Friday, December 3, 2010

Hell's Rising

Many, if not all, my friends and family recently received my pleas for assistance in the form of a facebook message. As if their newsfeed didn't bug them enough with constant updates of their friends' banal thoughts, here's one with the gull to ask for money.  It took a lot for me to reach the point of having to ask my friends for help like this, even if it was asking for a couple of bucks.  I'm not the only one coveting much-needed dollars.  I know my friends want to see me go because they know how much my heart is set on it. But even with the money I have now, and with what I hope to raise with up-coming benefit concerts I'm holding, I'm so scared this isn't going to happen.

It isn't just so much the passion behind the cause that is driving me to go - it's being absolutely wrung out from living in the same place for so long.  My wanderlust hasn't been fulfilled yet, and it's clouding my ability to see myself thriving in the future; I mean, since I'm not going to be a student at the University of Pittsburgh for the rest of my life (god, I hope not), then where will I be?  My feet are caught in gritty, sticky trap while the rest of my entire body is lunging forward.  This situation might be worse than being a senior in high school making the college transition - even if you don't know what will happen when you get there, you can at least expect a couple more years of education.  With this kind of uncertainty, I don't know where I'll end up, let alone what will happen when I get there.

At my high school graduation, a good friend, notorious for his pranks on substitute teachers and students alike, gave me the only advice he knew before I went off to college: Raise hell.  I'd like to say that I have done just that over the years, examples seen in the various odd trees and buildings I've climbed and impromptu dance moves I've busted out in public spaces.  But really, I've remained relatively unobtrusive.

So please allow me to invade your homes, your garages, your children's bedrooms, etc to do anything you need: household chores, organizing work space, shoveling driveways (hopefully this will be an option soon!), giving you the night off by watching your kids, you name it.  After December 17, I will have nothing ahead of me but this mind-numbing worry about raising money, so lay the jobs on me.  Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.  Also, if your bleeding heart punctures more so after reading this lamentable post, check out my website,, to donate.  Any amount will help me breathe easier.

Pass this message out to your friends, too! I'm an equal opportunity company. ;-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Find the Cost of Freedom

"Man cannot be free if he does not know that he is subject to necessity, because his freedom is always won in his never wholly successful attempts to liberate himself from necessity." -Hannah Arendt, political theorist.

We've all heard the old-age adage "Freedom comes at a cost," a tired phrase that implies an individual's agency is dependent on her/his collateral paid to the powers that be.  What are these freedoms we're running after? What costs are we sacrificing in Freedom's name?  I started writing this post with the usual moral ambition seen strewn through the last three posts. But then a horrid copy/paste error reconfigured where I was originally intending on going.  So I tried again, but with a twist.
Rather than taking this perspective on freedom down the righteous path of how we should ban together to help grant less-privileged groups their freedoms, I couldn't help but take this chance to lay out my rambling, airy, foolish train of thought for all the world to read.  I want to put the motive of this blog on hold to examine on a more personal level what it means to be free, to have freedom.  I've reached a point within myself where I realize that Freedom and Desire are two separate entities.  You can desire to be free. But you're not always free to obtain your desires.

Take higher education, for instance.  With knowledge breeds power; and with power, there's freedom, or so the story goes.  So you go to school to learn how to live, and how to have relationships with fellow learners, and how NASDAQ is manipulating your stock, and when you get out, you realize that all your time spent dedicated to achieving freedom through power has crippled not just the old bank account, but the old skills and relationships you once called upon as a refuge from harrowing studying sessions.  As if your diploma has leverage over the rest of your life.  But then again, that piece of paper grants you access, theoretically, anywhere your desires want to take you.  Grants you your "Freedom."

Admittedly, my own desires directed me to where I stand today.  But among all that I stand with, I keep the knowledge of what I no longer have with me. Are these lost connections to my self the Cost I've paid to get me thus far?  I ask this of myself, of you gorgeous virtual audience, not as rhetoric *...ahem, look below, ahem...* but as a pre-transitional transnational academic who is sincerely curious.  How can we gauge if the ends will justify the means?  

Once you decide to follow a desire with utmost conviction, there is bound to be an element of your life that is virtually impossible to incorporate as you continue.  Or you could venture away from your goals to pursue a present wayof living, and with direction and finesse could feasibly make yourself a cozy life out of what you already have.  But then you run the ultimate risk of never being able to pick up where you left off.

I don't pretend to know what I'm getting at here. But my last question to leave you with is this: If you sacrifice costs for one freedom, is it possible to still have enough to salvage for another?  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forget Women's Studies, Major in Rhetoric

The trouble with having to major in only one or two subjects is that your perceptions of the world, and everything that happens in it, are skewed by the theories of prominent thinkers in your respective field(s), ones with which you are bludgeoned throughout years spent in academia.  Not only does having a limited field of knowledge flatten your world views, but it makes impromptu discussions and arguments exceptionally dull; not only for your peers, who may have heard your same argument repeatedly, but for you as well.  On the rare occasion when my sense of awareness is acutely introspective, I will consciously step out of a conversation involving issues of gender or sexuality for fear that after hearing one or two conflicting opinions to my dogmatic views of equality and women's rights, I'll throw all etiquette and discourse to the wind, and in an impassioned feminist rage, scream, "YOU'RE JUST WRONG, OKAY?!" 

