The Constitution Cannot Bend

November 17, 2015 - Leave a Response

As GOP governors pop out of the ground and declare they will refuse the entry of Syrian refugees into the states they govern, the angrier I become. The Constitution of the United States makes it expressly clear that governors CANNOT refuse refugees. Period. The Constitution was drafted as a living document which can be added to and/or partially revised as the American people move into the future. However, the Constitution cannot bend to suit anyone’s hateful rhetoric. The Constitution does not lean one way or the other, it is designed to suit all people, not just Americans but around the world, in the same fashion. Therefore, refusing to accept refugees into the United States is a violation of Constitutional law. Anyone who is familiar with Constitutional law, should know that violating it is an impeachable offense.

If you want to read more about this law, you can do so here: Refugee Act of 1980

If you are unfamiliar with the situation, allow me to sum it up for you. Paris was recently attacked by a terrorist group known as ISIS. ISIS primarily operates out of Syria, and because of the violence they have caused, thousands of Syrians are seeking refuge in other countries. Several states led by Republican governors have stated that they will refuse entry of refugees into the states they govern. However, Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut, stated that it is our obligation to accept these refugees. Connecticut residents are calling and emailing Gov. Malloy, screaming at him to refuse refugees also. People are actually creating petitions, and signing them, in the hopes that they will somehow persuade Gov. Malloy to refuse these people.

One of the most common arguments I see is, “We should take care of our own first!”. I beg your pardon? They are us. They are just as much a part of the human race as we are. Many people have photos circulating Facebook which try to say that homelessness is a more important issue than helping Syrian refugees. Why can’t we help ALL people?

Another grotesque argument is, “How do we know they aren’t terrorists?” Well, how do you know they are? Where is your evidence that a human being is a terrorist? Other than their ethnicity, background, clothing or name.

When I look back on September 11th, 2001, and the weeks after the attack on the Twin Towers, I remember how quickly the hatred boiled over throughout this country. Innocent people who had come here, built their homes and businesses here, had children here, were violently attacked, racially profiled by police and told they should “go back to their country”. Go back to where, exactly? They are already in their country. This hatred very easily fueled the fear, which then fueled the invasion of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that didn’t actually exist. I remember in my Anatomy and Physiology class in high school, our teacher asked us who thought the weapons were in Iraq, and out of 25+ students, I was the only one who did not raise my hand. When asked why, I simply stated, “Where is the proof?”

I think when terror attacks happen, we need to look back on our history and remember events that transpired after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people my age and a bit older, were not alive during World War II. Japanese people began immigrating to the United States in the mid to late 1800’s, primarily the West Coast. Our government actually believed that Japanese-Americans, people who had built their homes, businesses and lives in their country, were capable of being spies for the Japanese government. So Roosevelt decided that the best way to calm that fear was to corral thousands of innocent people into internment camps. Their reasoning was “How do we know they aren’t spies?”. The Japanese-Americans were blamed for the acts of the government from their birth country, or in many cases, a country that they were never born in. There were many “stories” and accusations made without any evidence, so any claims by the U.S. government that they found Japanese spies during WWII have to be deemed false. A more in-depth explanation of what it was like for Japanese-Americans during WWII: Densho – Background

Even though we have a Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to protect us from atrocities like these, as well as President Obama who genuinely cares about these refugees, who will protect them after his second term is finished? The GOP have no problem blaming an entire group of people, for the acts of a few, and many Americans have no problem supporting that hatred.

Rumor Has It…

October 20, 2015 - Leave a Response

I am a current student at SCSU, and also a Studio Art major, so every day I have at least one (or two) classes in Earl Hall. Earl Hall is a small building, so the students are right on top of each other, and of course have their friends and/or are part of cliques. Whenever people are living or working in close quarters, conversation happens, and though not always, it tends to lead to gossip and rumor spreading.

Take this recent event, for example, about a student who for whatever reason is refusing to remove their work from the display cases at the building’s front entrance. Aside from the fact that just about everyone knows who this person is, or has at least seen this person’s face a few times, this incident happened a few days ago and already tons of students know about it. So, while I dislike gossip and rumor spreading, it has come as no surprise to me that so many students have said such nasty, vile and inappropriate things about one of the art teachers, Professor Vu.

If you took a class or two with Prof. Vu and you didn’t like the experience, well, you are entitled to that opinion. You are even entitled to being honest, by stating why you didn’t enjoy the class or his teaching methods. No professor will please everyone all the time, that’s just how it goes. But it’s a whole other ball game when students who NEVER have taken a class with him, will tell other students what he is like as a teacher and as a person, based solely on what other people have told them.

