Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Women Must Be Wary, Lest they Tempt Men.

Sitting down to write this week, my thought are turned to a good friend of mine who was cat-called and then assaulted by someone in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. What was she wearing that provoked such a display?

If you can actually ask that question, and be completely serious about questioning her wardrobes' involvement in the incident, please send me your name, telephone number, address and and a photograph, and I will personally save you the effort and forward this information to the police. If you can fail to see what is wrong with the above situation, you are, in fact, part of the problem.

I am aware that as a white, heterosexual male, I am at the height of privilege. I am rarely followed by police, and can walk down the streets of Pittsburgh, and indeed most cities, free of harassment. My paychecks are higher than women and those of various ethnic descents for exactly the same jobs, and when I am out and about, I can loiter about to my heart's content without suspicion or making someone nervous.

I know this is due to my privilege, and that is why I talk about it. No one should be set on a higher pedestal than anyone else. That is why the best thing someone in my position can do is to become an ally. It is only when those with the advantages realize that those situations are in place around them will changes actually be made to level the playing field.

To that end, I admit I am not sure if it has become more prevalent throughout the city, or if in fact I am merely more attuned to it, but I think that the systematic repression of females has come back with harder force. In between the "harsh" punishment being faced by a few football players for beating the women they are with, and watching and hearing about the comments that are being directed towards women on a daily basis for only walking down the street, I am ashamed of my fellow man. This is not what men do.

Much of this seems to be rooted in the idea of the "Real" Man, the uber-masculine figure that centers on the idea of respect and saving face. Aside from the obvious comments to be made about such clowns compensating for a natural lack of manhood, let's take a moment to discuss the history that led up to it being "acceptable" and "commonplace" for cat-calling and similar actions to take place.

Men have always been combative, and the contemporary urban aspect of calling out to women has its roots in early Victorian society. In that time, a woman was considered a man's property (born as property of her father and brothers, and then after, belonging to her husband.) If a man were to make such comments that are made now in that time period, it would have been completely acceptable for the woman's father, brother, or husband to call him out and kill him in a duel.

Advancing this argument further, the idea of a woman (or indeed any person) being property went out completely in the 1860's.  I am not necessarily suggesting that men should be maimed for catcalling, but the mental image that the idea invokes is fairly pleasing.

My suggestion is that men in contemporary society should instead evoke an even earlier time period, that of the caveman. In that way, the woman was the nurturing role, while the man was the hunter. Now, these gender roles are antiquated, except in one aspect.

As a physically stronger body, it was considered the man's job TO PROTECT. I am not saying to dress in a costume and become a caped crusader, but when you see something occurring on the street, step up. Let the offending party know that isn't acceptable behavior. It is only by others stepping up and standing with those already struggling will any change take place.

One final closing thought: Many of these men who commit these offenses say that they love women. To this I reply: When you love something, you nurture, cherish, and protect it. You know no love.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Using the Tools at Hand

Social Media should be a tool, not an addiction. I am fairly sure that my fears of it switching from the first to the second are mostly unfounded. I want to do business in the 21st century, and as such, technology and social media lead the way. As I type this (blog) I have other windows open on Facebook and Twitter. I am looking at cameras specifically so that I can handle Instagram and Vine more successfully. Why do I do this? Because I value the work that I am proud of, and want other people to come see it. It has come down to 26 years of learning how not to do it, but in the end, I just might have it. The best way to promote your work? Do work you are proud of.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rough Day.

Today was a rough day. Ferguson is still torn apart by strife, and the protests are spreading to New York. Considering the homicide rate that is rising in Pittsburgh, I am genuinely afraid that might be the case for Pittsburgh soon. Only time will tell.

Of course this pales in comparison, but I'm still in a little bit of a funk about the death of Robin Williams. With my writing and performance, I don't think that any one performer has influenced me as much.

