Friday, April 3, 2009

What a First Lady is Made of

As our new First Lady, Michelle Obama has been widely received, not only by our own nation, but recently by the world. In the First Family's visit to Europe we have heard just as much about Mrs. Obama as we have about President Obama. The media has become fascinated with this beautiful, well dressed, intelligent woman. And, we consumers, eat it up.

The majority of us are engrossed in the pretty little details of Mrs. Obama's lovely existence. We love the way she looks and the way she dresses; we go as far as to compare her to our nation's very own debutant: Jackie Kennedy.

It's hard not to respect a woman with that kind of class.

But what about the part of Michelle that has nothing to do with her clothes or her beautiful appearance?

In our haste to accept her as the perfect counterpart to the 21st century's version of JFK, we have forgotten, perhaps, her classiest feature.

Her mind.

Yes, indeed, underneath that well-dressed exterior, we might be able to catch a glimpse of a human being with intelligence and character that could rival the leader of our nation.

So, why have we ignored a part of her that we have so remembered and valued in her husband? She seems to be a good First Lady. She portrays herself as a dignified human being who supports her husband with all the charm in her designer-clad figure.

Looking back over the years, it is the dutiful women who stand behind their men that are received the best by our nation. It is those who apply themselves to the role of First Lady that win the hearts of the masses. The First Ladys who actually act like "ladys" are the ones we seem to embrace.

After a small bout with pondering this issue, the feminist in me is what draws the conclusion: this is the example of what a good woman should be like. Beautiful, feminie, stylish, supportive of her husband. Of course the masses love women like these. They do not threaten our current idea of societal status, they do not make us contemplate what would happen if the boundaries of the roles of man and woman were blurred. They make us feel secure in the fact that the way of life to which we have become accostmed will not change.

In a lot of ways, most people are right in looking to women like Mrs. Obama as a good example. She is the kind of woman we would all like to be like.

I can't help but wonder why more women aren't looking up to Hilary Clinton this way. She was a dutiful First Lady. We all know the depths of her martial commitment, especially in the face of a true martial test. She has proved over the past decade or so that she is hard as nails, strong enough to withstand the strutiny of the media mircoscope we put her under in the late 90s.

Beyond that, she has persued her own political career, and made a success of it. She has come closer than any other woman to getting a poltical party nomination as a presidential canidate.

And still, so many people hate her. Why?

We call her "kneniving" and "ugly". What poltician isn't those things? Since when has a male poltician's attractiveness been the reason we chose to elect him? Doesn't anyone remember what President Chester A. Arther's protrait looks like?

Still, I feel it is in Hilary's tendency to defy certain gender roles that we find fault. It is theorized by feminist scholars that woman are often separated into two categories: the angel and the witch.

The "angel" represents innocence and purity. She is selfless and dutiful to her family; constantly self-sacrificing. In contrast, the "witch" (often considered a whore as well) is a monster. She is ugly as she is corrupt. While she might be powerful, her power only lies within her ability to lie and manipulate.

If Michelle is the "angel" and Hilary is the "witch", then we know we haven't progressed much further than the belief that a woman's place is in the kitchen. When will the rest of this nation catch on that women are just like any other human being in that they cannot be simply classified into two distintly separate categories? When will we realize that there is an equal amount of "angel" and "witch" in all of us and it is the perceptions others chose to have that dictate which side of the specturm we fall into?

It is my hope that once speculators start to find a middle ground in this specturm, we will all be able to forget theidea of the First Lady and start to see the real woman behind whatever facade we have given her.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Economix 101

I do not consider myself an economist. In fact, monetary issues usually bore me. I find them to be shallow. People who find money interesting must not be interesting people themselves; no passion for anything beautiful or riveting.

However, these days who isn't an economist?

With the entire trade world in shambles, who cannot take an interest in where his or her money is going? We constantly hear news stories with headlines like "Your congressman is getting TWO paychecks, find out how you are pay twice for this person". The news feeds us one story after another on families losing homes, people losing jobs, and the Dow Jones dropping points.

Of course, economics has all of our attention right now.

