Tag Archives: Consumerism

Shop Until You Drop (Your Economic and Social Status)

13 Apr

 

I have been moving into my new apartment for three weeks. The unfinished project is not due to a lack of motivation, it’s just that I have so much stuff.  

I think my personal obsession with material objects began when I was six years old. My family moved from Oregon to Virginia, leaving most of our belongings in a storage unit on the west coast. We had every intention of coming back for our stuff, but money got tight, and following company policy, all of our things were either sold or thrown away. Pictures, childhood memoirs, clothing, prized toys, my mom’s high school year books – everything was lost. The only things of mine that had gotten shoved into the van for the long trip home were two Cabbage Patch dolls, sisters named Sabrina and Stephanie. I still have them.

Even after moving to Virginia, my family never had a permanent home until I was fourteen. I only stuck around for three more years, then began my own legacy of apartments, split-level homes, and friend’s couches. I feel like I have been moving my entire life, and combined with the fact that I rarely throw anything away, moving has felt like a continuous and monumental task. My friend Sam has been with me through several of my last moves, and recently has become very concerned about my “preliminary hoarding.” With her help I have let some things go – clothes from high school, pens with no ink, outdated jewelry. However, when she urged me to get rid of two berets I have had since my west coast life, I refused. I don’t want to lose my stuff again, even though she keeps telling me that items and memories are not connected. Continue reading

Just Another Manic Monday…

28 Mar

Well I was listening to this awesome 80s hit in my car on my eight hour drive from Ohio and came across these lyrics:

Have to catch an early train

Gotta be to work by nine

And if I had an aeroplane

I still wouldn’t make it on time

‘Cause it takes me so long

Just to figure out what I’m going to wear.

Which led me to ponder getting ready over the remaining  five hours. With the amount of times I’ve heard from men and women across the board say, “why do women take so long to get ready?”, or “women spend so much more on clothes than guys do!” will begin to stick in someone’s psyche.

I was talking to a guy friend on this issue once, and he said he doesn’t have any qualms with his girlfriend taking a bit longer to get ready… Continue reading

Quick Hit: the Target Women Series

1 Mar

There’s nothing I like more than sassy videos about gender stereotyping! Enjoy the one below, and watch the others in the Target Women series if you’ve got time. Whodathunk that feminists are humorous?

My favorite line?

“the gray hoodie: the ‘I have a masters but I got married’ look”

social activism from the most “intimate” of places

21 Feb

The title is punny, but I promise, it’s got a purpose. :)

As some of you may know, I’m a social work major and love to geek out about it. It combines an academic focus (theories, important figures and movements) with a hands-on approach to solving social problems. We look at privilege and oppression, gender bias, role theory, and many other themes. (In fact, it’s a very feminist-friendly major, so check it out if you’re searching for one!) Our code of ethics stresses six key tenets to the profession: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and (cultural) competence. Like most social work majors, I’m a bleeding heart liberal and a sucker for Sarah McLaughlin shelter-animal videos (come on, ShoutOut! community, you cry at those, too!). I used to feel at a loss for how to contribute to solving these social problems. Without much disposable income (holla at your Ramen noodles!), I realize that it’s hard for many college students to write charitable checks. I once tried donating $20 to one charity each month and found that I didn’t feel as enriched or empowered by charitable giving as I had hoped. Yes, I realized that my money was going to good causes, but I couldn’t feel much pride behind a 30-second PayPal donation. Maybe the online nature of my giving lent my attempt at philanthropy less permanency than writing a good, old-fashioned check. After all, once I closed the web browser, all traces of my good deed-doing were gone. I realized that my money, however small the amount, was making an impact but I wanted to hold my donation in my hands. I wanted to know tangibly what my contribution was.

I forget exactly how I found the Free the Girls campaign, but regardless of its source, I was immediately attracted to the idea. Spring semester was about to begin and with it, the beginning of spring cleaning fever. When I got back to school, I looked through my bras and found two sports bras and a strapless bra I hadn’t worn recently. Those three bras were taking up a ton of space in my drawer. Let’s be real. I’m not working out seven days a week and don’t need seven sports bras. So why was I holding on to so many? (Let’s be real, if you’ve seen me, you know that I probably don’t need to wear a bra at all…but bras as a tool of patriarchal oppression is a better theme for a later-in-the-week post, no? It’s only Monday. We’ll start here).