I hear something “new” about Prof. Vu almost daily at this point. Most of it is negative, and often times has nothing to do with the class assignments or the course’s atmosphere. The trash talk typically has to do with his sense of humor, his ethnicity, his personality, his sexual orientation and his physical appearance. I don’t care what kind of person you are, or where you are from, but being a student does not absolve you from conducting yourself in a professional manner around your colleagues. You leave your bigotry and bullying at the door.

The most frequently shared opinion about Prof. Vu however, is in response to his constructive criticism. Many students, including those who have not had him as a teacher, label him as “mean”. Based on my experience with Prof. Vu during Art 320, I can say that I am proud of the paintings I created. He points out the things which you can improve, suggests how they can be improved, and remarks on the things which are most successful. This is what it means to be in an art class, because we are not there to learn what we did “wrong”, we are there to grow as artists (art cannot be wrong, anyway). Sure, he could walk into class every day and never give us constructive criticism, but if you don’t know how to improve your art, then, how can you improve it? If my choices are being a stubborn artist who refuses to learn, or an artist who wants to be intelligent about my art, I’m going to go with the later.

Prof. Vu has high expectations for himself, and shows that in his teaching methods. He will not swear at students, behave inappropriately, or demean anyone. He is always on time (unless there are circumstances beyond his control), he rarely cancels class, and he gives all students an equal amount of time during critiques. He also has high expectations for his students: Come to class regularly, don’t come late or leave early, appreciate your art and your classmates’ art, finish your assignments on time (or finish them enough to sit through a critique), and treat everyone with respect. Prof. Vu has a low tolerance for childish behavior, such as inviting your friends to hang out in class with you while you paint/draw, being lazy, not being prepared for class, etc. These are all very normal things that all professors in all subjects should expect from their students, and sadly not all of them do. He treats everyone the same, and somehow, from that evolved the notion that he “plays favorites”. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.

I think the most important thing to note is that Prof. Vu supports who we are as artists and as individuals. I remember him talking to us about our character traits in our art and personalities, and showing such an appreciation for those things. He discouraged us from hiding who we are, but he also respected our space. Have you ever tried to learn in an environment that doesn’t offer the support and motivation to do it? It’s absolutely horrible, and I am glad to say that with Prof. Vu, myself and other students never experienced that.

I am a firm believer in you get what you give, and the reason why I would even write an article like this is because I was given an equal amount of respect from Prof. Vu. There is nothing that I have done that makes me any more special than any other student, and the grade I received (A-) is the grade that I earned from my hard work.

If you would like to learn more about Professor Vu and his art, please check out his website:

Dear SCSU Freshmen: Welcome to Adulthood

September 22, 2015 - Leave a Response

This is not going to be one of those sappy but poignant blog entries where I tell you all about my best experiences at this university. This will not be one of those lectures on what it was like for my generation and how “kids these days” don’t know how to act. To assume that people who are ten years younger than I am, are capable of acting the same way as I do is silly. We are not from the same backgrounds, neighborhoods, schools, cities or even countries.

Congratulations, most of you have reached the milestone of turning 18. By legal standards, you are no longer a minor. Your parents no longer have legal custody over you, are not entitled to your health records, financial records or school records, etc. You have been given the responsibility to take care of yourself and your own life. However, turning 18 does not make you an adult. Being an adult means you have the maturity to properly conduct yourself in society.

There are certain things we do in society that are considerate of other people, and these things are never limited by your age.

For past three years I have been eating food in the Adanti Student Center cafeteria. And for those same three years, I have watched countless students, who are freshmen more often than not, leave garbage, half eaten food, hair and various other disgusting things on the tables and walk away like nothing happened. You have left these messes for the cleaning staff to deal with. Just because they are paid to clean the cafeteria, does not mean that you have the right to leave such filth for these people. In addition, I will not sit at a filthy table, nor will I clean it, because I don’t clean up after other people who are fully capable of doing it themselves. I do not understand how someone can make it to 18 years of age, and not know how to wipe off a table. I realize that we don’t always have enough time between classes to eat comfortably. If you do not have the time to wipe down a table, then don’t make a mess to begin with.

Between the times of 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, this same cafeteria becomes horribly crowded. I typically grab whatever food I can get my hands on that’s on the shelves and get in line to pay as quickly as possible. Like most students here, I don’t have time to stand in line for a half an hour to order a hotdog. Weaving myself through the sea of people to get to these food shelves, is a nightmare. I have to yell “Excuse me!” several times at the same person, tap on their shoulders and even resort to pushing people out of my way because they ignore me and refuse to move. When in your life has it ever been okay for you to refuse to move out of someone’s way when they say “excuse me”? No student at this university at any age or college level should have to put up with behavior like that.