What has my attention right now is what we can possibly do to fix this. I heard today on Fox News (I'm somewhat ashamed to quote them, but they made an interesting point). The money it will take to bail out this economy if every dollar is a day, is equivalent to about 30,000 years. We might need on the up of a trillion dollars to bring our economy back to a healthy state again.

So, how did we get to this point? Weren't there various bailouts to attempt to stimulate the economy so that people would have jobs and spending money, eventually?

Sure, there were plenty of bailouts. In fact, billions of dollars were given to the banks so they wouldn't go under when lending money to those who applied. That's one of the reasons why banks exist, right? They lend money to those to apply, and in turn, the lendees pay back those loans with interest. It's a win-win situation. The lendees get the money they need to obtain things like a home, an education, a new business, etc, and the banks make a profit on what they have lent.

But things are different now. We're living in a bad economy, so banks are not as apt to give out money to every joe-schmoe applying for it. In the case that the lendee cannot pay back what the banks have loaned, the banks lose money. That's what got them in their current state.

Oh wait. But there was that bailout. Now, banks can still loan money to those who, once a credit check is done, seem fiscally responsible enough to pay it back. Silly rabbit. Don't you know? The economy is bad right now. That means that whatever money was given to the banks by the government to help stimulate the economy should not be used to loan to people, as banks are supposed to do. That money was obviously meant for banks to just sit on until the economy seems good enough to start lending money out again, risk free.

The sheer irony of the situation floors me. Let's examine this like we're back in high school English class. The government gave banks money, which came from tax dollars, to bail them out. Tax paying citizens of this country all paid into that pot from which the bailout money was taken. Some people who are having trouble keeping up with their bills, due in part by the taxes they are paying, apply for a loan, but are denied because the banks supposedly do not have the money to pay out a loan.

Interesting. It seems as though the taxpayers were giving the loan to the banks, but have yet to see any profit.

Perhaps rather than just sit on the money we have and wait for this storm to blow over, we should consider the investments we should make. Consider, an education is a timeless investment. Put unspent money toward classes toward an unfulfilled degree. That way your money is being spent on something that will pay out in the long run. In addition, you will be feeding your hard earned cash into a worthwhile facility, making it possible for that school to stay alive long enough to provide others with educations as well. If you are not big into education, consider the real estate front. Almost all home are selling for less than they are worth, meaning if you have the capital, you could make a really good deal on a new home. In this case, you are buying something you would have needed, while helping to stimulate the real estate industry, which is one of the largest issues our country is currently facing.

If we all thought good and hard about what we could afford and how it would pay out for us in the long run, I think the economy would find itself out of that large hole it seems to have fallen. Perhaps, rather than bailing out industries that won't use taxpayer money for what will help matters, we should all consider which investments seem worthwhile and which ones don't.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sorry came too late


It's that twinge we all feel at the realization that we have done something we wish we hadn't. For some of us regret can relate to a smaller action: spending too much money on something frivolous, choosing the wrong ice cream flavor at the local Dairy Queen, not studying for a test when the opportunity to do so arose.

However, regret usually does not exist on such a small scale and it usually impacts more than just the person who committed the regretful act. One of my own memories of such a feeling was when I was about nine years old and I went next door to play with a friend, leaving my little sister on the other side of the fence yelling about the unfairness of the situation. The decision seemed right to me-- I got my friend all to myself, and my younger sister was not around to embarrass me-- yet when looked back to my yard and saw my sister alone, swinging on our swing set, the twingy guilt struck me hard. I regretted my decision to leave her there alone, and will always do so, because I will always feel that twinge when the memory surfaces. The only thing I can do when I think about it is apologize to my sister for making her

According to recent news, leaving little sisters behind is not the only cause for regretful apologies. recently published a story relating details of the House of Representatives contemplating a resolution to make a federal, formal apology for Jim Crow laws created in the South during the early 1900s.

Great. After more than 50 years of not acknowledging the injustice that was committed against an entire race of people, our government is now thinking of apologizing.

True, it is a good thing that the federal government is at least acknowledging it was wrong all those years ago, but after the destruction and degradation it caused, an apology seems somehow menial. If the U.S. government really wants to acknowledge the injustice of Jim Crow laws, do something to rectify it. While reparations often seem difficult to pay out, there are other ways to right wrongs.

