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Posted on February 26, 2015

Nazi Imagery as a Clothing Trend is a Rampant Social Justice Problem

Human Rights

Seeing a swastika on one of my classmate’s shirts was not something I ever expected to see. And yet, as I was walking to class one day, I thought I saw someone wearing one. I did a double-take. I mean, it was a small pattern, so maybe I was mistaken. And besides, if someone wore a symbol of the Nazi party to class, wouldn’t there be an angry mob of socially-conscious students following him? But no, this student was weaving between our peers, his shirt seemingly unnoticed.

I didn’t get the chance to examine the shirt more closely, so I can’t say for sure if he was wearing the symbol, but my curiosity was peaked. When I got back to my dorm, I searched “swastika shirt” to find that not only is the internet full of places where neo-Nazis can buy these shirts, but mainstream clothing stores that have (supposedly) unknowingly mass-produced and sold attire that resembles holocaust or Nazi symbols to the general public for years.

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Posted on February 24, 2015

Please, Hollywood, No More Superheroes Played by White Actresses and Actors

Pop Culture/ Race

With Sony Pictures and Marvel partnering up to finally combine Spider-man and the Marvel Universe in theaters, there has been much talk about who will portray the iconic character in the new films. There are many fans who see this as a great opportunity for the web-slinging superhero to be played by an actor of color.

This isn’t the first time there have been people yearning for a big screen Spider-man of color. A few years ago there was a significant campaign for actor/rapper Donald Glover to take on the role. It was significant enough for him make a segment about it in one of his stand up shows.

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Posted on February 21, 2015

The Rise of the Much-Needed Male Feminist

Gender Issues

Ryan Gosling feminist memes are the absolute best, said almost every feminist ever. Not only do they make you feel positive when looking at Gosling’s handsome face and uplifting message, but you’re also being part of something bigger, without knowing it.

A recent study conducted by the two students of the University of Saskatchewan explored the effect the widely popular Feminist Ryan Gosling memes (created by Danielle Henderson) had on men. 99 students, 69 women and 30 men, were given the Feminist Ryan Gosling book to explore and later asked whether they considered themselves a feminist. A large number of students, including men, who did not identify themselves as feminists before the experiment, did acknowledge feminist values after having read the book.

Obviously this is a triumph, but it is also proof of the quiet emergence of male feminism. Though the recent meninism Twitter trend took the spotlight for a bit, the real male feminism is slowly growing, appearing in entertainment, not just memes.

Though Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have been the faces of male feminism, male feminism hasn’t made much of an appearance on platforms such as film or television. That is changing, however, especially with the recent “Parks and Recreation” and “Portlandia” episodes.

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Posted on February 19, 2015

How I Gave Up My Obsession With Googling Makeup-Free Celebrities

Bodies

I’ve caught myself googling this plenty of times: ‘Celebrities without make-up.’

Having suffered bad skin and rare inflammatory conditions most of my life, looking up women considered beautiful by today’s beauty standards and their suffering from a condition similar to mine gives me comfort. I understand this mindset may seem selfish, but you must understand: I hate feeling alone with this. And apparently, so does the rest of the world.

Though I admittedly feel guilt for wanting to see other women at their worst, the media seems to feel no guilt at all; constantly publishing pictures of unedited celebrities sporting blemishes and other “flaws” for self-conscious readers, like myself, to shamefully search for.

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Posted on February 18, 2015

My Want to be Feminine Does Not Make Me a Bad Feminist

Bodies

“I’m a natural beauty,” one of my fellow interns said. “I don’t need makeup to feel good about myself.”

When I didn’t answer, she added, “but your’s looks good on you.”

I shouldn’t be offended, I mean, at least she wasn’t as forward as the girls in my literature class who spent a whole study period explaining that I couldn’t be a feminist because I wore high heels to class. And compared to my roommate, who passive-aggressively suggested I had low self-esteem every morning as I applied my eyeliner, her words seemed kind.

Maybe offended is the wrong word to describe how these opinions make me feel. Confused is a better way to explain it. I mean, these are women who claim to be feminists. They’ve read The Feminine Mystique. They’ve organized pro-choice marches. They’ve written their thesis on the danger on gendering toys. On paper, they’ve made a commitment to fighting the patriarchy.