All of this was going on in the world, but my focus today was on something much closer to home. I finally broke. My father made a comment in passing about how he felt like he wasn't wanted. That did it. When he asked me why I was so upset, I explained to him that if he felt so unwanted, then I wasted the past two years of my life. To some extent, I still feel that way. To take care of my family, I've put my career on hold, I have more sleepless nights than most 26-year-olds that I know, and to be completely candid when someone asked me how old I was the past week, I completely blanked. Somehow I've aged 5 years in 2 year span. The thing is, if it means keeping my father around, I don't actually have a problem with it. The only problem that I had is that if he feels like that he isn't wanted, then I have failed. I don't want to fail. Simply put, I can't allow myself to fail right now.

One thing I did manage to get done among the chaos was to knit another hat. That makes 15 this month. The reason I keep knitting is that I know exactly where they are going. Specifically, some of the hats are going to the Oncology ward to help keep patients warm, while the majority will go towards the homeless this winter. This also helps explain why I am knitting cold weather gear when it is 80 degrees out.

A long time ago, I promised myself that I would change the world by the time I was 30. Changing the entire world is going to take some time, but I figure I can at least start where I am. I want to be the change I seek.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thrift Shop Find

While perusing the thrift shop earlier, I happened upon a great find: what would turn out to be a full file box of National Geographic magazines.


They were sitting on a shelf, just waiting for the right buyer, so I called over the manager, and asked how much she would take for the lot. $15 bought approximately 50 issues (I haven't actually counted yet) of National Geographic, as well as the entire stock of Archaeology, American Archaeology, and Bon Appetit magazines they had in stock. Considering how I plow through periodicals in addition to my other materials, I think this should keep me from being bored for a while. I'm eagerly waiting to get a chance to go through and see what maps may also be found in there. Sometimes when you don't have the time or fiances to go on an adventure, you need to get your fix elsewhere. This find will certainly help me bide my time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Digital Paper Activism or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Click Like.

As I sit down to write I have two thoughts on my mind. The first of these is simple, and the other more complex. Yet both are connected, specifically in the fact that they both deal with an online presence. I maintain this site mostly to help me further with my career. It serves as a place where I can promote my work and my interests, while still hopefully saying something interesting. To that end, my first thought is that I need to blog more, something I am trying to change as we speak.

My second thought is a bit more complex, and deals with the ALS Foundation's Ice Bucket Challenge. For those of you who might not have heard of this, it is an online challenge where you dump a bucket of ice water over your head, all the while videoing it and posting it online. This has gone completely viral, and it is for a good cause.

That being said, I find myself wondering what good that online presence actually does. It is great that awareness is being raised, but that awareness doesn't translate into more money into the charity's coffers, or to actually accomplishing any of the group's stated goals. This digital activism has a time and a place, but I can't help feel it comes as a detriment to actual boots on the ground. The easy thing to do is to push a button. The problem then becomes the people who believe that pushing that button will change anything with out any further action. The videos are the first step. It's time to move forward to the work at hand. (If you feel like helping out the ALS Foundation, their website is here: http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

"What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue."

Another day, another tragedy. Today marks the death of arguably one of the greats of physical comedy, Robin Williams. I personally believe that he ranks up in the upper echelons of skill alongside Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton. His mad-cap style influenced an entire generation of comedians and writers. So even as his life has faded away, his mark will remain. In the end isn't that all anyone can really ask for? Good night, Mr. Williams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Historical Markers: State Violence Incites Rioting




:

On July 20th, 1877, striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh successfully stopped trains from leaving the freight yard in the Strip District. The sheriff was called upon to clear the tracks by railroad officials, anxious to regain control of their lines. Already, many local police and militia had joined the crowd of friends and neighbors in support of the strike. Knowing that local militiamen would not use force against their own community, the sheriff requested assistance from the Philadelphia militia. 


Philadelphia's troops had just returned home from service in the Reconstruction South. Tired, hungry and missing their families, these men were sent to Pittsburgh to defend the interests of businessmen who were losing money for every hour their trains stood idle. As the crowd showered the troops with insults and stones, the Philadelphia militia opened fire. The massacre ignited a full-scale riot, which left dozens dead and countless wounded. 

The Great Strike of 1877 is thought to mark the first use of federal troops to defend a corporation's "right to run a profitable business." These action have since set a precedent for state violence against labor movements and legislation that favors the rights of corporations over the safety and well being of working families.

Location:
21st Street, Pittsburgh, PA