Put more funds toward underprivileged educational systems that might have previously in areas that were affected by Jim Crow laws, or create better employment programs. Anything to possibly improve the status quo.

Admitting and apologizing for something that has become known as universally wrong seems so easy. Of course, the U.S. can apologize now, the government knows it will not drastically change anything at this point. If the U.S. had apologized even 20 years after the laws were abolished would have meant more than an apology that has come almost a century too late.

Perhaps in another 30 years, the U.S. will contemplate apologizing for Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. Got to keep these things timely.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The "art" of Perfection

We are all guilty of it.
No matter who we are or what our likes and dislikes are; we all spent Sunday mornings as idly as possible. We read the Sunday paper, and soak up the leisurely morning as we sip our coffee. We lounge around in our pajamas, putting off the day until the last possible second.
Perhaps it is our refusal to admit that Monday morning is less than 24 hours away that makes us reluctant to start the day.
Still, I must confess to my own tendency to laze around on a Sunday morning/afternoon. For me, the day usually entails becoming captivated by some sub par movie that I cannot seem to turn away from. Yesterday, I still found myself glued to the television, but not as a means to watch a movie. Instead, with the remote in the hands of my sister, I watched Entertainment's Best and Worst Beach Bodies.
As I sat eating less than healthy food, I was subjected to looking at Eva Longoria's perfect "beach body" and feeling less than perfect. However, I still did not find that as grounds for ceasing my viewing activities.
It was only when the show discussed Leonardo DiCaprio's less than desirable beach body that I took my leave from the couch.
No, this was not because I'm a closet Leo fan and couldn't stand hearing anything negative about him...although, I did have a huge crush on him in Titanic. The reason why the show suddenly became overwhelming distasteful was that the show's host acknowledged Leo's perfect face in the same sentence as she condemned his body.
Has our society become so obsessed with perfection that having a beautiful face is no longer enough to be considered attractive? I do not care what anyone says; that man is beautiful. Still, being beautiful is not enough.
Now, we have to be beautiful with rock hard abs, perfectly sculpted arms, shapely legs, and perky breasts. Perfection has to be all-round, not just in one's face.
Of course, it's important to have a healthy body and stay in shape, but a person does not need a perfect body to be healthy. In fact, many of those undesirable people in Hollywood are actually in a healthy state of body, but because they do not fit into the mold our current culture has cast for them, they are categorized has having the "worst beach body".
The scariest part to this is: what about the rest of us. The majority of people in this country and this world are not as polished looking as those in Hollywood. Are we all to consider ourselves as undesirable as those less than perfect celebrities? Or will we realize that those standards are not realistic for human beings?
Shouldn't we be more drawn to the faces that do not look as if they have been sculpted by a plastic surgeon, because we know that it is real and that usually the person behind that face is real as well?
Unfortunately, we have seemed to stop caring about what is real and become obsessed with what is fantastically perfect.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Election Fluff

So, election time. It's coming up at quick, swinging at us all with full force. The tension has been building for over a year, and now we are finally down to two candidates holding the Democratic and Republican nominations. Obama and McCain.
Despite all the campaigning that has been ongoing for the past year, it seems as though the real campaigning begins now. Now would be the time to really listen. Unfortunately, many have begun to feel burnt out on the whole event. Terrible as it might seem, many of us have gotten to know the candidates so well at this point that everything they say now seems borderline redundant to previous promises and vows.
And now, all we seem to focus on instead of what actually matters in a leader is what the media and news crews are broadcasting into our eager minds. So, plane crashes that did not actually happen, war stories and footage, caricatures on the cover of magazines-- this is what we learn, hear and read about.
How is that relevant?
Does it matter that Obama's plane might have obtained minor damage? Do we have to continually see the same clip of McCain as a POW? It seems as though news conglomorates are so desperate to report something, anything, on this issue that scraping the bottom of the election barrel does not seem beneath most journalists.
I find this a little troubling. The news is supposed to inform the public on relevant facts on the current election, not turn it into this years hottest reality show-- everyone's guilty pleasure.
Furthermore, we are in an era where the majority of the American Public is capable of obtaining factual information on current candidates as a means to make an intelligent decision on who should become the next leader of this nation. We could be well on our way to eliminating the Electoral College and making this nation a true democracy.
But with news sites and stations updating us 24/7 on facts that make no difference to the campaigns or to people's decisions on how they will vote, I feel as though we are somehow being set back. A sensationalize election will not help us to break law makers idea that the general public is not capable of making a rational decision on who can be the President of the United States.
If only news stations cared less about ratings and more about informing people on current events, we could all worry less about what our candidates are wearing and more about what they can do for us in the long run.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Big Brother is Still Watching

