I come from a family of smokers. I don't even care if any of them are reading this, because they know my feelings. Don't misunderstand me, I love them very much and I don't know where I would be without them. I don't know anyone else who would take my calls at ridiculous o'clock at night (or in the morning) when I'm in tears or frustrated and just need to yell. So, I'm in no way ashamed of them because they are pretty great people. I'm just ashamed that they smoke. And here's why.

*grabs the soapbox and hops on up*

Smoking in the most inconsiderate of bad habits. Seriously, no matter how hard you try, you are going to affect someone with your smoking. I honestly don't care what you do to yourself, as long as it doesn't affect me in way that I don't want to be affected (this is, incidentally, how I come about many of my political and personal views, but those are other soapboxes). Let me explain this a little more.

I live in Scotland right? And smoking is a little more socially acceptable here than it is in the States. At least, I see more smokers here but that may be because walking is more of the social norm than in the states. In any case, I come into contact with someone smoking everyday walking into town or walking to campus. And, as much as these people seem to think that smoking outside means that the smoke will just rise up into the atmosphere and disappear which means that no one else will be bothered by it, that's not how it works. The smoke lingers. So, if I'm walking behind someone who is smoking I will inevitably get a good whiff of cigarette smoke. Which, I don't think is fair to me to be honest.

Let's take another example. Like I said, most of my family smokes and a couple of times of the summer my brother and I were in the middle of a conversation inside hiding from the heat when he would want to go outside for a cigarette. Which left me to make the choice, continue the conversation outside in the heat where he would also be smoking or end the conversation there and wait for him to come back inside which could be anywhere from 10-30 minutes. A couple of times I would choose to wait and a couple I would choose to go outside. While I am aware that I was the one to make the choice to go outside where he was smoking, it still put me in the position where I had to make that decision because he wanted to smoke. And my brother tries to be courteous. He goes downwind of me because he knows that I don't like the smell or the feeling or anything. But still, I get a little of it. But then it's MY choice.

And what about my dogs. Smoke is bad for them just as it is bad for us, but they can't do anything about it if someone decides to smoke around them. And they love to be around their people. So even if they decide to go outside the dogs will follow which means that they get some of the smoke which could cause a lot of health problems.

Oh, oh! And what about babies? It makes me the most angry, I mean properly angry, when I see a mother or father smoking around their children. THE MOST ANGRY. It doesn't matter if your leaning out of the car or house window. The smoke still goes around your child and affects their health and well being.

Getting away from all the ways that even if you try to be considerate you really aren't for just a minute, it's unhealthy. Extremely unhealthy. If it were just tobacco leaves, it wouldn't be so bad. But has anyone actually read what are in those things? Someone once told me that breathing in cigarette smoke is just like sitting over a campfire. First of all, if I just sat over a campfire and breathed in the smoke then I would die. Secondly, no it's not. That's just a wrong statement. Campfire smoke doesn't contain rat poisons and tar. Thirdly, when I sit around a campfire I move away from the smoke because I don't like breathing it in. Go figure. If you smoke you are letting those toxins into the world for other people to breathe in even if they don't want it.

My point in all of this is, I respect smokers' right to want to smoke. Really I do. If people want to breathe in toxins which make it more likely to develop lung, throat, and mouth cancer and give them a higher chance of heart disease and high blood pressure then that's their choice. They know the dangers of smoking and if they want to take the risk then that's not my choice. The problem is, that a vast majority of smokers do not respect my right to not want to be exposed to those toxins. Seriously, I once asked a guy if he could please not smoke in the enclosed part of the bus stop because it was getting hard for me to breathe and he said no because it was raining and that I should be more considerate and respect his right to want to smoke. Really? I mean come on! I should not have to stand out in the rain so that I can breathe while YOU smoke. If you have this incredibly unhealthy, bad habit you should respect my right to not want to be exposed to it and you should be the one to stand out in the rain not me. Plus, you're not supposed to smoke in the enclosed bus stop. It's the rules!

If you are walking down the street smoking, even though you are outside, that smoke is still making its way to someone who doesn't want it. And that is disrespectful to them. I have bad asthma which has only gotten worse in this past year and when I walk down the street I don't want to have any more trouble breathing than I already have.

I can respect their right to smoke, but I can't respect their right to smoke while walking down the street right in front of me so that I have to breathe it in. Because they aren't respecting me.

What I'm trying to say is that if you're going to smoke, think about other people and whether or not they want to breathing in that filth. Chances are, there is someone walking around you who doesn't want it so wait to smoke until you are in a designated smoking area. At least then people who don't want to smoke can avoid it. They can't avoid if you're just walking down the street and I think that's pretty rude.

*steps off of soapbox*

I'm not trying to say that everyone should stop smoking. Like I said, it isn't my choice if they want to put that stuff in their bodies. But it should be MY choice if I want those toxins in MY body and it's hard to do that sometimes. And I shouldn't be the one to make compensations for YOUR bad habit. YOU need to be the one to think of other people. If you're going to smoke, try to do it where you aren't affecting anyone else or affecting them very little.