But despite all of the research and activism they’ve done, they still suggest to me what I should and shouldn’t put on my body to make me a better feminist.

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Posted on February 16, 2015

How My Straight, White, Cisgender Boyfriend Became An Intersectional Feminist

Gender Issues

Although feminism is described as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men,” despite common belief, you don’t have identify as a woman to advocate for these rights.

My current partner is a great example of this; apart from his class, he is very privileged from a cultural perspective, being a straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied male. The fact that our relationship is interracial adds another complexity. Before I met Dylan, I was against dating someone like him for political reasons. Since Dylan wasn’t a feminist before I met him, I had the opportunity to watch his social justice awakening before my eyes. I didn’t force or coerce him to become a feminist, but I did obviously give him some pointers along the way. This is our feminist journey.

Dyan and I being silly.

I had often found it difficult to feel emotional connections with men in the past. Unfortunately our culture often socializes boys and men to be closed off from their feelings. As someone who is very in tune with my emotions, it’s been hard for me to date someone who puts up emotional barriers. I didn’t feel this way with Dylan. He was, and still is, sensitive and enjoyed talking about his feelings. I can honestly say that Dylan is probably the kindest person I have ever met, and from the moment I met him I felt like I could talk to him about anything. It’s no wonder our connection was so instant.

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Posted on February 13, 2015

This Year’s Oscar Nominees Represent the Decline of Female Leads in 2014

Pop Culture

This year’s Oscars have been flooded with much criticism, to say the least. Much of the backlash towards this year’s Academy Awards nominees are due to the lack of racial diversity. Civil rights biopic “Selma” made news when it was surprisingly snubbed by the 87th Academy Awards. Though Selma is up for Best Picture, the film’s diverse cast was not recognized by the prestige film award ceremony. Unsurprisingly, the lack of diversity became a big issue, especially with the recent release of a Vanity Fair magazine cover featuring Oscar nominees, which was deemed by many as too “white washed.”

Racial diversity isn’t the only thing lacking from this year’s Oscars, but also women, who are not represented as fairly well as we assumed they would be. Though the Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actress nominees consist of respected talent from the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore, a recent study from the San Diego State University Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reported only 12 percent of protagonists in the 100 domestic-grossing films in 2014 were made up of female lead characters.

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Posted on February 12, 2015

Sexism Isn’t Dead, and if You Think Otherwise, You’re Part of the Problem

Gender Issues

Gender equality has come a long way over the past century. So much so, in fact, that many people living in the West are inclined to believe sexism is no longer a problem. When women claim in exasperated tones that this is not the case, people are confused. “You have the vote,” they cry. “What else could you possibly want?” Well, non-believers, I bring you bad news: not only does sexism still exist, but you are an innate part of the problem. Here’s why.

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Posted on February 11, 2015

Transindia: Bringing the Stories of the Indian Transgender Community to Life

Herstory

Laverne Cox. Leelah Alcorn. Carmen Carrera. These women have been essential to the recent transgender rights movement in the West. And the stories of  and so many like her are bringing to the forefront the violence, depression, and harassment that so many transitioning youth and adults face. As we continue to advocate for LGBTQIA rights in the West, movements with similar goals but different challenges are forming around the world.

In South Asia, there is the plight of the transgender community as it attempts to gain acceptance. Meera Darji, a budding filmmaker whom I had the pleasure to interview, is determined to capture the stories of hijras, or female to male transgenders, in Ahmedabad, India in a documentary called Transindia.

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Posted on February 10, 2015

Why I Will Not Be Binge-Watching ‘Friends:’ Offensive Homophobic and Transphobic Jokes

Pop Culture

In October of last year, Netflix announced that the 90’s NBC sitcom, Friends, would be available for instant streaming in January of 2015. As the media revises the hype for the award winning show, it begins to feel just as new as it did in 1994.

While basking in the 90’s nostalgia can be fun, the show lacks in 2015 progression. This twenty-year-old television program does not accurately depict young people living on their own for the first time, nor do they embrace a sensitive consciousness.

The 1994 television show starred six straight, white friends, who almost exclusively dated other white people. Through its ten-year run, there were only a few recurring characters of color and three queer characters. While the lack of diversity is alarming and a big turn off to viewers now, the affirmation of heteronormativity was probably Friends loudest flaw.

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