Most have recently learned of the scandal involving Jesse Jackson’s remarks about Barack Obama. He was caught on camera before an interview with Fox News saying that he hates how Obama “talks down to black people” about faith based programs, later indicating a desire to “cut his n**s off.”

While these comments definitely lead to some indication on how Obama’s campaign is affecting various communities, I found the most troubling part of this who scenario not the words that came from Jesse Jackson’s mouth, but rather the fact that he thought he was saying something in private when his words were broadcast for the nation to hear.

It has become a frequent occurrence for a celebrity or politician to mutter something non PC under their breath and later realize a recording of that whispered statement has been painted all over the news media and the internet.

While it is entertaining to view a person, such as a politician, who seemingly meticulously calculates each word that comes out of their mouth caught off guard, revealing the part of themselves that is not written by speech writers or publicists. It is refreshing to see their honesty, whether we like what they say or not. Still, there is something troubling about this trend.

There is something about these recurring scenarios that are somewhat reminiscent of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984. We must always be careful of what we say: Big Brother is watching.

It seems that sites such at YouTube have brought us more timely news clips, often seconds after the events have occurred, however, these sites have also diminished our rights and privileges to privacy.

As this new era of technological rule sweeps in, must we all be careful of what we say when we think we’re speaking in private? Should we censor ourselves when speaking in our own homes, to our mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and friends? Must everything but our own thoughts be filtered to keep PC so as to not end up on YouTube for the world to be offended by our words?

Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Impossible Compliments

I am an attractive woman. At times I believe it; at times I don't. My observation of this must not be taken as an indication of my own self-involvement, but rather as an ability to see the truth about myself at times.
My own reflections on my appearances, in this particular case, are not relevant. What is relevant is that two days ago, as I was in line at the grocery store to buy a sandwich, the man in line in front of me found it necessary to point out to the woman behind the counter how good looking I was. While he might have meant it as a compliment, the only thing I could think of is how uncomfortable this made me and the woman behind the counter.
When I did not respond to the compliment, the man continued to talk to me about how much weight he lost. He very well, might have just been a friendly guy wanting to share his achievements with others. However, I could not help but wonder why he did not share this achievement with the 60 year-old woman behind the counter. Why was she not worthy of hearing of his success while I was?
If he just wanted to tell me about himself why should he have told me how attractive I was? Perhaps he thought the compliment would make me feel good about myself. It did not. Rather, I just felt awkward and uncomfortable, as if I regretted appearing attractive.
I did not want a compliment; I wanted to be left alone.
Still, while he went on talking, I smile politely and listened to what he had to say. Why is it that so many of us feel it necessary to be polite to those that inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable? I didn't ask for a conversation, yet I was forced to endure one with a man that made me want to cover myself up even more so than I already was.
Whatever brave soul that might be reading this might think I'm being bitchy in this small manifesto about the inconvenience of an unwanted compliment and conversation. I might be. I cannot think of a better justification for my complaints other than the fact that there are so many people in the world like him who feel as though a young attractive female who is out in public is just asking to be hit on.
It seems as though so many forget that people are people no matter who they are: young, old, thin, fat, pretty ugly, male, female. We are all trying to go about our lives as if we aren't there for other people's amusement.
It has occurred to me to treat some arrogant person who acts the way the man at the grocery store acted as I was treated, but something tells me that people like that would crave the attention too much. Perhaps creating a small, melodramatic, type-faced, rant is the only justice left in the world.