Logging onto my Facebook page, I quickly realized the power of a good mass email or Facebook message and came up with a game plan: email all the women I was close to and ask them if they had any bras to donate to the cause. I had also just read on Feministing.com that January was declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (good work, President Obama!) so it seemed like perfect timing to start a bra drive. (Also, props to my roommate for sitting on my bed while I formulated this idea whilst running around my room, tearing my drawers apart and ranting about American consumerism; snaps to her for having the patience to a) listen and b) put together a baller Lady Gaga Grooveshark station for us to take dance breaks to).

So, I threw three of my bras into a cardboard box and sent a mad punny (“if your cup is half-full, consider donating!”; “bras before bros!”) email to 24 friends.  Little could I have anticipated the reaction I would get… (click to enlarge!)

Continue reading

Chick-fi-NAY

9 Feb

As I was walking on campus this afternoon in search of something quick to eat for lunch, it came to me: CHICK-FIL-A! Yes! Chick-fil-A would be the perfect midday meal to eat at a speedy pace before my next class. But just as I began to imagine the taste of their scrumtiddilyocious chicken nuggets in my mouth (yup, that’s right, I fantasize about food), I thought, “Wait. I can’t! I love the gays!”

But what could refusing to eat delicious Chick-fil-A chicken have to do with loving gay people? Well, a lot. That’s right boys and girls; your favorite fast food joint isn’t cool with same-sex couples. In fact, they’ve been linked to a number of anti-gay organizations including Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Pennsylvania Family Institute and Exodus International. Turns out Chick-fil-A isn’t so Chick-fi-Gay.

On January 26, change.org posted an article discussing the company’s newly exposed affiliations. The article uncovers Chick-fil-A’s deep tie to the WinShape Foundation and its Retreat Center. When asked in the article whether or not the center was open to members of the LGBT community, WinShape responded by saying:

WinShape Retreat defines marriage from the Biblical standard as being between one man and onewoman. Groups/Individuals are welcome who offer wholesome, educational conferences and programs that are compatible with Biblical values and WinShape’s purpose.

In other words, homosexuals are not welcome. Continue reading

A Shout Out! to EcoFeminists

16 Oct

I’ve been listening to talk radio in my car while running errands over the past few days, on the occasion that my iPod FM Transmitter broke and my burned cd collection melted together in some scientifically unidentifiable catastrophe. Top news stories on NPR as of lately include the harrowing tale of trapped Chilean miners, a rescue touted as a triumph of the human spirit. These news stories conspicuously lacked insight concerning the incident. Though the triumph of rescuing these miners and the strength it required to stay alive through the course of being trapped underground is nothing to ignore, the conditions that led to these miners entrapment also shouldn’t be ignored. By this I mean that the location (A Developing Country), the gender of miners, the socioeconomic status of miners, and the occurence of such an incident are more inevitable than random.

Ecofeminism, broadly defined, is a social and political movement which points to considerable common ground between environmentalism and feminism. Generally speaking, ecofeminism explores the intersectionality between sexism, environmental degradation, racism, Darwinism, speciesism, and other patriarchal organizational patterns that spur social inequality. Through this lens we can answer a few of the questions I asked above. 

According to ecofeminist theory there exists an oppression of developing countries, which lack political and economic resources and are populated by subordinated races, by developed countries. Developed nations are driven to exploit the labor and resources of developing countries in order to sustain capitalism and consumer culture. Though we also mine in the United States, it’s also important to look at who working in mines, primarily the secondary labor market whose workers have much less control over the conditions of their labor; exposure to toxins and carcinogens, safety, work schedules, pay, etc. So intersect the idea that a developing nation is much more likely to be extracting resources and paying or giving workers much less control over their labor conditions and you can understand how something like this might happen.

Something to note as well, which I briefly touched on above is the interconnected nature of this system with capitalism and consumerism. Below I’ve linked you to The Story of Stuff, which gives a lot of insight into how labor, environmental degradation, capitalism, and consumerism intersect.

To scrutinize with a feminist lens means to acknowledge that there are no coincidences in the way in which society is organized.

Until next time,

KillerTofu

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