In seems that the new influx of students have taken to OPENING the plastic food containers that are on display. These containers are see-through, so there is absolutely no reason why you should ever try to or open these containers and touch the food that is inside. This is something that five year olds do in the grocery store do when mommy or daddy aren’t looking, NOT college students.

Stop leaving the lids on the Au Bon Pain soup cookers open after you get your soup. People will breathe, cough and sneeze on uncovered food. There are students here that have compromised immune systems, and they do not deserve to be sick because you were careless.

When someone holds the door for you, the polite thing to do is say thank you. Time and time again I have held a door for someone, and the response has been silence. Hold the door for the person behind you as well. I’ve taken to letting go of the door when people don’t say thank you, so if you ever encounter a student who does that, guess who!

I am fully aware that 18 year olds are 18, and at that age the brain is still growing and maturing. I am also aware that people come from a variety of upbringings, backgrounds, etc.There is no way that you have been able to do all of the rude behaviors I listed for 18 years without ever being scolded. No one who acts this way thinks it is okay. It is a severe lack of empathy, and an over-abundance of apathy. It’s time to embrace adulthood.

Here’s How Two Professors Can Have the Same Rating, but Totally Different Teaching Styles

September 8, 2015 - Leave a Response

As I have mentioned more than once on this blog, I am a student at Southern CT State University (SCSU). Being a Studio Art/Painting major has allowed me to take classes with a variety of art professors, great and not so great. At the end of every semester, I leave reviews for the professors I have had on It’s important to note that everything said in any review you read on that site, should be taken with a grain of salt. You won’t know a teacher until you have a class with him or her.

One of my largest struggles as an art student has always been the way that I learn. I’ve never had my IQ tested (because it’s total malarkey), but I learn at a rapid-fire pace, and if something isn’t challenging enough for me, I get bored. Most great, and even good professors can tell when they have a student like me, and have learned how to keep people like me busy. Learning never stops, so it wouldn’t make sense to stop pushing an artist to succeed. Sometimes you have to trust that student’s knowledge and let them take the reigns and make their own discoveries, and even learn from them. Learning doesn’t stop when you become a teacher, either.

For quite a while I had heard a variety of vocal reviews about two art professors, both of whom teach painting. Most reviews claimed that the female professor was wonderful, would push you to be your best, and was challenging. Other vocal reviews claimed that the male professor was too harsh, too critical and at times disrespectful. Naturally, I looked up both teachers on Rate My Professor, and found that they had the same rating, just over 3 out of 5 stars. I decided to use my better judgement and take a class with the female professor.

My experience with that female professor was the exact opposite of what I expected. We were taught only as a class, not as individuals. We could only achieve so much, and after that we were a lost cause. I received criticism like “watch out for the greens” (what does that even mean?), and was often told there were things I simply could not do. Prior to this class I had studied art at GWCC for 4 years, and had studied painting since age four. I also had 11 years experience with oils. So you can imagine how insulted I felt. Not that I wanted to be held up on a pedestal, but I don’t need to be told how to start an oil painting, how to mix colors, or any of the basic things we learn when we first start painting. What hurt the most is that myself and one other student were the only black people in this class, and we were the only ones treated this way. Another student in the class, with autism, was often ignored by this teacher because she would lose her patience with him.

When it came time to take the next class level of painting, I was still apprehensive about the male professor. Knowing the way that I learn best, and against my better judgement, I took the class with him anyway. And the experience was the exact opposite of what I expected. He was not harsh, he was honest, and even straight-forward. His advice was direct and thoughtful, and tuned to each student individually based on their skill level. He was no nonsense, you had to show up on time, and get to work (because that’s what you do in a class, who would have thought!). We were there not only to learn, but to continuously learn beyond the level at which we thought we could. The greatest experience I had was our first series, of a minimum of three paintings. I chose to do portraits, two of them would be of people who I had lost in the previous year, and a friend who I had gained during that time. I painted the first two portraits in a way that made it obvious these two subjects were no longer alive, both literally and figuratively. The third however was much more lively. It’s a risk to do something like that but I know myself well, and the professor supported it. What was special for me was that when other students criticized why I did what I did, the professor stepped in and became defensive. Not in a rude way, but in a way as if he was somehow attached to my art. He did this for everyone, not just me. Sure, he may not be the most affectionate or sweet and smiley person that society would expect him to be, but the teacher to student connection he builds is profound. I have yet to be able to take another class with him, and it makes me feel like I am missing out.

