This holiday season, give a little gender neutrality

As a girl growing up with barbies and mud-pies at my disposal, I can’t say I really understand why little boys can’t play with dolls or why girls are discouraged from catching frogs in the neighborhood pond.  I find that I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays. I want to give everyone books, personally, but my 13 year-old cousin informed me recently that he doesn’t want a book this year, and instead wants a video game. Typical. But I find that even books are gendered. There are books for girls, books for boys, books that “everyone can read.” Bah humbug with the lot of it. If you think a child would enjoy a book, or get something out of it (or any toy for that matter), buy it for them, regardless if it’s “meant” for one sex or the other. My other cousin, also a boy, loves cats and used to carry a little stuffed kitty around with him everywhere, which I thought was the cutest thing in the world. Who cares if it was fluffy and white and had a little bow. It’s what he liked, let him love it as any girl should be able to love a dump-truck filled with sand.

This video, with 4 million+ views, pretty much expresses what I have to say about the absurdity that is gender-stereotyped toys, but it comes out of the mouth of a little girl.

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UGG-ly

In high school (a predominantly white, upper-middle-class, I’m-slightly-ashamed-of-my-privilage high school), my good friend Jill and I would walk around with those little clicker-things that look like this, counting whatever trend we hated most that day. Sometimes it was north-face jackets, sometimes it was the incorrect usage of the word like (a number which the clicker could not handle), and the frequency of UGG boots (or their knock-offs) scuffing the floors of our school. Let me tell you, the numbers were high. So high, in fact, that I almost wanted to tell everyone that their “super-chic,” frumpy, lumpy, furry, animal skin booties were so UNoriginal that they were worn by almost half the girls in our grade (and likely the population, at the rate their going).

Image You can purchase these elephantitis-esque shoes for upwards of $700.00 from the actual site (UggAustralia.com), or rip-off designs from places like Target and Payless (damn straight, you’ll pay less…pretty easy to do when the original cost more than my ’97 Ford Taurus).

This might be less about what I found on the interwebs and more about what I see in the world, but seriously, ladies? Don’t you see how ridiculous these shoes look on your feet?

“But they’re so comfy!”

“Yeah, well you look like you are suffering from gout, so I would consider alternate foot-ware.”

Psychology Thoughts

 

 

 

 With finals coming up, the end of the semester approaching fast, here are some fine words of wisdom to consider. Stress management is important in any student’s life, but if you can master those skills in college, they will benefit you for the rest of your experiences as well. Image It is also important, says researcher and health psychologist Kelly Mcgonigal, to view stress as a positive thing, to think that it makes “your body energized and it’s preparing you to meet this challenge,” in her TEDtalk this September. Instead of thinking of stress as an enemy to be defeated, consider it an ally, enabling your body to overcome whatever hurdle you are approaching. The study of Psychology helps us to understand the way our brain works, why our body reacts the way it does to certain situations, and figure out how to better cope with problems. This TED page also outlines other ways of combating the negative effects of stress, like helping people, and enumerates ways that stress can be good for you (in “moderate” amounts)! All good things to consider, when finals are coming and stress is mounting. When that paper is due in an hour and you don’t know what to do, take a deep breath and keep working at it, but remember that this one moment does not spell disaster, and your pounding heart and sweaty palms are a sign of your vitality, not your immanent doom. 

 

PS: 

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Veterans Day

Today is the day we are told to honor the veterans of the American Armed Forces. Children get the day off from school (though they really don’t know why), some colleges (but not mine….) take the day off as well (for overcoming their weekend hangovers without missing class) and everyone posts on facebook about their “gratitude.”

Maybe I’m a little pessimistic about all of this, but why can’t we be gracious of our veterans (and those men and women still in the service), ALL THE TIME? Why do we need a special day to honor them and thank them for all they have done, are doing, or will do, for our nation? Veterans Day was initially conceptualized so that we could celebrate and remember the first world war and it’s end. It was called “Armistice Day,” and was designed to honor those who served in the WW1 (and to celebrate the peace achieved by the resolution), but after WW2, it was obvious we had to make some changes, as WW2 “required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history,” (US. Dpt of Veterans Affairs) creating A LOT of veterans who definitely deserved some gratitude. 

Today is a a day to remember Peace, and those individuals in our lives who have fought or served in our nations armed forces to that end. But ask any veteran if they experienced peace, or felt that they were creating a more peaceful world by fighting, killing, or hurting other people, and I guarantee that they will tell you a different interpretation. They may believe that they were working for the greater good, but there is no way peace was at the forefront of their minds when they were pulling the trigger aimed at another human being.

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Just keep that in mind when you are thinking about your loved ones who served. They fought for the safety you have today, they did it for YOUR future, but at the expense of their own. That’s what Veteran’s Day is about.  Appreciating the sacrifices made by those who served, appreciating what freedoms you have thanks to them, rather than who can write the nicest facebook post about how great your granddaddy was. Call him and tell him that you realize what he did for you, rather than exalt the actions he took as a soldier under orders. 

 

The name’s Meme. Internet Meme.

“noun: a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” (Dictionary.com). 

We are transmitting ideas across the globe at rates nearly unheard of, and all because of the internet. Imagine if one meme existed as a real virus, spreading from person to person as quickly as “What Does the Fox Say?” Seriously, our planet would be long dead– about a billion times over. Some memes are saved for only the deepest parts of the internet, where the average web-surfer doesn’t even know to go, but others cross cultural boundaries with ease, playing on the Today Show, humoring young children and teens, while also flitting into the ears of grandparents. My grandma said to me the other day, out of the blue, looking up from a book she was reading, “What DOES a fox say?” 

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Even my grandma…really? This video was posted on September 3rd, and quickly went viral, now at 190,211,414 views. Looking at Gooogle Trends, we can see that interest in the subject of what noise a fox makes was pretty much non-existent till this song was released: 

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Good grief…