Part of me fears that this occasional refusal to contribute is downright submission to the opposition.  But in reality, I think this is really just a practice in rhetoric.  By practicing silence and absorbing the ideas of differing opinions, rather than ranting off Gloria Steinem's theories of revaluated economics (which, in all honesty, is exactly what I will be doing in a post to follow shortly...brace yourselves.), I'll be able to create a peripheral framework around my own ideas on the issue.  Once I understand their frame of reference, I'll have an easier time of using it against them in future debates.  (Oh, how diva-ous of me!)

If you break it down, media with which we immerse ourselves, such as news channels, literary publications, or academic journals, usually include facets from every dominant ideology.  These facets include differentiating popular belief, societal conventions, patterns of discourse, etc.  We advocates are the media rhetors' audience: we choose which of the above we want to do away with and which we want to use as a framework for debate.  Our championing social change stems directly from how successful rhetoric is used in persuading, say, a branch of government to get on board with a particular issue.

Basically, what all this mumbo-jumbo jargon comes down to is this: Successful advocacy breeds empowerment; empowerment comes when all obstacles are conquered.  Lack of knowledge is the obstacle to progress.  If we want to achieve equality, we must know all components of our opponents.

Put that on your picket signs, and hold it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Distribution of Gender over Sexuality? Or Vis-a-versa?

Reading an article for my Human Sexuality in Cross Cultures class on the transformation of homosexuality, I couldn't help but laugh.  Not at homosexuality or those who subscribe to the delineation.  It was the faction of "homosexuality" that had me shaking my head.  I find it mildly comical that as our Western society developed intellectually, the more distinguishing categories and sub-categories were established to allow the general populace to gain an understanding of the world as we found it to be.  Now, present-day academia has us reforming our views to dissipate these dogmatic categorical connections. 

We (we subjugated, and, I'll say it, slightly futile Gender Studies scholars) are shown cultures and tribes living today who practice gender and sexual roles that would astonish the Westerner, while simultaneously debasing our theories that we have adopted as laws of nature through its very existence.  If adult males in Sambia say that inseminating male youths to make them more "masculine," who are we to say that the majority of their tribes' men are acting "homosexual" or "effeminate"?  Our own guidelines are as banal and deeply rooted as theirs are. We have thousands of years of Christian-based secularism; they have an even greater number of years of ancestors' stories of what magic is to be practiced when.  Who's wrong? Who's right?

The fact that both groups can exist at once is proof that neither is more correct in their beliefs.  But now we have all these jumbled categories and sub-categories, divisions such as "passive homosexuality" and "hyper-masculinity."  This is the vocabulary with which we have limited ourselves.  So as our current Western gender/sexuality scholars progress, what will their aim be? Towards formulating a deeper division, or towards uncharted territory? I'm desperately holding out for the latter.

Further reading: Ritualized Homosexuality in Sambia Culture

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

N00blogger in Tahn!

My moment is in. I have finally succombed to the technilogical desires and pomposity that has already infected the minds of millions around me:

I have started a blog. And by god, it's going to be a great one.

Why now, though? Peer pressure?
Overwhelming need to have opinions recognized and reaffirmed (read: not getting enough attention)?
All of the above?
Perhaps. No matter what internal conflicts spured me to action, I plan on treating this blogging endeavor as I would any other... Smother it with all I got till it stops calling.

As for the name of the blog- ''Mes pieds me portent'' translates to ''My feet carry me.'' An acclaimation to how grateful I am of my independence. Reliant on and accountable for only myself. I can respectfully acknowledge how the environment in which I grew up helped mold me into an otherwise savvy creature, and I know that much of the opportunities which I have been given in recent years came due to personal life decisions that I had the freedom to make. But the reason my gratitude is so great is because I know not every woman in this world (hell, this country) can enjoy these circumstances.

Most of my close friends (anyone who has had a conversation with me in the past two years, really) know by now my goal to study the morality behind southest Asia's sex tourism market set in the back-drop of Thailand. And if the Universe let's me have my way, that dream will be a reality in just a few months. But what about in the meantime, when I'm not working directly with the women in these particular countries yet, whose cultures I have only just knicked the realm of understanding? There is just as much a need for nourishment in the hearts of women in my own backyard as there is on the other side of the globe. This is the sort of awareness I hope to cultivate through this 'ere blog, via activities to get involved with here in da 'burgh, latest literature on status quo, shining ''Rosie the Rivetor''-esque stars to keep yer eye on... that sort of schtick.

Of course, the power of knowing that you, the lovely general populace, will read anything I write down here so long as I ask you nicely (PRETTY PLZ!!) will be too delicious to not take advantage of every once in a while, so watch out for the occasional ruminations on life's purpose, or, the extra saucy sidedish, ''OHEMGZ She Said Whaaaa???'' -- the Gossip Girl-styled skinny on my nearest and dearest. Superficial to sentimental, I gotcha covered.

I hope this teaser has sufficiently hooked you in for the longrun. At least until the next post. (Let's hope they are not one and the same.)
I also graciously invite any and all opinions, be it on the post's respective subject, on how many parentheticals and collans I use (warning: it's a lot), or any other legitimate suggestions you may have for improving a budding non-fiction writer's technique.

Seeing as it is now 2:31 am, and that I started writing this at quarter after 1:00, I bid you all adieu.