What I learned from these experiences, is that some students really like to take the easy way out, as is the case with the female professor. But when a professor actually cares about who you are as an artist and pushes you to be your best, they are treated like villains. Students tend to base their opinions of a teacher on the grade they got (Note: I received an A in both classes I described), the teacher’s age, personality, gender or race, and even on the word of other students. Your opinion of a teacher should be based on how much learned, how well you learned, and how well you were treated, not on the grade you received (the grade is equal to the amount of work you did, so you can learn a lot and still slack off in a class, or work hard and learn next to nothing).

I believe that if you are new to SCSU, or any college for that matter, that your best course of action is to NOT listen to what the student body says about a teacher. A person’s perception of someone varies dramatically, and unfairly. Lately I’ve tried a new tactic of observing how a teacher interacts with their students when the opportunity presents in an appropriate manner. You’d be surprised at what you witness.

My Youtube Channel’s Upload Schedule

June 16, 2015 - Leave a Response

First, let me thank you for taking the time to watch my videos and subscribe. We can continue to create an awesome community where we share ideas, collaborate and entertain each other. I respond to *respectful* comments daily, and I will explore your channel if you ask me to. I do not subscribe back to everyone, simply because it fills up my subscription list. I don’t watch every channel I am subscribed to every single day, and though I wish I did, between my job, education, recording, and other aspects of my life, watching other folks’ videos doesn’t always fit into my schedule.

Anyways, what you really came here for is to read more about the upload schedule. The description on my channel gives a rough idea of what is uploaded on which days. But, what are all of these series I’m working on?

Note: These series are not updated on set days, so on Tuesday you might get an episode of LPWC!, on Wednesday a video of Sims 4 or Mineplex, and so on. So it’s sort of like a box of chocolates ;)

* My main let’s play of Minecraft survival is called “Let’s Play with Clay!” or LPWC! for short. Several years ago, I tried to do something similar with a separate channel, but the idea didn’t translate well and the series was poorly received – and rightfully so. LPWC! started in an entirely different Minecraft world than the one you see now. The recordings were pretty bad! My first attempt at rebooting the series didn’t end well when I lost all of the video footage I had recorded. The second reboot was successful and is going strong. LPWC! always takes place in a mesa biome, and each season has a difficult challenge for me to make surviving harder to do (but fun and hilarious). I occasionally use vanilla command block mods to add an extra twist. This series is uploaded Monday through Saturday, at 12:00 pm EST.

  • Mineplex – I upload videos of mini-games from the Mineplex server quite often. Some of those games include Super Paintball, Dragons, and Deathtag. Sadly, due to the game dynamic, and hacking/cheating, I do not play Survival Games anymore. This series is uploaded either at 12:00 pm or 3:00 pm EST, any day of the week.
  • Sims 4 – This slightly smaller let’s play, follows the Key family, and all of their shenanigans and mishaps. I upload videos for this series Monday through Saturday at 12:00 pm EST.
  • New Mini-games – I often test out new mini-games on various servers to see if they can become their own series. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.
  • Custom Map Tours – I will download custom maps, either aesthetic or adventure, to show to all of you. I don’t do adventure map LP’s, however (I don’t enjoy doing them).
  • Tutorials and Creative Buildings – I do occasional tutorials and build things in creative mode, that I like to show all of you.
  • Other Games – I sometimes try out other games not devoted to Minecraft or Sims 4. They can be short or long series, it depends. Be sure to look forward to my retro series, Sim City 2000 in the future. If I can find old MSDOS games that are compatible with Windows 10, I will upload LP’s of those as well.

ALWAYS, when you think of them, leave suggestions in the comment section for any video, even if I haven’t asked for them. I love to hear your ideas, because it gives me a sense of what you want to see most. This channel is maintained by me, and I do have the final say, but it belongs to all of us.

The rules for interacting with other viewers/subscribers are fairly straight-forward. I have several derogatory terms and offensive words blocked because there are a multitude of people from all backgrounds and ages who watch my videos. This channel is NOT a place where people can hurt other people with words, it is a place for us to communicate and share ideas. If this is something you know you cannot do. then I encourage you to invest your time in a youtuber who doesn’t care how you treat other people.

You can disagree with me about anything I say. You can dislike any of my videos. Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s. But if you insult me, disrespect me, etc., I will not respond, and instead will ban you from commenting on the channel again.

Now that that is out of the way, have fun, enjoy your time in our mini-youtube community, and don’t forget to subscribe, comment, and like if you want to see more :D

Youtube – I Went There

April 6, 2015 - Leave a Response

For the last five years or so, I have been interested in the gaming community on Youtube. My interest increased with Halo Reach’s “Forge” world, where people could create all kinds of mini-games and unique structures. I enjoyed people’s creativity, especially the videos on TheHaloForgeEpidemic, which showcased some very intelligent and never-before-seen builds. You can probably imagine what I was like when I got ahold of Minecraft!

So I came across Minecraft for the first time when I discovered the Starship Enterprise creative build. It is to scale, it has all of the decks. It is, without a doubt, incredible. I don’t even need to provide a link, you can go right on Youtube and search “minecraft enterprise”, and you’ll see it. It might be one of the most well-known community builds to date.

I had to get Minecraft after I saw that build. I didn’t have any desire to build the Enterprise, despite being the Star Trek fan that I am. I just wanted to build… something.

I got into other channels, like Jamziboy, who does some brilliant Nordic and gothic style houses. I experimented with his building tutorials for quite a while, until I found my own style, and posted it on Youtube.

Having very little idea of what makes a channel popular, or just likable, I posted a 39 minute tutorial about how I built these ancient Egyptian style houses. Some people liked my ideas, others complained about the length of the video. It was not a good recording, it was laggy and almost too in-depth. So, for a short while, I was turned off to do more videos, and went on hiatus.

I later started a second channel, for strictly Minecraft creative builds. I went through a lot of work to promote it, I noted other channels for inspiration, and asked for feedback. The reception was very negative. Some folks even wanted to start a fan war between myself and Jamziboy, and since he has no idea who I am (as far as I know), their logic behind that was bizarre. I stopped uploading however, when my screen recorder became obsolete.

Recently, during Spring break, I decided to return to my first channel, I got a new screen recorder, D3DGear, and began recording a Minecraft survival let’s play. After three episodes, it was officially titled “Let’s Play with Clay” (LPWC). It is set in a mesa biome. We don’t just do vanilla Minecraft, there are some creative mode aspects, cheat codes for doing funny or strange things, and my love of ‘punting’ mobs. To top it off, I have this odd catch phrase, “happy universe”. My best friend watches this series regularly and I am keeping it going for her, and anyone else who wants to watch it.

I felt like I channel was missing people. My best friend cannot to a multiplayer series with me, due us using different platforms. After many failed attempts to collaborate with other Youtubers, I decided to start playing on the Mineplex public server. Mineplex is a giant pool of people from all ages, and they are quite interesting. So far my favorite mini-games are Survival Games, Draw My Thing, and most of all, Super Paintball. I tell people I am recording also, which usually gets me painted by the opposition in Super Paintball. It certainly makes for a hilarious recording! (It also limits bad sportsmanship and foul language).

But I have a huge plan for the channel, since lately I have been experimenting with command blocks. I want to recreate the Invasion mini-game from Halo Reach, but add in some Minecraft components to set it apart from Halo. I won’t give anymore details than that ;)

My channel is getting a lot of views, but lacks feedback. My channel will thrive on comments, likes, and subscriptions, and I think we can build quite the community if we work hard at it. I invite to come be a part of the action. Let’s make it happen!

I am Not a Feminist Because….

March 19, 2015 - 4 Responses

It seems that if we are feminists we don’t need to explain to people why we make that choice. But for some reason, choosing not to be a feminist requires some sort of explanation. My reasons for choosing not to be a feminist are my own business, and will continue to stay that way. And if you’ve read enough of my blog entries, then you know that the last thing I will do is let anyone think for me, or dictate how I live my life.

But if you really desire that explanation, I’ll give it to you. I think my view on this matter is interesting, and worth writing about and reading about.

I cannot view myself as above other people. I cannot see some people as worth more or less than others. The term “feminist” suggests that women have a superiority to men. Let’s just get this straight – no gender has a superiority over another gender, simply because of what is between their legs. Period. Bashing men, insulting men, making fun of men who are abused and/or raped, will not stop women from being victims of those same things. Furthermore, slavery, segregation, and the death penalty were founded on the idea that some lives are worth more than others. The founders of Planned Parenthood supported abortion because they wanted to trim the black population. Susan B. Anthony believed that the white woman’s right to vote was more important than the black man’s right to vote. That’s right, some suffragists were black, and they didn’t get the right to vote until the 1960’s. That is not equality.

Around half of rape victims (48% to be exact) are men. Of that number, nearly half of them have been raped by women. We seem to have this mentality that rape is always done by physical force. Sometimes we acknowledge the date rape drug, but a lot of the time we don’t. And what about psychological force? Men are the ones who sleep with anyone. They’re the ones who are sluts. They’re the ones who need to get laid. So if a woman tells a man “this is what you want”, then forces him to penetrate her, that’s not consensual, that’s rape. You can’t tell someone that what you want is also what they want. And psychological force shouldn’t be so hard to believe, given what pedophiles do to children.

If a woman becomes pregnant after being raped, not all, but many people will support her choice to have an abortion. This is a good thing. However, if a man is raped by a woman, and a child is born from that, he has to pay child support. He never has the option to abort. He never has a say in anything, mainly because so few people will believe he was raped. So if I can abort, why can’t he?

Identity of Our Names

February 9, 2015 - Leave a Response

So far into the month of February, and I haven’t written about black history yet. But the history of our blackness, and of our names, is not only rooted in Africa and the slave trade, but rooted in every place around the world. Our name defines our family, origin, culture, race and legacy. I am grateful to know that my surname, Nofi, comes from Nigeria. I also know that thousands of people in the United States do not know their true surnames, and likely never will.

There is a profound connection between Native Americans, Africans, and the slave trade. Not just because both groups of people were enslaved, but because both groups have lost their identities, place names, and cultures at the hands of European settlers. For example, an African brought to North America, who’s name originally was Kwame, would be beaten and tortured until he accepted his new “name”, John. Areas with place names given by the tribe living in that area were changed by European settlers, or destroyed altogether. For both Africans and Native Americans, they were ripped away from their communities, thus ripping them away from their culture.

The most frightening thing of all, is that this still happens in 2015. It may surprise you to know that it happens on Facebook.

Facebook has a policy (that is binding because we agree to it) that “unauthentic” names cannot be used on our profiles. I understand this may be in place to deter folks from creating a fake Facebook identity. However, this policy effects people who have real names that fall under the definition of “unauthentic”. I did a test with a Yomechas Federation name, “Running Deer”, to see if Facebook would let me make a new account with that name. It did, but it could be because that name is so widely recognized. So, I tried using Little Shark as a first and last name. It would not go through. The site presented an ‘error’, stating that I was trying to create a profile for a business. Who are you, Facebook, to tell me Little Shark is a name of a business, and not a human being? Who are you to decide what names are real, and what names are fake?

In regard to Yomechas Federation, Running Deer is a name, not first and last, simply a name. So what do people trying to use Facebook do if they come from a culture that does not use surnames? Make up a name? Doesn’t that also violate the fake name policy? It sounds more like Facebook is filtering the types of people who use the site, rather than ‘catfish’.

That brings me to my next point about parents who name their daughters Gift, Lady, Future, etc. Unique and unconventional names have become increasingly popular. Facebook does not let these names go through as first names either. If the name on my birth certificate is Lady, what name do I use alternatively? A fake one?

In Sudan, the Dinka people have an identical first and last name. Believe it or not, Facebook will lock you out of your account for this. In the case of 7Song, who was using the name Sevensong Sevensong, because the number wouldn’t go through, recently was locked out for having an “unauthentic” name. This is just one more example of the extreme unfairness of this policy.

This business of picking and choosing who exists and who doesn’t, defeats the purpose of an internet community. It replicates the mentality of segregation, and robs us of our humanity. Some may argue that we do not have to use Facebook, or other social media. Some may argue that this is a silly thing to be upset about. My civil rights exist on the internet just as much as they do anywhere else.

Don’t Call Geisha Prostitutes

February 1, 2015 - Leave a Response

The word geisha most likely comes from a Japanese dialect that isn’t used anymore. Nowadays, if you look up the word for art in standard Japanese, you will get びじゅつ、 (bijutsu; but it really means fine art). For person, you will get ひと. I’m going to operate under the assumption that geisha was from the “Old Tokyo dialect”, and it literally translates to “art person”, not “prostitute”. There are many things that are considered art forms, from classical music to calligraphy to poetry and even conversation. The most important aspect of the geisha is that they are entertainers. Even sex in it’s own way can be considered an art form, in the correct context.

I often refer to Japan as the art capital of the world. Art is so deeply rooted in Japan’s history that it pretty much is Japan’s history. All of my experiences with Japanese culture while growing up, were artistic. From studying Kenpo to the stories from Shintoism to the incredible souvenirs my god-mother brought back for me when I was little.

I won’t sit here and say that geisha were not, at times, exploited, because women have been exploited in every corner of the globe. But I won’t sit here and act like geisha are somehow worse-off than American women, or any other woman in any other part of the world. It’s been my experience that if a cultural behavior is different than what we’ve grown up with, we label it as wrong. Well it’s not wrong for a woman to be a geisha, who lives, eats, breathes and performs art. By your logic, the starving artist down the street would also be a prostitute because he sells his paintings. If you think selling your body and selling your paintings are not the same thing, there are thousands of artists lined up around the block to tell you otherwise. Art is, and always will be, an extension of the human form.

The original purpose of the geisha was to entertain men. A woman entertaining men for far too long has been associated with exploitation. It is automatically assumed that any sort of entertainment performed by a woman, for a man, is sexual. But if I sing to a man, or play an instrument for him, am I really being exploited? The disturbing part about this is that if a man were to do the exact same type of entertaining, we’d see it as courting, romantic, and call him a really nice man. But a woman has to be forced to be nice to other people, making her a beast… I’d say you were fighting the wrong fight, but, this isn’t a fight.

Unfortunately, Americans are obsessed with Japan’s culture, which they define as ramen noodles, manga and anime. In my Japanese 100 course last semester, a classmate admitted that she was taking the class so that she could understand what characters say in the anime porn she watches. There is much more to Japan than that.

Memoirs of a Geisha was a huge hit because of this obsession with Japan. The film is beautifully done, and historically accurate, though some societal attitudes miss the mark. Even so, the movie still made geisha look like these exploited prostitutes, rather than woman making a living as artists. It starts with the lead character, Sakamoto Chiyo, being sold to a house with まいこ (maiko) who are training to become geisha. Sakamoto also has blue eyes, and is often criticized for it. A heavy amount of emphasis is also placed on when Sakamoto is sexually assaulted, and the bidding for the geisha’s virginity. To most Americans, that portrayal looks like an exploited girl sold into sex slavery. If you watched the film and saw it as positive, then I’m concerned for you. But in the real world, things didn’t happen that way. Or if they did, it was extremely rare.

The Japanese people believe very strongly in a right way, and wrong way to do things. There are certain things you just don’t do in Japan, and one of those things is prostitution. There were serious limits on what parts of the country could have brothels, and by the turn of the 20th century, prostitution was illegal. There are also restrictions on how much male genitalia can be shown in literary/manga porn.

I felt a little silly for doing this, because for the longest time I assumed my Japanese language teacher wasn’t married because she never wears a wedding ring. Most people from her generation and older, don’t wear wedding rings. In addition, the marital restrictions we have in America are very different in comparison to Japan. Men, AND women, were allowed to seek out the attention of courtesans. While there are clear expectations of how women and men should be in a marriage and home, they are a lot more equal than you thought they were.

Sakamoto’s blue eyes gain much disrespect, but in real world Japan this would not be the case. The sea which surrounds the country is precious, and a young girl with watery eyes would be special. The Japanese pay attention to facial features and appearance, and have more words to describe appearance than Americans do. This is not vanity, because talking about different physical features is casual. Asking someone what their weight is, or how tall they are, is a normal question. When people, especially those in the military, try to convince me Japan is sexist and racist, I get very irritated. The concept of ethnicity and race in Japan is relatively new. When the Japanese first encountered people from America and Europe, they referred to them as あおいめのひと (aoi me no hito), ‘blue-eyed people’, because they were people who had blue eyes.

I’m not entirely sure why a geisha needed to look bad in this film, or why the exploitation of a fictional character was needed to make a statement about feminism. I especially don’t understand, out of all the women in this world who are actually victims, the author chose the geisha to make his point.

How Men Can Prevent Themselves From Being Sexually Assaulted and Harassed

January 30, 2015 - 3 Responses

Several years ago while I was on the city bus, I witnessed a woman start groping the thigh of a man who was another woman’s boyfriend. He was visibly uncomfortable and seemed to have very little idea of what to do. His girlfriend stepped in, and these two women had a violent argument. The bus driver, myself and several other people were able to get this woman who had groped this man off of the bus. He was so quiet afterward, and he looked like a deer headlights. A lot of passengers tried to say she was coming on to him, or trying to steal him from his girlfriend. At one point I said to him, that was sexual harassment, and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. He said thank you, and he calmed down a little bit. This incident revived my anger toward people who believe that men are not capable of being raped or sexually harassed. In reality, nearly 50% of rape victims are men. Because our society thinks men cannot be victims, women take advantage of this, by telling these men that this is what they really want, and societal pressure discourages these men from saying no. After all, aren’t men the ones who will sleep with anyone, and who sleep around all the time?

I had to word the title of this article in a way that didn’t make it sound like it was about men preventing women from being victims of rape and harassment. I already have a blog entry on that topic. We need to talk about what men are forced to go through, and we need to do it fairly and compassionately.

1. Say No: No means no, period. When you say no you make it very clear that you do not want whatever that woman or man wants from your body. Your body belongs to you and no one has the right to invade it, or force you to use your body in a way that you don’t want to. I don’t care if you’ve never had sex before, I don’t care if you have never had a girlfriend before, I don’t care if you really like her. Don’t convince yourself that you have to meet a societal standard more than protect yourself from harm. If she tells you that she’ll accuse you of assaulting her, remember that you said no. You never consented to this behavior so even if she accuses you of something you didn’t do, you are safe.

2. Fight Back: Even when I was a kid, we were taught not to hit girls. Any woman who assaults you is exempt from that rule. You have every right to defend yourself from anyone who attacks you because that is the law. Women are not the weaklings that people think we are, we give birth, and I promise you we can seriously hurt someone if we want to.

Self defense is something that everyone in the world can learn. You do not have to be Bruce Lee, or have some sort of special talent in order to learn self defense. If you want to study a specific style, even better. Self defense also raises self confidence, and empowers you.

3. Carry Pepper Spray: Pepper spray is typically associated with being a woman’s weapon, but in reality, both genders can use pepper spray. Cops carry it, mailmen (and women) carry it. Last summer, a male college student was able to subdue a gunmen on campus by using pepper spray on him. State laws about the carrying and usage of pepper spray vary, so it is a good idea to do some research before you decide to get it. Just about everyone with at least half a brain is scared of it because it is extremely painful, and when inhaled can make a person’s throat close up. Therefore, only use it if you are in serious danger. I guarantee you, that a woman attempting to assault you will back off the instant you spray her.

Check out this cool video about how to use pepper spray: How To Use Pepper Spray

4. Be Mindful Who You Date: Don’t lower your standards, make sure that the woman you are interested in is really worth your time. A woman who is confident, respects your space, is interested in who you are, is mot likely a good woman to be around. It’s perfectly all right to ask people who know this about her personality, or what she is interested in. It may surprise you how honest people are when you do this. If someone warns you about a particular behavior, then this is a red flag. Stay away, you deserve better.

5. Pull Up Your Pants and Put a Shirt On: Many women are put off by men who do this, I know I am. I don’t want to see a stranger’s underwear, or even his breasts and abs. For some reason it has become socially acceptable for men to walk around half naked. Unfortunately, when you advertise your body, women will look. And women will desire what they see. Many women are good at giggling, making a cute comment o their girlfriend about it, and moving on with their life. A lot of women catcall shirtless men, and they think it’s okay. Well, it isn’t. Catcalling is inappropriate and creepy. You don’t sexually advance on a stranger. If you really have to mow your lawn shirtless in the middle of summer, then be prepared to tell any woman who harasses you to leave you alone.

6. Report It: Reporting harassment and rape is embarrassing and frightening. Many precincts don’t treat male rape victims like they deserve any support and justice. The more men report what has happened to them, the more it will be taken seriously. The more it is taken seriously, the greater the consequences will be, and hopefully discourage women from taking advantage of men.

7. Don’t leave your drink unattended: Men have been raped by both women and men with the date rape drug, and it happens more often than you think. What makes the date rape drug so frightening is that it not only renders you powerless, but it also makes it hard for you to recall what happened to you, so you cant even defend yourself.

8. Men are victims before they reach adulthood: Thousands upon thousands boys and teens are taken advantage of by members of their family, family friends, school teachers, camp counselors, coaches, neighbors, priests, celebrities, and even their parents. Your sons need to know how to defend themselves. They need to know who is their family and in their neighborhood is safe, and who isn’t. They need to be aware of the reality that people prey on little boys, and that they are not only protected by you, but that they can protect themselves.

Statutory rape is probably one of the most ridiculous laws in America, because it makes a teen girl automatically the victim, and the teen boy automatically the aggressor. This is not fair, because in a situation where the girl is 16, but the boy is 15, the boy is considered the rapist, even if he was actually raped by the girl. Teens are going to have sex, but it is our responsibility as parents to keep tabs on who they hang out with and where they are going. Teens need to be aware of what is healthy sex and what is not.


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